Contemplating the BMPCC: Is the Price Drop Worth it?

bmpccBlackMagic has dropped the price of the Pocket Cinema Camera to $500.

That is an amazing price. It is an amazing camera. There are some things to think about before upgrading, but at $500 it’s a lot more tempting.

I wrote a while back about my recent change in camera approach. And I’m still committed to renting better gear than I can buy. But it is very tempting to upgrade my EOS M to the BMPCC.

Of course the $500 isn’t really the true price. You would need a lens adapter or two. And the camera requires very fast cards, and lots of batteries. Apparently normal ND filters don’t work. So you are looking at more like $700.

But the big cost comes when you look at the crop factor of the BMPCC sensor. It’s 2.88x. That means that your “wide” angle 28mm that you use with your full frame or APS-C sensor body now is the equivalent of an 81mm lens. A nifty 50mm is like a 144mm lens. Plus, inexpensive adapters don’t allow for electronic changes in aperture. So your modern EF lenses (for example) are wide open.

In order to use the BMPCC in most settings you will need to buy new lenses. These would either be MFT mount wide angles or vintage manual wide angle lenses you adapt to the body, but these will almost all be longer than you want or insanely expensive. The Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is well thought of, and delivers an equivalent 58mm for about $150 used. The slightly wider, but slower and softer, 14mm (40mm equivalent) f2.5 will set you back $180.

With just one basic lens you are back up to almost $900 for the BMPCC. It does make pretty video, though.

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Success and Failure

IMG_4080I got a box of DVDs in the mail today. It’s one year after they were first released for sale.

I remember that day. My whole family piled into the car and drove down to the local store that was selling them. We rolled into the store and started looking for the shelf. I don’t remember who saw them first, but what great feeling to see something you worked so hard on available for people.

I didn’t know what to expect from the retail release of the DVD. IMG_2597 I knew that we were a show filled with unknown actors, created by an unknown director. But I was hopeful. We had TV exposure and a few hundred fans on social media.

The weekend after the release we had the discs available at the church which helped so much with the production. Most of the cast and crew were from that congregation. And we sold a couple dozen that day. Through my distributor’s contract with Word, I knew we had several dozen in stores across the country. And I knew that friends and family were buying copies. I personally bought one just so I could say I did.

Fast forward 3 months. It’s the end of the first quarter. I get a small check. I had spent more on social media advertising. In the 2nd quarter my distributor loses a partnership, and has multiple copies returned. For the rest of the year the DVD is only available online, from a dozen or so different outlets.

I can’t tell you exactly how many were produced, or how many were sold. But it wasn’t very many. Despite my best efforts, we never landed a major retail placement. There are a lot of new video products coming out every month, and we were buried in the pile. After a year in relationship with our distributor, we decided to part company.

Thank God retail sales are not the only measurement of success or failure!

I actually wrote an ebook about this. I almost titled it “How to create a successful Christian TV series and still not make a living.”

So what makes me say the show was a success when it certainly didn’t do well in retail?

We made the show so people would be impacted by the content. Entertained by a biblically based comedy. The more people who see it the better. Yes, people who buy the DVD would be people who see it, but luckily that wasn’t the only way it could be watched.

All 10 episodes of Peculiar broadcast on multiple religious networks around the world. JCTV (now JUCE), NRB Network, CTN-Lifestyle, and The Walk TV broadcast the show in the US. Plus several individual stations. Internationally it’s on a satellite channel in Africa, and wing translated for broadcast in Romania and India.

An episode was shown at the 2013 Gideon Film Festival, and the series won the 2014 NRB Media Award for best Creative TV Programming. And did I mention that we did the whole thing for under $9000, and no one went into debt to make it happen.

Retail has been a failure. But the show has been a success! I’m proud of what we accomplished, and I can’t wait until I can do more projects like it.

In the meantime, all the episodes are online again. And I will likely do some “closeout sales” on the DVD copies I do have. Not to make a ton of money (obviously) but to get them in the hands of people.

If you haven’t see the series in a while, check it out:

Petition

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8 ESV

 

Praying-HandsI have to admit, I’ve struggled with the concept of prayers of petition. I’ve always fallen more toward the “God’s will” side of prayer than the “ask and receive” side.

Think about it. The God of all creation, maker of everything. The omniscient and omnipotent Lord of the universe is who we pray to. He knows what I need and want and will pray before I ever ask it. Why, then, do I need to ask anything? I always felt it was better to seek God’s will in decisions and circumstances than to ask for specific things. If God is good and just, and has a perfect plan for my life, ought I not seek that plan rather than try to figure out my own path and drop a couple prayers into some sort of divine vending machine?

But then you run into this parable. Right out front the reason it’s told is laid out: So you will always pray and not lose heart. It’s the story of a woman’s persistence over whelming a judge, who didn’t even fear God or respect men. But here is God, who loves us as opposed to a judge who tolerates us, will he not give justice? There is a similar story in Luke 11 about a sleeping neighbor’s bread.

It’s clear that prayers of petition are encouraged here.

Now, let’s not go crazy. Obviously God says no all the time. He won’t do something against his nature. He will often allow us to go through hard times for his purposes. He heals some, and allows others to die. He is God, we are not.

And many times when the Bible talks about asking and receiving, there is a second part of the concept that reminds us that this works not because God has to agree, but like John 14 says, we receive so “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” So don’t expect God to agree to give you a million dollars just because you add the words “in Jesus name” at the end of your request.

So let’s assume that you are asking something of God, something within the calling he has placed on you, something that could be within his will for your life. Something that will either bring him glory in itself or through some result of the request. Wouldn’t a prayer of petition like the widow’s be not just OK, be welcomed and encouraged?

But wait, If God knows my heart, and everything I will say before I say it, why do I need to pray?

It’s the act of praying, of asking for something that acknowledges that this thing is out of your power. You are bending your will to God’s. Prayers of petition aren’t about what God learns of our desires. They are about us learning to rely and depend on God for everything. Even if he says no.

So bow your head and bend your will. Do not be discouraged. Keep asking. Don’t lose heart.

This is my petition: I need a job that allows me to provide for my family and still do what You have called me to do. I am going to be as persistent as the widow. I believe that you can give this to us, and you will.

Project Update

It’s been a while since I updated you on my various projects. I’ve been consumed with the details of life, and many are still over arching everyday. But I’m tired of just reacting to what is thrown my way, and want to do some thing.

Flawed– Script is pretty much done. I’m on hold with this for now. I want it to be good, and I need a more consistent schedule, some kind of normalcy, before I can move forward. Frankly, it’s just too big a project to start if we don’t know for sure that we are staying in the area. It will take at least 19 days of shooting. So add the weeks of preproduction and fundraising to the front of that and I need to have a settled schedule for the next 3 months before I try to raise money and make this happen.

But really feels like a good story. I’ve gotten some positive response from distributors and such when I pitched the project.

Other Feature Scripts– I registered www.churchcampmovie.com. I have this idea to do a church camp comedy. Just some basic script outlines. I can’t believe this hasn’t been done before.

And I still have the epic film idea, the one based on the last few chapters of Acts. It’s such a great story and we don’t really talk about it much. But these are very early in the process.

So what am I actively working on?

Short films. I wrote about this the other day. I’m gauging interest in some small projects than can be done for little money with people who want to learn more about telling stories off with through video. I’d love to see some projects from other people that we can shoot, but for now I’m working on 3 short film ideas. Each is more complex than the next.

Hosea– I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Hosea and Gomer. So much so that I put a Hosea-like character in the script for Flawed. I have a short, one actor, one location monologue of that character that I want to shoot. There are a couple of different styles of shooting I want to try. This can be shot for no money in an afternoon. It’s as simple as it gets.

Number 6– I’ve always wanted to explore genres that religious films avoid. This is an action adventure project that follows a mild mannered pastor that accidentally gets pulled into a conflict between spy rings. It deals with issues surrounding the the 6th commandment. Two main characters, this would be shot over a few evenings and weekends. There would be some expenses for props. And for post effects.

experienceThe Experience– This is a 12 page sci fi/thriller set in rural Southeast Missouri. It follows a couple out for a weekend camping trip who have very different ideas about the supernatural. It deals with the issue of truth and knowing what is true. Four characters, this would be shot on location over a weekend in MO.

So that’s what I’m working on. Once all 3 scripts are set, I’ll start looking toward raising what money we would need to accomplish these films. It won’t take much, but it will take some. I’ll need to do a flexible funding campaign to see what we can do. There will be 3 levels of fundraising. As each is reached, the next film is give a green light.

So I’ve got some work to do. Which is much better than sitting and hoping something comes along.