Preparing For Takeoff

A comprehensive, nuts-and-bolts guide to preproduction, from both the producer’s and director’s points of view. Published by Focal Press. Available now on Amazon.

The official book site has additional sample budgets, forms, and other materials you can download for free!

Filmmaking Articles

Filmshop Voices

Fantasy Films to Study as an Independent Filmmaker, an article highlighting some wonderful non-Euro fantasy films that conveyed an incredible sense of wonder without relying on huge VFX budgets

Web Vs. Print Graphics: A Brief Primer, an article explaining some of the technical differences between the two media, and how to best prepare/design your publicity materials for both.

Stareable Blog

Mixing Fact With Fiction in Three Trembling Cities, on how we integrated fiction and non-fiction storytelling in Three Trembling Cities.

MovieMaker Magazine

From Scene to Screen: The Process of Bringing a Scene to Life in Three Trembling Cities, written in Fall 2016. Available online.

The Beginner’s Guide To Budgeting, written for their Fall 2014 MovieMaker’s Guide special issue. Now available online or in print.

Pro Video Coalition

Surviving Your First Film Market, a quick how-to guide on how to survive – and thrive – based on my recent experience at the American Film Market.

Seven Reasons To Stop Working On That Script. We’ve all been there – you’re trying to finish (or make) that passion project. But sometimes, it’s better to call it quits now than bang your head against the wall indefinitely.

Thinking About Extras. At some point, you’ll need background actors for your script. But a lot of indie producers don’t think about what goes into their care and handling, and what other elements (food, space, transportation) you need to budget for.

Thinking About Crew Prep. Whatever your budget, you’ll need to hire your crew before you start shooting. How much prep do different departments need?

Sure Exposure

A series of articles on production-related topics:
Costume and Wardrobe – A primer on costume and wardrobe, a department that often gets thrown under the bus by young filmmakers
Budgeting For Casting – The casting process broken down
6 Cheap Ways To Add Production Value
Scheduling Sex Scenes – Seriously, how to deal with sensitive scenes on set and in your schedule
Budgeting Favors – Your cousin says you can shoot in his apartment for free. But what does “free” really mean?
Loss And Damage. How to budget for bad things happening to the gear you rent
Climbing Out of the Scheduling Hole. How to deal with things when you’re behind schedule on set
You Can’t Have Enough Drives. But maybe you can budget for them.
Having The Good Festival Experience. How to get the most from festivals
Give The Art Department Some Love. Another department that gets thrown under the bus on indie shoots.
Grip, Electric and Camera 101. On student shoots these departments are often mashed together, but they have very different budgetary needs on larger projects
Apple Doesn’t Like Indie Filmmakers. Yes, I said it.
Transportation, Your Biggest Headache. How to budget and manage transportation on indie shoots.
Delivering Your Film Part I and
Part II. You’ve got a distribution deal, now it’s time to deliver it to the distributor.
Things No One Tells You About The Film Business
Production Assistant Survival Guide
Shooting In Bad Weather. How to budget and schedule for terrible weather
Location Scouting Can Be Fun
Shooting Effects On The Cheap. No you won’t make the next Avatar on your phone, but you can plan and create good looking effects without spending a fortune
Covering The Scene: A Fresh Take. There are many different ways to shoot a scene. Here are some alternatives to the traditional method
Loving Your Location Manager. Probably one of the hardest jobs on a film crew
Working With Your Colorist. Color correction basics.

Other Publications

Print articles in Indie Slate and Student Filmmaker on budgeting, post and other topics.


The Endless Season Of Grief, on Medium. A reflection on the political and personal time we’ve been living in. It’s been two years since I wrote it but it feels more relevant today than ever.

Facing America’s Basement, on Medium. America has never faced its foundations in racist and xenophobic ideology, beginning with the theft and genocide of Native tribes and the exploitation of enslaved Africans, natives, indentured servants, and women. We will not become the ‘greatest’ nation we aspire to be until we make amends for it.

Eulogy for My Mother, on Medium. In March of 2017, my mother died of lung cancer. I try to do some justice to her painful and also miraculous life.

It’s Time To Stop Policing Society, on Medium. We keep reaching for the police as the first tool in the toolbox to deal with social issues. How can we get past this tendency?

The Abuse of Evolution, on Medium. The mechanics of evolution are NOT the same as those behind the marketplace or the economy. Evolution is far more complex, and beyond our collective control. So why do we keep framing the rules of the marketplace in terms of a watered-down, faulty understanding of evolution?