The Blog

Moviemaker Dialogue: Cinema at Your Fingertips

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On May 3rd, 2012, Austin Film Society will be hosting a special moviemaker dialogue panel featuring three local filmmakers who will the rise of streaming internet video, as well as their experiences with digital distribution. I am particularly excited that award-winning documentary producer Brady Dial will be on the panel.  

Man on a Mission, Dial’s documentary following gaming millionaire Richard Garriott pioneering private space travel in a quest to become the first second-generation astronaut, won Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival.
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Caine’s Arcade: Documentary Story Elements

caines arcade

Even in documentary production, story elements are essential to keep the audience engaged. How can you “plan” a story when you are documenting real life? How do character, setting, plot, conflict and theme play out in a documentary?

Caine’s arcade is a video about a young boy who built a mini-arcade out of cardboard boxes and supplies around his Fathers used auto parts store in East LA. After a local filmmaker becomes his first customer and decides to tell the world about him, Caine’s inspiring story has become a viral sensation.
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The Storytelling Formula: How Writers Create Interesting Stories that Connect with Audiences

Storytelling elements

Our culture is driven by stories.  We spend our free time watching movies and television shows consisting of a variety of stories, with the hopes that we will be entertained and inspired.  In-between the big stories, savvy advertising agencies integrate short stories into commercials, so we are compelled to pay attention. We read news and magazines written by columnists that understand the key to hold your attention is to tell you a story. The storytelling structure used in film and television today borrow basic principals of storytelling from books. Continue Reading →

48 Hour Stories: Badgerdog Literary Publishing

Reel Change Film Frenzy

The Reel Change Film Frenzy is officially over.  I am happy to report that our video was turned in on time, with minimal hiccups. We were paired with  Badgerdog Literary Publishing, a nonprofit group committed to developing literary communities. We did our best to shoot, edit, encode and deliver a documentary-style story within 48 hours.  The competition started at noon on Friday in front of Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.  If you weren’t watching our play-by-play on Facebook, here is a recap of the weekend:  Continue Reading →

The Austin Reel Change Film Frenzy is Upon Us

Lights. Camera. Help.

Last year, I participated in the production of a short documentary capturing a behind-the scenes look at the 48 Hour Film Festival in Austin.  This was a contest where filmmakers were challenged with making a short film in only 2 days.  The competition was fierce, and I was very surprised to see what some filmmakers are willing to go through just to win a few bragging rights.  Why would anyone put themselves through a weekend of high-stress filmmaking?  Because it is fun, thats why.

What if a film challenge was not only fun, but also helped a cause?  When I found out that Lights. Camera. Help. and the Alamo Drafthouse were putting together another 48 Hour Film Festival devoted to making films for non-profits,  I was all over it.  It’s called the Reel Change Film Frenzy, and it’s right up our alley.  Continue Reading →

The Five Elements of an Interesting Business Story

Elements of a business story

Every business, large or small, local or global, has an interesting story to tell.  Unfortunately, this story is usually buried under a steaming pile of marketing cliches and robotic business language.

A great story can work to help potential customers pay attention, connect with your company on a deeper level, and spread your message virally through word-of-mouth. A business story can be told in many different ways.  Whether it is through text, speech or video, the elements will stay the same. Continue Reading →

Documentaries Filmed in Austin, Texas


Documentary films have been quickly gaining popularity worldwide… And it isn’t just the film-festival crowds anymore.  Documentaries have gone mainstream. In late 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued new requirements for feature-length documentary entries.  To be eligible for an Oscar nomination, documentaries must be screened for seven days in either Los Angeles or New York City, as well as in 14 theatres in at least 10 states. Continue Reading →

How Video Can Help Your Website Rank Higher

Web Video SEO

Embedding video content on your pages can actually help your website rank higher in the search engines. Why? Studies show that video increases the average time spent on your page, and Google loves it. This is because the time spent on the site indicates the quality of the site.  Continue Reading →

Top 30 Highest Grossing Movies Filmed in Austin

Movies Filmed in Austin Texas

Austin’s filmmaking community is alive and well.   With high-end production facilities such as Austin Studios in Round Rock, Spiderwood Studios in Ulty, East Side Stages Downtown, and dozens of smaller studios available, the hills are alive with the sound of…movies.

You may be curious about what major movies were made in Austin.  Here is a list of the top (US) grossing films, ordered by total box office sales, that were produced (or at least partially produced) in Austin, Texas. Continue Reading →

7 Great Content Ideas for Ongoing Video Campaigns

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If you want to start creating regular video content for your Internet marketing efforts, you are going to need to step outside the television commercial mindset.  You’ll want to start creating videos that your target audience will choose to watch because they relevant and interesting, not because they are forced to.

This is not easy, especially if you are trying to publish videos with any sort of frequency.  Here are a few ideas for publishing ongoing, relevant and useful video content that your audiences will want to watch. Disclaimer: These video examples here are not produced by Cognitive Films. They are only good examples of content, not production quality. The quality level of your production will depend on your skills, time and money invested.  Continue Reading →