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Category Archives: Snoovies Team

Posts about Snoovies

Fourth of July – Celebrating Independent American Filmmakers

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all film makers are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creativity with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty of Expression and the Pursuit of a Reasonable Net Income ; that whenever any Form of Distribution becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute Snoovies, laying its foundation on such principles and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Exposure and Happiness.

It was on the Fourth of July two years ago that the seeds of a new independent entity, called Snoovies, were sown. Lovingly nurtured by creative enthusiasts, those seeds quickly developed shoots, that sprouted and blossomed. What started as a dream of a brighter future; a future in which independent film makers could fund and control their own visions; a future in which people of all creeds, hues and genders could be a part of those visions; has developed into the Snoovies you see today. We still have a long way to go, and that way is strewn with obstacles, but we are strong. We have Right, we have Justice and we have You, The People on our side. We shall prevail. This is our Declaration of Independence.

uk_us_flagsIn a remarkable coincidence July 4th was also when another entity called the United States of America also proclaimed their Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Did you know that at the start of the American revolutionary war most Americans weren’t actually fighting for independence? Loyal to Britain and King George III, all they wanted was to govern themselves locally, rather than be bullied to by an onerous, tax hungry parliament in which they had no representative. Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in 1775:

“Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America.”

As a tribute to the free thinking Americans of yore, and in the spirit of continuing trans-atlantic friendship,  we’d would like to honour the Snoovies made by our Independent American brethren.

  • Stefano Formaggioour latest film, and again with top production values – the director and writer, Darren Darnborough, is actually a British immigrant but, despite the accent, he is Hollywood through and through. Aside from film making he also is an entrepreneur and works closely with Richard Branson on Rock the Kasbah – “one of the best parties I’ve ever been to” and is currently developing WeRehearse.com which helps actors find rehearsal partners to work with online.
  • The Candidate – our first American Snoovie and a film of such extraordinary quality that it propelled its director, @DavidKarlak, into the sphere of Fox and Warner. David has completed his crowdfunding for his pilot, Rise, which is now in development at Warner Brothers. And it is going to be HUGE!
  • You There – Quirky and brilliantly formatted film about online dating. We just loved this from the opening shot. Stanley Brode is New York based and multi-talented but is focusing on his first feature Maggie Black which is in post-production.
  • Blessing in Disguise – this one has a very defined indie feel with some lovely performances all round. The director, Eric Kissack, is already well known in Hollywood having edited Brüno, The Dictator and Horrible Bosses II. Currently he’s the editor for Daddy’s Home which is filming with Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and Linda Cardellini. He’s also very funny.
  • Mentiroso – this is a sumptuous Snoovie, filmed in Texas with a gentle narrative style. Will Shipley is in pre-production on his first feature and is also building his portfolio as a Multimedia Professional.

In the great tradition of Epic TV serials – To Be Continued …

But in the meantime if you want to watch these films and read about their productions then you can download Snoovies on

appstore  &  googleplay.

 

Text by Karsten Huttenhain

Los Angeles, Networking and the Britweek Digital Revolution

Tonight our very own CEO and technical guru will be sitting on the annual Digital LA – Britweek panel. This is where entrepreneurs and media types share their techniques for dealing with obstacles, finding solutions and advancing their start-up brands internationally. Tonight, since the whole of whole of LA is celebrating Britweek, there is a special focus on UK/US links. If you’re in LA why not head over there at 7:30pm. It should a great evening of learning, networking and, maybe, creation. It’s at:

Real Office Centers, 604 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401

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You can book your tickets here.

And make sure you say “Hello” to Roger.

Snoovies is available free on iOS and Android. Click below.

appstore googleplay

Celebrating Women in Film

 

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Not only is it mothers day on the 15th of March but it is also International Women’s Day on the 8th. This is also the month when we have received a ton of submissions from women and so we have decided that one day isn’t enough. Nope. We are going to devote the whole month of March to women. Yes. You read that right. Thirty whole days devoted to women who create films. In fact I think we should start a petition to make March the Month of Ms!

One of the film directors we are most excited about is Theresa Varga who directed and edited YouTroll. Although she is a very young woman at the very start of her career, she already has a significant number of credits under her belt. With her partner and collaborator, Nathan Bryon, she has helped to develop their style from fun (though deceptively well filmed) YouTube knockabouts to the kind of films that make the film world sit up and take notice. Her short film, Mustard has, quite rightly, been very well received, winning the Ideas Tap Showcase. With a style that is a cross between David Lynch and Wes Anderson, it’s a simple tale with a far from simple moral point.

Screenshot Another Snoovie ‘alumni’ is Krysten Resnick who, after making the award winning Benny and Jack’s Flying Machine is now in post production on her first feature All Good Things (Working Title) about a group of friends who accompany one of their number as he heads into the woods to overcome his grief. You can see the trailer here, and from what we’ve already seen, this could be a sleeper hit with wonderfully nuanced performances full of teenage moments remembered.

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I could carry on, but you get the picture. We’re also shortly going to be interviewing a very exciting new director from Bulgaria, Antoaneta Chetrafilova, who made a beautiful animation under the auspices of Activist38, a production company headed up by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova. Mina and Vesela would themselves make an awesome subject having taken on the Bulgarian Secret Service, the Bulgarian Film Institute and the Soviet era elite still pulling the strings in Bulgaria. Jesus,comrades! Relax. It’s just a film.

But that’s the problem with communists (well, apart from grumpy elderly women, at a desk in the centre of the mens toilet, reluctantly handing out toilet paper sheet by sheet. I mean, wow. Cheer up!), they just don’t know how to listen.

Download the app. Watch the films. Rate them. Share them.

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Text by Karsten Huttenhain

Canada’s Got Talent

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There is nothing quite so satisfying as having your belief in the ability, and talent of someone you’ve extolled, vindicated. Not even a cream tea. So imagine our delight when Anthony Scott Burns, whose film Manifold we had already discovered for Snoovies, sent us an email, via the writhing guts of the world wide web, to let us know that his pitch to Plan B had been successful. He was soon going to be directing his first feature, Alpha – a Sci-Fi project written by Daniel H. Wilson. In case you have no idea why that’s exciting, Plan B is the production company owned by Brad Pitt, and the source of a ridiculous number of successful films including Kick-Ass, 12 Years a Slave, The Departed, World War Z and Kick-Ass 2 (cue sudden sound of record scratching) … well, we all make mistakes.

Anthony is originally from Vancouver and, in an incredible coincidence, we have another film maker from a different city altogether, which is (…you’ll never guess…) also in Canada! But that’s not the end of the matter. We have just interviewed yet another filmmaker from a completely different city that is (yes, you’ve got it) in Canada. What are the odds? It felt like we were being given a sign. Someone (or something) was trying to tell us something. Then we realised. Of course! We should write a blog about film-makers who live in cities. Eventually we realised that nearly all our film makers live in cities so we adopted contingency Plan B (see what I did there?) and decided to feature film makers from Canada.

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Here we offer three that we think give an idea of the range available, but Canada is actually flooded with quality talent. It was only recently, in our global search for short films, that we came across a company called Bravo… and verily didst our eyes shoot forth from our sockets, and our tongues did unravel unto the ground. For it was good. Since 1995 Bravo has helped 1500 short film makers based in Canada. They are responsible for a huge amount of output every month and, although they have a team who vet pitches from potential producers, the range and styles are impressive. From experimental, through to music videos, comedy and drama, the shorts are usually well filmed and very slick. Anthony Scott Burns is one of their beneficiaries as is Simonee Chichester, who shot Captivus. Simonee is releasing Along for the Ride this year, which was shot in Brazil with Arts Council Funding (I think I want to move to Canada), and it’s a follow up to her very successful first feature, Chichester’s Choice, about re-connecting with her drifter father. She is also working on her original screenplay MERV, which won the 2012 Women in Film and Television Kodak New Vision Mentorship Award – now that’s what I call a title. As it happens our next big campaign is ‘Women in Film’, and BravoFact is also commissioning a special season of shorts by female directors.

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Meanwhile, across town, our other Canadian producer, Gregory Gan (Ghost in the Machine) comes from a thoroughly academic background, and his films tend to be ethnographic projects related to his PhD, so he doesn’t qualify for Bravo funding. Gregory, however, is our most recent addition to the Snoovies family, and produces very thought provoking and beautifully shot films. Gregory has completed his post-production on The Theory of Happiness and, according to his website, will have some exciting news in the next few weeks. This film is a kind of companion piece to his earlier Turning Back The Waves, in that it was made as a result of his time spent in Russia. At the moment neither of these films are available on-line but we’ll keep an eye out for them.

I tell ya – it’s all happening here at Snoovies – the happy, happening happ… hap … app (sigh).

Anyway, don’t be surprised if, over the coming months, we shall be featuring quite a few Canadian shorts. You’ll be able to see them and all the shorts mentioned above on Snoovies app – available to download here.

appstore     googleplay

 

Text by Karsten Huttenhain

 

 

 

 

Making a Trailer on a Tight Budget

 

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The last week has seen us preparing for our new, improved (surely that’s not possible) and accessible Snoovies. Exercise and diet regimens have been put on hold as we sit in front of computer and tablets and stuff our faces with pizza, smoothies and venerable fermentations. Roger has been in New York  preparing for our expansion into the Wild West, Viana has been slogging away on improving her skills on digital marketing and I (for that is my name) burrowed into a dark and swamp like area, officially called the Editing Suite.

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And verily it was here that I constructed ….

THE VERY OFFICIAL 2015 SNOOVIES TRAILER!

This has been an epic process in itself and deserves its very own The Making of Snoovies 2015.

For it must be said that this has also been a frustrating process in which I learnt to be a better editor but where I became so involved in the minutiae of the work that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

Five Points that Helped Me

1. Music

Roger thought that what was needed was something bold and brash. A blockbuster epic with a power voiceover that would inevitably lead to people checking out our app or face certain death. Roger suggested checking out the trailer for Exodus (hmmmn – ’nuff said). So I decided that the starting point should be the music. It needed to be powerful and driving and I spent one day just trying to find something that had a free license. Those last two words are the tricky part and if you’re new to this you might want to pay attention here. Luckily, in the course of her researches, Viana discovered this very useful sight for info regarding royalty free music. One of the important points is that for most video work that isn’t commercial or money making, the music on these sites can be used for free and doesn’t even always need to be credited (though I think it’s just nice to support these guys). I spent ages trying to find something contemporary but I already had an idea that I wanted the tempo to increase throughout the piece. While I discovered some great artists out there, such as Gramatik, I  couldn’t find what I was looking for. Until, that is,  Edvard Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King. It’s ridiculously over the top and perfect. I found it on Kevin MacLeod’s site which is a pretty awesome place for royalty free music. He just has a great attitude. It’s great for accompanying music but you might want something more authentic for a title sequence.

It turned out that choosing the music was the easy part.

2. Editing software

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The next three days I spent trying to get the video clips from our short films to flow with the music. Luckily there is a natural, completely mad, almost chaotic climax at the end which naturally called for ever shorter cuts (about a half second). I have to say that FCP 10.1 is a pretty awesome piece of kit and anyone who wants to do anything with video other than splice together a holiday montage really needs to invest in FCP (£230) or maybe Adobe’s Premiere Pro (which you rent by the month). You might think professional software is more complicated to use but I actually find it easier to achieve what I want than by using iMovie or the free software that I’ve tried. If you’re not sure what a button does, FCP will explain its function when you hover over it. Do you want a title from the database but the dynamics or colour are a bit off? You can simply adjust them as you would a clip either globally or with keyframes. By the way, everything I’ve learnt has been by trial and error so some of my terminology may be off. Also, FCP is very good at offering different approaches to the same task so I’m sure that some of you will have more efficient techniques.

3. Sound

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You know, I’ve worked on a couple of films that were well directed, well filmed and well edited. But the sound was crap. And you know what? That immediately made all that effort look amateur. In general, I would say you don’t have to have the most amazing microphones in the world but you do need the best you can manage and, more importantly, you need to constantly be aware of sound while shooting your film. Does the sound match throughout the scene? Are the levels correct? Is the microphone too far away and the sound tinny? What about background sound? That said, great recording isn’t the end of the problem. One of my early painful lessons was that FCP doesn’t always work well with all sound files (even if recorded on the iPhone!) and that you only discover this after you have completed a project and exported it to discover clicks at every sound peak. I’m not sure if this is still the case with the newer version but I ain’t takin’ any chances. Before anything else I import the sound from all clips that I’m going to use into Audacity (see free resources below), then I export them as AIFF files with 48kHz. I then match the clips and .aiff sound in the timeline, detach the original sound from the clip and erase it and finally make a new compound clip with the .aiff sound. Obviously for precision I have the sound waves to help me.

4. Organisation

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Actually this is something I still haven’t learnt properly but it’s so important it should actually go first but hey, I wanted to keep the best ’til last. This is the real key to editing. I use a bottom of the range iMac which is a thing of beauty but it only has 500Gb of disc space. As time has progressed I have learnt to use less space each time I edit and I will continue to do so but for now a couple of useful tips.

If I need to use a lot of original source clips I would import them into my FCP Event , bring them one by one onto the timeline, replace the sound with .aiff sound, chop out what I need and, if I have enough memory, repeat along the timeline. Once I have a time line with all the clips that I’m probably going to use, I might place blank spaces between them, so they’re easier to find, and create one great big new compound clip or leave the spaces out and make individual compound clips. Either way FCP has just created optimised media in the library from scratch (so no referencing to the original media) which means you can bin all the originals. Empty the bin and suddenly you’re only using 10Gb instead of 100 and your computer works properly. Sometimes life is just too good.

Every now and again I would backup your whole library on to a DVD and date it so that if there were any disasters (hard drives do just fall off the bearings sometimes – I managed to knock the computer over this week) your whole existence hasn’t been for nothing.

5. Getting a second opinion

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Well, finding music was tough. Editing the clips was intricate. Finalising the sound was a pain and organising everything was a flaming’ nightmare. But the toughest part is when you’ve finished your film and are ever so pleased with all that fancy stuff you’ve been working on, those days coming up with voiceovers, the intricate matching of sound and video and then you show it to THE BOSS.

And he doesn’t like that bit or this thing.

So, be warned. When you think you’re done, you probably aren’t and you need to tear it up and redo it. Not all of it. But it will feel like it. The irritating thing is the people seeing it with fresh eyes are usually right.

And now the bit you’ve all been waiting for:

FREEBIES:

Audacity – For sound editing

VideoPad Video Editor – Alternative to FCP and one of the better free editors but less functionality.

Handbrake for Mac – Once you’ve exported your .mov videos you’re probably going to need to compress them. Handbrake is brilliant and offers lots of tweeking so quality can be maximised as much as possible.

Burn for Mac – I prefer this simple utility for burning files onto DVD’s.

And, of course, Snoovies – free to download and watch straight away!

appstore   googleplay

 

 

Text by Karsten Huttenhain