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Old August 12th, 2005, 02:12 PM   #1
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Your advice for new filmakers...

Now, I know that DVC is a competition, but it the primary purpose, or so it seems to me is to get some good shorts made. and personally I'd rather lose to a lot of good shorts than win or place over some that were inept.* Also the judges should be spared as much pain as possible. so in the spirit of that..


I'm far from an expert, having only made two shorts, but each taught me a lot. some of those lessons could probably been avoided, though, if I'd had a bit more knowledge. So I thought it might not be a bad idea to list some simple advice for anyone who might be trying their first or second or third (I'll be reading this too!) short.

Here's mine:
Gear/ preproduction:
1. Test all your production and post production gear as far in advance of the shoot as you can. Just because you think something is going to work, doesn't mean it will.

2. Don't leave audio to chance (I was proactive about audio on dvc2 and still messed it up).

3. Keep a log of exposure settings and lighting set ups, in case you need to match lighting for a reshoot.

4. When you're on the set be flexable in regards to your script. Time is short, so it's not a bad idea if you can figure out how to do something in 10seconds instead of 30.

5.Try to at least have something in place for all the major equiptment needs, sound, support, lighting.

6. Make sure you get some adhesive tape yellow is good for marking the floor for the talent and lights, black electrical (gaffer's tape?) is good for sticking junk to other junk.

7. Get some zip ties. I am certain they will come in handy.

8. make a shotlist and/or story boards. (This is key! Whatever my short had going for it, it was because I did this- it was the single smartest thing i did, in fact.)


Shooting:
8. Vary your camera angles, stationary , eye level shots are boring.

9. Think about the edit while you shoot.




I'm sure the rest of you have some better advice, so let's hear it!



*This statement is not meant to relfect on the qulaity of films in either DVC1 of DVC2. There were some excellent pieces in both competitions, and the awards relected that.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 07:43 PM   #2
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More suggestions:

Keep it simple. One or two locations. Four or less people. This is crucial.

Write it like you would tell a joke. Intro, build up, punchline. Time is short, forget the 3 act structure.

Make a shot list so you don't miss anything (or storyboard).

Write it to be two minutes long, and you will be around three when it is done.

Experiment while it is cheap and there is no pressure.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 10:17 PM   #3
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Dylan.

You wrote -

"Write it like you would tell a joke. Intro, build up, punchline. Time is short, forget the 3 act structure."

Intro - Buildup - Punchline

Dude, that IS the three act structure.


Just checkin in.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 11:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez
Dylan.
Intro - Buildup - Punchline

Dude, that IS the three act structure.
Yeah, it didn't quite come off like I meant it.

I should have written "forget about complexity." I could go back and edit it, but I'll let y'all have a laugh at me. :)
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Old August 13th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #5
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Don't get stuck on preconceived ideas.

If something happens while shooting, that wasn't in the script - don't turn the camera off and curse. Sometimes things happen that you could never have intentionally choreographed, or even imagined while shooting. Go with it (that is, if whatever "it" is isn't about to cause a irreversible break in continuity. Like death, or property damage)(those are just two examples of many). You can always decide that whatever "it" was should not be edited in. Or at best "it" can give the film an unexpected direction. Take advantage of the fact that there are few rules in this challenge.
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Old August 13th, 2005, 11:56 PM   #6
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OK, everyone else hit the big ones but my only real tip, other than make effective use of what you have would be this -

In my younger days I would have said , hey, this is easy, I'll just shoot some stuff and make it work.

These days I write out the idea, the kernel of a story and man I just blast the idea on the page. Once the concept is laid down to where it makes sense, I start adding stage direction, camera angles and lighting notes, etc.

It's a lot easier for me to blurt it all out as fast as it pops into my head and go back to examine it from the perspective of camera op, lighting guy, etc.

If I tried to write it out as a finished script, not only would it suck but I would have lost some of my better ideas before I got them out of my head.

Back to the make effective use of what you have. Most folks forget they have things like ladders to shoot higher angles from or to hang a light from a higher place, simple stuff you already probably have that might add a new perspective on your shots.

Good luck in DVC3 everyone.

Sean McHenry
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