NAB 2013 and A New Arrival

It has gotten rather quiet on the blog here lately. For those of you that haven’t heard yet, Cristina and I are expecting our first child in July. We are extremely excited but between that and everything else we have going on, it has become increasingly difficult to stay up to date on here.

First we’d like to share our latest project with you.

El Diablo from Kessler Crane on Vimeo.
We will be at the Kessler Crane booth #C8808 all week so definitely swing by and say hello.

Also, if you were at the most recent Masters in Motion in Austin in December, one of the perks of attending the event is our annual Masters in Motion party at NAB. If you didn’t receive an invitation but you were at the event, please email us at and we will send you one.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

Cristina + Jon

5 Reasons Being Miserable All The Time Will Leave You Unemployed

1) Because, seriously, is it that bad?

Stop it with the moping already. We get it. You’re starting to sound stupid. 80% of humanity lives on $10 a day or less. If you’re in the 20% but your sense of self-entitlement is so large that you’re miserable, even after reading that stat; reevaluate your life.

2) Negativity is for groups of 2 or less.

In person, being negative is only okay, if it’s you and one other person. You also must be negative towards a common: person, place or thing. Think Waldorf and Statler from the Muppets. You start getting too many people involved and the whole thing goes to shit. Let’s get the ground rules straight.

3) How many chronically unemployable people do you see bitching on Facebook everyday?

I rest my case.

4) You can’t high-five if you’re miserable.

Think about it. It just wouldn’t work. You can’t do a halfhearted high-five. You need to commit.

5) Think about the single most negative person you possibly can.

Would you hire them?

5 Reasons Why Being Happy All The Time May Kill Your Career

1) No one should be happy all of the time.

It doesn’t seem right. When people are too happy, all of the time, I don’t trust them. In my head, I think, “No one should be that happy. There’s something fishy going on here.”

2) Everyone deserves to be miserable.

Go ahead. Be miserable. You earned it. Being miserable can be healthy or if it’s not healthy, at least it’s a sign you’re still alive and give a shit.

3) Ask yourself this. Do I want to be around someone that is happy 100% of the time?

Personally, I don’t. If other people share this sentiment, they are not going to hire you.

4) Miserable people create great art.

Van Gogh chopped off his ear. Bob Ross was EXTREMELY happy when he was painting. I rest my case.

5) I could be totally wrong.

Which would make me extremely unhappy.

5 Tips for Writing Effective Scripts For Clients

At the core of nearly every video are the words to express a message. You have a limited time to make an impact —often less than 60 seconds —
so the script must be crafted with precision and power. Regardless of the duration of your video, these recommendations will keep your message clear and focused.

1.) Define your run time, and work backwards.

As a starting point, we consider spoken narration or readable text to land at the rate of about 150 words per minute.This is a very general guideline, but it provides a reality check when your client wants you to fit an entire business plan into a three minute video. If you want a video to be three minutes long, your second draft of the script should be
about 450 words.

2.) Keep it simple. Cut the stuff you just don’t need.

Just as in your home, clearing the clutter in your script is pure joy. Say what you want, but just once. If it’s shorter, it’s probably better. Every word and every sentence has to justify its existence. If it doesn’t, lose it.

3.) Know who you’re writing for, and have some style.

The narration is the voice of your client. The personality in that voice is the key to how well it resonates with a specific audience. Unless you’re video is to be played at a conference of English teachers, perfect grammar is not always required.

A little slang never hurt anybody, and sometimes, for a very specific audience, jargon is fine. For example, a presentation to shareholders might discuss positive trends in earnings, but a roomful of sales people will certainly get what it means to “do good numbers.”

4.) Start with good bait, hook your audience, and pull them to the end.

The first sentence needs to make your audience want to hear the second sentence. The end of every paragraph hasto push them to the next. The goal is to keep the audience curious about where your story is going.

This may not be easy in a corporate video for a buttoned up client, but all subjects benefit from scripts that flow logically and sentences that make transitions.

While starting strong is important to the larger structure of your script, when crafting individual lines…

5.) Endings are more important than beginnings.

The point you’re trying to make should usually be in what your English teacher called the predicate of the sentence. The ending is easier to remember. It’s the same place we find a rainbow’s pot of gold or the punchline of a joke.

A script is never written just once, and rarely by just one person. As you collaborate in shaping a message, these guidelines will help you improve your script and explain your edits to your clients.

About the Author
T.W. Li is the lead producer at Video Parachute, a Chicago video company specializing in results-oriented production
and editing services. T.W. has been making video and film for more than 20 years, and he teaches Cinematography
at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Awesome Filmmaking Competition from Jameson

As I stood outside of The Trophy Room on Monday night at Masters in Motion during Operation Bullride 2, a funny thing happened. Lots of people were gawking and wondering why there were bright lights shining and so much commotion inside of the venue on a Monday night. A guy stopped and asked me what was going on. I introduced myself and explained the event. He seemed very interested so I asked him if he was a filmmaker. He explained that he worked for Jameson and they loved supporting filmmakers as a company. We exchanged contact information and he said he would email me about a competition involving Jameson and Willem Dafoe. As he walked away I wasn’t sure if I would ever hear from him again but true to his word, I got an email that night and we wanted to pass along the information to you all because we think it’s a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The competition that gives young filmmakers a first shot in the movie business is back – Jameson First Shot returns for a second year

After the success of the first year which saw more than 5.6 million people worldwide view the three winning films (via, this year the competition aims to discover another three exceptional writer/directors from the same three countries; South Africa, Russia and the USA. Each winner will once again receive the opportunity of a lifetime to direct a major Hollywood star in their short film with the backing of award-winning production company, Trigger Street Productions.

However, in an exciting new development to the competition for its second year, winners will not only get to work with acting legend Kevin Spacey in his role as Creative Director, but they will also get the chance to direct the incomparable, double Oscar nominated actor, Willem Dafoe in their short film.

Talented filmmakers looking for their big break need to submit a script of no more than seven pages via by 1 January 2013. Inspired by one of three themes; ‘legendary’ or ‘humorous’ or a ‘very tall tale’. Once all scripts have been submitted, a shortlist will be chosen and each candidate will be required to further showcase their flair for filmmaking by submitting a director’s treatment of their script and a piece of footage based on a provided scene from Trigger Street Productions. The three winners will be chosen – one from each country – with each getting to enjoy a prize like no other as they fly to LA to shoot their script and direct Willem Dafoe in the starring role, all with the backing of Kevin Spacey’s production company.
For full details on how to enter plus exclusive videos and tips from Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti, visit

From The Bottom of Our Hearts

To everyone who made this possible:

Those of you who signed up to participate in this experience and believed enough in us to take time off from work, to leave your homes, your families, some of you traveling from as far away as Croatia, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turks and Caico and Brazil. We understood fully that you were investing your hard earned money, time, and energy. We feel a huge amount of responsibility to deliver on our promise to you. That we will always use the best of our abilities and resources to try to create the most dynamic, interactive and best possible environment to foster our growth as artists, filmmakers and storytellers. We consider you all family.

We worked hard over the last 8 months to make sure we had everything organized and in place so things would run smoothly and everyone could focus on learning, networking and enjoying our journey together. We could not have done this without the support of a lot of people. This is our attempt to thank you all. Without each and every one of you this could never have been what it evolved into.

Our Staff

You guys sacrificed sleep and were willing to do anything we asked of you without hesitation. When you are working as hard as we all did, you have to have fun or things can and will unravel quickly. You all kept your sense of humor and incredible dispositions and had a great attitude no matter how exhausted we all were. You went above and beyond the call of duty. So a huge thanks to Karen Abad, Tyler Gorrell, Dustin Bennett, Jared Levy, Justin P. Hamilton, John Miller, Chad Nickle and Melissa Ransdell. There isn’t enough space, time or words for us to fully explain how much we appreciate everything you did. Beyond your hard work it was great to see you all there as friends. You are some of the coolest, nicest, funniest, most talented people we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We look forward to hanging out with you all away from the event, collaborating with you on film projects, having conversations and just being around such genuine, down to earth people. Thank you a million times.

The Variable Crew

When Shane Hurlbut ASC, told us his idea for his hands on workshop we were 100 percent behind it. He wanted to make it more interactive and customizable by allowing attendees to vote on which scenario out of 12 possibilities they wanted to learn about. When we got the list for the amount of different types of lighting required to make it feasible, we immediately knew who to turn to for help. Khalid Mohtaseb from Variable was an absolute lifesaver. He is an incredibly talented DP and through working with him on set he has taught us so much about so many different things. He really showed us the importance of a higher level of work ethic and a mentality referred to as NGAF. He helped us make sense of what we needed not only for Shane’s session but also helped us to figure out the lighting rentals required for every other session. Khalid, along with Jon Bregel, Nick Midwig, and Daniel Stewart headed up a massive early morning load in of a 3 ton grip truck in addition to a ton of DIY lighting rigs that Shane had shipped to Austin. They worked hard all day and had everything dialed in. They absolutely crushed! Then at the end of the day they saved us again and just completely owned the load out. It was an exhausting day but they just kept smiling and were an unbelievable morale boost. Without them along with the help of Derrick Johnson and Jack Chen none of that would have been possible. What they were able to pull off with such a small crew is unheard of. They were setting up lighting from scratch to recreate feature film scenes in 10 minutes! It’s a testament to their talent, hard work, knowledge and ability to perform under pressure in crunch time. Hats off! You were unbelievably amazing. We took a calculated risk and without you all, what could have easily been a disaster, instead was an incredible success. We are so proud and honored to know you!

The Sponsors

Without the support of Kessler Crane, Rule Boston Camera, The Music Bed, Manfrotto, Zacuto, Lens Pro To Go, Cinetics, Rode Microphones, Marshall Electronics, Edit Share and Letus: there is no way we would be able to keep our ticket prices affordable and still keep the production value and caliber of educators we had. We salute you for believing in the value of education and supporting Masters in Motion.

The Educators

Tatjana Green, Joe Simon, Alex Buono, Vincent Laforet, Shane Hurlbut ASC, Ian Vertovec, Mike Sutton, Preston Kanak, Eric Kessler, Sean Stiegmeier, Jon Bregel, Nick Midwig, Justin P. Hamilton, Konrad Cystokowski, Ondi Timoner, Erik Aadahl, and Philip Bloom. Your honesty, passion, knowledge and willingness to “take the gloves off” was appreciated by everyone. It was humbling to see so much talent gathered in Austin. Every time we thought it couldn’t possibly get better you managed to step up and deliver the goods. Our brains were crammed full of information, constantly.

We live in an incredible time. Camera technology has reached the point where it no longer needs to be the focus. It plays a role but we sincerely thank you from the bottom of our hearts for believing in our vision of a workshop experience that transcends camera specs. While reflecting back on your presentations your collective body of work is mind-blowing. For those of you that had a hands on session we also want to thank you for your tireless energy. In order to keep things more intimate we decided to break up into a lot of small groups and for you all to take on group after group with the same enthusiasm was inspiring. As tired and exhausted as we were, to see you all pull together and perform at such a high level without a complaint really give us the boost we needed. We also want to thank those of you that were able to come out and interact at night. It really means a lot to us that without us even having to ask you wanted to be part of this experience on all levels. We can never thank you enough. You inspired, motivated, educated, and blew a lot of minds. We are so proud of all of you and it truly was an honor to have you be a part of this.

Annie Ray

The photo booth pictures are so good! There are so many classics. A quick calculation of the amount of photos you delivered means that even if you didn’t delete a single one you were taking 2 photos a minute for the entire wrap party. That’s amazing. You worked it and captured images that will forever embody the insanity that was this years event. We love working with you and just wanted to make sure you knew how much we appreciated what you did for us all.

Braden Jobson

The videos you made for the event are absolutely incredible. You captured the essence of what was going on to a tee. We can’t thank you enough for your hard work!


Many of you met Cristina’s brother, Carlos, but for those of you that didn’t have the pleasure, he was a very integral part to the success of this event. The amount of different ways he helped us was unbelievable. He started early in the morning and just kept going. We can’t thank you enough for not only all of your hard work but also for just being awesome and holding it all together behind the scenes. You kept our spirits up, you got everyone where they needed to go, you just did an all around stellar job and all we heard from everyone that crossed your path was how amazing you were. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of expressing how grateful we are for everything you did and for you just being yourself but it was extremely important to us to at least acknowledge it.

Final Thoughts

Collectively something happened in Austin. Some intangible experience that we’re having trouble putting into words. Maybe it’s just one of those things that can’t be expressed in this medium. Maybe you just “had to be there” to fully appreciate it or to understand it. Everyone was sent a survey and one question asked you all to rate your overall satisfaction with the event on a scale of 1-10. The average rating was 9.06 out of 10. We can’t even begin to tell you what that means to us. It reaffirmed what we believed all along and we will try to sum it up briefly.

No matter what you are trying to accomplish in life whether it be to run an event filmmaking company, to craft narrative shorts, to produced commercial work, to make a feature film or to run an event like this. We believe that there are some things that will make your chance of succeeding exponentially higher.

Anything that is worth doing is worth doing right. Never accept mediocrity. This means you have to constantly evolve. It means it is going to require hard work, sacrifice and dedication. You are going to have to get your hands dirty and accept the fact that the perception of filmmaking being glamorous is largely misconstrued. The only way any thing gets done is to do it. YOU have to make shit happen. No one is going to hand you anything in this life.

That being said, you can’t do it alone. You need to surround yourselves with a talented group of like minded creatives that believe in you and vice versa. Passion is contagious. Negativity is too. The situation you are in is largely created out of personal choices. If you are surrounded by negativity it will create a toxic environment where creativity goes to die. Don’t accept that. Make sure you are around genuine, talented, hard working, and down to earth people. We met a lot of them this week.

Sometimes, you have to do things that might not benefit you financially. If anyone was under the impression that Masters in Motion was created with the primary objective being us making money we hope through our actions and dedication you know that now to be false. We all have bills to pay. We need to make money. If that is the only thing you ever focus on though, we believe you may miss out on something bigger. Do what you have to do to survive but please don’t forget that passion projects are important too. Who knows what the future holds for Masters in Motion but if we only looked at this from a financial standpoint it wouldn’t exist. We are doing this because we believe in something more important than money, more important than gear, more important than ourselves. If we don’t help out one another and strive to collectively better ourselves than we should call it a day because that’s a shitty way to go about life.

In conclusion, we just want to once again thank each and everyone of you. You are all a part of the Masters in Motion family. We will promise you this. We will never get complacent. We will always strive to evolve and improve. We will always take risks and try to push the envelope. We may fall on our faces but with such an incredible community behind us now, we know we can never fail. You have touched us deeply and made us want to be better filmmakers, better storytellers but more importantly than any of that, better people. We hope you feel the same way. We would love to hear what all of you think. Also, if you have links to any photo galleries, blog posts, or videos please leave links in the comments section. There were a lot of aspects of the event we missed and would love to see how it all unfolded through your eyes.

One last nugget we discovered at Masters in Motion. This little note expressing our gratitude isn’t the least we could do but there must be something more we could do, so on that note.

This is the medium we could do. Thank you all for creating memories and an experience we will never forget.

Cristina + Jon

Masters in Motion: Amazing Additions

We fly out to Austin tomorrow. Our heads are spinning. We were already feeling great about the insane amount of talent between educators,staff and this years participants. We are beyond excited and the good news just keeps rolling in. We are happy to announce that in addition to the already stellar line up we are announcing two special guests.

Khalid Mohtaseb
DP/Director at Variable

Khalid was one of the speakers at last year’s event and we are so glad to have him back in Austin this year. We have had the pleasure of working with him and the exceptionally talented team at Variable over the last year. They have done work for Nike, Coca-Cola, National Geographic, MTV, Pennzoil, and Tiffany and Co. to name a few. His passion is contagious and having him at the event again is going to be amazing. If you’re not familiar with any of his work check out this short, Khalid and the Variable team produced.

Holi from Variable on Vimeo.
Sean Stiegemeier

We are also extremely excited to announce, Sean Stiegemeier, an extraordinarily talented DP based in Los Angeles, will also be added to the roster. He completed undergraduate at Chapman University and then earned his masters degree from American Film Institute both in the discipline of cinematography. He has shot music videos for Skrillex, commercials for companies like GE,  Nissan, Toshiba/Intel, and H&M to name a few and has produced some amazing narrative work. Check out a teaser for Hinterlands below.

Hinterlands Teaser from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

You can view more of Sean’s work here

With that being said, if it’s even possible, we are now even more thrilled about this year’s event. This has really shaped up into something we are extremely proud to be a part of and thank you all for believing in our vision and trusting us enough to join us on what is set to be an amazing journey. We are going to be sharing some incredible experiences together. We are very humbled and feel lucky to be days away from being surrounded by so much talent and positive creative energy. Can not wait to see you all in Austin! Are you excited yet?

The Importance of Transparency, Back-Up Plans and Determination

Three ingredients to any successful business, in our humble opinion, are transparency, back-up plans, and determination. We will not only be talking about why they are important in this post but we will also be illustrating them with a situation that just happened.

The Importance of Transparency

This site is powered by WordPress. The blog post editor I am writing this in has two options HTML or WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get. We believe the second option is how people and businesses should operate.

If you follow either of our personal accounts on Twitter ( @jonconnorfilms and @cristinavaldivi) we employ a WYSIWYG guideline. If we would say it in a conversation with you in real life, we say it on Twitter. You might not like some of what we say on there. If you follow us on Twitter and then meet us in real life, you should already know what to expect. We have been transparent. We behave the same way in social media outlets as we do in person. We try to help when we can, I make ridiculous statements that sometimes only I find funny, we try to connect cool people with each other, and we have opinions that we are not afraid to voice. We also have an unabashed obsession with our bulldog, Bruiser, but look at him. Can you really blame us?

The same thing applies for Masters in Motion. We are an open book. You have a question? Don’t be afraid to ask. There are only two of us running the day to day operations. It’s a lot of work for two people: from creating fresh blog content to coordinating the most minute details to make sure we produce an educational experience that not only meets participants expectations but hopefully exceeds them. Anytime anyone has questioned anything about the event from: why we named it Masters in Motion to the pricing, we have and always will respond in a respectful and transparent manner.

People can smell B.S. a mile away. There is no place for it in business or life in our opinion. Our tolerance level for B.S. is extremely low. We like genuine people. You may not like what they say or agree with them all the time but you have to respect the honesty. Which leads us to part two.

The Importance of Back-Up Plans

How many shoots have you been on where absolutely everything went completely smoothly and 100% according the initial plan? If your answer is “one” you got lucky. If your answer is “more than one” please email me because I must visit this alternate universe you live in.

Things happen and while proper planning will go a long way in avoiding unforeseen difficulties, no matter how much you plan ahead of time, something is bound to change. Equipment can malfunction or a shot may not look the way you anticipated. So what happens now? If you don’t have a back-up plan in place you may be screwed. If the production halts that will cost you and the client money and possible destroy your future relationship.

Masters in Motion is no different then a film production in many ways. There are a ton of moving pieces that need to fall into place for this to be successful. Many things could go wrong: What if the projector doesn’t work? What if equipment fails during the hands on portion? What if a speaker becomes unavailable due to a work conflict that arises?

Let me answer the third question since, that is the problem that arose and generated this blog post to begin with. Craig Berkey was scheduled to speak on sound design. He works on feature films and much like I discussed earlier, with any production, things are bound to change at any given moment. Due to the dates of a job being shifted, Craig is no longer available to speak at our event. Luckily, we had a back up plan in place in case of such an event occurring. However, in this particular case, the back up plan did not work. What do you do when your back up plan doesn’t work? That leads us to Part 3.

The Importance of Determination

With less then a month until the event and one of the most important topics being discussed now vacant, what do we do? Our backup plan didn’t work out. The most important thing to us when assessing our next move was two-fold.

1) We knew we needed to get someone to speak on the topic of sound design.

2) We knew the replacement educator needed to be of the same caliber of Craig Bekey.

What are two people with little time and no inside track to feature film sound designers supposed to do?

We could panic. We could give up and get a less qualified replacement, apologize profusely and hope everyone understood. With our backs to the wall, in a severe time crunch, and lacking any connections to help us out, we could have thrown in the towel.

That would be B.S. in our opinion. That would go against everything we stand for. That’s not how we do things and we don’t think any of you should either. Determine what it is that you want and, come hell or highwater, make it happen. We never gave up. We got resourceful. We got determined. We dug in our heels and said, “We will get an extremely talented sound designer that works on feature films.” Once you truly decide that something is going to happen. I mean, you believe it in every fiber of your being. There is nothing in the universe that can stop you. Which leads me to this.

Although, we are sad that Craig won’t be at this years event, we could not be happier to announce that Erik Aadahl will be at Masters in Motion in December. For those of you not familiar with Erik, he most recently worked on Argo and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Transformer: Dark Side of the Moon. His resume also includes The Tree of Life, Valkyrie, Kung Fu Panda, I, Robot, and Superman Returns to name a few. He has worked with directors from Terrence Malik to Michael Bay. We are excited about what his experience working on such a diverse set of projects will bring to the table and are thrilled to learn from some such an incredibly talented sound designer.

We hope those of you that are joining us in Austin in December are as excited as we are. For the rest of you that won’t be joining us, we hope this post still helped you in understanding who we are, what we believe in and the importance of transparency, back-up plans, and determination.

There are ten spots left for Masters in Motion so, if you want to come, make sure you don’t miss out. You can SIGN UP HERE.

Here are links to other information about the event: