Advice to Student Filmmakers -- Do Not Follow The Rules! - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old February 23rd, 2005, 09:07 AM   #16
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From Glen,

It all depends on the student. Some students are stubborn, and think that they are the Sh#t from the first day of class. In this case, I would allow them to do what they want to do, and then face humiliation in front of a real audience. Once their egos have been subdued by their own mistakes, they then will be more receptive and respective of the basic rules. In the end, you cant break a rule if you dont even understand why its there in the first place. And to fully understand why a rule exist in the first place, you must first come to respect it, and appreciate it.

I agree with Glen you have to learn the rules.

Here's my 2 cents.

If you mean by breaking the rules. You go out and did what the producers of Open Water did then that is what I call breaking the rules. Then thats okay.

I'm sure most people told them you can't make a movie on DV in the middle of the ocean for around a $100,000 grand.

You need a big crew, big cameras and stars. But they knew they could do it. So yes that's the way you break the rules.

But in terms of filmmaking they stuck to the rules of what a movie should be.
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Old February 23rd, 2005, 10:03 AM   #17
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To me, this comes under the heading of 'calculated risk'. It's when you know the rules or guidelines, know why they exist, and then 'adapt' the technique or rule just a little bit to make it uniquely you. It's somewhere between blatant disregard(a disaster waiting to happen) and totally by the book(stagnation and creative strangulation). Perhaps instead of saying break the rules, Joe should have said 'push the envelope'.

Don't look at just the film world. Go to a driving range and get a golf instructor. That person will teach you the fundamental 'rules' of the swing but everyone, even the top pros have slight variations on the 'rule' that work for them. My inspiration for rule-breaking if you will is/was Edward Van Halen. In an interview on MTV, he stated that you can't always go by that 'old book' or nothing new will happen. So Eddie decides that he can get a unique playing style and some extra notes by tapping the fretboard with his righthand. But, his idea for that came from the fact that he had already been trained in classical piano (his father's profession). He already knew how to play guitar and just added another dimension to it. And then of course, everyone else started doing it also.

Summary: Learn the tried and true methods and then carefully and gently poke holes in them to be innovative.

Also, I think most folks in this thread overlooked the fact that Joe was referring to the 'new JVC HD camera' which I take to mean the one they have announced and will likely show at this year's NAB.

My .02 worth,

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Old February 23rd, 2005, 11:11 PM   #18
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As a former film student, a current filmmaker and teacher, I'll say this: Learn the rules, then break them!

I couldn't do a non-linear script until I could write a good linear script.

I couldn't cut my films up and change the tone, emotions, etc., until I could make a decent, straight-forward cut.

I tried to do multiple locations and/or multiple casts. It would take MONTHS to shoot a 12-20 minute short because of scheduling and audiences got confused by the sheer number of things (I still stand by that).

As a current student puts it (and used this rule of thumb while working as a fire rescue guy), "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." That's what happened to me (best place to f--k up: school) in the past, and what happens to my current students.

Don't define yourself by your first, second or third movies. It was actually my personal film (technically my 4th, but it came out before my 3rd) and my final, 5th student film that I thought were worthwhile.

Don't give yourself huge expectations and be prepared for no comments from viewers. Those are more painful than anything else!

And above all else, put into your film school lessons what your teachers and fellow film students will give to you. Don't just sit around and let everyone do it for you.

Finally, listen to your teachers, esp. ones with tons of experience. They messed up often (I know I have) and you can definitely learn from their mistakes! Esp. when it concerns story, locations, cast, and esp. equipment. Equipment is there for you to learn, but don't do something stupid (like when I put a tripod on my shoulder with the camera still on it and then it fell off--D'OH!).

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Old February 23rd, 2005, 11:16 PM   #19
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Oh, forgot this: learn the rules, then break the rules. And when your teacher(s), money or even you set up limitations, and there are plenty, you'll notice that your creative side will explode. Not only have I experienced it, but so has my students. Their original scripts called for big events that can't be done in a school setting (car chases, etc.), so they did other things. My favorite was my student making a film where two people are shot. By showing someone pulling the trigger, then quickly cutting to the person with blood , it looked like the person was shot! That's great, low budget and creative filmmaking!

And judging by what he said about the JVC HD camera, it's safe to assume (bad colors, etc.) he's talking about the HD10 or HD1. You're better off with the FX1 or Z1, but let's keep those discussions to these boards.

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Old February 24th, 2005, 07:01 AM   #20
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Hand held is evil.

Oh, for the of God....USE A TRIPOD! Stay away from unmotivated camera moves if you want to keep the audience interested beyond 120 minutes.

Please rent this movie to see the Hell known as "hand held" camera. It has become the cancer of films (commercials in theaters are close 2nd!). Sometimes a little hand held is perfect...but, 120 minutes of hand held camera work is HELL!

Other honorable mentions for horrible hand held camera work are these films -- Bloody Sunday, Thirteen, Mean Creek and of course the evil MTV generation of shooters.

The #1 worst offender of horrible hand held work - "Blackwoods":

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0279695/

It's worth renting this movie just to learn what NOT to do.

The evil director/writer/producer who gave birth to this monster:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0093051/

A good review that sums it up:

http://www.diabolical-dominion.com/Reviews/Blackwoods/

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Old February 24th, 2005, 11:01 PM   #21
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That director has a 0/2 record in the states with House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark...

I don't mind too much handheld stuff, just not overkill, like Murph said.

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Old February 25th, 2005, 11:17 AM   #22
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Uwe Boll

Penny Arcade had a classic cartoon strip about Uwe Boll and his video game adaptations.

You know even bad films have good trailers but the trailer for "Alone in the Dark" was terrible.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #23
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Here's a rule: You get no image in a room that is _completely dark_.

Please try to break that rule.

I agree with Dylan Couper and others who insist that it is better to
learn from others mistakes than to repeat them and waste time and money.

Here's one of my rules: You get good when working with those who are
better than you.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 11:05 PM   #24
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Film school is also a good place to make mistakes and learn.

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Old February 27th, 2005, 08:11 PM   #25
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Quite frankly, I really wanted to go to film school but decided not to because of all the expenses I would need to spend on.

My goal for now is to get either the FX1 or the DVCPRO-HD cam from Panasonic.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 09:16 PM   #26
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www.palmbeachfilmschool.com All graduates get free lifetime use of equipment.

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Old March 30th, 2005, 07:20 PM   #27
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rules

Dylan...............I hate to break the news to you but rules are not always there because they work, in many cases they are put there because of opinions of people who can make the rules. Case and point.........LAW and in particular, Family Law! Do some reading, many many many famous peoples in whatever there "profession" go against the norm or "rules, that is why and how they get where they get! While your point may be valid to some degree I think you were a little harsh and wrong to some degree.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 10:22 PM   #28
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You can go against rules, but don't break the rules that are there to keep you out of trouble, for instance, shooting with tons of actors and locations on a student film. While there are exceptions to every rule, after 5 short student films with just that problem, I got tired of shooting once a month for 5 months to finish a 20 minute film. The feature we tried doing fell apart mostly because of that (and no planning).

If you think you can constantly break rules like the ones I describe above, good luck. My experience proved otherwise. My final two films had mimimal locations and cast and I did them in under 3 days each. In a row.

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Old March 31st, 2005, 01:34 AM   #29
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Perhaps the main problem is with the term "rules". As kids, we all learned to "hate the rules" because they restricted us so much.

Perhaps a better term would be "guidelines." They are intended to guide us, not restrain us.

Just about every trade/industry/discipline has a set of guidelines or best practices that, for the most part, have been proven over many years to work, and work well in most cases. The movie industry is no different.

Most of these guidelines were developed through a lot of hard work, a lot of trial and error, to finally find the "best" approach. Like Edison and his light bulb. He found 3,000 ways that wouldn't work, and one that would. Do you really want to waste your time reinventing the "light bulb", or build on it and make a better one? Or maybe at first, just get some good lighting? :-)

The real professionals are not constrained by the guidelines, but neither do they carelessly deviate from them. They have already learned the guidelines, and understand why they work. But when the occasion calls for it, they deviate from it. Sometimes they even throw out the entire book. But it's done consciously, and with great deliberation.

Ignoring the guidelines from the beginning is just one more symptom of our instant gratification society. There was a time when artists and craftsmen worked as apprentices for many years to learn their trade. Now that technology provided the tools for any idiot to shoot a film or video, many people don't want to wait to make their first blockbuster. But just like most high-profile professions (like NBA stars), most people will fail because they don't have the patience and perseverance, or in fact lack the true talent.

Sure there will be a genius every now and then who just knows a better way to do things. Just don't be too quick to put yourself in the "genius" category. :-) Most of us fall far short.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old March 31st, 2005, 05:09 AM   #30
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rules

I agree, I just think you cant let rules "rule" you completely in art and that is afterall what we are doing.
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