Equipment Specifics

By Greg Pak

I’ve recently received a number of emails asking for specific production and post-production equipment advice. What follows is a list of different equipment I’ve used to shoot each of my films with links to additional pages detailing the pros and cons of each piece of equipment. Hope it helps.

The Penny Marshall Project
Format: MiniDV
Camera: Sony TRV-700
Sound: Sennheiser K-6 series with ME64 capsule, plugged directly into the camera
Lighting: All available light
Editing system: Final Cut Pro

The Informed Consent Zone
Format: MiniDV
Camera: Sony VX-1000
Sound: Sennheiser K-6 series with ME64 & ME66 capsules, plugged directly into the camera
Lighting: Omni light kit, Japanese lanterns with Photofloods
Editing system: Final Cut Pro

Asian Pride Porn
Format: MiniDV
Camera: Sony VX-1000 and Sony TRV-700
Sound: Sennheiser K-6 series with ME64 & ME66 capsules, plugged directly into the camera
Lighting: Cheap lamps and Photofloods
Editing system: Final Cut Pro

Po Mo Knock Knock
Format: 16mm
Camera: Eclair ACL
Lenses: Angeniuex 12-120 and Switar 16mm prime
Sound: Sennheiser K-6 series, recorded on a non-timecode DAT recorder
Lighting: Omni Light Kit
Editing system: 6 plate Steenbeck (analog)

Fighting Grandpa
Format: 16mm
Camera: ArriSR for the main shoot, Eclair ACL for pickups
Lenses: Angeniuex 12-120
Sound: Sennheiser ME and K-6 series recorded on Nagra 4 tape recorder
Lighting: Cheap lamps and Photofloods
Editing system: 6 plate Steenbeck (analog), AVID

Format: 16mm
Camera: ArriSR for the main shoot, Eclair ACL for pickups
Lenses: Angeniuex 12-120 and Schneider prime lenses for the main shoot, Switar 16mm prime for pickups
Sound: Sennheiser ME series recorded on Nagra 4 tape recorder
Lighting: Babies, inkies, Japanese lanterns with Photofloods, one HMI, color balanced practicals
Editing system: 6 plate Steenbeck (analog)

Mr. Lee
Format: 16mm
Camera: ArriSR
Lenses: Angeniuex 12-120
Sound: Sennheiser ME series recorded on Nagra 4 tape recorder
Lighting: Babies, Inkies
Editing system: 6 plate Steenbeck (analog)


Why I Plug Film School

By Greg Pak
People often ask me whether film school is worthwhile for aspiring young filmmakers. My simple answer: Yes.
    I went to New York University’s much-lauded graduate film program. Like any film student, I had gripes about my school from time to time. But for several reasons, I’m greatly indebted to my film school experiences.

A place for real criticism

First, film school was the first place I got rigorous criticism of my work. Before film school, I made several films which friends and family told me they enjoyed. But no one ever told me this shot is too long; this scene is too didactic; this sequence doesn’t work.
    In contrast, my professors and classmates in film school clearly and coldly told me what they thought about my work. It was seldom pleasant. But without clear analysis of my work’s strengths and weaknesses, it would have been much more difficult for me to grow and improve as a filmmaker.

A place to aquire specific skills

Second, film school gave me solid tools for directing actors. I had worked with actors for years as a director of various improv comedy groups. But directing for the screen is a unique undertaking which my professors at NYU helped me understand. Similarly, film school gave me a strong grounding in other essential crafts such as editing, cinematography, and most importantly, dramatic writing.

A place for contacts and professional advancement

Third, film school provided me with contacts and venues for professional advancement. I’m still in touch with many of my classmates — we help each other out from time to time, tossing each other info about jobs, lending each other equipment, working on each others’ films.
    Professional benefits have come from the festival venues available only to students. I got several big boosts from student festivals and awards, including the Student Academy Awards and the NYU First Run Film Festival.
People often argue against film school by pointing out that a person can make a micro-budgeted feature instead of spending $60,000 on film school. True enough, particularly now that MiniDV and Final Cut Pro have made the costs of making features on video much, much cheaper.
    But it’s also true that most of these micro-budgeted first features disappear, never to be seen by anyone except the cast, crew, and the filmmaker’s immediate families.
    Before I went to film school, I made a sixty minute superhero spoof on Beta SP called “Random Man.” I have no regrets about making the film — I learned a huge amount from the experience. But the film didn’t really work, despite having a great first ten minutes. It played in only one film festival.
    If I had skipped film school and put the money right into making more films, I suspect I would have made several more interesting but ultimately amateurish feature length films which nobody would have seen.
    Instead, going to film school gave me the training and rigor to make each of my projects as good as they can be.
    In short, film school helped me live up to my potential.
    I know that film school is not for everyone — in particular, it’s not affordable to everyone. But even if you can’t afford film school, I’d recommend trying to create a network wherein you can get some of the benefits of film school. Specifically, I’d recommend joining or creating a community or workshop of filmmakers who can provide you the rigorous criticism and advice you need to grow.
    One example of such a group is the Workshop, or the Asian American Filmmakers Collaborative.


The DIY Shockmount

By Greg Pak
As I was leaving my apartment on a recent trip to Alaska for my documentary “Brother Killer Wolf,” I left my boom pole and shock mount in my entry way. When I returned for it (after realizing in the Holland Tunnel that we’d left without it), it was, of course, gone.
I grabbed a microphone clamp on my way out the door and mulled over my options as we flew to Alaska.
Circumstances prevented me from getting a replacement shock mount — we were heading into the bush pretty much as soon as we got to Alaska. But I was able to borrow a little collapsible monopod from the Anchorage outfit from which we rented camera equipment. The monopod, which extended about four and a half feet, was designed for 35mm still cameras. But the small screw on its head fit the screw at the bottom of the microphone clamp I’d brought from home. Incredibly, it looked like I’d found my solution.
But of course without a shock mount, the mic picked up every bump and jostle I gave to the boom.
Luckily, I had a shock mount holder I’d made for use with my microphone clamp. As you can see from the photo, it’s just a short piece of wooden broom handle with a hole drilled in it for a bolt. The piece of broom handle fits into the mic clamp; the shock mount then screws onto the bolt.
My challenge was to make a shock mount which could screw onto that bolt.
After experimenting with a cut-up plastic water bottle, I ended up using a wire hanger. With a few twists and kinks made with my Leatherman pocket tool and a couple of big rubber bands, I rigged the nifty li’l dude you see in the adjoining picture.


Home > COMICS > Hercules

Incredible Hercules

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A Marvel Comics series written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with pencils by Khoi Pham

The planet’s most irresponsible god and incorrigible teen genius wreak havoc in the wake of “World War Hulk.” Featuring Hercules, Amadeus Cho, and a number of extremely annoyed Avengers. on “Incredible Hercules” #113:

… this second issue of Hercules’ story is even stronger than the first, and it’s rapidly on its way to becoming one of the best comics Marvel is publishing.

Comixtreme on Herc in “Incredible Hulk” #109:

Hercules once again gets some really great screentime. …this arc has once again shown us why Hercules is such a great character. He’s complex, and honor-driven, and he’s a pleasure to read about, especially under Pak’s pen.

Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects

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Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects

A five issue Marvel Comics miniseries
Written by Greg Pak, interior art by Renato Arlem, covers by Jae Lee

Buy the trade paperback from

“The mysterious six-page prologue immediately pulls you into the story so that by the time Ben Grimm appears on page seven you’ve begun to wonder if this is going to be a superhero book or not, but you don’t care if it isn’t. It also features something we actually don’t get much of anymore: a nice introspective sequence with Ben in which we discover that even teenagers hold him in some amount of disregard, and we’re reminded that there’s a very human heart underneath that rocky exterior. Then the real fun begins. While Pak does an excellent job with Ben, his real triumph is Elektra – this is the Elektra that Jennifer Garner should have played, not that humorless woman with the pouty lips we ended up with.”
— Tony Whitt,

Amadeus Cho

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Amadeus Cho, aka Mastermind Excello

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“Amadeus Cho is probably the strongest character in Marvel’s stable of properties today…”

A Marvel Comics character created by Greg Pak for a special anthology issue of “Amazing Fantasy” #15, Amadeus Cho was featured in “Incredible Hulk” #100 and #106 to #111 and is now the co-star of “Incredible Hercules.”

Newsarama on Amadeus Cho in “World War Hulk”:

How great is Amadeus Cho? Greg Pak has handled every aspect of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk brilliantly, but his elevation of Amadeus Cho has been a great bonus. on Cho in “Incredible Hulk” #110:

Mastermind Excello is a wonderful character. Not only is he defined by his intellect, but he’s a youthful rebel. … [Greg] Pak’s script not only paints him as a genius, but as something of an innocent whose perspective manages to cut through politics and shades of grey. If Marvel doesn’t direct Pak to do more with this wonderful character, and soon, it’s wasting some great potential. on “Amazing Fantasy” #15:

The shining star of this issue is Greg Pak’s “Mastermind Excello,” featuring a genius teen’s efforts to live life on the lam, out of the hands of those who would try to control him and put his brain to nefarious use. Pak cleverly compares this being of pure brains to a being of pure brawn, but despite being at opposite ends of the power spectrum, they have a lot in common. Miyazawa’s art is a great choice for the property, as the artist captures the main character’s youth and almost mischievous nature quite well. More importantly, he also manages to turn his wholly non-visual powers into a dazzling display (no doubt thanks to some direction from the writer). on “Amazing Fantasy” #15:

… the story and art place this in that rare category, a genuine middle ground between US comics and manga. Good work from Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa, and one I’d like to see again.

Incredible Hulk

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Incredible Hulk

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Named the Best Ongoing Series of 2007 by Wizard Magazine

Greg Pak’s work with the iconic Marvel Comics character began with the “Planet Hulk” epic (“Incredible Hulk” #92 to #105). Pak then wrote the summer blockbuster, “World War Hulk” (“Incredible Hulk” #106 to #111 and “World War Hulk” #1 to #5). The third part of Pak’s Hulk trilogy begins in early 2008 with “Skaar: Son of Hulk.” Hulk fans also won’t want to miss the “Warbound” miniseries, which follows the Hulk’s alien gladiator companions from “Planet Hulk” here on planet Earth.


Wizard Magazine on “Incredible Hulk”:

“Planet Hulk” turned the big green behemoth from a raging monster into a deeply complex and psychologically driven character. And with “World War Hulk,” Pak proved his ability to deliver complex, heartfelt storytelling and intense scenes of action on the grand stage of company-wide crossovers. on “World War Hulk”:

While the action is great and would make a tremendous popcorn flick if ever put on screen, the reason this series and the finale in particular resonate so much with readers is thanks to writer Greg Pak, who’s created character-driven battles, not mindless slugfests. Whether with a punch or a word, there is raw emotion and angst on display here.

San Jose Mercury News on “Planet Hulk”:

How do you reinvigorate the Incredible Hulk saga? Send him into orbit and make him the new “messiah” for a bloodthirsty planet populated by aliens struggling to overcome a caste system. Pak, who also makes movies, has pulled off one of the most exciting story lines Marvel has produced. Must-read: Marvel’s “Planet Hulk” will set you back $39.99, but it’s worth every penny, turning out to be one of my best reading experiences this year.

The FilmHelp Manifesto

Welcome to, practical low-budget filmmaking advice from writer and director Greg Pak. Articles on this site are provided for educational purposes only. FilmHelp, PakBuzz, and Pak Man Productions do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy, appropriateness, completeness, safety or usefulness of any article. In particular, no article on this site should be taken as legal advice or legal opinion. Users and viewers are always advised to consult with a lawyer regarding any legal question.

By Greg Pak
1. Help thy neighbor
Without the advice and experience of others, I could never have made any of my films. Hence FilmHelp, my attempt to spread some good karma — giving back by sharing the pointers I’ve picked up over the years. May we all continue to give and take, share information, become better filmmakers.
2. Be specific
Vague platitudes foster complacency. Specific, detailed information engenders reflection and action. FilmHelp will strive to base articles and pointers on real life experience, grounded in references to actual productions.
3. Demand rigor
The MiniDV revolution makes it possible for almost anyone to make a film. But making good films requires much more than mere mastery of technical elements. FilmHelp hopes to challenge all of us to become the best storytellers we can be, always striving to improve our craft and our films.

Never Say No to a Mint

By Greg Pak
When I’m shooting, I need to have private, one-on-one conversations with my actors. But with a half dozen crew members in the room, it can be a struggle to keep these discussions private and effective. The result is close physical proximity — I’ll often whisper a direction into each actors’ ear just before a take.
Nothing puts a crimp into this kind of intimate communication like bad breath.
Too much coffee, too much pizza, too little sleep — the conditions of stressful sets provide the perfect incubator for all kinds of interesting chemical reactions. I’ve suffered from the halitosis of others and no doubt stunned people with my own over the years. It may seem like a little thing. But the success of a film can be compromised by anything which hinders communication between directors and their actors and crew.
The principle applies during distribution and promotion as well. Initial conversations with prospective agents, distributors, producers, and programmers often take place in crowded rooms at festival receptions or parties –under these conditions, people will know if you stink — and they may infer that your film does, too.
Never say no to a mint. That little Altoid could mean more to your moviemaking than you realize.

Writer of over 500 comic books, including PLANET HULK, MECH CADET YU, FIREFLY, and DARTH VADER