night comes on - Crew Connection

‘Night Comes On’ producer talks

‘Night Comes On’ producer talks 2450 1536 Dani Lyman

There’s something unique about sitting across the table from an indie film producer. The energy of a fighter exists, quiet and understated, resting beneath the surface. For Danielle Renfrew Behrens, that energy reflects a 20 year career, multiple Sundance premieres and successes in both the documentary and indie feature genres. This experience has led her to become a champion for indie filmmakers, founding Superlative Films in 2015 as a “one stop shop” to fund low-budget films.

As a self-proclaimed “treasure hunter” Behrens’ job is to dig deep to find diamonds in the rough, screenplays waiting to be discovered, films needing to be made. Once the project has been chosen, a different side to the producer emerges. In this phase, she calls herself a “soldier,” someone who goes to battle to make sure these films find a screen and an audience. And, for Behrens, it is all about the story.

“Indie film is a grind. People are in it for something other than the money.” Behrens explains, there tends “to be a sense of collaboration on an indie set,” because the crew is there for more than a job. Due to the lack of a financial safety net, everyone involved matters and has to work together to contribute to a piece of art that matters too. A story that has to be told.

Eight minutes into Superlative’s latest film, Night Comes On, it becomes clear why this story had to be told. Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall give piercing performances as sisters who embark on a journey of revenge after suffering a great tragedy. The movie is unapologetically unsettling and raw, laced with moments of such tenderness and heartache you can’t turn away, even when you’d like to. It’s hard to watch, but you need to.

Those urges, the ability to move a human being, is likely what drew Behrens to the script to begin with. As Founder of Superlative Films, Behrens is the sole decision maker. She selects her projects by journeying through her virtual stack of scripts to find the one. But how do you know when you’ve found a stand-out, has to be made story?

“It’s all subjective. It comes down to my taste… something I read and can’t put down.” No surprise, her taste seems to resonate with viewers and critics alike. In May, Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired distribution rights to Night Comes On and critics from the LA Times to the NY Times call the movie “touching,” “stirring,” “authentic,” and “impressive.” Not bad for first time director, Jordana Spiro, who also co-wrote the script with Angelica Nwandu.

“It’s not by design” that Behrens finds herself continually working with first time directors. However, that tends to be what she gravitates towards. All five Superlative films to date have been directorial debuts. Perhaps that is because Behrens views herself as a person who “identifies talent, supports that talent and helps them get out of their own way.”

In this way, her adjective, “Mother Hen” also suits her perfectly. There is a maternal tone of affection when she speaks of how “proud” she is of Fishback’s and Halls’ “phenomenal” performances and how Spiro will move forward into new and interesting projects.

There is no doubt the indie film world is a hustle, tough and often lacking in financial reward. But, if Behrens and Night Comes On prove anything, it is also a heart-filled community committed to artistic growth and telling stories that mean something.

Night Comes On is now available to stream online.

computer coding - Crew Connection

Make yourself and your crew known online

Make yourself and your crew known online 6000 4000 Dani Lyman

When you work in video production it is paramount that you have an online presence.  Vimeo and YouTube are excellent avenues to highlight your work and attract new clients, but nothing like a strong and modern website confidently says, “I’m a professional and you can trust me.”

So, here are a few tips to help you up your online presence !

Get in the game

First things first, you need a website. Everyone has one. Maybe a lot of your work comes from word of mouth and you’ve been doing just fine. But, if you want to attract newer clients and stay ahead of your  competition then you need a website. A slick site helps to gain credibility and prove you have the talent and equipment. It also showcases who you are and what you specialize in all in one place.

Looks are Everything

Now, how you execute your website is extremely important. The most crucial element is your gallery of work. Many video production professionals make the mistake of throwing all their work, from film school to present, on their site. In this case, however, there’s no question that we always want quality over quantity. Keep the newest, trendiest, cleanest work on your site and remove anything else that brings the standard down.

Keep your gallery clean and organized by categories that are easy to view. Add an aerial reel, a commercial reel, a short film reel and keep the layout simple. There are many approaches to this, but after searching across multiple websites, this is one of the sharpest and most effective galleries I found.

Out with the Old

Remember to remove old videos across all social media platforms, as well. When people google you be sure they only find top notch examples of your work! Potential clients are going to judge you off that first viewing, so don’t let any old and out of date videos drag you down.

Post it, Tweet it, Share it

Link your website to every other social media platform and stay current! If you link to Twitter –  tweet! Have fresh and exciting content that lets the client peer into the experience they will have with you on location. If you link to Insta then post BTS photos, sunsets, quirky crew shots, new equipment – etc. Link to Vimeo and make sure it showcases your most current stand out pieces.

Brag a Little

Have you won an award? Were you featured in a magazine? Have brand name clients given you shout outs and accolades? Share it! If others have trusted you then new clients will be more inclined to do so as well. This is a great example from Motion Source in Chicago. I don’t even know half of these awards, but I’m immediately impressed.

Get Cheeky with it

Lastly, and the most endearing part of your social presence, is getting creative and adding some personality! The “About Us” section of your site is a great place to add some silliness and character.  You can personalize the experience by adding fun team photos, like this unique selfie example from Miami based crew Maxime.





Heidi McLean | Crew Connection

Heidi McLean: A Pioneer in Film and Video Crewing Services

Heidi McLean: A Pioneer in Film and Video Crewing Services 399 399 Crew Connection

Everyone can see opportunities, but successful people act on them. With a 2-year-old, a newborn, and a home under construction, Heidi McLean had every reason not to fill the need she saw in the film and video crewing services industry. But instead of making excuses, she went for it—starting a business that connected the film crews she knew from her freelance news work with the companies that needed them. Crew Connection‘s film and video crewing services started with just Heidi, incorporated a month later, and hired its first employee within a year. Crew Connection and PayReel (its sister company) now employ over a dozen full-time people between them and consistently rank among the top Colorado Companies to Watch.

A few decades worth of experience provides some great tips for anyone looking to grow personally or professionally:

1) Be persistent

If it seems overwhelming at first and at many points after, that’s because it is. Take small steps. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving slowly, just as long as you’re moving forward.

2) Be Flexible

Sometimes progress is painfully slow, and sometimes growth happens so fast you have to scramble to keep up. Every stage of life and business brings its own challenges (which Heidi sees as opportunities). The sooner you accept that there will be endless challenges, the better. Just grow with it.

3) Be Willing to Evolve

The minute you settle for what is, you get behind and lose the joy of pursuing what could be. Crew Connection couldn’t get too comfortable operating with the phone lines and fax machines of its inception. With the launch of Crew Connection’s online database—which offers customizable online crewing—the business has evolved for the digital age. Being industry pioneers is hard, but a lot of fun.

4) Surround yourself with the right team

The luxury of being able to shut up is a direct result of being surrounded by advisors and team members who are smarter than you and whose strengths function well together.

5) Attitude is the ultimate trump card

For team dynamics, attitude trumps everything. If you have to choose between working with someone inexperienced with a positive outlook or one with all the training, but a sour demeanor, the choice is easy. You can develop skills, but a bad attitude is like poison—deadly and difficult to remove. Once it’s in the system, things go downhill fast.

About Crew Connection’s Film and Video Crewing Services:

Crew Connection connects you with video production crews across the country and around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience and thousands of shoots with film crew pros to our credit, you can trust our expert coordinators to match you with the right freelance video crew and equipment—every time.

football stadium | Crew Connection

Ten Videography Tips From the NFL Sidelines

Ten Videography Tips From the NFL Sidelines 730 303 Crew Connection

John Kuhrt, an award-winning photojournalist for NBC’s Denver news affiliate, has been filming the Broncos for over 25 years. While Kuhrt has witnessed his fair share of sideline antics, his portfolio ranges far beyond the gridiron.

We interviewed Kuhrt, who shared his top 10 tips for a successful career in videography:

1. Practice

Kuhrt started filming in high school and never stopped. He didn’t wait for the ideal situation or job. He just started doing it.

If you have a passion for videography, go for it. Practice everywhere. Practice always.

2. Anticipate

Kuhrt thrives on the pressure of watching the clock and the distance up or downfield in pursuit of each shot. To be successful filming sports (or anything that doesn’t involve scripts), videographers have the unique challenge of needing to be 100% engaged in capturing the current situation while also being 100% engaged in anticipating what’s next. This is impossible, of course, but you have to do it anyway.

Calculate where you need to be and when, position yourself the best you can, and then go on instinct.

3. Accept mistakes and move on

No matter how much experience you have, sometimes your instincts will be wrong. You will never have a perfect game (or shot), but getting stressed won’t help anything. In fact, it could cause you to miss the next big play, too. Brush yourself off and move on.

4. Never give up

Never give up on a shot. Even if you miss a play (or shot), follow through because you might get the end of the play or find a good reaction.  This principle isn’t just about videography—it’s about life. “Never give up. Don’t ever give up.”

5. Be hyper-aware and hyper-prepared

Being aware of who and what is around you—the setting, fellow crew members, your subject—minimizes preventable errors.

Being prepared for everything (changes in weather, dead batteries, lack of storage space, gear failures, etc.) saves time, energy, and expense in the long run. You won’t always need what you bring and it will sometimes seem like a burden. But when you do need it, you’ll be endlessly grateful.

6. Know your subject

Be as familiar with the game (or situation) as possible. Kuhrt knows football well enough to have a second career as a referee. He also knows the other photojournalists (both from his station and others) by name and by style. All this knowledge helps him move around the field with ease.

The same goes for interviews. You don’t want to walk up to John Elway and ask him a question you could’ve found online. Being respectful of their time makes for a smoother interview and a better relationship.

7. Focus on the relationships

Speaking of relationships, they really do matter. I don’t care how well you can compose a shot—if you don’t have anyone willing to work with you or step in front of your camera, you don’t have a career.

Kuhrt considers each relationship important—whether it’s with the people on the sidelines, on the team, or cleaning the stadium. He is an avid Broncos fan, but in pregame, he chats with both teams and wishes the players good luck. This approach has earned Kuhrt a rapport with players who are notoriously tight-lipped. Be patient. It’s taken Kuhrt years to gain a relationship with certain players, but it’s worth it. Some will ignore every other cameraperson on the field, but will stop in front of Kuhrt.

If your subject needs some space, give it to them. Think of the bigger picture rather than what you think you need in that moment. Sometimes being sensitive to the situation and timing will lead to a better interview later.

8. Don’t cheer from the sidelines

Early on, Kuhrt found himself cheering or showing his disappointment much like he would watching the game at home. He has learned to be disciplined about keeping his reactions internal. It’s inappropriate and unprofessional to interrupt what you’re documenting. Your job is to document a game/record history. It’s not about you.

9. Don’t be selfish

You can get the shots you need without being selfish about it. You don’t need to jump in front of people or cross the boundaries that have been laid out. Some people will break the rules and it will benefit them in the short-term. No matter how many others you see breaking the rules, you’ve got to face yourself and be able to feel good about how you handle yourself. If you want a long career and you want to feel good about your choices, you’ll need to approach them with integrity.

Be courteous with everyone. Everyone.

10. Stay humble

This will serve you well from the beginning of your career to the end. It will serve you in life. Whether you’re just starting out or are well established, there’s always more to learn. Kuhrt asked questions in the beginning and has never stopped.

He found that most people want to share their passion and experience. Kuhrt says, “If they don’t, shake it off and go to the next person.”

As you gain experience, be available to give tips to newer people (even if they’re from other teams/stations). It doesn’t hurt your photography.

Even when you find yourself with Emmys and other awards on your bookshelf, don’t get a big head. There’s always someone out there doing it better than you.

Crew Connection connects you with video production crews across the country and around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience and thousands of shoots to our credit with film crew pros, you can trust our expert coordinators to match you with the right freelance video crew and equipment every time.