Tag: screenwriter

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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