Tag: film director

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.

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.

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.

Sacrifices You Made

How do I repay you for the sacrifices you made for me?

Sacrifices You Made, a flash fiction story

You sacrificed for me, I know. You sacrificed affection for resentment. Compassion for contempt. Encouragement for humiliation. Love for your limitations.

I’m grateful for your sacrifices. It made me who I am.

You gave me a gift. A gift that allows me to see things differently, to have a unique view of the world. The gift of doubt.

Confident well-adjusted people don’t make art. They become doctors and lawyers and design furniture for Ikea. That’s what you said. You saved me from that misery.

I don’t know how to repay you, so I’ll do what I learned from you. I’ll sacrifice my worthlessness and destroy the thing that you love.

~ Sacrifices You Made – a flash fiction story by writer-director Greg McDonald based on the photograph.

Backstory to the story

I hate selfies – what McDonald’s is to food, is what selfies are to photography – but I’ve given in and I do take them at certain times just for the hell of it if I feel like it and to document an event or something. When I took this I was going over the story of a script in my head that I’m working on.

I snapped it while driving to the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California from Los Angeles. I was going there to see the hemp pavilion and talk to companies in the hemp world about the video series I’m launching on hemp. It was exciting to see some innovating new hemp products that are coming out.

I’ve never set out to write a flash fiction story, they just sort of happen. Usually I write one based on a picture I’ve taken like this one. They’re fun to write and are a good quick writing exercise that you can do about anything at anytime without making a big investment in time or commitment to a story. Write it. Like it? Then keep it. Expand upon it if you want and incorporate it into something else. Don’t like it? Then leave it in your notebook and forget about it.

Like the other times I’ve written a flash fiction story, such as A Sunny Desert Day, it didn’t occur to me until I got home and looked at the photo that it could tie into my script and could be used as an image that represents the main theme which is about the relationship between a mother and son. I’m currently writing, or rather rewriting it and plan to have it ready soon. I don’t like to talk about things until they’re done so that’ll have to be it for now!

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.

Short and Sweet Hollywood Film Festival

Director Greg McDonald with actress Kaitlyn Clare at the Short+Sweet Hollywood Film Festival
Director Greg McDonald with actress Kaitlyn Clare at the screening of their sci-fi comedy film, Nowhere In The Universe at the Short and Sweet Film Festival Hollywood.

Here I am with actress Kaitlyn Clare at the Short and Sweet Hollywood Film Festival! Our sci-fi comedy fashion film, Nowhere In The Universe, screened in the first night of several in the festival which goes on for roughly a month in Hollywood. It’s quite a festival with screenings in numerous cities in the U.S., Europe the Middle East and where it originated in Australia. They feature plays, musical theater and cabaret in addition to short and sweet films. Quite an honor to be a part of!

The film got a great response. The only bummer was that the online voting was only open for 5 minutes after the screening block was over. I had no idea. We all went home to vote only to find out it was closed. I guess they announced that at the beginning of the screenings but I missed that. Oh well. Voting for your own film is kind of weird anyway but where would our online life be if we couldn’t vote/like/view/follow our own stuff and encourage our friends to do the same? 🙂

Why do cell phones make my head look big?

Always fun hanging out with Kaitlyn who did a fantastic job playing the alien in the film. Why do pictures taken with cell phones make your head look big? Maybe I should accept the fact that I have a big head. I must learn to accept reality.

Check out all the behind the scenes photos, still photos and frames from Nowhere In the Universe on my Flickr page.

Related: read about my video series, Hemp Already.

Need a Director and/or a film crew and post for your project?

Give me a hollar if you’re looking for a director for your film or commercial video. I’d love to talk to you about it. My company, Gate5 is a full service video production company in Los Angeles and can provide the filming crew and post production as well as actors, locations, permits and all the other good stuff needed.

So contact me. I’ll be waiting by the phone.

Check out my other pages – Photography, Narrative, Commercials 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.

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.

Office Showdown

woman firing guns in office in behind the scenes film set photo
a man fires guns at his coworkers in behind the scenes film set photo

Office showdown in a west coast think tank. Tempers flare between co-workers when a disagreement erupts over trade economics and an angered employee who was losing the argument starts shooting up the place. Connie, the level-headed office manager grabs the hand guns in her desk and takes care of the disgruntled malcontent. It didn’t end well for the shooter. Behind the scenes of a film I made awhile ago.

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

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

Stone House Ruins

abandoned stone house in ruins in the California desert
Film location scouting
abandoned stone house in ruins in the California desert
Film location scouting

Stone house ruins in the California high desert. I came across this great abandoned stone house half destroyed while scouting location for an upcoming fashion comedy film. I was seeking a completely desolate area to film in and this isn’t what I was looking for at all but it would be a great location for something so I’m really glad I just happened to drive by it. It makes me want to think of something that could be shot here. Maybe a photo shoot. Not sure but I hope no one tears it down before I can film here!

Got a project? Contact me.

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

Beauty Photographer

red lips on blonde model
female makeup model for beauty tutorial training video against dark background
female beauty model for makeup tutorial video

Beauty photographer and director Greg McDonald shot these frames for a cosmetics client in Los Angeles. The makeup video tutorials covered tips for makeup as well as for skin. Shooting the material in 5k and 6k resolution allows for the accurate representation of colors and detail of the applications and allows for still frames to be pulled from the footage for use in other marketing materials.

More in Photography. Commercials and Fashion films.

Want to talk about a project? Contact me.

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