On June 1, Society Hill Studios' Jon Connor blogged about the denouement of the website CanonFilmmakers.com, posting a photo of a tombstone with the lighthearted epitaph, "CANONFILMMAKERS. September 2009-June 2011. Oh Well. We Tried." Not ones to give up on their vision to "pay it forward" by providing a free educational website for fellow filmmakers, Connor and partner Cristina Valdivieso soon came up with an alternate website name and in August unveiled the newly minted ShootEditLearn.com to more accurately reflect their focus on filmmaking as a whole, rather than just the Canon brand. Along with the reborn website, the pair announced a new workshop they are putting on in collaboration with Kessler Crane this fall in Austin, Texas, called Masters in Motion (MastersInMotionLive.com). The event takes place November 14-16 at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse—"the coolest movie theater in the world," according to Wired.com. The expected 75–100 attendees will attend eight workshops in addition to shooting electives on Wednesday afternoon.
If you're thinking, "Autumn in Austin sounds quite inviting, maybe I'll register," but wonder how Masters in Motion will differ from, say, IN[FOCUS], Valdivieso and Connor have a well-thought-out answer.
"Most of the workshops we've attended have been entirely focused on wedding and event filmmaking, and while that's beneficial," they argue, "we wanted to create an event that was open to filmmakers from a wide variety of genres." By doing so, they hope encourage people to branch out and to help wedding filmmakers learn from non-wedding professionals.
"If you're a wedding filmmaker, there's no need to only look at other wedding professionals for knowledge," they go on. You can learn from someone like Khalid Mohtaseb, for example, whom they describe "an amazing DP" who is "extremely talented with lighting." On the flip side, someone whose main focus is commercial work can learn from an event filmmaker like Adam Forgione, "who is super-knowledgeable with sound design."
Connor and Valdivieso designed Masters in Motion with the help of feedback from a DSLR-focused, 12-city tour they took across the U.S. earlier this year with close mate and fellow filmmaker Philip Bloom. "The feedback we got from almost 1,000 attendees over such a diverse geographical area was extremely beneficial when planning this event. The attendees' ages ranged from 12 to over 70 and their backgrounds spanned from enthusiasts to professionals." One thing was clear: They didn't want to limit themselves to a specific camera but rather focus on the art of storytelling, lighting theory, audio, and the craft of filmmaking as a whole. "Understanding your camera is one thing," they point out, "but understanding how to affect your audience through lighting, color, a simple camera movement, and sound design is huge and can really make or break your story." They continue, "For us, these things are such a huge part of any production, and it was so surprising to us that these things weren't being addressed. We wanted to change that, so we did."
Austin was tapped early on as the location for Masters in Motion for several reasons, not the least of which is its lively nightlife or the fact that it's home to one of the hottest indie filmmaking scenes in the country. Knowing they did not want to host the event at a hotel-that they wanted a venue that was unique and fun as the event itself-they selected the Alamo Drafthouse.
As for the name, they wanted it to represent "taking the next step in your filmmaking career, which is what the motion part is about," they clarify. "The Masters part of the name is not only referring to the fact that the speakers are some of the top in their fields but also that everyone who is attending should be striving to master their craft."
One unique thing about Masters In Motion, they say, is the diversity of the speaker lineup. It includes some of the top wedding and event filmmakers in the world, such as Joe Simon and Adam Forgione. It also boasts top commercial DPs such as Vincent Laforet and Philip Bloom. In addition, they've brought together "some of the most talented guys we've met," including Khalid Mohtaseb, Jonathan Bregel, and Tyler Ginter, who have DP'd everything from Final Witness on ABC to Taylor Swift's latest music video. "Another one of our presenters, Tom Guilmette, not only works as a professional cameraman for the Boston Red Sox but he also lives and breathes filmmaking and he is constantly pushing the bar with his inventive techniques."
It's all part of a bigger plan to "tear down the barrier between wedding filmmakers and commercial filmmakers," Valdivieso and Connor say. "Each group of individuals has a different set of skills and there's so much to learn from each other."
Supporting the Masters in Motion workshops, connecting them to many of the speakers, and keeping the event affordable for participants, is Eric Kessler of Kessler Crane. "Kessler Crane is already such a huge supporter of the filmmaking community so it was just a natural fit."
As is their role as conference organizers, it seems, although the idea didn't hit them until May of 2010, when they started planning their first event, a one-day workshop in July in Philadelphia called Canon Filmmakers Live. It didn't take them long to realize that they "absolutely love organizing these kinds of events. For us, it's a win-win because we get to bring together an amazing lineup and enjoy the event ourselves."
For more details or to register, visit Masters in Motion.