Don’t Throw Out Those Old Hard Drives! At Least Not Yet…

To say I have acquired a few external hard drives over the years is an understatement. At last count, over 250 of ‘em are stacked in our vault which range from shuttles to raids storing anything one would generate when making a movie. I still have a few FireWire 400 boxes once considered state-of-the-art even when their most reliable feature was to crap out during a crucial transfer, as I never throw away a working storage device. But seriously, if external drives were made of wood, my studio would resemble 5150 where Dr. Frankenstein himself, Edward Van Halen builds and maintains his world-renowned signatures guitars.

My collection of external hard drives is constantly growing and in turn, evolves with technology. Even with the cost-per-terabyte consistently dropping – and fast – keeping up with the Joneses is expensive, especially when shooting with multiple cameras in now, a 6 or 8K medium and needing to back up everything thrice. Your hard drives are the most important investment you’ll make when choosing how and where to store your work – and ultimately your library which in one day can have substantial value.

Thunderbolt’s arrival shouldn’t deem your outdated hard drives to become doorstops. You can buy inexpensive adaptors from Apple so your FireWire drives can still function without a glitch with the latest computers that have ditched the now, archaic connections altogether. I have been a longtime user of anything G-Technology and will most likely remain so, but recently have fallen in love with Rocstor’s new product line, as they have quite an assortment of drives available that are reliable and considerably more affordable. Their new ROCPRO T24 two-raid storage boxes are by far the most superior, quiet and speedy drives I have ever used and many of my colleagues feel the same.

Filmmaking and Hard Drives


I find them perfect for storing an entire project – literally from concept to delivery – when vaulting your masters as once your film is released into the wild, you can get that call from a distributor needing a resend of a Closed Captioned file or perhaps even some production stills and with that much drive space, it’s nice to reach for one drive, with everything compartmentalized and super easy to access. I am still a huge proponent of keeping at least three copies of every element you create for a project and vaulted at three separate locations. I understand budgets are often tight but this is the first compromise many filmmakers tend to make when trying to stretch a buck and that’s a big no-no!

For the best deals in town, call Mike Hashem at Unitek Mike’s been my go-to corporate account executive for well over a decade. He knows the products inside and out and once getting to know your needs can steer you in the right direction.

Mike’s email is: [email protected]

Tell him I sent ya!


Keep Shootin’



Do What You Love and Love What You Do

I owe much of my career to music videos. When I was younger, I wanted to be a rock star and even toured our great nation as a drummer in bands who opened for acts like Stone Temple Pilots, The Black Crowes and Lenny Kravitz. But as I grew older and needed to think about my future, dreams of becoming a rock star were replaced by those of becoming a filmmaker. I know, I know, that’s a classic case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. I’ll admit, I never wanted to direct, let alone shoot camera – I didn’t have the desire and frankly didn’t want to make myself a target of criticism. Producing, editing, and writing were enough for me until Bret Michaels asked if I’d shoot some footage for his first single as a solo artist during Poison’s hiatus. The footage we shot looked good, so we went to The Panavision Stages and added his performance to the video. Upon its release, the song Raine became a hit single – and so did our music video that got a lot of coveted airtime and yours truly decided to put the all-encompassing filmmaker hat on once and for all.  

I should mention at this point the music video business was quite grim. MTV and even VH1 were no longer making them a focal point on their networks and YouTube wasn’t even yet on the radar, so labels were putting their resources into other forms of marketing to push their artists. In the early 2000’s, I would get the occasional call from a record label to do a video, however, they weren’t paying much of anything. In fact, a major label attached to one of the movie studios asked if I would re-shoot (as in completely re-do) a music video for the title track to one of their biggest film franchises and had the nerve after two creative meetings and getting the job they weren’t paying a dime. Heck, I wasn’t the guy who botched up the first video, (which had a budget of $50,000) but work for free? I’ll save that for another blog down the road…Oh, and to add insult to injury, the film went on to make over $230M – domestic.

Fortunately, music videos have made quite the comeback. But let’s face it; unless your working with artists such as Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons or Drake, it’s for the love of the craft, not the love of the cash that we do them. By enlarge low budget videos are the norm which have become tools to help drive up a band’s social media presence, a tour or iTunes sales. I do in part blame that annoying (yet, brilliant) treadmill video by OK Go – as it really killed it for so many of us who made a living producing videos with budgets and proved that so often less is more by going viral way before going viral was even a thing. I mean we were doing videos for bands you’ve never heard of (or ever will) for $25-50 grand and after that, $1,500 became the standard.

Recently, I had the itch to do a music video. Blame the failed rock star in me but the heart wants what the heart wants. It had been almost a decade since my last torrid romp in videoville, (not including a concert I filmed for Cheap Trick in Chicago) but I really missed shooting a band with no restrictions, no rules and in that let’s go kick some ass and blow the lid off it’ type of way. You know, the kind of videos momma used to make? I got wind heavy metal heartthrobs Vixen was gearing up to release a live album with a few studio tracks and were heading out on tour to support it. I went into action, reached out to the band and said, “Let’s do a video! Just show up to the designated venue and I’ll handle the rest.” Long story short, I couldn’t be happier with the results. As you know from my previous blogs and what I drive home in my book, What You Don’t Learn in Film School, it’s about staying busy (or relevant) and doing what you love. Once I got the go-ahead from the band, their management and record label, I wrangled three great cameramen and we went to work capturing the band’s sold-out show in Los Angeles.

A month later, on July 26th, Vixen’s video for “You Ought To Know By Now” debuted and had over 50,000 hits in the first day of its release – and the numbers keep climbing. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting out, putting your skills and recourses to use. When you’re done with that, go shoot something else and afterward do it again and so on and so on. Dream projects are great but there’s no reason not to be an active and busy filmmaker. But if you’re anything like me, you become passionate about every project you set your hands to and look at every gig as an audition or opportunity for the next. Oh, and speaking of that, a top management firm who reps over two dozen well-known bands saw the new video and reached out offering me to handle videos for their entire roster. Why? Because I got off my ass and generated content. It’s as simple as that! 

Thank you Vixen for your trust and here’s to a summer of prosperity to us all!

Keep Rockin’ and happy shooting kids!