Category Archives: Filmmaking

Post-Grad Life: Film and Free Work

[This article is part of a series. Read the first piece on 15Four and the follow-up piece on Maine].

Around the same time I picked up the internship at 15Four, I got a call from Justin Chiet, an old friend and colleague from school. Chiet had been working on the behind the scenes videography for a crowd funded zombie film called Z*Con for a number of months. The production, headed by local director Michael Dougherty, had pitched a proof of concept to online donors in the hopes of funding their feature. The film was funded with a successful Indiegogo campaign and Chiet was booked to serve as the film’s camera operator.

Having worked with Chiet’s production company in the past, he invited me to work as a Grip/Electric swing on the film. Although crew would be working for free, Dougherty’s production company, Big Damn Films, is a registered 501©3, where any proceeds from his films goes to fundraising and advocacy for charities related to the film. Proceeds from Z*Con were going to the American Red Cross, Kids Need to Read, a to-be-named national animal rescue and Big Damn Films. I could take comfort in the idea that despite working for free, I was working for a good cause!

Continue reading Post-Grad Life: Film and Free Work

Post-Grad Life: A Summer Internship

[This article is part of a series. Read the follow-up pieces on Z*Con and Maine].

After 17 years of rigor and toil, I’d had enough of the education system. From behind the counter at my video rental job, I called Towson University’s graduation office to give them a piece of my mind:

“Alright buddy, listen up! I’m ditching this cow pen and there is nothing you can do about it!

“Sir, you have the required number of credits to graduate. I’ll file your paperwork now.”

“Yeah, well, you tell everyone down there that Mark Burchick is flying the coop! Towson won’t ever forget the name!”

“Can you please spell your last name to insure the documentation is correct?”

“Yeah, that’s B as in Yeaaaaah Boyyyy! U as in Uhhh-huuuuh!”

Needless to say, I had devolved into a mess of a human being after so many years of structured preparation for “the real world.”

Continue reading Post-Grad Life: A Summer Internship

Film Union Lobbies For 12-Hour Day

[Originally posted on Feb. 18, 2014 at Hidden Baltimore by Mark Burchick and Sarah LaCorte]

Editorial Note: On Feb. 22, this article was taken offline briefly and edited. The story had received over 5,000 page views causing Brendan Cathcart, a key source, to express concerns about the job security of unnamed sources who could be identified based on his comments. That section of the narrative has been rewritten to focus solely on Cathcart’s perspective and protect those who are incidental to the story.

Bracing himself for another long day on the set of the Netflix Original Series “House of Cards,” Brendan Cathcart pulled on waterproof mud boots and poured himself the day’s first cup of coffee. It was 8 a.m. in his Bolton Hill apartment.

Cathcart, 24, arrived at Patapsco State Park at 10 a.m., the location of the day’s shoot. He walked through the Civil War style encampment alive with crowded tents and burning fires. The air was muggy and clouded with swarms of bugs.  Horses used for the scene trotted in the background as crew members started rigging lights.

“This first scene was this person on this horse and they kind of did this re-enactment thing. While we were shooting the first day scene the gaffer had us go over to the first night scene which was at the tents and get everything ready, rigging the set because we were hours away from shooting it,” he said.

Coffee number two.

Cathcart is one among many film set workers that combat long working days and occasionally harsh conditions, all in the name of their literal labor of love.

Continue reading Film Union Lobbies For 12-Hour Day

Towson EMF alumnus premieres latest film

[Originally posted on Oct. 22, 2013 at my Journalism II Blog]
Between rushing to premiere his found footage horror film and slaving at the editing bay on his most recent productions, Towson University Electronic Media and Film alumnus Chris LaMartina, 28, is tired.

On top of his 40 hour workweek at 15four Video Strategy, LaMartina has committed an additional 20 to 30 hours per week on his own productions. It’s 9 p.m., and sitting alone in the dark at 15four’s office, he reviews footage that a colleague edited earlier that day.

LaMartina works as a editor and producer for 15four. But on his own feature films, he wears many hats, including writer, director, producer, composer and editor.

“I’ve always sort of joked and called editing the dark night of the soul, because you’re forced to look at your mistakes and you regret some of the decisions you’ve made and you only see the negative because it’s a very judgmental phase,” LaMartina said.

Chris LaMartina
Chris LaMartina reviews a colleague’s edited footage at 15four Video Strategy. (Photo By: Mark Burchick/TU Student).

As a 2007 graduate of Towson University, LaMartina and his producing partner Jimmy George, 33, have produced seven feature length horror films, all of which have received DVD and Video On Demand distribution.

With the premiere of WNUF Halloween Special, his latest found footage work, LaMartina will once again share with the world one of the few things that makes him happy. Continue reading Towson EMF alumnus premieres latest film

Preparation for the “WNUF Halloween Special” Premiere at the Creative Alliance

[Originally posted on Oct. 8th, 2013 at baltimorefilmguide.wordpress.com]

On Oct 18th, The Creative Alliance will screen a “re-discovered” Halloween TV special from the late 1980’s. WNUF Halloween Special is a television broadcast which captured an investigation of the haunting of the Webber household, as told by WNUF TV reporters. The gentlemen who discovered the VHS recording of the broadcast and brought it to light will be introducing the film for its first public premiere.

What may come as a surprise to those who have seen the broadcast is how authentically 80’s it feels. So authentic, in fact, that reviewers have been stupefied to find that the film was made by former Towson University students early last year. I was fortunate enough to speak with Jimmy George, 33, the producer on this “literally found footage” film over the phone this week, as he and Director Chris LaMartina, 28, prepare for their Creative Alliance premiere.


Continue reading Preparation for the “WNUF Halloween Special” Premiere at the Creative Alliance

Frederick’s 72 Fest 2013

[Originally posted on Oct. 2nd at baltimorefilmguide.wordpress.com]

This weekend is Frederick’s annual 72 Hour Film Fest, a timed competition in which participants have three days to make a film. Unlike Baltimore’s 48 Hour Festival, in which participants are given a line of dialogue, prop, genre, or location, 72 Fest tends to have much more unique criteria, such as adapting stories or basing films around pictures given to participants. Throughout the summer, the marketing committee behind 72 has been posting video clues online, hinting at what this year’s theme may be. In each video, a children’s toy block with a letter could be seen.

Earlier this week, in preparation for Thursday night’s criteria launch, the festival announced, by spelling out the block letters seen in previous videos, that the theme will focus on “Science.”

Continue reading Frederick’s 72 Fest 2013

It’s That Time of the Year Horror Fans!

[Originally posted on Sept. 27, 2013 at baltimorefilmguide.wordpress.com]

October is for horror fans.

Cable channels will soon begin to play their month long horror movie marathons. AMC hosts their Fear Fest marathon, while TCM plays some retro flicks on Wednesday nights. Netflix, Redbox, and the few remaining video rental stores will be advertising horror classics and new releases that audiences should check up on.

If you don’t consider yourself a fan of scary movies, it’s fairly difficult to avoid them this time of year. I know that I don’t particularly enjoy them, but there is something about October that seems to put me in the mood for a good scary movie. However, because I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I have a hard time picking out what I would want to watch this time of year!

That’s why I have always enjoyed Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness, a month long movie review session that is now celebrating its seventh year. Hosted by James Rolfe, Monster Madness delves into all manner of horror films, from the cult monster movies and the b-grade sci-fi’s, to the gory slashers and the psychological thrillers. It acts as a perfect primer for the inexperienced horror watcher, covering the full spectrum of film history.
Continue reading It’s That Time of the Year Horror Fans!