Monthly Archives: August 2013

5 danger signs you’re in a Creative Rut


Loss of creativity happens to us all. We often can’t see we’re in a rut because we’re in it and all we see are walls, which are what forms a rut. Filmmakers are no different.

Sir Ken Robinson says that if you ask second graders “Who is creative?” , all the hands go up.  But if you ask the same question when they finish school, less than 10% raise their hand.

Here are some red flags to look for to determine if you’re creative work is in a rut.

  1. Do your ideas only appeal to your mom?
  2. Do your scenes always happen in the same locations? In a car? In a cafe? In the living room? In the park?
  3. Do your images look the same as what you’ve done it in the past?
  4. Do you shake your head at movies and say to yourself, “This piece of junk got funding?”
  5. Have you thought about taking that job at Walmart? or the Postal Service?

Maybe it’s time to shake your creative tree and see if some fresh ideas fall out.

We’re offering a special Cine Boot Camp “Breaking Out of Creative Ruts” on Saturday, September 7th at our studios, a block from Warner Brothers front gate in Burbank, Ca.

We don’t have all the answers. Far from it.  We have twenty-two proven methods to break out of creative ruts. The boot camp is for

  • filmmakers
  • directors of photography
  • still photographers
  • creative image makers

We’ll use “Active Learning” techniques just like in our other highly acclaimed boot camps.  That means there won’t be much talking.  There will be drills and exercises in a 30-page workbook to get the creative juices flowing again. You will walk away with new ideas.  In fact, you may find yourself on the Academy Awards stage thanking Fletch and that Cine Boot Camp you took back in 2013.


Ray Bradbury said, “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.


So don’t THINK about it.  Just SIGN UP.  This boot camp will pay for itself in no time at all.  Don’t stand by while your creativity flickers. Sign up.  As George Washington told his men when they were crossing the icy Delaware River to attack the British on Christmas,



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Speeding up Editing and Importing with the Final Cut Pro Plug In for EOS Cameras

All jokes aside, anything that can speed up editing and importing video is obviously a boon to the existence of any filmographer.
Canon's plug-in for Final Cut Pro makes editing and importing video from EOS cameras a breeze. Well, it's a smoother workflow for EOS users anyway.  According to Canon, the plug-in cuts conversion time in half when using Apple's ProRes 422 codec.  One of the capabilities of the software is the ability to use the 'log and transfer' feature on any of Canon's EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D and EOS-1D Mark IV DSLRs.  The update also allows users to insert metadata into their clips while they're still on the camera.
Of course, filmmakers can also add metadata while editing, including timecode, reel names, and other data. Import speed has been sped up significantly.  

For the benefit of our Canon DSLR 5D and 7D users (not to mention everyone attending our Canon Camera Classes!), we've created a video to show you how to access the Final Cut Pro Plug in. Enjoy!




Using the Canon FCP Plugin from Fletch/The Association on Vimeo.

Online Visibility and Press Releases, Part II

Note: This is Part II in an eight-part series I’m writing about Press Releases. Press releases are possibly an overlooked item in the enterprise social media toolbox, so I’m going to cover a few points and talk about how I’ve used them successfully for client campaigns.

News vs. Information

Search engines treat news and information differently.

By nature, press releases are about news. Normally a press release wouldn’t be written about a restaurant’s menu or how to get rid of pond scum. That’s just information. But if there is a newsworthy angle to pond scum, a press release could be written about it. And you can get that press release to show up on the 1st page of a Google Search for certain keywords, practically overnight. We had one client’s Press Release show up in 8 hours on the first page of Google once it had been distributed.

Of course, you have to know how to research, write and issue press releases in an optimized-for-search manner for it to work right. But if reputation management is on the agenda for your corporate social media campaign, press releases can be a powerful tool.

Press releases distribution services get your press releases out in a way they will potentially be picked up as news for other services. One of my clients, a relatively unknown local artist, got international coverage on her press release when it was picked up as a story for a european blog.

Understanding your target public is always a good idea, so part of your market development strategy might be to determin if your target public would even pay attention to a press release. For example, consumer analysis might uncover that while an older demographic would consider a press release, perhaps younger bloggers might disregard them completely.

Power is in Simplicity

Simple lighting for digital cameras can be powerful.

And with the high ISO prowess of the Canon 5D Mark III (noise free blacks at ISO 2500) you are liberated to explore lower wattage fixtures.  WIth older (low ISO) cameras you have to bring in much more light.  With these new fixtures you’re not throwing light everywhere.  You can still achieve powerful imagery.  Of course, having a great actress is essential.

Picture of ex-con

The above still is from the video we shot on the last “How to Light Like the Masters” workshop, one of our new Cine Boot Camps. Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with Zeiss CP.2 85mm, 24fps All-i.

(BTW, We’re expanding our boot camps to include other filmmaking skills in addition to learning the Canon HDSLRs. CLICK HERE for more info on our new Cine Boot Camps)

Anyway, we were emulating the lighting of Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC in ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’.  We used an ALZO PAN – L light with the directional diffuser.  You wouldn’t expect that quality of light from a flourescent light but as you can see it is achievable.

I asked the actress, Julie Brett, to assume the beingness of a woman who killed three people and gotten away with it.  We named the shot “Three arrests. No convictions.”

Thanks to Drew and Alzo for their efforts to empower (rather than cash in on) digital filmmakers.

Space is limited so be sure to sign up for our Sept. 28 & 29th “Lighting Like the Masters” workshop (CLICK HERE).  

Fletch is the President of The Association of Film and Video Producers and Founder of the Cine Boot Camps.

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5 Days of HDSLR Filmmaking Training and Fun at the Oct 2013 California Photo Festival

Victoria, of the California Photo Festival, is planning filmmaking fun for you in beautiful San Luis Obispo Oct. 7 – 11, and she invited us to be a part of it.  Plus, we’ve been able to lower the price to one-fifth what it would be at our normal $998 price for a two-day Cine Boot Camp.  So sign up now to get the early bird pricing.


California Photo Festival type-shots we'll be shooting in Oct 2013


Actually it is quite an honor to be invited to be one of the 21 instructors at the Festival and we’re going to do everything to make Victoria’s first training in HDSLR motion picture cinematography a huge success.  (When she mentioned we’ll be filming horses running down the beach at sunset, I imagined how great those slo mo shots are going to look.)






Students Rate the Knowledge and Skill of Instructors at the Cine Boot Camps


 First, a little about us….

Our CineBootCamps are the highest-rated training in HDSLR filmmaking. We utilize “Active Learning” hands-on methods endorsed by UC Berkeley and Columbia University.






Second, here’s the deal

Victoria and I have packaged a 5-day, “best of” series of workshops culled from our highly rated Cine Boot Camps for $499….with additional discounts if two of you sign up together.

If you enter the coupon code “fletch2013″ you’ll get the gold pass for all five days for $424. AND if you do a 1 + 1 it comes down to $399.


Third, Here’s What You’ll be Learning

You’ll be learning HDSLR filmmaking (basic and advanced), plus cinema lighting, audio, and various camera platforms.  We’ll have special workshops with tips for still photographers transitioning to video.  PLUS, we’ll have DRILLS so you can learn by doing as you shoot short films – practicing your skills with Pros by your side to answer your questions.  (The price is about 75% less than our Cine Boot Camp prices.)

California Photo Festival October 2013 and DSLR Cine Boot Camps

Fourth, Here’s the Day by Day Workshops

MONDAY – Three Filmmaking Workshops for Still Photographers

We’ll be delivering three filmmaking workshops, culminating with shooting slow motion of the horses running on the beach at sunset.

The 10:30 workshop focuses on answering questions for still photographers who are transitioning to shooting motion pictures – with an emphasis on the 27 boo-boo’s that’ll kill your shoot; plus choosing camera mounts, how to prep for a shoot and how to set up for run and gun filming.

The 1 p.m. workshop focuses on the menu setup to shoot film, what are the limitations 4.2.0 color space, what picture style to use and why, how to avoid overheating, what CF cards are best.

The 4 p.m. workshop will be devoted to shooting horses on the beach – slow motion, high shutter speed and low shutter speed.

TUESDAY – Shoot Day with Pro’s to Help you Light Inside and Out

SHOOT DAY. In these three workshops ( 8 a.m., 10:30 and 1:30) we’ll drill in workflow as we break into shoot teams, each filming scenes from a short “murder mystery.” First, we’ll shoot in the studio with studio lighting, then we’ll go on location using location lighting techniques.  Our pro instructors will answer your questions as you film your scenes.

Lighting Workshop at the California Photo Festival

WEDNESDAY – Motion Picture Techniques & Breaking out of Creative Ruts

The 8 a.m. workshop is to answer questions of advanced still photographers who’ve run into trouble transitioning to filmmaking, including:

  • How do I block out motion picture scenes?
  • Which shutter speeds to pick for different “feels”?
  • What software can make my film look as close to RAW as possible?
  • What are my audio options?

The 10 a.m. workshop gives you a checklist of steps to take to break out of the creative rut you may find yourself in.  There’ll be fun drills in which you’ll create more interesting setups and scenes for your films.

The afternoon workshop will apply what we learned in the morning as we break into teams and practice shooting cinematic scenes with the Pro Instructors to help you review production techniques and answer your questions.


THURSDAY – Camera Platforms & New Lighting Setups

The morning session (8 – 12) will focus on different camera platforms you can use – handheld, jib, slider, micro dolly, dolly, car to car, air to air.

Jib Arm @ Palm Springs Photo Festival


The afternoon session challenges you to expand your lighting skills for motion picture looks. Another “break out of the box” session focusing on lighting setups you’ve never tried so you can bring unique looks to your next film.

Learn Lighting Setups you've Never Tried

FRIDAY – Graduation, Final Questions and Special Strategies of How to Get Film Work

The Graduation Session will be devoted to tying up any loose ends of the week and presenting you with your Cine Boot Camps Certificates of Competency. We’ll answer questions on things you had trouble with during the week, give you our best advice on things you’d like to try, and most importantly share ways we’ve found successful to close jobs with paying clients.  It’s the perfect wrap up to send you on your way with new skills, a certificate and some tips to get work.


We hope you’ll take advantage of this great package offer.   Check out the schedule here. You’ll get the best of our Cine Boot Camps at a 75% discount AND be learning in one of the most picturesque spots around.   Register today. Remember, if you enter the coupon code “fletch2013″ you’ll get the gold pass for $424. AND if you do a 1 + 1 it comes down to $399.

We’ll look for you at sunset on the beach.


Fletcher Murray is President of The Association, and one of the instructors at the Cine Boot Camps for the last four years. You can reach him at

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