Digital Production Buzz
July 16, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Larry Jordan & Mike Horton
Randi Altman, Industry Analyst and Editor
William “Bill” LaChasse, DP, Photographer
Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Suzanne LaChasse, Producer/Actor, Screen Actors System
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we start with William LaChasse. He’s been creating unique photographic images since he was six. Now that he’s an adult, he’s developed unique and memorable advertising campaigns for some of the largest advertisers in the world. Tonight he joins us to share his techniques on lighting for advertising.
Larry Jordan: Next, recently SAG-AFTRA released a new rate card for independent films. Jonathan Handel, the entertainment labor editor for the Hollywood Reporter, joins us tonight to explain what these new rate cards mean.
Larry Jordan: Finally, Suzanne LaChasse is both a producer and an actor. In fact, she’s the lead in a crime comedy series called Sketchy. She joins us tonight to describe how to survive as an actor in LA.
Larry Jordan: All this plus Tech Talk, Buzz Flashback and Randi Altman’s perspective on the news. The Buzz starts now.
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Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. Michael, it’s the middle of July …
Mike Horton: It is.
Larry Jordan: …and there’s not a lot of new news happening this week.
Mike Horton: You know how I know it’s the middle of July?
Larry Jordan: I’m afraid to even ask.
Mike Horton: We just started selling tickets to the Amsterdam Supermeet and I sent out the list to the past attendees. Nobody’s there. I got bounce backs from everybody – ‘Hi, I’m on vacation’, ‘I’m on holiday’, ‘I’ll be back in August’. That’s how I know it’s the middle of July.
Larry Jordan: You’re already stressing about getting people to show up at an event that doesn’t even occur for another two months.
Mike Horton: I know, it doesn’t even … yes.
Larry Jordan: Have you announced the agenda?
Mike Horton: Yes. No. Are you kidding? We have no idea.
Larry Jordan: Today, I just want you to know because you are such the technical guru.
Mike Horton: Nobody works in Europe. They’re all on vacation.
Larry Jordan: Nobody works here either, but that’s a separate speech.
Mike Horton: It’s true.
Larry Jordan: Today, Panasonic announced a 4K video camera …
Mike Horton: Yes, I didn’t read the specs
Larry Jordan: …at less than $700 US.
Mike Horton: Wait a minute, less than 700? I thought it was $1200 or something.
Larry Jordan: No, it’s some ridiculously small amount, so my question is, is the end of civilization as we know it?
Mike Horton: I don’t know. We have one of those photographers on our agenda today, we could maybe ask him if he’s looked into it. 700? No, it’s not $700.
Larry Jordan: I will have my research team look at it.
Mike Horton: I think it’s 1200.
Larry Jordan: Just a minute.
Mike Horton: Is it? There are two of them?
Larry Jordan: There are two cameras, one of them was 600.
Mike Horton: Really? All right, I’m buying it.
Larry Jordan: That’s it.
Mike Horton: Wait a minute, you can get those phone that do 4K, so come on.
Larry Jordan: Well, what are you going to do with a 4K video camera?
Mike Horton: I don’t know. You tell me, Larry. We’ll put it in the cloud.
Larry Jordan: What we’re going to do is we’re going to shoot video at 4K and edit it down to standard def and then post the standard def because that gives plenty of resolution to work with so we can reframe the shot.
Mike Horton: Nobody’s doing standard def. They’re at least doing high def.
Larry Jordan: Do you know how many people are doing standard def? There are side channels on satellites that are still doing 4×3 standard def. I get emails on it on a regular basis.
Mike Horton: Where, in Bosnia and Croatia?
Larry Jordan: No, the US.
Mike Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: Yes. There are a lot of specialty channels.
Mike Horton: Probably insulted a lot of Croatians right there.
Larry Jordan: Very weird. By the way …
Mike Horton: Sorry, guys.
Larry Jordan: …this is what we’re up to. Be sure to hang out with us on Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com; and subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here is Randi Altman.
Larry Jordan: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about our industry for more than 20 years. Now runs her own blog at postperspective.com, taking a look at the post production industry. Hello, Randi, welcome back.
Randi Altman: Hi, Larry. How are you?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great. What’s the big news in our industry this week?
Randi Altman: There is no news. Everyone is on vacation.
Larry Jordan: I just realized, if it wasn’t for product sales there’d be nothing happening in our industry in July. But thinking about it, you’re on the East Coast and we’re on the West Coast. What are some of the trends that you’re seeing develop this summer?
Randi Altman: It’s a trend that’s sort of been developing for the last couple of years that is hitting its peak, which is the tax incentives offered by New York State and New York City. It’s brought a ton of production onto Long Island, Westchester, Manhattan and with that came a post production tax incentive, so there’s been a lot of work going on within the city, not just production but post as well, and what we’re seeing is where New York facilities used to go to the West Coast and pick up work, that’s still happening a little bit but there are more companies from LA moving out to New York and opening up studios to try to get a piece of production and post work.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. Are we seeing new companies or existing companies establish New York offices?
Randi Altman: The latter for the most part. There are some new companies but you’ve got a lot of people coming from LA. There’s a company in Philadelphia called Dive which opened up a New York studio specifically, they did some of the effects work on The Leftovers for HBO not too long ago. People just want to be here. It’s amazing and fun to watch, actually, but I feel bad for the actors because a lot of the shooting goes on in the winter and they have it pretty miserable, cold with snow everywhere.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of a different subject, there has been a lot of talk recently about cloud based collaboration and video review. In fact, in May we talked with Jon Schappell about his software, called Collaborate. Are you seeing much movement in the post houses toward cloud based post production?
Randi Altman: Yes, more have been taking advantage of it, specifically Digital Film Tree out in your area, which has embraced it. That’s not only how they’re color grading remotely, but they’ve also come up with a product of their own for … review and approval, but they’re not alone. There’s [KADAVADICK] out here in New York that have also come up with their own. A lot of different post houses have developed their own app to solve some of the problems and they’re able to tweak it to work exactly how they work and now they’re making it available out on the market as well. There is a handful at least.
Larry Jordan: I was taking a look at a couple of past issues that you wrote and you’re starting to see something different happening in color grading. What’s going on there?
Randi Altman: Well, color grading has changed in that the tools allow the artist to do more than just color, so a lot of them are taking on tasks that are slightly VFX oriented, so they’re moving wires, they’re helping blemishes disappear. It’s not as though they’re becoming VFX artists, there’s still that that’s being sent to the studios, but little things here and there they are able to take on themselves with the flexibility of the tools and that helps a lot.
Randi Altman: Recently, I interviewed the colorist for House of Cards and I also just interviewed the colorist for Sharknado III, two very different projects. Those guys are putting 20 to 25 films a year, so their post production workflow is in place and they have very quick turnarounds. They’re just getting in and getting out. They’re doing good work but in this instance their color grading is less about a look and more about maybe changing a sunny sky to a cloudy sky.
Larry Jordan: All good stuff to talk about. Can we see you again next week?
Randi Altman: I’m on vacation for the next two weeks – yay! – but I’ll be back. If you keep asking me, I’ll come back.
Larry Jordan: We always want you back. Randi Altman is the Editor in Chief of postperspective.com. Randi, thanks for joining us this week.
Randi Altman: Thank you. Take care.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: William LaChasse has been creating unique photographic images since he was six years old. His work at ad agencies for clients such as Cadillac, Airwick, Sunbeam, Old Milwaukee Beer, Shakey’s Pizza and many others has broken boundaries and created amazing ad campaigns. He is an expert at digital imagery. Bill, thanks for joining us.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: You took your first picture when you were six.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes.
Larry Jordan: What is it that made you decide not just to mess around with cameras, but turn pro? What was that turning moment?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Between six and whenever?
Larry Jordan: The 20 that you are now.
Mike Horton: Before you answer that, what camera was that when you took the first picture at six?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: It was a two and a quarter Argoflex that was a gift to my parents when they got married.
Mike Horton: Argoflex?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: It’s an American version of …
Mike Horton: Let me Google that. What the heck was an Argoflex?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Oh yes, it’s twin lens reflex.
Mike Horton: Can we do this in post production like a Rollei?
Larry Jordan: Oh, where the two lenses are above each other?
Mike Horton: Oh, one of those! Oh, I had one of those. Yes, here they are. It’s like a Rolleiflex.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Oh, you remember now.
Mike Horton: Yes, it was like a Rolleiflex. Yes, absolutely. So you looked down it like this?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes, looked down like that and they kept it in the linen closet and I climbed up there and I took it out and I ran across the street to Dr Wilkinson’s yard and he had a big front yard with a big lawn and a lot of sprinklers that were always leaking and I always noticed there were bees on those, so I looked through there and then I thought, “Wait a minute,” I didn’t know what parallax correction was, but I thought, “Well, I know I’m looking through this top lens but I know the picture’s being taken by the bottom lens,” so I rearranged it, because at that …
Mike Horton: Yes, you’re seeing the picture backwards, right, when you look?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: And backwards, yes, but it’s such a close frame you know that the parallax is not going to correct on a camera like that, so I knew to re-aim the camera and I got the picture. It’s somewhere, I think I still have it.
Mike Horton: Really? And that was it?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes, I shot two or three.
Larry Jordan: But then what turned you pro?
Mike Horton: That bee shot.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: My brother made me do it.
Mike Horton: That bee shot would turn me pro.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes. I got some cool ones the other day, actually.
Mike Horton: Of bees?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes, bees.
Mike Horton: Cool.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: We have sunflowers in the front yard, so I saw some. They’re on my phone, actually. That’s awful.
Mike Horton: So you got bee shots with your phone?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes I did. Suzanne can find them right there.
Mike Horton: From six years old, back to the iPhone with bee shots.
Larry Jordan: I’m just sitting here, don’t mind me. Just keep talking about bees.
Mike Horton: Come on, that’s awesome.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Well, I’ll go to when I really got interested. We went on a trip back east, we went to Washington DC and New York and Vermont to visit my aunt and everything.
Larry Jordan: Just twist your mic closer to you.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Oh.
Larry Jordan: There you go.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Nice mic.
Mike Horton: Yes it is.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Mmm.
Mike Horton: That’s why we want to twist it closer to you.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Ok. Well, anyway, we went on this trip and my oldest brother took all the pictures because he was a control guy or something – he’s now a police chief. Anyway, we got back and nobody liked the pictures, they were all just not right and I’m four years younger and I’m looking at them going, “Yes, those really suck. I know I can do better than that,” and I looked at everything over and over and over again, “What could I do better? What could I do better?” I figured it out and then got into junior high school, took photo class in the summer and went on to high school and did that. I won some competitions for commercial photography. LA City College used to do a contest and I won it two years in a row.
Mike Horton: Oh, you went to LA City College?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: No, I didn’t, no, but the City College had the competition for the high schools and so I submitted for two years in a row and won on the commercial thing.
Mike Horton: What year was that? LA City College did a lot of good stuff, especially in video and film.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes. This was ’68, ’69.
Mike Horton: Yes, yes, they were way ahead of their time.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Was it the lighting that appealed to you? Was the composition? Being able to work with models and stage it? Was it the result of the photography? What is it that captured your attention?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: It was more like a communication thing came first, like, why do you take a picture? Because somebody else is going to see it and you want it to do something for or to that person, so I was interested in that area of it and with that comes, well, maybe it needs to be positioned a certain way or, wait a minute, if I put a light here or a light there it shows something about that thing, whatever I’m shooting, and so that was the focus.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had a chance to see some of your commercial work, and we’re going to show some examples in a minute, but to do a commercial requires an incredible degree of control over everything in the frame.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Right.
Larry Jordan: Do you go in knowing what you want the shot to look like, or does it evolve over time as you’re photographing and you just discover it in the lens?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: 90 percent of the time, I won’t even touch a camera until I figure out what it’s going to look like in the end.
Larry Jordan: Really?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes. Even to lighting.
Larry Jordan: Are you drawing sketches of what you want it to do or what are you thinking about?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: No, I just run it through my mind all I can and then the day of the shoot or the day before the shoot, when you’re getting equipment together, you’re picking the equipment, what you’re going to use, on how you perceive your shot and the technique and the lighting and all that.
Mike Horton: Is a lot of this based on what you want to do? There’s not a lot of pre-production meetings and storyboarding?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Oh, well, if you’re talking for advertising, that’s a different thing. They have more control and sometimes way too much and they think they know what they’re talking about and they haven’t got a clue, so it’s a balancing act. I already know what I’m going to do and sometimes I have to argue with them to do the right thing and sometimes that’s impossible. One of the most important things in commercial photography is, when you have that first meeting, you’ve got to ask a lot of questions – what are you manufacturing? Let’s say it’s a …
Larry Jordan: A car, we’ll use a car because we’ve got examples of that.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: All right. Well, not much of that photography going on nowadays, but ok. So it’s a car, so the demographic is pretty much obvious, who’s buying that car, what area, the cost of it, the image you’re trying to create. You have to know all these things and when I’m in these meetings, I usually ask the owner of the company or the head guy if I can talk to his sales guys.
Mike Horton: Sales guys?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes. They’re the guys out selling those things, they know what they need to push them out. That’s the most important thing in selling anything. Talk to the sales guy. He goes, “Well, yes, I know, if we had this or we had that, or if I could show a certain thing, I know I could sell more of these things,” whether it’s a car or a shirt or a saltshaker.
Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about the cars and see if we can switch over to some car images. For instance, here we’ve got a behind the scenes of you shooting. What are we doing here? What’s going on?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Ok, that shot was for Community Chevrolet in Burbank and that’s a Camaro and George Barris was commissioned to customize the car.
Larry Jordan: Ok, hold on that shot, don’t change yet. Go ahead.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: They needed these shots for some kind of promotion and I didn’t even talk to the Chevy people about this, it was George Barris, because he designed the car to give it a certain look that the company wanted.
Larry Jordan: Now, are you using special lights? Cars are notorious for speculars and having hotspots on them.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes they are. This was kind of a quickie job at a studio in Glendale or Burbank, I don’t remember, they just had me come down there, and I had some strobes I brought with me and I also had some tungsten light and I mixed it, believe it or not, and I was particular where I placed the lights to avoid the speculars that I didn’t want.
Larry Jordan: Let’s show you the final result, let’s go to the next shot. Now, that is amazing. How much of that is in the camera and how much of that is Photoshop?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: I’m trying to remember. Obviously, I knocked the car out and put in my own background. I designed that. I like to do that white/black/blur thing, it’s just kind of one of the things I like to do. But there wasn’t much work to do on the car itself because of the way I lit it. Lighting’s extremely important. Basically, it was a knock out job and making sure the tonality was proper throughout the highlights, just so it looked normal.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look at the next one.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: That’s the exact same car.
Larry Jordan: And you just changed the color?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: ‘Just’, yes.
Mike Horton: You know what’s interesting about that, is that I know a couple of guys in advertising who say a lot of the car commercials that we see on television, when you see those cars, they’re not real cars, they’re rendered cars, they’re CGI cars in those television commercials. What is real and what is not?
Larry Jordan: Let’s show you one that is a little bit different. That’s clearly a CGI car.
Mike Horton: That’s probably real.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: That’s a Lincoln.
Mike Horton: Looks real to me.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: I think it was a 1933 Lincoln and at the time I worked at the ad agency, when I was kid – I was around 20 or 21 when I started there and I worked a number of years there. We had an office on Wiltshire, we had the whole penthouse. That was a big deal in those days – my boss collected classic cars and he had a number of Duesenbergs and you name it, I’ve driven it.
Mike Horton: That’s not a Duesenberg, is it?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: No, that’s a Lincoln. I think it was a ’33 Lincoln dual cal Phaeton limo or some kind of name like that. I used to take these cars and just go out with them and shoot them. Today, nobody would let you touch one of those.
Mike Horton: What is that background? Looks like Arcadia or something like that.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: No. Yes, the police came on that one too. That was Stadium Way in LA.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk about lighting for a second, because lighting is important to you. When you’re getting lights, do you care what the instrument is or do you care more about what you put in front of the instrument, such as gels or other material?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: What I put in front of it. I don’t think it matters much what kind of equipment you use or what brand. There’s some good stuff for certain things but if you know what you need for your end result, you just make that thing work.
Larry Jordan: What do you put in front of a light?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: I have a roll of stainless steel screen, like you would use in your house but it’s stainless steel, so it’s good with the heat, and I make my own cutters out of that. Then I use Rosco gels or some diffusion.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s take a look at a couple of examples. We’ve got Suzanne here. How are we lighting that?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: You’re going to love this. See that light next to her? We were using that one as a prop. Those lights were used on Gone With The Wind, according to the old guy that gave them to me. I knew this old cinema photographer, he’s passed away, but his name was Pete [CALLIUM] and he was incredible. He had all this equipment. He had cranes, he offered me cranes – “Here, you can have that crane for 500 bucks,” and I go, “Where am I going to put that?” I had the money.
Mike Horton: In the garage?
Larry Jordan: Are we lighting her with strobes or are you lighting her with just soft lights?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: No, I lit her with the other one.
Mike Horton: Wow.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: This is a unique shot. I thought I wanted to go for that ‘40s/’50s, little bit of Rembrandt..;.
Mike Horton: Is this a digital shot?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Shot with this camera right here.
Mike Horton: With that camera?
Larry Jordan: Wow.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Right here.
Mike Horton: What lens? With that lens?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: No, I used an 85/1.2.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Larry Jordan: All right, let’s take a look at the next Suzanne picture. A different look.
Mike Horton: It’s a little darker.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Oh, we teased it a little. Oh yes, there’s one there I desaturated in Photoshop, just playing around, giving it that older look. Is that the desaturated one?
Larry Jordan: No, the desaturated was the first one.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes, that was the first one.
Larry Jordan: Ok, let’s go to the third one. There we go.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Bing, bang, boom. Just another pose.
Larry Jordan: Again, soft light with gel in front of the light?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: I had one stage light, it was about a 750 watt, right behind the camera, way behind the camera with some diffusion, just for a fill. Then my key light obviously was in the upper left hand, the cassette-like Rembrandt type lighting shadow. It’s not quite Rembrandt because she moved her head.
Larry Jordan: How are you lighting the set?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: You’re going to laugh. We draped the background with some black, as you can see, but it was so black it was black black black, so rather than pull out another big heavy light, I took a clamp light, like you would buy at a hardware store, and I put a 100 watt bulb in it and it’s just real close to the background.
Mike Horton: Beautiful shot.
Larry Jordan: Bill, for people who want to know the stuff that you’re doing, do you have a website they can go to to see more?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Yes, but don’t go on there today. It’ll probably be back up over the weekend.
Mike Horton: Yes, somebody said they couldn’t get on it.
Larry Jordan: But after the weekend, what website could they go to?
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Go to wmlachasse.com.
Larry Jordan: And Bill LaChasse himself is the one you’ve been listening to. Bill, thanks for joining us today, this has been fun.
William ‘Bill’ LaChasse: Thank you.
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Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of Counsel at TroyGould in Los Angeles. He’s also a contributing editor on entertainment labor issues for The Hollywood Reporter and he’s got his own blog at jhandel.com. As always, Jonathan, welcome back.
Jonathan Handel: Well, Larry, it’s a pleasure to be back and there’s one thing that’s not as always, which is this is actually the first time I’m appearing by video on your show.
Mike Horton: Isn’t that cool?
Larry Jordan: It is, and what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to come out to the studio and let us show you all of our toys. We’ve got more blinking lights here than Michael can count.
Mike Horton: And Jonathan, are those books behind you?
Jonathan Handel: Those are books.
Mike Horton: Have you read every single one of them?
Jonathan Handel: I’ve written several of them.
Mike Horton: You’ve written several of them? Of course you have.
Larry Jordan: Show off.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, I’ve got a question. We’ve got this new SAG-AFTRA rate sheet that’s out for indie films. What does this affect? Who should care about this?
Jonathan Handel: People making films with budgets roughly speaking under $4 million are potentially affected. There are actually several different SAG-AFTRA low budget agreements. They have different budget thresholds and at the different thresholds different rates apply. All the rates have gone up by 25 percent as of July 1st this year and some of the budget thresholds have gone up as well, so pictures that might not have qualified under the old agreements might qualify today.
Larry Jordan: If the rates have gone up by 25 percent, who needs to pay attention to this? In other words, I think the key question is when should a director decide to go SAG-AFTRA and when should a director decide to go non-union? Is it purely a budget decision?
Jonathan Handel: Well, it’s not purely a budget decision because the reality, of course, is that SAG-AFTRA controls most of the talented and experienced and even moderately experienced acting labor in the country. When someone says non … union, you really have to ask … talking about because, of course, a studio picture will tend to be SAG-AFTRA … Writers’ Guild for the writers, Directors’ Guild for the director and assistant directors and IATSE for the crew.
Jonathan Handel: When someone says they’re making a non-union picture, they usually are making a picture using SAG-AFTRA actors, but they’re going non-union for those other silos. Those affected are most people making narrative film, fictional films, whether they’re shorts, ultra low budget – which is a budget below $250,000 – modified low budget agreement goes up to $700,000; there are diversity incentives – if you’re passing as diverse, the budget thresholds are a bit higher – and then finally low budget … as opposed to the modified low budget, you’re at a $25 million budget threshold or 3.75 if you have … casting. So if you’re making a movie that’s at one of those levels, you’re affected by this.
Mike Horton: Yes, we were talking, especially with our audience, a lot of them are dealing with budgets that are under $250,000 and this is going to affect them big time, because we’re talking about, what, a 25 percent increase here, right? That’s significant.
Jonathan Handel: We are … rate for actors, for example the ultra low budget – this is below that 250k – of $125 a day for actors rather than the previous $100. Now, SAG-AFTRA would remind us that this is actually the first increase in these rates in ten years and, of course, this comes against a backdrop of … pressure across the country and … across the country to raise the minimum wage.
Jonathan Handel: So if you’re talking $100 a day for, say, an eight or ten hour day, you’re talking $10 an hour, or down to $8 an hour for a 12 hour day, which is below where people are freezing the minimum wage these days. It really in fact keeps up with what’s going on in …
Mike Horton: Does SAG-AFTRA publish the number of ultra low budget films versus the upper tier budget films per year?
Jonathan Handel: I’ve never seen them publish that, no. They tend to be very circumspect about what they see as market data. It’s an interesting question. It’s partially an idea for an article, actually, and thank you for that, but whether they would actually supply the data, I don’t know.
Larry Jordan: What does a producer or director need to know to be able to work with SAG-AFTRA talent? What kind of commitment are they looking at? Let’s say you’ve got a budget of, say, $700,000, so it’s not real small but it’s still small. What do they have to do and what are they committing to?
Jonathan Handel: First of all, 700k is exactly the threshold for the modified low budget agreement. The day rate there is $335, so it’s definitely a pricier tag than if you’re below that 250k. You are talking about needing to make pension and health contributions, I believe. You are talking about being subject to some, though not all, of the Union rules regarding things like penalties and forced call, time between when the actor checks out and then check in the next day, stuff like that, consecutive employment, various … that I can’t cite you chapter and verse … which are included and which aren’t under that agreement, but you are committing to a Union regiment and the potential that if you get things wrong, the Union will slap your wrist on that in terms of fines and that kind of thing.
Jonathan Handel: You are also in any Union picture talking about residuals, so these contracts that we’ve been talking about are contracts that are intended where the goal of the producer is an initial theatrical release of the movie and there’s no residuals to that, of course, but if you then have subsequent releases online, on television or physical home video, whatever it might be, you’re going to be talking about residuals.
Jonathan Handel: That kind of leads us into a related topic, which is what is it that you’re making your movie for? I think it’s important to think about whether you’re realistically going to shoot for theatrical release and go with one of these … or if you’re going to shoot in today’s world for an initial internet release, an initial online release, and use one of the internet agreements which are very different.
Jonathan Handel: The internet agreements have a lot of free bargaining in terms of some of the terms and conditions, some of the rates and so forth, and if someone is going to end up most likely releasing a picture with a streaming service and not getting a theatrical release or getting a token theatrical release, it may be economically more sensible to think about your project as something for internet release. That’s something that a producer has to think about very carefully.
Mike Horton: We have to remind everybody who’s interested in this whole thing that SAG Indie makes it extremely simple, I think, for filmmakers to get all the resources that they need, at sagindie.org. That’s all you need to do. So if you are confused about what we’re talking about here, sagindie.org has got everything that you need to know.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, we’ve just got a minute left and I want to come back to something. There was a lawsuit regarding unpaid interns with Fox that got reversed by the higher court.
Mike Horton: Oh yes.
Larry Jordan: What’s the summary of this? I want to bring you back next week to talk about it in detail, but tell me in a thumbnail what’s happened.
Jonathan Handel: In a thumbnail, the lower court said that the way unpaid internships were being done in this industry, in entertainment, as well as in others was not permissible and that interns had to be paid, and as a result a lot of large companies changed their programs and are paying interns. But the Appeals Court reversed that and said no, these internship programs were permissible as is. How that’s going to play out is going to be a very interesting question.
Larry Jordan: Well, that’s something that deserves its own segment. What I’d like to do is to bring you back next week and we’ll spend some time talking about that in more detail, because interns are everywhere in this industry and we want to make sure we understand what the court actually allows us to do. So, one, can you come back?
Jonathan Handel: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: And, two, for people who want to keep track of what you’re doing between now and then, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Jonathan Handel: Jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: And the J Handel himself, Mr. Jonathan Handel. Jonathan, thanks for talking with us. We look forward to seeing you next week and we’ll talk more about this whole intern issue. Thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan Handel: Thanks very much.
Mike Horton: Bye Jonathan.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback, five years ago today.
Unidentified male (archive)
Well, gee, if we’re talking about evidence in a court case, in this law suit here, shouldn’t we get all the evidence possible? The answer to that is no, there are competing considerations. Now, does that mean that hearsay is always wrong? No it doesn’t. There would be value to having me testify, but we made a policy decision that there isn’t enough reliability.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Voiceover: This is Tech Talk from The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: It’s called working with the camera and moving between sets. Here, for instance, I have a background – you know how to create that. It’s in its own folder here. Then we’ve got text at an angle and we’ve got video. Glass begins in fire. I’m going to select the project, add a camera and to that camera we’ll add a sweep and we’ll press the F7 key and we’ll have it start about 20 degrees to the left, we’ll have it go about 20 degrees to the right and now when we press the F7 key and play it back, we’ve got something which just draws your eye to the movement, which is really cool.
Larry Jordan: But it would be nice if I could have multiple elements here, and I do, I’ve got three sets. Let’s go back to our top view. Here’s the first set – that’s the one we were just looking at. Then I’ve got a second set over here, I created it and I simply grab it and move it where I want that set to go; and then I’ve got a third set, which is here, and I drag it and move it where I want that set to go. I’m spacing these sets out in 3D space. I select the camera, I’m going to add a new behavior.
Larry Jordan: With the camera selected, go to the behavior menu, go to camera and select framing. I want to move, I want to reframe my shot starting about there, taking about that much time – I’m typing ‘I’ to set the in and ‘O’ to set the out – and with the frame selected, and go to the inspector, I want to move from set one to a target of set two, and just drag it in. So as I play this back, watch what happens. It’s going to move from there – there it went. Watch it again, it’s moving from set one to set two, except it’s zoomed too far in. For some reason, Apple set the default to be ‘fit both’ which gives us the wrong frame. You always want to change framing to ‘simple fit’.
Larry Jordan: As we play it back, it goes from set one – zip! – to set two. Then starting about here, I want to add a new frame and have it go from set two to set three. I and O to set the duration of the frame, select the framing here, grab set three, drag it in to the target and change framing to simple fit and now watch what happens. It starts with set number one and it moves to set number two and then it moves to set number three.
Larry Jordan: If we watch this in real time, watch what happens. Control A, spacebar. We see the first set just doing its thing. There’s the second set doing its thing and then the third set, doing its thing. But it’d be nice if the camera was moving in the meantime. I’m going to grab sweep and the effects are different if sweep is below or above framing. I’m going to drag it above framing and now look. Notice how the camera is moving, the text is moving, the picture’s moving and it continues moving as it’s going from set one to set two and again to set three. Is that not cool?
Voiceover: This Tech Talk was shared from Larry Jordan’s website at larryjordan.com.
Larry Jordan: Suzanne LaChasse is a Los Angeles based producer and actor. She and her husband, Ryan Williams, own and operate Screen Actors System, which own the Backstage Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best On-Camera Acting Class in Los Angeles. Suzanne is also currently a lead actor in a six episode series of an edgy new comedy crime series called Sketchy. Hello, Suzanne, good to have you with us.
Suzanne LaChasse: Thank you. Happy to be here.
Larry Jordan: Now, I just realized, you were the model in those photographs that we looked at before.
Suzanne LaChasse: I was, yes.
Larry Jordan: What was it that made you decide that modeling was not the only place you wanted to spend your time, but you wanted to become an actor?
Suzanne LaChasse: Well, growing up, as we were saying, as a redhead in Los Angeles, in this sea of beautiful blondes and brunettes, you stand out a lot and you’re the butt of many people’s jokes, so I would stay home and I would watch movies and that was my inspiration for acting, to pretend, to be other people, because nobody liked me.
Mike Horton: Really?
Suzanne LaChasse: Yes.
Mike Horton: Seriously?
Suzanne LaChasse: People made fun of me. As you get older, boys like you because you’re a redhead, but when you’re a little kid growing up, it’s tough.
Mike Horton: So the redhead thing really is, it’s tough growing up as a redhead, isn’t it?
Suzanne LaChasse: It’s like the plague, it’s horrible.
Mike Horton: Unless you live in Scotland or something like that, where all the Vikings hang out.
Suzanne LaChasse: Yes, and then you’re not special at all.
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s true. But you know everybody wants to be a redhead now.
Suzanne LaChasse: Do you think?
Larry Jordan: See, I never thought of redheads as special because I only had one sister and she had red hair, so I figured everybody growing up must have red hair and so I can’t really associate with the pain that you went through, because it’s always been a normal part of my life.
Suzanne LaChasse: It’s actually a mutation.
Larry Jordan: But it’s nice to hear the other side.
Suzanne LaChasse: They call it a mutation.
Larry Jordan: Is that what it’s called?
Suzanne LaChasse: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Mmm, she just called it red hair.
Mike Horton: It is a mutation.
Suzanne LaChasse: It is a mutation of the awesome gene.
Mike Horton: The awesome gene.
Suzanne LaChasse: The awesome gene.
Mike Horton: It is a mutation of the awesome gene.
Suzanne LaChasse: In me, yes.
Mike Horton: That’s right, which is why she’s got such a great self image now. It’s the awesome gene.
Suzanne LaChasse: The awesome gene. I’m not narcissistic at all. At all.
Larry Jordan: I’m waiting for the awesomeness wave to pass for just a moment. I was just thinking, acting is not for the faint of heart, especially when you want to become a professional actor as opposed to just dabbling in it. What do you find are the biggest challenges to being an actor?
Suzanne LaChasse: I think the biggest challenges in being a film actor is having really good minimum movement, and you guys are editors so you’ll know that cutting together scenes with people waving their arms through the scene or indicating with a furrowed brow or being too loud or trying to push for the emotion, those are just camera considerations but they’re very important if you want to be on film or television.
Suzanne LaChasse: If you’re a theater actor, you’re taught to be very third circle – the audience is part of the scene with you and you have to indicate and the people in the balcony can’t see you, so you do different things with your face. But on camera, the camera sees everything so you can be much more subtle. I think film actors have a little bit more work to do in terms of being able to have an emotion. If you think of it as building up in a dam behind your eyes and having all of that intensity go through your eyes, I think it’s very important.
Mike Horton: What about film acting versus theater acting? Which gives you the most creative happiness, for lack of a better term?
Suzanne LaChasse: I did theater when I was little and it was so much fun because you get that instant gratification of being on stage. You can hear the people laugh, you can hear the people cry and sob and people greet you outside of the theater. It’s a fun thing and you get that with improv comedy as well. But with film, for me it’s a self loathing process where I just intensely look at myself and ask, “Why did I furrow my brow there?” or “Why did I say it that way?” or “I should have done this better,” and watching dailies, that’s how you get good at being a film actor. You study yourself and be subtle.
Larry Jordan: Are you studying yourself after you’ve done the performance or when you’re rehearsing? Are you rehearsing in front of a mirror to try to get a sense of how you’re looking?
Suzanne LaChasse: Sometimes. I do that alone, I don’t want people to see me do that.
Larry Jordan: Well, I’m not saying in a group, but you were talking about the way that you furrowed your brow or that television is such an up-close medium that a small gesture has a huge meaning.
Suzanne LaChasse: It does.
Larry Jordan: How do you practice that?
Suzanne LaChasse: By being in a really good scene study class, and those are hard to find because most scene study classes in Los Angeles, at least the ones I’ve been to, cater more to the theatrical because they’re in a large form, there are a lot of people around, they have to fill four hour class with entertainment and get people coming back. But if you can find a really good film acting class that really stresses minimum movement, points of focus and heavy text analysis, then you’re in good shape and I think every actor should be training, even if you think you know it all, even if you’re coming at it from that very technical point of view, it’s a muscle and if you take any time off, you lose it.
Mike Horton: It’s very important. You used that word, muscle. I was an actor a long time ago, I gave it up in 2000 to pursue something else and if I were to act today after not doing it for 15 years …
Suzanne LaChasse: You’d be a little rusty.
Mike Horton: …I would suck. I would absolutely suck because I’ve lost that muscle. I didn’t keep that muscle up, and it is a muscle. It is not like riding a bike.
Suzanne LaChasse: No, no. It’s like, I don’t know, playing football? Isn’t it like playing football?
Mike Horton: I honestly don’t know what the analogy would be, but it’s something you must work at all the time and if you’re not working on a movie, then you are working in a class; and if you don’t do that, I’m sorry, you lose it.
Suzanne LaChasse: Even the best actors, Oscar winners, they get together. There’s a scene study class in the hills somewhere and they all get together and they have Larry Moss come out.
Mike Horton: I was working with all those people and we were all just working all the time because otherwise we’d lose it. We were too scared to lose it, we were just too scared.
Suzanne LaChasse: You know, if you don’t lose it, you lose it.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: So thinking about that, what are your most valuable skills as an actor? You personally, not just in general. Is it your ability to memorize lines? Is it your ability to carry an emotion? I’m leading into the whole idea of whether you should cast yourself in a particular role or a particular genre. How would you define your skills?
Suzanne LaChasse: I think I’m very good at story text analysis, which is really important. When you get a scene, it’s really important to know what page the scene is in the script. The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell outlines what George Lucas uses for Star Wars – where are you? What’s going on? The character isn’t always the same in every part of the script. It’s important to know where they are, what they’re feeling, what they’ve just been through, where they’re coming from, where they’re going.
Suzanne LaChasse: It’s not just memorizing lines on a page, it’s actually knowing where the story’s going. I think a lot of actors are so used to these scene study classes where they’re rehearsing in a parking lot for an hour and then they put it up in a showcase form and they cement their lines and they get used to saying their lines in a certain way. If you use heavy text analysis, then you can, as Julian … would say, paint it with emotion and really go there and know the story and make it interesting. Me personally as an actor, I think I come at it from more of a comedic jackass way. I know I’m really good at doing that, but I do like drama. For me, I think m thing that I’m really good at is text analysis and that’s helped me.
Mike Horton: When you say text analysis, obviously that’s important from an actor’s standpoint, but it’s also important from a director’s. You almost sound like a director more than an actor.
Suzanne LaChasse: For me, when I first started acting, I just was very singular in my thinking of the actor as the most important person and that’s all I’m going to concentrate on.
Mike Horton: And you’re absolutely right.
Suzanne LaChasse: But once I started working with the Screen Actors System and my husband, who’s a director, I realized, “My God, there’s so much that goes into it.” I started editing and I realized, “Wow, I don’t like this, I need to stop doing this, this is easier to edit when I do this and that really helped me,” so getting a behind the scenes vibe going towards my acting really helped me. If you can direct and you can edit and produce and write, then I think that makes you a better actor.
Mike Horton: Can you direct and produce and edit and write?
Suzanne LaChasse: I sure can.
Mike Horton: Ok, there you go. Because back in my day, we couldn’t do that and the reason I actually gave up the acting thing was because all of a sudden I was afforded the opportunity to edit and direct and write. Before that, it cost too much money, then it became democratized with Final Cut Pro and DV cameras and things like that, and then everybody, every actor started doing that, because we didn’t have to rely on our agents or our auditions, we just started doing our own thing.
Suzanne LaChasse: Mhmm. Well, everything’s so cheap nowadays, like you were saying with the new 4K camera, it’s under, what was it, $700? My God. People are shooting full length movies with their iPhone.
Mike Horton: I know, and there are no excuses. We have Tangerine coming, a brilliant movie that’s out this week, shot on an iPhone 5S.
Suzanne LaChasse: Martin Scorsese has a little scene from Wolf of Wall Street from an iPhone. Who knew? You can’t tell.
Mike Horton: Yes, well, we’ve got anamorphic lenses for iPhones and things for you to go out and shoot your own movie. There are no excuses.
Suzanne LaChasse: Go out and film yourself.
Larry Jordan: You’ve described yourself as a comedic actor. Hang with me for a second, that was the term that you used. I’ve heard that a good actor can handle any role and yet I’ve also heard that actors should know their type and play to their type. What’s your opinion?
Suzanne LaChasse: I think you definitely need to know how to market yourself and know what people see when they first look at you. When you’re a big movie star and you’ve got an Oscar, then you can do whatever you want, you can do your projects that you love. But when you’re coming up in the ranks, you have to give in to what people perceive you as. For me, I’m …, I have red hair, so I’m more of the best friend, supporting friend type.
Mike Horton: Really? You don’t see yourself a leading actress, the pretty girl?
Suzanne LaChasse: You know what? If someone sees me as a lead, my contact information is in the description of this video.
Mike Horton: Yes, but do you see you as that?
Suzanne LaChasse: I definitely do.
Mike Horton: I know it’s a tough question to ask.
Suzanne LaChasse: I do, I do, but it’s not up to me, it’s up to casting so that’s why I try to do as many non-Union things as possible and indie movies, because if you’re good then people overlook if you’re maybe not exactly the type or whatever.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that you and your husband have started is the Screen Actors System. Tell me about that.
Suzanne LaChasse: The Screen Actors System won the Backstage Reader’s Choice Award for Best Los Angeles On-Camera Acting Class.
Mike Horton: Oh really? That’s cool.
Suzanne LaChasse: Yes. Ryan is a brilliant director, he’s directed Owen Wilson, Brad Pitt, one of the Christians and …
Mike Horton: Wiig?
Suzanne LaChasse: No, not Kristen Wiig. I love Kristen Wiig. Anyway, Ryan started off acting in Conservatory in college and he’s absolutely brilliant but his love was directing and so he came at it from an actor’s point of view and moved into directing, as I come at it from an actor’s point of view moving into editing and doing all that stuff and having a big range of things that you do, not just one singular, “I’m a director,” or one singular, “I’m an actor.” So what we do at Screen Actors System is teach the technical aspects of film acting and how to get there emotionally but hold your frame and have really specific points of focus.
Mike Horton: And know where your light is.
Suzanne LaChasse: Know where your light is and know where the lens is.
Mike Horton: Don’t get in the other person’s light.
Suzanne LaChasse: Am I in a wide? Am I in a close, you know? Don’t wave your hands through the air, don’t be theatrical. We’re splitting blades of grass here with our technique and it’s very technical but it works.
Larry Jordan: Who are typical students?
Mike Horton: And don’t tap your Lavs.
Suzanne LaChasse: Don’t tap your Lavs. Oh, that’s horrible. When you’re in the editing, you’re going to give the boom man a heart attack.
Mike Horton: I know. I love doing that to our audio guy, it drives him crazy. Hello, Ed? Can you hear?
Suzanne LaChasse: Hello? Hello?
Mike Horton: Do it, just go ahead, it’ll drive him crazy. There, perfect.
Larry Jordan: I’ve got to work with … next week and you don’t.
Mike Horton: Drives him nuts.
Suzanne LaChasse: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Larry Jordan: He’s going to yell at me. Oh, it’s going to be terrible.
Suzanne LaChasse: What was the question? Oh, our students. One of our students booked two lead roles in two Spike Lee films and we have a really wonderful actress, she’s on a Nickelodeon show and we have an order of six episodes for Sketchy, which we’re all really excited about, and that’s all of Ryan’s actors.
Mike Horton: That’s great.
Suzanne LaChasse: So it’s more improvisational, the dialog is improv with a general outline.
Mike Horton: I think that’s just so important for an actor, improv.
Suzanne LaChasse: Oh, absolutely.
Mike Horton: Take all those classes, hon.
Suzanne LaChasse: And it’s important not to talk over each other because in the edit that screws it up and it’s very technical.
Mike Horton: Well, if you have a good sound guy who’s actually got a couple of little controls here with two microphones and stuff like that …
Suzanne LaChasse: Oh, why make it hard for them? Give them a gift.
Mike Horton: It’s easy. Robert Altman did it all the time.
Suzanne LaChasse: Give him a gift.
Mike Horton: No, no.
Suzanne LaChasse: Walter Murch. He would say, “Don’t talk over each other. Make it as easy for me as possible or else you’ll be doing Apocalypse Now for,” how long was it? Eight years or something?
Mike Horton: Yes, but they ended up looping the entire movie, so it doesn’t make any difference.
Suzanne LaChasse: Oh, there you go. Brando with his …
Mike Horton: It was 99 percent looped. They got terrible audio out in the field.
Larry Jordan: For people who want to know how to keep track of you and hire you for their next major market feature film, where can they go on the web?
Suzanne LaChasse: Oh yes, please do contact me, email@example.com, and to check out our film acting class, it’s screenactorssystem.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s screenactorssystem.com and Suzanne LaChasse is our delightful guest. Suzanne, thanks for joining us today. Appreciate having you with us.
Mike Horton: That was fun.
Suzanne LaChasse: Thank you so much.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, Mike, one of the things I like is meeting all the different types of folks that we’ve had on the show. We started with Bill and talked about photography and then we talked with lawyer Jonathan about what’s happening with screen actors and then we talked with an actor. It’s just the range of people in this industry is just amazing.
Mike Horton: Isn’t it fun, Larry? And what was even more fun, we didn’t talk hard drives and codecs.
Larry Jordan: But we can still talk cable coiling if you want to. I think it’s appropriate to do cable coiling. It would be appropriate, I think, to discuss technology in more depth.
Mike Horton: We’ll do that next week, when I’m not here.
Larry Jordan: One of the things, I think, that Suzanne said that was really important is to understand what kind of an actor you are and when you’re going out for gigs, go out …
Mike Horton: Yes, that was something when I first started out that I didn’t think of, but looking back on it I probably should have. I was very lucky and I worked a lot, but I think it would have moved things forward. But things were different back then. Everything has changed. Everything’s changed. I wouldn’t even know what to do today.
Larry Jordan: You would probably sit on the sidelines and just wonder how the highway’s passing you.
Mike Horton: Yes. I would just work for the Larry Jordan and Associates Group.
Larry Jordan: And we would be glad to have you any time, and you know that, by the way.
Mike Horton: There we go.
Larry Jordan: The Buzz website is undergoing a makeover. You’ll see changes every week.
Mike Horton: Will it have my picture on it?
Larry Jordan: If you haven’t visited recently, check out digitalproductionbuzz.com. You’ll find hundreds of past shows and thousands of interviews …
Mike Horton: I still don’t see my picture on there.
Larry Jordan: …all searchable, all online and all available.
Mike Horton: It’s all your picture.
Larry Jordan: Mike’s picture is there.
Mike Horton: Oh, nothing but Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: It’s an eight inch by six inch picture.
Mike Horton: Digital Production Buzz, Larry Jordan is huge.
Larry Jordan: It’s huge … By the way, visit with us on Twitter @dpbuzz, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Mike Horton: Yes, there you are. Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: Our music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner, additional music on The Buzz …
Mike Horton: Oh wait a minute, there’s me.
Larry Jordan: …provided by Smartsound. In color. It looks wonderful, by the way.
Mike Horton: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Yes, we used a picture of you from 20 years ago.
Mike Horton: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: It’s the only one you would give us.
Mike Horton: It’s the one without gray hair.
Larry Jordan: Text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you. Our producer is Cirina Catania; engineering team Meagan Paulos, Ed Goyla, Keegan Guy, Alex Hackwork, Eileen Kim, Lindsay Loubert and Brianna Murphy. On behalf Mike Horton, that’s the handsome guy on the other side of the table …
Mike Horton: Ah, here we go. The guy who’s not on the website.
Larry Jordan: …my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for watching.
Mike Horton: Bye, everybody.
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