An Interview With Rapper Jiggyzz


Nick Trapani, probably better know by his stage name “Jiggyzz”, is an independent rapper from my home state of Oklahoma. Very progressive and into the dark side of things, he’s definitely one of my favorite up and coming artists that I like to work with a lot. His upcoming debut album, “Battling Myself”. is a work in progress right now that is shaping up for a 2016 release date. He had time to stop by for an interview in between writing verses for his album, which I am producing for him. Here’s the full interview:

Kyle: First off I’d like to thank you for taking the time to interview with me. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Jiggyzz: My real name is Nick Trapani, but the name I prefer to use on the stage with the mic is Jiggyzz. The name is actually Jiggy, the two z’s are for those sleepin’ on me. I’m just a small town dude tryin to come up in the music business. I just keep workin on it man.

Kyle: You were born and raised in small town Southern Oklahoma. Growing up around the type of people around here, could you give some insight on the unlikely situation that led to you becoming a rapper?

Jiggyzz: Man, look at this place, the Bible Belt of all places, you’d figure rap music isn’t gonna be here, but it is. A lot of my friends growing up would write music and match ’em to beats. I just got lost in music when writing, and where my friends stopped, I just kept on writing.

Kyle: So who are some of your favorite rappers?

Jiggyzz: My favorite rappers have always been the same. Early in life I loved Eminem. My mom even cranked his shit. 2 Pac, Getto Boys, Snoop Dogg, Tech N9ne and Rittz are my favorite artists.

Kyle: What is it about their styles that appeal to you so much?

Jiggyzz: Tupac’s style wasn’t like the style you’d get from the Midwest, so I loved his slower rhythm, and how he portrayed the world around them. Same as these Midwest rappers I hear. Around the Midwest you hear more choppers (edit: fast, rapid-paced rapping). And the lyrical gift to actually say something when spittin’ quick is impressive.

Kyle: How would you say you incorporate elements from these artists into your style? As an artist myself, I typically take elements from all kinds of artists across every genre, to make something new. Do you do something similar?

Jiggyzz: No, I try not to sound like other artists to be real dawg. I have incorporated chopping into my sound, always loved it, but never grasped it well enough to record it. But double time is pointless if you can’t actually say something.

Kyle: Interesting. You also come from a fandom of the most hated band in the world, Insane Clown Posse, but when listening to your music, there is very little of their style that I can hear. How do they influence you?

Jiggyzz: Man yeah I like ICP, you’ll even catch me at a Strange Music event. I like strange sounds and people. The clowns kept me from giving a shit what people thought and I’m a better person because of it.

Kyle: What are your favorite kind of instrumentals to rap to? Obviously I make the majority of your instrumentals, but if you could only make one song to share with the world, what would the instrumental on that song be like?

Jiggyzz: I love orchestra, violins can break or mend a heart if used right man. If I wanted to make one mind blowing song, if have to go with pianos, violins and brass.

Kyle: So you have a brand new record coming out, your debut full-length album, “Battling Myself”. What can you tell us about that record? What kind of headspace does it come from?

Jiggyzz: “Battling Myself” is the outcome of my inner worries and thoughts. What’s gonna become of me if my music doesn’t skyrocket, or the doubt in myself whether or not people are gonna enjoy it or even want it. Sometimes I’m afraid to even pick up my booklets and pen because of that mentality: Battling Myself.

Kyle: What was the first show you ever played? What kind of response did you receive?

Jiggyzz: My first show was fun, it was in Luther, OK. At the Oklahomiez Mini Gathering of the Juggalos. That’s where I met my girlfriend and gained my fanbase. People were unsure of me, I was young, but still had the heart to get up there and work the stage. I was afraid of being axed down but it didn’t happen, even won all my battles on stage.

Kyle: How many shows have you played altogether?

Jiggyzz: I have only preformed around 10 sets in my life and I’m grateful for having supporters and the people who bump my shit.

Kyle: Who is your favorite artist that you’ve either featured with or had feature on a track of yours?

Jiggyzz: To be honest I enjoyed working with Mowgli, dudes a chopper.

Kyle: And who is your favorite local artist?

Jiggyzz: I’d have to say my favorite Local artist would have to be Hang Man.

Kyle: What keeps you doing what you do? The struggle that relatively unknown artists face is definitely not for the faint of heart. Everyone’s got that person or thing that strives them to be better.

Jiggyzz: My little girl & supporters/fans. I do dirt work. And I’m okay at it. And I’m making decent money, but at the same time, it’s not my dream. It’s helped me financially, but it’s not what I’m after. I do hope for success for both me and my daughter. If I can come up so can she.

Kyle: What local artists would you like to work with in the near future?

Jiggyzz: I’m really aiming to work with a few people that I can’t name yet due to the record. But honestly I prefer it when artists hit me up.

Kyle: What personal experiences have you had that you think distinguishes you as an artist? Some things that not everyone might know about.

Jiggyzz: Man.. My laziness to write is definitely a trait. But when i sit down I get it in. My personality doesn’t strike you as a rap artist. So I have trouble with people taking me seriously. Instead I’ve always gotten laughed at or just blank-faced stares when I talk about my music.

Kyle: If you could only play one show, who would you play it with and where would you play it?

Jiggyzz: I would rock the Gathering of the Juggalos with Tech N9ne & Rittz. Ha! Or do Pink Floyd covers wit Roger Waters.

Kyle: Do you see yourself as having the ability to become a mainstream artist? Not in the sense of selling out, but in a type of way that allows you to continue completely being yourself, while still somehow bringing those quirks into a more broad spectrum, similar to Tyler, the Creator or the filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.

Jiggyzz: I see whatcha mean, but naw man, the mainstream isn’t really where I belong. nor where I’d be comfortable. The music industry in the mainstream world and the underground world aren’t comparable, one is a pit bull fight, and the other is a popularity contest. I’ll stay where the doggs stay at.

Kyle: Who are some of your least favorite artists?

Jiggyzz: Least? Ha. Name a rapper on the radio besides TI, or Big Krit. I hate weezy, or Kanye, just never got into their shit. A few tracks rarely come on that I’ve ever enjoyed by relatively mainstream rappers.

Kyle: Is there anything you would like to add? Drop us some links, anything?

Jiggyzz: Just wanna say thank you for having me here and hearing what I gotta say. You always been good to me in the game and I appreciate that dawg. Links? Just find me on reverbnation or Facebook that’s where the tracks are at. My website is down for construction right now.

And that’s all he had to say. From humble beginnings, to small glimpses of success, I hope to share Jiggyzz with the world the only way I can: getting him into my studio and letting him do his thing. Thanks for taking the time to check out this exclusive interview with Jiggyzz!

Copyright 2015 by Kyle Oliver, written 6/18/2015

Kyle Oliver is an award nominated filmmaker for his amazing short film “NUMB“.  He is also a writer, working in screenplays, short stories and novels. To find out more about his latest project,visit http://www.facebook.com/TheManifestingUndead


ALBUM REVIEW- Had Enough’s “Do Not Disturb The Introvert”


Do Not Disturb The Introvert is the upcoming album by Tulsa, Oklahoma rap/hip-hop/alternative artist, Had Enough. I was lucky enough to get the chance to peep the entire album before its release date on September 1st, 2015, this Tuesday, and I also had the opportunity to personally direct a music video for one of the songs on the album. But we’ll get to that later.

Firstly, I want to say that I’ve personally known Had Enough (Brandon Young) for a little over a year now, but no, my review is not at all based on that friendship nor influenced by it. I’ve listened to music from his past three albums (this is his fourth album), and I see such a vast improvement. He is definitely THE artist you want to look at if you’re wanting to know who’s up and coming in the hip-hop scene. I have no doubts that you’ll be seeing him touring on some high profile gigs within the next year, mostly due to his talent, and also contributed by his new found partnership with the brand new Tulsa-independent record label, MuGen Music, owned by Ryan Paquette.


Now let’s get into the actual album review. The album kicks off with the opening track “Pessimistic”, which has a very apocalyptic/epic vibe to it. I believe it is a track that nearly any other artist would have typically reserved for the closing track on their album, but in this case, the track works more than perfect as an opener. Had Enough comes in after short sample with bars that Eminem himself would envy. His execution of the spot on lyrics he wrote is absolutely brilliant, and not to be matched by many artists on his level of “popularity”. Many rappers/emcees would do well to take notes from his lyricism and songwriting.

11813347_10153035813906009_5501506726085464560_n photo by Samantha Smith

“Pessimistic” is followed by “Do Not Disturb”, one of my personal favorites from the album. I’m sure I won’t be the only one to pick up even stronger Eminem vibes from this track. The beat itself is reminiscent of the beat on Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre, ft. Eminem”, and Had Enough’s lyrics and vocal style on this track highly reflect a long-time influence of this particular brand of hip-hop, but with an entirely fresh spin on the style. I would say that this song is the best on the album, but in that regard, and that regard only, I am slightly biased.

“Anti-Social” is definitely THE best track of the album, and I might say that because I am biased due to the fact that I directed the music video for it which can be found here.

This song goes very deep and rings nearly perfect to my visual style. The video we did was a dark story about a murderous sociopath that has a hard time distinguishing between right and wrong, or even reality for that matter. His vocals on this track are executed in favor of the lyrics written, with a chorus singing, “Anti-Social, I don’t fucking like you. So buy me a beer, you can buy two.” The way he sings these lyrics can come across as if you had just insulted him in the bar and he was trying to tell you to fuck off as politely as an introvert such as himself possibly can, which is not very polite. I absolutely love the aggressive attitude on the track as well as the lyrics, which speak of shitty ex-girlfriends, watching pornhub, among other things that can either be found as hilarious or mentally screw-balled, depending on your point of view.

After this comes “Autistic or Artistic”, which I’m honestly surprised is not already a song title. It is such an obvious choice for someone who is serious about their work, but also knows when to poke fun of themselves. You’re all too late now, the song name is there, and it’s Brandon Young’s. Next up is my least favorite song (along with “Whiskey Sours”), which is called “Everybody’s Fake (ft. Big Chico). It’s nothing against the song itself, as I’m sure plenty of people who hear it will list it up toward the top of their own list, but for me it’s just far too upbeat and happy. Which was probably the point. I think the beat selection was chosen either for “relief” purposes, to create a different vibe before heading into some of the heaviest tracks on the album, or perhaps as a parody of that upbeat style of music that seems to be so popular among the crowd of people I don’t like at all. I’m going to believe it was the second one, because what funnier thing is there to do on a song called “Everybody’s Fake” than to use a beat in the style of fake people’s music? Let’s appeal to the people we don’t like on a song about them. Great idea. Seriously. I like it.

Another particular favorite of mine is “Stan Lee’s Revenge (ft. Kamino)”, probably the heaviest song on the album, and very in the vein of one of my favorite rappers, Tyler, the Creator. The song to me is similar to Tyler’s song “Transylvania”, and has some hilarious lyrics in it about sex with Mary Jane. Obviously the entire song is written in superhero subtexts, and even the beat sounds like a score from a superhero film. This song is my third favorite from the album, and the heaviness is something I definitely love! To sum up the entire album, I truly feel like he spent a lot of time and hard work making something everyone can enjoy. I’m actually not a huge fan of rap or hip-hop, but he is one of those artists I will always listen to, whether we are friends or not. There truly is something for everybody on this album, from heavy to sad to upbeat and epic. His style is one of immense complexity, and he highly appeals to me because his lyrics are true and he never sticks with what he knows. He always seems to be pushing himself outside of his box (if he even has one at this point), and I personally feel like it’s a shame that I even have to classify him as hip-hop or even alternative. He is a breed all of his own, with a sound that is, to me, instantly recognizable, and I think that very soon, a lot of people are going to agree with me. He is one of a very small collective of hip-hop artists that you don’t want to miss out on. His album, Do Not Disturb The Introvert will be available on all major music markets online, like Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play, as well as in select stores for physical purchase.

Had Enough is an artist to be reckoned with, and I hope you all buy a copy of his album, because it’s a great one! I’d have to rate this album 8 out of 10, and keep in mind that I said I’m not really a big fan of much hip-hop, so I’m not rating it an 8/10 for hip-hop, I’m rating it 8/10 for mother fucking music in general! For more on Had Enough and MuGen Music, visit http://www.mugenmusic.com or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Had-Enough/178645256008?fref=ts

11222636_10153056992646009_8098091599016735663_n photo by Samantha Smith

Copyright 2015 by Kyle Oliver, written 8/29/15

Kyle Oliver is an award nominated filmmaker for his amazing short film “NUMB“.  He is also a writer, working in screenplays, short stories and novels. To find out more about his latest project,visit http://www.facebook.com/TheManifestingUndead

The Art of the Screenplay

     The screenplay is an odd format to write in. It really is. In one sense, it is very easy, but after a second breath, it can seem very difficult and hard to master. What most distinctly sets it apart from a novel is that many of your freedoms and creative abilities are completely stripped away from you. Instead of being able to fully pour your ideas out on the page, you are only allotted a limited amount of time (pages) to capture your audience’s attention. The Great American Novel has been referred to by some naive film buffs as “word vomit” and “rambling”, because they view the screenplay as a superior counterpart to the novel. While I understand the sentiment, they are simply two different formats that cannot be compared, and they both have their respective ways of telling a well-crafted story. 

     Enough with the novel. I’ll get into that aspect of writing in further detail later. Right now, I want to discuss once more, the art of the screenplay. I am a young and inexperienced writer, so what can I teach you? I’ve only written two feature length screenplays and a handful of shorts. So what should make me an authority on writing a screenplay? Well, I assume if you are reading blogs on screenplay writing, you are probably just as inexperienced, or perhaps even more so, as I am.  So if we are on a similar level of experience, it can be beneficial to both of us if we learn together. Instead of trying to learn from and place yourself in a master’s shoes, you can start out slow and work your way up to the big times. This is a plan that I have integrated into my writing regimen, and will continue to do so. 

     First thing’s first: if you have an idea for a story that you are dying to tell, the number one thing to worry about is structure. Structure is very important because it will determine how you will tell your story, and each structure you choose will have its own unique bounds and limits. Do you want to just throw your audience into the story, with no set up, and then immerse them in the backstory as the story unfolds, or do you want to have a setup, conflict and resolve, like a traditional structure? These choices will severely affect the way your script will read and how the events will unfold. Sometimes it is best to set up the characters and the world they live in first, especially if you are working in a world of pure fiction of your own creation. No one would have understood the significance of the Flux Capacitor in “Back to the Future” if they just threw you into the story with no setup. But if you are working in a world of the reality in which we already live, then the chances are, even the most dissociated people will understand the significance of what is happening, in which case, it can then be possible to throw your audience into the conflict before showing the setup. If you choose this path, make sure the story of how they got into the point of conflict is just as interesting as the conflict itself. If you’re showing the backstory after the fact, don’t do it all at once. Sprinkle the back story throughout the entire film at times when it is most prime to do so. For example, if a character dies in your script, you could then write a piece of backstory showing a happier time in his individual story, thus making his death even more tragic. In a traditional structure, you would make your audience like the character first, and then he would die. But in this format, you are forcing your audience to remember back in your film as to why he was so likeable, and why his death was tragic. In doing a sort of reverse format, you would kill your character first, and then show your audience why it is so sad. Show them a kind act that your character had done that they never even knew about. It will blow their minds. 

     Now I’m going to regurgitate a concept that has been done before, but not one that I have ever attempted myself. You would start your story right at the end, in the resolve, and then push backwards to the conflict, and finally, the setup. This has been done very well in Christopher Nolan’s “Memento”. 

Thanks for reading! I might do another piece on this subject soon, and I definitely plan on doing some pieces of novel and short story writing very soon!

Copyright 2015 by Kyle Oliver
Kyle Oliver is an award nominated filmmaker for his amazing short film “NUMB“.  He is also a writer, working in screenplays, short stories and novels. To find out more about his latest project,visit http://www.facebook.com/TheManifestingUndead

The Manifesting Undead- Past, Present & Future

Manifesting Teaser Poster 2 final

The Manifesting Undead is more than a film, and it’s a HELL of a lot more than “just a zombie film”. It’s a personal story of mine that I’ve spent the past four years of my life perfecting. At times it became a hyped-up film that never got made, and at other times, it became a film I abandoned completely. But I think part of me knew that I couldn’t abandon this spark of an idea I had spent so much time on, pumping out draft after draft, version after version (and let me tell you, there are MANY different versions, all with the same basic idea, but they go in completely different directions). So let me give you some history about this project before I tell you the future of it.

It’s March 2011, and I’m a whopping 17 years old. I’m just a kid with a camera, and the latest stupid short film I had just finished making was called “The Manifesting Undead”. It was a horribly awful short film that even I didn’t take seriously, but out of all of the work I spent on it, I did get one thing from it- A really, REALLY cool title. And with this title, my mind had only a vague idea about zombies, devil worshipers, and promiscuous teenagers. Flash forward almost a year, December 17th, 2011, and I have a new short film with the same really cool title ready to shoot. This time, though, the short film wasn’t going to star myself as a rockstar zombie, and it wasn’t going to be 5 minutes long. This time, the script was about 48 pages, and I was casting kids from the local high school’s drama club to act in the film. I had just printed off the first copy of the script, and auditions were only one day away. What better way to celebrate than to go to the park, roll a big fat doobie up on the script, and smoke away the hangover from the night before, and all the late nights I spent writing it. Right? Wrong.

Not ten seconds after we finish rolling the joint using my script as a rolling tray, a cop comes up claiming to have gotten a call about some kids at the park smoking a joint. ‘But we just rolled it, we didn’t even light it up’, I thought. Didn’t matter. I went to jail. Auditions, cancelled, the movie, postponed. Until, mid-January, 2012. We got the local movie theatre in Chickasha, Oklahoma to hold our auditions, and we had a decent turn-out for the lack of advertising. We had about 20 people there, all reading in an un-used screening room on a relaxed Sunday evening. Some people sucked, some blew us away, and some were just downright hilarious. But all in all, we met some really awesome people. Unfortunately, none of those people were put to good use. My drug and alcohol habits rapidly increased, so naturally, my desire to make a movie that cost money that I could spend on drugs, decreased.

Months later, I realized what the hell I was doing, and slowly weened myself off of all the drugs and alcohol, and came back full force, stronger than ever, with even darker stories to tell. With the help of one fabulous (un-named) woman, I was able to acquire all of the equipment I needed, and began to rewrite a new, revamped, full-length version of “The Manifesting Undead”. About 16 pages in, I realized that this story was still not the one I wanted to tell, seeming more like Rob Zombie’s remake of “Halloween” than an original story by me. I gave up. I noticed the zombie trend slowly dying down. I didn’t want to make a zombie film anymore. Not one bit.

Instead, I refocus my attention to what I should have been doing a long time ago, which was making short films. Not the kind of “short films” I made at 17 and younger, but serious and well crafted short films. So I did. I wrote a short film called “The Legende Immortal”, one called “Numb”, and another called “Mammon” (which we shot about 80% of and lost every single bit of footage). With no luck on shooting most of them, I just kind of made some friends get together one day to film the most simple and straight-forward script I had, which was “Numb”. It turned out to be even better than I had hoped, but at this point, I was so fixated on my western story “The Legende Immortal”, that I didn’t even think about “The Manifesting Undead”. A lot of failed attempts to start projects up ensue between November, 2012, until March, 2014. I only have one short film, but now, I’m flying to Colorado to help put some finishing touches on an indie zombie film over there. When I get back, my vigor is renewed once again, and I remember “I ONLY HAVE ONE FUCKING SHORT FILM AND I’M ALMOST 21 YEARS OLD”.

I sit down, and within weeks, I finish my first feature length script, “The Legende Immortal”. I budget the film to a measly $15,000, but no one thinks I can make the film for that cheap. A lot of people are pressuring me to write a cheap horror flick, and a lot of industry pros are telling me to stick to short films for the time. But what do I want to do? I don’t really know. I piece together a short film completely by myself based on some old material, and it’s called “The Minute Glass”. With the exception of one voice over, despite what the credits say, I made the entire thing on my own. Makeup, camera, sound, editing, etc. And lo and behold, it turns out like SHIT!

I don’t let it hold me down. So I start writing more short films that I can film with minimal actors and crew. Now comes “The Homicide Syndrome”. I’ve got a script, and everything is in place… No, wait, everyone bails on me the day before shooting, like usual. Fuck it, I’ll act in it myself, again. We shoot some promo posters, and even a teaser trailer, and plan to film it soon. Then I get a driver gig on a bigger budget film in Guthrie, Oklahoma, called “Monday At 11:01 A.M.”, which is cool for some experience. I spend a month doing that film, and come back home in December, 2014. Seeing a “real” movie set, I realize that “The Legende Immortal” might be too big for the budget I have it at, so I now know I need to write something else that can fit a tighter budget. But what? I have absolutely zero new ideas, and I’m still mostly stuck on the western, so I let the holidays play their course so my mind can refresh…

January, 2015, I’m sitting around, and the best idea in the world comes to me, and what do you know? It’s the perfect plot for “The Manifesting Undead”. It centers around a group of ghost hunters that investigate a strange house that they are given very little information on, and during this investigation, they are overrun by a horde of zombies that are oustide, trying to get in. In the end of the film, strange revelations are brought out into the open that were hidden deep in the underbelly of this strange and evil house.

The film is based on a true story. People are asking how I can write a zombie film that is also based on a true story, and well, that is sort of the hook of the film. It IS based in reality, using the zombies as a mere backdrop to tell a deeper and more rich story. It is based on my own personal experiences as a videographer working with a paranormal research team on some really weird investigations to strange houses, and that is where the reality lies.
So, myself and producer Max Wagner, co-founder of the paranormal team C.P.R.S., or, Chickasha Paranormal Research Society, are working together to craft a film that holds true to what real “ghost hunters” do, while also combining the ficticious aspects of zombies and surrealistic paranormal entities.

This is a feature length film, budgeted at around $5,000, to be shot entirely on location in Chickasha, Oklahoma. We will film the entire feature running a “skeleton crew”, which is just a fancy/creepy way of saying “a small crew”, which will contain about 10 or less of us. The cast will contain 4 ghost hunters, one strange man, a dead body, and hordes of zombie extras to be played by whomever wishes to become the manifesting undead. We have the equipment we need, and a good portion of the crew already selected, and we’re on our way to crafting a fun film, whether it comes out good or bad, we’re excited about taking the journey…

If you’re interested in helping in any way, shape or form, don’t hesitate to message the filmmakers on our official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheManifestingUndead

or, you can directly message the studio behind the film:


We are considering starting a crowdfunding campaign for this film, either on IndieGogo, Kickstarter, or GoFundMe. If you’re interested in donating BEFORE we launch one of those, message one of the above pages on how you can do so.
We thank you for all your support, no matter how big or small you might think it is, it all helps us tremendously to get down the road of our first feature film!

Copyright 2015 by Kyle Oliver

Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated filmmaker for his first short film Numb, which he wrote and directed. He is also the CEO/Owner of Vintage Image Films. You can find him on Twitter @ThatKyleOliver, and Vintage Image Films on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm

“How To Make Your First Short Film” (part 3 of 3)

We’re back, for the third and final piece in this short filmmaking series of articles. In the first two pieces, we discussed music, (some) audio, lighting, shooting, writing, and a bit of acting. This time around, we will dicuss the final pieces- sound recording, video editing, and audio editing.

Now, I’ve already gotten a lot of feedback about the “raunchy” and “nasty” and “disgusting” sound effects in our short film, “The Minute Glass” (found here). The sounds include a straight razor scraping against someone’s neck, and the razor actually cutting into the neck, with a bit of a blood squirt sound added here and there for effect. Let me explain how it is we did that:

Sound Recording (AKA, foley)

Foley is the art of recording sound effects for a film to recreate everything happening on screen, as these sounds are typically either not picked up while filming, or at least, not picked up very well during filming. After the edit is complete, a list of all required sound effects is built, then given to the foley artist to go out and reproduce. In our case on “The Minute Glass”, we required a phone ringing, a straight razor scraping a neck, a straight razor actually cutting the flesh on the neck, blood squirts, boots walking on hard tile, etc. Most of these are very easy to reproduce, and require very little work or thought.

However, the cutting of the throat is what we’ll refer to here. For this, it was very simple, yet it took a bit of creativity (and coincidence). The creativity part was a simple idea- record a watermelon being cut into, then subsequently, being ripped open in half. The lucky coincidence was it being summer, and we had just purchased some watermelon during the day of our shoot (specifically to eat, so we kind of got two birds with one stone!). Layered in with the edited video, this sound improved the scene drastially, though it needed a little bit more. For this, I added Video Copilot’s Action Essentials 2 blood squirt sounds, which I only peppered throughout a bit. To make things more intense, we recorded my heart-beat with our Zoom H4N. We added in the heartbeat, and, with some audio-editing techniques, made it speed up as he was cutting his throat, then come to a halt as he finished. Combined with music (see the first article here), the scene was tense, and I was very happy with the outcome. Audio editing and mixing is a vast subject, worth many articles of explanation on its own, so we’ll save the rest of this subject for another time.

Video Editing

Now on to the actual editing. You will need some sort of video editing software. We use Sony Vegas Pro 12 right now, but are trying out Avid Media Composer on our next project. Windows Movie Maker, or iMovie can be used to an extent, but I would reccomend something at least a little bit better. Sony Vegas Movie Studio starts at $49.95, and HitFilm 2 Express is in the $150 range. These have color correction and grading tools built in, so you will have everything you need to get started making professional-looking short films, and for a cheap price, as compared to the $600+ price range for programs like Vegas Pro, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or Avid.
Learn to use the editing software as best as you can. For this, there are tons of tutorials on YouTube that will show you how to do specific things in whichever program you need to learn in. Take your footage, and compile it in one folder, titled “Insert Film Title”, Footage. Provided you used an external audio recorder, do the same, but “Insert Film Title”, Audio. This is the setup we use, and it is very easy to simply drag from your card’s storage into these new folders. As soon as that is done, it is best to immediately backup this footage and audio, on either a flash drive, secondary SD card, or an external hard drive. You never know what can happen in the cyber-realm. Once that is completed, I usually open my video editor, and create my titles (which usually just starts out with “Vintage Image Films Presents”, and some sort of textual description). After that, I immediately begin dragging my footage into the program. Since I keep my camera’s built in audio turned on, it drags in an audio piece attached to the video. I keep this here so I can sync up my external audio later on. I take the first shots (not necessarilly the first clips we shot, but the first scene for the film, at least. We shoot out of order completely) and begin to trim them as I see fit.
This process will be further covered in our upcoming behind the scenes for the film.

Color Correcting The Footage

After I have at least one scene trimmed, chopped, and pieced together, I start my color correcting. Don’t confuse color correcting for color grading. We’ll get to that. The coloring process is where I take the visual color tones that I had decided upon (it is always best to decide what look you want before filming, so you can light and shoot for that particular look), and bring them out. I use a basic three-way color wheel. It has color tones for the highlights, mids, and shadows (in Vegas Pro, these are labelled “low” “mid”, & “high”). Typically, I balance the lows to the dark or light blue range. It gives a very subtle dark, psychological look to the footage, but it can make skin tones look too pink. To counter this, I take the mids into the yellow-green range, bringing back the skin tones, and not affecting much other aspects of the clip. Afterward, the highs are either put also into the blue range, or the green range, depending on what the background was, what lights I used, and what color of clothes the actors wore. In this color correcting plugin, I also have control of saturation, gamma and gain. I really enjoy what is called a bleach-bypass look. This was a technique used on film stock development where they would intentionally the bleaching of the negative. It has what could be called a very “filmish” look, and works for horror films, and psychological thrillers very well. To achieve this, I reduce some of the saturation and gamma, which removes some color and adds more contrast to the shadows, then I boost the gain, which blows out the whites and “over exposes” them. To me, it looks very pleasing when used in dark films with deep, psychological themes.

Color-Grading (not to be confused with correcting)

Now, the part about the bleach-bypass look technically fits into the grading category, and not the correcting. Color correcting is where you use the color wheels to match each clip’s color tones to each other, making a seamless transition between to different angles that probably had at least slightly different lighting, which in turn, creates at least, slightly different color ranges. Color grading is where a lot of the actual “look of the film” comes full circle. To do this, I open up several other plugins. Brightness & Contrast, Unsharpen Mask, Sharpening, and sometimes, Color Curves. I really don’t use the “brighten” tool inside Brightness & Contrast, instead, I only focus on the contrast. I add just a bit to make the colors, highlights, and shadows pop more vividly. After this, I add some sharpening, to bring out scars/marks on the actors faces, as well as to remove what might look “blurry”, or “fuzzy” to some. This results in a very sharp, slightly grainy (which I love) HD image that will surely pierce the hearts and minds of audiences. No? Okay then, moving on. Unsharpen mask is a tool that basically does the same thing as sharening, only, instead of focusing mostly on the image as a whole, it will, more or less, only sharpen the outlines of objects within the frame. After this I open up my Pan/Crop, unclick “maintain aspect ratio”, and drag the frame into each other a bit, which adds the faux widescreen bars (even though I am shooting in 23.976fps, 1080p, 16:9 widescreen, the bars do not show up on YouTube, which, for the time being, is the main place I am releasing my stuff). And below, you will see the before and after of a raw frame, to the corrected frame. Voila! And that is how it’s done!


Image16  before corrections & grading

Image15 after corrections & grading



Stay tuned for our upcoming making of, which will show the making of our film, interviews, and most importantly, will give you knowledge on how to make your own.

So if you feel I’ve shorthanded you on this article, don’t fret. There will be a long documentary to help you even further!

Written by Kyle Oliver, 7/16/2014

Copyright 2014 by Kyle Oliver

Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated filmmaker for his first short film Numb, which he wrote and directed. He is also the CEO/Owner of Vintage Image Films. You can find him on Twitter @ThatKyleOliver, and Vintage Image Films on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm

How To Make Your First Short Film, (part 2 of 3)

Image3 screenshots from the film courtesy of Vintage Image Films, copyright 2014


Hello all! Yesterday, we (being us here at Vintage Image Films!) released our second official short film, “The Minute Glass”, about a man who must kill himself before the time on a minute glass runs out, or else his wife will be killed by the people who are robbing him. The film was shot for zero dollars and zero cents, and will be linked to at the end of this article. 


I emphasize the non-existent budget because I want my readers to understand the value of that statement. It isn’t a brag, or a flashy thing to show around, because sometimes, a zero-budget can actually be frowned upon. I am merely attempting to demonstrate that a film CAN be made for no money (minus equipment costs, which never count as part of the budget on a film, unless rented specifically for that film). Perhaps a zero budget film will not be the next Hollywood blockbuster, but it can be an artsy, well-crafted piece of cinema made with love, (fake) blood, sweat, stress and immense passion. The key ingredient we had for our film was a script, intentionally written to fit our circumstances. The script contained 4 characters, a minute glass, a cell phone, a straight-razor and some fake blood, which we already had lying around.

Now for the most part, I did everything myself, with a little bit of help from my great collaborator Vincent Diamond, a talented cinematographer and sound editor. To go into depth on our process would not take much time as it was very simple, quick, and to the point. And so I shall elaborate.

Writing The Script.

To start, I wrote the script by myself in about a day. I had planned some sort of home-invasion flick where a man and his wife would be intruded by some robbers who are neck deep in trouble from the mob, needing some quick cash to pay them back. So they would choose, at random, my character’s home, kidnap the wife, and hold her for ransom until they got the cash they needed from her husband. But I knew I didn’t have the necessary actors for this, so I decided against showing the actual invasion in-lieu for showing the aftermath. With that, I knew I had a minute glass and a cool straight-razor, so I wrote them into the story. The story we filmed is as follows: James McDermott (the husband) must kill himself within 60 seconds, so a second robber can safely come in and take the money out of his lockbox, and bring it back to the main robber, who has James’ wife, Stella. If James does not complete this in 60 seconds, they will all die, as bombs are triggered to every watch, clock, and glass, in the film. Of course, the robbers were not dumb enough (or smart enough) to set this elaborate plan up themselves. They would never put themselves in death’s reach. It has all been set up by the mob (who are never present on screen, and only mentioned vaguely), who the robbers owe money to. Well, long story short, James does not complete killing himself before the glass runs out, and right after he finishes slicing his own throat with the straight-razor, he hears his wife explode via speakerphone on a private cell phone call from the robber. The second robber comes inside and sees James. He checks the lockbox only to find there actually never was any money in it in the first place, but a vulgar note telling them to “eff off”. The robber finishes James off with a gun, then smokes a cigarette as his clock counts down until the room explodes……       FADE OUT.


Now when I wrote this, I knew I had CGI bomb effects, and explosion sound effects at my disposal, as well as muzzle flashes for guns, gun sounds, and a realistic-looking airsoft gun “prop” (I ended up not using the CGI explosion as I found cutting to black seemed more effective). Sometimes, I log information like this into my brain, and when I go to write a script, it comes out as needed. I always write for what I know I have, and my brain seems to actively help me do this on its own.

Image14 Video Copilot’s Action Essentials 2

Shooting The Film.

Before shooting, I planned out all of the shots via shot lists (free film paperwork can be found here). The shot lists comprise all of your angles, camera movements, and short descriptions of shots on an easily-readable document, so you can work as smoothly and quickly as possible on-set. The way to write your shot list is to know your script by heart, close your eyes, and watch your film in your head, cut for cut, shot for shot, and transcribe what you see into properly-formatted terms.

SHOT LIST-1 a sample shot list from “L.A. Confidential”, based on the novel by James Ellroy.

Once I had the shot list in place, it was time to make a list of all props, set decoration (like chairs, furniture, tables, etc), clothes that would be worn (wardrobe), the actual gear, and extra things like fake blood, clothes-pins, etc. Our gear comprises of a Nikon D3100 DSLR camera, two lenses (the 18mm-55mm kit lens, and a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D), a Zoom H4N external audio-recorder, many PNY Professional-Grade SD cards, a fluid-head tripod, a pair of headphones for audio monitoring, “can” lights with fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent light-bulbs, white poster board to use as what’s called a “bounce” (for reflecting light to your subject when you don’t require the full light directly on it), and finally, miscellaneous items such as thick black construction paper to wrap around the lights, guiding their flow exactly where you want it, and a thousand or more clothes-pins to clip the construction paper onto the lights.

5-Portable H4n_slant the Nikon D3100 & Zoom H4N external audio recorder- just like we used on our film.

We set up our first angle, and filmed the entire scene in one take, three separate times, noting continuity things, such as, I pick up the straight-razor with my right hand, I use the phone on my right ear, etc. This is necessary in order to make sure each angle matches the next, because, contrary to popular belief, a lot of sets do not use multiple cameras filming at the same time, but instead, film the same scene several times from different angles, using one camera. This is where editing comes into play, but we’ll get to that. We filmed the same scene three times from one angle, moved the camera to a different angle, filmed the same exact thing three more times, switched the angle, did it three more times again, and so on, so forth. (I prefer to do this as a director to not only make sure I have all of the coverage I need, but to assure myself that at least some portion of each three takes per angle will be good enough for use)

After this, we filmed what are called insert shots. Insert shots are things that are not your main subject (which is usually the actor(s)), but sometimes need to be focused upon to establish certain elements, and if not for important reasons, to at least develop a bit of style in the film. Cases of insert shots in my film are closeups of my hand grabbing the straight-razor and/or cell phone, turning the minute glass over, and the final robber grabbing the candle to light his cigarette. These shots are great for establishing small portions of the location, as well as establishing important objects within the scene, which in my film’s case, the objects are almost characters in themselves.

Image12 screenshot from the film

Lighting The Scene.

Now we come to lighting, which probably should have been mentioned before filming, but I wanted to save it for last, as it can be the most tricky aspect. My philosophy on lighting, and my cinematographer Vincent Diamond’s views on it as well, are to walk on set, hook up a light in the one location you know for a fact you want one. In our case, we wanted a sort of quazi-noir look, so we placed the first light directly above the actor (me) and table, which gave off a sort of “interrogation scene” vibe, and I liked it. But if you know anything about filmmaking, you’ll know that one light is never enough. I knew I wanted an immense amount of shadowing on the right side of my face, so we placed another light at about the same level I was sitting, directly facing me, to the left, which gave the intended effect. Looking through the camera, I was fairly happy, but I needed a bit more. Suddenly, we got the wild idea to place a third light underneath the glass table I was sitting at, which shined up through, lit my chin up, and gave a sort of supernatural-surreal look to the scene, as light would never normally pour out from under the table in real life. Looking through the camera, I saw that it wasn’t too obvious (because you never want viewers to really notice what you’re doing, where lights are, what’s a dubbed sound and what’s not). I was really happy with the overall look, so we used it.

Image11 the look of the film is dark, with deep contrasted shadows, and semi-washed-out highlights.

That’s my, and Vincent’s, ideology on lighting a scene. Walk in, set your camera up at the particular angle you like, start with one light, make sure it looks good through the camera’s lens (because what might look good with your eyes might look bad through a lens), and continue building upon it, one light at a time, because one light is never enough (unless your one light is the Sun, then you might actually need something to diffuse it!).


That’s all for this part. Next (and final) volume, I shall discuss the entire editing, color correcting, and color-grading process, as well as sound effects, and sound editing.

Don’t forget that we are doing an in-depth “behind the scenes” documentary which will teach you all you need to know to make your first short film for nothing (as well as being overloaded with my own cinematic opinions).

And finally, don’t forget to watch the actual short film you just read so much about! You can find it here.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for watching! Feel free to leave comments, criticism and concerns in the comments section.

written by Kyle Oliver, 7/10/2014

Copyright 2014 by Kyle Oliver

Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated filmmaker for his first short film Numb, which he wrote and directed. He is also the CEO/Owner of Vintage Image Films. You can find him on Twitter @ThatKyleOliver, and Vintage Image Films on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm 

“How To Make Your First Short Film”, (part 1 of 3)


a screen grab from our upcoming film, “The Minute Glass”.

Howdy there, partners! I’m blazing hot off the trail of finishing my first (official) feature-length screenplay, a western, entitled “The Legende Immortal”. Now I know I’ve been talking a lot about this film in particular, so I thought I’d move to more refreshing subject matter. The matter of the short film.
As you may know, my first official short film, “Numb” –a story about the inner monologues (thoughts) of a man that take place while he is killing his wife, then subsequently chopping up her body, and putting it into a body bag, before contemplating his own suicide– was nominated for a Best Short Film award. The film was completed for a budget right under $5. A lot of people have asked how it was done, and my last article sort of, kind of, perhaps possibly maybe, covered that. In short, the article spoke of writing scripts for the assets you already know you have. In my case, I had a couple of friends, a gigantic trash bag, a saw, and some fake blood. These were things that I already had lying around, and so I put them to the best use I could. This usage got me my first nomination, 4 out of 4 review, and even an interview.

So how do you go about making your first short film? I am now onto my official second short film, called “The Minute Glass”, and I’m going to use it as a vehicle to help you all out with your own short film project, including a soon to come, in depth, behind the scenes video that will cover our process from start to finish. In our case, I have amassed a large array of cool objects to be used as props. But even if you, personally, do not own a bunch of cool items, don’t fret. Just find things you DO have and put them to the best use. One problem I have that is of ill-fortune is that, typically, I will never know your particular circumstances, therefore, I cannot write your script for you. But with ingenuity and creativity, you should be able to pull off something great. Find some friends (or A friend) willing to help you, either behind, or in front of the camera, and use your script and adapt that to the screen as best as you can. Keep in mind that equipment isn’t particularly the most important of matters. In fact, on your first several shorts, you will usually be forgiven for bad video/audio quality as long as the actual story quality is there.

A few things you should know, whether you are shooting on a home video camera with no external microphone (meaning, you are using only the built in camera microphone, and not an audio recorder or other recording source), or filming on a cell phone, or even if you have the latest high tech, prosumer gear like the Canon C300, with the highest-end Sennheiser shotgun and lavalier microphones, one of the most important things to ever remember is called room noise.

Room Noise.

Room noise is that particular background frequency you will pick up, no matter how great your microphone is or isn’t. The better the mic, the less background noise, of course, but never fear. If you’ve cut some footage, and noticed a very clear and obvious difference between audio recorded from one cut to the next, there is a fix. Even if you filmed in the same room, just different angles for different actors, there will ALWAYS be a noticeable difference in background frequency. Here is how to fix it:
Take your microphone (or camera with built in audio), and sit it stationary, either on the tripod, table, etc. Let the camera or audio device record for a while, without moving it, touching it, or even making a sound. Leave the room if you can. This is what you will layer under all of the audio shot in that particular location. If you are outside, do the same thing. Take at least one minute’s worth of blank audio in EVERY SINGLE LOCATION!!! Even if the scene is longer than one minute, you can always loop the same track multiple times in post-production. This technique is used on every film you’ve ever seen, and will help your audio out tremendously, in-lieu with good audio mixing skills. “But we’re talking about film, not audio.” Keep in mind that audio is either just as important, or more important, than video, depending on who you ask. The best looking footage in the world will look like crap if the audio sounds like crap. It is not always necessarily the same when the roles are vice versa. Bad video can only be improved by great audio, as long as the video isn’t “that bad”, whatever that may mean.

Shot Lists.

When you’re finished with your script, one of the most basic things you can do is to write out a shot list that is easily interpreted by your cast, crew, and most importantly, yourself. A great, and typical way of labelling the shots for your slate, is to assign a letter to each scene, and a number to each shot within that scene. Therefore, the first scene, hypothetically taking place in “Billy’s Room”, would be “Scene A”. The first shot of “Billy typing on his computer”, would be “Shot 1”. So you would label the shot as “1A”, and so forth. Scene 2 would be “Scene B”, and you would start over again at “Shot 1” for that scene. “1B”, “5C”, “8D”, so on and so forth. Other things to include in your shot list might be your actual shots, like if you plan to film Billy with an extreme close up, you would label it as “ECU”, and then specify if there are any camera movements, such as an upward pan, left pan, or a simple static shot, labelled “static”. Then, if you wish, place a description of the shot next to the other information.


Another thing that helps the entire film tremendously is music. In my case, I happen to be a long-term musician (going on 8 years), so I know how to compose the scores for any type of film I do. Perhaps that is not your case. If you can’t compose your own music, there are plenty of websites where you can either buy, or get music for free. And they have large libraries of music to choose from, so you’ll be in a good position to find the music that’s right for your film.
Other finishing touches (aside from the edit, which you control), are sound effects. As afforementioned, there are also websites where you can either buy, or find for free, great stock sound effects, ranging from gun shots, punches, blood squirts, cars zooming by, tires squealing, and much, much more. The sound depends on your project, as does the music. If it is horror, blood squirts and gun shots might be exactly what you need.


This is the end of this article, but there will be much more to come as we move forward on our short film in the forthcoming days, and I will share our behind the scenes in-depth video, as well as the actual short film, on July 9th. I hope these tips have been of help! If there are any topics you would like for me to cover, don’t be afraid to speak out in the comments section!

Written by Kyle Oliver, 6-23-14

Copyright 2014 by Kyle Oliver

Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated filmmaker for his first short film Numb, which he wrote and directed. He is also the CEO/Owner of Vintage Image Films. You can find him on Twitter @ThatKyleOliver, and Vintage Image Films on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm

“How To Write Great Original Screenplays, Part 2 of 3

224 (1 of 1)

Hello, all! We’re back again with some more story-telling-talk. As of this writing on 6/14/2014, I have finished my full length supernatural/western-thriller screenplay, “The Legende Immortal”, a currently untitled horror short film script, three more articles, and one subtextual film criticism. The reason I speak of this is not to gloat (okay, perhaps a bit of gloating), but to further explain how much I have already learned since I wrote part 1 of this “how to”, just two months back.

With that said, one of the most major differences in my writing (and filmmaking) from just two months back, is that now I have learned to not be so picky about things. You know, the way some people want to write, or make movies, or do this and that, that and this, so bad, but they never do, almost as if they are waiting and waiting for the perfect idea to come to them first? Yeah, that was me. In two months of making myself stick to my guns and JUST WRITE, I have learned that’s all it takes.


In theory, this might seem easier said than done, but if you want to write, there is no other way to do it than just doing it, just like a guitar player cannot learn to play guitar by simply wanting to learn to play guitar. As I want to work my way up to the status of Quentin Tarantino, a guitarist might want to work his way up to the status of Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen, but he cannot simply get there by just wanting to get there. He must practice every day, and bleed for his art, and sweat for his art. He must become frustrated, and weep for his art. There is simply no other way around it.

And just like a guy who wants to learn metal guitar might have to start out with something more simplistic, like an “A Minor” chord, an aspiring writer may have to start out with something more simplistic also, before he may work his way up to innovation. Most won’t have the skillset to write a new screenplay every single friggen’ day, at the beginning, and sometimes even at the most advanced stages. That is not the point. The point is to find things to excersise your muscles with, to grind your teeth on. Take film criticism, or even more specifically, as aforementioned, subtextual film criticism. Subtextual film criticism is something you might have to do in a college-leve film appreciation class, and to some (or most), it might not be fun. It is the practice of noting, and critiquing, underlying and intrinsic themes in a film. Sometimes, these are not things the averge film-goer will notice is actually there. For instance, story elements, particular shots, angles, camera movements. Why a particular event in the story might effect the character in a certain way.
A good place to go for things like this is straight to the classics; Homer, Shakespeare, and even into classic cinema like “Taxi Driver”, “Rear Window”, “I Bury The Living”, and “Once Upon A Time In The West”. These types of films, plays, and stories are filled with deep, underlying subtexts that can bring light to the characters motives, emotions, and roles in the story. To write a subtextual film criticism, you simply have to notice, take note, and then critique whether or not you think the creator(s) did a good job at conveying said subtexts. Another fun part is that, as a critic of such things, these can all be your opinion, because in most cases, we will never truly know if it was “all in Travis Bickle’s head”, or if he was just lonely (Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, played by a young Robert DeNiro). The subtext is as you see it and feel it, and it doesn’t even necessarily have to make sense to anybody but you, as long as it works in context of your critique.

Now, I know this headline was “How To Write Great Original Screenplays”, not “How To Write Great Subtextual Film Criticism”, but I wouldn’t suggest anything I didn’t think would truly improve your overall writing capabilities. That aside, there are other alternatives to flexing your writer’s biceps on the daily, such as short stories, which can span from a paragraph to many pages. Monologues, dialogues, shorts bios of persons you might be obsessed with (like my love for all things Tarantino and Sergio Leone). Essays (yeah, like those annoying things they force you to do in college), can really help, especially in an out-of-school setting where you pick the topic and write in any format you feel comfortable. I despised being forced to write my essays (and sometimes, other’s essays :P) in college, because it was a narrow topic, with bland subject material, but now, out of college, I occasionally like to diverge myself into random essays over topics I actually don’t mind writing about.

So, in the end, it all comes down to you and how bad you want to do it. If you want to become a great writer or screenwriter, start writing scripts, articles, and anything else you can dream up. All it takes is actually sitting down and doing, and you’d be surprised by how many non-film-related writings can directly help you become stronger at your particular craft.

That ends part two of this series. Next time, I will discuss thematic elements, and how they can add intrigue to your script!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @ThatKyleOliver, and subscribe to my production company on YouTube, VintageImageFilms.

Written by Kyle Oliver, 6/14/14

copyright by Kyle Oliver

Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated writer/director/editor, & the owner/CEO of Vintage Image Films. You can find Vintage Image Films on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm

How To Make Movies With Things You Already Have


      A lot of us low/no-budget filmmakers are always trying to get our ideas on the screen, with little to rely on. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people waiting in line to hand us money to make our films, either. Being an un-established filmmaker with only a handful of work to show for, I know this cycle all too well. You get a really great idea, but when it comes time to budget your script, you seem to drown in the dollar signs racking up on your computer screen (or notebook, if you are oldschool). Luck isn’t an option either, as there typically seem to be no stars in existence that favor the broke filmmaker. Fortunately for you, and me, I have some relief.

      Creativity. It’s been said a million times, and will be said a million more, creativity CANNOT be learned, and CANNOT be taught. While this might hold a lot of weight, creativity is simply another word for imagination, in my opinion, and imagination is something we have all had, at least in our childhood. I suppose it may be safe to say that creativity is the term for the ability to carry your imagination into adulthood.

      With all of that having been said, I cannot write your movie for you, just as you cannot write my movie for me. However, I can offer you ideas on how to work your way around a low budget using your wit, creativity, and some things you have lying around the house (*note that it is always a good idea to make sure fake blood is something you always have lying around the house).

      So now you ask, “How do I take nothing, and turn it into something?” Well, that would depend entirely on circumstance, and what resources you have available to you. For me, I have all of the necessary equipment, and even a fully-loaded western movie set right down the road, but I lack the actors, or even ‘friends-turned-actors’ (who are usually never any good, but they will sometimes try their best for you), to get something done and in the can. Your situation might be different. You may have an abundance of friends waiting for you to write your next masterpiece for them to star in, but not a whole lot of places to film it in. Not to worry. I’m sure you have a house, if not your own, perhaps a friend’s or relative’s? Take that, and write a zombie picture, like Night of the Living Dead, where the characters are trapped in one house trying to survive the zombie hordes outside. Or maybe take the route of The Purge, or The Strangers, and do a home-invasion type flick, where a family, or group, are trapped in their home as psychopaths invade it, and pick them off, one by one.

      Do you own a saw? A straight-razor? Chances are, you have some type of really cool potential prop laying around your house, or maybe a friend’s house. Instead of writing a story that revolves around characters or a particular location, why not use one room, and make a character’s story revolve around one cool prop? Perhaps you have a straight-razor, as mentioned above, and you decide to write a piece about a character trapped inside his own mind, with possible suicidal-tendencies, and he is debating the use of the razor to end his life? If depressing isn’t what you’re going for, try lightening the context. An older type of man who is stuck in the 50’s uses his straight-razor every day to give himself an old-fashioned shave, but one day, his routine is thrown out of sync when he loses the razor, and must be forced to move forward with the modern times, and buy a Gillette.

      Okay, okay, I know some of these aren’t the best plotlines, but I’m simply trying to show that you can do a lot with nothing. Using my first short film “Numb” as example, which you can find in a link below, I took a bottle of blood, a saw, a trash bag, and my friend’s house, all of which we had just lying around, either leftover from Halloween, or rusting in the tool shed, and I made an award-nominated short with them. (Budgeted for $5.00 if you count the blood, but technically made for $0.00 since we already had that, and didn’t buy it specifically for the film).

      So, these are but a few ideas and examples of how to make films for nothing, assuming you have reliable friends who won’t ditch you when you need them on set, and at least a house or back yard to film in. Obviously, the filmmaking equipment is a different matter altogether, but if you’re interested in putting together an essential kit for under one-thousand dollars, I covered that topic in an earlier article, which you can find here: https://kyleoliverblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/how-to-build-an-essential-filmmakers-kit-under-1000/

And here is the link to my short film “Numb” that I promised:

                      written by Kyle Oliver, 5/2/2014

If you liked this article and found it helpful, share it and follow me on Twitter, @ThatKyleOliver and let me know your thoughts, or suggestions on what to cover in upcoming articles

Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated writer/director/editor, & the owner/CEO of Vintage Image Films. You can find Vintage Image Films on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm

“How to Build An Essential Filmmaker’s Kit Under $1,000”


A lot of people these days are wanting to make movies, videos, short films, music videos, vlogs, and all sort of other things, and with good reason. Current technology has made it easier and more affordable than ever to get your hands on the gear you need. Be weary though, and prepare to be thrust into an ocean of decisions. There’s lots of equipment to choose from, so where do you start? That’s where I’ll hop in. I’ll go through the different types of affordable cameras and break down the pros and cons, as well as with microphones. I’ll even explain my own setup for you, but in the end, I am only giving you my own opinions. You must decide what works best for you.

1. Cameras- We’ll obviously start here, since this is a “movie maker’s” reference. There are TONS of different cameras to pick from! Where to start? To give you a short course, there are two main types of cameras used for low/no-budget film these days: camcorders & DSLR’s. A camcorder is your typical home video camera, but in the higher price range, these things can shoot some high quality video! A nice one to look into is the Sony HDR-FX1 HD Professional Camcorder.                                                                                          Image

Here is a nice quality test video of this camera, courtesy of habitatskater89 from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHobpf6ajGs. This camera is in the $900 range- not too bad, but still kind of expensive for some low-budget filmmakers. Another good option is the Panasonic HC-V520 for under $400, which actually has exceptional HD quality for its price. The pitfall with camcorders for filmmaking is that they look too much like video, and require a bit more coaxing in the editing room to give that extra “film look” it needs, but it can be done quite successfully. Another disadvantage is the deep depth of field. Depth of field can be very briefly explained with a physical test. Put your hand about one foot away from your eyes. Look at your hand, notice everything behind it is blurry. Now avert your eyes behind your hand. Notice everything behind is now clear, and your hand is blurry. This is a similar effect that can be acheived with more expensive cinema cameras with interchangeable lenses (meaning, you can buy extra lenses for your camera and use them, which you can’t do with a camcorder), and a very large internal sensor that offers a shallow depth of field.


This Photo Demonstrates Shallow Depth of Field.

The second option for cameras is the DSLR, which I highly recommend. The DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflux) is primarily a still image camera, but can work like a conventional digital cinema camera (like an ultra-cheap version of the RED One camera), allowing you to change lenses, shoot 24fps in 1080p HD, manual shutter speed, and full control over ISO, exposure, and aperture. The sensor in these things let you capture a look that is closer to being “film-like” than a that of a traditional camcorder, but, when it comes to DSLR cameras, you have many options to choose from. For reference, we’ll start with the two most iconic brands, Canon & Nikon. Both companies offer cameras from entry-level to professional flagship cameras. Since the pro cameras are above $1,000, we’ll steer clear of them for now. Instead, I’ll reference the two best entry-level models of the crop. You have the Canon T3i (or 600D in Europe), which is amazing! It features a completely moveable LCD screen (trust me, this comes in handy, and is a rare luxury in the entry-level DSLR world), and an external microphone port, allowing you to just plug and go with an external microphone, which we’ll cover next. It has superb image quality, and is an overall great camera! I would also recommend the Nikon D3200, which features everything I just noted from the Canon, besides the LCD screen, which is static and non-moveable. I have extensively used both cameras and can say from experience that you should really look into them if you are thinking about buying a camera for high quality video and/or photo. Both cameras can be afforded for just under $600 a piece.


Canon’s EOS Rebel T3i

2. Audio- There are only two affordable recorders I would suggest you pick from, personally: The Rode Video Mic ($150), which can be plugged straight into any camera or sound recorder that has an external 3.5mm microphone input, and the Zoom H4N ($230), which is its own recording device with two insanely amazing adjustable microphones built in, and 3 extra inputs for more mics (I own and LOVE this device!). All cameras I listed prior have built-in, internal microphones you can use, but they are of horrible quality, and sound is just as important, if not more important, than video, which is why an external recorder of some sort HAS to be in your kit as soon as you can afford it!

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3. Lights- I would never recommend going all-out on lights. Stay simple. There’s no reason to splurge on them when you can go to your local harware store and buy “can lights” for $10 a piece. Buy 3 or more, and go grab some incandescent, halogen, or even fluorescent flood lightbulbs (make sure your camera’s white balance is set according to the bulb you’re using, and never combine two different types of bulbs in the same scene!)

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4. Software- Once you buy your setup, and assuming you already have a computer that can handle HD video and fairly intense rendering, you’ll want some software. On a budget, I would highly suggest Sony Movie Studio Suite ($140), or Hitfilm 2 Express ($150). Hitfilm 2 Express is amazing, as it is a video editing and special effects package all in one. For screenwriting software, I use Celtx, and haven’t found a reason to switch to something else in the 3 years I’ve used it. http://www.celtx.com for a free download.


Last but not least, don’t forget plenty of memory card space, and a decent tripod! For HD video, you need cards with a fast transfer (look for Class 10, 20mbps and up, though 50mbps is optimal for perfect video capture). You can get professional-grade 32gb cards from PNY for $20 online. You can get decent fluid head tripods for $60, and trust me, you won’t regret getting one!

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That does it for this article! I hope this was informative and helpful. This is an easy way to spend less than $1,000 for AMAZING quality. Before I leave off, here is a full rundown of my current gear, which I’ll follow with a link to my short film, so you can see the gear in action.
I shoot on a Nikon D3100 (now $380), a Zoom H4N (I got a nice package kit for $250), 3 can lights ($30), tripod ($60), 4 misc. memory cards for under $50, and my editing software for $150 (I now use software that costs well over $600 now, though). That comes out to $980 as my initial investment, and the quality of my first short is definitely worth that much to me. If you have the drive to make high quality video, save up the money to invest in a similar setup to mine, if you like what you see, that is.


My current setup being put to the test


To know what you can do on a $5 budget with gear that cost less than $1,000, here is a link to my short film, “Numb”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKwC76zTYok

Coming soon is part 2 of “How To Write Great Original Screenplays”. Here is the first one if you missed it: https://kyleoliverblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/how-to-write-great-original-screenplays-part-1-of-3/

written by Kyle Oliver, 5/2/2014

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      Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated writer/director/editor,
& the owner of Vintage Image Films. You can find Vintage
Image Films on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm



© Kyle Oliver, 2014