Digital Production Buzz
August 4, 2016
Click to play:
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS.com
Maxim Jago, Director, Jolie’s Garden
Laura Blum, Curator/Journalist, Thalo.com
Scott Page, CEO, Ignited Network
Jonathan Handel, Of Counsel, TroyGould, Contributing Editor, The Hollywood Reporter
Chris Bross, Chief Technology Officer, DriveSavers Data Recovery
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Digital Production Buzz, director Maxim Jago talks about the top five lessons he’s learned while financing his independent film, ‘Jolie’s Garden,’ and what other filmmakers can learn from his experience.
What happens when disaster strikes and your critical data is destroyed? Chris Bross, the Chief Technology Officer for Drive Savers, presents a recent case study about one film maker’s loss of hundreds of terabytes of critical data due to an incompatibility between Mac OS X and a third party drive manufacturer’s software. Don’t let this disaster happen to you.
James DeRuvo, the senior writer for DoddleNEWS has a summary of the top media news for the week; then we welcome Scott Page, musician and serial entrepreneur, showcasing what artists need to know about running a creative business.
Next, Laura Blum, blogger on filmfestivals.com, returns with her thoughts on the blurring lines between documentaries and feature films, as illustrated in the documentary ‘Tower.’
Finally, actors at the Spanish language NBC unit Telemundo don’t get health insurance, residuals or other benefits. Those at English language NBC do. Jonathan Handel returns with major news, coming from SAG-AFTRA, amping up the pressure on Telemundo.
The Buzz starts now.
Larry Jordan: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking…
Larry Jordan: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals…
Larry Jordan: …uniting industry experts…
Larry Jordan: …filmmakers…
Voiceover: Post production.
Larry Jordan: …and content creators around the planet.
Larry Jordan: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan, and it may seem like it’s the middle of the summer, but there’s a lot of interesting news happening in our industry this week from celebrating success to surviving catastrophe.
The success story starts with Maxim Jago. He’s the director of Jolie’s Garden, and just recently completed funding on his feature film. He has a number of tips, specifically five, to share with us on what worked and what didn’t.
On the scary side, Chris Bross returns with a story of data loss and destruction caused by hardware and software not talking to each other properly. Since all of us are working with digital assets, this is a story you need to hear.
We’re also introducing a new regular, Scott Page. Scott is a musician with groups like Pink Floyd and Supertramp and Toto, who still performs regularly. But what has him really excited is a new technology incubator he founded that’s designed to help artists of all types create and run a successful business. You want to hear Scott’s tips in the segment we’re calling The Startup Artist.
I also want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week, gives you an inside look at The Buzz, quick links to all the different segments of the show, and curated articles of special interest to film makers. Best of all, every issue is free. And thinking of newsletters reminds me of the daily newsletter from Doddle News at doddlenews.com, where James DeRuvo is the senior writer. Hello, James, welcome back!
James DeRuvo: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: So what’s the top story on DoddleNEWS this week?
James DeRuvo: Well, the top story this week is RED CEO Jarred Land listed 20 RED … cameras in a flash show on the RED’s website this week. They all sold in under 20 minutes, and at a list price of $60,000 apiece, that amounted to a fast $1.2 million for RED.
Larry Jordan: 20 minutes, they sold, or 20 units?
James DeRuvo: Yes, 20 cameras in under 20 minutes,
Larry Jordan: Wow!
James DeRuvo: It has a Super 35mm sensor, and the reason why it’s able to handle the HK revolution is thanks to some clever engineering by RED that reduces the pixel size to 3.65 microns. The 6K Dragon processor, by contrast, has a pixel size of 5 microns, so the smaller the pixels the more you can pack on a chip, the larger the resolution.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of technology, I was reading about a robbery in LA. What was this about?
James DeRuvo: Yes, Off Hollywood’s rental house in LA reported a set of five Arri Master Primes and a Fujinon Alura Zoom got stolen this week. How it happened was thieves used identity theft and, with the bogus IDs, rented these five Arri Master Primes and the Zoom lens, and by the time Off Hollywood figured out the scheme, it was too late, the lenses were in the wind.
Larry Jordan: Yes, but the robbery is in LA, why should anybody outside of LA in the Buzz audience even care about this?
James DeRuvo: Well, it’s probably going to have minimal impact if you have a rental house in your area, but if you live in a flyover country, where you are relying mostly on online rental houses like Lens Pro To Go or … lenses for all of your rental equipment, it’s probably going to make it that much harder, because you’re going to have to pay more in insurance to cover the risk. You may even have to have personal references to be able to rent cameras here, and the price is just going to go up. And the emerging shared rental market, this is where camera operators were looking to supplement their income by renting inactive gear, just may not want to take the risk.
Larry Jordan: So what else have we got happening?
James DeRuvo: Venus Optics announced a 12mm f/2.8 prime lens this week, which they say has zero distortion. It comes with an 122 angle of view, and that’s thanks to 16 lens elements and a seven blade iris that Venus says offers nearly zero distortion from corner to corner at only $800. But I think the real story here is that Venus listed the lens on Kickstarter and it’s raised 27 times its goal of $10,000 in just ten days.
Larry Jordan: Well, do you think it’s the non-distortion, or do you think it’s the angle of the lens that’s getting people’s attention?
James DeRuvo: I think it’s the distortion, because they’re basically saying you’re not going to have any distortion throughout the entire real estate of the lens element itself. It’s going to result in a sharper image with no lens bleeding or any of that problem, so I really think that’s the takeaway. But it also shows how more and more companies are going to Kickstarter to kind of test and engage with the market and see if they’re really on the right track. If they show like that, and they raise that much money that fast, they know people want it, and so Kickstarter did that for it.
Larry Jordan: It’s fascinating hearing the range of stories that DoddleNEWS is covering. For people that want to learn more, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: Well, you can go to doddlenews.com and, while you’re there, you might want to catch the short film, ‘The Underdog,’ which is on the site. It’s the first test footage of the RED Helium camera, and it’s pretty compelling.
Larry Jordan: And James DeRuvo is the senior writer at DoddleNEWS at doddlenews.com. James, thank you so very much.
James DeRuvo: Thanks, Larry!
Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website, thalo.com. Thalo.com is an artist community and networking site for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity. Thalo.com features content from around the world, with a global perspective on all things creative. Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn, collaborate, market and sell their works. Thalo is a part of the Thalo Arts community, a worldwide community of artist, film makers and storytellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Visit thalo.com and discover how their community can help you connect, learn and succeed. That’s thalo.com.
Larry Jordan: Maxim Jago is a film director, a screenwriter and author, who splits his time between film making and speaking as a futurist. He’s a regular speaker at media technology conferences, film festivals and events celebrating creativity, he is also the Chief Innovation Officer at filmdo.com and a mentor for new film makers. Hello, Maxim, welcome!
Maxim Jago: Hello there. It’s very nice to be speaking with you.
Larry Jordan: Oh, we always love having you on the show and welcome back. Maxim, tell us about your latest film, ‘Jolie’s Garden.’ What’s it about?
Maxim Jago: ‘Jolie’s Garden’ is a very beautiful psychological thriller, about a girl who has always lived in an underground garden, and she doesn’t know that the garden is artificial or that she’s blind; no-one’s ever told her that people can see. And the question of the story is, “why is she a prisoner in the garden and what happens to her?”
Larry Jordan: While I would love to talk about the actual production, I want to focus on how you got it paid for, and you’ve written about the fact that there were several key takeaways that you’ve learned as you were looking for funding. Tell me what you’ve learned.
Maxim Jago: Ultimately it comes down to the story. I found that no matter which way you approach seeking finance for a project, the thing that’s always going to capture people’s attention is going to be the story. You have to have characters that people care about, there has to be a threat to them, there has to be drama and conflict, and it has to matter. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t really matter how many bells and whistles and technological achievements you’ve got, it just doesn’t inspire people. So that’s the primary lesson I’ve learned.
Larry Jordan: In other words, people won’t spend money on your film if you talk about all the great effects you’re going to have?
Maxim Jago: Yes. You know, it’s one of those things. Nobody likes somebody really that they’re impressed by, they like people that make them feel more alive. So if you have a story that helps the listener or the audience to really feel excited about life itself, then you get engagement, and it doesn’t matter whether the person you’re speaking to is a potential ticket buyer or a potential investor, if they really get gripped by the story, they’re in from the beginning.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned that you needed both a compelling story and a compelling character, is there more weight to one versus the other? I have watched movies where the characters were interesting and the story wasn’t so great.
Maxim Jago: I think that’s a great question, Larry. I think it has to be a mixture of both, and maybe even, I don’t know, 60% story, 40% character. If you don’t have a character that you care about, it doesn’t matter how many explosions there are, how much action and how much conflict. If you don’t care about the character in the first place, you are left unmoved. But, equally, if you love the character and nothing much happens, it’s kind of boring.
Larry Jordan: It’s too much like real life: like the character but there’s nothing going on. The first takeaway is the story, the importance of story and character, what’s the next takeaway?
Maxim Jago: Well this one was a hard one for me. You know, I love to get advice, I love to ask for directions when I’m travelling, I like being informed by people who know what they’re talking about, but what I realized is that when you’re working on any endeavor, not just a film project but any endeavor, there is an ocean of advice. It’s a tide of advice. Every single person you speak to, including my mother, every single person suddenly becomes an expert on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do and why this is important, why that’s important. I talked to a good friend of mine recently Kanan Flowers, he’s an absolute genius, and he was chastising me for taking too much advice, and he quoted Steve Jobs and was saying every rule ever made by anybody was made by nobody more intelligent than you. I realized that your gut feeling about something, when you’ve done your research and you’ve thought it through, and you know your project and you know what you’re capable of achieving, and you know the team that you’re working with, is probably the best guide you have. Sometimes you just have to listen to what people have to say and thank them for it and move on and do what you feel is right.
Larry Jordan: I can identify with that. There’s a point where you’re just overwhelmed with everybody’s opinions and somebody has got to say this is the direction we’re moving.
Maxim Jago: I think that’s right. I’m the executive producer and the director on the project. I have to be the one that says we’re going this way; you have to be the helm of the ship forging ahead and, ultimately, you just have to you have to capture the energy, the spirit, the life of the thing that you’re working on and make decisions based on that. A lot of people contributing advice, they’re not there, they don’t know everything about the project. Of course, you shouldn’t go the other way and become arrogant and say I know what I’m doing and everyone else can disappear. It’s important to listen to what people have to say, but sometimes it is overwhelming and you have to step aside and just make a decision for yourself.
Larry Jordan: Okay, so the first is the importance of story and character, the second is to avoid getting overwhelmed by well-meaning advice, including your mother. What’s the third?
Maxim Jago: I think the third is to strive for no, actually. You know, when you’re trying to finance a film and you’re trying to put a team together, you’re trying to get people to commit, and everybody says yes, particularly in the media industry. I don’t know what is about this industry. If we were working in car manufacturing and you spoke to an engineer and said would you make this car for me? If they can they’ll say yes, if they can’t they’ll say no. But in the media it seems like every single person you speak to says absolutely yes! We’re going to do this! It’s going to be amazing, let’s go for it! But then there’s delays and delays and delays, and somehow most of the time the people that say yes don’t fulfil the promise. So one of the things I’ve learned to do is to push people to say no, because if you speak to an investor, and they’re just as bad as anybody else, they’ll say yes, you know, it sounds brilliant! Let me look at the information. You have to push for them to say no if they don’t want in, because otherwise you begin making plans on the basis of things that turn out not to be real. So I’d rather that people said no instead of maybe.
Larry Jordan: Are you suggesting that some people may over-promise?
Maxim Jago: You know, Larry, one of the things that, one day, maybe on my deathbed, but one day I will understand if not today, why people don’t do what they say they’re going to do. I must be a tremendously naïve individual, but if I say I’m going to do something I really actually will, and if I don’t want to do it I’ll say maybe or possibly or I’ll try, but if I say I’m going to, then it’s going to happen. This, it turns out, is quite unusual. It’s not that they over-promise. I think they mean it at the time, but it just doesn’t happen. In particular, with money, people will delay and delay, and I think it’s better to just say look, you let us know within a couple of weeks and if we don’t hear from you, we’ll check in with you, but we’ll understand that it’s a no and that’s completely fine and let’s talk about other projects.
Larry Jordan: I think that people don’t want to say no because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, knowing how much you like the project.
Maxim Jago: I think that’s true, too. I think it’s your job, then, to reassure them that it’s okay. You need to make sure they feel comfortable with saying no, because otherwise you just take up each other’s time and energy and it’s better just to have a cup of tea with each other and enjoy the sunshine and not have that uncertainty.
Larry Jordan: Okay, I can’t wait to hear what number four is.
Maxim Jago: You know, this one was difficult for me, because I’m a talker, I’m a words person, and I work in a visual medium, but I can’t draw, and I realized late with Jolie’s Garden that it’s important to make it visual. You really need to make sure that people can see what you’re describing, and so one of the things we invested in relatively late in the development of the project was finding a fantastic illustrator, a great photographer who did photo shoots, and we had an amazing guy do the finishing work on the photos. I hope that when people see them they’ll be as impressed as I am. Making it visual enables people to engage with the story immediately. They get a visceral reaction to what they’re witnessing instead of trying to imagine it based on what you’re saying.
Larry Jordan: Okay, number five.
Maxim Jago: Just don’t stop. You have to keep going. I forget who said the most important step is the next one. You know, what they say, keep breathing, because as long as you do that you’re winning, and I think in life and in projects in particular, my goodness, you just have to keep going. You’re going to have disappointments, you’re going to have ups and downs and, you know, it’s a rollercoaster ride. But if you just keeping going, the opportunities will come. People remember you. Those follow-up conversations will happen. We’re speaking to an investor right now who’s been talking about investing in the firm for about six months, and I was saying don’t worry about it, it’s done, forget it. Just we’ll have a beer, we’ll have a coffee, it’s okay. Just because we kept going, it’s come back around and now we’re in much more serious talks about investment in the project.
Larry Jordan: So the importance of story and character is first; avoiding too many expert opinions is second; avoiding people who over-promise; keep your film visual so people can see it, not just listen to it; and don’t stop, keep going, are your five takeaways.
Maxim Jago: You know, number three, it’s not about over-promising, it’s about getting people to say no, because it’s okay.
Larry Jordan: So, as you look back on it, first do you have all the funding you need yet, or are you still in process?
Maxim Jago: Yes, we’re in the process. I think we’re in the end game now. We’ve got several investors very interested, we’ve got a whole list of fantastic sponsors for the project, and what we’re doing, actually, is we’re mixing it up. We’re running a Kickstarter and people can find out more about that on joliesgarden.com, which gives us enough money to shoot the film. We’re also speaking to investors and going through the final stages, we hope, of getting all the money we need to make the film. Now if both of those we make a better film, and if one of them works we still have enough budget to shoot.
Larry Jordan: So it’s a sliding budget and you can improve the production based on how much money you’ve got.
Maxim Jago: Absolutely. The project’s very unusual, because it’s very achievable. Everything takes place inside the garden. It’s a case of five. It’s a small project in terms of production costs, a relatively small screw and, thankfully, our sponsors are helping us out with things like equipment, so it’s achievable, but the thing about making films is that it is a sliding scale. As much money as you’ve got, you can definitely spend on a film! I just think you have to be realistic about what really matters, and what doesn’t.
Larry Jordan: So if you were to do this all again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Maxim Jago: I think I would have become an accountant or a doctor! Actually, I wanted to be a philosopher. I think what I would do different is all of these things I would have kept in mind right at the beginning. You know, we had a lot of advice from experts in the media industry making a fuss about shooting 360 video, making a fuss about you know, we’re going to shoot 4K, 16-bit RAW, you know, all of these technical achievements for the project, but the truth is I don’t think anybody cares about that. I remember when HD came out and presenting on stage for Avid, and announcing HD and getting blank looks from the audiences, because they didn’t know how important HD was. They’d heard of it and thought it was good. I think we need to overcome that by showing compelling stories using the technology. In fact HDR, it is phenomenal, but you have to witness it to understand it.
Larry Jordan: So, for people that have decided that they have to throw money at your project, or want to learn more about your film, where can they go on the web?
Maxim Jago: The website, joliesgarden.com has contact information and information about the project,
Larry Jordan: That website is joliesgarden.com. Maxim Jago is the director and producer behind it and, Maxim, thanks for joining us today.
Maxim Jago: Thank you so much for having me, Larry. It’s always a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Scott Page is a musician, a technologist and a serial entrepreneur. He currently serves as the CEO of Ignited Network, which is a start-up music accelerator focused on teaching artists how to think like a start-up. As a musician, he is widely recognized as the saxophonist and rhythm guitarist for Pink Floyd, Supertramp and Toto. Hello, Scott, welcome!
Scott Page: Hi Larry! How are you doing, buddy?
Larry Jordan: We are doing great. You know, Scott, I love the idea of talking about the creative business. Why should artists think like a start-up?
Scott Page: Well, you know listen, first of all, today I believe this is the greatest time in history for the independent content creators. This is an incredible time. We have a model of being able to go direct to consumer. Remember, all your customers are sitting there. They’ve got their cell phone, they sleep with their cell phone. They’re close by, so they’re real easy. Thinking like a start-up is an opportunity for creative people to set up their business and actually go direct and create a great business.
I have a model that I follow which is called 1,000 true fans. A true fan is somebody that will spend $100 a year on you. If I can get 1,000 of those people to generate, you know, to spend that $8 a month to get that 100,000, that’s a good start for my business. So, most content creators today don’t really think like that, and so I think really taking the principals of like lean start-up and all these varieties of new ways to kind of build a business, it’s real important and it’s a real great opportunity for them to build their own business.
Larry Jordan: Well, what’s the difference between thinking like a start-up and thinking like a businessman?
Scott Page: Well, here’s the deal. Well, remember there’s all these new strategies that are happening, and I would recommend anybody listening to go out and start looking at the lean start-up principles. There’s a series of ways of testing and validating what you’re doing before creating. What we found so far, after so many years in the business, is I’m going to go create something and then I’m going to go find an audience and make it happen. The model has shifted now that I can create something small, I can test it across the audience, make sure that there’s a great product mark and fit, and then actually create this content and have an audience that’ll actually come and buy it. So, understanding these new principles of how to build business and how to do things in an online world is really the reason why it’s important for artists to do this, or content creators.
Larry Jordan: What do you see as the big mistake that artists make?
Scott Page: There’s a couple of things. Number one, they’re not educated on the shift in the marketplace. Marketing and promotion has changed so dramatically in the last three to five years that they’ve been caught off guard. The biggest issue for artists is they can make something, they create it, they get it ready, and then they don’t know how to promote it. So understanding how to target and find your audience, make sure you’re putting your content and stuff in front of the exact audience, is the opportunity that we have now through ways of using data science and analytics. We never had any of that before. Now we have it, as an independent creator I can have all the data analytics I need to find and target a specific audience with my offer. So the mistake that they make is they’re not getting educated and learning how promotions work today.
Larry Jordan: Many artists, if they wanted to do marketing they’d have gone to study marketing. They want to do music or they want to create. What do you do if you don’t like marketing?
Scott Page: You know, that’s the hard part. What I try to do with all the artists that I work with, and I consult with quite a few of them, I say wait a minute, we need to make the marketing process and all of the promotions as part of the creative process. So, as you’re creating content, start bringing that into your process so it becomes a creative part of it. Because it is creative. Marketing used to be its own department, now we can start thinking about how do I create the creative process? What are the hooks? What are the things in my content that I can use to actually promote my business. So, unfortunately, those days of artists sitting around, you know, having a great old time, smoking fatties and playing music. It’s really tough. Those days are really, really rough! But for those artists that want to really excel, this is an incredible time and they just need to get educated.
Larry Jordan: Scott, for people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Scott Page: You can go to ignited.network. Check it out and Larry, I’m excited to be part of your show!
Larry Jordan: And we are glad to have you, Scott, and we’ll have you back soon. Scott Page from Ignited Network, thanks for joining us today.
Larry Jordan: Laura Blum is a film and events curator as well as a thalo.com contributing writer, filmfestivals.com blogger, and former film and television development executive with Sony BMG. She gives us a regular look at the intersection of the creative arts with film making. Welcome back, Laura!
Laura Blum: Thank you, Larry. It’s great to be back.
Larry Jordan: We have been in extended discussion of what you call hybrid film making. Could you define what it means to you?
Laura Blum: So it’s a blend, it’s just really borrowing from the devices of narrative fiction film making for non-fiction and storytelling. What that can often mean is a three part structure, an often thrilling music score. There are all sorts of flourishes that really bump it up and it’s a lot of borrowing from Hollywood.
Larry Jordan: Give me an example of how hybrid film making actually applies in documentaries today.
Laura Blum: Let’s talk about the film ‘Tower,’ by Keith Maitland. I believe it doesn’t open until October, but this past Monday was the 50th anniversary of the mass shootings that took place in 1956 on the top of the University of Texas tower, and that was when an engineering student opened fire for 96 minutes, holding the campus hostage and killing 14 people. So it’s really a tragic event. ‘Tower,’ the documentary, blends quite a few different conventions. There’s rotoscoped animation, there’s vintage footage, there’s contemporary interviews. That … borrows from … theatre and it’s a suspense thriller mixed in with a journalistic retelling of events. Maitland asked survivors to relive dark moments and the result is a pretty powerful catharsis.
Laura Blum: The animation is so reductive that actually a fascinating things happens. I may be getting a little bit off track here, but I do want to talk about this. When you do finally get the photographic images in this film, whether stills or cinematography, you realize you were craving the complexity. So it’s a really interesting phenomenon like holding back in jazz or sex, where the desire builds for more and, in this case, it’s for deeper and more satisfying visual information.
Larry Jordan: Well, it seems like these films like Tower and the ones you were talking about last week, are blurring the line between performance and reality. Are we still in a documentary or are we more in a feature film fiction kind of thing?
Laura Blum: Let’s take the example of another film that’s coming out September 30th. It’s called ‘Theo Who Lived,’ by David Schisgall, and you may know him from ‘Our Idiot Brother.’ So it’s a really good example of someone toggling between documentary and narrative film making, or fiction film making. The entire film, or much of it, is a re-enactment. We go through Syria with Theo Padnos who, back in 2012 went to Syria to write about the camps. He’s a very shaggy haired independent American journalist and, actually, he’d written a book from his years in Yemen, called ‘The Undercover Muslim.’ He speaks a mean Arabic. As he goes, in 2012, he was immediately nabbed by a local Al Qaeda outfit. Again, he has this great Arabic, so his captors peg him as a CIA agent. In the film, Padnos goes back to Syria, exactly to the same spot of his captivity, and he re-enacts his ordeal, and he walks us through, he performs his memories. It’s riveting, and it is a performance’ it’s the stuff of a thriller. So you’ve got betrayal, you’ve got forbidden friendships, you’ve got escape attempts that will make you swoon. There’s a character arc which includes redemption. What more can I say?
Larry Jordan: Laura, this is fascinating. The intersection of fiction films with documentaries. I want to bring you back next week and continue our discussion, and we’ll chat with you more then. Thank you.
Laura Blum: Look forward to it. Thank you so much.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment and technology attorney of counsel at Troy Gould in Los Angeles. He’s also the contributing editor on entertainment labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter and, best of all, he’s a regular on The Buzz. Hello, Jonathan, and welcome back.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, it’s a pleasure to be with you. I’m coming to you from the third floor of Netflix’s office in Beverley Hills. I just stepped out of a screening of Steve Aoki, ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.’ He’s a very hard working DJ whose dad founded Benihana, and so it’s kind of a contrast with Netflix themselves. This guy works all the time, and it was a fast moving documentary.
Larry Jordan: Well, you’ve been breaking news about SAG-AFTRA and Telemundo, what’s going on?
Jonathan Handel: I certainly have, and it’s news in Espanol. SAG-AFTRA is trying to make it muy caliente for Telemundo. Telemundo, of course, is a Spanish language network, in many ways number one. They’re owned by NBC Universal but, unlike NBC and Universal Studios and some of the other assets of that company, ultimately Comcast, Telemundo is non-union, and has refused to sign a SAG-AFTRA agreement. That means that Spanish language performers, in some cases, may well get paid less than their English language counterparts. They don’t get residuals. They don’t get health insurance. They don’t have any of the other protections of the SAG-AFTRA agreement, and that doesn’t sit well with the union.
Larry Jordan: So why is this important?
Jonathan Handel: Well, it’s important for different people in the entertainment ecosystem in different ways. But what it’s an example of is the tension between the unions and the production entities in town, the studios, the networks and so forth, in this town and, in this case in Miami, where Telemundo is headquartered. The management attitude really is something along the lines of, you know, we accept that these unions have existed for 80-odd years, since 1930s and they have jurisdictional over scripted English language movies and scripted English language TV, but we kind of draw a line and, when it comes to unscripted shows (which, of course, are actually scripted, you know, reality and so forth) or when it comes to Spanish language, or when it comes to some cable stuff, and on and on, there you really see the attitude towards work that you see in the larger US economy, which is very un-unionized, by and large.
Larry Jordan: So what do you think the outcome is going to be?
Jonathan Handel: Well, that depends. It’s hard to know at this point. It depends on how effectively SAG-AFTRA can amp up the pressure. Telemundo issued statements saying they treat their workers well and they’re competitive and so on and so forth, but they declined to answer my question, simply put, of well, you know, how come you guys don’t sign union agreement, even though your sister companies like NBC do? SAG-AFTRA has gotten some of the local politicians in Miami involved, but until there’s an opportunity, if there is an opportunity, for the union to bring actual economic pressure on Telemundo, I would have to assume that this is going to be an uphill battle.
Larry Jordan: Then again, it seems to me that most of the union battles are uphill battles, if I recall my history correctly.
Jonathan Handel: Well, you know, it’s interesting. That’s the contrast. You know, if someone walked into town and said I’m starting a steel mill, uphill battle on the part of the unions. They walk into town and say I’m making a movie, not an uphill battle. They sign with the Writers Guild, the Directors Guild, certainly quite frequently and, of course, with SAG-AFTRA. But if they walk into town and say I’m making unscripted reality show or I’m shooting in Spanish, uphill battle, and this one certainly is.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, for people that want to follow this issue and the other stuff you’re writing about, where can they go on the web?
Jonathan Handel: They can find me at Jhandel.com, and thrlabor.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s jhandel.com, and Jonathan Handel, entertainment and technology attorney at Troy Gould, thanks for joining us today. It is always fun.
Jonathan Handel: Likewise. Thanks very much, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to: doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platform specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and storytellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go: doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: As Chief Technology Officer at Drive Savers data recovery, Chris Bross guides the development of new tools, technology and techniques for the data recovery lab. Since joining the company in 1995, Chris has engineered his way round gear that has physical trauma, mechanical damage and encryption issues to recover data from all types of storage devices. Hello, Chris, welcome back!
Chris Bross: Hello, Larry! It’s always a pleasure to speak with you.
Larry Jordan: Well, you know it’s been almost eight months. It’s time for us to get tanked up on security and data recovery, which reminds me I’ve been hearing about a major incompatibility issue between Apple’s Mac OS operating system and one of the major hardware manufacturers. What’s going on here?
Chris Bross: Well, I think what you’re referring to is actually old news, and there’s a nasty recipe out there that no-one has the exact ingredients or measures of, but it has to do with it appeared to be Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks is when it unearthed its ugly little head, and one of the drive manufacturers’ formatting driver software utilities and some ugly perfect storm of incompatibility that, in fact, Larry, I saw was reported on a thread on a review that you did back in 2014 on a promise product.
Larry Jordan: That’s true. I remember hearing both about issues with OS 10.9 and OS 10.10, but what’s driver software, and how much do we need to care about driver software and the operating system?
Chris Bross: Sure. Well, the Mac operating system, for some years now, has really provided pretty much all of the functionality you needed for any Apple sold storage device or any third party storage advice that’s attached externally in order to, when I say formatting software, to create a volume, to mount that volume on the desktop and, in the case of a RAID configuration, it might configure your RAID at a RAID 01 or 5 level. Well, Apple historically have provided all that functionality in its disk utility product, but a couple of years ago actually yanked some of that functionality out of it. So some of the third party developers and manufacturers of drives will ship a companion piece of software with their storage device that you can install to handle some of the management of those functions, but that’s, again, not Apple issued software and, although it’s supposed to pass the smell test and all the checks and balances, sometimes, and historically over many years, there have been some conflicts that can cause bad disk behavior and, in some cases, data loss.
Larry Jordan: Well, can the data be recovered, or once the data is lost… In other words, are there different stages of data loss if I lose like… I mean where do we stand here? Data loss has such a frightening sound; I’m trembling just saying the words.
Chris Bross: Sure. Well, there’s data loss that’s unrecoverable, and there’s data loss that’s recoverable. Data loss that’s unrecoverable would be a case where all the data is literally overwritten at a physical layer and no longer available, even using forensic mechanisms like we use at Drive Savers. But, in a recoverable space, like the case we’re talking about, and you can read about this in various online support forum threads, what happens is that the drives that are attached get re-initialized as new empty volumes that show all of their capacity but none of your data. According to the director, and according to the operating system they are, in fact, empty. But, in reality, they have not been completely overwritten at the physical layer, but the directory contents, the pointers to where the files are located, the file names, etcetera, can be lost. If you have a complex kind of file system with a lot of file names and projects and videographer work or film maker work, it can be very complicated to piece that stuff back together.
Larry Jordan: What’s the difference between a directory and the actual data?
Chris Bross: The directory is the table of contents for your drive and think of it as a dynamic table of contents that changes as you add and delete information from the drive. Some refer to that as metadata, but as a directory it’s really like the table of contents. It occupies a small physical portion of the drive but, just like the table of contents in a book, if you lose the first ten pages it’s hard to find out what’s in each chapter. So when you lose that information, you then have to extract it from the data set itself, which can be very time consuming, especially on large capacity drives or RAID arrays and, in some cases, you can retain of all that information, file names etcetera, and in some cases you lose that data.
Larry Jordan: Is the word metadata and file directory the same thing?
Chris Bross: It’s not but the terms are used interchangeably sometimes. Metadata is really data about data, depending on what you’re talking about in computing and storage. It has different connotations. For the sake of simplicity for the listeners, let’s call the directory really the table of contents for the drive.
Larry Jordan: And that table of contents could point to a single file or it could point to metadata like a sidecar file. So metadata could be a whole separate entity from the data itself.
Chris Bross: Sure, or that directory could point to a very, very large video file that’s been edited many times, that has 100 fragments on the drive, all of which are tracked by those directory entries and, therefore, very important in the recovery process.
Larry Jordan: Which gets me to the next point. If we see that we’re missing data, what should we do? In other words, should we use some of the software tools that are out there like, you know, the data recovery tools that we see advertised, or is that a bad idea/
Chris Bross: Well, we understand human nature is that everybody wants to fix a problem quickly for free, by themselves, first. We just recently ran into a case with an independent film maker who was affected by this particular nasty perfect storm that we’re talking about, where they lost over 20 hard drives and 100 terabytes of data at one fell swoop.
Larry Jordan: Wow
Chris Bross: All directly attached to their work station at a very critical time. It literally nuked very, very volumes simultaneously and well, understandably, you know, from a cost perspective and a time perspective, the film maker was in a very tight bind and was looking for a solution to really help out quickly, and the folks over at OWC and SoftRAID actually extended a hand to help out and put in like 80 hours of labor to help recover data for this film maker to really help the person out. Inevitably, they couldn’t quite produce the results that they needed and, in that particular scenario we were engaged as kind of the forensic recovery provider and, in fact, are returning good data back to the user. Just a quick moral of that story is that you really want to stop and ideally engage a professional that specializes in this as quickly as possible because, even with all the best efforts and all the valiant, you know, time and effort spent by those companies in commercial tools, the data couldn’t come back cleanly. Luckily, it didn’t get any more contaminated, and it was produced in a fashion where we could still recover it. We can provide a free evaluation to a user to see if something’s recoverable or not, really at the point of data loss before it gets worse.
Larry Jordan: Well, it probably makes more sense to try to avoid the loss in the first place. What should we do to protect our data?
Chris Bross: Go back to paper and ink, and real film! Remember those days?
Larry Jordan: Yes, nice try, dream on. Option two is what?
Chris Bross: Option two is protecting yourself more than you think you need to. When you’re budgeting for data storage for your entity or your business, you need the storage itself, you need to provide a budget for the backup storage, and you need to provide a budget for a contingency plan. I know that’s hard to do on a budget, and on a small budget, for sure, for indies, but things do happen and you need to allocate resources if that does occur. The way to prevent it is to have a backup strategy that provides at least three layers of protection. You want an online backup, that’s one that’s attached to what you’re working to. You want an offline backup; that is something you can put your arms around quickly that’s in your building or your facility, but not attached to your system in real time. Then you need an offsite backup which, heaven forbid, you have a theft or a fire or something you can still access that data offsite. That’s three layers there, and that’s the minimum amount of protection that you want to have to avoid something like this occurring.
Larry Jordan: You know, it’s easy to look at that and say, you know, that’s really expensive, that’s a lot of hard drives. On the other hand, re-shooting is far more expensive, and we sort of have to put it into perspective.
Chris Bross: Absolutely true, and every data set has a different value to every owner and user, depending on what they’re doing with that data. Yes, data loss can put you out of business for sure. We’ve seen that happen with customers. Ideally, the kind of services that we provide, although very specialized, we can provide users up front, you know, with estimates and evaluations before they spend any money, and we can determine whether or not the condition will be recoverable. In some cases, insurance is actually paying for data recovery. So if you lose data and it’s related to driving income, definitely make a claim depending on your insurance policy. If you happen to be a member of the PPA or organizations like that, some of them actually provide coverage for data recovery as well.
Larry Jordan: Chris, for people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Chris Bross: Well, they can easily find us at drivesaversdatarecovery.com. We’re open 24 hours a day as well. Reach out to us anytime if you have questions about data storage or data loss.
Larry Jordan: And Chris Bross is the Chief Technology Officer at Drive Savers Data Recovery and Chris, thanks for joining us today.
Chris Bross: Thank you, Larry, appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye-bye.
Chris Bross: Bye.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week: Maxim Jago, the director of Jolie’s Garden, and Chris Bross Chief Technology Officer at Drive Savers; James DeRuvo, senior writer for DoddleNEWS; Scott Page, the CEO of Ignited Networks; Laura Blum, curator and journalist, and Jonathan Handel of counsel at Troy Gould, and entertainment labor reporter for the Hollywood Reporter.
There’s a lot of history in our industry, and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com, and remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter, that comes out every Friday. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuzz, and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner, with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription. Visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you. Our supervising producer is Cirina Catania, and by the way, be sure to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter. It comes out every Friday, but we are continuing to redesign it and I’m looking forward to showing you the new issue that comes out tomorrow. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for joining us for the Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2016 by Thalo LLC.