iPhone Documentary Filmmaking

I wrote an article about making an iPhone documentary for the new issue of Digital Filmmaking magazine.  I shared some of my thoughts and procedures on how and why I used the iPhone.  The publisher added images of interesting apps and accessories that people use who shoot with iPhones along with photos I supplied from the film.  Although apps and accessories can be helpful in making a film with your iPhone, I didn’t use any Continue reading

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Shot with an iPhone, Indie Film Shows Life of Brothers – Movie Review

Brothers PhotoFilm critic Joan Ellis of the Two River Times wrote this review about my new iPhone film. She picked up on and wrote about the advantage of documentary filmmaking with an iPhone. “With Brothers, Jack Ballo has filmed their story with his unobtrusive Apple iPhone and the result feels thoroughly authentic. This would have been a different film in the hands of a conventional camera crew.” Read the complete review here:  Two River Times Movie Review

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Documentary Filmmaking Course for High School Students

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.12.26 PMThe summer DIY Documentary Filmmaking class I taught at the Count Basie Theatre was a great success!  The sold out course for teens ended with a class film screening where all the students invited friends and family for an evening of short films by eight first time filmmakers.  The new DIY Documentary Filmmaking II course, described above, is an eight week workshop that begins on October 6th and will help prepare high school students for their first film festival.  For Details and registration information: Count Basie Fall Classes

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DIY – Low Cost Equipment Suggestions

canon_1960c002_vixia_hf_r800_camcorder_1483980615000_1308395DIY documentary is about simple inexpensive filmmaking.  Believe me, creating great stories and interesting films have little to do with the equipment.  If your phone or video camera records HD video you are on your way to your first documentary. Purchasing better equipment may be a good idea at some point but for now you may want to work with the equipment you own before spending any money.   If you’re attending one of my DIY workshops and are considering purchasing equipment, you should Continue reading

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My new iPhone documentary – “BROTHERS” 2017

Brothers NEW Poster FINALMy new documentary “Brothers” wasn’t a planned film.  It all happened when I agreed to teach a DIY documentary workshop at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre this summer and wanted to experiment with iPhone filmmaking.  I started filming two childhood friends of mine who were living in the woods to use as an example on how to film with your iPhone.  I visited them once a month for two years, filming bits and pieces of them without any real vision or plans.  But then like all great documentaries, there was a surprise ending to theirstory that I never expected.  When I reviewed all of my footage, I realized that I had a fascinating story that needed to be told.  The unobtrusive iPhone filming was not Continue reading

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Sign up today! – DIY documentary workshop.

DIY-CBT AdI am teaching a DIY documentary filmmaking workshop at the Count Basie Theater’s educational program this summer. The workshop will get aspiring filmmakers on their way to their first documentary. It’s for anybody who has a story to tell and an iPhone or inexpensive video camera along with editing software on their computer. No experience is necessary!  The course is once a week for 6 weeks, Wednesday nights are for teens and Continue reading

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DIY Lighting

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 4.39.48 PMI’m working on a music video by a great song writer and talented musician named Danny Petronie.  This isn’t a documentary and of course I don’t believe in artificial lighting of documentaries anyway.  But when I saw this picture below I thought it was worth sharing and explaining how I did my DIY lighting for a fireside scene.  It was quite simple, cheap and worked great.  I used three flood lights on the ground (2-yellow and 1 red) and an  LED light taped to a ladder behind Danny to give a moon effect as back lighting.  The LED light was a Ryobi 18-Volt flashlight Model# P705.  It cost $20 for the LED and $30 for the Continue reading

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Indie Street Film Festival 2017


main_banner_cropped.bcafad1d0ac1This is a perfect film festival for DIY filmmakers.  Their submission fee is low as they look for great independent story telling.  They don’t judge films by their budget, equipment, crew or past films.  They even partner with filmmakers and offer VOD (Video on Demand) distribution and promotion.  It’s a professional organization that has a unique vision and plan for giving a Continue reading

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Take your Documentary on a Film Tour!

db-gainesville-poster-copyIt has been said that making the documentary is the easy part and that distribution, promotion and outreach is where all the hard work is.  That may be true…so if you are serious about your film and you are willing to put the work in, maybe you should take your doc on the road and get your story out to a wider audience.

Let me tell you how I ended up on a nine city film tour that started in New Jersey and ended in Florida.  My latest DIY doc is about 80 homeless people living in the woods who wanted to create a tiny house community that they called Destiny’s Bridge.  I ended up putting a short clip from my documentary on YouTube.  It showed a 72 year old man, Sam, watching his home in the woods Continue reading

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Woodstock Film Festival

wff_hor_onwhite_smI just got back from the Woodstock Film Festival in upstate New York.  I went to all three days of the festival but only attended one movie.  The reason is because I went there for the panel discussions and also because it was convenient since I have a vacation house in the area.  Anyway, you can really learn a lot at panel discussions and you can also learn that you Continue reading

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