Gradient Productions

Concept 2 Completion

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Press Play: Pre-Mix

Songs characterize seasons —- Press Play and the mood shifts into one appropriate to the weather, the scene, the setting.

Portland is fortunate in it’s proximity to other environments, with the Painted Hills just to the east and the Oregon Coast not two hours to the west.

A cultural melting pot of things past, present, and future, it’s also a hub for used record stores. Prime places to lose yourself for a few hours.

Below are a mix of old classics and new favorites; for that neon-lit night out on the town, a day spent road tripping somewhere new, or a crisp morning spent with good coffee and great company.

They’re the songs we love to love this summer.

  1. Sunshine - Matt Costna
  2. Lost in the World - Kanye West
  3. Drops of Jupiter - Train
  4. Daylight - Matt & Kim
  5. Something to Believe In - Newsies Original Broadway Cast Recording
  6. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) - Looking Glass
  7. Good Time - Owl City
  8. National Anthem - Lana Del Rey
  9. Too Close - Alex Clare
  10. Scarlett (Tokyo) - William Beckett
  11. Swells - Jonquil
  12. Right In - Skrillex

Filed under Music Writing Gradient Productions Premix Songs Playlist Cassette Portland Oregon Painted Hills Oregon Coast Sunshine Matt Costna Lost in the World Kanye West Drops of Jupiter Train Daylight Matt & Kim Something to Believe In Newsies Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) Looking glass Good time Owl city National Anthem Lana Del REy Too Close Alex Clare Scarlett (Tokyo)

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Innovating with the iPad

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." ~Steve Jobs

The world of production is an ever-changing environment.

In a constant state of flux, the period between an “industry standard” practice and a “revolutionary” one is diminishing. As in the medical field, technological innovations rapidly shift the way we work.

Ethan Borden, Cinematographer & VP of Gradient, has found his workflow radically altered using the iPad:

"With the Movie Slate App, it makes us probably ten times faster in post-production. It does a shot log which I can send out with an HTML or as a Final Cut XML document, and saves time and keeps us more organized because we’re switching from paper to digital.

We also have a Wireless Monitor App which allows us to connect to a computer that has the camera plugged in. It lets us control the camera and look at what’s being seen through the lense with a live view. We’re also able to walk around wherever on set and look at what’s being shot on camera. We see whats being seen through the DSLR.

I use the iPad 2 for a lot of workflow stuff on other projects as well: websites, Facebook, uploading photos that I’ve just taken on set.”

"In Post we use it a lot for labeling footage. It’s easy to make notes on set and then have our editor be able to refer to those while he’s working. It keeps everything centralized so that there aren’t 5 pieces of paper flying around with separate notes."

Nathanael Sams has found his workflow in Post-Production streamlined as well:

"The Slate makes all the difference because we work with separate cameras and separate audio (Zoom H4N). What can be a daunting task of syncing up video and audio is a lot more feasible and automatic when you have a slate that beeps, because the program automatically syncs it up for you. That saves hours of time of manually going in and making sure it’s synced up."

We aren’t shy in expressing our love of Apple products, and the iPad is no exception. It has quickly become invaluable on set, off set, and within our workflow.

Filed under Gradient Productions Film Production Design Writing Photography Graphic Design How To Apple Cinematography Editing XML HTML Final Cut Pro Wireless Monitor DSLR Canon D60 Facebook Slate Zoom H4N Steve Jobs iPad 2

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Make It Happen

"I was directing before I knew it was called that." -Guillermo Del Toro

Rebecca Noles:

       ”I’ve been directing & producing since I was 10 years old and putting on Christmas pageants in the living room for my parents. I’ve learned a few things along the way and am offering them as advice to anyone interested or pursuing either field. I do, however, reserve the right to change this advice at any time in future blogs.


Directing is about need: What the script needs, what the crew needs, what the audience needs.

As a director, your only job is to acknowledge all the different needs within each department and guide them toward a finished product. Sometimes all the Director of Photography needs is to feel like he has permission to try something new. There are times an actor needs the director to take his/her eyes off the monitor and simply have a conversation with them. Sometimes an editor just needs you to get out of their way.

Acknowledge the need and work to fulfill it.


Being a producer at a small production company can be categorized into three main jobs:

  1. Make sure people have what they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
  2. Make sure everyone knows where & when to show up.
  3. Make sure the cast & crew members eat, sleep, are groomed, and stay caffeinated.

Being a producer is about serving the people who make the project happen.”

Filed under Gradient Productions Film Graphic Design Directing Acting Producing Christmas Winter Cinematography How To Photography Guillermo Del Toro Rebecca Noles Writing Coffee Editor DP Advice Quote Snow Chair

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What to Write?

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Writing for Gradient Productions has been both edifying and challenging.

Tasked daily with drafting something worth reading, in various forms, you gain a set of skills unlike those found in a classroom.

Take campaign writing: In order to get your point across the content must be simple, informative, yet creative. For a graphic flyer, you must take into account what the Visual elements are saying, and choose to either let them speak for themselves, or build upon what’s being implied. And considering you have roughly 5 seconds of an average persons’ attention, it must be short.

In the case of Narration writing, cut the unnecessary. “Audiolize” in your head the narrator’s voice and choose words appropriate to their style of speaking.

I pull inspiration from a variety of sources; Apple for the way they speak volumes for a product/campaign in 1-6 words. Certain creative minds forVanity Fair & National Geographic. Anthony Bourdain and his superior writing “voice”.

I was an actor under the tutelage of an established screenwriter/director, and of the many lessons I learned from him, one that resonated for me as an actor/writer was that, “If you aren’t going to feature something, cut it.”

Filed under Film Production Inspiration Photography Graphic Design Writing Gradient Productions Reading Apple Movie Acting Directing Benjamin Franklin Campaign Challenge How To Screenwriting Narration National Geographic Vanity Fair Anthony Bourdain Creativity

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Guilty Pleasures

"I hope your apple pie is freakin’ worth it!"                                                                      ~Dean Winchester of Supernatural

The secrets I’m about to reveal are, though posted on this public forum, to remain between You (The reader) and I (The writer). For those not reading but finding themselves curious, let me just say that like everyone else, we at Gradient have our own sad enjoyments the kind of which are unhealthy, ridiculous, and often times better left unwatched.

I asked three simple questions:

1) What is your favorite guilty pleasure song?

2) What is your favorite guilty pleasure food/meal?

3) What is your favorite guilty pleasure movie?

What may be surprising is how much Rebecca loves cheesy 90’s action movies. We recently watched Armageddon with Bruce Willis, and while watching it she said, “This is everything I wanted it and expected it to be. And I love it.” 

Her other sadly favorite movie is S.W.A.T which according to her is, “The most absurd and wonderful action film ever created. When she’s feeling hungry for something terrible, she loves Macaroni & Cheese at Deschutes Brewery, and Chicken & Waffles. 

Finally, to top this unfortunate list off, her guilty pleasure song is Taylor Swift’s ”Love Story” 

Nathanael to the surprise of us all, enjoys the song ”Wanna Be” by Spice Girls. A fact which I was hesitant to include. When it comes to food, nothing beats Biscuits & Gravy. And as a strong supporter of bad romantic comedies, he loves Wedding Crashers. 

Heavyweights is another film he has a strange love for, and made me sit through one evening that, had I had a time machine, I would take back.  

Josh will endlessly repeat the song ”Take to the Sky” by Owl City. And whenever we get ice cream, the flavor is usually the same: Cotton Candy. Mean Girls and Superstar are the movies he loves with a strange passion. 

Ethan loves the song ”Drops of Jupiter” by Train and Slider Cheeseburgers from Big Bears Country Market. And he could watch the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire" on repeat, apparently, such is his love for it.

His other palatable pleasure is one that I am also with him on, a thing of beauty and terror that comes but once a year: Cadburey Eggs. 

Alisha has a craving for every type of movie theatre candy (Swedish Fish, Dots, Raisinets, etc.) but only when seeing a movie. In the car, behind the secrecy of her windows, she rocks out to ”Count on Me” by Bruno Mars. And if there were one movie that always does its job and makes her happy, its "The Phineas and Ferb movie"!

I suppose now it’s my turn.

I, David have a total weakness for deep fried mozzarella sticks. I simply could eat them all day, much to my stomachs discontent. I grew up playing old Playstation action games, and so my favorite guilty pleasure movie is hands down Tomb Raider.And when “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj comes on the radio, or my iPod, I simply cannot resist singing along.

And now you know some of the secrets of Gradient Productions. May you safeguard these secrets, and perhaps share some of your own!

Filed under Gradient Productions Film Design Writing Advertising

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Tales from Italy

"One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."           ~Henry Miller

Be it the shady alleys I walked through in Genoa, the life-changing pizza, or the multiple attempts to be “introduced” to same aged single daughters, I had an interesting time in Italy.

"Your life is about to change" is what everyone told me. But I’ve found that travel doesn’t always affect you in the ways you might expect. It is a difficult thing to do alone, and is something I am proud to say I accomplished. I had moments of hardship, but equally strong were those of triumph.

Tracing my adventure, I started in Milan, and from there headed to Genoa with a new friend also doing the same teaching program. We went to San Remo for our orientation, and I was placed in Salo for the duration of my stay. I was also able to take side trips to Venice, Sirmione, and a number of historical sites around Salo.  

The food and architecture truly was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

San Marco Basilica in Venice left me in awe of such historical beauty, and the view from the neighboring tower was equally impressive. I ate the most incredible spaghetti with local clams. It was divine.

The inner growth had been a gradual one, made obvious in various settings. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in Venice, as I thought I would. Why would I be? After going into the middle of an utter mob of Italians at a rock concert in Genoa, Venice was a piece of cake. And if I could handle the danger I nearly faced during the night in Genoa, walking through shady alleys in the bad part of town taking B-roll with both cameras, then the daytime waves of tourists couldn’t be so bad.

Milan Central Station? Enormously chaotic the first time, like walking into the middle of a circus with your eyes closed. When I first arrived I thought I had stumbled into a beehive there was so much activity. When I finally found myself on the right train (after having run after the one I missed), I, in all honesty, breathed a sigh of relief at leaving such a place.

The orientation in San Remo was tough but incredibly fun. Going out to dinner by the beachside each night was awesome, though the days were long as we learned how to teach italian students. I found myself wondering whether I had made the right decision in coming, something that would be validated later and when I least expected.

Salo, an area in northern Italy, sits right next to Lake Garda. The lake is huge and surprisingly clean, though an avid tourist destination. One night in particular was amazing, as a large thunderstorm illuminated the lake with bright flashes of lightning. It was exciting, beautiful, and powerful. As each flash showed me something new, I began to find that I had changed as well.  

My host family, the Bellots, were incredibly gracious, though those 2 weeks felt like one giant game of charades. I spoke as best of italian as I could, and they practiced their english. It took an hour to figure out that “Nee-a-gara Cascade” was Niagara Falls. I’m sorry, did you say there’s “mice” in my food? No, “maize”, as in corn. I can’t begin to say how accommodating they were, or how grateful I am to them. 

One month passed and suddenly I found myself on a return flight home. Like a dream, my trip had come to an end. I stayed overnight at Milan airport until my flight early next morning, and the multiple flights home were exhausting. By some divine intervention, on the final 6 hour trip to PDX, I found myself at a window seat with noone next to me, and an increase in leg room. I arrived in Portland mentally numb, and was literally tackled out of nowhere by my friends at Gradient. And that’s when I realized, regardless of where the journey takes you, nothing beats home. 

But I came back having been bitten by the travel bug. And already I begin to wonder where the road will take me next.

Tally ho.

Filed under italy travel gradient productions photography design writing