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Unplug Coffee Maker When Not Using

Unplug coffee maker when not using it. It’ll not only save you some money on your electricity bill, it’s good fire safety too! I’ve always found it entertaining when control freaks lose it and think they’re going to scare everyone with their temper. This is a wish fulfillment for all those who’ve suffered an overbearing boss in the office. This clip is from an old film of mine and as many times as I’ve seen it, this actor makes me laugh every time.

By the way, unplugging other appliances is a good idea too.

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How To Shoot Beauty At The Beach

How to shoot beauty at the beach – get a great model-actress like Hayley Pendergrass and get a great makeup artist like Thirati K! Problem solved.

Seriously, it’s hard to take a bad photo of Hayley. We went out to Long Beach with a vague idea for a short film and to shoot some beauty and fashion stills. We got lucky with it being overcast, which helped out for the beauty shots and later the sun came out just enough to help us out with the fashion shots. Thirati’s makeup perfectly complimented the mood and tone we were going for and the wardrobe. We used what we came across on the beach and used it for the improvised film we shot. It completely changed the idea we had in our heads but it worked out much better than if we had planned everything out. I was very happy with the film and the still photos. All-in-all a very fun and productive day.

It also gave me a chance to try out a 4k cinema camera that I bought last year but haven’t used a whole lot. I was very happy with the results and I figured out what I need to do to make it more ergonomic.

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Employee Orientation

Employee Orientation, an excerpt from a film I made in 2003 using footage my dad shot in 1967 at a company party for Detroit Diesel in super 8mm film. The film explores the orientation of a certain employee.

This party was on a Saturday night and they dressed up like this. It wasn’t like they were coming from work. I have to admit I miss basement parties in Michigan. Brings back a lot of memories.

My mom is the redhead at the end.

Give me a hollar if you have a narrative film or commercial project you want to collaborate on. I’d love to hear about it. Contact me to discuss.

Check out my Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Alien Makeup Timelapse

Behind the scenes timelapse footage of special effects alien makeup, prosthetics and body paint being applied by Makeup Artist Thirati K on actress Kaitlyn Clare for the film, Nowhere In The Universe. The film was produced, directed and written by me and produced by Gate5, a video production company in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a timelapse of the whole application but this gives you a little taste of it.

The film is a sci-fi comedy with a fashion element about desperation, dating and personal limits and how some lines can never be crossed.

Aliens, aliens everywhere! What’s a makeup artist to do?

For the look of the alien, Thirati wanted to create something unique. It’s a real challenge since it seems like aliens are everywhere you go. Between movies, TV shows, Halloween and youtube and instagram beauty bloggers, we’ve all seen it all! She pulled it off by creating a unique shape of the head with the prosthetics and with her colors for the face and body painting.

Another thing that I think helped in creating a unique look was forgoing contact lenses. I’m really glad we decided on that as I wanted the alien to have human qualities and not a cliche look. Unless you spend a lot on the contact lenses to get something unique, you’ll wind up with alien eyes that you’ve seen a million times. Not to mention, Kaitlyn’s naturally beautiful eyes complimented Thirati’s work perfectly and she had just the feel and look I was going for.

The locations

We shot the film in two locations in the high desert. The first place was about 25 minutes north of Amboy, home of the famous Route 66 icon, Roy’s Motel & Cafe. I had a chance for a quick stop at Roy’s during the location scout. The day I was there, a bus full of tourists had stopped and the place was full of selfie takers.

The motel isn’t operational but the doors are open to the rooms for you to go in and check out. The gas station is a gift shop. I’m not sure if the gas pumps work. I should have checked. I considered filming in the barren desert next to and behind Roy’s but I found a much better spot.

The second location was about 20 minutes west of Twentynine Palms and only 15-20 minutes from the Airbnb house we were staying at. The two locations were about 1.5 apart.

The shoot day

makeup artist applying body paint and alien prosthetics on actor

Thirati started putting on the alien makeup, prosthetics and body paint at 6am. It took about 5 hours to apply and having to shoot in two locations about 1.5 hours apart, we had a very full day of filming.

That’s one thing I wouldn’t do again, shoot in two locations that far apart when the makeup will take 5 hours! Ha!

After getting Kaitlyn in her wardrobe after the makeup and body paint was finished it was about 12 noon at that point and I started to get a little nervous about making our day. We still had an 1.5 hour drive to the first location! What was I thinking? Arghhhh!

Since the story takes place during the course of one day, following the alien’s trek through the desert from morning to evening, we we had to shoot the film in chronological order. Usually you don’t need to do that but in this case, there was no way we could not have. It obviously wouldn’t have worked shooting the ending of the film at 1:30pm when the sun as at its highest point and then shooting the beginning at sunset. The time of day was part of the story.

At about 1:30pm we got to the first location and we all moved as quickly as we could. No one felt rushed, including myself at this point but we had no time to spare. We were pretty efficient getting the shots we needed and then it was off to the second location which we arrived to at 4pm or so. I’m not really sure what when we arrived. I didn’t even want to take the time to look! It was crunch time.

No time to spare!

Sunset was around 7:30pm so we had to work fast as we had the bulk of the filming to do and only 3.5 hours to do it. Fortunately, the filming itself was very straightforward with shots of just Kaitlyn and the final scene between the man, played by Brandon Bernath and the alien. I knew exactly what I wanted out of the shots and scenes so we were able to move quickly and change things as needed when I realized some of the preconceived ideas I had in my head weren’t going to work with the given circumstances.

We literally shot right up until the the sun went down. The last take was at the last moment the sun was above the horizon. It was tight but we got everything we needed and was a great day!

an alien runs past camera at sunset in the desert in BTS shot

About Gate5, a video production company

Gate5 is a video marketing company and full service video production company in Los Angeles. We produce high quality content for social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook and for online and broadcast.

We conceptualize, write scripts, direct, cast, film and edit product demo videos, branded films, product and promotional videos, web and TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

If you have a narrative film or commercial project you want to collaborate on just give me a hollar. I’d love to hear about it. Contact me to discuss.

Check out my Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Nowhere In The Universe

Nowhere in the Universe is a sci-fi fashion comedy film about desperation – no matter how desperate you become, some lines can never be crossed. UPDATE: We won Best Comedy Film and the Audience Choice Award at the LA Underground Film Forum!

It was quite a surprise winning the two awards. Actors Kaitlyn Clare who played the alien and Brandon Bernath were in attendance. We had a really good time at the festival and the people who it on couldn’t be nicer. And it was in town!

I really enjoyed making this film with two wonderful actors, Kaitlyn and Brandon. The only thing I’d do differently is I wouldn’t shoot in two locations that are almost an hour apart. After spending the morning and the first half of the day getting the makeup and prosthetics done, we then spent about about an hour and half driving between the two locations. We got what we needed but it would’ve been nice to have just a little more time. However, I do best with limitations so I take it back, we did it just as it was meant to be!

If you have a narrative or commercial project you want to collaborate on just give me a hollar. I’d love to hear about it. Contact me to discuss.

Check out my Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Working with an Alien

bts of director Greg McDonald filming actors

Working with an alien is tough! Ha! Not at all when the alien is played by Kaitlyn Clare and you’re working with Brandon Bernath, two excellent actors. In this behind the scenes photo we were hurrying up before the sun went down while filming the sci-fi fashion comedy film, Nowhere In The Universe. We managed to get what we needed with several minutes to spare before sunset.

Sci-fi fashion comedy – is that a new genre we invented? I’m not sure but let me know if you know of another film that can that falls into this category.

Got a narrative or commercial project? Contact me to discuss. I’d love to hear about it.

Check out Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Alien Sighting

Alien sighting! A behind the scenes video with Kaitlyn Clare as the alien on our film shoot of, “Nowhere in the Universe”, a sci-fi fashion comedy. I had a blast making this! It was a super small cast and crew with great chill people. Working with people you like and get along with makes all the difference. Alien makeup and effects were done by Thirati K who did a fantastic job! And I love working with the two actors in the film, Kaitlyn and Brandon Bernath. The were excellent and a joy to work with!

We were a little worried about the weather since it rained a bit the night before which is very unusual for the desert in the middle of May but the next day it turned out great. Just some clouds when we started which worked out in our favor.

I finished the film in about 10 days after shooting and have already submitted it to one festival already with more to go. Stay tuned for more!

If you have a narrative or commercial project you want to collaborate on just give me a hollar. I’d love to hear about it. Contact me to discuss.

Check out my Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Alone in the Desert

Alone in the desert. Help! Come looking for me if I don’t show up in a couple days. 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 🙂

It’s the perfects spot for a fashion comedy short I’ll be shooting soon. It’s remote but easy to get to, there’s nothing around – well there is but just don’t point the camera at the houses and it’ll look like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Best of all I don’t think anyone will bother us there. Should work out great. We’ll find out.

Got a narrative or commercial project you want to collaborate on? Contact me to discuss. I’d love to hear about it.

Check out my Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

A Sunny Desert Day

A Sunny Desert Day, a flash fiction story

Even though I couldn’t see them behind her mirrored aviators, I could feel the disgust shooting out of her baby blue eyes and tugging on every last rotten cell of my plaque-filled heart strings. I didn’t need to see her eyes to recognize the look. I’d seen it before after a bender at the docks with a two-bit con with a surefire thing in the 5th with some sauced Irish crumb. It’s the kind of look a woman gives a man when she’s got nothing to lose and even less to gain. 

She asked me to take her to the desert for some vitamin D and a view of the dirt. I got suspicious when she asked me to bring the shovel but with a dame like that, you don’t ask questions if you value your teeth.

A shot of giggle water and one last smoke before I showed her a lovely resting place out in the middle of nowhere. Why is there never a middle-of-the-road in the middle of nowhere? It’s where you go to either start something, or end it.

~ “A Sunny Desert Day”, a flash fiction story by Greg McDonald based on the photograph.

Backstory to the story

This photo came about from an impromptu shoot in the desert, and afterwards the short story based on the photograph. I went out to scout locations for a future short film with actress Kaitlyn Clare in Los Angeles and we figured since we’re going way out in the desert anyway, may as well do a shoot.

With very little planning and no real story in mind this is one of the resulting images with more to come. We also managed to make a short film, STARTUP about every startup founder’s dream.

Got a narrative or commercial project? Contact me to discuss. I’d love to hear about it.

Check out Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Domino Falls

Domino Falls

Domino left the big city and went out to stake her claim on a lifeless patch of dirt in the desert. She planned on building a tiny house made from sustainable materials and start an ecommerce business selling detox tea on Instagram.

Little did she know the Homestead Act of 1862 had long expired and the government denied her claim to ownership and seized her land when she struck oil while digging a hole for her septic tank.

~ “Domino Falls”, a flash fiction story by Greg McDonald based on the photograph

Got a narrative or commercial project? Contact me to discuss. I’d love to hear about it.

Check out Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Copyright © 2020 Greg McDonald | Writer-Director | Simple Persona Pro by Catch Themes
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