Tag: film

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

‘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.

Best Comedy Film

Writer-Director Greg McDonald and actress Kaitlyn Clare, winning Best Comedy Film and Audience Choice Award for the comedy sci-fi, Nowhere In The Universe.

My film I wrote and directed, Nowhere In the Universe won Best Comedy Film and Audience Choice Award at the Los Angeles Underground Film Forum! The film is a sci-fi comedy about how some lines can never be crossed no matter how desperate you are.

Keeping with the ‘underground’ theme, the festival was low-key, they didn’t do a whole lot of promotion but it was a lot of fun hanging out with Kaitlyn Clare, who played the alien in the film, and actor Brandon Bernath. And it was close! It screened not far from my place so it was very easy to get to. The only criteria I have when submitting to film festivals – it has to be very close 🙂

I give good Q&A

Nowhere In The Universe got a great response from the audience which is so much more satisfying to experience in person vs. getting a couple likes online. And it was an added surprise winning Best Comedy Film and the Audience Choice Award!

I have to say I do give good Q&A. Haha! It helped that the people who put on the festival were very cool and nice and that makes all the difference in the world. Some festivals I’ve been to treat the filmmakers like leeches. It was good to see the opposite at the LA Underground Film Forum.

I’ve submitted the film to a couple more festivals but I’m ready for the next project. What will it be? I’m not sure, I’m kicking around a few ideas.

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 can provide production and post.

For narrative films, humor and comedy character based stories are my specialty. When it comes to commercials, I’ve done everything from construction , tech, manufacturing, financial services, product demos, to beauty, makeup and fashion.

About Gate5, a Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a full service video production company producing engaging and results driven video content for big and small businesses and advertising agencies and we produce narrative films.

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

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

Check out my other pages – Photography, Narrative, Commercials and Fashion Films.

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.

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.

Beauty And The Beach

woman in a pretty dress stands on the beach in the eco fashion film, Beauty And The Beach

Beauty And The Beach will be screening in the F3: Frankly Film Festival in Ohio and in the Berlin Flash Film Festival!

What is an eco-fashion film?

The film is an eco-fashion film. Say what? That’s right, I said it. It’s an eco-fashion film. The subject matter is about the environment and its degradation and what is happening in our oceans and on our beaches and it features fashion too.

It’s about a woman who takes a walk on the beach and discovers the new normal. It was pretty much improvised between the actress, Hayley Pendergrass, the makeup artist Thirati K and myself. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do and when we got to the beach, we shaped the story around what we found on the beach and what was available to us.

Did you have a script or was it improvised?

The key for me is to do as much planning as I can before a shoot but then to stay open to what’s in front of me on the day of the shoot. The film you wind up with is what you shoot on the day, not what you have in your head beforehand.

If you’re open to ideas while shooting then you can incorporate changes based on what you have available on the day of the shoot to tell the story better. But you must do your work beforehand. Having a firm grasp on the theme and what you’re trying to say gives you the spine to hang everything off of so you’re not blowing in the wind not knowing where you’re going.

If you hold on to your preconceived ideas and are not open to what’s in front of your face while shooting, you’re missing opportunities to make the story better.

We wanted to keep Beauty and the Beach very short and we did – it’s one minute long. It’s a bit of a challenge telling a story in such a short amount of time but I’m happy with the result. Although, I’m not happy about the subject matter. It was quite disgusting seeing the amount of trash on the beach. I would’ve much preferred to not have it there and being forced to come up with a story about something else.

Check out a behind the scenes of director Greg McDonald shooting Hayley on his instagram post.

About Gate5, a video production company in Los Angeles

Gate5 is a full service video production company in Los Angeles. We’re a one-stop shop video agency that provides everything from concept development to delivery or any part in between. We produce branded films, promotional videos, product demo tutorials, explainer videos, episodic content, docu style corporate profiles, TV commercials for broadcast and live video streaming production. We work nationwide and primarily service the Southern California area.

If you have a project that you’d like to collaborate on, that needs a director and or producer, give me a hollar! Contact me.

Check out my other pages – Photography, Narrative, Commercials and Fashion Films.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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