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Why Your Company Needs A Video Series

A video series can accomplish much more than a one-off video where a viewer may never return to your company after watching it. A web series that’s relevant to your audience will help you build a relationship with them. And that’s the number one reason why your company needs a video series.

Related: using natural light for your documentary video production.

The 3 main types of video series you should consider:

  • Documentary, also called docu-style or docuseries
  • Narrative, a scripted drama or comedic series or a combination of the two
  • Talk show

What’s the best format for a video series?

The best type of episodic video series that might be best for your company depends on your product or service and what exactly you want to accomplish.

A video series can have a limited number of episodes like 5 or 6 or be on-going. How many episodes would be best for a docuseries or talk show completely depends upon your situation.

Scripted narrative series with actors cost much more to produce and more time to organize, so the number of episodes are usually limited.

cutting hemp paper in an episode of a video series on hemp
Erica Halverson cuts hemp paper in an episode of the docuseries Hemp Already directed & produced by Greg McDonald

Documentary or Docu-style series

A docu-style series is a very popular format and probably the best format for a lot of businesses. Docuseries are huge right now and have been for awhile. They’re all over networks, cable and streaming services.

A docuseries follows a person around or a group of people like the shows Duck Dynasty or Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Or a docuseries can center around a business like Pawn Stars. The idea is to document the lives of the people involved and to give the viewing public an inside look into their unique world.

Related: Hemp Already video series.

How does the Kardashians apply to my business?

You might be thinking, ‘well that’s great but how can I apply a show like the Kardashians to my company?’ Easy. Docuseries are simply a day-in-the-life.

First decide who’s point-of-view would it be best to tell the story from. Would it be best to feature an employee or a partner? Or would it be best to feature a customer and show how they use your product or service in their daily life to make it better.

Related: aliens and selfie addiction on Amazon Prime Video.

Docuseries example

For example, maybe you’re a fitness equipment manufacturer and you want to document a customer’s 6 week journey to better health by using your product. So you film them throughout the 6 weeks, releasing 1 video a week. The show’s story arc would feature your customer’s progress from week to week with the finale showing the dramatic change by week 6.

woman at the beach in an episode of a business video series on hemp

Or you’re in the customizing car business and your chief car technician is a rock star in that world. You have a never ending stream of unique cars that come in the shop along with the interesting characters that own them that you want to feature throughout the year.

So you film on an on-going basis and release 2 videos a month. Each episode featuring a different car and owner and aspect of customization.

As a great example, the credit card processing company Square produced a fantastic docuseries a couple years ago.

Each episode featured a different customer success story about how their business improved and helped their local community. I highly recommend you watch an episode or two.

Narrative video series

A narrative video series will be the most costly to produce but can also potentially pack the most punch. I believe BMW was the first company back in 2001-2002 to do a dramatic episodic web series called The Hire.

Although it was branded content, it was produced like a high-end TV show and directed by well-known directors. Clive Owen starred as “The Driver” and each episode highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW cars.

It really was a brilliant idea and it got a lot of attention. Although generally, it will cost more than a docuseries or talk show, you don’t need to spend that kind of money to have a successful narrative web series.

husband and wife in scene from a training video
A scene from a scripted narrative video series about wireless networks I directed and produced

The secret is to doing a narrative drama or comedy video series, is to think of a premise that would grab your viewers’ attention and gives the opportunity to incorporate your product or service in each episode.

Talk show

A talk show is something just about everyone should be familiar with. Who hasn’t seen a daytime or late night talk show? A talk show usually features a host that interviews different guests each episode.

One of the most important success factors for a talk show is choosing the right host. You may need someone who is an expert in your line of work or perhaps not. In either case, the host needs to be likable and charismatic.

a talk show with two business people
Talk show for a video series on finance I directed & produced by my production company Gate5

What guests you bring on your talk show is crucial too. They have to be reputable enough in your industry to entice viewers to tune in for each episode.

Another consideration is location. When you think of a talk show most people envision a studio. Most companies don’t have a studio nor do you need one. Find an interesting location within your facilities or another place that you have access to. Better yet, mix up the locations if you can to keep the visuals of the show interesting.

Grow your audience organically

Every time your audience watches an episode in your series, they interact with and become more familiar with your brand. In addition, by putting out a series of videos, you automatically establish yourself as the expert in your field. That’s how you build trust and credibility which will then lead to more customers. That’s why your company needs a video series.

About Gate5, a Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Using Natural Light For Your Documentary Video Production

Quite often using natural light for your documentary video production is your only option. Bringing in lights and a lot of equipment and taking time to set everything up just isn’t feasible on many documentaries or docuseries.

That’s true for both feature documentaries and business docu-style videos where you’re filming interviews with busy executives and/or customers and you have a very short window of time to get your shot so you better move quickly! In these situations it’s essential to master the art of ‘using what you got’ which means making the most of natural light.

I seem to do a lot of shooting in natural light. Check out some of my photography.

Related: why your company needs a video series.

Making use of window light in a documentary video production

There are many aspects of using natural light, each deserving its own post. So in this article I’m going to focus on using window light. Why? Because a docu-style video is probably the most common and widely produced format of business videos. And what do just about all of them involve? Filming interviews in a room with a window!

3 different looks with window light

Depending upon where you place your subject and camera, you will be able to get 3 different looks using the light from the window. No matter the look you’re going for, you usually don’t want direct sunlight. That is, sunlight that comes through the window and directly shines on the subject. Unless of course, you’re going to use direct sunlight for a specific look.

Generally speaking though, you want indirect light which will give you the most pleasing results and provides more versatility, not to mention no additional exposure issues. The three lighting setups below are based on indirect lighting.

Side light

Side light enables you to create more form in the image as it produces the most shadows.

A man gives an interview to camera in a corporate documentary style video
Subject is lit by a big window on the right and is augmented by a soft light. An edge light is added on the left behind the interviewee

The subject has one side toward the window with the other side away. Depending upon the amount of light and where exactly the subject is placed will determine the amount of shadow.

Rotate the subject from 45° toward the window to parallel with it to 45° away from the window to attain the degree of drama you’re looking for.

Related: Hemp Already video docuseries.

a candid photo of a redheaded woman after getting her makeup done
In this shot, the window is on the left side with heavy shadows on the opposite side

Front light

When front lighting, the subject faces the window. The cinematographer or photographer has their back to the window, In other words, you’re between the window and the subject.

This set up creates very few shadows on your subject. When facial features aren’t defined by shadows it’s called “flat” lighting. Flat lighting may sound like a negative but it’s often a desired look like in beauty videos so you can see the makeup clearly. It’s also desirable in a corporate video production that wants a bright and happy feel.

Flat lighting is created when the subject faces diffused window light that is directly behind the camera

Backlight

In backlit set ups, the window light is behind the subject and the camera faces it. This often results in the window light being blown out in the final image as the window light will be much brighter than the subject.

You can easily fix this by either bouncing light back on the subject with a reflector or by using a light. For interviews I usually don’t use a backlit set up and if I did, I would only do so when a more subtle backlight could be achieved.

Related: how to shoot beauty at the beach.

However, backlit shots are great for b-roll or other footage or images needed in your project. I certainly make use of them when the opportunity presents itself. For example, in the frame below we were filming a documentary video production about a musician at magic hour. The sun created a beautiful backlit scene for the conversation that was taking place.

The sun is behind the subjects and to the right, backlighting the scene and creating cool flares

So there you have it. Next time you’re scrambling to film your corporate video production with busy interviewees use the situation to your advantage and make use of natural light for your documentary video production.

About Gate5, a Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

The Shortest Horror Movie In The World

I give you – The Shortest Horror Movie In The World.

It’s got everything; an identifiable character, a universal theme, tension, mystery and a surprise ending that doesn’t spoon feed you the answer, leaving the interpretation up to you. All in 25 seconds. Only a slacker would need 2 hours to tell a story.

A silly spur-of-the-moment video I made while I was out location scouting although I’ve been told it’s better than the Blair Witch Project.

After my encounter in the desert, I’m happy to say I’m doing fine. It was a close call but I came out the other side. A little roughed up but okay.

A lot of hard work went into making this film and I’m very proud of the result. I think this is the one they’ll remember me for. It’s a pinnacle, a zenith, a high bar and a tough act to follow but I’m up for the challenge.

Related: using natural light for your documentary video production.

You never know what you’ll find location scouting

I was location scouting in the high desert for my short, Nowhere In The Universe when I shot this. It won Best Comedy Film and the Audience Choice Award at the LA Film Forum.

Scouting locations in the desert is always a good time for me. Strange, cool and/or creepy things always seem to to pop up.

Related post: watch my after party interview at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festiva.

On this trip, I not only found the locations where we later shot the film at (where I made this video was one of them) but I also found several other locations that might be good for something some day.

Several broken down abandoned buildings and an interesting dry river bed stood out as places to make note of for future shoots. I also found a military zone as seen in the photo below.

Military zone with unexploded devices in the area

The sign says there are unexploded devices and dangerous weapons in the area and not to touch anything. No prob, you had my attention at ‘unexploded devices.

They don’t make motels like they used to

It was somewhat of a surprise to come across Roy’s Motel and Cafe on this trip. I had seen photographs of Roy’s before but wasn’t sure where it was. It’s located in Amboy, California on old Route 66.

The motel has long been out of operation and only a small gift shop is open inside the old gas station. However, I didn’t venture in. It looked like it was filled with the typical tourist crap you can find anywhere.

There’s a vacancy at Roy’s Motel & Cafe.

Although not in operation, the old motel rooms are open for people to walk in and check out. Helpful tip for when asking a tourist to take a photo of you: make sure they speak the language you do.

I asked this woman who got off a bus full of tourists if she could take a photo of me in front of the Roy’s sign. I said, “make sure you get the whole sign”. She nodded and trained my cell phone at me.

After snapping a couple of pics she handed my phone back to me and off she went to join back up with her tour group. I looked at the photos and this is what she took.

I asked her to make sure to get the whole sign. She smiled and nodded.

Well there’s my origin story on how the shortest horror movie in the world came to be.

Related: alien makeup timelapse.

Related: why your company needs a video series.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Hemp Already Video Series

I’m very excited to announce my new show is up and online! The Hemp Already video series is an episodic docuseries about all things hemp.

It features the innovators disrupting the status quo and helping to save the planet by making products with sustainable and environmentally friendly hemp rather than resource depleting and often toxic traditional materials.

Hemp materials can be used to make tens of thousands of products. Construction materials, paper, plastics, clothing, textiles, biofuels, food, health products and more can all be made from hemp.

The series features the companies and people behind them that are leading the hemp movement.

Watch the first episode and subscribe to the Hemp Already youtube channel.

two people inspect a hemp plant on a farm in the video series Hemp Already
Erica Halverson of TINY e PAPER CO & Jonathan Payne inspect a hemp plant.

Why a hemp video series?

Everyone needs to know about hemp. 

Hemp is a sleeping giant and there’s a ton of excitement around the plant. Its renaissance has begun and people are using this miracle plant again to build all kinds of things. I want to bring the stories of these hemp innovators to the world to see!

Hemp is the most versatile, sustainable, renewable, carbon negative, deforestation saving, eco-friendly plant in the world.

It grows in 3-4 months, can grow almost anywhere – wild hemp grows in all 50 states, it uses less water than other crops such as corn or cotton, produces more fiber than cotton and more biomass than corn, doesn’t need herbicides or pesticides (or very little), regenerates the soil and has numerous other benefits. It truly is a miracle plant.

I want people to see there are alternatives to fossil fuels and resource depleting materials that can be used today. We’re not talking about far off, future technologies that may or may not ever come to fruition. Using the hemp plant can help save the environment and create new jobs and change industries right now.

Related: why your company needs a video series.

Related: using natural light for your documentary video production.

hemp hurds for making hempcrete in episodic series Hemp Already
Hemp hurds, from the woody core of the plant.

Why did the hemp industry die out?

The first use of hemp dates back about 8,000 years ago. Hemp has been used for thousands of years for many products and was one of the largest agricultural crops up until the late 1800’s. Until then, most paper was made from hemp.

With the signing of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, lumping hemp together along with cannabis, it effectively killed the industrial hemp industry.

It’s such an efficient source material for so many things including timber and petroleum based products that it posed a major threat to those industries which played a part in the plants demise – hey, it’s competition so we need to squash it!

Related: No Words, a video poem about nature and our destruction of it.

What can be made from hemp?

There are tens of thousands of products that can be made from the plant instead of the unsustainable, greenhouse gas emitting, toxic and fossil fuel based materials that are being used now.

hemp plant with wood frame house
Hemp plant at a hempcrete build site.

The list of things that can be made from the hemp plant seem endless: negative carbon construction materials like hempcrete used in residential houses and commercial buildings for walls, ceilings and flooring, hemp insulation, hemp wood, fiberboard, carpets, paints, varnishes, inks. Any paper product can be made from hemp instead of trees.

Supercapacitor batteries (yes batteries!), plastics and bio composites (nearly all European car makers already use it for car parts), biofuel, diapers, mulch, animal bedding, all kinds of clothing (much more environmentally friendly than cotton), rope, canvas, beauty products like soaps, lotions, makeup, nail polish, shampoo and it can feed people and animals with a whole bunch of food products and can help us with our health and wellness with cannabinoid extracts.

This is just a short list of things that can be made from hemp. The Ministry of Hemp lists 82 products being made today from hemp. That’s just the beginning. Some estimate that there are 25,000 products that can be made from it while others estimate 50,000! Whatever the actual number is, its large.

Can you make paper from hemp?

Yes, you most certainly can. There are many benefits of hemp paper over tree paper. Episode 1 features hemp paper company TINY e PAPER CO of Long Beach, California and founder Erica Halverson.

a close up of a coffee cup holder made out of hemp paper in the video series Hemp Already
A coffee cup sleeve made out of hemp paper

TINY e PAPER CO is a startup that makes hemp paper out of hemp fiber and the left over plant materials or biowaste from CBD extractors.

Their mission is to get the world to switch over from tree to hemp paper, thereby putting a stop to world deforestation. We love people that think big and think you will too.

Be sure to check out episode one of the Hemp Already video series to see what a tiny company that thinks big can do!

Related: Documentary I produced/directed for an offshore project that provides renewable energy to the City of Los Angeles.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

After Party Interview

Earlier this year I found this clip of our after party interview at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival. I’m with cinematographer Roberto Correa and we’re talking about our film, The Selfie That Changed The World. I remember doing it but forgot all about it until I stumbled upon it.

Where you drunk during the interview?

Even though this interview took place at the after party around 1am at The Lot, a bar and restaurant in La Jolla, and I appear to forget what I did on the film near the beginning of the video, I assure you I was very lucid.

Related article: Aliens and selfie addiction on Amazon Prime Video.

We had a very good time at the festival and our film got a great response. The film is a fashion comedy that takes a peek inside the mind of a selfie addict. It was nominated for Best Creative Direction and Best Narration. The actor, Brandon Bernath, got nominated for Best Actor in CinéFashion Film Awards put on by Cinémoi.

festival best creative direction la jolla international fashion film
Brandon Bernath, nominated for Best Actor in the CinéFashionFilm Awards

You can watch a clip of Roberto and I introducing the film at the festival on the Fashion Film Network‘s vimeo channel and read about it in our post here.

Related article: we won Best Comedy Film and Audience Choice Award.

The best moment of the festival

The best moment of the festival for me was when another filmmaker came up to me and said because of the film, no one was taking any selfies after the screening. Yes! The film had some kind of affect.

It felt good to get a strong reaction like that with the film. Not to mention, selfies are to photography what McDonald’s is to food so the stopping of selfie taking was a good thing and I feel I made the world a better place if only for a short time.

Related: the shortest horror movie in the world.

Needless to say, the self-imposed selfie ban didn’t last long and people were back to snapping selfies later on. But it was nice while it lasted.

Read more in our blog post about us at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival.

Need a break? Of course you do! Take 1.5 minutes and watch No Words, a video poem. A short film about nature and our neglect of it.

pretty blonde woman in sunglasses in comedic fashion film
Christine Wood in The Selfie That Changed The World

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

No Words, a video poem

What do you do when your filming options are still very limited because of the restrictions on working and gatherings of people due to the Coronavirus pandemic? You make a new video out of existing footage and other assets you have available to you. I made No Words, a video poem out stuff we had laying around, a poem and footage I had already shot.

No Words is a 1.5 minute short film about nature and our neglect of it. The poem was written and voice by Lorraine DuRocher. I supplemented previously shot footage with a couple shots filmed by cinematographer Roberto Correa.

Related: using natural light for your documentary video production.

Get creative with your existing assets

Even though small media shoots have been deemed essential businesses and have been allowed since the beginning of the shut down as long as safety and CDC guidelines are followed, many companies are still apprehensive to schedule video shoots. Big budget filming, which was not deemed essential and was shut down is starting to come back with extensive new safety guidelines.

With the current environment, making new videos and repurposing your existing assets like footage and graphics is still a great way to keep your content flowing and to save money on production costs. Read my post on Gate5’s website on using existing asset to produce new videos.

a man on a bike and two other people look frozen in time at a city street intersection while they wait for the light to change
Scene from the video, No Words

The poem No Words really spoke to me. Nature takes care of itself instinctually without words and without thinking about it. Nothing in nature instigates its own self-destruction. Why do we?

When I re-read the poem recently (I read it years ago when Lorraine wrote it), I thought what it says is very ‘right now’ and thought it could make for a nice little cinematic piece. So we dusted it off, recorded the voice over and I went through old footage to go with the narrative.

Fun fact: the idea was to make all the footage of the insects, bees and of our parrot, Fast Eddie to look like it was shot in a forest but it was all shot on our porch and front yard.

Read about my short films about aliens and selfie addiction on Amazon Prime Video. Watch me introduce The Selfie That Changed The world at the La Jolla Int’l Fashion Film Festival.

The time to pay attention is now

In a macro sense, No Words speaks to what we have been and are currently doing to our environment. Now that we’ve destroyed it and have brought it to the possible point of no return with climate change, we’ve become aware of it.

The time to pay attention is always right now. You can’t eat the hamburger today and pay for it on Tuesday. Wimpy’s old saying from the Popeye comic strip, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” is where we are as a country and as a global community.

Come Tuesday you know Wimpy is not going to be able to pay, Well, environmentally speaking today is Tuesday. It’s time for us to pay up for our past consumption but the problem is we ain’t got no money.

Related: read about my video series, Hemp Already about helping to save the planet by using sustainable and ecofriendly hemp.

On a personal level, No Words speaks to how we treat our bodies. We get caught up with the hustle of the today and our day-to-day business and we ignore our bodies until it’s too late. My intention with No Words, a video poem was to use the human body as an allegory of the environment.

Let’s learn from nature and from animals. Stay in tune with your body and environment which is an extension of our body and let’s take care of both of them today.

Watch my after party interview at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Aliens and Selfie Addiction on Amazon Prime Video

Two short film written and directed by Greg McDonald of video production company Gate5 in Los Angeles are now available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.  If you’re into aliens and selfie addiction, you’ll want to fire up the popcorn maker, plop down on the sofa ( oh wait, you’re already on the couch because of the lock down aren’t you?) and watch them.

You need a break from Facebook anyway

During the stay at home quarantine, it’s good to mix up the ways you pass the time. You can’t spend it all on Facebook. I mean, how many distorted close ups of peoples’ faces on webcam videos can one person stand? So hang up on that Zoom meeting and mosey on over to Amazon Prime Video and check out these short films.

Related: the shortest horror movie in the world.

The Selfie That Changed The World

a selfie addict gazes at her image in a mirror wearing sunglasses in a fashion comedy by Greg McDonald
Christine Wood in The Selfie That Changed The World on Amazon Prime Video

Take a peek inside the mind of a selfie addict in the comedy fashion film, The Selfie That Changed The World. Based on a true story. 

A woman I follow on Instagram who posts thousands and thousands of selfies where she looks exactly the same in every single one of them was the inspiration for it. If you feel I’m talking about you and that I stole your life’s story without your permission or compensation, I want you to know it’s based on the other selfie addict.

The film stars Christine Wood as the selfie taker and Brandon Bernath as the coffee shop screenwriter. The film was shot by cinematographer Roberto Correa.

Watch my after party interview at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival.

‘Selfie’ was nominated for Best Creative Concept and Best Narration in the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival and  Brandon Bernath was nominated for Best Actor in the CinéFashion Film Awards broadcast on the Cinémoi cable channel.

Watch the interview with Greg McDonald and Roberto Correa at the after party at the La Jolla Int’l Fashion Film Festival on Gate5’s site.

Nowhere In The Universe

a man and alien meet in the desert in the sci-fi fashion comedy, Nowhere In The Universe
Nowhere In The Universe, streaming on Amazon Prime Video

An alien becomes lost in a desolate area of the desert and discovers that no matter how desperate you are, even if you’re going to die from starvation and dehydration, some lines can never be crossed.

The sci-fi fashion comedy, Nowhere In The Universe stars stars Kaitlyn Clare as the alien and Brandon Bernath as the man. Thirati K created the alien special effects makeup and produced it. 

‘Nowhere’ won Best Comedy Film and the Audience Choice Award in the LA Underground Film Forum. Although technically not based on a true story, it’s based on a true story and most women will probably relate to its universal theme.

Read more about the shoot and watch a short timelapse video of part of the alien makeup being applied by Thirati K.

Now you have no excuse to stay on Facebook the rest of the day. Get on over to Amazon Prime Video for your aliens and selfie addiction fix.

Need a break? Of course you do! Take 1.5 minutes and watch No Words, a video poem. A short film about nature and our neglect of it.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Coronavirus Apocalypse

It’s very strange and eerie seeing empty streets in Hollywood when they’re normally busy at all hours. The economic shut down and ‘stay at home’ order by the City of Los Angeles and the state of California has created a Coronavirus apocalypse. It’s made for new opportunities for street photography – but with limitations.

empty Sunset Blvd in Hollywood during a colorful sunset during the shut down
Sunset on Sunset. An empty Sunset Blvd during the Coronavirus apocalypse

Follow ‘stay at home’ orders

Of course, when leaving your home one must follow the CDC guidelines on physical distancing and the guidelines set by your city. Here, the City of Los Angeles guidelines also apply to the whole of LA County.

And if you’re truly following the guidelines that means – DO NOT go out for the sole purpose of shooting street photography!

The guidelines call for leaving your house only for essential reasons such as grocery shopping, getting other needed supplies, going to the bank, picking up medications or seeing a healthcare provider, etc.

However, you can go out for exercise as long as you maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from anyone else.

So how do you go about shooting street photography when you’re not allowed to be out except for essential trips and exercise?

empty Sunset Blvd on sunny day during shut down in Los Angeles

Take your camera with you when making allowed trips

Should be obvious, yes? Just take your camera with you on your trip to the grocery store or other essential outing. If you don’t live within walking distance of anything, go take a hike. By the way, don’t take that personally. I’m telling everyone to go take a hike during the shut down.

Even easier, use your cell phone. I took the two pictures above with my cell on the way to getting take out. For wider captures and impromptu cityscapes, I’m generally happy with the results I get with my cell. I always prefer to use a mirrorless/DSLR for photos of any importance but that’s just not going to happen all the time. Especially during a pandemic when I’m on my way to pick up food for the week.

Not your typical street photography

Most street photographers either shoot people or buildings and architecture. If you’re a people person, your normal subject matter doesn’t exist at the moment. Even for architecturally focused street photography, people in frame are often used to provide scale, reference or to portray the utter meaningless and alienation of the individual in modern society (okay, I admit it, that’s how I interpret just about everything).

So use the barren streets as an opportunity you may not get again (hopefully another shut down isn’t in our future). Take advantage of the apocalyptic feel of the world right now – the empty streets void of cars and the few isolated people walking around.

It’s an excellent opportunity to juxtapose the one lone walker wearing a face mask against the boarded up businesses. Or to capture what are normally bustling streets with no little to no cars like the photos I took of Sunset Blvd. Or to capture the kafka-esque quality of life during the Coronavirus shut down.

Use these empty streets and the Coronavirus apocalypse to your advantage and create new and unique images that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise before the world opens back up!

Need a break? Of course you do! Take 1.5 minutes and watch No Words, a video poem. A short film about nature and our neglect of it.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Keeping Busy During the Coronavirus Lockdown

With virtually all production – whether it’s film, television or commercials being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown, what can you do to stay productive?

a man rows a canoe in a city street
It’s important to exercise during the coronavirus lockdown.

Write that screenplay

For me it’s easy, write! I’m currently finishing a feature screenplay I started in the fall of 2019. If you’re a writer, take advantage of this slow down, or shut down to be more accurate, and write as much as you can.

When I’m busy with client works, I sometimes find if very difficult to make the time for scriptwriting. Now there’s no excuse.

I find it helpful to write in time blocks. I set aside sometimes as little as thirty minutes on up to two hours and write during that time. Maxing it at two hours helps me to not overwhelm myself. Sometimes I think I have to write a feature screenplay in one eighteen hour day or stay up all night drinking trying to finish it. Set a block of time per day, sit down and do it. And when you’ve hit the end of the time block, stop. If you stick to it, you’ll be done in no time.

feature screenplay Killing Happy

The Graham Greene approach to writing

One of the most inspiring and practical things I’ve ever heard about writing comes from Graham Greene, who wrote a ton of stuff; novels, short stories, plays and is considered one of the great writers of the 20th century. Many of his novels were adapted into screenplays like, The Quiet American, The Third Man, The End of the Affair, A Gun for Sale which was titled, This Gun for Hire in the movie version and others.

Apparently, his secret was that he only wrote 500 words a day and that was it! That translates into about 2.5 pages of a screenplay. He’d reach that number and would stop for the day. When I heard this on TMC’s Noir Alley it was a revelation and a relief. With his lifelong output, you would think all he ever did was write! But no, 500 words a day. And when he got older, he cut it down to 300 words a day.

Since taking his approach I’ve alleviated my anxiety and thinking that unless I write a screenplay in one sitting and suffer horribly for it, then I’m not a real writer. It’s eliminated getting overwhelmed by the thought of writing and consequently blowing it off.

I use the 500 word a day technique until the first draft is completed. Then I set blocks of time rather than a word count since rewriting is about improving, filling holes and fixing things and not necessarily about writing a lot of words.

With the script I’m working on, I’ve been fairly disciplined with this approach and am in the fix up stage now. I’m guessing in about a week it’ll be ready for others to read. It’s a dark comedy about a competitive mother’s life long campaign to keep her talented son from becoming a success and showing her up. That’s all I’ll say now. I don’t like to talk about projects I’m currently working on so more to come later.

Work on your website

The coronavirus lockdown is another great time to work on your website and improve its SEO. I admit, I haven’t spent too much time working on this site, my writing-directing site but I have been working on my production company’s site for Gate5.

I can’t stress how important SEO is for any company, especially for video production companies and photographers and this is the perfect time to work on it. To see the results of your SEO work it usually takes several months. So do the work today, while no one is searching for video and film production during the shut down and when things get back to normal in a couple months, you’ll reap the rewards of the SEO work you do today.

I wrote a post on what types of video production you can still do during the “stay at home” order that doesn’t require new filming in my post on Gate5’s site here.

Stay in touch

Don’t let the physical isolation keep you isolated from others. Get on social media, call friends and associates, use facetime, zoom, skype or whatever app you prefer to talk to people and see their faces.

Use this time you’ve been given to keep and build your personal and business relationships. With so many people staying at home, working or not, it’s a great time to stay in touch. If you’ve been thinking, like me, that you need to make more of an effort to stay in touch with people, think of it as you’ve now got a captive audience. So make that call.

Exercise

And of course, you need to stay healthy so make sure to get your workouts in. Gyms may be closed but there are plenty of body weight exercises you can do that don’t require any equipment that you can do at home.

Get on YouTube and search for ‘body weight exercises’ or a related term and a whole bunch of videos will pop up that will train you exactly how to do them.

As you can see from the photo, my favorite coronavirus lockdown workout is urban canoeing. It naturally creates social distancing, it’s great cardio and it’s cheaper than a Lyft!

Need a break? Of course you do! Take 1.5 minutes and watch No Words, a video poem. A short film about nature and our neglect of it.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Fashion Film Director Greg McDonald at La Jolla Fashion Film Festival

I just found this clip of fashion film director Greg McDonald and cinematographer Roberto Correa introducing the fashion comedy film, The Selfie That Changed The World at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in 2017. (I only refer to myself in this paragraph in the 3rd person for SEO reasons. My ego isn’t really that big.)

The film was nominated for Best Creative Direction and Best Narration.

Watch the clip on the Fashion Film Network‘s vimeo channel.

This is the first time I had seen the clip. I knew they were filming the introductions and I meant to look for it shortly after the event and then I forgot all about it.

The La Jolla Fashion Festival is really a great time and unlike many other festivals, they actually like filmmakers! ha! It may sound odd if you’re not familiar with them, but many festivals treat filmmakers like leeches. Seriously. Like necessary evils they have to endure to put on their festival. But we need them and they need us so we get along just like any other normal dysfunctional family in America.

Greg the gringo

Of course, during the introduction of the film I pronounced Roberto’s last name like a gringo and he promptly corrected me. I took Spanish in the 8th grade but apparently not much took. So I appreciated the help. I returned the favor and helped him out by offering him proper microphone holding technique.

We’re taking our act on the road!

I think the most fun was the reaction to our introduction, that is, other than the reaction to the film itself, of course. Was that one person came up to us after the screening and asked where we perform. He thought Roberto and I were a 2-person comedy act. Now that’s comedy!

But I don’t know, I think maybe we should hit the road. Might pay better than independent filmmaking. It’s good to have a back up plan.

Related: the shortest horror movie in the world.

fashion film director Greg Mcdonald at La Jolla Festival and Roberto Correa

Another clip I just came across was of a quick interview of Roberto and I at the after party after the screening at The Lot. I think it was about 1am or so when we did the interview and we’re remarkably lucid.

Watch that interview clip with fashion film director Greg McDonald and cinematographer Roberto Correa on the Fashion Film Network’s vimeo channel.

What about film? Where can I see it? You can watch it on Gate5’s site, The Selfie That Changed The World.

About Gate5, my Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

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