Nick Bargini (actor/director) Interview

nick2-1 Nick Bargini

Today we are talking with the talented actor and director Nick Bargain.   As the co-founder of Headcase films in Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota, Nick, claims to be a “late bloomer” in the industry when he started at the ripe old age of 22 (he is now 28).  So, without delay, let’s see what he has to say.

ROBERT – Nick, you may find this surprising but I have always been curious as to how the film industry is Minnesota.

NICK – The industry here is terrible. It’s a commercial state (although we do have River Road Entertainment which did “12 Years A Slave”.

R – Now, you started your career as a background actor in California at the age of 22.  When did you decide to go back to Minnesota and start Headcase Films?

N – Two years ago.

R – What prompted you to do this?  I know moving to California with little to nothing in your pocket is a big risk but so is moving back home and starting a film business in an area that isn’t known for it.

N – Honestly, I hated every minute of it.  Being a background actor and all.  At one point I was living out of my car.  Don’t get me wrong.  I worked with great companies such as Atlas Entertainment and Bold Films and what I learned was invaluable but I was never in a position to work on what I wanted to work on.  To do that I needed to make a change.  A change that would allow me to create, as an actor or director, films that truly mean something to me.

R – What do you find more challenging, directing or acting?

N – I find Directing far more challenging and thus far more rewarding.

R – Do you feel being an actor helps you as a director?

N – Absolutely!  I already have the experience and understanding as to what it’s like as an actor in front of a camera and the challenges the actor faces.  It also helps me to be able to articulate and express what I’m looking for in a particular scene from my actors.  I know how to “speak” actor!

R – The going trend for actors who become directors is still to act in the film they are directing.  Are you in the same boat as well?

N – Yes.  I prefer to do both, because I do not like acting in pictures that I’m not directing.

R – Let’s go back to your time in California for a minute.  Tell us a little bit about you what you have done in acting.

N – I’ve been in three feature films.  “Ice Scream”, “The Host” and “Walk of Shame”.  I have also been in a few shorts.  There was “The Man Awake”, “One Deviant Man” and  “Pink Toenails to name a few.

R – Have you ever taken acting classes.

N – Believe it or not, I never took a single acting class, unless you count YouTube.  I was very fortunate that acting seems to come pretty naturally for me.

R – What about any formal training for the film industry?

N – I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Digital Media, which was essentially film school. If I had it to do over again I would have just learned myself (hello internet), although the great thing, theoretically, about film school is being able to work.

R – Do you only shoot in Minneapolis?

N – No.  We shoot wherever we can, all over the state, and I shot in LA when I lived there (I plan to go back).

R – Starting a company is really risky in this industry and maybe even more so where you are at now.  What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of it?

N – I’ll have to compare what it’s like in LA compared to here in Minneapolis. There are too many challenges to name when it comes to filming in LA, but the biggest thing is the attitude of the people with respect to a newcomer. In LA, EVERYONE wants to be rich and famous, so why would anyone help you out?

In Minnesota, people think it’s fun, new, exciting, and they open their arms enthusiastically. The number of local businesses and people who have helped us out cannot be understated, and it makes this a great place to hone your skills for the big time which is still LA.  Of course there is New York City that is on LA’s heels.

The most challenging aspect of starting a production company has really just been the organizational stuff. Paperwork, scheduling, I have done it all myself and it’s not what I prefer to do (duh, creative people will say). The balance between making money and making passion projects has also been a challenge, but less so than I initially thought because of the generosity of a couple people in funding our passion projects quicker than I could have dreamed.

R – Let’s talk about your current project “Pink Toenails”.  You have already mentioned that this is a short film and a really interesting story line.  What was your inspiration for it?

N –  “Pink Toenails” is a 30-ish minute film.  It is a short compared to a feature but not exactly a “short” film by some film festivals definition.  With  that being said, we’d eventually like to turn into a feature.  I wrote the story when I first moved to California at 21, not knowing a soul on the West Coast. I was feeling alienated, alone, different, all of the things that the lead character goes through in “Pink Toenails”. In other words, my own isolation inspired what I hope will be a great piece of work (a little cliche’, but true nonetheless).

R – You know what they say.  Write what you know and you did.  Many great stories come from something that the writer has either experienced personally or have thought about many times over.  Is anyone else helping direct “Pink Toenails”?

N – My partner, Sean Guthrie is helping me on the project, but I am the Director.  I would never work on a project with 2 director’s who had an equal share of the power. I believe in hierarchy, especially when it comes to filmmaking. I would put the power split on “Pink Toenails” at 80/20, with me being the 80.

R – What has the experience been like working on this film?

N – It’s been hell! We were funded on this project before we were ready to make a movie of this scale. We have a smaller crew than is necessary to make a movie of this scale. It has been next to impossible to work out the schedule of 20+ high school kid cast members and another 20+ Extra’s, especially since I have been doing it all myself (not recommended). However, I would change absolutely nothing if I had it to do over again. This is how you learn to make a film. When we step onto our next set, we will be infinitely more prepared than we would have been if we had done things the “right” way. I have learned more about filmmaking on this movie than I did in 4 years or film school, and the “feet-to-the-fire” method of learning is something I will continue to champion. If you want to learn to make movies, just make movies. We have young and exciting actors, a small crew that believes in what we are doing, and our confidence and skill set grows by the day. Upon reflection, it’s been great.

PT13 Raye Brooke

R – Your lead actress is Raye Brooke.  Did you find her through casting or is she someone you worked with in the past?

N – I worked with Raye on our last film, “Maryland” ( We found her during casting for that movie.

R – Raye Brooke’s has acted in theater as well as on camera and I know from my own experience that it can be a little difficult for someone from theater to transition to being on camera.  Did you find this to be a problem for her?

N – No.  I wouldn’t even call Raye a stage actress. She may have some experience there, but she was born to act in films; her talent is in her subtlety and she takes direction about as well as anyone I have worked with. The dream of any director is to be able to develop a shorthand with his/her actors and crew. I have that with Raye and it works very well. However, yes, theater and film are not even in the same ballpark as far as I’m concerned, from the writing to the acting.

R – I have to ask.  Do you normally write your own scripts?

N – I do prefer to write or co-write my own scripts, but I am always, actively and enthusiastically seeking writers to work with.

R – Writing for comedy or drama, which is more challenging to you?

N – I find comedy way more difficult because of 3 things: timing, the subjective nature of the genre and my own personal preference for drama. If I make a comedy, you can be sure it’ll be dark or different in one way or another.

R – Anything else on the horizon after “Pink Toenails” is wrapped up?

N –  After this film, we plan to promote the hell out of it and either pitch for funds to turn it into a feature, or develop a distribution strategy for the film as-is. With the rise of VOD and self-screenings, I think we can develop a following that we can take with us as we build our company (this has been one of the benefits of our cast size and age, they are likely fans for life and also provide free marketing).

R – Anything else you would like to share about yourself or the film?

N – I’d like to take this opportunity to shout out everyone in our cast and on our crew, and to call on all filmmakers to remember that this is a very collaborative medium. Someone else’s success does not by any means prohibit your own success. Use your cast, involve them, let them make decisions, make them feel that they are as invested in the success of the film as you are, because not only is it true, but it only helps as you move from making the film (the “easy” part) to getting people to watch it (the “impossible” part). I like to call it “social filmmaking”. It’s not that everyone has an equal say in the decisions that will be made, like I said I believe in hierarchy, but I very much believe that there is great value in every cast and crew member and it is the #1 role of the leader (or Director) to find and utilize that value in service of the film. Do it together or don’t do it at all.

I want to give Nick a very big thank you for taking the time out of his very busy day for the interview.  I personally can not wait for the screening of the film “Pink Toenails”.  With Nick’s outlook on the importance of every member of the filmmaking process (actors and crew), I have no doubt that this film and future films will find success.  Look for follow up interviews of Nick Bargain as his career continues to blossom.  Below are some BTS shots from the set of “Pink Toenails”.



Lillian Lewis Interview

The video has been reedited with a special treat, Lillian Lewis’s timeless 1990 song “Reckless Love”, which plays in it’s entire for the last 4 minutes of the video.

The Indie Arts Spot

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lillian Lewis the other day on camera and talk to her about what she has been up to lately as well as some of the cool things she has done in her career.  Below, you’ll find a link to my Tumblr site that will take you directly to the song file Reckless Love because to add an mp3 file here I would have to “upgrade” (you may have to just copy and paste it cause not everything comes easily).  Oh well. I am also providing a direct link to Lillian’s Linkedin profile.  Check out the song and say hi to her on via the link provided!

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Nikon’s D7100 vs D7000



Hello again everyone!  Thank you for stopping by.  Today is about my thoughts from real world experience of shooting in the field.  No studio set up with charts and stuff.  Nothing wrong with doing reviews that at all.   Before I ever make a purchase I will check out reviews and test done by various websites and then make an informed decision on whether to buy or not.

I have recently been using the Nikon D7100 and rather than comparing it to the D800 (because the D800 beats it hands down and the D7100 wasn’t meant to compete against it anyway) I want to compare it to it’s predecessor.  Looking at the two pictures above, it would be hard to distinguish which camera shot which picture.  That’s because we are not “pixel peeping”.  If we were (zooming into the frame at 100%) then you would notice that there is a little more noise in the D7100 picture.  I can accept this if it were shot at ISO of 1000 or higher because the D7100 does have a larger pixel count BUT the D7100 was at ISO 320 (as was the picture from the D7000) and exposure at around 1/160th of a second.

Before you decide to automatically put the D7100 at the bottom of your wish list now please take into consideration that the D7100 I’m using might be a bad copy (though I have read others complaining about the same thing and these complaints could be from the first run of the cameras).  This problem of this unusual amount of noise that I have experienced with this copy of the D7100 tends to show itself within the shadowy areas of the image.  The only issue I had with the D7000 was that it tended to meter lighting about a half a stop to one stop above what your in camera meter is telling you.  This was never that big of a deal for me.  I either took a couple shots as the camera was reading the exposure and another shot under exposed by half a stop.  In those really tricky situations I would do a three shot bracket shot.

On paper the D7100 offers a lot more bank for the buck BUT that bang means nothing if I end up having to do a lot of post work to try and get the best out of the image (which is why I, and you should too, shoot in RAW all the time).  With todays technology in sensor designs you would expect the issue of image noise to be well controlled by now.  Yet many camera manufactures are still trying to squeeze in as many megapixels onto an image sensor as they can no matter the sacrifice.  The D800 is one of the exceptions to this when you are using a tripod.

So for me, if I were to base my thoughts on this D7100 copy, I would say do not “up grade” from the D7000.  Even the D300 and D300s out performs the D7100 when it comes to image quality (in the area of image noise at low ISOs).  With that being said…IF you were to have gotten a good copy (and maybe the newer batches of the camera have this problem fixed) then this camera is absolutely worth moving to.  If you do decide to give it a try then I suggest that you hang on to your old camera still (besides, I personally love carrying around two camera bodies with two different size lens…never miss a shot that way).

Anyway.  Just remember that this is only my opinion from my own personal use of one copy of this camera and if Nikon is willing to provide me with it’s newest copy then I’ll make an updated post but until then be cautious with this camera.  It might be better to stay with your current D7000 as this camera really does a wonderful job as you can see from the very top picture.  I’m really thinking about going back to it (the D7000) myself but I want to test a couple other things out with this camera and I’ll let you know how that turns out!

For more pictures and in depth reviews and test of this camera all you have to do is Google it!


Lillian Lewis Interview

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lillian Lewis the other day on camera and talk to her about what she has been up to lately as well as some of the cool things she has done in her career.  Below, you’ll find a link to my Tumblr site that will take you directly to the song file Reckless Love because to add an mp3 file here I would have to “upgrade” (you may have to just copy and paste it cause not everything comes easily).  Oh well. I am also providing a direct link to Lillian’s Linkedin profile.  Check out the song and say hi to her on via the link provided!

Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island

I have nothing visual to give you for this place (yet).  You’ll just have to take my word on what I’m about to tell you…

Old Westbury Gardens is located at 71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury, New York.  Not that far of a drive from Queens.  It just so happened that my wife and I were in Farmingdale (Long Island) for business.  We had anticipated this business to have taken more than half of the day and it had nothing to do with photography or videography.  Of course I didn’t bring my equipment with me due to that.  As luck would have it, business wrapped up way sooner than we expected.

The question now became, what do we do with the rest of the day?  Grocery shopping came up but I wasn’t feeling it (what gut does…right?).  I then had a brainstorm…find a park or garden to check out!  We spent some time going over the possibilities (thank you smart phone and wireless web access!) and eventually narrowed it down to Old Westbury Gardens due to it’s close proximity.  So off we went.

From the get go, once we turned onto the entrance drive, we were in awe.  I’m not going to give away all the cool things about the gardens.  I plan on either doing another write up or a video of the place (if I can get permission for that).  I can sit here and write so many descriptive words and in all honesty, I feel I could not do it justice.  Lets just say that the first cool thing you see is a very old mansion that dates back to 1906 (and you can even tour the house at no extra charge).

My elation didn’t last long though.  In fact, it turned to sadness because once you get past the house and into the gardens area you get a slap in the face of reality.  I broke a big giant fat rule and I was about to pay for it.  I was in a magical place without my camera.  A photographer always has a camera, on him or her, just in case.  The just in case was then and there and I was left wanting big time. The gardens and mansion sits on about 200 acres.  There are a couple of small lakes and plenty of flowers and trees that makes this another photographers paradise.

Unfortunately the gardens close for the winter starting November 1st and doesn’t reopen until April 5th (weekends only) and then weekly starting sometime near the end of April.  You have time to go check it out and take some pictures (I would highly suggest that you read their rules for photography and videography). I won’t be getting back there again this year BUT I will sometime in April or May.

In the mean time here is a link ( ) for you to get more information on the gardens.  Who knows…maybe we’ll see each other there one day soon!

Best ~ R

DOF and composition…


Two elements of photography that are keys of taking your pictures from snap shots to “artistic photographs”.  Take a look at photography books, magazines and the online community dedicated to photography and you’ll always find and read that they will harp on these two elements.

Why am I mentioning them if you can read about it elsewhere?  Well, in case you haven’t heard about yet.  I also find that these two elements are the easiest to understand but more difficult to get in the habit to think about.  I don’t know how other photographers instruct at their workshops (if they do workshops) but I talk about these two things first and try to get everyone thinking about the shot before the shot.

With all that being said you will also find that photographers can defer on their opinion of how something should be shot but we still hold on to some basic photography “guidelines” or “rules” but understand that sometimes the rules can be broken. I’ll explain as we go along.

The picture of the spider hiding behind the leaf of a plant is an example of the use of a couple of the basic photography rules…composition and DOF.  For those of you who doesn’t know what DOF means it means Depth of Field.  DOF is the term for the area in front and behind the subject and how much is in focus and out of focus.  This one thing alone can make a tremendous impact on a photograph as you can see in that picture.  Depending on your subject will often dictate on what kind of DOF you need to give the photograph the most impact possible.

I’m sure that by now you have heard of the f-stop.  The numbers that represents how much light gets to your sensor.  I’ll break it down simply for you.  The lower your number (example f/2.8) the more light that hits your sensor.  The more light that hits your sensor the shallower your depth of field will be.  A shallower DOF means that more of the area in front and behind your subject will be out of focus. Now just reverse that thought and you’ll figure out that the higher your f-stop number (example f/22) the greater your DOF.  That’s right.  How much of the foreground and background is in focus.  Pretty much every professional photographer and serious enthusiast have what are called fast lenses.  Fast lenses are considered any lens with an aperture (f-stop) of f/2.8 and lower.  Most lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or lower (we also call this faster) is a fixed aperture lens.  In other words, if it’s a zoom lens with a fixed aperture of f/2.8, no matter whether you are zoomed all the way in or out you can shoot at f/2.8.  Lucky for you fast lenses are fairly inexpensive if they are small lenses.  I will talk about lenses in another blog so these pieces start to tie together.  One thing I can tell you  is that a shallow DOF can be had even with slower (f/3.5 and up) lenses just by getting closer to your subject.  If you keep your f-stop at it’s maximum setting (the lowest number) then the closer you get to your subject the more you’ll have out of focus in front of your subject and behind your subject.

The picture above also gives a great example of composition and how it can impact a photograph.  This other key photography rule is called the rule of thirds. A lot of the digital cameras that are out now have an option within the menu to display a grid on the LCD.  Check your camera menu and see if you can get this option as it will help train you to compose your subjects in the thirds portion of you frame.  If your camera doesn’t have that option then you’ll have to mentally think about a grid cut into thirds (below).

Rule of Thirds

Most everyone who are casual shooters tend to always center their subject in the middle of the frame rendering the look of what is called a “snap shot”.  If you are reading this then I’m sure you would like to go beyond snap shots.  Right?!  Good!  You are already on your way.   I have added a “Rule of Thirds” chart that I created (it’s not perfect but you’ll get the idea if it shows up here correctly when posted).  Just think about the area of the circles as the rule of thirds area along with the inside lines.


Landscape photography is one of those that can be a bit tricky depending on what the landscape is.  A lot of people will line of the horizon in the middle of the frame.  Even in landscapes you should be thinking about the thirds (in this case for the horizon line).  To get the most out of your photograph try and line up the horizon towards the upper or lower third of the frame.  Be careful here though.  Once photographers start developing the “thirds mentality” they then need to start thinking about the space within the frame.  I don’t have an example picture for you but lets try the art of visualization.

Think about a beach scene.  There is nothing on the water other than small waves.  The sun is past midway to the high noon mark.  The sky is blue with some white puffy clouds.  The first instinct is to line up the horizon (where the water and sky meet) in the center of the frame but now you are thinking about the rule of thirds so you decide to line up the horizon in the upper third of the frame.  This gives you less sky and more water.  You snap the picture and you look at it on the camera’s LCD.  Your thinking you like it…but wait!  Look at it again.  I mean really look at it.  Look at the water and what do you see?  Water!  Lots of water.  Endless water doing the same thing all over two thirds of the photograph.  Hmmm….now it’s beginning to look a little boring right?!  Take another picture but this time bring the horizon to the lower thirds of the frame.  Take the picture and look at it.  It looks less empty doesn’t it?  Less empty water and more sky with white puffy clouds makes it more interesting and full.  If the sky  was clear of any clouds and the water empty as well then don’t take the picture.  Wait for a boat or ship to come into the picture so there is something taking up space in the water or come back when the sun is low or have clouds in the sky.  It gets a bit trickier and complicated with scenes with a lot of things in it (such as buildings, mountains and so fourth).

The picture above with the bridge you’ll notice that I not only kept the horizon in the lower third but I made sure that there was more to the picture than just the buildings.  I used the bridge to make it more interesting and kept it to the right thirds of the frame.  It would have still worked without the bridge because of all the clouds in the sky but lots of people have shot that type of landscape scene.


In this picture there is no bridge but what I did to make it a little different is by shooting it at an angle that gives the feeling of the buildings getting further from me.  The horizon in the lower thirds and turning the camera to the right rather than shooting it straight on makes it feel so different doesn’t it.  That’s one of the fun things about photography (especially digital because we won’t waste money on bad shots) is that you can try many angles and so forth to give that photograph a unique look.

Sometimes you can even break the rule of thirds and have the photograph work. This will be more up to you and your vision than anything else but the type of scene that usually works with the rule breaking are scenes involving reflection in the water (your land based subjects are also reflecting on the water clearly).

I could go on and on with this subject but I’m not.  If you are interested in going out with me as a group or one on one let me know.  I’m more than happy to share with you and help you go beyond snap shots.  In the mean time…get out there and start shooting!

Best ~ R

An interview with screenwriter/filmmaker Matthew Edwards

Welcome back once again.  Thank you so much for continuing to follow and tell your friends all about my blog.  Recently I was able to get in touch with, screenwriter and indie filmmaker, Matthew Edwards of Lytham, Lancashire.  In case you are wondering, Lytham is a nice, quite and affluent town about 10 miles south of Blackpool.  Another cool little fact about this town is that it host the “Open Golf Tournament drawing the likes George Clooney and other well known faces”.  Unfortunately, “there is very little opportunity in terms of the film and scriptwriting industry” there.  So let’s see what Matthew has to say about the himself and the industry.

Robert (me) – How old are you?

Matthew – I’m 25.

R – When did you decide that you wanted to be a screen writer?

M – I always had an interest in creative writing when I was a child, and grew up watching a variety of films and TV shows. But it wasn’t until 2009 that I started to study screenwriting. The reason for me studying it was I simply liked writing and liked films so thought I’d give it a go. When I first started I didn’t know how to format a script, let alone know all the other terms associated with the subject, but my knowledge and experience grew as I developed the skills, and still continues to grow.

R – How would you view your experience going to the University of Central Lancashire?

M – My experience in going to the University of Central Lancashire was a very positive one. As I said earlier I didn’t know anything in terms of the formatting of a script, but with the help of my teachers I learnt these skills and improved them as the course continued. This was done through various ways, including reading out our scripts in class and getting feedback from both the teacher and our peers, analysing various films and looking at the different scriptwriting techniques used, script editing and so on. During my 3-year undergraduate course and one year Masters programme, we covered film, TV, and radio formats, and the different writing styles for each. I wrote and pitched scripts of various genres including; monologues, animations, children’s scripts, drama, comedy, action, romance, fantasy and psychological thriller. This included a portfolio with three feature length film scripts, over twenty short film scripts, two pilot TV episodes and two complete radio dramas, one of which was produced.

R – That’s pretty impressive.  Is the film/TV industry strong in the Lancashire area?

M – I wouldn’t say the film/TV industry in Lancashire is strong but it is very close to Manchester, where a lot of production companies, including the BBC, are based. So more opportunities at least aren’t too far away. There are a few small production companies based in Lancashire and BBC Radio Lancashire, a regional radio station, offers a way of promoting your work.

R – It’s good to know that you have something almost a stones throw away.  Have you ever had a chance to work on anything in the USA yet?

M – The only thing I have worked on in the USA was as a film reviewer in August 2014 for the SoCal Film Festival. This involved rating and critiquing films in a wide range of genres, before deciding whether or not to recommend they be screened at the festival. Having attended the festival in 2013, I met the organiser and when I saw he needed film reviewers I decided to contact him and gain more experience through this. Although this wasn’t strictly working in the USA as I did it from home, I still felt like I was working on a USA project if that makes sense.

R – I don’t know if you can count that but what the heck.  Would you want to actually work on something in the USA?

M – I would love to work on something in the USA in the future. I feel the industry in the States is thriving compared to the UK, and would relish the opportunity to work on a project, whether it be for film or TV, in any capacity.

R – Other than the web series “Ambling Man”, what all have you been working on lately?

M – Apart from The Ambling Man web series, which is on the Mort&Pal YouTube channel myself and a fellow scriptwriter set up, I have been very busy with different projects. Recently I received my first paid work co-writing children’s animation scripts and continue to write them for a production company.

I have also written a short, anti-bullying script for a company called ITV Fixers, which I adapted from a short treatment about the true story of a teenage girl being bullied.

R – That’s great!  Do to the difficulties of having a sustaining income as a writer, are you doing anything else to help and try to make ends meet?

M – I have ventured into filmmaking/directing with a fellow scriptwriter, as well as taking on the role of producer, casting, and location scouting for the short film I am looking to shoot, especially as it is an Independent film.

Also recently co-directed a music video for a singer/songwriter student.

At the moment myself and a fellow scriptwriter are looking into doing online promotional videos for businesses and their websites and other social media platforms, so have been discussing this opportunity with owners of hotels, shops, restaurants etc. so hopefully this will take off in the near future.

Also looking to set up a production company with a fellow scriptwriter/filmmaker in the very near future, as well as in the process of casting a short film that I’m looking to co-direct in the next few months which will be sent to festivals.

Finally, I have been working as a teaching assistant since October 2014 teaching at the University of Central Lancashire developing the students monologues. I get to choose three or four of the monologues to be made into short films which will be screened at the LIFE Film Festival in March. I will also produce and co-direct the monologues so this is an excellent opportunity.

R – Do you find it challenging as TV script writer to constantly come up with new material or are you one of the lucky ones who’s head is just full of ideas?

M – I have a lot of different ideas in my head so don’t really struggle with getting a concept for a script. I usually try and get the themes of the script first and then develop it from there. Then I work on character as if you don’t have a character the audience cares about then the idea can fall flat in my opinion. I also like co-writing as I find it good to bounce ideas off other people.

R – What is the most memorable experience you have had since getting into the industry?

M – There are a lot of projects I am proud of since I’ve been a writer but the most memorable experience I’ve had has probably been when I was interviewed live on BBC Radio Lancashire about The Ambling Man web series. Also getting a short film I co-wrote and directed shortlisted at the LIFE Film Festival in April 2014 was something I am very proud of. Completing my Masters in September 2013 was a memorable moment too, especially the feature length film script I wrote in three months as I poured a lot of effort and emotion into it.

R – Is there a time that you wish you could forget?  Care to share?

M – Good question. There isn’t really a time I’d wish to forget but the number of rejections I’ve had for freelance work and jobs in the industry has been incredible, and the number of times I’ve not even had a response has been a little disheartening but it is to be expected in the industry.

R – How hard did you find it to get into the industry once you graduated?

M – I have found it very tough to get into the industry since finishing my Masters in September 2013. As a freelance writer I am exploring new ways to try and get a consistent income, including branching into filmmaking after buying a camera, audio and lighting equipment as I feel people would rather see something visual than read a script on a page. Apart from the children’s animation scripts, every other project I have worked on has been for no pay. It has developed my resumé  and portfolio which hopefully in the long run will lead to more paid work. Networking events have been beneficial also, as to an extent this industry is more about who you know as opposed to how well you can write in my opinion, so building up industry contacts has been a massive part. Also going into filmmaking and even marketing and self-promotion of my work has been a new experience I didn’t envisage doing.

R – Where do you hope to be or hope to have accomplished 10 year down the road?

M – In that time I hope to have accomplished writing and directing credits on a few short films, with at least one of which has been screened at numerous festivals, as well as completed a feature film by then. I would also like to have been hired by at least one production company to write a film for them as well as have several online promotional videos completed. Part-time teaching would be a useful.

I’m sure Matthew’s future is bright.  He has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time.  At 25 and having a drive to succeed he will only be limited by the limitations he puts on himself.  Check out his current web series “Rambling Man” on youtube.  Leave a comment for him as well.  We as writers and filmmakers get better through your feed back.  I, and I know you do as well, wish Matthew Edwards great success in everything he does.  For all of my counterparts here in the good’o U.S. of A., reach out to this talented young man.  He might be that hidden gem of a screenwriter that you have been looking for.

One last note.  I sometimes find difficulty with with imbedded video and WordPress.  I have included a file at the top of the page and below for the “Ambling Man”.  If you don’t see the video itself then click or copy/paste the link to check it out.


Until next time ~ R

Studio shot or not?


That is the question!  I, of course, know the answer.  The photo above was shot outdoors in the woods.

Creating the look of a studio shot outdoors is easier than you think.  Let’s talk a little about this shot.  As I mentioned, this was shot in the woods.  It was nice and shaded thanks to the high canopy of the trees.  I picked out these leaves as they were far enough away from any background subject and presented abstract simplicity.  Armed with a tripod (very important for this), shutter release cord (also important) and an off shoe flash, the shooting commenced.

To get the background to be blacked out (studio look) I had set my setting on the Nikon D800 at 1/80th SEC (shutter), ISO 100 and f/29 (aperture).  The camera was on a TRIPOD and used a shutter release cord so I could be hands free.  So important if you are shooting fine art as detail is so important.  One other setting I used on the camera (and hopefully your’s has this ability too) is mirror lock-up.  What this does is it brings the mirror up into position (and locked) before the shutter curtain activates reducing any camera vibration even further.  This requires the pressing of the shutter release button twice.  Once for the mirror and then again for the shutter curtain.  My lens of choice for this  shot was the Tokina 100mm macro lens.  This lens does not come with optical stabilization but that reflects in how inexpensive the lens is.  With a good steady hand or TRIPOD you won’t need it and the lenses optics are top notch (at least my copy was).  My flash is the Nikon SB-700 (I actually have two which I use sometimes for macro work rather than the SB-200 set up).

So, with these settings in place I did several shots.  I did some with the flash attached to the camera.  Some with the flash off the right and some slightly above.  Playing with the lighting and trying different angles is a lot of fun because you are sometimes rewarded with unique looks.  No matter what though my sole purpose was to get the background blacked out.  Try to pick subjects whose  background is far enough away from your subject and have your camera settings set to allow as little light onto the sensor as possible (without introducing noise).  The flash will compensate for you main subject but I would suggest that you use manual settings on the flash or it may over expose due to the darker scene it is metering).

The setting for the f-stop of f/29 serves two purposes here.  Less light and greater depth of field (DOP) so more is in focus.  The settings I used may not work for every shooting situation.  There are times when, no matter what, you can’t get the full effect of the studio look in camera.


This shot here is the perfect example.  This is a full plant.  All the other plant leaves were always visible to some degree behind the flower.  In this case, using similar settings as mentioned above, I kept the flash at about a 45 degree angle to the right of the camera (trying to make sure the subject is lit but limiting the light on the background).  I took several shots here with slight adjustments to camera and flash settings.  To produce the final look required the use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.  I adjusted the blacks and shadow to the negative a little but not too much.  Then using the selective brush, I proceeded to “paint” the are around the plant that I did not want in the picture.  Once I had that done I then adjusted the blacks and shadows all the way down so I would have a solid black background.

Of course you could do this anyway after taking a “normal” photo but why would you?!  Trust me, unless you are a Photoshop guru, it will take a lot more time to get the effect you want.  It will save you lots of time.  If you have any questions about this particular subject drop me a line.  Until next time….keep shooting!


In the coming weeks…..

Starting next week, get ready, more interviews are coming. The lineup (though not all on next weeks blog) includes directors, producers, song writer, singer(s), musician(s), screen writer, CG artist and maybe a poet as well. Sounds exciting right?! Well, I know I am. Who are they you ask?

First we have Lillian Lewis. A professional writer and an award winning songwriter.

Next we have Christopher Delao. He is a director and producer at 7and3 Media.

Then comes Nick Barghini. One of the co-founders of Headcase Films.

We can’t leave out Patrick Mandeville. Patrick is a director, screen writer and editor at Freelance Filmmaker.

Also on the list is Emmanouil Bampatsikos. A freelance VFX/FX artist in Ruislip, United Kingdom.

Of course I have the ever talented Rachel Arac. She’s an actress and singer who moved from the Brandon/Tampa area of Florida to NYC.

Others that I’m hoping to get on the list soon (but it’s been very difficult with scheduling for everyone involved) is Wilson M’biavanga and Jamaal Green. They are the writing and directing team of M.G. Cinecraft. Carol Mazzoni, who produces and AD’s. Daimon Glenn (also known as D. Glenn), a photographer and indie filmmaker. Patrick DiRenna who is the president of the Digital Film Academy. More to come.

I suppose you are wondering who on the list will be the one for next week.
If he doesn’t have to cancel on me this time around it will be Patrick Mandeville. If he does then it will come down to who’s interview will take the least amount of time to put together. These interviews are all being done on Thursday. So you’ll just have to wait and see.