Posts filed under Filmmaking

Creative Engineer by Day, Filmmaker by Night: Mahesh Madhav

Mahesh Madhav filming  How to Bend Concrete in 108 Easy Steps

Mahesh Madhav filming How to Bend Concrete in 108 Easy Steps

When Mahesh Madhav set out to create his first documentary film, he envisioned a two minute project profiling innovator and designer, Neal Aronowitz. Around six months later, Madhav pieced together a 25 minute journey nodding to one’s integral passion to create, to then selflessly detach from one’s art to share it all with the world.

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Madhav’s background is in engineering, but his pursuit of filmmaking comes from a desire to tell compelling, unique stories through a creative lens; ultimately drawing him to direct music videos and eventually, an almost half-hour long documentary that film festivals are taking notice of — the short has already been accepted into over five festivals and is still circulating.

After continuously running into Aronowitz several times around Portland, Madhav found a way to collaborate with the designer; the two discovered they shared a lot of common ground, including their artistic approaches.

“We kind of had the same ethos in our creative production, whether it’s the ideation process or the meticulousnesses. He’s [Aronowitz] very careful, he doesn’t want to expose a flaw to the public,” says Madhav. “In the same way, I had a bunch of footage and realized some of it worked and some of it didn’t. My problem became not ‘how do I craft a story’ but ‘what story do I tell?’”

Throughout the documentary, Madhav incorporates background music to ebb and flow throughout Aronowitz’s simple 108 step construction process. Licensed from Marmoset’s catalog, Madhav secured music rights for his film by utilizing the site’s search tool and functions.

“Part of the documentary filmmaking process was creating a soundtrack,” says Madhav. “There was this funny thing about how you spend 10% of your time making and editing the film, then 90% of the time searching for music.”

Madhav chalks up his timesaving abilities by referencing a song’s filters — being able to quickly see if a song exudes the right type of crescendo via its graphic icon.

“The Marmoset user interface is amazing because it lets you chop down thousands of possibilities to 30 songs,” says Madhav. “Also the ability to try out music without having the watermark is really great because Marmoset ends up giving a sense of trust to the filmmaker. It’s like ‘here’s the music for you to use, if you want to actually get it out there, you should license from us.’”

Designer Neal Aronowitz (left) and filmmaker Mahesh Madhav (right) speak after the film’s screening.

Designer Neal Aronowitz (left) and filmmaker Mahesh Madhav (right) speak after the film’s screening.

With his directorial music video background, Madhav honed in on perfecting his sound design mix, tackling the editing process himself. With the encouragement of another film director, Madhav finally submitted the film for a Best Sound Design & Editing nomination. And won.

“One of my mentors told me that the audience will forgive you if you have bad video,” says Madhav. “But they won’t forgive you if you have bad audio.”

The way Madhav immerses himself into his work mirrors the film’s very subject—Madhav and Aronowitz apply the same dedication to their work, investing themselves into every detail in order to feel confident in sharing it with others.

The documentary filmmaker offers some insight to his pursuit of precision and excellence in filmmaking. and why the craft offers him an equal amount of liberation.

“When my mom grew up in India, they had a dirt floor and there were like six kids. They would all share writing utensils, but pencils and paper were precious,” says Madhav. “And the eraser they would share eventually went to dust, so they went to their dad and said ‘look we ran out of eraser can you buy us a new one?’ and he said, ‘why do you have to make so many mistakes?’.”

This mentality of never wasting anything tangible carried over into Madhav’s upbringing, spurring his interest in digital media. “I found it very freeing because I’m not wasting paper or anything like that, I’m using bits or pixels and they’re purely ephemeral.”

Madhav’s How to Bend Concrete in 108 Easy Steps not merely captures an artist’s creative process, but demonstrates how to give the right amount of care, dedication and attention to something—to lend a piece of ourselves to a process just long enough, then being being vulnerable when inviting others into the room.

“This story is for any content creator,” say Madhav. “Like all content, you have to learn to let it go out into the world, to let others judge it. If they don’t like it or if they do like it, that’s up to them.”


Madhav’s film is currently being showcased internationally across festivals. His next local screening takes place on August 11th at 5th Avenue Cinema, get tickets and learn more here.

Posted on July 11, 2019 and filed under Filmmaking, Marmoset, Music, Music Licensing.

3 Tips for Running Your Creative Project Like a Boss

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Imagine managing a project and never running into snags or roadblocks — everyone takes ownership of their roles and every process runs smoothly all the way up to the finish line. Such a world exists! Teaming up with our friends at Wipster, we’re bringing you three important tips for streamlining communication and collaboration.

Just like how we know how to support our clients find music for videos, our friends at Wipster know a thing or two about getting everyone on the same page. Here are their three tips for working with clients on video and creative projects.


Every filmmaker strives to make their videos both creative and unique while also fulfilling the business goals of their client. The balance, however, between creativity and goals can be a fine line to walk when there are many cooks in the kitchen. So what are the best ways to set up your video for the ultimate success without losing your creative touch?

Let’s dive into the three ways to best manage your communication with your clients so everyone is happy!

The Creative Brief and Pitch Deck

When your client comes to you with a project idea, it’s best to work with a representative from  your client’s organization to draft a creative brief. A creative brief should include these three core components: the target audience, call-to-action, an overview of the video’s goals and objectives, and the production schedule or any hard deadlines.

The creative brief then becomes the backbone of the project and the starting point from which you can make your pitch deck.  

A compelling pitch deck should include the following:

  • An intriguing tagline the summarize the video (this is also known as a log line)

  • The Technical Style: How will the video be made? In what style? Animation? Live Action?

  • Voiceover Script (if any)

  • Reference and/or Inspiration videos and music

  • And mood images

Pro Tip: Include musical links or samples in your brief as well! Music is such a key component for the mood of your project and it will help your client understand the tone of the video.

Once the client approves the pitch deck, then formalize the agreement.

Formalize the Agreement

If you’re a freelance or agency, I’d highly recommend creating an agreement template that includes the production fee, deadline, and has your creative brief and pitch deck attached to it.  

Before the agreement is signed, it’s important to make sure all stakeholders approve the brief and the pitch deck. This means asking your client, “who is the person at the top of your organization that must approve the video before it goes out?” Make sure their bosses’ boss is involved so that way there are no surprises when the final edited video reaches their desk for approval.

Of course, as production carries on things might shift or change slightly in the production. That’s the nature of production! But at least you can use the agreement as leverage to go back to hold both yourself and the client accountable.
In your agreement you can list out the number of feedback cycles included in the cost production. Typically two rounds of edits is the norm unless there are any outstanding typos.

Then send it out for signature!

Use Wipster for Review and Approval

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Once your video is ready for review, there are a lot of ways to share with your team for feedback. If ever in the face of a tight deadline or pesky varying timezones, getting quick revision notes can seem challenging. But the workflow can keep flowing even in the collaborative process when using Wipster to send your video for feedback.

The creative feedback and collaboration features of Wipster allow your client to leave secure and private notes directly on the video, rather than feedback via an email chain which usually consists of a list of time-coded comments.  

From Wipster, you will get notified when your client has viewed and finished commenting on the video, making the process seamless. And all feedback will be time-coded and nicely fit into one place.

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Pro Tip: Before you send your client a Wipster link to review remember to inform them what Wipster is — so they understand what the tool is for. Remember, no surprises!

You can also send your client this list on how to give constructive feedback. More communication is better than none! Keeping everyone on the same page will not only ensure that your project succeeds, but also make your video client happy.

Once the video is approved, Wipster can also be the file delivery method. You can enable the client to download the original and approved video file.

The Wipster team is constantly working to improve feedback loops. If you’re interested in trying it out, sign up for a 14-day free trial. Happy video making!

Music in Film: StudioFest Filmmakers Make Their First Feature

Souvenirs is StudioFest’s debut feature film that follows a murderabilia shop clerk who discovers her own family’s dark history when asked to sell souvenirs from a crime not yet solved.

Souvenirs is StudioFest’s debut feature film that follows a murderabilia shop clerk who discovers her own family’s dark history when asked to sell souvenirs from a crime not yet solved.

When Jess Jacklin and Charles Beale kicked off StudioFest last year, their mission was to redefine traditional film festival processes—to award the winning filmmakers not just with a temporary status or accolade, but with means of creating their first feature work.

“Independent short filmmakers and screenwriters desire one thing: to make their first feature,” says Beale. “We have aimed to align the skew, bringing talented filmmakers straight to their first feature. The project has grown to include so much talent and enthusiasm and we can’t wait to share the film.”

Winning director, Anna Mikami and winning screenwriter Matthew Sorvillo walked away from the festival experience with a newfound professional partnership. With Mikami in the director chair and Sorvillo spearheading the script, Souvenirs was the product of creative collaboration, perseverance and a tried-and-true indie kind of resourcefulness.

A still from StudioFest production, Souvenirs

A still from StudioFest production, Souvenirs

Produced under a 1M micro-budget, the StudioFest collaborative proved it’s possible to churn out a high quality production even when a big studio isn’t at the helm. Partnering up with Marmoset to equip the production with the music rights for their feature film, a dream soundtrack was no longer out of arm’s reach.

Proving it’s possible to find songs for commercial use on a budget is what Marmoset’s music licensing team does daily. But when partnering up with other community organizations like StudioFest—to help outside projects license music for video—it’s a commitment to our community; to give what we can from our side, while always ensuring our artists receive their share and exposure for their work.

Thanks to the pioneering film festival that’s examining the leaps and hurdles every filmmaker faces, Souvenirs is no longer an aspirational idea—it’s a film slated to premiere in Fall 2019.

“The winners we chose compliment each other in a way we are very excited about. As we get into our second week of filming, there’s an air of enthusiasm shared with everyone involved,” says Jacklin. “Although we’re working with a micro-budget, the caliber of talent from cast, crew and sponsors adds a tremendous amount of value and we couldn’t do it without their dedication and vision.”


Stay tuned as we cover the release of Souvenirs and the making of its soundtrack.

Music Mixtapes for Your Next Movie

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Creating or finding music for your next film is something every filmmaker can attest to within their filmmaking career. And for some filmmakers, music enters the equation as early as setting up a scene — before the film is even complete.

In an interview with Criterion Collection and music composer, Jon Brion, Brion offers up his approach toward creating rhythms for director Paul Thomas' Anderson’s PUNCH-DRUNK-LOVE.

“He’d [Anderson] put on music when he’d set up a shot because even if the music wasn’t going to be there in the end it helped give a sense of rhythm, a sense of poetic pacing to the shot.”

Brion and Anderson’s collaboration is a testimony of using music that integrates to how a scene unfolds — using musical tempo to compliment how a character’s actions are captured or depicted through camera movement.

Inspired by Brion and other memorable movie soundtracks, our A&R Team curated a mixtape inspired by similar musical compositions and scores. From the bright and bouncy instrumental masterpieces of Lullatone — to imaginative orchestral rhythms of Pretty Pizzi — these songs are pensively sweet, rooted in lightness and whimsical tones.

Click the link below to find more music for your videos.



Criterioncollection. (2016, November 14). Jon Brion on the Rhythms of PUNCH-DRUNK-LOVE. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJNhxSFdrVQ

Using Music in Videos, an Interview with Filmmaker Jeremy Summer

Toro y Moi’s music video, “Ordinary Pleasure” — produced by Little Moving Pictures.

Little Moving Pictures creates and produces everything from commercial advertisement to film & TV. And everything they make sounds great too.

From the disco-inspired studio captured in the one million viewed music video they produced for Toro y Moi to the melancholic comedy about a young dad reeling from a broken marriage (How It’s Goin’ ) — Little Moving Pictures is taking off visually and musically. To find out more about what they’re up to and their approach for using music in videos, we caught up with studios’ co-founder Jeremy Summer.

Jeremy Summer and daughter California Summer on the set of  How It’s Goin’

Jeremy Summer and daughter California Summer on the set of How It’s Goin’

Marmoset: Hey Jeremy, can you tell us what drew you to produce How It's Goin'?

Summer: When people ask me why we make the music videos and short films we do at Little Moving Pictures, my simplest answer is that we do those things because we said we would.

Working at an agency, everyone always has these side hustle ideas but they rarely get executed—a pitch comes up or a big campaign or whatever—it’s hard to carve the time when you’re working for someone else, where as here we can come up with an idea and do it without asking anyone’s permission.

How It’s Goin’ actually started a few years ago on 4/20/2016—I asked one of our collaborators Noe Chavez to come to golden gate park on 4/20 and shoot some portraits—we made this thing and put it out the next day. I had an idea for setting a story inside of it, something we’d film guerrilla style with the built in production value of thousands of extras—my first idea was a catholic nun traveling from Europe who accidentally comes across the 4/20 gathering and has a transcendent experience.

But my friends 26 Aries (directors Irene Chin & Kurt Vincent) came back with the script for what eventually became How It’s Goin’ and had their friend Steve Talley (the lead actor) attached. It’s the first scripted narrative thing we’ve done—think of it as our student film. We just wanted to try to do something new and thought that the novelty of making a film inside an actual event could result in something unique.

M: At what point do you guys sit down to talk about music the films or videos you create?

Summer: Music is a big deal to us across all of our projects and over the years we’ve developed a lot of relationships both with music houses like Marmoset and with labels/licensing entities. Earlier cuts of How It’s Goin' had a lot of different things happening musically that are very different than the final cut.

On this one, it really all came together toward the end. We brought on our friend Anthony Ferraro to do the original score bits—he plays keys in Toro Y Moi, we had just done a music video together for their single “Ordinary Pleasure”—and he nailed it in three-four days between tours; we wanted some warm Fender Rhodes stuff that helped connect the scenes and carry the picture, we are so happy with what he did for us.

M: What are some of the bigger challenges for filmmakers when it comes to creating music for their film?

Summer: One of the biggest challenges was finding a great piece of authentic sounding reggae music. Our rough cut had a great dub track from Trojan Records and even though we have a connection to the folks that license for that label, our timeline and budget weren’t going to work.

We looked at some stock libraries and were extremely disappointed with the “reggae” options. We were so thrilled when looking through Marmoset’s roster to come across the Dwayne Ellis song—in addition to having the sound we were looking for, it also had lyrics that tied in nicely with what the character is going through in the film and it sounds authentically Jamaican/vintage which is what we were going for.

We were playing around with a bunch of ideas for the song that ends the film and runs over the credits and had been listening to a lot of SF bands—Girls, Kelley Stoltz and Sonny & The Sunsets and came across "Children of the Beehive” which has lyrics and a feeling that ties back to the film in such a special way it’s almost as though it was written into the script.

I think the music we ended up with is a huge part of the quality of the end product—without the score and especially the songs, I don’t think it would have gotten the attention that it’s getting (Vimeo Staff Pick!).

M: What's something that really sets Little Moving Pictures apart?

Summer: I think the volume and quality of stuff we’re doing outside of advertising is something that differentiates us — though of course we have lots of peers we admire who are doing something similar — and the kinds of teams we can spin up without having to have everyone on a “roster” or a contract.

We also have a focus on post-production that I think might be a bit unique even amongst full service production companies, the editor is essentially a creative director on our projects from the moment we get a brief, not just there when we edit.

Little Moving Pictures’ mascot, Beatrix

Little Moving Pictures’ mascot, Beatrix

Because we’re so small (three of us full-time) and our over head is so low as a result, we get to be selective about the projects we take on so most of the work we’re doing is stuff we’re genuinely happy to be doing whether its for brands or for fun—either the budget is there and we can treat our crews properly/pay promptly and put on a good show for our clients or the creative is something that we’re excited enough about that we can rally the troops and make it happen regardless of budget.

Our hope is that eventually the passion projects and branded content will start to intersect more- feature length documentaries for brands, music videos that are sponsored, that sort of thing.

Also, my dog Beatrix. No one else has a Beatrix.

M: Your studios create everything from music videos to ad campaigns — what's the type of creative project that you're always excited to dig into?

Summer: We’re so lucky to do a blend of work for brands and work for ourselves. Aside from paying the bills (thanks brands!), working on commercials and branded content has helped us develop relationships with the directors we collaborate with and also the crew community and folks who are instrumental post production partners—colorists, sound mixers, music houses etc.

We leverage those relationships when it comes time to do the music videos and short films— people are down to lend their craft for little to no money on those things because we keep them busy and treat them well when we’re working for brands. Doing the music videos and short films is almost a gift to ourselves. It becomes material we can use to market Little Moving Pictures but in a lot of ways, we do art simply for the sake of doing it—and to learn and grow from the experience.

We love making commercials (especially when the budgets/timelines are reasonable), but there’s nothing like getting all our friends together to make some art.


Read more on Little Moving Pictures and watch Vimeo Staff Pick short film, How It’s Goin’ by clicking here. Then head over here to check out more of their films.

Finding Music for Film with Little Moving Pictures Studios

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Filmmakers come from all walks of life, their journeys shaping the stories they tell. So what happens when someone from the advertising world steps into the world of filmmaking? Engaging content that leaves behind the epitome of commercialism is put out into the universe.

Little Moving Pictures is the perfect example of implementing this certain kind of integrity even within their ad campaigns. There’s a good reason for this, as co-founders Jeremy Summer and Nathan Petty began with years of agency and editing experience as their background. From the get-go, the studios specialized as a post-house operation, quickly moving onto creative shoots for music videos to TV shows. Their collaborator circle widened, bringing to the table actors, filmmakers and music houses to help score their video projects.

“When people ask me why we make the music videos and short films we do at Little Moving Pictures, my simplest answer is that we do those things because we said we would,” says Summer.

Actor Steve Talley and California Summer on set of  How It’s Goin’

Actor Steve Talley and California Summer on set of How It’s Goin’

As a means of getting friends together to make something fun, Summer brought the inkling of an idea to fellow filmmakers Adam Callahan, Irene Chin and Kurt Vincent (of 26 Aires). It all started from some footage Summer had captured of a 420 event in San Francisco from two years prior, which led to the making of How It’s Goin’ — a bittersweet comedy about a young dad reeling from his recent divorce.

Featured throughout the film is background music composed by Anthony Ferraro (Toro y Moi’s keyboardist). Beyond the original score, the the film was in search of authentic reggae, landing on Running In and Out by Dwayne Ellis.

Check out Vimeo Staff Pick and short film How It’s Goin’ below and stay tuned for an in-depth interview with Jeremy Summer of Little Moving Pictures — we’ll dive into their approach for using music in videos while highlighting some of their other cool work you’ll want to pass around to your friends.


Little Moving Pictures is a San Francisio based production studio. Their work has been featured by Rolling Stone, Vimeo Staff Pics, Pitchfork, National Geographic and Radiolab among other partners like The Museum of Modern Art, Fox Sports and Sony Music have commissioned their work.