The Toronto 48 Hour Film Challenge

Hey Everyone!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, but I just got out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago with some bad stomach issues. Now, I’m alive, kicking, and gearing up for the Toronto 48 Hour Film Challenge which Next Level Pictures, along with a group of very talented and dedicated people, will be taking part in. We’ll be given a challenge pack which in the past has consisted of a prop, a theme, a line of dialogue, and a location. We will then take the pack and turn it’s contents into a short film which will must run for at least six minutes and no longer than eight.

How crazy is that?!

It’s always been a blast and this year will be no different. Make sure you follow us on Twitter at @nxtlvlmg for all of our updates throughout the challenge!

48 Hour Film Challenges are huge. I love the fact that people put these on, as it’s great for filmmakers to get up, get out, and shoot something great. It also is a a great chance to work with new people. Most of these things will require a team of at least eight people, so you will sometimes find yourself reaching for teammates, which will bring new and interesting people into the mix. Hey, the lead in our current feature is an actor that we worked with on the first challenge.

So, get online and search for one in your city! I know that the 48 Hour Film Project literally tours THE GLOBE, putting on challenges in major cities. Meet some new people, see what other people in your city are up to, and don’t forget to have fun.

I’d also like to take a second to thank the people over at Toronto Film Challenge, 48 Hour Film Project, and any other organizations that put together these great challenges. Filmmakers around the globe thank you!

Link to Twitter Page


Fear The Reaper

Hey guys!

We’ve been busy working away at the film, which looks amazing so far, but today I’m hear to bring something else to your attention. Fear the Reaper.

Marc Boggio has managed to craft an extremely entertaining film full of blood, violence, and women, on a budget that most wouldn’t even bother with. Furthermore, we are still treated to a story that will make you think and will keep you guessing until the very end, and let’s be honest, Hollywood just doesn’t seem to deliver on that anymore.

This is something for everyone to watch, especially fellow filmmakers. This guy followed his dream and made the movie he wanted to. It should be a message to all of us out there.

PS – Sorry, I did not originally add this to the post, but you can buy the film for only $10 (that’s with tax and shipping INCLUDED) online. That’s a steal. Show your support by purchasing a copy!

Comics and Storyboards

Sin City

Robert Rodriguez, who in my opinion is ONE of the great directors of this generation, took a piece of work that he adored and made it a movie. That piece was Sin City, a graphic novel penned and illustrated by Frank Miller. Not only did Sin City break open the doors for a flood of comic book movies, but the filmmakers involved also did something else early on in pre-production that in these eyes is just beyond brilliant. They took the comic and decided to create the film frame for frame, even going as far as using the comic as the storyboard.

Comic as the storyboard?

Yea… and why not.

Being a lover of comic books I find myself sifting through my favourites whenever I can (most often the toilet – there really is no better time to read). The thing I can never get over is the flow of the images. It’s astounding. These artist are always given the task of creating frames that are alive. I mean when you have kidnappers speeding away with Detective Gordon’s baby and Bruce Wayne is hightailing on his motorbike to keep up, a single frame depicting this won’t do. These scenes are usually pieced together in the same format our films are, utilizing cut-ins, a variety of angles, and well paced. After enough reading the images seem to become a movie.

Now, does this mean that when we put together storyboards we should completely adapt the ways of a comic book. Hell no. For its uses in a production we will need more info added for the camera operators, continuity supervisor (if you even bother to use one – which you should) and even your editor later on down the line. However, we still come back to the main purpose of the storyboard which is to visualize scenes before they’re shot, which nobody has a better handle on than the comic book illustrator.

So where are you going with this?

Pick up a comic book. Yea, I said it. If you’re in the middle of putting together a piece, may it be a short or a feature, go and grab a comic. And I don’t mean an Archie… something with substance and art please. Study the way the illustrator conveys the action and pace and take those tools for yourself. It will not only help you with storyboarding but it will also help you a lot with varying shots within your scenes (which in this age of film is huge). The development of a scene visually is something that can never be over looked but often is, because when someone is doing it right you’re not seeing it, you’re feeling it!

Suggested readings:

Joker –  written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo

Batman: Year One – written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzuchelli

Sin City (Any volume) – written and illustrated by Frank Miller

The Killing Joke – written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland

“The Struggle” Teaser Poster

Hey Guys! In true Hollywood fashion we have teaser material to show you before shooting even begins. Nothing amazing, but it is our teaser poster for the time being. As we kick pre-production into the next gear we are all very excited, and we can’t wait to give you more material to get excited about.

There you have it folks.

Thank you all for the continued support!

The Next Level Group

The Sounds of “The Struggle”! Plus, “Where the Production Designers AT?”!

Hey Guys,

So, the updates keep flowing in! As we clean up the screenplay and look to production, establishing a crew of filmmakers and actors is now a priority. First off, I’d like to formally announce that Stel “Bomber” “Ph.D.” Balamos will be composing the score for “The Struggle”! For us here at the Next Level Group, this is a huge acquisition! His unique musical flavour is something that is hard to come by, and something we truly admire here. He will definitely be huge part of the success of the short. More information will be coming up about Mr. Bomber, but we do have more news to get to this post.

As I was saying, it is time to assemble the crew. Currently, our main objective is to acquire a Production Designer. As we look to begin our work on bringing sets and characters to life, the need for a Production Designer is pounding at our door. We do leave the door open for those that have the background or knowledge necessary for the job and are not necessarily “Production Designers”. What would that be exactly? Well… a heavy background in art, ability to understand architectural illustrations, some light knowledge of art history, some light knowledge of fashion, and of course, A LOVE FOR FILM! Pretty wide field huh? So, if you yourself are a Production Designer, or by chance you match our criteria, make sure that you contact us at If not, please spread the word. You never know who might just save the day.

Thanks for the continued support!

The Next Level Group

2011 Demo Reel is now LIVE!!!

Alright, so now we have our Demo Reel for 2011 up! It’s great and I suggest you all take a look, whether or not you are looking for video work done. It is truly a great display of what we are capable of and the wide variety of work that we can handle. We said “Anything and Everything” for a reason! So, I’m done talking, but again, CHECK IT OUT! It’s a must. P.S. It’s always best to view the videos we do in HD! Click on the link below the video to watch the Demo Reel in HD on our page

The Next Level Group: 2011 Demo Reel

Next Level Pictures