Monthly Archives: February 2013

Still Photographer Learns Canon DSLR Backwards and Forwards

Heidi Marie, Photographer and DP


Heidi Marie is a still photographer who desired to add film to her portfolio of abilities. So she came to The Association’s Canon DSLR 5D Boot Camp to learn the video portion of her Canon. Here’s what she had to say after the 2 day workshop was complete and she’d received her Canon certification from us.




Heidi Marie – “Know the camera backwards and forwards.” from The Association/Canon Boot Camp on Vimeo.

I came to the boot camp because I was pretty comfortable with my camera as a still camera, but I didn’t know how to translate it into filming. So I wanted to learn how to use what I knew to make movies. I feel really comfortable with it now. I went home and bragged to all my friends after the first day, and the second day of actually filming, I feel much more secure in promoting myself as a DP.

I would definitely recommend it to anybody. It starts at, like, nothing, assuming you know not even what a camera is, and by the end you know the camera backwards and forwards. So there’s no required skill level. Which I thought was impressive! But if you have some skill, it adds on to it. So it kinda suits all different levels. I would recommend it to anybody who is interested in using a canon.


Need a Los Angeles based still photographer or digital filmmaker as part of your effective marketing plan? Heidi’s local to Los Angeles and may be reached through her website. She’s spunky, full of energy and enthusiastic about everything, and will help bring life to your photographic or video project.

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Networking Group for LA Filmmakers

Get hooked up fellow filmmakers with Meetup.comThere’s nothing like the personal touch when it comes to expanding your network. As much as social media is great for increasing the size of your network, if you still haven’t met people in person, they usually remain a stranger.

Just like any other business, culture or group, there’s no replacement for meeting people face to face. Got food? Even better. Liquor can help “improve” conversational skills;  I don’t drink alcohol so I have to rely on my own skills! But you probably know all this already, so what am I sharing today? The networking social site that helps just about anyone meet who they are looking for, in person.

If you can’t find a group of people already engaged in a specific interest, activity or business, can help you start your own group. Other folks interested in your activity can locate your group on the site, request to join, and then join you in person at various venues. And since everyone on the site is networking, everyone’s already on the same page about getting together.

Here’s an example of how to use to make valuable connections for your business.

The Association has DSLR filmmaker training (think digital filmmaking) every month called the Canon Boot Camp. Now, most of our students already find us online, because we have very good visibility from our blog. I’ve already covered how we achieved such high visibility online through blogging in another blog post, so I won’t retell that story here. Like many other companies, we’ve found that traditional marketing with print and newspaper ads is not effective anymore. So that leaves in-person networking as an alternative to online marketing.

But where to find groups of people in LA that are interested in digital filmmaking? LA411 is not the answer for networking purposes. And if I find filmmakers, how will I connect with them in a meaningful way? Is there a way I can provide value to them first? And how can our first encounter be as non-threatening (not a sales pitch) as possible? has made all of this possible. I was already a member, but if you’re not a member yet, you’ll have to create a profile for yourself first.

Get Hooked Up with

After selecting a number of film and DSLR related interests (or whatever you are looking for – suggestions will be offered), will suggest some groups to join. When you find some groups you like, hit the Join button and follow the instructions. More often than not, you will be asked to complete a profile for each group you join. Take the time to answer the questions so that other people will know something about you. The little bit of information you supply can help facilitate the first conversation. Each group has one or more Organizers who run the actual events and maintain the group’s page. The Organizer may or may not need to approve your request.

Once you are part of the group, you have some opportunities to provide value and make a good first impression. The most basic way to participate as a valuable member of any group is to RSVP and actually show up! This helps the organizers plan appropriately, obviously. And you don’t want to be that one guy or girl that always says, “Yes” but never arrives!

Another way to provide value to a Meetup group is to offer a Sponsorships or Perks. Sponsors are able to provide a specific group with something of value to their members, such as discounts, a place to meet or supplies of some kind. Perks are much the same, but are offered to a number of groups through as a more general offer. For example, I offered a $50 discount off of our Canon Boot Camp for members of the Los Angeles Filmmakers Network. The Organizer approved my offer, and even posted it on their Facebook Page. Literally a few minutes later, I was contacted by a member of the LAFN asking about the class. It can be that fast.

Once you are a member of a group, you can contact other members directly and start a conversation by email. This can be useful to set up an in-person conversation at the next Meetup, if you locate someone that appears to be a good connection for your business. However, avoid starting with a sales pitch or spam as members may report you and you could be kicked out of the group, defeating the purpose of networking.

Is there another networking group or site you’ve had success using? Tell us about it in the comments box below, we’d love to hear your suggestions or tips.

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Generate More Leads and Sales from Facebook

Reaching more customers and generating sales are two of the most important parts of an effective marketing plan a business owner needs to accomplish. And fast.

Increasing taxes, cost of living and a generally competitive climate make a challenging environment for any business to grow. Fortunately, we have the World Wide Web. Never before have so many had such massive potential reach to every corner of the globe. I’ve heard there are places in 3rd world countries that have no running water – but they DO have access to the Internet. Even so, for many who are in business for themselves, the cost of designing or programming a branded presence online leaves them stuck with the usual templates and “basic” options.

But not anymore.Reach More Customers on Facebook with Heyo

Customize your Facebook Page Presence – Without Coding

Before I explain, let me make clear that the single most important web presence you can establish, for the long haul, is a blog. But that doesn’t mean social networks should be ignored. Facebook and other online social networks can be quite powerful. And if you are just getting started in business with limited capital, social networks can be VERY helpful in getting the word out at extremely low cost. But a Facebook presence alone is just a third of the battle. With smart phone madly increasing, having a mobile presence is also important. And what about having a website? Often fledgling businesses are missing all three online tools.

Getting a professional looking Facebook Page, mobile site and website can be expensive to program. Well, it used to be expensive. Then Heyo came to be.

Heyo is an amazing online service. It allows you to “drag and drop” a professional looking Facebook Tab Pages together without any coding. Everything you need to create custom Tabs on Facebook is neatly presented in Heyo, and easy to use. I’ve been using it for some months, and I can verify it is truly a Do It Yourself (DIY) service – because I am not a programmer or coder myself. If I can use it, so can you.

No coding means you save time and money implementing your enterprise social media campaign yourself. Or at least implementing it in house.

For example, The Association produces the Canon Boot Camp, effective training for digital filmmakers. In 2012, we held a Premiere event showcasing 8 short films produced by Canon Boot Camp students. All the films are amazing, so of course I wanted to showcase them on our Facebook Page by creating a new Tab. If I didn’t have Heyo, I wouldn’t have been able to create the Tab without it either looking ugly our waiting for our Webmaster.. But I did have Heyo. So in a couple of hours, I had dragged 9 videos into place on a new Tab, added some text and social buttons and I was done. Click the photo below to check out the Tab:

Painless Facebook Tab Customization

Reaching More Customers with Facebook

If you already have a website you’ve spent time designing and coding, Heyo allows you to drop already existing webpages right into Facebook Page Tabs in about 3 seconds. No coding required.

If you’d like to run a contest, Heyo already has a contest page template designed. Just drop it in to the Tab. Provide a place for people to sign up for your newsletter while you’re at it!

Are you a Realtor? Heyo has several templates for showcasing properties. Want to add a Facebook Share button? Go ahead. It’ll take you about 30 seconds. Put the button wherever you like! Heyo truly is a Do It Yourself solution that pretty much anyone could learn to use quickly and easily. There are several templates already in place for restaurants, Realtors and retail outfits.

Once you’re done building out your Facebook Page, Heyo allows you to turn your Facebook Page into a mobile application and a website in minutes. But don’t take my word for it. Take Heyo for spin yourself with their free trial. Give your Facebook Page a DIY facelift today!
Do It Yourself FB Tabs, Mobile Site and Websites

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Action Shooting and HDSLRs

Lawrence Riberio High Risk ShooterLawrence is a graduate of the Canon Boot Camp and has helped us pull off several boot camps as well. But that’s the tame description. In the real world, Lawrence falls (literally, sometimes) into the category of “high risk” shooters, creating and filming stunts and other adventerous moments in time for his clients.

On top of showcasing his new reel (see video below), we asked Lawrence for his experience and advice for others considering his line of work and how his training at the Canon Boot Camp helped him:


More often than not it’s about the basics. Yes, these shots can be quite difficult and risky but it was the fundamentals of training my eyes. There is no room for error as things are happening so fast that the very thing you are shooting actually “seems” to become secondary, if you can believe it.

Mind you everything has been planned. In fact, my shoots seem more like a Bank heist than a shoot itself as timing and somewhat rhythm are key.

Reel – Lawrence Ribeiro from Destination Unknown on Vimeo.

One thing that my mentor preached to me, repeatedly, was training my eye to be discriminate. The tool? A toilet paper roll. Yes, I did say that. You see, at any given time there are thousands upon thousands of objects of interest in view, but you only need a couple or so. And when things are going so fast, you need be precise in your actions. How you frame and compose a shot has to be discovered by following the greats and sometimes looking at Art/Photographs, as opposed to advertising, can be a great vehicle for such.

Once you have keen sense and [training] you will start developing your own style.
The Canon DSLR is a great tool for images, but your eyes need to be trained. Bang for your buck…this is still the ticket. For the really fast stuff, the DSLR can be limiting. However, if you move at the same or similar speed as the object than that can be accomplished with the Canon DSLR.

Lastly, practice is needed. I know veterans that have been shooting for over 40 years…they still practice and so do I.

Be the best that you can be…

Lawrence Ribeiro
Manhattan Beach, CA
Great words of advice for any filmmaker. Thanks, Lawrence, and we look forward to viewing your future work.

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The Simplest Secret of Marketing

I hate long, verbose articles. Why can’t they just say what they promised to reveal?

So, I’ll cut to the chase. (By the way, I’ll explain the Vampire picture at the bottom of the article.)



The simplest secret of marketing is that you (your company or service or product) has to be what the target audience wants.

Skillful marketeers know what the target audience wants. Once that’s known (with really good survey research, not the blah blah you get in the canned marketing surveys) the marketers move to the real challenge, i.e.  how can we make your company or service or product look like what the target audience wants.


We agreed to do a marketing campaign for an attorney who wanted to help people being abused by debt collectors.  A noble cause.  So we were aboard. But when we did our market research (actually calling people being abused by debt collectors) we found out they didn’t trust attorneys.  (Apparently some congressmen must have had some one of their friends or family abused by debt collectors because they passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which gave  $3,500 automatically if they had evidence they were being abused by debt collectors.

So, we asked the people being abused by debt colletors a question (I’ll get to how we found them later on), “If you had a case that proved you were being abused by debt collectors, would you want an attorney to take the case and get you your automatic payment?”

Their answer?


“Why not?”

“I don’t trust attorneys.”

Another said, “They make you sign something you don’t understand and you end up owing them money.”

So this was a problem.  How could we get them to sign up??

We did a second round of calls.  Our question was, “Would you trust a Consumer Advocate Group to take your case?”

The answer?

A resounding “YES!”

So, we talked our client into changing the banner on the website pages we were building for him to say “Consumer Advocate” instead of “Attorney at Law.”  Now he was a trustworthy fellow. Now they would call him.

What happened?

We changed the target audience’s perception of who this man was.  He’s the same attorney.  They embrace his help because he’s what they want.



You may be wondering how we figured out how to reach people who were being abused by debt collectors.  These are people who sit in their homes ignoring all phone calls coming to them because it might be a debt collector.  So how did we get them to talk to us?

Well, we designed the perfect bait to attract them.  Any ideas what we did?  Send your bright idea in.  Next Thursday, we’ll tell how we did it.


You tell me.  Email in your best guess why I put the vampire picture in this article.  We’ll reveal that in next week’s blog.


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Promotional Ideas for Your Film

Get to the top of Search results for your film with these tipsSometimes half the battle when it comes to marketing anything online is just an idea of what could be done to get to the top of search results. The Internet is so massive, and there is so much happening on the Web, that a kind of writer’s block can set in, and perhaps nothing new will come to mind regarding different ways to promote a film.

Obviously, there’s a lot of competition out there in the marketing world, especially online. Since anyone can create content and distribute it, it’s important to do more than the competition if your work is to be found by your target market. Fortunately about 80% of your online competition is only doing a mediocre job of creating content and posting it. The other 20% is fairly active, but only about 10% will be really “killing it” when it comes to content creation. And since the other half of the battle is often creating content to use online, films are pretty much tailor-made for an online campaign. They say that “stories sell” and what is a film but a story told with light? Use the content in the film to your advantage by using bits of it for online content in your campaign.

The two most important pieces to consider in your climb to the top of the mountain are the number of pages of content you post online (best done via a blog) and the number of other websites that link to your content. So be sure to cover those bases really well. Lots of content posted on a blog (good quality content, of course) takes care of the number of pages you will have. If you need links to your content in a hurry, get some good press releases out there about your film. Just one Press Release, properly done, can result in thousands of backlinks to your site from many, many news sites.

But there are so many more ideas you can implement for promoting your film online. While you might need a pro to help you implement some of them properly, there are a number you can implement with minimal training or computer skill. Where I have a resource to use that I like, I’ve hyperlinked directly to their site on the list below:


  1. Search Engine Submission
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. Forum Discussions promoting the film topic
  4. Online Newsletters
  5. Social Networking Sites
  6. Fan Clubs
  7. Photo Sharing and Free Downloads
  8. Article Submission
  9. Blogging
  10. Video Sharing and Trailers
  11. Tagging (video sites, etc.)
  12. Podcasts
  13. Podcast Directory Submission
  14. Spark forum discussions directly related to facts and figures (research) relating to the film.
  15. Doc Sharing
  16. Share Presentations
  17. EBooks
  18. Track and respond to online comments
  19. Leverage your email signature
  20. RSS Feeds
  21. Social Bookmarking
  22. IMDB Movie Database
  23. Online Contests
  24. Twitter
  25. Online Polls

For a deeper insight, visit the source of the list, a Slideshare presentation by Ramesh Kumar.  I’d suggest picking one item on the list that you feel you can implement right now, and implement it well. Then move on to the next time you feel you can implement, and so on.

Have you already successfully promoted your film? Do tell! We’d love to hear your successes and failures, for the benefit of the community. Share your story in the comments box below, or email to share your story.

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Which Picture Style suits you best if you don’t have time for color grading?

Choosing Picture Style: Neutral or Faithful?If you’re like us at The Association, you try to be as time efficient as you can, but also want to produce beautiful imagery.

If you are a Canon HDSLR filmmaker, you have the luxury of scrolling through defined Picture Styles such as Auto, Faithful, Landscape, Neutral, Portrait, and Standard.  My go-to Picture Styles are Faithful and Neutral. Faithful has a great pop of color that is very saturated and the blacks are very crushed, instantly giving a very rich and pleasing look. But what if you don’t want your image to be “stuck” like that forever? If you want more control over your image, try Neutral. Neutral’s look is more washed-out than all the other Picture Styles, so it may appear bland and not pleasing to the eye on an LCD screen.

However, this Picture Style gives you a lot more control over your image in post-production. Your black won’t go black as quickly as in Faithful, meaning that you’ll be able to keep more of the gradation from grey to dark grey to black. Your colors won’t be as saturated to start with, which will give you the option to be less saturated than Faithful’s look if that’s what you desire. Faithful is a great go-to look if you know you’ll have to upload the video quickly online, however, Neutral will leave your image with more options if you have time to color grade.


Here’s a video we made showing you all the different Picture Styles so you can determine which look you prefer. Let us know in the comment section which one you like to use!

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Are you marketing blindfolded?

blindgamblingMarketing blindfolded (like playing roulette in Vegas) is exciting.  It’s a big gamble for high stakes. But you’re throwing your money away.   I want to talk to you about a highly-pinpointed marketing campaign; one in which you spend money only on reaching your most likely prospects.

People ask me why we are so successful at highly-pinpointed marketing campaigns.  It’s simple. We know what the target audience is interested in.  Thus the marketing message cuts through the noise, sticks in their head and moves them toward a sale.

People have heard our war stories.  The time we rolled out direct response TV ads that pulled 438 phone calls the first four times it aired.  I’ll never forget that day.  The first TV spot was supposed to air at 2:14 in the afternoon.  At 2:14 and 15 seconds, I got a call from our client.  “The phones aren’t ringing.  We’ve cleared all the lines and the phones aren’t riging.”

Marketing Blindfolded

I said, “Well, it’s not 2:14 yet.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“It was a sixty second spot.” I said, “so you’ll start getting calls in about 25 more seconds.”

There was a silence.

Then, she said, “Oh my god, I gotta go the phones are lit up.  Call you later.”

That’s how our marketing campaigns work.  We’re pretty good at this.  We’ve adapted to the new style of marketing.

In old style marketing (interruptive marketing) you jumped in front of someone’s face and blurted out the company message in thirty seconds if you were on TV (more “hang time” if it were a printed piece. But things have changed.

The buying public today has deflector shields up for this type of marketing.  Very little gets through those shields unless the target audience is interested in it.  That’s part one.  Part two is, once you’re past their deflector shields you have to say something that moves them to DO something or at least change an opinion, which will lead to them to do something – hopefully buying the product or service.

So marketing campaigns should have stages (milestones) which will ultimately lead to the success of a campaign. It helps to determine these milestones before the campaign.   The campaign may be designed to 1) change one’s opinion of the product, 2) expand one’s awareness of the product’s capabilities, or 3) prompt one to consider buying the product (or service).

It’s all about moving the target audience toward a sale.

But the key to successful and effective marketing plans and campaigns is to design with laser precision so your message  “talks” to what your target audience is interested in.   How do we do that?  We survey your primary, target audience.  We find out why people buy and continue to buy your product or service or maybe why they stopped buying it.  We find out more about your customer so they will lower their deflector shields.  Then, we create a “smorgasbord” of messages that will be tempting to your target audience. We test these message first, inexpensively. Then, we pick the winners and we roll out the campaign, in stages, with milestones for each.

So, it’s all about knowing your customer and your potential customer.   If you skip that step, you’re just marketing blind.

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