Category: Advice & Tips

Musical Introspections and Inspiration

It is that time of the year when most folks will be taking a break after a long year of hard work. Although it has often been said; how did the year go by so quickly and why weren’t we able to reach that particular milestone in life? Anna Kendrick and her fellow actors and singers will not, however, be taking a break. Such is the nature of their line of work. During any normal week, she and her musical colleagues will be performing on some nights and weekends. After all, this is the only time that working men and women can come to see or hear them.

An opportunity to shine

This is particularly true of this time of the year, and probably the busiest time for actors, film, stage and otherwise, and musicians. Their shows are fully-booked. This is also a peak time for Hollywood producers and their actors to be doing the promotional rounds, barely two months away from Oscar season. Now, Anna will appreciate this, struggling musicians are also in on the act if you will. This time of the year gives them an opportunity to shine and be noticed.

Having to work while others are having a good time could be considered an occupational hazard for actors and musicians but it’s not. For them, this is their calling. Ms. Kendrick has probably seen Burlesque and Black Swan several times over. In both these films, the young performer’s struggle to get to the top of the heap, as the famous song goes, is fore-grounded. Spike Lee must have had a rollicking time during his filming of Mo Better Blues. He captured the right notes, never needing a beginner’s trumpet to learn, and showcased the struggles of the typical (but famous) jazz trumpeter.

What to watch while it snows

Clint Eastwood’s biopic of the life and times of Charlie Parker was probably more introspective and serene. But at this time of the year, while there is a need to pause for thought, thinking what could have been done differently and better during the year, most people just want to relax and enjoy themselves, so, naturally, the performers must dutifully play their part.

In some parts of North America, it’s just too cold and the snow is pelting down a tad too hard to go outdoors. So, some folks will watch re-runs of their favorite shows. A recommended epic for children is the timeless adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Those who have seen the show may have hilarious recollections of King Louis and his band of reckless monkeys. To this day, no-one really knows how these lads managed to replicate the notes produced by the fine Bach Stradivarius horn. Those who are romantic at heart, on the other hand, might be re-watching Grease and Dirty Dancing.

All things being equal let no musician or actor tell you that they aren’t happy to see you. Your presence rewards them in more ways than one. You gave them their bread and butter but, more importantly, you allowed them to follow through on their calling.


Throwing a celebrity dinner party

Throwing a celebrity dinner partyThe movie industry is known for its elaborate and glamourous parties. With all the important people in attendance, you are bound to give very little thought to how the food is as you would spend most of the time staring at all the glitz and glamor. Arranging a dinner party for celebrities is not that easy to manage. You need to consider the guest list and the preferences of the guests and arrive at a pleasing and sumptuous meal without any mishaps. Here are some tips on hosting a great party whether it is a celebrity gala event or a simple one with family and friends.

Guest list

A dinner party is the chance for you to show off your exquisitely decorated dining room. While you are dying to show the décor to your friends and acquaintances, you should keep in mind the space constraints and put together a list accordingly. The plates and glassware should also be considered. In comparison, an outdoor party is much easier. A barbeque is more of an informal party that lets you and guests unwind and relax. With a wonderful gas smoker, you can dish out a delicious fare. And the preparations need not be as elaborate as what an indoor party needs.

Healthy menu

The food allergies that your guests have should be known beforehand. You have several different types of allergies to consider, before you choose your menu such as diary free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian etc. This can make the menu planning a big headache.

The secret to have a successful party is not planning on tons of dishes trying to appease all your guests. The best way to plan the menu is choosing healthy foods. Since health consciousness is on the overboard, now you can think of grilled foods instead of fried food for starters.

Grilled meat or vegetable from one of a reliable pellet smokers is a great alternative to the fried meat. In fact, your guests will thank you for the healthy choices. For instance, you can serve fish or meat instead of potatoes and rice, or farro or quinoa as the starch items.

Preparing food

cupcakesInstead of being stuck in the cooking for the party, you can choose dishes that you can prepare well in advance, and which need very little cooking time. For salads, you can choose a salad like Caesar kale salad. This would be great as first course and you can even toss it in dressing early without worrying about the salad wilting. This salad holds up very well.

Dishes such as short ribs can be marinated well before hand and the cooking time is minimal.  You need to just put the ribs in sauce and cook them. For veggies, you can grill asparagus, pepper, and mushrooms.

When planning an indoor dinner party, you can split up the party by having the appetizer in one room, dessert in another and so on. This will give enough breathing room and you can have the satisfaction of showing off your beautiful dining, den, patio, or other rooms in your home to your guests.

Finding your focus and inspiration from the movies

Finding your focus and inspiration from the movies

Ever wondered what truly makes Anna Kendrick tick and how she works wonders with her stagecraft and voice? Still young and truly a star in the making, it should not be long before the rest of the world joins you in admiring her innate talent and charismatic screen presence. Like the writers of appealing posts, most actors and musicians will find inspiration from past performances, sometimes using them to hone their own talents but without ever losing focus of retaining their original persona. Earlier, the challenges of staying calm and focused while performing on stage was mentioned.

Focused training

There’s a lesson for everyone in trying to maintain eye contact. Away from the stage, it is indicative of giving undivided attention to a speaker. The best stage and screen actors and musicians will at some stage of their off-stage working life include mental and physical exercises to enhance their skills of concentration and focused eye contact. While rehearsing, they will also focus their hearts and minds on an area of their lives that helps them bring up the right emotions for that particular scene.


Those who have had the good fortune of attending drama school will know that physical exercises are a necessary part of every actor’s training. Also, think about those Hollywood legends, even those well into middle age, who always look fabulously in shape. It’s a necessary evil given the heroic roles they are cast to play. And they will tell you that it takes a lot of discipline and hard work to maintain those good looks and handsome features. You could just as well compare the training and coaching regimens of actors (and musicians) with that of athletes.


Inspirational themes


The principles are pretty much the same. And like actors, athletes need their inspiration too. An earlier post also listed admiringly favorite characters who are all brave and skilled archers. One character, John Rambo, could remind you of one of the most inspiring films made in the last thirty years or so. Audiences, young and old, have by now seen Rocky, one of the most famous sports movies of all time. Staying with this theme for a moment, boxing is a great way to teach both actors and sportsmen and women how to maintain good eye contact.


In this contact sport, the eyes are a strategic weapon. Like other sports, using the right equipment is also important. If you are interested to learn more you could go to this website and read a little further. Coincidentally, Anna will probably agree with this, epic films are effective when they have a great theme song to support the story. Eye of the Tiger is one such memorable soundtrack from one of the Rocky sequels.



Readers will agree that there are many movies and songs that inspire them, so much so that it prompts them to do courageous things, much like Anna Kendrick and her industry peers are doing right now.


Skin care tips for actors and models

Skin care tips for actors and models

The constant exposure to flashing cameras and hot lights of a movie set that are necessary for making a shot look good are actually harmful for the skin. Movies stars and models have to face the lights on a daily basis. This brings on wrinkles soon, even in young actors.

The harsh makeup products further add insult to the injury. Most actors start out as models and later enter into movies. They have glowing, health complexions initially, but later the harsh lights make up, and celebrity way of living brings on damage to the silky and vibrant skin.

Models and actors are the main people who have to be under constant limelight both in front and off the camera. The celebrity life involves constantly applying and removing makeup, working under high pressure and facing the harsh stage lighting all the time. As far as cosmetic use is concerned, it affects all those who use it.

Makeup issues

Constantly applying and removing of makeup products such as eye shadow, foundation, mascara and other cosmetics including those used to remove the makeup contain harsh chemicals, which damage the skin.

Nowadays you have advanced skin care machines such as the dermabrasion machines found at, which take care of blemishes and gives smooth and glowing skin reducing the need for applying loads of cosmetics to get a gorgeous looking skin.

Models and actors have more issues as they need to change the makeup between scenes or photos. Similarly, those not in the show business too need to replace their makeup to a lighter one when they return home from work and prepare for an evening out. So, they need to continuously apply makeup, remove it and re-apply it in succession.

Sometimes actors have to wear very heavy makeup all day for certain scenes. Thus, this constant assault on the skin by chemicals, make it susceptible to skin lesions, sun damage, moles, warts and skin damage. Therefore, models, actors, and other persons who love applying makeup need to know how to remove the makeup properly and safeguard their skin.

Tips for skin care

Applying a base of copper peptide serum before makeup application helps to protect the skin from environmental damage.

Hydroxy acids should be used to remove dead skin cell layer and other damaged proteins in the skin removing flaws and giving an appealing complexion. Using REJUVADERM-MD dermabrasion device also helps to remove flaws and give your skin a wonderful glow.

To remove makeup, you need to use biological healing oils, which do not cause any damage to skin as the chemical makeup removers do. You need to apply the healing oil and rub gently to get rid of the makeup. After the makeup is removed, rinse with sufficiently warm water. The oil that remains after helps to replenish the natural skin oils.

While removing makeup, using soaps can make the skin, look dry. Instead, mild cleansers should be used gently. To repair the protective barrier of the skin and its antioxidant protection mechanism, application of serum of copper peptide is necessary. This repairs the skin within 48 hours’ time.

Karaoke and The Stars

Everyone loves karaoke. While the polished classical performances are certainly awe-inspiring, karaoke has its own share of fans. Movies that feature stars trying their hand at karaoke are very entertaining to watch. From funny and perfect to highly embarrassing karaoke attempts watching the stars sing on screen is a real treat indeed. Whenever you hear Cups Song, Anna Kendrick instantly comes to your mind and Pocketful of Sunshine has become synonymous with Emma Stone.

And while Pitch Perfect has lots of singing, it is Kendrick’s rendition of Cups song that lingers in memory long after. As for hilarity, Charlie Day’s singing of ‘That’s Not My Name’ is a good contender. Karaoke singing need not necessarily be embarrassing or ridiculous. It is possible to sing a passably good karaoke song. Here are some tips.

Emotional connection

Karaoke is all about the choice of song. When you pick a song that you are connected to emotionally, it would come out better and you can strike a good rapport with the audience. A nice karaoke machine also helps to make the song come out better.

Practice makes perfect

If it is possible, you can practice the song beforehand, so you know which pitch would work for you. Karaoke machines available today have features that increase or decrease the key of the song to suit your singing.

Reach out

The primary focus of your singing should be conveying a story. You can spend time on understanding the lyrics, so you could do justice to the song. You will also reach out better to your audience, when you emote well.

Sing together

If you are anxious about singing alone, try singing with a friend. This will make your feel safer in numbers and make you confident enough to go it alone. Having a proper karaoke machine such as SINGING MACHINE ISM1028XA also helps to perform better.

No to alcohol

You may be tempted to have a drink to boost your confidence, but alcohol dries up the vocal system and prevents you from singing well.

Story telling it is

Audience would like it very much, if you perform well as a nice storyteller, even if you don’t rank high in delivery or have a bad voice. The connection you build with the audience and your song matters most.

Body Language

Your body should reflect the song you sing. When you move with the beat, it frees your voice and the connection is even better.

Eye contact

If you feel uncomfortable making eye contact with your audience for long time, just scan them. You can try focusing on different audience sections for a few seconds. This also serves to make everyone feel you are including him or her in the performance.

But while you are pulling hairs out trying to find the right way to sing better at the karaoke, you need to remember that it is a fun activity and retaining the fun element is the most significant part of the whole exercise.  So be at ease and the more comfortable you are, the better will be the response from your audience and they will be least likely to notice your imperfections.

Tips for Wildlife Film Making

Wildlife filmmaking can be quite overwhelming for a beginner. Watching the National Geographic channel is inspiration enough, but to become skilled at showing such iconic vistas, nature in its pristine form and capturing rare wild life behavior is something else.

While you think that you need a highly sophisticated and expensive camera to accomplish all these and not to mention support of a big channel like National Geographic channel, it is not always so. You can give an equally good footage with your existing equipment. Here are some tips to help you.

Basic steps

While you capture amazing animal behavior, it is easy to be engrossed in the action before you, and slip out on the camera fundamentals. For a clear, sharp, and excellent image, you should begin with crash zoom for focusing. Using the rule of thirds is a great way to compose the picture and ensure you expose precisely on the subject. When you have done the above things, you can be assured of the exact reflection of the image, as you see it on a television screen later.

While you are out trudging in the wild, having the right gear on would keep you comfortable. Filming wildlife is similar to hunting in many ways. The only difference here is you don’t snag the prey. Otherwise, the stalking and waiting are all the same. And to ensure you are safe in the wild having gear like the efficient tactical knife helps a lot.

Tripod use

Wild animals are different from domestic animals and very cautious about human interruption. So you need to use the zoom for close up or mid shots. A tripod is therefore essential. Make sure the tripod head is flexible. This way you can get stable shots and follow the wildlife action.

Focus down

Other than animals like the giraffe and elephant, most wild animals are shorter than humans are. You need to get down, so you are at their eye level so they will look larger than life. This creates a more intense appeal for the audience, and gives the footage spectacular backdrops. While filming make sure you take the necessary precautions. Don’t venture too near the animals and always have safety equipment and gear such as the Zero Tolerance Folding knife, click here.

Audio is vital

Audio gives life to the images you capture and its importance cannot be stressed enough.  Most of the needed audio comes from the ambient sounds present in nature. So try to record the natural sounds as much as possible without any other sounds marring the effect. You should keep quiet when recording and most importantly plug in your audio and ensure it is in recording mode always.


Capturing the subject with the sun in the backdrop is a difficult maneuver, as you cannot balance the exposure between the background and your subject easily. Unless you specifically want a silhouette effect, using the sun as background should not be attempted.  Instead, ensure the subject is in front of the sun, so it gets maximum lighting and your images turn out looking awesome.

Making a Movie? Here’s Must Know Tips

Making a Movie Heres Must Know Tips

If you are ever engaged in shooting amateur film, then you know that it requires more knowledge and skill than simply turning on the camera. You need to know a lot about movement, light, how to follow the story, in which space to put it, what music to use … A lot of knowledge acquired from work and experience. If you are not shooting until now, but you plan to, then read these tips, which will prevent some beginner mistakes.

  1. Create as many shots. Today, it is easy to make more shots of one scene because you have access to digital technology that is eventually limited by memory. Previously, a lot of shooting were a waste of film tapes and money at the same time. Quite limiting factors. Given that you have the ability to record and delete easily, use it. This is an advantage! Shoot one scene several times. Use a variety of angles and perspectives, different lighting. Later, during editing, you will have the choice of shots, not just one that may not be good and cannot be repaired.
  2. Edit and record in no particular order. Take the opportunity for a good shot every time you look it. Do not miss it just because it doesn’t fit into the sequence of shots currently. Editing in the software allows you to insert scenes later, in the order that suits you. So there is no reason to skip something interesting because later you can simply insert it anywhere you want!
  3. Play with the proximity of the footage. If you just set the camera to record an event in front of it, is a good way to make a boring and monotonous footage. Pay attention to movies with good cinematography. You will see that there are broad scenes, middle scenes and close up scenes that are alternately changed and give dynamic to the film. So, play around with the proximity of footage. If it is necessary to include a wider view, use the wide screen frame. If you want to include events that involve several people, use the middle frame. If you want to focus on one person or on certain details of your story, use a close-up footage.
  4. Be careful with your movements. If you have ever watched how they make a big-budget movie, you must have noticed that the cameraman does not carry a camera in hand, but they are mostly on stands, which are eventually moving on special rails. This is not because the person who captures not like to walk, but because carrying the camera came with shaking and thus disrupt the audience. If you need to make moves, take the most of your camera and make proper zooming. It is best to develop the skills of manual zooming. Go from wide-screen to close up with a slight zoom. Too fast zoom is bad, as well as shaking of the camera. It takes a little practice, experience, and a good eye. Besides zooming, you can make pan movements that push footage left- right, or tilt movements that follow footage up and down.
  5. Provide good light. This is equally important in the cinema and photography. Good film lighting provides good visibility, and it will make a film clearer. This, of course, very much depends on your story. Night scenes should not shine in full glory as daily. What is important is to take care of the position of the lights. It should never be behind your subject unless your goal is to show only a silhouette, with no details.
  6. Look for the actors. The amateur film does not mean that you are limited to your family and friends. Observe the people around you. Maybe it’s someone you do not know a great for your movie and wants to participate in such a project. It is better to take the risk with the question than with bad actors. Good actors give you a better chance to make a good film, to expand rumors about it outside the circle of family and friends, and the ability to make a good movie review.
  7. The stage setting is very important. Boring white walls with no details are just that – boring and empty. No matter how much you wanted to highlight the action of your film, boring stage design will not help. Make it interesting and alluring to the eye. If you shoot outside, find some nice places, which offer a good view. A good background should never be underestimated.
  8. Do not underestimate sound. A good film is not just a good picture. He has to sound good. The dialogues and sound effects that are not heard, or that are mixed with background sounds and unclear, will ruin your movie. Do not use the microphone on the camera. Purchase or rent a good microphone.
  9. Do not correct mistakes later. If you do not like the scene, do not think that you can modify it during editing. It is much easier and better to record a new scene on the spot. Editing is something that requires a lot of learning and knowledge. You may not know how to fix your mistakes, and you will lose a lot of time and stay with poor, irreparable scene.
  10. Center your shots. As with photos, make a good position of the subject you are shooting . This is very important. If the subject is the focus of the story, it is pointless to be on the edge of the frame. When you make close-up shots it was not such challenge, but when you’re doing a wider footage, it may happen that your subject escapes to the side. One way to put it in the middle in relation to the environment is to imagine on your lens a grid that has 9 equal fields. In the center put what is essential, and on the side put background that adequately complements the scene.

As for all, making of the amateur film takes a lot of practice and experience. You will make a lot of mistakes and notice them only when you watch a film. That’s OK because such experiences shape you and make you better. Sometimes it is necessary to experience a mistake, but good advice can certainly prevent a bad experience. We hope that you will, following these tips, be a step away from the bitter experience and closer to a great film.

An insight into film lighting

An insight into film lighting

Lighting plays a key role in filming, especially the fill light and backlight. Fill light is the soft lighting in the front, while the stronger light in the back is the backlight. The lights can be arranged strategically, so you get a dark area between the space the backlight illuminates and the space the fill light illuminates to get a moody feel to the shot. This is very effective in most moody and somber settings.

For getting a different look, you can make the backlight softer, but in any setting, the backlight should dominate the fill light. This is part of the reason, why films take longer time to shoot. Light setting is the task that eats up plenty of time during film shoots. Therefore, it is better to plan a scene in such a way that it doesn’t need frequent relocation. And this is best accomplished when you order the scenes according to the lighting.

Time saving tip

In a scene with reverse and direct shot, instead of shifting lights and camera to the opposite side, switch actors and camera to the other side, so you get the right, eye line relationship. This lets you use a single lighting for multiple shots. Based on the situation, you may have to shift the props too. This tactic is right when the background of the actors present is identical. While this may not work all the time, when used in the right setting, it can come out well and save time too.

Cost effective lighting

Since lighting is pivotal in both video and film in relation to mood and tone setting, choosing a cost effective option is best. While fluorescent or tungsten lighting sets have been used conventionally, LEDs are becoming more popular now. These give better and powerful lighting and are cost saving too. In fact, even vehicles including emergency vehicles have efficient led light bars fitted in them to increase the lighting, when they drive at night.

Color mixing

The custom of mixing color temperatures of different types has been used to bring on a greater impact on scenes. This involves using different colored lights in a single shot. ‘Terminator 2’ had the steel mill shot where orange and blue light was used to symbolize molten steel and moonlight. But before you decide on color mixing, you have to assess the relationship of the different colors you are mixing, as it is impossible to change blue to a darker hue without turning the orange into a bluish tinge or less orangish.

One of the important things you note when you visit a film set is the harsh lighting. For an untrained eye, the place would look too bright. You may wonder why such efforts and money are put into lighting when the film would look more natural without them. The reason is that film as well as video does not react to light as our eyes react.

The contrast in lighting we see in real life cannot be dealt with by the film and video. Without artificial lights, you are bound to get the shadows go totally black or have a white area on the highlights. To get a natural scene, you need to have as much lighting as needed by the film or video to make it look natural.

Tips To Write A Movie Review

Tips To Write A Movie Review

So you happen to watch a lot of movies every now and then. And most of the time, you seem to have an opinion that you want to share. Maybe, you liked it, maybe you didn’t like certain parts. The point is, you have a review in store for others to read. However, writing a movie review isn’t exactly as easy as it seems. You need to have credible backings of the things you are saying. It can’t be as plain as a book report that you did in high school. With that being said, here are a few tips that you can use to write a good movie review.

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