Nathaniel Hansen – Filmmaker Blog

In the News

In The News:

Over the last month, I’ve noticed two big spikes in traffic on my vimeo.com videos page. Yesterday, my inbox was flooded with emails from people on Vimeo – commenting and “liking” my videos. The sudden influx surprised me and I suspected it had been linked to from somewhere.

To my pleasant surprise, I found that I had been featured on the Vimeo blog as someone whose work was worth checking out. Talk about humbling!

Here’s a screen shot (I added the arrows):

The second spike came earlier in the month, when Kickstarter featured my project on their blog! Here’s an excerpt:

Nathaniel Hansen is making a documentary which collects the short, stylized interviews he conducts with elderly people. His project was successful months ago, but he’s been keeping his backers in the loop by premiering finished clips (like the one above) and giving great production updates on his blog.

And another fab screenshot:

You can read the vimeo blog here and the kickstarter blog here.

Enjoy!

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Documentary Short Clip – Dorcas

The editing process in a documentary film is often long and tedious. I interviewed 20 people for this project, with a few more still on the list. Most of the interviews lasted for about 2 hours, which means I have approximately 40 hours of footage to be trimmed down to 70-80 minutes. A mammoth task, for sure.

These short clips help me get reacquainted with the interview footage, and force me to think about creating a beginning and an ending. Once I’ve selected the best interviews, I’ll go back and flesh them out by filling in the middle.

I’m excited about this short clip, as it’s the first interview with someone who has directly impacted my life. I was lucky enough to meet up with my 5th grade elementary school teacher, who still lives in Colorado. She is one of a handful of people I think of when I ponder on those who have influenced my life path in a dramatic way. She was the first educator who really understood how to handle me (to say I was a handful is something of an understatement). She knew exactly what to say, and she listened.

We shared a wonderful half-day together and this short clip is just a fraction of the advice and wisdom she dispensed during our interview.

Enjoy

http://www.theeldersfilm.com/interviews/dorcas/

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One Day On Earth

I was recently featured on the One Day On Earth webcast, which caught me by surprise and was quite exciting. One Day On earth is an exciting film project that will aim to capture a portrait of the earth and its inhabitants on 10.10.10, or the tenth day of October 2010. I’m very excited about having been asked to participate in this film, and the film’s director/producer was kind enough to feature me on the website about a month ago. I’ve included two links below, one is the trailer for the film, and the other is the webcast featuring my upcoming documentary feature film project The Elders. Enjoy!

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Documentary Tech Article

Edward Delaney over at Documentarytech.com reached out a while back to see if I would discuss my kickstarter documentary project The Elders. We spoke on the phone for about 40 minutes, and two weeks later this article was posted to his site.

Nathaniel Hansen is getting ready to take a cross-country road trip to find his film, a documentary called “The Elders,” but he’s found his funding for the journey through the kindness of both friends and strangers, and their belief, in dollars, in what he’s doing.

Hansen, an Oregon native living in Boston, and with a degree in documentary filmmaking from Emerson College, is one of those filmmakers who is inverting the formula for how it’s done.
One of the ways he has is by mounting a successful crowdfunding effort through Kickstarter.com, which bills itself as “a new way to fund and follow creativity.”

Kickstarter allows filmmakers and other artists to propose a project, with a defined amount of funding requested and defined window of time in which to raise it. If the funding goal is not met, all pledges are wiped clean, a kind of all-or-nothing prospect that can be both inspiring and daunting, seeing if your idea is as viable as you think.

Hansen says, “I’ve been following Kickstarter not quite since they launched, when a friend of mine sent me an email and said, ‘Have you seen this?’ I was a little frustrated because it was by invitation, and it was a bit of a mystery to me how you got invited. But I kept following it, and in the back of my mind I kept thinking, ‘What kind of a project would get me the widest possible support from friends, family and strangers?’

It’s a pretty long article, so if you’re interested you can read the rest of it here at documentary tech.

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More thoughts on Kickstarter

My latest documentary film project The Elders is down to 5.5 more days (as of this writing) and it’s going to be close. We’re at 55% right now, having raised just over $6k. Really close. There have been some big developments over the last week that give me faith in this as a new fundraising model. But it’s also given me pause for thought: How often can you tax your social network? My story, and the project, were featured on a couple of blogs, namely DVINFO and Planet5D:

Earlier in the week, I had learned that my project was being featured on kickstarter.com’s home page, which blew me away considering the volume of amazing projects that are submitted on a daily basis. I have seen multiple pledges come from people who have found the project there. The generosity of strangers is truly something to behold.

What made the front page even cooler, is that during the three days or so my page was near the top, kickstarter was getting crazy press about a project called *diaspora that had raised $175k in under two weeks. What? Wow, I’m still hopeful some karma comes my way from association.

A lot of people have asked me what the process has been like, and the only thing I can think to say is that it’s been totally humbling. To watch donations come in from friends, family, friends of friends, and total strangers is overwhelming. It’s a fine line, I think, pestering people for support, but I’m confident in the product I can create so their investment in me isn’t a loss. It comes down to being able to deliver, should this venture prove successful, and I’m very confident I’ll be able to do just that.

I still have 5.5 days to go, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Check out the pitch page here, if you haven’t already. More to come…

http://kck.st/dkXLSD

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Kickstarter…round two

After a lot of thought, and some discussion with my better-half, I decided to launch a different project on kickstarter.com than I had initially intended. I wanted to test the waters to get a feel for how the process worked, and to get a sense of how to best engage with an audience of potential fans/supporters. I also wanted to tackle a medium sized budget before I went after something that could buy a house in some parts of the US.

On Friday night, around 10pm, May 7th I decided I had waited long enough. I set up one key light, and I started to talk to the camera. It was really, really difficult. Pitching in person is one thing…pitching to a virtual audiences of thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of people who you couldn’t see, was unnerving. I must have done the pitch 12 times before finally settling on the last take (usually the best!). I cut the pitch video (which goes on the kickstarter.com project page) down to a couple minutes (I rambled for a while) and uploaded it to the project page.

I then spent some time crafting, re-writing and refining the project description. I had written it out in a proposal form weeks ago, but it lacked spirit (not to mention a good title), so I started to re-write.

The Elders – A Coming of Age Documentary Portrait Series

By the way in which a society behaves toward its old people it uncovers the naked, and often carefully hidden, truth about its real principles and aims.
–Simone de Beauvoir, The Coming of Age

Logline:
Through the eyes of an aging generation, The Elders examines what it really means to live, by coming of age.

**The following serves as an outline, but it is common in documentary for the story to change once production begins.

Synopsis:
A feature-length documentary, The Elders uses stylized interview portraits of elderly individuals to tell a universal story about life’s most important lessons. Thematically organized around life lessons that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared humanity.

The short film “Pat” that I shot in October of 2009 is a good example of what this film will look and feel like: http://vimeo.com/7196960

The Elders is an attempt to explore the breadth of understanding held by an aging generation. Their collective memory is fading, and while many of their more universal stories have been immortalized by literature, science, and the arts, their oral histories and unique experiences could yet yield a moving reminder of how best to live a life.

There’s more to the description, but you get the idea. The next part was really fun, and involved coming up with “rewards” for prospective donors. Part of the kickstarter philosphy is rewarding those who pledge with something tangible in exchange for their support. Some rewards are pretty zany and clever, but with a potentially somber, and often serious subject like “The Elders,” I couldn’t be too silly with the rewards. The reward had to match the quality of the project.

Here’s what I came up with:

Pledge $1 or more
Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

Pledge $15 or more
HD Digital Download of the feature film; Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

Pledge $35 or more
Limited edition DVD copy of the film; HD Digital Download of the feature film; Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

Pledge $50 or more
Digital Still from the film; Limited edition DVD copy of the film; HD Digital Download of the feature film; Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

Pledge $100 or more
Photo Book of the film’s production; Digital Still from the film; Limited edition DVD copy of the film; HD Digital Download of the feature film; Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

Pledge $500 or more
VIP Tickets to the premiere and Special Producer credit; Photo Book of the film’s production; Digital Still from the film; Limited edition DVD copy of the film; HD Digital Download of the feature film; Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

Pledge $1,000 or more
Aside from my eternal gratitude, a personal showing of the film with live running commentary (if you want it). And food. I’ll bring the film and the food… Plus: VIP Tickets to the premiere and Special Producer credit; Photo Book of the film’s production; Digital Still from the film; Limited edition DVD copy of the film; HD Digital Download of the feature film; Special Thanks on the film website and in the film credits.

I squared away my rewards, spell checked a few times…and then, early Saturday morning, after having another set of eyes look over everything, I clicked the “Launch Project” button at the bottom of the page. I have to say, I’ve never had so much apprehension about clicking a button. After-all, it’s kind of my reputation on the line!

More to come…stay tuned.

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Award-Winning Filmmaker Pitches Online to Raise Funds Independently

Nathaniel Hansen, filmmaker and media artist, turns to alternative funding sources for his latest feature film, The Elders, a documentary portrait series about aging.

Boston, MA (PRWEB) May 10, 2010 — Independent filmmaker Nathaniel Hansen is turning to the internet to raise funds for his latest feature film project, The Elders, a documentary about aging. With money all but gone for independent films with budgets less than $5-10 million, and with grant funds drying up quickly, filmmakers are having to become more innovative in their fundraising tactics. The new kickstarter.com model appears to be fruitful avenue for artists looking to go-it alone.

In line with Kickstarter.com guidelines, artists have a set number of days to raise all the funds, or the project receives nothing. Hansen’s film has an 18 day fundraising window, from start to finish. If the alloted budget ($11,000 US) isn’t raised before May 26, all pledges are cancelled and the film is not funded.

When asked about why Kickstarter was appealing, Hansen noted that “the ability to spread the word quickly online to a lot of people, and keep them updated on the status of the project is invaluable.” An added advantage for artists is Kickstarter’s merchant partner Amazon.com, which enables each project the convenience of receiving funds from anywhere in the world.

Hansen entered the online fundraising pool a little bit at a time. Another film he is co-producing about the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans was 135% funded after a 45 day fundraising effort. The project’s success gave Hansen the courage to go-it-alone with his own project, “Seeing the success of our other project gave me the courage to put my own film on the line.”

Hansen’s film The Elders, examines what it really means to live, by coming of age. A feature-length documentary, The Elders uses stylized interview portraits of elderly individuals to tell a universal story about life’s most important lessons. Thematically organized around life lessons that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared humanity.

If the film is successfully funded, Hansen expects to deliver the final cut before the end of the year. To learn more about the film, readers can visit the project’s pitch page here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nathanielhansen/the-elders-a-coming-of-age-documentary-portrait-se

About Nathaniel Hansen:
Nathaniel James Hansen is an award-winning filmmaker and media artist. His directed works include nationally broadcast commercials, short and feature-length documentaries, short narrative films, episodic television, web-based media, and ethnographic film. His documentary films have screened at festivals in the US and internationally, and most recently at the White House.

Contact:
Nathaniel Hansen
nh@nathanielhansen.com
Salmonrun Media LLC
702-513-5831
http://www.nathanielhansen.com

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Headed to the White House – Sorta.

Participatory Chinatown is a 3-D immersive game designed to be part of the master planning process for Boston’s Chinatown. Players assume the role of one of 15 virtual residents and work to complete their assigned quest – finding a job, housing, or place to socialize.

Matthew Hashiguchi and I were asked to create this short doc for a presentation to Boston’s City Council and for the White House. I shot with an EX1/Letus Extreme and a Zeiss 85mm f1.4, and Matthew was shooting on a Cavision rig with a 7D, Canon 50mm 1.8, 70-200mm 2.8, and a 20-55mm 2.8.

The development was funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

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Six Friends: A Conversation

I was asked to DP and help edit a short documentary based on six conversations with the producer’s friends. She’s an undergrad at Emerson College, so I have to first of all give her props for having the courage to seek me out and ask me – I’m not sure I would have been so bold at 20. She (Elizabeth Charles) wants to be a producer, and so far she’s on the right track.

We shot and cut the project in one day, due to schedule, and because the competition she entered it in had a deadline of the same day we were able to film. It was a bit rushed in the edit, but overall I think it turned out. I’m not crazy about the music, but it was provided by the contest organizers.

Shot in a small dorm lounge with EX1, Letus Extreme, Zeiss 85mm f1.4, a Lowel kit and my Mole Richardson tweenie kit. I enjoyed lighting this piece as it was a challenge given the space.

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Hanging Cleats 30 Second Commercial for 2010 World Cup

hangingcleats.com is a non profit organization dedicated to providing access to sports, specifically soccer, to youth who live in high risk areas around the world. Their founder contacted me after viewing some of my documentary work, and asked if I would be willing to shoot a short commercial that would air during the World Cup.

I thought a lot about what the commercial should be, and in the end came up with three strong ideas. Logistics, budget, and timing forced us to pick the third idea, but looking back, I’m of the opinion it was the better idea all along. It’s simple, direct, and invites the viewer to interpret the work.

I collaborated with Jerry Thompson on this shoot, and we decided to use his Canon 5D and his arsenal of L-series Canon lenses. We used the 50mm f1.2, 70-200mm f2.8, and the 16-35mm f2.8.

The music (to which I’m still trying to get the rights) is placeholder for now, but is the song Zeyphr by the excellent Scott Morgan (AKA Loscil) who scores for documentaries and games, as well as has several terrific albums out. Hopefully I can secure the rights.

It was great to have him there to guide me through the post production process, and a short commercial like this was a great test to get a feel for the Canon workflow. I’m really happy with the outcome, and I hope you like what we came up with. Enjoy.

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