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Old May 28th, 2008, 09:54 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Again, the first question is, do you want to make the movie yourself or do you want to sell the script to a producer or studio who will make it? In other words, do you want your role to be the producer or the writer? For the first, start finding investors and raising money, take out a mortgage on your house, etc. For the second, copyright your script and register it with the Writer's Guild and then start shopping for an agent to represent you.
To be honest, I would actually like to be the one who puts the film together but only because I know how everything should look and feel. However, I'm not as capable as an actual producer. I want this script to become a good film, not just a low budget half assed film that I produced with whatever money and knowledge I had about film making.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 01:32 AM   #17
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Terry,

What the vast majority of people seduced by easy access to digital filmmaking tools don't understand is that building a film is about as complex an undertaking as building a house.

NOBODY in their right mind would even think of building a house without schooling themselves in the appropriate trades - such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc.

They'd also need to talk to people about the administrative stuff - permits, the load-bearing nature of the walls, set-backs and easements, HVAC loads and a hundred other details that make the difference between a safe home and a fall down tomorrow shack.

Building a real movie is similarly complex.

The script is just the plan - like the blueprints for the house.

But to get good results you've GOT to have or hire solid expertise in the "trades" stuff.

Sound recording, videography/cinematography, lighting, directing actors, location surveys, and a thousand other small and large factors that are represented by all those rolling credits at the end of all good movies.

A good script. Heck a GREAT script. Is pretty much valueless until someone can actually get the REST of the stuff organized in order to make it into an actual movie.

THAT's the hard part.

My best advice: be patient - start slow - learn as you go.

Good luck.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 04:03 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post
To be honest, I would actually like to be the one who puts the film together but only because I know how everything should look and feel. However, I'm not as capable as an actual producer. I want this script to become a good film, not just a low budget half assed film that I produced with whatever money and knowledge I had about film making.
It sounds like you want to direct. However, in order to attract funders and have a producer who believes in you enough to give up perhaps 5 years of their life, you have to be able to prove you can direct a film.

Unless you've got a track record of good quality theatre directing, you need make some quality shorts to prove that you can do it. I know people that have gone on to direct a feature after one short and a few commercials, but they'd also been working for quite a few years as an art director and had attracted a producer who had the contacts to put the deal together.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 05:00 AM   #19
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The script is just the plan - like the blueprints for the house.
I'd go a step futher, and say that ath this point the script is maybe an artists' impression.

It still needs a lot of work until its a blueprint for a movie and you won't (realistically) get there unless you have experienced help.

George/
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Old May 29th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
Terry,

What the vast majority of people seduced by easy access to digital filmmaking tools don't understand is that building a film is about as complex an undertaking as building a house.

NOBODY in their right mind would even think of building a house without schooling themselves in the appropriate trades - such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc.

They'd also need to talk to people about the administrative stuff - permits, the load-bearing nature of the walls, set-backs and easements, HVAC loads and a hundred other details that make the difference between a safe home and a fall down tomorrow shack.

Building a real movie is similarly complex.

The script is just the plan - like the blueprints for the house.

But to get good results you've GOT to have or hire solid expertise in the "trades" stuff.

Sound recording, videography/cinematography, lighting, directing actors, location surveys, and a thousand other small and large factors that are represented by all those rolling credits at the end of all good movies.

A good script. Heck a GREAT script. Is pretty much valueless until someone can actually get the REST of the stuff organized in order to make it into an actual movie.

THAT's the hard part.

My best advice: be patient - start slow - learn as you go.

Good luck.
Bill, Thank you for your feedback!

This is something that I had anticipated. However, knowing where to start is another story and the strategy by which I should contact these people. It is probably very unlikely that I walk up to a producer and say I want to make a film and he/she listen to me, as others have said.

So, lets say after I have rewritten my script and have chizzled it down to a solid piece of material to work with...what should I do next?

the impression I get from others is that I should first write a synopsis, then get a copyright, register it in the Writer's Guild and then search for an "agent" (whos an agent..? sorry, new to this..). Then, produce a couple short films perhaps before I find an agent so that I have something to present as an example of my work as I suppose a director..

am I on the right track or lost??

Thank you all for helping me...even to those who I have not replied to, your replies have certainly been appreciated.

-Terry.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #21
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Terry, if you have a yen to become a director, for God's sake start on a short. A short short. Five pages tops. Three's better. Hire the crew.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:06 AM   #22
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>So, lets say after I have rewritten my script and have chizzled it down to a >solid piece of material to work with...what should I do next?

That depends on what you REALLY want to do.

From your original post, it appears you're interested nearly equally in writing - and in directing.

Both of those creative efforts are EXTREMELY hard to do at a high level.

And they aren't the same thing. There are a lot of great writers that can't direct. And many great directors who can't write. Heck, there are even excellent writers who can write one kind of thing, but can't write other things. Like novelists who can't write plays, or screenplays. Not because they can't write well. But because they can't write well IN THAT FORM.

And similarly, there are directors who can direct brilliantly for the stage, but don't understand the unique requirements of dramatic film, or comedy, or documentary.

But the path for success in each profession is pretty much the same.

It's a process of learning as much as you can by studying, talking to others, and your own critical creative thinking. Then you've GOT to start creating your own work - over and over - refining it - again over and over - until it's as good as you can make it - then putting it out for other people to judge.

And by the way, that final step is FAR AND AWAY the hardest.

Ask any successful writer or movie maker or a creative artist in ANY field what happened the first times they "let go" of creative work for others to judge.

It's ALWAYS a nightmare. And almost always disappointing. Because if you're actually LEARNING how to be good - by definition, you aren't good yet.

And your early work will reflect that.

And the critiques will be tough.

Study, refine, submit. Listen for what you can learn from the feedback that can help you be better next time. Repeat. Again. And again. And again.

If you have talent, you'll get better.

Do that long enough, and eventually you'll get to be as good as you can.

Then the market place will tell you whether that's good enough.

If you want it distilled down to the essence, here's what I'd say.

Any day you write, you're potentially getting to be a better writer.

Any day you're directing others, you're getting to be a better director.

Any day you're not. You're not.

Hope that helps.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 01:19 AM   #23
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Bill... You are a man of great wisdom. It seams that you have a great passion for film. I'd like to see some of your works.

Again, thank you.
-Terry.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 03:47 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post

So, lets say after I have rewritten my script and have chizzled it down to a solid piece of material to work with...what should I do next?


-Terry.
Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find the depth required on this subject from the extremely brief answers in a forum. This really works best when you have some knowledge and want to find out more on a single issue, rather than a broad subject.

You really need to start reading some books on the industry and find out how it operates. William Goldman's "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is a good fun read and you get a feel for how the business operates from the writer's viewpoint - if high end, a lot of the politics with a small "p" in the process still hold true today.

If you check out Amazon.com there are loads of books about filmmaking, writing screenplays and producing films. However, no one book has all the answers.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 04:01 AM   #25
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So, lets say after I have rewritten my script and have chizzled it down to a solid piece of material to work with...what should I do next?
If you intend to shoot it yourself the next step is to let others read it, people you know or whoever will listn. Keep sending your script out and in the mean time you need to start the rest of your paperwork which is every bit as hard if not harder than the script its self.

The shot list and the shooting schedule.

The shot list is exactly what it sounds like, every time the camera cuts to a new angle you have to write it down with a description.....eg "MS over shoulder, james framed right, carol five feet away looking out window framed left". This takes for ever by the way. (storyboards are best but almost pointless if you don't know the location you will be filming in)

The schedule is orginising all your shots into the most efficient way to film them given the timeframe. This means for example if you only have steadicam for two days you go through the script and make sure you get all the shots that require steadicam done in those two days. You may even only have a certain actor for a limited time in which case you have to get all their shots throughout the film. Its also about maximising your use of dolly and crane set ups for example if you set a dolly up you should get every shot that takes place at that location throughout the script so you don't have to come back....never shoot a film in order and do all the shots that require big equipment first because they take time and you need the fallback time to pick up any missed shots. In turn when you have a fixed schedule you can then draw up a call sheet for actors letting them know when and where they are required to be on set.

this will keep you busy for months which will give your script plenty of time to circulate and receive feedback.

Andy.
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Last edited by Andy Graham; May 30th, 2008 at 04:39 AM.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 10:47 AM   #26
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I wouldn't even bother doing shot lists at this stage, you're creating work and tying yourself emotionally into material that may require to be dumped or changed. Just work on story, not shots until you've got your final shooting draft.

Until you check out and settle on locations based on the shooting script, shot lists and call sheets at this stage is just fantasy filmmaking and a total waste of time, because everything changes once to find the actual locations.

Perhaps, the most you can do is some brief storyboards to help sell the project. However, to be effective, these have to be done by a good artist.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #27
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I agree, the shot list is not in your immediate future for working this script into the pre-production phase.

I also believe that one thing you do not need in order to make a movie is knowledge of every aspect of the filmmaking process. You do not need to be a carpenter AND an electrician AND a concrete moulder to build a house. You just need a plan. Other people will come in later in the process that will know what to do.

First go back through you script and look at how you describe the actions of the characters and make sure they are well-written, but also as descriptive as possible in order to give the reader as much of a picture of the scene as possible. Don't waste your time with camera shots, movements, or filmmaking details.

The Treatment (selling piece that provides the synopsis) is the most important piece to focus on next. Make it tight and engaging.

Google 'script agents' or 'selling scripts' to get a feel for the process that has been somewhat covered in here.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:20 PM   #28
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So, lets say after I have rewritten my script and have chizzled it down to a solid piece of material to work with...what should I do next?
I'm gonna quote his line again so there's no confusion , what he is talking about IS his HYPOTHETICAL shooting draft that you speak of not the stage he is at right now and the next step WOULD be to start pre production. And by the way your shooting schedule and shot list can addapt to any script changes you make....i know cause iv done it on features twice. Bare in mind im basing what iv said on the fact that he will be shooting it himself. And you know as well as i do that you can make the shot or some variation of it writen in the shotlist work whatever the location......unless it says " WS hawk swoops down and grabs chocolate bar and lands on taj mahal"

Lets face it Brian i don't think hollywood will be breaking his door down (could be wrong mind you, no offence Terry it could be genius you've created for all i know) , the only chance you have at getting someone to invest in your film is to be as prepared as you can so you're ready to go. I would even suggest picking a scene from the script and filming it as a promo to show investors you have it in you and setting up a website to promote the film.

being prepared is certainly not fantasy filmmaking..... the process of making a film will be much more valuable to him than the quality of the outcome. You could spend 5 years perfecting a script or you could spend 5 years making movies. I don't care how long you spend on the script, if its your first attempt at a movie its most likely gonna turn out bad (again no offense Terry, that was a generalisation)

This is low budget indie filmmaking we're talking about not mainstream....its gonna gain him real filmmaking experience not get him a house on the hollywood hills .And if you sell your script GREAT you don't have to lift a finger......i personally would use the money to fund my next script.

BTW i have no quarrels with the way these fine people make films and id certainly never call them fantasy filmmakers.......the script writing process is the fantasy part......... the production of it is reality and to produce it you're gonna need a shot list and shooting schedule which brings me back to the origional question when you have your shooting draft that is your next step.

No doubt they will find something in this post to argue with but what people have to remember is there is more than one way to produce a film and spending years on a script may be what some people like to do but not others.

Andy.
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Last edited by Andy Graham; May 30th, 2008 at 12:57 PM.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:35 PM   #29
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Realistically the whole project seems like a pipe dream. Now, there's certainly nothing wrong dreaming and aspiring to great film-making, but it is folly to expect in any way to enter the game at the top level.

There are precious few shortcuts worth taking. Learning the craft really cannot be circumvented. There's a reason they refer to learning a process as "paying your dues."

Terry, by all means do what you can to make your film. But do not expect that as your first writing/producing/directing/etc. project that it will receive any kind of widespread support or distribution. Flukes do happen. Blair Witch Project comes to mind. But statistically speaking you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do of making a major motion picture with no practical experience.

The best teacher is experience. But without practice, and skill building you just don't have a firm enough foundation.

Best of luck.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 01:46 PM   #30
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Bill... You are a man of great wisdom. It seams that you have a great passion for film. I'd like to see some of your works.

Again, thank you.
-Terry.

I'm not sure that's very accurate. Unless by "Wisdom" you mean a simple combination of real-world experience and a bent for the analytical. I simply can't do things without trying to analyze how the process went, what worked and what didn't - and how I might do better next time.

I enjoy film a great deal. But it is NOT my passion. I am, at the heart, a journeyman writer, a journeyman videographer, and a lecturer on the process of video and filmmaking. I've owned my own video production firm for nearly 20 years. I do almost exclusively corporate work including employee training, public relations, and some pro bono work for not-for-profits.

I've been on exactly TWO major movie sets (as a visitor, NOT as paid crew) in my life. Plus, I volunteered as crew on exactly TWO low budget digital features.

That was enough for me. I found the process at the feature film level often boring, fraught with needless personality conflicts and hassles, and massively inefficient. In each case many, many hours of extremely hard work generated extremely mediocre results. It frustrated me that the power dynamics on a set dictate that there's only ONE person who even has a chance to control that - and I've watched again and again as that person demonstrated their INABILITY to do so.

As a writer, I did spend 10 years writing on deadline for a consumer video production trade magazine. That experience made me a MUCH better writer. So I know something about that process.

After all these years, I don't know why some folks have a talent for this kind of work. But I know that some do. And some don't. I can typically tell after 5 minutes of talking to someone whether they have the right kind of brain to succeed as a writer, or a director. And because I've had day after day experience hiring diverse crews and running sets in my corporate work - I can also typically spot the skills that make someone useful in many of the motion picture arts.

I understand the "passion" many folks have for the idea of making movies.

I just think that passion is often based on a flawed concept of what the process ACTUALLY is like.

That's one of the challenges with this industry. So many people get seduced by the idea that they have the ability and deserve the the power to create the story and/or direct other's work. And it IS power. But shoulder to shoulder with power is responsibility. And in the VAST majority of cases I've witnessed, someone decides they deserve to wield that power without having done the background learning necessary so that the work has a chance to succeed. And so everyone's efforts are wasted in a "film" that deserves to go precisely where it goes - nowhere.

And all too often, young digital filmmakers stop short of considering whether they have the required skills before they begin.

And like it or not, these skills are HARD to come by. The right combination of humility and confidence. The ability to rapidly deconstruct a complex process and find the flaws and fix them. INSIGHT into people, and social situations, and the psychology of human motivations. And the ability to deal with the ever-changing complexities of technology without getting TOO entranced by it's power.

I understand the desire. And I honor and acknowledge that you can't gain the experience unless you start somewhere. And anyone who starts out in this WILL be over their head at the beginning. And the ones who DO make it will overcome this reality. But I also think that there are TOO MANY people who think that they can make movies today - when they actually haven't done ANY of the prep work that will give them even a remote chance of success.

It's like thinking that the camera is what's necessary to get good shots - and being oblivious to the fact that the camera is incidental - and in fact it's the trained brain BEHIND the camera that does that.

A final thought...

We often say that good filmaking is good STORYTELLING.

So how many REALLY good storytellers do you know? Personally.

Are YOU a really good one? DO your friends and collegues ask you to tell your great stories all the time? Do they WANT to hear you explain things?
Are YOUR stories the ones that make people laugh? Or cry? Or think about the underlying meaning of what you're saying to them?

If so, GREAT - you're on your way to becoming a good writer or a good director.

But if that's NOT your life experience - you're probably not going to be a very good scriptwriter or director. At least not yet.

BTW, My apologies for being so long-winded, but hopefully at least some of this is useful to others - and as a long-time writer - I'm not really satisfied unless I'm actually writing SOMETHING. And since my last two videos have been scripted by others, sI seem to be "jonesing" for more keyboard time - these days.

In fact let that be a warning to you all.

Teach yourself to do this stuff - and you'll have to deal with the fact that your life won't feel "right" unless you're doing it every damn day!
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