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Last week we wrapped shooting on the first act of our super top secret feature film. The energy and dedication of the crew was phenomenal, as were the performances by our actors. I can't say much about the story though since David made me swear on my living mothers grave not give anything away yet.

Beyond that, it's a real movie folks, and we can't wait to tell (show) you more.

To tide over your presumably intense curiosity I thought I would introduce to you one of our most valuable team members. Blogoshpere meet Casper; My trusty iPad, loaded with Chris Bayol's well designed DSLR Slate App.


As 1st Camera Assistant during production & one of the editors of this film on Post I am already loving the decision to integrate this into production for logging & audio syncing purposes. The DSLR slate app is well designed for use with any camera so it easily enhanced our F3 workflow.

A great feature allows you to incorporate a lot of information in a quick burst when marking a take. This helps with those long term memory issues. (What lens were we using on this shot again? So..who was the director again? Etc.)



Cosmo to Telluride



Ron Howard Talks Directing...


This is a lecture that director Ron Howard gave at USC a few years ago.  Pulling from his 50+ years in the film biz, it's absolutely brilliant and a must-listen for any aspiring filmmaker.

A word of warning: there is some coarse language throughout.


— David


R. Howard Talks Filmmaking by VinegarHill


Help Us Bring Our Latest Short Film to Completion


We're almost to the finish line with our new short film THE COSMONAUT and we are pumped out of our minds about it. It's 90% complete. We've shot it. We are in the process of editing it. Now we just need to raise $1,500.00 to take the film to completion.

Once completed we will be sending the film to major film festivals including Sundance.

To get in on the fun visit our page on kickstarter.

Thanks for considering being a part of this!


[UPDATE 4/11/11]: We have reached our goal in less than 4 days! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed! There is still time left on the project to contribute if you like as every additional amount will go towards festival entries and promotion of the film once released. Thanks again, you guys rock!


Going From Suck to Non-Suck — an article from Fast Company

We at Vinegar Hill have learned so much about creativity and innovation from our friends at Pixar.  This is a little article from FastCompany about Pixar's motto: go from suck to non-suck...and fast.  I hope you are as inspired by this read as I was.


Pixar's Motto: Going From Suck to Nonsuck


In a world that is obsessed with preventing errors and perfection, perhaps it's ironic that despite 11 straight blockbuster movies, Pixar cofounder and President Ed Catmull describes Pixar's creative process as "going from suck to nonsuck."

That's because Catmull and Pixar's directors think it's better to fix problems than to prevent errors. "My strategy has always been: be wrong as fast as we can," says Andrew Stanton, Director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, "Which basically means, we're gonna screw up, let's just admit that. Let's not be afraid of that." We can all work this way more often.

So, for instance, Pixar does not begin new movies with a script. Far from it. Film ideas begin on rough storyboards until they work through thousands of problems throughout the process in order to take films from suck to nonsuck.

People at Pixar describe storyboards as the "hand-drawn comic book version" of a movie, a blueprint for the characters and actions. Storyboards are three-by-eight inch sheets of white paper upon which Pixar's story artists sketch ideas. As Joe Ranft, who was one of Pixar's master storyboard artists described it, "Sometimes the first try works, while other times a dozen or more passes are required."

They must persist. Pixar used 27,565 storyboards on A Bug's Life, 43,536 for Finding Nemo, 69,562 for Ratatouille, and 98,173 for WALL-E.

This process of rigorous critique, and even major change, doesn't end once the initial script has been approved and the first version of the film has been created on what are called "reels." Reels contain the work-in-progress storyboards, combined with a voice track, that are shown internally before Pixar moves to the expensive digital animation phase.

"Every time we show a film for the first time, it sucks," Catmull will say. People then email their comments to the director to explain what they liked, what they didn't, and why, and substantial changes are made.

In fact, directors say that Pixar's films will suck virtually until the last stage of production--problems are constantly identified and fixed. Finding Nemo had a massive problem with a series of flashbacks that test audiences didn't get that had to be fixed, while Toy Story 2 had to be completely rewritten a year before it was released. (Pixar film release dates are set in stone, which serves as a constraint.)

What we see is not effortless genius. Through tireless iteration, toil, and (often) sleepless nights, the films start to come together.

Depending on the form it takes, perfectionism is not necessarily a block to creativity. A growing body of research in psychology has revealed that there are two forms of perfectionism: healthy or unhealthy. Characteristics of what psychologists view as healthy perfectionism include striving for excellence and holding others to similar standards, planning ahead, and strong organizational skills. Healthy perfectionism is internally driven in the sense that it's motivated by strong personal values. Conversely, unhealthy perfectionism is externally driven. External concerns show up over perceived parental pressures, needing approval, a tendency to ruminate over past performances, or an intense worry about making mistakes. Healthy perfectionists exhibit a low concern for these outside factors.

Pixar's culture is defined by a pursuit of excellence and quality. Being able to go from suck to nonsuck when developing a new film is a process of ongoing prototyping, a process that facilitates experimentation by the animators as it allows for a rigorous and continual scrutiny of the work in progress, enabling Pixar to practice healthy perfectionism.

The point of describing Pixar's creative process is not to say that we should all implement such a process on our own. It is not always possible to have people assemble regularly to offer feedback, for example. But finding ways to fail quickly, to invest less emotion and less time in any particular idea or prototype or piece of work, is a consistent feature of the work methods of successful creators. Despite the myths, it's hard work.

As Pixar's chief creative officer John Lasseter expresses his perfectionism, "We don't actually finish our films, we release them."