Ep 20: Daniel E. Williams – BGSU professor and indie filmmaker on making a study of cinema.

Posted on Jan 2, 2017 | No Comments

Daniel E Williams

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Daniel E. Williams received his MFA in Film from Howard University in 1998 and in 2000 he won Best of Show at the Rosebud Film and Video Festival for his thesis film A Thousand Days a Year. He currently teaches film production at Bowling Green State University, while continuing to independently write, produce, and direct award-winning films. I even had the pleasure of working on his latest project, Autumn Blue, as the 1st AC.

“Cinema is not just a product, it’s a form of cultural expression.”

In this conversation, we dig into Daniel’s upbringing in St. Louis, his path through film school, and his process as an independent filmmaker. We get into Daniel’s thoughts on teaching filmmaking and what mistakes he sees beginning filmmakers make again and again. We talk about filmmaking as a craft, getting to know your equipment before you get on set, methods for improving your creativity and so much more. This episode is definitely worth the listen if you’re considering going to film school or becoming a filmmaker.

“Go to film school if you want to immerse yourself in the study of cinema.”

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6 Key Takeaways

  1. Know what you are saying with your film. You don’t want to be the filmmaker that lacks an understanding of the ideology that is being expressed in your film.
  2. Bond with the equipment before you go on a shoot. The more you know how to use the equipment the more proficient you will be on set. Read the manual.
  3. Be knowledgeable of the history of cinema. Keep your textbooks and use the library. Watch films from the Criterion Collection.
  4. On set, as in life, listen to your conscience. If your inner voice is speaking to you, pay attention.
  5. As the director, even if you don’t make the right choice you have to be confident in that choice. You are the leader and your emotions and moods trickle down to the rest of the cast and crew.
  6. Get away from film for periods of time. Expose yourself to other things, read widely, and experiment with other art forms. These become fuel for your work.


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Hacked Short Film

Written and Directed by Daniel E. Williams. Produced by the BGSU Department of Theatre & Film.


Show Notes (Ep 20)

Intro and where Daniel grew up [01:32]

Growing up in Ferguson [06:20]

Origins of creativity [12:52]
Biggest obstacles to play [18:47]
Interest in filmmaking [20:41]

Going to film school [27:40]

Biggest takeaways from Howard [35:30]

Studying English [39:44]

What stuck with you from grad school [44:01]
Thinking through the theory before making [50:19]
Why an MFA and how did that lead to teaching [54:03]

Teaching philosophy [59:50]

Film as art vs. product [01:07:10]

Strategy for catching up and keeping up with cinema [01:11:02]

What do you do to improve your craft that others do not [01:19:10]

Films and process [01:28:32]
Why still shooting with film [01:34:22]
What beginner filmmakers do that drive you crazy [01:46:47]
Current projects [01:57:26]
Favorite recent films [02:03:56]

More favorites [02:06:26]

Final advice for attending film school [02:16:05]


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Man Bike World Pt. 2 – Halfway down the Great Divide Trail. Bicycles, bears, friends and fires.

Posted on Sep 1, 2016 | No Comments

Russ McCoy

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This is a special mini-episode of Odyssey and Muse where we check in with people that are about to embark on or are in the middle of an adventure around the world. In this episode I catch up with Russ McCoy of Man Bike World. Russ is in the midst of his Great Divide Mountain Bike Tour. I interviewed him back in July just before he shoved off. If you haven’t listened to that episode you can catch up here.

“I saw this little baby grizzly bear cub running across the road.”

Russ began his tour in Banff, Canada and has traveled through Montana, Idaho and is most of the way through Wyoming. In this conversation, we talk about his early encounter with grizzly bears, his misfortunes with bear spray, his new friends on the trail, how his gear and body are both holding up, and about all of the amazing sites seen and experiences had.

“You can’t challenge the rumor. So we were prepared for having no water.”

We’re planning to catch up with Russ when he reaches the end of his 2,745 mile journey, so make sure to check back for updates.

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3 Key Takeaways

  1. If you’re going to be in grizzly bear country, it can pay to have a can of bear spray.
  2. Be careful how you store your bear spray. If you puncture the can it can be bad news for you.
  3. If you’re riding the Great Divide Trail try to stay at Barbara’s Cyclist Only Cabin.


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A Video Post from Russ


Show Notes (Man Bike World Pt. 2)

Introduction and review of Great Divide tour [00:56]

Beginning the journey and the bear spray incident [03:18]

How did your body adjust to the riding [14:05]
Traveling solo vs with others [15:22]
What has the terrain been like [16:28]

How much water would you carry [20:26]
Favorite sites and the treat of forest fires [21:25]

Gear issues [29:08]
Special moments on the ride [32:20]
Experiences using tech to record and connect online [35:07]

Plans for the next few days and the rest of the trip [38:19]


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Ep 19: Ryan Bury – Burning Shade Productions, producing movies and reading a book a week.

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 | No Comments

Ryan Bury

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Ryan Bury is originally from Perrysburg, Ohio. Since graduating Bowling Green State University, he has lived and worked in Los Angeles. He’s been the post-production manager on TV shows like America’s Got Talent, The X Factor, The Secret Lives of Americans and more. He’s a co-founder of Burning Shade Productions, and together with Sean Cruser he has written and produced many short films and features.

“Save up a little money and just do it.”

In this episode we learn about how Ryan got into filmmaking, his passion for Classic films, his move to Los Angeles, and how he connected with Sean Cruser to form Burning Shade Productions. We dig into Ryan’s writing process, his work in TV, what he does as a producer and his year of reading a book a week. He even reveals his cocktail of choice. Hint: It tastes like a campfire. Some great stuff in this one and it’s always fun to catch up with Ryan.

“What would Billy Wilder do?”

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5 Key Takeaways

  1. As a writer living in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to get work that pays the bills and allows you the time to write.
  2. Everything seems to move extra slow in LA. Don’t loose sight of your goals and keep making progress.
  3. Keep a small notebook and jot down any idea you have, good or bad.
  4. When writing dialogue ask yourself, “Would the words alone be enough to captivate the audience?”
  5. Don’t be someone that sits around and waits for something to happen. Go make it happen.


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Burning Shade Productions

Co-founded by Ryan Bury and Sean Cruser.
Burning Shade Productions

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Show Notes (Ep 19)

Intro and where Ryan grew up [01:30]

The movies Ryan was obsessed with as a kid [04:30]

Majoring in Film Production at BGSU [06:40]

Meeting Sean Cruser and writing process [09:40]

Moving to Los Angeles [16:11]

Getting steady work in Los Angeles [18:39]

How Burning Shade Productions came about [20:29]

Finding Actors and Crew [24:26]

The making of Adrift [26:08]

What’s next for Burning Shade Productions [31:18]

Biggest Obstacles or Fears [32:54]
How to get self in writing zone [34:36]
How do you improve your skills [36:28]

The book a week project [38:47]

What are you most passionate about right now [49:59]

Drink of Choice [54:27]

Favorite writers and filmmakers [55:38]

Final advice for novice filmmakers [59:58]


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Ep 18: Gary Arndt – Everything Everywhere, how to blog like a pro and travel for 9 years.

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 | No Comments

Gary Arndt

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Gary Arndt has mastered the art of world travel. He sold his house in 2007 and has been on the road ever since. A short time into his journey he decided to take his blogging and photography seriously, and within 4 years he went from amateur to winning multiple awards.

“Travel allows you to see connections between places.”

Gary has been to all 7 continents and has visited over 175 countries and territories. He has one of the larger collections of National Geographic magazines in the world, he’s gone dog sledding in the Yukon, bungee jumped in New Zealand, landed on an aircraft carrier, ridden in a Formula 1 car, and scuba dived all around the world. The list of adventures and accomplishments go on.

“The ability to adapt is much better than the ability to plan.”

In this conversation we talk about the genesis of Gary’s travel bug, his decision to hit the road, how he taught himself the art of photography and blogging, the success of Everything Everywhere, some of the biggest mistakes beginner bloggers make, the worst question Gary constantly gets, what he wishes people would ask him, some of Gary’s recent adventures, his podcasting, his obsession with Game of Thrones and what’s next for Gary. Whether you’re a traveler or a creative there is something in this episode for you.

“Build an audience and the money will come.”

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6 Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t spend too much time planning for a trip. Details will inevitably change, and you can learn more about the area from the locals once you are on the ground.
  2. Politics are increasingly split between a cosmopolitan world view and a parochial world view. Travel allows you to see how others live; that your way is not the only way to lead a good life. It removes the fear of the “other”.
  3. Don’t worry about things like Google Analytics and Instagram posting times, especially when your work is not remarkable. You need to improve the quality of your writing, photography, etc. first.
  4. Web traffic is not your audience. Traffic is a way to build your audience. You must create content that is compelling enough for people to want to come back and spread the word.
  5. Travel is a great way to learn. By observing other cultures, learning the history behind UNESCO sites, having conversations with people; you can begin to make new connections and have a greater understanding of the way the world works.
  6. Never ever ever go to a nightclub while traveling. Nothing good ever happens at a nightclub.


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Show Notes (Ep 18)

Intro and recent travels [02:03]

Where Gary grew up [04:07]

Genesis of the travel bug [06:40]

Selling house and traveling the world [11:46]
Things done while traveling that normally would not [16:16]

Travel now compared to travel when started [19:09]

Learning from travel [22:33]
The dangers of travel [23:59]
Everything Everywhere the blog [26:50]

How to improve photography [31:13]

Blogging turning point [37:45]

How would life be different without the blog [43:50]
Why podcasting [45:10]

What bad questions do you get vs. questions you want [53:37]
Is it hard to disconnect [56:07]
Biggest obstacles to making the leap [57:27]
Could the world use more travelers [58:50]
Favorite recent trip [01:00:22]

Most obsessed with right now [01:03:47]

Final advice for travelers [01:11:25]


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Ep 17: Matthew Scott – How to light a scene, share your failures and work toward mastery.

Posted on Jul 29, 2016 | No Comments
Ep 17: Matthew Scott – How to light a scene, share your failures and work toward mastery.

Matt Scott Visuals

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Matthew Scott is an Australian cinematographer living in Tasmania. He is constantly exploring and pushing for the mastery of his craft. He also enjoys cooking, retro games, playing piano and going on adventures with his lover.

“Share shit. Be a voice.”

In this episode we dive deep. We talk about how Matt quit high school, got a job, and focused on his love of photography. How he later quit his job and decided to pursue a career as a cinematographer. We dig into his all or nothing attitude, his process for lighting a scene, working with crew members, improving his craft, his desire to share his work through his blog mattscottvisuals.com; including his successes and failures, and the pressures and pleasures of living his dream as a director of photography.

“Set ridiculous challenges for yourself.”

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5 Key Takeaways

  1. A great formula for lighting a scene: Block, Light, Rehearse, Tweak, Shoot.
  2. Play games with yourself to improve your craft. Try to guess exposures on set. Guess what shot will come next while watching a movie. Set ridiculous challenges for yourself; restrictions like sticking to one focal length or f/stop.
  3. When you’re starting out, don’t worry about being completely original. Take what you learn from others and try to make it your own.
  4. After getting a decent camera, and learning it inside out, spend your money on lighting. Start with two soft sources and two hard sources.
  5. Share shit and be a voice. Post your camera test of your cat. Share whatever you’re working on or interested in. It’s a great way to connect with others and it can lead to opportunities down the road.


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MTS Films

An amazing short film produced, directed, shot and edited by Matt Scott.


Show Notes (Ep 17)

Born in India and blessed by the Dalai Lama [01:54]

Where Matt found his love for creativity [05:09]
When did it seem like cinematography could be a viable career [11:41]
When did Matt get his first video camera and post program [14:35]

Was there a point when he decided to start making films [17:48]

Cinematography workshops and internet for inspiration vs comparison [22:00]
How long has Matt been blogging [30:47]

Tips for lighting a scene [31:30]
Tips and tricks for lighting without a meter [43:42]
How much has blogging and analyzing movies played a role in your growth [50:03]

Where should a new cinematographer invest their time and money [58:02]

How Matt creates his lighting diagrams [01:06:31]

Learning Davinci Resolve [01:09:45]

How knowing color grading can help on set [01:14:33]
Things that Matt does to improve that others do not [01:17:05]
Matt’s routine for preparing for a new shoot [01:20:17]
The biggest decision that has propelled Matt as a cinematographer [01:23:24]
How much you consume vs produce [01:29:30]
Biggest influences [01:32:30]

Up-and-coming projects [01:38:30]
MTS Colour [01:41:01]

Some favorites [01:44:29]

Final advice for photographers and cinematographers [01:49:33]


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