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Tail Slating

February 22, 2007

So what the heck is “tail slating”? I’ll give you a hint. It has nothing to do with the long tail.

In filmmaking, a slate is the information board with two hinged sticks attached. You know, that zebra-looking thing used at the beginning of a take. The purpose of the slate is to record the scene number and help sync sound with picture. A tail slate, on the other hand, is when the slate information is recorded at the end of the take. This can happen when a director wants to shoot something quickly or not interrupt the flow of an actor who’s restarting a scene. When this happens, the slate will be filmed upside-down, signaling that the slate is at the end of the take.

So why did I pick this term? A couple of reasons. First, as a “run and gun” filmmaker (read: no budget), I’m used to running around with a video camera to steal locations and scenes. I know its kind of ghetto, but you can really ramp up your production value if you’re willing to take some risks! In order to be successful at guerilla filmmaking, you have to be inconspicuous when you steal a location. As you can imagine, if you slate at the start of a scene, you’ll draw unwanted attention and there’s a good chance that Bruno, the mall security guard, will stop you before you shoot anything worthwhile. Instead, you should shoot the scene first and slate at the end after you have successfully captured the footage you need. Then when Bruno points at you, murmurs something into his walkie talkie, and walks towards you with a triumphant “I just caught some troublemakers” look, you and your rebel crew can dash out of there with footage safe in hand! Hence, the advantage of Tail Slating. (Note: to be honest, I don’t slate for super low budget productions, but you get the idea.)

The second reason I chose Tail Slating is less interesting. It’s because it’s damn hard to find a cool name that has a domain available. Trust me, I tried a lot. happened to be available, so I jumped on it.

So what’s this blog about? Well, I plan on focusing on the rapidly-changing world of Video 2.0, and the impact the Internet distribution channel is having on us guerilla-style filmmakers. I’ll also blog about my filmmaking adventures and may comment on other video/film series I find on the Internet. I might also throw in movie reviews just for kicks and I’ll probably spout out random thoughts once in a while. Anyway, welcome to Tail Slating.

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