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We at Y.A.F.I.:Underground tend to like to share our learning as well and have a How-To make your own movie section. In addition, I've been working on showing the process, not just on set and in camera, but post production as well... seeing how editing choices can change a story and allowing you all to get your hands dirty as well by giving you all of the footage from a short film to take a stab at editing as well on our Short Films: Nuts to Bolts project.

I've also added a camera side checklist for you to print. This is the workflow that we've developed through trial and error. It just happens to match what I've learned is the correct way to do this sort of thing.

Jake Goose and I ran some lighting distance tests. The results (with pictures, because we're all visual people) are here: Lighting Distance Tests Please use them to improve your lighting setups and achieve more beautiful pictures. The handsome devil in front of the camera is none other than Cole McDonald (Knightly on lots of the filmmaking fora).

Make your own movie
camera side checklist
Lighting Distance Tests
Short Films: Nuts to Bolts Articles written for the old Thousand Dollar Film e-zine


Identifying Indian - Documentary
Identifying Indian

20 May 2010: Made as a project for an Anthropology class "American Indian Representations in Film and Media," this project took on a life of its own. Please take the time to watch this documentary.

Film Racing's Grand Prix Competition for 2009
Click here to see our latest movie!

7 January 2010: The shoot for Scavengers went very well. Our best yet! It was great to compete in the Film Racing Grand Prix. I canít thank the cast and crew enough for their effort they put in for this production. We shot everything with no heat (or running water!) and an undersized generator.

The writers were great, and done so quickly! I need to hand out many thanks to all of them and especially three writers who already had commitments but stuck around to get the script done before leaving. The dynamics of the characters really generate interest and feel honest.

Our location, a farmhouse that had not been lived in for three years, provided just the touch we needed. The barn and dairy room were authentic, and smelled like it and our set dresser did a great job! I also want to thank those who braved the cold weather and less than clean air to work on our movie.

Movies are all about teamwork and this production really showed what can happen when we come together. We were able to fill almost all the roles ahead of time, and it really showed. Plus, we got a wonderful last second add with our talented actress. It is so uplifting to feel the energy and excitement on set with a good group of people like this.

We did more FX work on this than on any other movie. And thatís not just because we had 100 hours at our disposal (a veritable luxury for us) but because it really added to the movie. We have the green screen of the airship (isnít it cool!) floating on the screen, and other masking effects. I look forward to our next shoot. Thank you cast and crew!

  • Theme: Privacy
  • Prop: Balloon

48 MINUTE Film Challenge - A CONvergence Panel filmmaking crucible!

Click to play in place
H.264 Quicktime 3.2Mb
5 Jul 2009: So... for some reason I allowed myself to be talked into hosting a panel at the 2009 CONvergence
We were challenged to put together a REALLY short film in 48 minutes (a normal lighting setup for us on the 48 hour is about 45 minutes), from writing, to shooting, to editing... using Actors form the audience and ideas for the plot gleaned from audience suggestions.

I put the final cut in 4 minutes early. We ended up with 5 non-YAFI folks form the audience working on the short and turned in the film to the left (only changes from the edit shown in that room is title added -credits soon- and widescreen+color grade... and removing the "Action"..."Cut - laughter" from the ends of the produciton.

Our actors were amazing improv artists, only one scripted line in the thing!

  • Genre: SciFi
  • Required Elements
  • Prop: Sandwich
48 Hour Project 2009 - 48 Hour Filmmaking Competition

Click to play in place
Click here to play in new window
H.264 Quicktime 15Mb

Click to play in place
H.264 Quicktime 3.2Mb
15 Jun 2009: Well, another year has past and I didn't update the site in that time. We had a great shoot this year. Someone actually shot some BTS for us as well! The writing team had a ton of fun coming up with a story in a fun to watch collaboration over food and caffeine. We then forced them to pitch them to the production heads - wonderful job on their part selling the stories and getting really excited about them in the process. The writing took way less time than we were expecting as the ideas flew around the room.

The result: "A man trapped on a space station determines that if he can't make his life matter, he's going to make his death matter!"

The title: "Blaze of Glory"

This is the first time we've used a green screen or done any amount of actual special digital effects, what a great learning project for us. The editing team worked straight through from Saturday evening at 8pm to Sunday at 6:45pm to squeeze in as much as we could in the time we had. We hit our 7:00pm deadline for turn in (actual turn in time was 7:30pm).

I'm really impressed with all of our members on this shoot, cast and crew. We couldn't have done it without you all! What a great team, if this continues, we can only do amazing things going forward.

Main Location:
The Myth Nightclub in Maplewood, MN
Super Thanks to them, what a beautiful location... lots of space and the camera could point anywhere and get a cool looking shot!

Contributions were provided by:
John Markovich Photography
David A. Justin
Taylor Kristoffe-Jones
Jim Fuller

These two companies linked above have proven that they support the local arts community, please repay their kindness and support by supporting their businesses. Let them know YAFI Sent you!

  • Genre: SciFi
  • Required Elements
  • Character:Mr. Kevin Schnabel, Expert
  • Prop: Sandwich
  • Line: "I hope they decide soon."

48 Hour Project 2008 - 48 Hour Filmmaking Competiton
4 Jul 2008: YAFI is back up after a short outage. I've posted the submitted clip for you all to view! Sorry about the delay, enjoy the show. Click to view the movie
21 Jun 2008: We had an amazing shoot this year. I have hourly breakdowns of our process right up until the shooting started to get heated, then I sort of lost track of keeping my hourly notes. We screen on the 23rd at the Riverview Theater in MPLS at the 6:30 showing. Be there early and vote for us for audience favorite! We have officially shot what I think is our best piece yet. We just keep improving as we practice more! The old adage is true apparently. Here are the elements:
  • Character:Ms. or Mr. Perkinson, Substitute teacher
  • Prop: Fish
  • Line: "You look very familiar."
  • Genre: Holiday Film

1 May 2008: It's a year later and We're tooling up for this years 48 Hour Project. I'm starting with updating the webpage, I've worked on a bunch of student films with fellow students of the Film Studies program at SCSU. The Y.A.F.I.:Folks have been hard at work drilling on the parts of the process that we fell down on last year for the 48 hour. We intend to over-achieve (hopefully) this year. My school has expanded my network of cast and crew which should benefit us greatly this year.

I can't wait to see what we crank out. Until then, we'll be shooting at least one short before then and doing some acting/directing tests to try to get closer to our goal of catching the lightning that is good cinema in the proverbial bottle.

48 Hour time again - 48 Hour Filmmaking Competiton
19 Apr 2008: OK! I've been lax on this news. We shot an excellent short, but failed to get it edited and in on time. We did screen last year, but weren't eligible for the competition. Which is a bummer, because we had an excellent short. I'm going to be finishing up the sound edit on it as soon as possible and get it posted here. Until then, here's a link to the rough re-edit of the short (keep in mind, I haven't done any color correction or sound work on it yet). 9th Life
  • Character: Dr. Jason Meyers, DVM
  • Prop: Personal Music Player
  • Line: "They will get them, if you let them"
  • Genre: Buddy Comedy

23 may 2007: It's that time of year again! We're gearing up to dig in and make a mark on the world...wish us luck, it's a hard comp, but very rewarding.

Scare Tactics - IndieTalk Script to Screen Challenge

Click to view the movie
6 Oct 2007: And another Accolade, we've made it to the Spotlighted Short area of Crackle.com's Front Page getting over 2000 views in one day!
20 Feb 2007: We've just won our first award for this short. "Best interpretation of a dramedy script". Big Kudos to all involved, this was a great experience and I learned alot from it!

The Stream, The Cave, Jim and Dave - IndieTalk Script to Screen Challenge

Click to view the movie
20 Feb 2007: I'm very proud of this piece and believe it to be our best work to date. Constantly getting better! A departure from our normal style, we shot this entirely handheld and in Black and White with only available light. I'm very happy with the results of this shoot. We shot this in the Sartell Lion's Park on watab creek in 20 degrees F weather. My actors were amazingly enthusiastic throughout this shoot. I'm very impressed with their MN Fortitude!

Death Bed - 13 Day Horror Film Competition

Clickto view the movie

6 Oct 2007: And another Accolade, we've made it to the featured shorts area of Crackle.com's Front Page
2 Jun 2007: We get to add another laurel to this film as we have been selected to screen at the trader Wally's Horror Show on Friday the 13th in July in San Jose, CA at a "Dive-In" theater event.
30 Oct 2006: We have been selected to screen in London tomorrow night as one of the top ten finalists in this competition! We're very excited and will soom have an IMDB.com entry for this short.
23 Oct 2006: "Get your ICK on!" - Kimberly Dohrer
YAFI Underground just finished shooting a horror short film for the 13 Day Horror Film Competition! We ended up with free access to an old hospital in Farmington, MN with an awesome staff (they ended up getting bloody for us). We were able to make several really cool sets. Not the least of which was an operating room in an actual operating room!

Curtain Call - 48 Hour film Project

Click image to view movie
13 June 2006: YAFI Underground just finished participating in the 2006 Minneapolis 48 hour film project! We had alot of fun writing shooting and cutting a 5-7 minute Horror short (horror was new to us all) with the required elements:
  • Character: Frank Mooney, DJ
  • Prop: a Wallet
  • Line: "Thanks for your help, thanks alot"
  • Genre: Horror
Stressed and sleepless, we turned our entry in an hour before the deadline and actually had sleep in our schedule...not alot of sleep though.
Here are the BTS Photos:
Curtain Call Stills

Average Joe - An adventure in filmmaking!

Average Joe - Teaser
8Mb Quicktime

More Apartment
Flower Shop
test shots
4 april 2006: We have wrapped principal on 15 may 2006! The goal of this project is to have a piece that can be submitted to Festivals. This entails having an original, finished movie. We went with a feature because we are using it as a learning project and can pack more learning in more intensely by taking on a larger project.

We are currently phasing into Post production, footage is off to the editor and we look forward to screening this at a local theater. Once the Movie is cut, we ship it simultaneously to our composer and to our sound design folk who then provide us our audio to layer in. Then comes the promotion phase of the film which will also be a learning experience.
Read up on the Main chunk of our shoot in our diary

Cloudy Town Stage and Screen: Local Performance Resources
In an effort to boost the creative energies in the St. Cloud, MN area, I'm collecting contact information from individuals interested in participating. The service is simple, members (free registration) can request to have their contact information available to other members for jobs in local productions. The cost is that I ask each member to help out at least one beginning/low-no budget production per year for free/deferment (within reason). As we build this contact resource, I will get feedback about how the privacy should work and how requests are made to make it a safe and helpful resource for our community. If you are interested, please contact me: knightscape@charter.net

Started in 1987 as a music production company for a few friends, YAFI:Underground Records has become a media inclusive production company under which we release any of our creative pursuits.

* Indicates an award

Splash Screen

Cole McDonald
Demo Reel 2007

Cole McDonald
Demo Reel 2006


Average Joe

48 Hour

(2006) Curtain Call

(2007) 9th Life

(2008) Extra Credit


The Stream The Cave
Jim and Dave

** Scare Tactics

UK Horror Challenge

*** Death Bed


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-BTS Photos-
-Curtain Call
--BTS Photos
-Average Joe
--More Apartment
--Flower Shop
--test shots

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