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Old December 7th, 2003, 04:27 PM   #1
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Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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Lone Gunman Theory

Do any of you write, produce, direct, edit, and distribute DV 'films' as a solo artist/technician? How?

I've written an 8 page screenplay that I want to produce. Don't even have the camera, mics and lights yet. Budget is tight (out of my pocket). This is supposed to be a learning vehicle, which produces a respectible short comedy.

Writing and story-boarding seem like OK solo ventures, maybe pre-production too. But how can I shoot the film (1-2 actors per scene) without any assistants? What are the techniques and trade-offs?

These are pretty open-ended questions, you might of guessed I have no experience.

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Old December 7th, 2003, 04:42 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Dan, it is pretty open ended, but there are people here who do just that (Look at some of the LadyX episodes)

I guess it depends on what you want to do. If you want a dolly shot, doing camera and moving the dolly might be a hard thing for one person. But if your'e doing locked down shots with just pans and tilts then you would be ok. Of course it would take you a long time as you'd have to set up the lights yourself, get the sound organised. Can you boom and camera op at the same time and if not, then you'd probably need lavs or plant mics or ADR the dialog later.

If your script is modest in what fancy gear it needs (Jibs, dolly's etc) then I say why not! I mean I did all the sound, editing, directing and a lot of the camera for my LadyX. I could have definately done all the camera as it was basic stuff. One of my dolly shots would have been hard to do (Operate camera at same time) but most I could have done myself. Doesn't mean I would have wanted to though ;)

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Old December 7th, 2003, 10:23 PM   #3
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I did my first short movie totally solo... wrote, directed, shot, swept up after, etc. I learned a lot of things, but the main thing I learned was that I really would have enjoyed it more with some extra people helping. People like to work on movies... ask around... find someone else to at least help you move things.

That said, I did fine. I set up the lighting, moved it around, directed the actors, got behind the camera, held the boom mic, etc. The only trouble is that my focus was so divided that none of them got my best attention. It would have done me a great deal of good just to have someone to move the lights to where I pointed, and hold the boom mic, etc. That way I could spend more time on the important things...

My advice is to do it.... find the actors, set up the schedule to shoot, ask people to help, but do it whether anyone signs up or not. There is no better way to learn.

You may want to read a few books also... before or after, each has its benefit. Some I can reccomend are:
Practical DV Filmmaking - Russel Evans
Digital Filmmaking 101 - Dale Newton, John Gaspard

These won't give you all the answers you need, but they start you thinking about the right questions to ask.

Most of all good luck.... it can be done.
Barry Gribble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2003, 03:17 PM   #4
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Location: New Port Richey, Fl
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Go for it

Buy the current issue of "Movie Maker" magazine. It is filmschool for 4.99 ;-)

Go to the Video store and rent:

"Monster in a Box", "Swimming to Cambodia", or "Gray's Anatomy"[sg?] by Spaulding Gray

"Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll" by Eric Bogosean

Great tools for learning about solo performance.

When you get your cam, make sure it has the little foldout sidedoor viewfinder and a remote control. This way you frame yourself in the shot.

As for audio, get a decent ($200) shotgun mic. A wireless mic might be better.

Good tripod-Check out the used market in local camera stores.


So many people try to skip the reading portion of the program. It's well worth the time.

The most important thing is to have a good story to tell. A good story shot on garbage will be better than a bad story shot on the best camera.

Really though, get this month's "Movie Maker" it has a lot of good info.

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Why ask me? I thought you were in charge!
Joe Gioielli is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12th, 2003, 06:58 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
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It's possible to do it, but the most difficult thing is sound. You really need a dedicated soundman. You can, as mentioned, lock your camera down for a shot and go man the fishpole yourself, but if you're worried about dipping into a frame you can't see, you'll keep the mic too far away most of the time.

Instead of buying gear, you might be better off to find somebody who already has some stuff and some experience. If they like the screenplay, they may help you out for free--I do that kind of thing all the time if a guy has a project I like.
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