Michael Horton, Co-Producer, Supermeet
Paul Friedman, Founder, LensProToGo
Aaton Cohen-Sitt, CEO and President, Jungle Software
Steve Lack, Business Development Manager, Mandy.com
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we talk with companies who can help with production planning, renting gear, or finding the right people, both in front of and behind the camera. Plus, we have an inside look at the upcoming Supermeet at NAB.
Larry Jordan: We start with Mike Horton, co-producer of the world famous Supermeets, now in its 17th year in Las Vegas, the Supermeet has become an annual ritual for many of us. Tonight, Mike takes us behind the scenes and shares what he’s planning for this year’s event.
Larry Jordan: Paul Friedman founded LensProToGo to enable photographers to rent the lenses they needed when they need it. Now, they’ve grown far larger and supply gear for videographers and photographers alike. Tonight Paul explains who they are, what they do and their recent merger.
Larry Jordan: Jungle Software began 17 years ago, designing software to help filmmakers with the writing, scheduling and budgeting needs of their projects. Tonight, founder Aaton Cohen-Sitt showcases their latest products and how they can help filmmakers.
Larry Jordan: Steve Lack is the east coast business development manager for Mandy.com. Mandy is the world’s largest creative community of actors, and crew, in film, television and theater. Tonight Steve explains how Mandy.com can help you find work and build your portfolio.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with the weekly doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: 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.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. NAB is looming ever closer, and tonight we look at one of the highlights of this annual event, the Supermeet. I was fortunate to have an inside seat during the development of each show as Mike Horton was co-host on the Buzz for nine years. Each year at this time Mike and I would chat before the show started about what he was planning and the challenges in producing an event this large. Tonight, we’re doing the same thing, except now you get to listen in. When I first started hosting the Buzz, the Supermeet was six years old and just finding its legs. Today marks its 17th birthday, it’s grown far beyond its humble beginnings. I’m looking forward to my chat with Mike.
Larry Jordan: Before we start though, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week, provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free, and comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry, one week to NAB. Can you believe it?
Larry Jordan: One week, well actually ten days because it’s Thursday and it starts a week from this Monday. It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be a great show.
James DeRuvo: Yes, it’s going to be fun.
Larry Jordan: So what have you got for us this week?
James DeRuvo: As usual, we have nothing but camera news this week and let’s face it, we’re pretty much all cameras all the time these days.
Larry Jordan: So what’s first?
James DeRuvo: RED’s Gemini 5K camera, it was a custom built camera, has officially been added to the product line. It was designed for use in outer space, but now you can buy it outright or you can upgrade your camera using the new 5K Gemini sensor. It adds two stops of dynamic range, and Jarred Land calls the super 35mm sensor a ‘vampire for light.’ So much so, that you need a stack of ND filters just to use it in the daylight.
Larry Jordan: It seems like this is a pretty specialized camera. Who outside of outer space is going to use this?
James DeRuvo: It’s for low light cinematic options. Gemini was built for a special project for deep space imaging. I’m thinking it was used to shoot Starman over at Space X when they sent him off to Mars in his Tesla, but demand for it got so huge, RED only made like two extra sensors, and Jarred Land put them up for sale and they were gone in about two minutes. The demand for it was such that RED decided to sell it, and have added it to the product line, and for $25,000 users can buy the brain outright, and swap it in and out as needed so they can add extreme low light capability to their camera quiver.
Larry Jordan: That’s the new RED Gemini, what else have we got?
James DeRuvo: Canon has announced a new version of the C700 cinema camera. The 5.9K full frame CMOS sensor offers 15 stops of dynamic range, its EF mount will support full frame, super 35 and super 16mm lenses, so you have a wide range of options, and multiple formats including Canon RAW, ProRes and XVAC.
Larry Jordan: What do you see as the strengths of the C700?
James DeRuvo: Well while the C700 full frame can technically shoot 5.9K, I think it was designed to oversample for a 4K image. That gives it sharper detail, bolder colors and better performance in low light. Users will be able to upgrade their existing C700s, but they’ll have to send their cameras into an authorized Canon repair facility in order to do it. It’s not an easy fix.
Larry Jordan: OK, that’s Canon. What’s our third story this week?
James DeRuvo: Some sadness in the industry as Lytro is closing its doors. Lytro will stop taking productions and providing professional services as they are winding down the company and ceasing operations. Last week we reported that Google was interested in buying the company, but it looks now like they were more interested in the brain trust than the light field technology itself and will hire many of the Lytro staff and then seed them throughout various projects around the company.
Larry Jordan: What happened?
James DeRuvo: I think Lytro was just too far ahead of its time. This happens all the time, where someone gets this really great idea that’s way out there, it’s ground breaking, innovative, and people don’t get it. Lytro’s innovative light field technology which enabled adjustment of depth of field and even focus in post production, it just was ahead of its time. The technology ended up being too expensive, difficult to market and ultimately misunderstood. Now it looks like that technology is going to go out with a whimper and not a bang.
Larry Jordan: So what other stories are you working on this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following include GoPro launches another basic entry level Hero camera for beginners. Blackmagic updates the firmware to its URSA broadcast cinema camera, and don’t forget to take our 2018 readers poll. We’ve had a great response that’s sure to influence how we bring you media news for the next year, but we need your input, so everybody who’s listening, three minutes, ten questions, so go take it.
Larry Jordan: It’s all cameras, all the time. And for people that want this information, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All stories and more can be found on Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of doddleNEWS and joins us every week. James, thanks so much, we’ll see you next week.
James DeRuvo: See you at NAB.
Female voice: Starting Monday April 9, join the Digital Production Buzz at the 2018 NAB show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Larry Jordan and the Buzz team are taking their microphones on the road to cover the latest news and announcements from the largest media show in the world. Every hour of every day, the Buzz is live on the trade show floor. More than 100 interviews creating 27 new shows in four days. The Buzz has webcast directly from NAB for ten years and our coverage is legendary, heard in more than 195 countries around the world. If you’re attending the show, visit us at booth SL10 527 and say “Hello.” If you can’t attend, visit NABshowbuzz.com for a schedule of shows and guests. That’s NABshowbuzz.com and join the Buzz at NAB.
Larry Jordan: Michael Horton is the head cutter of the Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group and he’s one of the two co-producers of the world famous Supermeets coming up shortly at NAB in Las Vegas. Hello Mike, welcome back.
Michael Horton: Larry, it’s been forever.
Larry Jordan: I have missed your company, the shows have been far too serious without you here.
Michael Horton: I know, I’ve missed you too. What are you doing now, are you still in Los Angeles somewhere?
Larry Jordan: We have escaped the mountain top. We are at the Buzz compound and you would really like it. Hot and cold running kitchens, it’s great.
Michael Horton: That’s what happens, I leave, you start making money and you move to a compound.
Larry Jordan: Listen, refresh my memory, what is the Supermeet?
Michael Horton: This is the 17th annual Supermeet that we’re holding in Las Vegas and 17 years ago we started in a little room at the then Las Vegas Hilton. I don’t know what it’s called now, but we had a little room there, and it’s grown and you’ve been a part of it several times. We’ve pretty much done a Supermeet at almost every hotel in Vegas and we’ve blown up two of them. We blew up the Stardust and we blew up the Riviera. So we’ve been at the Rio for the last couple of years, and we’ll be there this year and I imagine it’s going to implode here probably next year, so we’ll have to find another hotel. We’ll see what happens but we are famous now for imploding hotels no matter where we do the Supermeet.
Michael Horton: The Supermeet is first and foremost a networking event. It’s 1,000 of your peers show up, and we have a little food and a little drink, and you mill around. There’ll be 23 software and hardware vendors for you to hang out with, but the most important thing is to hang out with each other and sometimes if you have the courage, you can make some lifelong friends and collaborators and that’s what these events are all about. I can’t tell you how many times people have met collaborators who’ve helped their careers or helped their movie or project that they’re in the middle of. So it’s a heck of a show.
Larry Jordan: Well before I talk about the show, I know you’re a co-producer. Who’s your fellow co-producer?
Michael Horton: My fellow co-producer is right now in Manchester, New Hampshire and he is Dan Berube and we’ve been doing it now for that long. He came on a little bit later, but we’ve been doing the Supermeets in Las Vegas and also in Amsterdam as well as we did them in London and Boston and San Francisco for years, but right now we’re doing them in Las Vegas and Amsterdam because I’m getting too old to do more cities.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to start Supermeet in the first place?
Michael Horton: It started because there was all these Final Cut Pro user groups all over the world and we thought it might be a good idea to just have this big gathering of these user groups. So it started that way in probably 2003 or 2004, and we called it something else. I don’t remember the first year we called it a Supermeet. Loren Miller was the guy that came up with the name but it was a chance for all these user groups to get together and it just snowballed into this huge creative event that is not necessarily about Final Cut Pro, but about any tools that you use out there to tell your stories.
Michael Horton: In fact, we dropped the Final Cut Pro name after 2011 and it’s pretty much a Creative Pro user group network rather than a Final Cut Pro user network because as we say, we really don’t care what tools you use, we just care what you do with the tools that you use. That’s what the stage presentations at the Supermeet are all about.
Larry Jordan: OK, so I’m standing at the ballroom of the Rio. I’ve just paid my entrance fee, and we’ll talk about that in a minute, I walk in, what am I going to see, and what does the event have in it this year?
Michael Horton: That’s really cool because we’re at the Brasilia Ballroom which is a more intimate type of ballroom than what we were normally in for the last several years. So you’re going to walk in, you’re going to see right off the bat 23 eight foot tables, and on those tables are going to be software and hardware vendors. A lot of those vendors are not going to be in the show for NAB, they’ll only be at the Supermeet, so you want to walk around and say “Hello” and see what they’re doing. Nobody’s selling anything, it’s just all this really cool stuff that you might or might not need but you want to educate yourself, so you want to walk around.
Michael Horton: Then you’ll see some little hors d’oeuvres.
Larry Jordan: You say that, but when I get there, there’s never any food and there’s people passed out from hunger on the floor.
Michael Horton: Exactly. The post production community is a hungry lot. Now if you want to get some food, get there early. We’re going to serve very small plates so you can’t just pack it on. But anyway, there’s going to be a couple of cash bars, so you can mill around there for about an hour, talking to each other and then at seven o’clock, you go into the theater area, and see our stage presentations. We’ve got some really good ones.
Michael Horton: Blackmagic Design has got a really cool presentation and it’s going to be all Q&A. That’s it. Somebody’s going to be running around like Jerry Springer with a microphone and the people in the audience are going to be able to ask questions of the designers of Resolve and Fairlight and Fusion. Of course we have our very special guest which is Academy Award nominated editor Dylan Tichenor who’s edited an enormous amount of incredible Paul Thomas Anderson movies like Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, and Magnolia. He’s done so many good movies they’ve already gone out of my head. Brokeback Mountain and Dark Thirty, it goes on. But he’s going to be there and Steve Hullfish, who’s an author and editor of the Art of the Cut and Pro Video Coalition is going to be moderator. Adobe’s going to be there, Frame IO is going to be there with some super secret presentations of the whole new collaboration tool that they have called frame.io and HP is going to be there. We have Matt Carson who’s the assistant editor of the last Deadpool, he’s going to be there talking, and I’m announcing on your show, Bradley Olsen is going to show the making of his movie on Final Cut Pro X, Off The Track. We have two giant screens to see all this stuff so if you’re a Final Cut Pro X fan, there’s going to be a lot of Final Cut Pro X people there, and that community’s going to be huge there.
Michael Horton: And you’re going to be there. If you want to see anybody and meet Larry Jordan in person, because it’s hard to meet Larry when he’s working out of a … but when he goes to the Supermeet, you can talk to him. He’s actually a very approachable guy.
Larry Jordan: Thank you, I’ll pay you after the show is over. How do you decide how to invite to the show?
Michael Horton: Well we look at what’s going on in the world at the time that we make up the agenda. What’s happening, what are the buzz words? This year it was hard to figure out the buzz word. Is it VR? No. Is it HDR? Still kind of HDR but it’s really hard to show and demo HDR on a projection screen, and even hard to talk about it. This year we have an eclectic group of people that I think, if you’re not interested in one particular presentation, you’re going to be interested in the next one which is why we have this Supermeet set up in such a way that if you get bored, go back out and have something to eat or get a drink and then come back in for the other presentations. There’s no rules, you don’t have to sit the whole time, you can go back and forth.
Larry Jordan: What’s the biggest challenge you have in putting the Supermeet together?
Michael Horton: That would be dealing with people Larry. Seriously, the biggest challenge is just getting all the elements together into a workable event and there’s so many tiny details that can go wrong, and if you don’t at least attempt to put this event together so nothing does go wrong, because inevitably something goes wrong. So you try your best to mitigate any of those possibilities, but something always does go wrong, and the thing is, when you’re doing a show in front of 1,000 audio visual people, every single one of them knows how to fix the problem. You’ve got to be real diligent.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of pulling all the details together, tell me about this raffle, and how much of it can I take home with me?
Michael Horton: Oh my gosh, that’s a big deal. The raffle of course is a huge deal at the Supermeet, and this year we have over $101,930 worth of raffle prizes. Seriously, over $101,000. It’s incredible, and amazing things from a $29,000 Advanced Control Surface Panel, from Blackmagic to Atomos giving us two Sumo 19 inch HDR monitors, the Shogun Inferno. We’ve got a lot of ColorSynth control panels. If you’re a colorist, there’s so many great things in this raffle. OWC just gave us a ton of stuff. Drobo gave us a huge five drive direct attached storage and the list goes on. Of course the raffle goes on but it’s a lot of fun because all you have to do is show a little joy. It’s a big wonderful fun time and it gives everybody a chance to let their hair down and act goofy and have a good time and maybe win something.
Larry Jordan: For people who do want to win something, or find out who’s going to be in the show, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Michael Horton: They can go to supermeet.com and if they do register for the Supermeet, use this code, BuzzVIP and you can save five bucks. Five bucks off your ticket price, so go to supermeet.com, click on the buy a ticket button and use code BuzzVIP and save yourself $5 and use that to buy extra raffle tickets.
Larry Jordan: Mike Horton is the co-producer of the Supermeet in Las Vegas and Mike, take care, we’ll see you in Las Vegas in a week. Bye bye.
Michael Horton: Always great to talk to you. See you later Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Paul Friedman is the founder of LensProToGo which rents camera gear to professional and amateur filmmakers and photographers all over the US. Hello Paul, welcome.
Paul Friedman: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe LensProToGo?
Paul Friedman: We’re a service company. We never really want to be just a gear company. To us, it’s not always about the gear. To us, we are simply a service company and we’re here to service our customers in the best way that we possibly can.
Larry Jordan: What makes LensProToGo different from other rental companies?
Paul Friedman: One of the things that really separates us from everyone else out there, and we’ve been doing this for a very long time, is that we’re staffed entirely by professional filmmakers and photographers. That’s one way. Certainly another way is that we ship just about all of our gear in Pelican cases, the hard shell cases with soft foam interiors, so everything is sure to arrive safely and it comes back to us safely. The packaging is very neat and clean and clear.
Larry Jordan: Why is it so important that everybody in your company be a professional photographer?
Paul Friedman: We just want the people who work here to care. We can teach people to pack boxes and it’s certainly true, not of all the jobs, but some of the jobs we have are just packing boxes, or clean the gear. But we want everyone to be hyper aware of the people that we serve and the gear that we’re carrying. We want people that understand that, and we want them to be able to detect any problems with the gear, should they become apparent or not so apparent. We like having an atmosphere where people are really passionate about what we do, as opposed to it being just a job, it’s interesting or whatever. I think at the end of the day it makes a big difference having a lot of people who are really great, versus having a lot of great people who care about filmmaking and photography.
Larry Jordan: Recently you guys went through a merger. What happened, and what’s the result?
Paul Friedman: Just a few months ago at the end of 2017 we did merge with LensRentals in Memphis and LensRentals was technically our biggest competitor, but they were also friends for a long time. We’ve known each other and liked each other and certainly respected each other, for as long as we’ve both been in the business which dates back to 2006. Over the last year or two it became apparent to us that we could probably accomplish more and be better together than apart. There are some things we do really great, some things that LensRentals does really great, and now we’re working on combining those things to make us both great at everything so we can really help our customers.
Paul Friedman: One of the big things that we’re excited about is that even though there’s a merger, no-one actually got laid off. Both of our businesses are still growing quite rapidly so we never had to get rid of anyone, even though some of the operations are actually combined. Prices are not going up, if anything we’re going to be able to help our customers a little bit more on the pricing end of the spectrum, so we’re really excited about the merger.
Larry Jordan: What sounds interesting to me, is the part that you really like about this business is enabling your customers. The shipping is incidental. It’s getting in with your customer and helping them pick the right gear and develop it for the project. Is that a true statement?
Paul Friedman: Absolutely. In fact, I started this company in my house 12 years ago and at the time there were no filmmakers, we were only renting lenses and some cameras and flashes. It was all just pretty basic photography stuff. Not just the amount of gear, but the breadth of gear was pretty limited. But one of the things that I loved and that our customers loved, was that “If you’ve got questions, call.” Literally the only person you were going to talk to was me, because there was no-one else. In the first year and a half I was the guy, that was it.
Paul Friedman: But our customers really loved that, especially back then because there were so many photographers out there and new photographers because it was the beginning of the DSLR revolution, and so many people who were new to shooting. I was one of them, not long before that. So they had questions about the gear, and about the lenses and what lenses they should use, and I would give them honest advice and they loved it. But that philosophy has stuck with us and our customers love it because they go, “You were so right, this was awesome, you guys took care of me. You’ve got my business forever.” That’s what makes us thrilled, not just that they’re coming back, but that they’re happy with what we do and how we serve them.
Larry Jordan: What kind of insurance do we need before renting gear?
Paul Friedman: A lot of filmmakers who come to us are renting lots of gear. They might need ten or 20 or $100,000 worth of gear, so in those cases we do require a COI certificate of insurance, and if you don’t have insurance already there’s a fairly quick way to get a COI so you are covered. There are plenty of customers who don’t need a COI and we have a protection plan that we offer. Most of our customers do take the protection plan, that covers them for damage or if anything happens to the gear, less a ten percent deductible, and it’s really affordable which is why most people do take it. So we do offer those kind of things for all of our customers.
Larry Jordan: For people that are interested in experimenting with your services, I understand you’ve got a discount for us. Can you tell me what that is?
Paul Friedman: I do, it’s a 15 percent off code, which is digitalbuzz15. You can use that through April, I believe I set that up through April, for 15 percent off your next order with us whether you’re new or not.
Larry Jordan: That rental code is all one word, digitalbuzz15, for a 15 percent discount, and for people that want to learn more about LensProToGo, where can they go on the web?
Paul Friedman: They can find us at www.lensprotogo.com. One word.
Larry Jordan: One word, lensprotogo.com and Paul Friedman is the founder of LensProToGo and Paul, thanks for joining us today.
Paul Friedman: Thanks Larry, nice chatting with you.
Larry Jordan: Aaton Cohen-Sitt is the CEO and president of Jungle Software. They make Gorilla Scheduling and Budgeting, film production and budget software for filmmakers, along with a variety of other products. Hello Aaton, welcome.
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: So how would you describe Jungle Software?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Basically it comes down to how we started the company because we were filmmakers, who looked for a need. We needed something to help us create production reports and organization for creating our films. Back then, this is about 17 or 18 years ago, there were a few things out there, but nothing at all close to what we needed in a small production house. So one by one, we started putting together different modules and different ways to do things more technology oriented, and came up with what happened to be, a year and a half later, a scheduling and budgeting with other aspects to it, so that it could be not just scheduling and budgeting, but everything that you need to help you organize and produce a film, whether it’s small or large.
Larry Jordan: So how did writing budgeting software allow you to arrive at the name Gorilla?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: That’s a good question. I think because we were guerilla filmmakers, and of course it’s spelled differently, like guerilla warfare. We wanted something a little different, a little cute. A lot of competitors out there, especially today have very slick names. We just wanted to do something fun and with that being born, all of our products just went into the jungle theme. We actually came up with Gorilla the product first, and then a couple of years later came up with Jungle Software which is an interesting story.
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Our parent company is Stolen Apple Productions, which is the LLC. About two years into the product, lo and behold, we get a certified letter in the mail from no other than Apple Inc. They very politely and strongly suggested that we change our name from Stolen Apple to something else because at the time they had Final Cut and thought that consumers would get confused by editing software and production software, and they didn’t want us conflicting. So we thought about it, we didn’t want to sue Apple so we decided to come up with another name, and that’s where we got Jungle Software.
Larry Jordan: So it wasn’t that you wanted Gorilla to be the 800 pound gorilla in the budgeting room?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Right. We used the 400, 800 pound gorilla in other ways, but yes, it was more of the guerilla filmmaking.
Larry Jordan: How does the software work, in other words, when do I want to buy it within the production process?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: That’s also a good question, we get that a lot. Because a lot of people will call us and ask “When should I?” The answer honestly is not necessarily before you write the script, but definitely when the process of polishing the script or getting it close to being done where you have to think of course if you want to produce your film, when you have to start thinking about production software which is going to help you a lot in terms of budgeting, in terms of how to get things that you need, that you might not otherwise think you do. That’s one of the things about the software is that it helps you figure you might need locations, and a location manager, and a casting director etcetera, and so it makes you start thinking about the script in terms of actually making it alive and becoming an actual film.
Larry Jordan: What’s the software cost?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: There’s two parts to it. There’s scheduling and there’s budgeting. Scheduling alone is 249, and budgeting alone is also 249, but we have a combo pack where you can get both of them for a reduced price of 429.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting as you were answering these questions, that there’s a lot of other production software that’s out there, some of it online and some software that runs locally on your computer. What makes Gorilla different from the other production organization tools that are available?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: First of all, the fact that I’ve been doing this for 17 years or so and realizing that there’s a lot of companies that have come and gone within that time, and it’s not a simple thing to get into. It’s an arduous process to try to come up with software to help people schedule and budget their film, and one thing that sets us apart from some of the competitors is that it’s an all in one solution. Our scheduling and budgeting software, even though you can buy them separately if you want, they integrate very nicely because it’s really just one download that you get from our site. You really do have both software together, even though you only download one, and when you want to unlock the other one, it works seamlessly together, so that it’s a very nice suite of functions that you have within one piece of software.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of information that’s being stored in these files. Are we storing it locally or is it going to the Cloud, and if it’s on the Cloud, how are we keeping it secure?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Right now the software is desktop based, so it’s all locally on your hard drive. We do have a Dropbox or Cloud saving feature, so you can save to the Cloud your schedules and budgets. Also, we have our Gorilla studio product which is coming out later this year which is going to be a completely online solution which will allow you to do scheduling online. That will integrate really nicely with our desktop product.
Larry Jordan: Are you worried about sensitive data going up online?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Always. The thing is, as many precautions as you could take, look what happened to Sony a little while ago and other things that have breached. Huge companies are breached that have hundreds of people doing their security for them. The best we can do is use all the latest security features out there. We use Amazon web services for our online product, which is very secure. We just have to keep up to date with the best security measures that we can, and that’s really the best we can do.
Larry Jordan: The good news is, for people that are worried about putting their stuff on the Cloud, your Prime platform is desktop based.
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: That’s correct, and it has been for 16 years, and only now this year we’re going to be, not transitioning necessarily because we’re keeping the desktop product, but we will have both which is another thing our competitors won’t have. You’ll see companies that have the online product or the desktop product. Very rarely will they have both and if they do it won’t be a nicely integrated package that we offer.
Larry Jordan: Well you have been around for 16 years. How do you decide what features to dial into the product, and where do the feature suggestions come from, and a corollary to this, is how do you avoid feature creep where everything just becomes fat and bloated?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: I’ll take the second one first. Unfortunately that happens a lot, and in a good way. Because our development cycle is usually between two and three years per major release, so that gives us a lot of time to come up with a brand new way of looking at the product, new features, new enhancements and things like that. We get most of our suggestions from our users. I would say we get a little more than half from our users. They say things like “We want the software to do this,” or “We want it do that,” and a lot of times, if it’s something that we hear a lot, we’ll definitely consider it. Also we get a lot of suggestions just from technology. When mobile came out of course we had to think about mobile. When online came out, we had to think about that. So a lot of times we’ll just think we have to do things just because society and technology demands it.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the products that Jungle Software has available, where can they on the web?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: The best place is our website which is junglesoftware.com where we have all the information there about all our products and even sign up and download a free trial.
Larry Jordan: How long’s your free trial last for?
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: 15 days. If it’s up and you’re still not sure if you want to buy it, you can just download it again, and use it for another 15 days.
Larry Jordan: Perpetual 15 day free trial.
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: Exactly. And Aaton Cohen-Sitt is the CEO and president of Jungle Software. Aaton, thanks so much for joining us today.
Aaton Cohen-Sitt: No problem Larry, thanks very much.
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 platforms 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 story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with 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: Steve Lack is the US east coast business development manager for Mandy.com. His primary responsibilities are to connect with producers and employers to get high quality, paying gigs posted on Mandy.com for their members. Hello Steve, welcome.
Steve Lack: Hi Larry, thanks.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe Mandy.com?
Steve Lack: Mandy.com is a community of film and television professionals, actors, musicians, and creative professionals where they can go to find work or find crew and casting. We have job postings as well as notice boards, forums. It’s an online community for the professionals in the business.
Larry Jordan: Is this people in front of the camera, or behind the camera?
Steve Lack: Both above the line, below the line, directors, crew, post production, location production as well as creatives.
Larry Jordan: Tell me a little bit about its history. Is Mandy fairly new?
Steve Lack: No, Mandy’s been around since 2003. It was one of the original entertainment related job posting sites. We recently merged with Film&TVPro.com and have been updating the site and adding a lot of features and a lot of member benefits.
Larry Jordan: Well we’ve talked with a lot of other online talent companies, Voices.com comes immediately to mind. What makes Mandy.com different?
Steve Lack: What makes Mandy different from our competitors is that we’re not algorithm based. We have a team in our UK office that vets every job, makes sure they’re legitimate jobs, makes sure that they’re paying industry standard wages, or if they’re not paying industry standard wages, aren’t posted as a fully paying job. Also offers support to our members.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk more about that. How do you ensure that jobs posted are legitimate, and more importantly, the people that take the job are going to get paid, because there’s a lot of scamming going on?
Steve Lack: Yes, and we are really diligent about that. We have a team of 30 people in our London, UK office. Every time a job is posted it does not immediately go live. The job is reviewed by one of our admins. If the email address is not a recognizable company, gmail or free email address, they will contact the job poster to check it out and make sure they’re a legitimate company. They’ll do some research, they will go to the company’s website, look up their company’s IMDb information. If anything looks suspicious at all, they will follow through and make sure that the job is legit.
Larry Jordan: Traditionally, creative folks would work through an agent to find work. Why the shift to social media?
Steve Lack: We actually do work with agents, so agents can set up their own agency on Mandy.com and they can submit their people through Mandy as well. Social media is everywhere now, I mean, people are posting positions on all different types of social media. So what Mandy does is, we are able to aggregate all of that, so that you can go to one place to find what’s going on in the industry. If you have an agent, you can ask your agent to submit you for these positions, and if you’re at a point of your career where you’re building or growing, you can use Mandy to build your portfolio and your resume in the process of finding an agent or, in a lot of the technical fields of course, you work without an agent anyway. So we have a lot of freelancers, especially in the film and TV crew side, who build their whole freelance careers, working through Mandy, one job to the next.
Larry Jordan: According to the website, you have about 2.5 million members which seems like there isn’t a lot of chance for a new member to find work?
Steve Lack: Well that’s 2.5 million members worldwide, so when you break it down by region or by country, there’s plenty of opportunity there. Our members run the gamut from recent graduates just entering the industry, all the way up to people with 25 years experience, running their entire freelance career through Mandy.
Larry Jordan: What’s the process of joining Mandy?
Steve Lack: You go to the website, Mandy.com and the very first page it’ll say, “I’m either looking to find cast and crew, or I’m looking to get booked.” You will click the appropriate button and it’ll take you through a questionnaire. “I am a director looking for work,” or “I’m a producer looking for crew,” and you’ll fill out your profile, and if you’re looking for work you’ll include the software packages you use or the equipment that you own, things like that. You have the ability to post your real, your resume, places for recommendations, and previous work, so you’ll basically fill out a profile, and that profile becomes live on the site. So it’ll show up when employers do searches and whenever a job is posted, you’ll receive an email telling you, based on your profile settings, that “This job might match what you’re looking for and it was just posted on Mandy.” Then you can click through and apply for the job.
Larry Jordan: What does it cost for someone to apply as a job seeker?
Steve Lack: We have two levels of membership. There’s a free membership which allows you to apply for the no pay and low paid positions such as student films, or resume building projects, ways to meet people. Then there’s the premium membership which is $15 a month, and the $15 a month membership allows you to apply for the fully paid positions on the site.
Larry Jordan: Where does Mandy make its money?
Steve Lack: Through our subscriptions. We don’t charge for employers to post jobs. So it’s always free for employers to post jobs, and our members find that the $15 a month subscription is a great value when you’re building your career.
Larry Jordan: These days in the States, there’s a lot of concern about data privacy. Does Mandy market the data that it receives, and if it does or doesn’t, what does it do to assure people’s private information stays private?
Steve Lack: First of all our site is very secure. We have our own team of developers and admin so we don’t share any of our emails with anybody. We do occasionally work with partners, we may do emails out on behalf of the partners, but we never give our list out to anybody. If you register on Mandy, you can be assured that your data is safe and it’s not being distributed.
Larry Jordan: In this age where equal pay is a hot topic, do you have any control over what the client is paying different people? In other words, if they’re being fair to both men and women that they employ.
Steve Lack: We don’t control the pricing. What we do is the jobs are listed as either no pay, low pay or fully paid. A fully paid job has to adhere to your local state or region’s minimum wage guidelines, but what’ll happen sometimes is if an employer posts a job that’s inappropriately priced, say they’re looking for a videographer with their own RED camera in New York City and they want to pay $100 a day, that’s well below of course the market rate for someone with that kind of gear and the experience they’re looking for. Our admins will contact them and say that it is meeting the state’s minimum wage but you’ll probably get better results if you raise your daily rate to whatever the going rate might be. So while we don’t have any control over what people post as far as pay goes, we do try and encourage people to pay industry rates.
Larry Jordan: You talk at schools and colleges about building a career in this industry. What advice are you giving to the students?
Steve Lack: What I like to talk about is that the business is really a business of personal connections, so when I talk to students I talk about learning how to market yourself through referral marketing, and through personal connections, building up your networking, using LinkedIn, using your fellow students because when anybody in this business thinks about how they’ve come up through their career, they can pinpoint one person or another that they’ve known in the past, who they’ve worked with for years or “Knew each other when we were both nobodies, and now they’re somebody and they’re hiring me.” I’ve been in this business for 25 years and I’ve worked with the same people in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington DC and New York, we all travel around together basically. So I talk about the business is smaller than you think it is.
Larry Jordan: What would you most like our audience to know about Mandy.com?
Steve Lack: In this day of the gig economy and freelancing and there’s not as many staff salaried positions as there used to be, on Mandy.com we really give you the tools to manage your freelance career. From finding work to keeping in touch with people, to advertising yourself. So I’m really enthusiastic about what Mandy’s doing and I think it’s really helpful in the state of the industry right now for people building their careers.
Larry Jordan: Where can we go on the web to learn more about the company?
Steve Lack: You can register to find work or you can register to post your available positions, at Mandy.com.
Larry Jordan: Steve Lack is the US east coast business development manager for Mandy.com and Steve, thanks for joining us today.
Steve Lack: Great, thanks a lot Larry, appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, about 40 years ago at the start of my video career, I had the pleasure of working at Maryland Public Television near Baltimore. Though back then it was called the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. Recently they sent me a note saying they were celebrating their 50th anniversary, this year, and did I have anything to contribute? That sent me back to my closet. I tend to hang on to old production books and there in the back, covered in dust were dozens of old marked up directors scripts for shows that appeared on PBS as well as local stations, along with supporting sketches, set designs, even title cards in a few cases.
Larry Jordan: Contrasting media in the 1970s with media today is an exercise in how much we’ve changed. Back then even the largest cities had at most four channels to choose from for programming. There was no time shifting, no digital recording, no binge watching or even 500 channels with nothing on. Even the simplest one camera production took ten people, and tens of thousands of dollars in gear. Communication was via two way radio, lighting was measured in the thousands of watts, and required a separate generator, and cables the size of garden hoses ran everywhere. All this to create an image that was 0.3 megapixels in size.
Larry Jordan: Over the decades, technology marched on. Gear got smaller, digital and interconnected. Crews got smaller, resolution got bigger, and distribution exploded. In my closet, I have a Trinicon tube. It’s the size of a loaf of bread and we needed three of them in each camera to capture an SD image. Today a single chip inside a cell phone has 24 times the resolution of one of these giant tubes. The technology of media has evolved so much as to be unrecognizable, typified by the latest news coming out of NAB each year, but the art of media, telling stories that move audiences, hasn’t changed.
Larry Jordan: This time of year as breathless announcements of the latest game changing technology swirl around us, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that stories are at the heart of what we do, and have been doing since film was first invented 126 years ago. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Mike Horton with the Supermeet, Paul Friedman with LensProToGo, Aaton Cohen-Sitt with Gorilla Software, Steve Lack with Mandy.com and James DeRuvo with doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: 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.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2018 by Thalo LLC.