Filmmaking

1Aug

Producing a Danny Trejo Project for my friend Eric

Crew Photo in West Hollywood

Crew Photo in West Hollywood

I’ve been working on a nice side project lately, producing a Danny Trejo thing. But you’re probably reading this and really  wondering: “Is Danny Trejo as cool as he seems?”. So to cut to the chase: yeah, he really is! Plus, he is one heck of a good guy. I’m glad we got to hang out, and I hope you all go down to Trejo’s Tacos and Trejo’s Donuts. You can’t miss the latter- it’s a pink building with a familiar face on the wall. And after you do that, head on over to my company site to check out the other (mostly more commercial-y) work we’ve been doing this summer!

20Jun

How to Spend Money on Gear Wisely in 2017 (Skip the Camera!)

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This one’s for my fellow video production nerds.

Smart people realize that cameras have been solved. This might be why RED’s new product is a phone. Not a camera. Cameras are done. They’re great. Today. And semi-affordable. The huge gap between “great” and what the average DP can afford is pretty much gone, and if you’re still selling yourself based on your camera instead of your work, you are way behind the times.

Put simply, the most important thing is your talent in using the gear. The gear alone doesn’t differentiate you, anymore. Pros can Read More »

20Apr

On the Importance of Personal Projects for Creatives

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I keep relearning the lesson of how important it is for us creatives to always be working on personal projects. First, they’re fun to do! Second, they let you hone new skills. And third, sometimes they show clients a side of you that they didn’t know about. This can pay huge dividends.

For instance, about a year and a half ago I was in New York more than I wasn’t. I live and work in both LA and New York, and I’m not sure why LA wasn’t clicking for me at that time, but I was grateful that New York was. New York was keeping Read More »

19Jan

2016 in Review: Thank You!

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2017 has begun with a bang for us. I’m thrilled and grateful for that. But this post, even though it’s the middle of January already, is for last year. 2016, I thank you for everything you gave to us. The many excellent projects, the happy clients, and even the occasional stumbling blocks- thank you. It’s all a learning experience, and I am grateful to everyone who was a part of our year.

In 2016 we laid the groundwork for some Read More »

26Dec

New TV Commercial Productions for Westside Rentals

I’m really excited about the work we did for this Los Angeles client, the TV commercials turned out great in every way. And what’s best is, they’re being seen and they are working for the client’s business. Yay! They’ll be playing all over Southern California through 2017.

One thing new directors and filmmakers don’t often understand is the amount of work it takes to get something that looks and feels natural and easy. The truth is, “easy” take a lot of work to get right. And I’m super-proud that we got it right.

We shot these on SONY, and colored in DaVinci. For more TV and web commercials, plus our corporate work, check out our website.

22Jul

Finally, a 4K Deliverable


I’ve been shooting in 4K+ since 2007/2008. But the truth is, outside of film festival stuff, it’s been too unwieldy to deliver 4K masters to clients. I’m happy to say, that’s changed. Here’s our latest, a UHD agency cut of a spot we did in New York last month. It’s not 100% UHD- we have to redo the VFX in a couple of shots, and tweak a couple of things before it’s final. But wow, the detail’s awesome! In fact, for trademark reasons we’ll need to now add a couple of other VFX shots to this spot to obscure now-visible-in-4K details.

Over the next few months, I’ll be re-uploading more from our catalog in 4K/UHD.

25Apr

Reflections on Video Production: Los Angeles vs New York

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I just finished a Los Angeles video production for a client. It was a blast, as usual, but I can’t talk about it just yet. Instead, today I’ve been reflecting on the differences and similarities between making a film or commercial in New York versus Los Angeles.

What I love about making videos in Los Angeles:

  • The weather, it’s almost always sunnyish.
  • I like getting in my truck and being able to pick up stuff from the rental house easily. I tend to rent “big stuff” in LA. But then, I have to, because it’s almost always sunny in LA (it’s a pro and a con).
  • The actors and crew are fantastic, in Los Angeles.
  • LA can look like almost anywhere in the world, for locations.

What I love about doing it in New York:

  • You can shoot on the street without being arrested or needing a permit, unless you bring big stuff and stop traffic.
  • New York looks… well, it looks amazing. There is no other place that looks like New York, and it is glorious (that’s a pro and a con).
  • The actors and crew are fantastic, in New York.
  • The subways are really efficient if you can be super-light. This doesn’t work for many jobs, but sometimes- especially for corporate videos- it can.

I work and live in both places. LA is Hollywood, and New York is Madison Avenue and Wall Street. Both are relevant. I think the nature of the industry is such that if you want to be successful you need to be in both places, depending on your craft. Certainly being solidly on both coasts has helped my business.

Yet, I still end up on planes to other places frequently. Because clients come from all over the world, and you must go where the work is. But that’s a story for another day.

23Mar

Video Marketing for Startups, Tech-or-Otherwise

Image from the inimitable Robert

Image from the inimitable Robert

My agency has been lucky enough to have created videos for some truly exciting startups- myLanguage, with their Vocre app that won TechCrunch, being one of them. As I’ve worked with startups to tell their stories, I’ve learned a few things. And today I’ll share some of that hard-won knowledge with you.

Production Quality Still Matters

First, your video’s production quality still matters, even if you’re a startup. You cannot expect the public to put your video in context (“Hey! We’re a startup! Cut us some slack!”). People don’t care what your video’s budget was. They don’t care if you had to produce it under tremendous pressure. They’ll just judge the video- and your product/service- like they judge any video marketing. Meaning your competition these days is TV. Does your video look like it could be played on TV?

You Never Know Who Will See It

You never know who’s going to see your video. Yes, it’s important to try and figure out to whom your video should appeal- to figure out your audience. But a lot of the time, despite all the hard work you put in to define your audience, you won’t be able to account for every possibility. It’s in the nature of video marketing that your video will be shared and seen by audiences you may not have expected.

I learned this on our first promo video for Vocre, when the app became so insanely successful that for a few days local news throughout the USA and Canada played clips from our little promo video on the nightly news. Wow! Imagine my surprise, seeing our little video on screens that connected to millions of North Americans. Luckily, we put a lot of love and effort into the video.

Be Realistic With Your Budget

I get approached all the time by startups who tell me they want to shoot in midtown Manhattan or Beverly Hills, and they want 10 actors and 5 locations in their videos. And their budget is $3,000. Seriously, I get these calls and emails almost every day from well-intentioned CMOs and Marketing Managers.

You have to be realistic with your video. If you don’t have $50,000+ to make your promo, you need your video agency to find ways to creatively tell your story, within financial constraints. That’s OK, we do it ALL THE TIME. But… ditch the Cecil B. DeMille, Old-Hollywood ideas. You cannot have a cast of thousands and locations around the world, if you’re on a budget.

Remember, Story Trumps Everything

Here’s the biggest secret of all: even if you’re a well-funded startup willing to spend $100K+ on your video (we love you guys), if your story sucks the video will fail. I always get leery when a company approaches us with a fully-realized script, and “just” wants us to execute their vision. Those projects invariably fail.

No matter your budget, your video’s story is paramount: it has to grab your audience, and get them to take time from their busy day to learn more about you, and possibly even purchase your app/product/service. That’s a tall order.

Even if you’re a super-awesome marketing whiz,  you need a creative agency that truly understands video storytelling. Not merely a video production company. You need a partner who can work with your concepts and ideas, and make them better. Before the cameras start rolling. A partner who can make the most of what you have, budget and resource-wise, and help you come up with a story that truly engages your audience and incites them to take action.


Me-BlogPatrick is the founder of Los Angeles and New York City based PatrickOrtman, Inc., a creative video agency that has won a ton of ADDY and Telly awards, worked with 9 Fortune 500s (and tons of startups), and been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Star, USA Today, and many other print and online publications in the advertising and other industries.

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