Where Do I Sit?

Theater_Seats

The weekend has arrived and those dating are most likely headed out to dinner and a movie, but they don’t know where to sit in the theater. Most know to avoid the first few rows and some will make sure they don’t end up in the back of the theater unless they like being remote. But few know, for which seats the director designed the movie.

Theaters range in size and shape and follow the rudimentary formats prescribed by the National Association of Theater Owners and the Motion Picture Association of America. These formats are based on screen ratios and the projector’s “throw” of light based on lumens, curvature of the lens and the screens’ reflective material.

Let’s make it simple…

Without trying to figure out the complex formulas to determine seating placement, a well-designed theater will provide good seating about two thirds of the way back from the screen. Unfortunately that’s based on typical screens being about 20’ X 47’ and the theater having a total depth of… Nope, let’s keep it simple.

Have you ever attended the rehearsal of a stage show? Did you notice that the director always sits in a specific place? Or, how about at a concert venue, did you notice where the mixing board is located?

Microphone jacks are typically placed in the ideal location for the director to plug in his headset or microphone in professional, university and high school theaters. This gives him the closest view of the stage, while still being able to see the entire stage. If he moves closer, he can’t get the big picture. If he moves further back, he can’t focus on the detail.

In film, the same rule of thumb holds true. When a director is viewing his final mixed film, he is seated based on the screen location and surround sound speakers. Even in the mixing room the director is positioned in the ideal location and makes all the decisions based on that spot.

When the show releases to the silver screen the ideal location is about 2.5X the screen height back from the movie screen. If you select a seat in that location, you’ll notice surround speakers directly to the left and right of you. The entire movie was created based on those seats. Any other point of view changes the impact of the film.

For instance, if you don’t like horror films you can sit in the back to diminish the surprise factor and reduce the emotional pull on your heart. If you enjoy rollercoaster like action films you can move closer to the screen to keep your head moving and help your stomach churn your latest meal.

Regardless of the screening room size, you’re safe sitting 2.5X the screen height back from the screen in order to see the film as the director designed it.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

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3 Types of Skilled Movie Directors

DirectorProfessional movie directors make most movies, but few in the audience can discern the difference between which of the three types of directors made the film they watch. The three types of skilled directors are: Technical; Performance; and, Arts & Craft.

Technical Director

Directors fascinated with the technology know how to capture images that look cool and stir the soul. They are most likely first attracted to splash videos before understanding the subtleties of story-based cinema. He or she works well with the crew, but pretty much leaves the actors alone to do their own thing. Sometimes this relaxed process flows from the director’s inexperience, or ignorance of not knowing how to communicate with the actors.

Performance Director

This type of director may have once been an actor. He or she understands the nuances of performance and the depth it can bring to a story. Instead of focusing on the technology, the director spends time with each actor and determines how to draw out the best performance possible. Regardless of the schedule, time is allotted to capture the best performances through coaching, experimentation, and augmented performance technique.

Arts & Crafts Director

This is the rare breed of director who understands the technical and the performance aspects of film production. He or she takes time to work with the actors and tweak their performances, and to help the crew understand exactly what needs to be captured. The director takes these same skills into post-production as well, where he or she represents both the technical and performance sides of the production team in the editing suite.

Most technical directors gravitate toward television where story decisions are made by the producers, head writers, and show runners. Performance directors lean more toward live stage shows. And, arts and craft directors typically thrive in the motion picture industry. Unfortunately, all too often directors are misplaced and find themselves battling to survive, rather than thriving in their ideal environments.

The best combination is for a director to figure out which type resonates within his or her soul and enter the appropriate market. The same holds true with directors that lean toward specific genres. The sports enthusiast director should think twice about making a Hallmark movie, unless he or she is prepared to stretch him or herself creatively.

I’ve directed numerous genres in my life, but I’ve only won highly competitive awards for adventure films. I’ve also won several awards for my dramas, but they came from lesser competitions. In other words, my best combination where I thrive is directing a fun adventure film that’s salted with dramatic moments and humor. That’s not to say I can’t direct other types of stories, I’ve done numerous successful shows outside of my core expertise. But in all honesty they were never on the same level as when I’m paired to an adventure film.

Do you know your favorite director’s core genre?

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Creatives Are Driven To Live

OklahomaBill Hybels, a legendary spiritual leader, once talked about a “holy discontentment” and how it drives the spiritual to continually look for ways to help others. Choreographer Martha Graham spoke of an artist’s “divine dissatisfaction” that drives all creative work.

Prose writer Rachel Carson also spoke of this unrest that leads to creative activity, “No writer can stand still. He continues to create or he perishes. Each task completed carries its own obligation to go on to something new.”

Dancer and choreographer Agnes De Mille, known for her original choreography in Oklahoma!, a musical that generated numerous awards including a record setting 2,212 performances, found herself struggling with her “fairly good work” when critics touted it as a “flamboyant success.”

De Mille received clarity concerning this disconnect in her life when she bumped into Graham and shared her sense of dissatisfaction. De Mille started the conversation with a confession that she had a burning desire to be excellent, but had no faith to achieve it.

Graham: “There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”

De Mille: “But, when I see my work, I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.”

Graham: “No artist is pleased.”

De Mille: “But then there is no satisfaction?”

Graham: “No satisfaction whatever at any time, there is only queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Graham and Hybels had hit on something fascinating. Both saw the activity rising from creative discontentment as divinely inspired for the good of others. While artists long for satisfaction with their work, the blessed only receive a drive to move on to another work.

Julia Cameron, known as a artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, composer, journalist and teacher, learned through her studies of the human condition that, “Art is a spiritual transaction. Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance—often visible to us, but invisible to those around us.”

When I meditate on what I’ve observed, whether information from life or scripture, and many times the combination of both, I receive a divine awareness that helps me to understand a perspective that most have never considered. The excitement contained within the moment drives me to share it with others. But they don’t get it.

The only way for people to understand what I’ve seen is to create art that can demonstrate it or move a person to consider something outside of their reality. It therefore compels me to create art, always hoping it reaches the people it was intended to reach.

This continual drive that most of my friends label as passion, breathes life into me daily. It forces me to try and try again so everyone gets the gift of understanding that I received, but my attempts always fall short. The cycle begins again and again. While I can’t complain because of the life that stirs within me, I am always dissatisfied in my feeble ability to communicate such an important understanding.

And there lies the truth of an artist’s dilemma. Filled with life overflowing, always driven, but never arriving with any form of satisfaction. I’ll call this curse a blessing for it is who I am.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

 

 

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4 Steps to Setting the Value of Your Services (Part 3 of 3)

Continued from part 2.

BusNotesPt3Pricing Sample:

An editor I coached needed to make $50,000 a year. She also needed two weeks of vacation, holidays off, and some personal/sick days to take care of her kids. She was also able to work 6 hours a day, although not in a row, and wanted to make sure that her work time was filled at least 80% of the time. Here is the formula we used to determine hours she’s available to work each year:

((6 hours per day * 5 days per week) * 48 weeks per year) * 80% of time busy = 1,152 hours of work

• The 49 weeks allows for two weeks of vacation, one week of personal/sick time, and five holidays.

Next we had to figure out the hourly rate:

$50,000/1,152 hours = $43/hour (Not taking into account overhead, education, etc.)

Since no one wanted to hire her by the hour, she needed to convert the hourly rate into a per page or per word rate. She determined that there are about 150 words per page and it takes her 5, 10, or 20 minutes per page depending on the type of editing she does. So we developed the following two formulas:

$43/(60 minutes/time per page) = per page rate

per page rate/150 words = per word price

She created two versions of the above prices based on the three types of editing she does, which looked like this:

Editing Type A = $3.58/page
Editing Type B = $7.20/page
Editing Type C = $15.00/page
Editing Type A = $0.03/word
Editing Type B = $0.05/word
Editing Type C = $0.10/word

Now when she gets a call from a potential customer, she asks how many words are in the manuscript. If they tell her 77,000 words, she says, “For type A editing, your price will be $2,310.”

Gone are the days of calculating out how many days are left in the month and her workload. She no longer has to review the physical documents for typeset size based on the font used in the manuscript. She just uses a simple multiplier to calculate the answer. All the other background work is done by the previous formulas to free up her quoting process. And, if she’s a bit faster on a job or two, she’ll find a nice bonus at the end of the year.

End of part 3 of 3.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

4 Steps to Setting the Value of Your Services (Part 2 of 3)

Continued from part 1. 

3. Value Results-Oriented PricingBusNotesPt2

I met with a CEO of a small business that requires lots of traveling to disseminate its products. The team is well liked by all clients, but the traveling process makes the business inefficient. This drops the overall value of the product and delivery services. It also means, unbeknownst to the CEO, that clients are looking for alternative solutions.

My package offer to fix the looming problem was designed to increase revenue 300% by implementing online ordering. The new process guaranteed that the parts and services happened “just in time” rather than by chance. It also allowed for territory expansion without adding more personnel or trucks.

The package was priced at $120 per hour for my time to set up the online services, train the employees, and structure the new distribution practices using a third-party shipping company. Plus, they wouldn’t owe anything if I didn’t double the company’s revenue in 12 months. In other words, if I only hit 99.9% of the financial goal, they’d get everything I did for free.

The CEO turned me down because he never paid anyone more than $29 per hour. Since our last meeting, the business has seen a 12% reduction in revenue because clients have found alternative sources for the product. While this situation was an odd bird, there are plenty of companies that would love to work with a vendor that guarantees his work. The real value of any workload is in the end results.

4. Establish a Formula for Service Pricing

When I worked for the network division at Lucent Technologies, our competition was running circles around us. After loosing two dozen bids in a row, upper management demanded something be done about it. I researched the situation and learned that it took our team 7 days to publish a quote, and our competitors did it in 3-4 days.

After discussing the issue with the team, we came up with an online quoting system that returned accurate quotes within 4 hours. No one ever questioned why we were inundated with orders. Upper management just smiled all day long.

An entrepreneur that I met with last week had a similar problem. She didn’t have enough time each day to put quotes together and lost most jobs before she could finish her quotes. By turning to a modular formula system, she can now turn some quotes around while she’s still on the phone.

End of part 2 of 3. Part 3 will provide a pricing sample.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

4 Steps to Setting the Value of Your Services (Part 1 of 3)

BusNotesPt1

My Denver omelet was tastier than normal and I wondered what happened in the kitchen that made it more flavorful. Its value went up and the menu’s price tag no longer mattered. I took another mouth-watering bite and looked across the table at the CEO of a small marketing firm that I was coaching.

I suddenly saw a connection, as she struggled to accept the value of her newest service offerings. The streamlined approach simplified her workload, which compelled her to reduce prices that were already under valued. She was basing the asking price on her ability to streamline her work efforts rather than on the service’s value to the customer.

Many small firm executives struggle with the perception that unless it involves a melee of sorts, the service or product must be priced lower to justify its value. Truth be told, in today’s market the client’s outcome determines the services value.

Executives can learn to position their services based on the value of the recipient’s outcome by following the below 4 Steps.

1. Value Your Clients Success

Last year I coached a small business owner whose declining revenue numbers suggested his doors would close within 6-12 months. I was asked to increase the store’s sales in whatever manner might work. While my strategy was foreign to the team, I was fully supported and given an expense account to implement my action plans.

Within 6-8 months the measureable results had increased the revenue percentage by double digits and brought in about 130 new customers. Each customer spent an average of $1,000 per visit—a 100% increase over the national average order size benchmark. The elated owner said, “You’re worth ten times what I’m paying you!” I suddenly realized that my value was in the end result, not in how much I struggle or sweat.

By placing a focused value on the outcome, clients are willing to pay for those results. Most will not care how much it costs, if it’s a small percentage of the revenue it generates. Everyone likes a project to pay for itself and then some. The happy client is always the one who gets the results they asked for, not the one who saved money and is forced to close down.

2. Value Your Ingenuity of Development

One business I coached never front loaded any lessons learned or ramp up time when starting a new project. The owner felt that his customers shouldn’t have to pay for his education, especially if it is required on their project.

I asked him what his greatest value was that drew his customers. He pointed out that they come to him because of his expertise. It didn’t take long for him to realize that his learning curve on the current project would soon be a part of his expertise and of great value to his customer.

I suggested his ingenuity, education and development time, which are his greatest assets, should be included within his pricing. After fidgeting a bit, he agreed to charge 50% of the learning costs since the customer would gain from his new knowledge.

Companies are willing to hire someone who can figure things out quickly to get them up to speed in new market areas. Whenever someone comes along with similar, but not exact experience, they are snapped up for the sake of speed to market. The cost is never the issue; the only concern is productivity and timeliness of release. So all ingenuity during the development stage is of great value whether learned on the job or outside of it.

End of part 1 of 3. Part 2 covers steps 3 & 4 with part 3 providing sample pricing.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Cruising the Severn River in Maryland

OspreyPostMagic happens whenever I’m cruising on water in new places. This morning I launched from historic Annapolis Harbor, located next to the U.S. Naval Academy. The ship’s captain was friendly and took time to point out several noteworthy sights.

There was a post in the water of historic significance. It marks the very place where, after returning from victory, General George Washington’s boat was grounded on a sandbar and he waited until the morning tide came in to get home.

Today, that post is home to fish eagles, better known as Osprey.

Osprey

The heritage of Annapolis, MD is rich with Navy stories going back to the Revolutionary War. Commodore John Barry first went to sea from his homeland of Ireland at age 9. During the Revolution, on March 14, 1776, he accepted a captain’s commission in the Continental Navy under General George Washington.

CJatSeaA month later he won one of the first battles at sea when he captured the English tender Edward. He had captured 20 ships by the end of the war, the contents of which were sold for $3 million at auction for the Continental Congress. Soon after, Barry became the first commissioned to the United States Navy.

Barry then trained the first officers of the United States Navy including heroes of the War of 1812. He also directed the construction of the first frigate: USS United States. Barry was the uniformed head of the Navy under Washington, Adams and Jefferson.

With this newly gained knowledge, we cruised past the U.S. Naval Academy and watched several sailboats and patrol crafts maneuver the river and bay areas. Training on one boat included “man overboard” techniques with several drenched officers.

SailboatWe later headed toward Chesapeake Bay and enjoyed a little sightseeing of civilian sailboats. But we couldn’t get away from the area’s rich history as the captain pointed out the steak house with a wooden domed roof. In its earlier life, the building housed congress for several months before moving to Washington D.C..

My time on the water was fantastic and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d return to the area to make a movie about the first person commissioned in the United States Navy, Commodore John Barry. He was a man known for his Christian piety, outstanding work in freeing our country from England, and training some of the greatest heroes our country ever placed on the seas.

© 2017 by CJ Powers