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First Place , First Time!

Sony Vegas makes first-time film maker a winner. More than once By Douglas Spotted Eagle
The Action On Film International Film Festival, held each year in Long Beach, CA, is well known for its support of the independent action filmmaker. Patronized by major film directors, producers, and stars, the festival hosted more than 100 action film projects in 2005 from filmmakers featuring actors like Eric Roberts, Doralicia (Collateral Damage), Taimak (Last Dragon), and martial arts greats like Don "the Dragon" Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, and Lorenzo Lamas. This year's Action on Film International Festival featured a Lifetime Achievement Award handed out to David Carradine for his introduction of martial arts to the television, and his inspiration for action figures such as "Bill" in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" volumes 1 & 2.

Included in the 2005 competition was a somewhat unusual film, "Bred in the Bone," which was directed, filmed, and edited by Stan Harrington. This was Harrington's first foray into the film world, and what's more unique is that Harrington didn't even own a camera when he produced the project. In fact, he still doesn't own a camera. While this is quite common with projects shot on 35mm, it's fairly uncommon for a director to not possess even a DV camera.

"I run the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood and have been a prolific producer of theatre but produced nothing in film/video ...until this. Actually, I did do a promo for a film/television piece that I wanted to produce but never showed it to anyone...
My parents never wanted me to enter the industry. They were Greek immigrants (in Australia where I was born) and were very disappointed that I didn't become a lawyer or architect or something similar. Unlike other young kids though, I never had to go to bed early and used to stay up with my parents and watch old movies. This is what developed my love of film and ironically, it was through them."
Cruising the streets of Las Vegas, NV to set the stage for the killing elements.
Harrington "borrowed" a camera from the theatre where he works as a producer/director, and did so without the permission of the theatre's management. The single-camera production was achieved with a Sony VX 2000 that had been donated to the theater by actress Lindsay Wagner. After he'd shot all the scenes for "Bred In the Bone," Stan let the theatre know what he'd done. The management was a little surprised, but were very supportive when they'd learned of his efforts. Few budget dollars were available, and so Harrington was unable to build elaborate sets or rent sound stages with existing set facilities. "We used no sets, just locations. We shot in Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Most locations were guerilla style although we were given permission to shoot in some places. A huge portion of the film was shot within a one mile radius of where I live. Some of the scenes appear to be shot at different locations but are actually just shot from a different angle. We shot hanging off of buildings, lamp posts, street signs, hanging out of name it." The somewhat wild angles seen on occasion in the film easily convey the unsettled thoughts and emotional challenges of the lead character.

Where this story becomes really unusual is that Stan had never managed a camera before, and further, had never edited or even was very familiar with computers at all. He'd hired an editor that was using Sony Vegas 4 at the time, and due to a variety of circumstances, that editor became no longer available to him.

"The editor had cut my actors reel on his Sony VegasŪ program while I watched...I had seen another editor do an earlier version of my reel on Final Cut Pro. The Sony Vegas software didn't seem so overwhelming to look at and he appeared to go much quicker than the Final Cut Pro editor. I often made changes to my reel and it bothered me to continually have to rely on others when I wanted to view those changes. My editor recognized this and came over one day and put Vegas Movie Studio on my computer and told me to play with it. I did so, and in the process stumbled on how to do basic things like overlays and cross fades. When the film production began he dropped off one of his PC's that had Vegas 4 on it and because I knew now how to place the footage on to the computer, he recommended that I do it in Vegas 4 as it was more efficient. Vegas looked similar to Vegas Movie Studio, so I was cool...for a while. Every night after filming I would dump the footage on to the computer and do a basic edit to look at what I'd done. Eventually I had put the whole film together and was waiting for him to tidy it up. He came over and was floored at how I managed to make it look so messy...I had 20 or 30 lines (ed:tracks) running. He got it down to 8 or 10 lines. Next he came and trimmed one or two scenes and after that he disappeared. I haven't spoken to him since. I put the whole thing together on V4 and went through it and trimmed and tightened everything on my own. When I got stuck, I called Sony tech support and they put me on to the forum. The forum community then resolved everything else. I eventually rendered it and placed it on to my new computer. I bought Vegas 6 and tinkered with it more after reading about color curves...I added grain. I bought (VASST) Ultimate S and added the Pushed 16 preset,...and the rest is history."

Action On Film International Synopsis
Bred In The Bone
Stan Harrington, Director
1 hr : 32 min : 12 sec
John Palmentario is desperate NOT to follow in his father, EUGENE'S, footsteps... NOT to make the same mistakes. At 34, John, looks back on his life as a paid thug who won't kill or carry a gun and realizes that his life is not such a far cry from that of his father's. John buys a ring and tells his best-friend and assistant, ANDY, he's ready to quit and marry his girlfriend, GIGI. Stunned, Andy convinces him to do just 2 more jobs so that he can get settled but John 's life is suddenly turned around with the appearance of a mysterious, Mexican, CRUZ. Can John make the choices to change his life, or is it BRED IN THE BONE?

  Computer-proficiency isn't something that Stan Harrington possesses. He describes himself as being "even email-challenged." However, he learned to use Sony Vegas Movie Studio "in minutes," and learned to use the professional version of Sony Vegas 4 (and later Sony Vegas 6) while in the actual editing phase of the film. "I started shooting in June of 2004 and finished in October of 2004, and used Vegas to capture the footage every night after I'd shot the footage. I started editing during the shooting stages, and finished up in June of 2005." Harrington used an off-the-shelf Dell computer, and upgraded to an HP Media Center during the editing process. In other words, nothing special was employed with regard to the computers used to create the film. When asked for an opinion as to why the film has been so well received in spite of its low budget (sub $5000.00), single camera, and directorial, editorial, and script-writing debut of Stan Harrington, he replies, "The script is EVERYTHING. Movies like Swingers or Blair Witch weren't successful because of their production value, the succeeded because they had a great idea, concept, script...I chose to exploit the aspects of a film that I knew i could really drive home....story and acting. Being from a theatre background I see the lack of quality in many of today's screenplays as opposed to plays so I set out to write a great script. I believe this made a huge difference because people don't expect to get such depth in a micro budget film, let alone a film shot for only $5,000!!!! I also made a concerted effort to not shoot standard shots...I used many obtuse and edgy angles to add to the mood and feel...I also shot the entire film at night which served to diminish the harsh look of video."

In addition to learning Sony Vegas while editing the "Bred In the Bone" project, Stan also learned the Final Draft software application to help him assemble the script and make it more appropriate for the actors and shoot. (Final Draft is a scriptwriter's software, designed to assist in layout, scene transitions, scene numbering and other formatting requirements that are standards in the film industry. It can even read your script in a variety of voices if you wish)

While all of the film was edited in Sony Vegas versions 4 and 6, Harrington also used a couple of stock images from Time Image. The only plug in tool used for Sony Vegas during the editing stage was the VASST Ultimate S plug in. "I used Ultimate S Film Looks "Pushed 16" preset which is what I believe is what made a significant visual difference between the look of my feature and the others shot on video. I also added grain to dirty up the image and make it look really edgy. I believe it suited the style of the film."

Excited to see how far "Bred In the Bone" can go in the business and grateful for those that have supported him, Stan asked for the opportunity to thank his cast, the forum members, Irene Gilbert from the Stella Adler Theatre, Del Weston and the Action On Film International Film Festival, Sony Vegas 6, and Ultimate S software.

"Bred In The Bone" won Best Actress and Best Screenplay awards at the festival during the week of July 29th. However, Harrington was notified in the first week of August that the juried film had additionally won Best of Show. Not so shabby for a guy that doesn't even own a video camera. Or for a guy that has never edited a film before. Or for a guy that just decided that since he's a good playwright, he might be able to create a good story and capture it on videotape. For me, this story is an inspiration that sometimes, maybe often enough, we get caught up in the technology of our craft and lose focus on the craft itself.

We'll look forward to more great video artistry from Stan Harrington in the coming years; our congratulations and best wishes go out to Stan and his cast.

"Bred In The Bone" Equipment list:
  • -Sony VX 2000 camcorder
  • -Sony Vegas Movie Studio, Sony Vegas 4/6
  • -Final Draft screenwriter's software
  • -VASST Ultimate S/VASST ReelPak 1
  • -Dell computer/HP Media Center Computer

Stan Harrington's website
View the "Bred In The Bone" Trailer (Quicktime)
View the "Bred In The Bone" Trailer (MP4 If your Windows Media Player won't open this, use a Quicktime or FFDSHOW player)

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DOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE, Managing Producer Douglas Spotted Eagle is an audio and video pro. He is a Grammy recipient with DuPont, Peabody, and Telly awards lining his studio; he is also a participant/producer in multiple Emmy Award winning productions.

Douglas is the Managing Producer for Sundance Media Group, Inc. and VASST, authoring several books and DVDs and serving as a trainer and consultant for videographers, software manufacturers and broadcasters. He is the author or co-author of several digital media titles including Digital Video Basics (VASST), The FullHD (VASST), and Vegas Editing Workshop (Focal Press) among many others.

Douglas is an accomplished aerial photographer who thrives in the adrenaline-filled world of fast-action videography. He remains active as a multimedia producer, trainer, and presenter, utilizing the latest technology as part of his workflow.

Related Keywords:sony vegas, nle, editing, Stan Harrington, Bred in the Bone, Action On Film International Film Festival, VASST Ultimate S


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