Episode 92 – Interview with Director Freddie Wong

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Episode 92 – Interview with Director Freddie Wong

EP 92 Cover 450

 

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Episode 92 — Interview with Director Freddie Wong

 

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 92! I’m speaking with Freddie Wong from RocketJump. I’m really psyched about this one! Freddie Wong is a director who has the dream job of working on his own content and directing really fun projects. He founded RocketJump which has a massive following on YouTube, as well as a Hulu show, a couple of Podcasts. They’re doing a lot!

Freddie is a really cool guy. It was fun to pick his brain on how he got started and his insight on cameras and the film industry. I love this sort of thing! Feel free to leave a comment or share this Episode.

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

[-1:19:17] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. Typically, we go on job interviews and either shoot ourselves in the foot by charging less than we’re worth and getting the job — but indirectly leaving tens of thousands of dollars accumulatively over time on the table; rather than asking what we should be charging. At the same time you don’t want to alienate your employer by asking for too much.

I’ve put together a website: www.VFXRates.com. This is a chance for you to put in your information — your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be worth. This is something I’m going to continue to build and flush out over time.

The key thing is — I want to hand you the tools to grow and learn:

– to negotiate better,

– to ask for the right amount of money in the right way.

The information is FREE! Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! Put in your information and you will get instantly notified with how much you should be charging per hour, as a VFX Artist.

 

INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR FREDDIE WONG

Freddie Wong is a Director, CEO and a Co-Founder of RocketJump Studios, a YouTube channel that has gained nearly 8 million subscribers since its inception in April 2010. Named as one of Hollywood’s brightest stars by Forbes magazine, Freddie is the most subscribed video director on YouTube.

The channel’s flagship series Video Game High School now has over 50 million views. In 2013, the series was named the #1 Web Series by Variety magazine. Freddie has also successfully launched RocketJump Film School whose mission is to give a new generation of filmmakers the tools to share their stories.

In this interview, Freddie Wong talks about the history of RocketJump, the inception of Video Game High School, and shares his insight on storytelling, low budgets and the most useful technology.

 

Freddie Wong’s Profile on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3087799/

RocketJump’s Website: https://www.rocketjump.com

RocketJump Film School on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RJFilmSchool

Story Break Podcast: https://player.fm/series/story-break

Story Break on Twitter: @RJStorybreak

 

[-1:16:19] Allan: Thanks again for doing this! Do you want to give a bit of an introduction as to who you are and what you do?

Freddie: Yeah, sure. My name is Freddie Wong. I’m a… gosh, I don’t know which adjective or noun to apply these days. I have a company called RocketJump. We started with making short YouTube videos back in 2010. We’ve expanded beyond that and did a web series called Video Game High School which was on YouTube. [It’s now also] on Netflix. The first season started as a web series. Now, it’s turned into a proper hour-long TV show. We’ve done a couple shows for Hulu: RocketJump (the show), sort of a reality series chronicling the making of our content; and Dimension 404, which is a Twilight Zone like series. I guess the reason why I’m talking to you is throughout all of this, CG and visual effects [have been] a part of it, as well as part of my upbringing.

[-1:14:58] Allan: That’s cool, man! I’d love to know how you started out. Some creative just fall into it, others have a huge passion but a huge struggle. For you, did you always want to be a filmmaker or did you fall into it?

Freddie: Sort of fell into it. I always say that there is a couple of pieces of technology that put me on this path. In college, I was into programing [and was] going to be a computer or software engineer, or a video game designer. (I probably should’ve done the games thing!) But there were a couple pieces of technology: One was iMac, the original candy-colored with the firewire port. And the mini DV camera. Both of those were hitting when I was in high school. Growing up, we were movie buffs, renting videos at Blockbuster. My dad is in the movies. I edited some vacation videos, [using] Premiere 3.0 version, I think. With the DV camera and the firewire, it was the first chance to put stuff together.

In freshman year of high school, I remember messing around with cameras, doing dumb skits with my friends and putting those together. That’s where things started deviating. My sophomore year, I teamed up with a friend of mine who was a year older than me. We did a feature film: a 73-minute film with visual effects [to the extent that I could power Mac G3]. We worked on that all year and premiered it at the end of the year. I could see myself doing it as a career. That’s how I got into movies: putting videos together for school, announcements, [being influenced] by movies at the time. (The Matrix was a pretty big, important movies. Equilibrium too, which is so good!)

[-1:11:24] Allan: I’ve probably seen that movie twice my whole life and I didn’t want to go back because I don’t want to ruin it.

Freddie: So that’s how we got into it. The technology was there. Had it not been there, I would’ve done something else. I kind of been messing around with 3D early on because of Myst, the game. And what’s crazy to me is looking back, how much that game influenced me. They made movies and used a blue screen. I thought, cool! One of the brothers composed all the musics. So, that put me down this path of messing around with the synthesizers. They modeled out the island using Strata’s StudioPro, so I started messing around with that. I kept up with the music stuff, but the 3D stuff stuck around.

[-1:09:33] Allan: I feel that that’s part of the reason I went on my path. I didn’t have a fancy computer, [it was] behind everyone else’s. It made me obsessed with multimedia. 

Freddie: I was in a Mac family. We had the Mac SE and one of the home computers (which had no games on it). I do think that I began pursuing that the moment Quake 2 showed up in my life. But before that, I was using hypercard (which is basically scripting language and PowerPoint) and programing. I got to do these presentations. I was doing these Myst clones. That’s what helped: not having video games. As a kid, you have so much time and you can [spend it] on building your skills. Which is the worst advice you can give to a teenage kid.

[-1:07:19] Allan: I think that’s a great point. Getting fully immersed in it was your path. If you have those distractions, that’s where you get unfocused. I’d like to know what it’s like to grow up these days [when you] have access to so many things.

Freddie: I think it may be stifling to an extent. You have everything at your fingertips. Whereas back then, it was like, “Cool! We could shoot 2 minutes of footage and pull 640 X 480 into my computer.” Being limited was manageable. Talking to kids these days, they don’t even know where to start. It must be dizzying to come out afresh.

[-1:05:35] Allan: I think you’re right. For a lot of people, there is a massive overwhelm. Which is also their excuse for not starting: not having [all the latest] equipment. 

Freddie: It’s tough. Even we fall victim to this mentality. One of our first YouTube videos was called Real Life Portal Gun. We had this comedic idea. For 6 months we didn’t do it because Valve was going to put out a toy called Portal Gun. Instead of waiting around for this prop, we [eventually] just used a nerf gun. People have to get comfortable with the idea that filmmaking is a messy thing. You can have the best shoot ever and have the worst movie, or the worst shoot — and the best movie. There is no rhyme or reason to the process. You have to get used to it and get your hands dirty — and TRY something! You’re better off trying something and failing at it, than waiting around for the ideal conditions to arrive. You aren’t launching a missile to the moon.

[-1:03:35] Allan: You’re totally right! Looking at someone like Robert Rodriguez. His first couple of feature films were in Spanish. Nobody saw those, so he could do his failing there. Afterward, he could do his mainstream Hollywood films. El Mariachi got recognized right away. You have to start jumping out and see what sticks.

Freddie: Yeah, Rodriguez said he had hundreds of movies on VHS tape. Some people look at filmmaking as an art, but I think it’s more akin to a craft. And [in the idea] of the craft there is less romance. Less of the Hollywood glitz and glamor. You want to know how to direct well? Just keep practicing, keep doing it and make as many things as possible. It’s time and effort. It’s less sexy than the idea of Hollywood normally is. The movies that are crafted well last longer and better than the flashier ones.

[-1:02:10] Allan: I always think that with my career I can pinpoint those aha moments. For your career, what were the ones that took off?

Freddie: Hmm, I think the first YouTube video was definitely a big moment: Here is a new place to try out doing things, experiment and work the craft — and a place where people can see it, and the place where people can support you financially. That was the revelation. I could do this full-time and just experiment with film. 

Another big moment was seeing how Video Game High School played out with our audience. By the third season, people didn’t know what we had done but were already big followers of VHS. I think that was important because we realized the staying power you get because of storytelling as opposed to short viral videos. What became clear that [short viral videos were] disposable content. Nobody looks [at those] and really engages on a deep emotional level. As opposed to VHS [with which] people are engaged. It’s hard to stand out with videos. How long can you stand out for [because there is a tsunami of content out there]? For us, we didn’t grow up with YouTube. This generation defined it. Some people were uncomfortable with that idea. We were those people and we wanted to tell narratives.

[-59:36] Allan: I look at YouTube. If anything, it gives us total freedom without the restrictions we had back in the day. It’s not a massive process. Now, nothing holds you back. You can even do crowdfunding. One of my friends Tim Miller, he did that with David Fincher for The Goon. If anything, they got a boost.

Freddie: It’s tough with crowd funding if you don’t come at it from an established place. A lot of these campaigns have names or properties that people recognize. We were lucky to have done a lot of time on YouTube. It’s a lot harder when it’s something new. Because with movies, it’s not just the product you’re getting. It’s faith and an idea. By and large, there is nothing holding back from doing what previously required some sort of a permission.

[-57:53] Allan: Going on the subject of the millennials, when it comes to chasing people’s short attention spans, you have 3-8 seconds to get their attention. With the content you’ve developed, is it something you take into consideration?

Freddie: Yeah. I think that the real rule is not really about the number of seconds. It’s about: Your video shouldn’t go longer than it should. You can’t have any fat. People lose interest after a certain point. Depending on the type of content, most of the time, the videos are too long. At the end of the day, your competition is not how long their attention span is. Your competition is all the other videos. It’s like a buffet, and it’s all there and it’s all appealing. Your product needs to stand out; but to keep [the audience] there, you have to be good to begin with. You can’t just rely on flashy articles. Clickbait will get them in, but it won’t keep them there. Rather than blaming their attention span, I put the blame on the creators.

For us, when we look at it, we examine what we do. This is a general test to good filmmaking:

– Are we being efficient?

– Are we telling the story we want to tell?

– Are we telling it as efficiently as possible?

– If not, what are the reasons behind that?

– Is the character advancing in a way that doesn’t feel like wheel spinning?

I really enjoyed Westworld. It was the type of a show where you’d spent most of the time in your head, fantasizing about the sci-fi scenario. To me, that holds my attention less than Veep. It’s a different type of show, but if you put Veep online as streaming content, it would do really well. Luckily for these stories, you don’t have to abide by the rules because they need to have room to breathe. Which is why we like focusing on that long-form feature length storytelling: We get to be free from this almost consumer-centric world of short video and shift it more toward what we, artists, want to say.

[-53:34] Allan: Going to RocketJump, I’d love to talk about the origins of that. I think in general, you’re whole career path has been amazing. You are busy doing so many damn things.

Freddie: Speaking of RocketJump, we wanted to be able to pay people and we wanted to share what we were doing. So we needed a company structure. What it came down to was: What I want to do is not tied to my name. Originally, it was and it was a bit self-serving. And also good luck finding someone to collaborate with! That’s the origin.

It’s been pretty challenging. There are examples of well-oiled YouTube machines. These are places that are putting out a lot of content on a consistent basis. It’s influence and social media influenced stuff. On the other hand, you have traditional production companies that expand or contract depending on the project. And us, in the middle: We have an online presence and social media and all that, but we want to be show runners and directors and producers. So we always feel like we’re in this in-between state, between the traditional world and the new media thing. We always joke: The traditional world doesn’t take us serious because we’re a bunch of YouTube yahoos and the YouTube world doesn’t take us seriously because we’re these Hollywood commercial guys. But the focus has always been to make stories we’d want to watch, with good characters.

[-51:15] Allan: I’d like to talk more about this. As you were making a decision to assemble the company, was there any oh-shit moments along the way? “It’s becoming real and it comes with a lot of responsibility”?

Freddie: Yeah, I think so! The moment you’re employing people, the moment it’s a full-time thing — and you’re trying to figure the health insurance thing — coinciding with people getting married and pretty soon they’re going to have kids. We were a bunch of free-willing [guys], living in a loft and running around with cameras and fake guns, trying to make something that’s entertaining. And now, it’s turning into a career and you have to have some stability to it. There is definitely a transition.

2017 has been a challenging year, trying to make shows. One of the reasons is that there is a new groups of buyers that are playing by tech company rules. There is a bit of a transition happening: The traditional Hollywood is trying to figure out how to work with these new players, looking for content for their platforms. And the timelines that the tech world is used to are a little different than the creatives are used to working with. It’s made for a challenging year, with pitching things and wanting to hear back. There is always that navigation of the landscape.

[-48:55] Allan: I think all these streaming services — Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, even YouTube — is disrupting the traditional flow. There is a bit more freedom for the up-and-comers. Tech world is a lot more analytical.

Freddie: It’s also their timelines. From friends who are pitching to these platforms, I hear that the tech companies change their focus really fast. The timeline is mismatched. More than anything, good content always has a place somewhere. Everyone is trying to figure out what that looks like and what the value of it is. It’s fair to say tech companies undervalue good content while Hollywood overvalues good content. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

[-47:38] Allan: Exactly! For you, out of all the projects you’ve done, what do you think some of the most challenging are?

Freddie: I think that Video Game High School is absolutely among the top challenging ones just because we had no idea what we were doing. From a season-to-season basis, we were learning. [As for the] for budget — which we put out on line, with the exception of salaries — it was ludicrously low for what we were trying to do. We’ve always had that all the way through Dimension 404, which is a very visual effects heavy show. We try to figure out how to do it without ridiculous expensive CG work. It comes from having that background: Learning from mistakes we’ve made so that we don’t make them again.

That’s a big challenging part: How do you make look things look good when the budgets are low:

– How do you shoot it?

– How do you cut it that allows you to emphasize the strength of the graphics?

[-46:08] Allan: Going back to VFX, do you think having a bit of a visual effects background helps you?

Freddie: Oh, absolutely! You’re shooting yourself in a foot as a director if you don’t have basic knowledge of it. Because what doesn’t need touch-ups these days? Every frame of a commercial movie is getting some kind of work on it: be it background or digital make-up. It’s just insane! And what we found was that knowledge was helpful and it was helping us save money. You’re totally allowed to say on set, “Fix it in post!” — but only if you understand what that means. There are points on set when you say that:

– because the sun is setting;

– because it takes 30 minutes to set up a shot.

There are other moments when you do need to spend that time. Spend 10 more seconds to fix something here or put enough tracking markers, or what have you. That goes into the calculus of what we do:

– How are we going to schedule it out?

– How do we get the plates we need?

It’s happened to every field. You can’t be a cinematographer if you don’t know how to color correct your stuff because the colorist has so much control over how the final stuff looks, they’re almost your second DP. It’s a significant impact! You have to get your hands dirty as a cinematographer if you’re truly worth your salt. And I think it’s true of every aspect of filmmaking, directing especially! It helps you tremendously to understand how CG works. It can be a huge time saver and it can enhance how your final product looks. Not knowing that, you do that at your own peril.

[-42:22] Allan: I love that and I think that’s so true! Having some VFX savviness is a huge asset on set because you have all these tools at your disposal. At the same time, it can be extremely dangerous when you don’t know VFX, you may be thinking it will be your savior.

Freddie: That’s the worst! When we were doing the freelance stuff, we’d have people come to us with their footage. There’s myself, Brandon Laatsch, Sam Gorski and Nikko Pueringer (who run the gaming channel), we would have insane raw footage. There are so many things that go into visual effects. Half the time, the VFX Sups feel like they don’t do anything. How quickly this stuff can go wrong is a big part of it! A lot depends on the director, as well. You make production decisions as a director, you find ways to save on production costs.

[-39:26] Allan: That’s what it comes down to: Do you want to do all these different things? Or do you want to do things carefully but better — and then we have the extra time to pay attention where it needs to be paid.

Freddie: You have to pick and choose your battles. The moment you don’t have to pick and choose your battles — if you have complete creative freedom — you don’t make a good film. The best projects come out of some sort of a constraint. As a director, you have to be able to speak to it. At the end of the day, it’s a big part of your image and the tapestry of your film.

[-38:24] Allan: I worked on a couple of films by M. Night Shyamalan. You take away his budget — and his films are phenomenal. But you give him all this money, you’ve just signed his death warrant. 

Freddie: Say what you want about Michael Bay, I really look at him as someone who knows how to use visual effects. You may not like the Transformers movies, but I challenge you look at any single frame of those films — and compare to other movies that ILM does. He is getting the best possible work out of ILM because he knows where to use real stuff. I think that’s really hard to do. By virtue of the fact that people try to copy that style — and it doesn’t come close! Like Battleship was trying to do Transformers, and it’s night and day in terms of what it looks like. It feels like a cheaper version of it and you can’t put your finger on it exactly. But there is a visual flare, a cohesion and a style that at the very least you don’t see in other movies. From a technical standpoint, that’s incredible!

At the end of the day, if it were that easy — everyone would do it! I can’t think anyone could what Michael Bay does. I point to Zack Snyder as one of the great “visualists”. Or, Larry Fong. They are great “visualists”. How many times people tried to top 300? 300 was really unique and there are a lot of things that feel like low budget versions of it. Again, I look at filmmaking as a craft and there are different aspects you can focus on. You may not care for the story or the script, but there are still some epic shots that feel more epic than anything I’ve ever seen.

[-35:10] Allan: I think that’s a great point you’ve just touched on. I’ve worked with Bay a few times. He demands a lot from everyone. Even talking with Digital Domain — when he was working on Transformers 2 — they were basically redoing all the backgrounds, recreating, repainting everything. They were planning ahead. For you, what’s your process to getting things done? What makes for a good synergy?

Freddie: You know, I think that the people and the personalities that you find in the entertainment industry are very much at odds with the work. That disconnect is present in everything. When you create something, there are always these situations. You look for their history. John Lennon was not the most upstanding individual but there is always that tension of push and pull.

We try to be nice guys because. I went to this really tough high school where everyone was changing the world upon graduation: surgeons, life-saving individuals. If you’re going to do something more frivolous, even though I’ve realized how entertainment affects lives: We make make-belief for a living. I get some surgeon screaming at someone. It’s never life or death here. So we try to be nice people. We’ve never spent as much as we wanted to on a project, so we always say, “Hey, let’s do our best.” You do your best to get it as far along as you can. There are situations when you need to decide what the most important shot is and do that, instead of 20 extra shots.

I’m okay knowing that we work with limited resources. I’m okay with pulling back on something if it’s not important to the story. So we’ve tried to be as economical with that as possible. You have to think from the audience’s perspective too. The average number of revisions we do is 3 or 4, 7-8 on some hardcore visual effects. Very rarely do we touch double digits. We also have great familiarity with our VFX guys at Playfight up in Toronto. We are very fortunate to have shorthand [in communication]. Sometimes I think about: People are so afraid of going too far. With color correcting, [for example], go far — break it! — and then bring it back. When we do different passes, they’re very different because it will get us to where we want to be faster. To me, there are two ways to get to it:

– You can inch your way forever, but everyone’s feelings are intact.

– Or, you break it. You go way too far and then you walk it back.

That’s a lot more effective [for us] because we need to know what our limits are. We need to be able to push those limits. From VFX side of things, we insist our guys show us the super blocky, crappy, viewport render. Hell, even take a video with your iPhone and send it to me. That way I can catch things earlier. It’s cool, I can put the VFX goggles on. I’m just looking that the timing and the momentum feels right. I think that’s really important, especially at a low budget level.

[-25:56] Allan: I love that you’ve said all that. You’re absolutely right: I find that a lot with visual effects, you go through 20 iterations. If you go too big, at least you have a cap. Problem is when I show them the ridiculous one, they say, “That’s it!” Going through 8 takes at the most says a lot about your process. 

Freddie: Or, the bigger thing is: Noodle the ones that need to be noodled. You have to pick your battles to some extent.

[-25:37] Allan: I think it’s a lot easier to get everything dialed in at the beginning than it is to worry about all the complexities. That’s the problem with artists.

Freddie: On the artist’s level, that roto is the whole thing you’re looking at, or whatever detail you’re looking at. Working with stunt guys, they’re bummed out when they do something huge — and the final film gets only a few frames of it. For us, if we’re going to hire a stunt guy, we’re going to shoot the hell out of it. If someone hits the floor, you’re going to feel it. Same with VFX: If you’re going to make a big shot, make it a big shot. It all comes down to designing it — but also signaling.

[-23:51] Allan: I love that! Going behind the scenes, when you get your first script or treatment, what’s your process?

Freddie: We come up with our scripts which are usually self-generated. We go over the shot lists with our DP. I like what Guillermo del Toro said about his shot lists: “This is the best version of what we’re going to do, if we don’t come up with something better on the day.” It grounds you, it shows you what all the pieces are.

– We often do video story boards, shooting a version with ourselves, just to get the rhythm of it.

– We talk about our money shots.

– We get a good sense of what the visual flow is. Then, on the day, when we shoot, if some idea comes up in the space — especially action wise — having a bit of improvisation is helpful.

– We have a clear idea what a visual effects shot is going to be. We’ll freeze on what the nodal shot is and pan out and lock out of it.

Knowing the pain of doing visual effects on our end, we try make things easier. And again, we communicate where we need to go large. We understand as many departments as necessary.

[-20:51] Allan: That’s awesome! What does your team typically look like when you go out to set?

Freddie: [On the] shorts, there are very few people. With Dimension 404, it was a full-on Union production. It was very difficult to not touch the camera because again, it’s what we grew up with. On our end, it’s about getting to collaborate with other people and getting surprised by their talents.

[-20:09] Allan: Is there any kind of technology you’re nerding out about right now?  I’m talking from film gear to small laser pointers.

Freddie: We were the early adopters of MoVi, the gimbal rigs. I’m a huge fan of those because it allows you to transition height in a way that steadycams can’t. (Steadycam always has to tilt down.) It feels more like a first person view because our brains do a bit of stabilization for us when we walk. You can have a bit of an up-and-down bob. It’s attached to your shoulder. It’s a truer, proper POV. It brings you into the action more [as an audience].

On the camera side, we’re RED fans. I have a theory as to why DP’s like Alexa better. It’s because the feed coming off the Alexa monitor is objectively a better looking image. You can color correct the RED image in post, but no one thinks of that. People put a lot of weight into how they judge it. All the stuff is at the point of being mind-blowingly good.

[-17:19] Allan: You ever fall down that trap: I shoot primarily on RED and I’m still on a Dragon. I want to switch to the Weapon. Let’s talk about the steadycam gimbals, you get the DJI, and you get a RED and you throw in onto a V-Mount battery plate: Suddenly it’s heavy. I’ve got the Armor-Man 2. Suddenly, you have this huge camera.

Freddie: Nothing annoys me more than large cameras. That’s why I like the RED. We do RED on the fig rig for a lot of the stuff. To me, the Blackmagic Micro, I was losing my mind: Finally! But then the image looked like a long lens camera. Large cameras feel so unwieldy and add so much inertia to your set, the speed, the turnaround. Philosophically, I want these things tiny. But I think there is a psychological benefit from having the big big-boy cameras on set too.

[-15:46] Allan: I still like the Blackmagic Micro.

Freddie: It’s just the low light. Come on, guys! And Sony designs the most insane camera menus I’ve ever seen. I don’t understand the reason.

[-15:02] Allan: I was nerding out about Nokia phones. It was so simple, but all the options were so intuitive. My whole Instagram feed is about cameras. The actual bodies of the cameras are tiny things but with everything else, they’re huge!

Freddie: I fight my DP’s on this all the time! I get it but the lenses, I don’t know if they have as much of an effect as they thought. We tested a $100 lens, a $1,000 lens and a $10K lens. What it came down to is the low light wide open? You can tell. One version of 2.0, it definitely feels like more light. The more expensive it gets, the more light it lets in. But: In the sort of usual sort of settings, you might not need the full 2.0. You might need a 4, or if you’re outside. All of a sudden, it’s hard to tell the difference. So in that case, usability is a huge factor.

When people were saying, “You can’t shoot on a Sony EF Lens.” The only thing I was thinking was: People won Pulitzers for their photography using that lens. So you’re telling me it isn’t good enough for your indie? This industry has a lot of voodoo. You have to do it that way, but why? We were joking the other day: The cut away of the phone, are we cursed to shoot blank screens. What was the equivalent back in the day? One of these days, I’ll do a compilation of all the over-the-shoulder phone shots that have ever been done. Can’t we have a library all the phones and hands of those?

[-09:49] Allan: With lenses, what would be the most important aspect of a film shoot: Is the lens? The lighting? 

Freddie: From an image standpoint? All things considered, camera bodies are pretty much on the same plain. You get plenty of data, as long as you’re capturing it correctly. Lenses: The difference is not that pronounced unless you’re going for a certain look. I think it’s the lighting and the atmosphere — that has the greatest effect. You can color correct everything, depending on how intense you want to get on your masking. But that’s the thing you need baked in there in the first place.

[-07:53] Allan: And for people who are just starting out…

Freddie: Stop playing video games! I hate to say it. I think filmmaking benefits from life experience. Try and look at art, look at paintings. I was in Amsterdam and went to a Van Gogh museum. The use of color and contrast was mind blowing. Appreciate all forms of art. Filmmaking is a combination of the visual, sound, performance — it’s all the arts in one. You make better movies by having an appreciation for everything under the sun.

[-06:44] Allan: What would be the critical mistakes some people make when they’re starting out?

Freddie: I think it’s really easy when you’re starting out to thumb your nose at populist filmmaking. To me, filmmaking is a populist medium. A bad movie will teach you as much as good movie. I think Spielberg is the best director we have. Anytime you have an impulse to discount someone, you do so at your own creative peril. You shouldn’t ignore Michael Bay and what he is doing differently. Watch everything without judgement. The moment you judge, stop yourself. It’s so easy to feel superior. Even if they don’t know what they’re doing, they [still] have something you could study and think about.

[-04:58] Allan: That’s awesome! Any big announcements coming up?

Freddie: Yeah, one of the things I’m excited about it is: [me, Will Campos and Matt Arnold] have been doing this podcast called Story Break. We loved coming up with movie ideas. We take some ridiculous concepts on this Podcast. We give ourselves an hour to figure out what it would be. It gives an insight into the writing process. It’s helpful for us, but also from the feedback, [it’s great for the listeners]!

[-02:27] Allan: Thanks again for doing this, man!

Freddie: Thanks a lot!

I hope you enjoyed this Episode. I want to thank Freddie for taking the time to nerd out a bit. Take a moment and share this Episode.

Next Episode, I will be interviewing Nikolai Nockertsen who is a phenomenal Matte Painter, Concept Artist, and Art Director. He has worked on a lot of feature films and he does a lot of his work on his iPad Pro. Seeing the level of quality of his stuff is really mind blowing! Definitely check out that Episode.

Also coming up:

– An interview with a personal trainer who trains a lot of successful people and entrepreneurs.

– An interview with id Software.

Rock on!

 

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