Film Short: IndieMeet Delivers Fun and Friendship for Filmmakers

For this week’s Film Short I’m posting some of the highlights from the demos at the Las Vegas IndieMeet held at the home of filmmakers Mike and Sheila Conway during this past Memorial Day Weekend.  On Saturday we were entertained while learning information in several different areas of movie making.  First up was our host Mike, who talked about several features offered by Adobe’s Special Effects software.  Part of his demonstration was showing how he masked the eyes of one of the creatures in his new horror film “SCREAMIN’ DEMON”.

Keith Ford gave the next presentation about Airsoft guns, which have the same functionality as real world weapons and can easily fit the needs of independent filmmakers looking for props.  One IndieMeet attendee, former marine Kelly Johnston used Airsoft to arm actors in his film “The Awakening”.  Viewing a clip from his film using the guns, it looked as if a swat team was surrounding a house, which actually turned out to be his home. Kelly pointed out that if you are familiar with After Effects you can animate your shots and fill in muzzle flash and add in recoil and smoke creating an authentic look. 

Keith Ford with Airsoft Guns

The number one priority for Keith is safety.  He added that it’s helpful to have a military person or someone who knows weapons on set if you’re planning to use Airsoft guns for a shoot because military protocols are hard to teach.  One possibility for filmmakers might be to use Airsofters in their scenes since 90% of them know how to look realistic and tend to show up with their own equipment.  Another bonus with Airsoft is the cost.  Their guns start at $24 and if you’re casting terrorists in your film, their version of the ever popular AK47 is approximately $200. 

We switched to a different kind of shooting next when Chet Simmons showed us his Canon 7D.  Chet, who is working on a  documentary and has shot commercials with this camera, explained how one of its’ benefits is the ability to use ambient light.  Featuring H.264 encoding, it shoots in 12 minute takes, which can be a down side.  However, with a card that timeframe can be extended to 22 minutes.  Shooting must also be done in full manual in order to get the 35 millimeter camera effect the 7D is known for.  One fact that bothers Simmons is the amount of misinformation he’s found online regarding how the camera functions, especially when it comes to the settings determining which type of film the user wants to emulate.  He recommends setting up your shot the way you want it to look rather than relying on the settings, warning that shots may look different in post.  Another concern with the camera, especially in an area like Las Vegas is overheating, which can be a major issue.  When the thermometer comes on the camera will shut down.  

Garo Setian from Lionsgate discusses editing trailers

Making a trailer with impact requires special skill and no one does it better than the next speaker, Garo Setian, an award winning trailer editor at Lionsgate.  He explained that sometimes when scenes are shown in trailers that aren’t in a movie it’s probably because the is probably still being worked on in post.  When making a trailer, one consideration is to determine how much of the story you want to give away and that you should be looking for the freshest angle in order to sell the film.  As for their running time, trailers should have the feel of theatrical advertising, so 30 seconds is probably short, while 90 seconds is about average.  The trick is to show enough to draw in the audience without giving too much of the plot away.  When it comes to graphics, a less elaborate design like white letters against a black background might have a more desired effect.  Garo, who has been nominated six times for trashiest trailer, told us that one of his all time favorites trailers was for a film called “Lifeforce”.   It was the version attached to the 1985 release of “Rambo II”, which isn’t available anymore.  For his work at Lionsgate Garo uses Avid software, but on his home system he has Final Cut Pro.  He told us that while he finds he can do more with Avid, Final Cut Pro plays more into the editor’s intuitiveness.  

Jorge Falconi speaking about Distribution

Former Hollywood Line Producer and recent Las Vegas transplant Jorge Falconi shared film distribution and networking tips with us.  He recommended that anyone living in the Los Angeles join AFI for $60 a year, providing access to screenings, events, newsletters and distribution classes. He also spoke about misconceptions regarding AFM, the American Film Market that happens annually in L.A.  Some attendees are under the misconception that if they pay for admission to the event they will be able to pitch inside, which isn’t permitted unless they are meeting by appointment or are already in talks.  He also suggested buying the Hollywood Creative Directory in order to research production companies, but warned that they rarely deal with unrepresented individuals.  For legal reasons they usually won’t look at a script or hear a pitch unless an agent, manager or entertainment lawyer is involved. 

Jeffrey Blake Palmer showed us his teasers and parts of his presentation for “The Sleeping Deep”.  He told us that although he found a number of people for his team on Craig’s List, he also discovered another site, which is where he found concept artist Mike Nash.  According to Palmer, finding people who can do what you can’t is the key in making a an effects driven horror film like  “The Sleeping Deep”.

Mario Salcido and the torso pre explosion

Outside in the Conway’s back yard, Mario Salcido used his special effects talents to construct a torso that was exploded before our delighted eyes while Jimmy Gingsumrong followed this up by demonstrating how squib charges are set off.   During the course of the day, I spoke with a number of the speakers about interviewing them for more in depth articles on these subjects later on, so send any questions you’d like answered to me at

The 2010 Las Vegas IndieMeet was a huge success for many reasons, but perhaps the most important one was for the cameraderie and support it shows filmmakers by providing a wonderful event where they can come together, explore and network..

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One Response to Film Short: IndieMeet Delivers Fun and Friendship for Filmmakers

  1. Mike Conway says:

    This article was even better than part one!

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