Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This Blog Has MOVED to a NEW Home

The Down and Dirty DV Blog has officially MOVED to my newly redesigned site at:

Please update your RSS feed accordingly (top right-hand side of new blog) and get all of my new blog posts there from now on. Also check out the rest of the new site while you're there. I'm still building it out, but will be expanding considerably this summer.

Thanks for you support as always!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Ladies Night Tonight!

Wednesday, May 11th @ 9pm EST
Listen in HERE Live OR Call-in to 646-929-1956

On the next episode of the Double Down Film Show it’s “Ladies Night”. In our FINAL episode of this season, we’ll be recalling the best practical advice and tips from the many women of the film and TV industry we’ve had on the show over the years. Listen to the best practical wisdom from…

· Ava DuVernay – Writer/Director “I Will Follow”
· Zoe Saldana – Actress
· Tracey Moore – Acting Coach
· Sandi Sissel, A.S.C. – Cinematograher
· Robert Munroe – Festival Programmer/Consultant
· Bridget Bedard – Writer “Mad Men”
· Darnell Martin – Writer/Director “Cadillac Records”, etc.
· Meena Payne – Dir. Of Development Rainforest Films
· …plus more!

We’ll also be ending the season with a bang by giving away another FREE 6-month subscription to (a $240 value) featuring more than 80 comprehensive instructional videos. ***You must “Like” the Double Down Film Show page on Facebook in order to enter the trivia contest to win.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget you can download or stream all 72 archived episodes of the Double Down Film Show anytime from iTunes. Drop us a review while you’re there and we’ll see you in the start of a new school year in the Fall.


The Double Down Film Show

Every Wednesday, 9pm - 10 pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

Stream Live:


Subscribe or Download:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Episode #71: The Film and TV State of the Union Address

Tonight Weds. - May 4th @ 9pm EST

Listen in LIVE here OR call in at 646-929-1956

On the next episode of the Double Down Film Show,we’ll be giving our first ever Film and TV State of the Union Address discussing the major developments that have affected our industry in the past year from technical developments, to shifts in distribution models to production workflow... we’re gonna touch on them all and how they directly affect us as independent filmmakers.
  • How have sites like KICKSTARTER changed the game?
  • What does the proliferation of 3D mean for indies?
  • What is the future (and present) of “TV ANYWHERE”?
  • Should we close or hold tight to the THEATRICAL WINDOW?
  • How has the landscape shifted for FREELANCE video producers?

We’ll discuss the changes, challenges and many ripe opportunities in the current state of the film

and tv union and what they mean for informed and motivated indie filmmakers. Don’t let a single new challenge catch you off guard or a golden opportunity pass you by. Listen and learn about the business, craft and hustle of filmmaking every Wednesday night… by film hustlers for film hustlers. Straight up. Practical. No B.S.


The Double Down Film Show

Every Wednesday, 9pm - 10 pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

Stream Live:


Subscribe or Download:

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Rough Week for Film

Last week the film world saw two filmmaking related deaths, as mentioned on last Wednesday's Double Down Film Show. Both are tragedies that shake us up and make us remember how important safety on set is.

Tim Hetherington, an American Documentarian/Journalist/Photographer was killed in Libya this week, along with a British photographer, Chris Hondros, while working on a human rights multi-media documentary. According to reports, the two men, accompanied by two others who were wounded, but survived the attacks, were bombarded with grenades soon after they got behind enemy lines in the war-torn city of Misrata. Mr. Hetherington directed last year's Oscar-Nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning documentary, Restrepo. You can read the entire article in the New York Times HERE.

And make sure you check out Double 7 Image's Tribute Page here for more info on Tim's work.

The second was a bit closer to home. Justin Amorratanasuchad was a junior film student at Emerson College. During a film shoot he accidentally fell of a roof in Seatle. He was 21 years old. An article about the accident can be found in the Boston Herald HERE.

Both of these deaths, though radically different in nature, can at least serve to remind us all that there is danger inherent in our business. Be it in the pursuit of human rights stories for you documentarians out there or any stories that require you to go into precarious situations, or for all you fiction narrative folks, whenever you go to a film set and are surrounded by many things fragile, sharp, electrical, heavy, etc.

A lot of us, be it those who are starting out and often forgo safety protocols because they require time, money, effort or whatever, or for the seasoned filmmaker who maybe has done these things so many times that a checklist seems unnecessary, we often find ourselves letting protocol slip by the wayside. In the hurried rush of a set, something as simple as "got it" when you hand off equipment, or "striking" when you turn on a light, can seem like unnecessary formalities. However, they are there for a reason!

I could not help but think of my own friend, John, who died in a school film set just two years ago, shaking up the NYU film community. Our archived article about that can be found HERE.

Even in the most professional film sets, there are casualties. Some of the best known of these include Brandon Lee who was shot with what was supposed to be a blank bullet but ended up somehow being a real bullet, as well as actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le, 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, 6, who were killed in an accident involving a prop helicopter which got damaged by pyrotechnics, killing all three.

We all get passionate in our filmmaking and take great risks. In the case of conflict photojournalism high risk is inherent in the job, but I know that many of us ordinary filmmakers can look back and think of times when we unnecessarily endangered ourselves or someone else. Please remember all of you out there, it cannot be emphasized enough, SAFETY FIRST.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NAB 2011 Wrap Up

The 2011 NAB Show in Las Vegas just wrapped up last week and as always there were plenty of hot new cameras and tools for filmmakers unveiled and equal measures of education and inspiration in the panels and classes. Here are my favorite picks from the show floor...

The Super Cameras:
We'll be weighing in on the specifics of some of these cameras tonight on the Double Down Film Show , but here are the top prosumer-level cameras that were gathering buzz at his year's show and links to more info on each:

The Red Scarlet and The Red Epic (Price TBD)

Panasonic AG-AF100 ($5000.00)

Sony PMW-F3 Super 35mm Camera ($16,000 w/o lens)

The Best of the Rest of the Floor:

1. The Sony HXR-NX70U

The newest of Sony's NX Cam line up is water and dust-resistant and just to prove it, Sony displayed it with a live picture on the view finder while continually running water over it in a fishtank!

Quick Stats:
  • Records in AVCHD
  • Native 16:9 CMOS sensor
  • Memory Stick or SD Cards
  • Ultra-wide Angle 26.3mm G lens
  • Assignable Lens Ring (Focus/Zoom/Iris)
  • Infrared NightShot® (night vision)
  • built-in 96GB flash memory (8hrs at 28Mbps)
  • Simultaneous recording to the Memory card and built-in flash is possible in some modes.
  • 1920x1080 60P full HD recording at 28Mbps
  • GPS Geo Tagging A built-in GPS receiver
  • 3.5” touch-screen LCD display (921K)
  • Direct Copy to external HDD without PC
  • Detachable handle/ professional audio control unit
Ant's Take: A tough little affordable camera like this may be a good choice for high schools, action sports and extreme shooting situations such as third-world environments and notoriously rainy places.

Sound Devices PIX 220 & 240 Digital Video Recorder ($1600.00 / $2600.00)

Sound Devices, already an industry leader in digital audio devices such as their 702 Recorder or 302 Mixer has stepped up their game to cross over into the world of large format video with a brand new digital video/audio recorder
Quick Stats:
  • Quicktime file type
  • 5-inch, 800 x 480 pixel display
  • Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD* codec at multiple data rates
  • Mic preamps phantom, limiters, line input
  • CompactFlash or removable 2.5-inch solid-state hard drives
  • Mac OS and Windows compatibility
  • built-in time code generator, with genlock (PIX 240 only)
  • Simultaneous HDMI and HD-SDI output (PIX 240 only)
  • Up/Down/Cross Conversion of 480i, 525i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
  • The Pix 240 is HDMI In/Out only
Ant's Take: From the stats, it seems like the Pix 240 could be a great device for large format shooters and at $1000 less, the Pix 220 model may be a good option for the serious HDSLR crowd since it is a 3-in-1 solution: Video Recorder, Audio Recorder and Monitor. While there were a number of new and less expensive digital video recorders at the show, Sound Devices is a rock-solid brand name that's synonymous with "quality" and "durability", which are two features well worth paying for.

3. Sony HXR-NX3D1U 3-D Camera ($3500.00)

The show this year was all about the maturing of 3D. Sony introduced a new cute little compact 3D camera whose LCD screen dos not require glasses. It's got built-in flash memory (another recent trend), but can also record to SD cards.

Quick Stats:

• One card slot accepts SD or Memory Stick
• Built-in 96GB flash memory
• 3D Worldcam 50i/60i compatible
• 3D Recording Mode: 50i/60i/24P (28Mbps)

• 2D Recording Mode: 1920×1080/60p, 50p, 60i, 50i, 24p, 25p

• SD Recording Mode: 720×480 60i, 720×576 50i

• Double HD lenses, 10x optical zoom in 3D
• Automatic or manual parallax correction

• Glassless 3.5-inch LCD
• Removable Audio Pod with XLR connectors

• Time Code recording

• 28Mbps AVCHD with AC3/LPCM 3D recording

• Side by Side or Frame Packing output via HDMI

Ant's Take:
3D is not just a fad, it's still growing up, but it's here to stay, like it or not and sooner or later clients are going to start requesting it and only a few people at the indie and freelance level will be in a position to offer it. I think this is the first affordable opportunity for indies to get in on the ground floor of a budding format, learn it and play around with it.

4. Go Pro Hero Cam LCD BacPac and 3D System

The Go Pro Hero Cam booth consistently had a crowd lined up to check out it's new products and sign up for a coupon to get a GoPro HeroCam for $100 off (a sweet 33% discount). The two most intriguing advances at the Go Pro Booth were a pop-on LCD screen, the
GoPro BacPac, for later generation (last 1.5-2years I think) GoPro HeroCam models. But most intriguing to me was an item that premiered in a demo on the show floor last year, but is actually shipping this year - the GoPro 3D System, which believe it or not was some of the most impressive impressive DIY 3D I saw this year or last! It was crisp and clean and jumped out at you without a lot of fuzzy lines or other funkiness.

Quick Stats:

GoPro LCD BacPac

  • Attaches to 1080p HD HERO cameras featuring the rear HERO Port
  • Simple one button design allows for easy on/off and playback control
  • Normal speed, fast forward, and fast reverse video and photo playback
  • Integrated speaker with volume control
GoPro 3D System
  • Mounting System is compatible with all GoPro accessories
  • 3D waterproof housing is rated 180’/60m deep
  • Record 3D and 2D video and photo files simultaneously
  • Includes FREE easy-to-use 3D editing software—GoPro CineForm Studio
Ant's Take: I think it will still be a few years before we see the first viable indie 3D project that isn't just gratuitous, but actually works for the storytelling genre. I suspect that horror and action films will be the first narrative forms to pull it off when it happens. But even before then, action sports docs shot in 3D are a no-brainer. And at a total costs of $700 for the whole 3D system (2 Go Pro Hero Cams $600 + 3D Kit $100.00) , I think it's a no brainer for cheap entry-level 3D shooting.

5. Sony CLM-V55 5" External LCD Monitor

Sony has come up with an affordable external monitor aimed at the DSLR crowd with several very practical features – a base that swivels and tilts, a lens hood to shade the screen from the sun and, best of all, peaking.

Quick Stats:
  • 5" Clip-on LCD monitor
  • 800 x 480 pixels
  • Tilt/swivel for viewing at any angle
  • Color peaking and pixel magnification for precise focus confirmation

Ant’s Take: The monitor image in and of itself isn’t that dramatically better than other offerings on the market. Hell, it’s not even HD its________. The ability to tilt and swivel for easy viewing can really come in handy to integrate into tricked out custom DSLR rigs. The lens shade is a nice practical bonus that’ll save you the cost of buying a Hoodman.

Just like 3D, I think DSLR cameras are also here to stay, despite their obvious downsides – most notably for me: audio hassles, need for multiple accessories, and tiny LCD screens, but huge 35mm imaging chips. However, this little LCD monitor has a killer app that solves the last and biggest issue on my list of DSLR grievances – peaking. (If you aren’t familiar with peaking, it’s a camera feature that is to focus, what zebra stripes are to exposure. Peaking super-imposes a posterized colored outline over everything on the LCD screen that’s in clear sharp focus, so even though you are shooting on a full 35mm frame with a tiny-ass monitor, you can still accurately judge focus.) I started using peaking regularly on Sony’s EX1 camera’s in the last year or two and have vowed to never shoot HD again without it, or a very very big monitor at my disposal. I think it’s a killer app for the DSLR crowd. ‘Nuff said.

6. Lite Panels MicroPro

The LED Lite Panels debuted years ago and quickly became the choice of video freelancers and pros everywhere for their light weight, soft light, cool touch, long-lasting AA battery power and nothing new there. However, they just added one slight twist that I think is worth a new mention on my list – a standard 1/4” screw hole at the bottom of the base, which can also be mounted in a camera’s hotshoe. (It's also worth mentioning that they also just came out with a hybrid unit that also acts as a flash for still photography.)

Quick Stats:

  • Size: 5.5" W x 4" H x 1. 5" D
  • (139mm x 101.6mm x 38.1mm)
  • Weight: 10.5 oz (300g)
  • Power Draw: 9 Watts
  • Six AA batteries (internal)
  • 5600°K Daylight Output (cool white)

Ant’s Take: This little addition of a screw mountable base opens up whole new possibilities for this powerful little light unit to be removed from the camera and mounted on a stand that can be placed anywhere. It ain’t just a camera light anymore…now it’s just a cool little versatile all-purpose light.

6. Cam Caddie Tabie iPad Tripod Mount

This new device from a company called Cam Caddie does one simple, but very valuable thing – it allows you to safely mount an iPad to your camera rig to be used as a straight-up full-fledged teleprompter. The iPad offers several excellent telepromter apps, but the real challenge has always been finding a safe and effective way to mount the iPad in a good position for talent to read it.

Ant’s Take: If you follow the Double Down Film Show at all, you know how I feel about teleprompters in general – at $1300.00 for a simple device that is little more than a stripped down word processor with a mirror attached, I think the teleprompter companies have been sticking it to freelancers for decades now. Thanks to the iPad, the tables are turned now, with full-featured teleprompter apps going for $10 or less. Now that you have an easy way to display the iPad screen to talent facing the camera, the playing field is leveled. I’ve tried all kinds of funky solutions to my teleprompter blues and though effective, they were always awkward and a bit of a pain in the ass. But those days are gone now.

That's it for now. Check out our NAB Wrap-Up episode of The Double Down Film Show for more details.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The NAB 2011 Wrap-Up Show

Wednesday, April 20th @ 9pm EST
Listen in LIVE here OR call in at 646-929-1956

It’s the N.A.B. 2011 Wrap-up Show on Episode #70 of the Double Down Film Show. We’ll be discussing some of the most exciting announcements, panels and new cameras and tools for filmmakers that were announced last week at the N.A.B. (National Association of Broadcasters) Show in Las Vegas, which is the largest trade show for the film and tv industry in the world.

  • What’s so NEW about the new FINAL CUT PRO X?
  • Are there any AFFORDABLE options for indies to shoot 3D?
  • What camera can STILL operate in dust or a downpour?
  • Do the RED SCARLET & EPIC cameras really EXIST?
  • What’s new in the world of DSLR CAMERA’s?

We’ll answer all these questions and more as we give you our perspective on the news out of the NAB 2011 Show, plus we’ll talk about the hot trending topics discussed at panels and classes from DSLR’s to the future of 3D to the savvy new breed of “Digital Rebels”. Plus more special guests and show segments!


The Double Down Film Show

Every Wednesday, 9pm - 10 pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

Stream Live:


Subscribe or Download:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Brick City" Co-Exec. Producer/Co-Director - Mark Benjamin This Weds. at 9pm

Wednesday, April 13th @ 9pm EST
Listen in LIVE here OR call in at 646-929-1956

On the next Double Down Film Show, we’ll be talking to Mark Benjamin the co-executive producer and co-director of the riveting and popular Sundance Channel documentary series, Brick City, which has been described by TV Guide as “A real-life version of The Wire”…

This gritty documentary series follows the inner workings of the city of Newark, NJ alternating between the storylines of Mayor Cory Booker, the police department, local Blood and Crip gangs, the city council and the school system. Mark is partners with documentary filmmaker Marc Levin (Slam, White Boyz, etc.) , Apart from Brick City, Mark is also the director of Gang War-Banging in Little Rock and Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop.

  • What attracts him to such GRITTY subject matter?

  • What’s his secret to gaining unfettered ACCESS to subjects?

  • Why does Mark also SHOOT the projects he directs?

  • What’s the SHOOTING RATIO for this documentary series?

  • Why did they shoot everything CINEMA VERITE w/ no interviews?

Get the answers to these questions and more when we talk to veteran documentary director/cameraman Mark Benjamin on the next episode of The Double Down Film Show.


The Double Down Film Show

Every Wednesday, 9pm - 10pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

Stream Live:


Subscribe or Download:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Award-Winning Veteran D.P., Sandi Sissel A.S.C. TONIGHT at 9pm!

On the next Double Down Film Show we'll have a special extended interview with Award-winning veteran Director of Photography, Sandi Sissel, A.S.C. With four decades (and counting) in the film and tv game, Sandi has D.P.'ed such notable feature films as Mira Nair's Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay, The People Under the Stairs, and Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns.

She has also worked in the camera department on more than 50 feature films including Fame, Blow, Rock Star and as a 2nd Unit D.P. on Master and Commander, which won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

  • How did she manage to break into a MALE-DOMINATED union?
  • What should a young D.P. know BEYOND the camera?
  • How is the career path to D.P. vastly DIFFERENT now?
  • What does she tell other WOMEN that want to be D.P.'s?
  • How do you become a PARENT and still have a film career?

Sandi Sissel will share her insight into all of the above, plus a whole lot more candid wisdom from her decades as a veteran image-maker. Find out how sisters can do it for themselves and craft long-term careers in the male-dominated film industry, only on the next Double Down Film Show.

Be sure to Join Our Facebook Fan Page too!


The Double Down Film Show

Every Wednesday, 9pm - 10pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

Stream Live:


Subscribe or Download:

Monday, March 28, 2011

FREE SCREENING of "Gun Hill Road" This Thursday at NYU

Get FREE Tickets to see Raashad Ernesto Green's debut feature, Gun Hill Road, which just premiered at Sundance. We recently interviewed Rashad on an episode of The Double Down Film Show. Listen to the trials and tribulations of how he made the film, went to Sundance and got distribution - then go see it for yourself...

Thurs., March 31st
6:00pm-8:30pm -
NYU Cantor Film Center

RSVP Here to get Tix

Don't Miss Oscar-Winning Writer/Director Luke Matheny This Weds. Night at 9pm!

On the next Double Down Film Show we’ll be talking to writer/director, Luke Matheny who just won an Academy Award for his short film, God of Love.

Luke is a grad student at NYU’s fabled Tisch School of the Arts Dept. of Film and TV. Apart from God of Love, Luke also helmed the short, Earano.

  • How have things CHANGED since winning an Oscar?
  • What members of his CREW were most instrumental?
  • What role does he think FILM SCHOOL played in his success?
  • What’s NEXT in the production pipeline?
  • How did his team approach the CINEMATOGRAPHY for the film?

We’ll give the answers to all these questions, plus more insight and inspiration when we rap to 2011 Oscar-winning director and up and coming filmmaking talent, Luke Matheny.

Straight up tips and real-world filmmaking advice from a diverse selection of the best in the business – past, present and future every – Wednesday night at 9pm, only on The Double Down Film Show.

Can you dig it?!


The Double Down Film Show

Every Wednesday, 9pm - 10pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

Stream Live:


Subscribe or Download: