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Old November 16th, 2007, 10:06 AM   #1
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A few tips for aspiring filmmakers :)

I’m a filmmaker… I guess it’s official since I wrote and directed my first short film about five months ago. I am not a part of some elaborate film school or involved in a secret underground filmmakers society. I’m just a guy with a camera and a passion to create art! I am NO EXPERT. With that said, I’ve got a few tips for people wanting to get started in the boundless world of digital film.

Problem: Nobody wants to be in your film… ESPECIALLY if it’s your first film.

My Solution: There are a couple of things you can do to convince people to be in your film. First, you have to be overflowing with professionalism, have genuine passion for making a movie, and most importantly…. Have a decent camera. I bought a Cannon XL2 for about $2,500 (lens, batteries, and a bag included). I love the Cannon XL2 because it gives you access to manual controls, and it looks AWESOME in the field. When people see this huge 10-13 pound camera they know you mean business. (+ 5 in professionalism) The Second thing you can do to get people interested in making a film with you is to have lots of BEER! That’s right, lucky for me all my friends are alcoholics and will do just about anything as long as it’s fun and there’s beer. (note: If I'm getting paid to do a job, I NEVER EVER bring alchohol!!! NEVER EVER!! However, If it's a project your doing on your own, I believe it's ok. But, If you've got a tricky shot scheduled, then DO NOT drink!)
My first film called “Chasing Ghosts” was filmed at my house with about five or six friends and two cases of Keystone. The third thing to remember while trying to get your first film made (or any film for that matter) is to make sure everyone is having fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing! In my opinion the best footage I captured while filming my first short film, was the out takes!

Problem: Nobody will EVER care about your project as much as you do.

My Solution: Seriously folks, if you take only one thing away with you from this post, take this bit of info!! Your wife, girlfriend, mother, father, and even GOD do not care about your film as much as you do. Making a film is really hard work, especially if you’re unorganized and lazy by nature. Unfortunately, you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to putting things together. I’ve been lucky enough to have an individual that has creative ideas and is ALWAYS DOWN for the next project. However, even a hard-core friend\partner like him has a really hard time organizing his own life and tends to put the whole making a movie thing on the back burner. So, if you really want to make a movie be prepared to do everything yourself.

Problem: Nobody cares about your ideas and\or vision.

My Solution: In order to create your film the way you envision it, you have to convince people to do it your way, but, make them think it was they’re idea. If you’re a millionaire director living in Hollywood with thousands of projects under your belt then your excluded from this method of getting things done. I know, it sounds like manipulation, and it is. BUT, it’s positive manipulation!! Everyone wants to have input, and creative control over his or her characters. But, sometimes it’s necessary for the director to do some positive manipulation to help the talent see things in a different light.

Problem: Talented actors do not want to work with you.

My Solution: WHO CARES! There are so many talented people in this world and chances are, the talented people you so desperately need for your film are living in\around your neighborhood, or hanging out in your click of friends! When I wrote “Chasing Ghosts” I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to find professional actors. However, I was not willing to sacrifice the quality of the film based on that fact! I ended up asking one of my close friends to take the lead role, based simply on the fact that he had the natural fire and enthusiasm required for the character “in real life”. After the film was completed and I posted it on my myspace page he was immediately recognized as a very talented actor by the people viewing the movie! He took all the compliments and transformed them into a raging ball of excitement for the next film!

This post is getting really long… but there is sooo much more I’d like to share with you! If you’ve made it this far in the post then I’d like to give you a link to my movie on myspace! The film is a little cheesy, but that’s what I was going for. It’s a B&W horror flick!
Post a comment whether it’s negative or positive as long as it’s tasteful and constructive. Here’s the link http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fusea...deoid=16218204
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Old November 17th, 2007, 09:37 PM   #2
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I watched your video chasing ghosts and liked it.

Regarding all your points, I would say if you have money to spend, you can hire good actors who will work with you regardless of your talent or experience. There are tons of theatre performing actors who are very talented who would jump at a shot at a leading role if they like the script, so I disagree with a few of your points. What you will find though is them telling you how to do your job if they know you are inexperienced.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 09:59 AM   #3
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A few good tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vincent View Post
Regarding all your points, I would say if you have money to spend, you can hire good actors who will work with you regardless of your talent or experience.
Well, everything I've done is DIY! I haven't got any financial backers or a wealthy family. Hiring anyone is pretty much out of the question at this point. However, if I did have a little money to spend I would definitely hire real actors :)

A FEW SECRETS:

There's one thing I'd like to touch on... For filmmakers looking to build their own equipment I highly suggest you look at http://www.dvcamerarigs.com
I've built some extremely high quality rigs for under $100 with this book! And for people that composite with AE; check out www.videocopilot.net awesome tutorials and DVD's you can purchase. OK, so there are a few secrets. lol anyone else have any?
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Old November 19th, 2007, 10:12 AM   #4
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Unless you're a strictly auteur director, making a film is a group effort. You can have one central vision, but unless you have an expansive budget and resources you must learn to give up your "pie-in-the-sky" version of the film that plays on the front of your forehead and make it a collaborative effort. An actor may not be able to play that elusive, complex character you have in your mind but he/she can add his or her own complexities to the character by drawing on personal experience, etc. The manipulation you speak of is not manipulation but rather collaboration, with someone willing to listen to your ideas and adapt to them. Budget filmmaking is all about compromises.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 12:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ben Winter View Post
making a film is a group effort.

I absolutely agree! I'm not saying I do it ALL myself. I have a group of extremely talented individuals that are more than happy to help out. However, the purpose of my original post was to illustrate how difficult it can be to make that first short film. Allot of people on this forum haven't been able to take the first step toward making a film. When youíre just a "guy\girl with a camera" it can be hard to tell where the first step is! My opinion regarding filmmaking, like many art forms, is that it's important to discuss pitfalls and potential hazards with others so that they can avoid making similar mistakes. If a first time director is lucky enough to acquire a professional DP or other related artist for a film then I say congratulations!! But for people like myself, reality can be a bit harsher to us :) My suggestion to is to revaluate your possible resources. You may run across someone with a passion for still photography and mention the possibility of cinematography to him or her... who knows! Everyone disserves respect, honesty, and credit for his\her craft.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 12:42 PM   #6
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Justin, I couldn`t agree more with your points (aside the beer since i don`t drink and it can make people not do their job right). People don`t want to help the inexperienced, even if they have no experience themselves. I am working on my first set of 3 shorts, yea its ambitious, but its what I am doing. I have had countless people respond to my craigslist ads that 1. state there is no monetary compensation and 2. state it is a no budget project, and ask for money whether or not they have any relevant experience what-so-ever. For me thats a clear sign they aren`t worth my time either because they care more about cash than they would about the project no matter what it was.
I am like you, doing about everything myself. I finally decided to get into filmmaking after dreaming for many years, and its been a harsh reality to face. Your right, no one cares...about the project, the goal, helping you. Maybe not %100, but very close. It sucks but its reality. Your project will be yours, you will love it like a child but you can`t expect anyone else to. When you have something to show, then you can sway people easier to get involved because it reflects your devotion and hard working nature. Only then will you start earning respect.
I did something most are afraid of, not sure how it`ll pan out, but its paving the road towards my goal so I did it anyway. I bought my own equipment. I`m in the hole many months of debt for this to happen, but I have a plan and a goal so its not scary at all. Thats the first thing anyone should do, make a plan. I will be buying a new editing machine this month as well to edit in HD just incase I can output it in HD in the future, as well as do other video work to support the habit. Back on topic, the reason I bought my own equipment was the same, no one would care to help out, bring equipment, etc. Asking an amatuer to bring their own equipment is like asking child to hold a business conference. It just out of %99 of the populations means. So instead of working on the "maybe you can borrow or rent" which translates to "work on other peoples schedules for your project or pay half the price of a camera to rent it out and then not own it in the end", I just took the plunge and pay it back slowly week by week along with car insurance, school loans, etc. If you have good credit you can find ones with 1 year no interest so you can use that and pay off as much as possible before the year is over, and if not then you get hit with intrest on whatever is left. So have a plan!
And yea, I am self funding everything I do, so to shell money for actors etc...not gonna happen.
Thats all i have time for right now. Its stressful and wonderful at the same time, just never go in thinking 'this'll be easy'.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Mosley View Post
Problem: Talented actors do not want to work with you.
I don't really agree on that point, people don't know who you are and so there is always the possibility that your film may be the next blair witch, on the first film we ever made we got this guy http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1316819/ , only thing is since it was our first film we screwed it up but im sure if we went back to him now after all these years gaining the experience he would still work with us.

one thing iv learned in filmmaking is never say never

Andy.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Nathan Quattrini View Post
I bought my own equipment. Iím in the hole many months of debt for this to happen, but I have a plan and a goal so its not scary at all.
Wow Nathan! I really hope everything goes well for you! My first love was music... I've been a musician since I was 14 years old (I'm 25 now). I've been in a few bands through out the years. But, one day I decided that Film was a creative medium that I'd always wanted to explore.... SO, I cleaned out the savings account. I bought a $4,000 Alienware PC to edit (and play Half-life 2 ) $2,500 on a Cannon XL2, $1000 for tripod, extra mics, ect. and $40 on my Killer Rigs book from dvcamerarigs.com. Allot of people called me an IDIOT including family members, friends, and coworkers. When I bought all that stuff I'd never even touched a camera before! But, I knew that I could pull it off if I put my mind to it! A year later.... my camera has paid for EVERYTHING, then some! Dropping all that money is scary, but that's what sets us artists apart from normal people :) Good luck on your filmmaking career!

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Originally Posted by Andy Graham View Post
on the first film we ever made we got this guy http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1316819/

That's pretty cool Andy! However, the problem with guys like "that" are that they cost money lol! I'm currently in no position to pay anyone. The only hope for poor people like me to get "that" guy to act in my film is to somehow get "that" guy to read one of my scripts! If after reading the script he thinks it's worth his time to take the lead role then, YAY FOR ME! But, unless you want to back my next short film..... Looks like I'll be scouring the theater dept. at the local college :)
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Old November 20th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #9
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Hey Justin,

I just watched "Chasing Ghosts". I liked the look, you got some nice shots there.

My main piece of advice would be that, if you're going to ADR all the dialogue, you need to pay more attention to the soundscape. Yes, you've got some background atmos and key sound effects like the lighter clicking or the punch. But there are big holes in the soundscape, subtle sounds like the sound of the shirt being balled up and tossed aside, footsteps, the guy sliding down the wall, etc.

These are things that it doesn't take a big budget to include, just a bit of extra time. And you'd be surprised at how a well thought-out soundscape will lift your film from a low-budget indie feel to something more professional.

In regards to other stuff in the thread, I've also taken the plunge into buying my own kit. Big difference would be that I've been a working cameraman (using other people's gear) for twenty years, so it wasn't so hard to justify the expense ;-) After shooting news for a long time, I just got into the filmmaking side of things five or six years ago.

I'm currently nearing completion of shooting on my first no/low budget feature. We've been filming for about five months, on weekends and working around the availability of actors. I've been lucky in that I've been able to get the services of some of the best-regarded local actors, without pay, as they like the script, have seen some of my short work and feel that they'll get something worthwhile for their showreel from it.

The drawback has been that because these guys are well-known locally, and I'm not paying them, I've had to "share" them with other film and theatrical productions, especially if a paying gig is offered to them. That's added a substantial amount of time to the shooting schedule.

Anyway, if you want to check our progress, or watch some of my shorts, you can see it all here:

http://www.caliburnproductions.com

For those wondering about the technical side of things for the feature:

Camera: JVC HD101E at 720p at 25fps
Lighting Kit: 3 x 800w redheads, 2 x 150w Dedolights, 1 x 150w Prolight, 1 x 800w Totalight, 3 x Single Channel Dimmers, plus a couple of 5-in-1 flexifills.
Sound: Rode NTG-2 mic, 15' Rode boom pole, SignVideo ENG-44 field mixer

Plus a dolly, 12' jib and a few other bits and pieces. Everything is mine except for the Dedos and the dolly, but I should be adding them to my kit by the end of the year :-)

Cheers
Pat
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Old November 20th, 2007, 06:34 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Justin Mosley View Post
That's pretty cool Andy! However, the problem with guys like "that" are that they cost money lol! , unless you want to back my next short film..... Looks like I'll be scouring the theater dept. at the local college :)

lol, i have enough trouble funding my own fims. we got that guy for nothing, its a shame that movie didn't work out....we decided early on to only make feature length films which i supose is just asking to screw up, but its a baptism by fire .....you learn a lot on a feature production. If you saw our first feature Roslyn you would laugh, its all unorginised footage that doesnt fit well with whole scenes shot from one angle! yours is a much better first attempt however as you saw in my promo we adapt ......E ching and all that stuff Jamie fox said in collateral.

By the way that guy was a bit of a hand full, he chased some highland cows with a prop gun and later wanted to put the prop gun on the counter of a shop to see what the girl would do!.....he was a really nice guy though and a good actor but he was wild.

Cheers
Andy.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 06:37 PM   #11
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But, one day I decided that Film was a creative medium that I'd always wanted to explore.... SO, I cleaned out the savings account. I bought a $4,000 Alienware PC to edit (and play Half-life 2 ) $2,500 on a Cannon XL2, $1000 for tripod, extra mics, ect.
Don't take this the wrong way, but the current machine I'm editing on just barely broke $500. I built it from scratch, buying all the parts (motherboard, CPU, memory, case with power supply, a 500 gig drive, and DVD write drive), plus a copy of Windows XP. It's as plain-jane looking a system as you'll ever see, but it runs Premiere just fine. I can't see dropping $4K on a PC-based editing system unless it has some hi-end capture cards like a Matrox system.

I admit I'm exceptionally thrifty when it comes to spending my money. Edit time is spent looking at footage over and over, moving it around, etc., where the computer's running at only a fraction of its capacity. If my final render takes, say, thirty minutes instead of twenty, I think the savings of $3500 is worth it.

I should qualify this as saying I got my start in digital video editing using Mac Quadra 950's, where we'd start the render on a half-hour video as we were leaving the building for the night, and come in the next morning as it was finishing up.

I dropped the most money on the XL2 because if you can't get the quality on the tape to begin with, you can't fake it in post.

Regards;
Martin
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Old November 20th, 2007, 06:50 PM   #12
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I can't see dropping $4K on a PC-based editing system unless it has some hi-end capture cards like a Matrox system.

I spent £4500 ($9298) on my editing system and its the best money iv ever spent, its a quadcore apple G5 with two 20"monitors 2gbRAM and 1.2 terabyte storage. I had a built PC and it crashed all the time and eventually packed in which led to me editing a whole feature twice.

The phrase you get what you pay for is true in this case.

Andy.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 09:01 PM   #13
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Make no mistake: if I had gigabucks to spend on an editing system, I would. I have a limited budget, and for the moment everything comes out of my pocket. If I was doing this as a business, then I could write it all off.

I can afford to wait a few extra minutes for renders and compiles -- the time is free.

The system I built was specifically for editing. It has none of the other crap that comes loaded on a pre-built system (one of the benefits of using an OEM system disk). There are no extra device drivers or hardware to cause conflicts or compete for resources. The only add-in card is a 1394 card for downloading video. Clean system, clean performance. All for $500 USD. There's a lot to be said for doing surgery with a scalpel, rather than a swiss army knife.

Regards;
Martin
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Old November 20th, 2007, 09:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Andy Graham View Post
I spent £4500 ($9298) on my editing system and its the best money iv ever spent, its a quadcore apple G5 with two 20"monitors 2gbRAM and 1.2 terabyte storage. I had a built PC and it crashed all the time and eventually packed in which led to me editing a whole feature twice.

The phrase you get what you pay for is true in this case.

Andy.
BTW, excellent choice in hardware.

Martin
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Old November 21st, 2007, 09:24 AM   #15
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Don't take this the wrong way, but the current machine I'm editing on just barely broke $500.
yes, but can you play Half-Life 2 fully maxed out? I didn't think so :) I bought the best stuff I could find so I could focus on whatís really important... creating art. Didn't want to worry about upgrading, or messing with the system configuration. I just wanted to be able to shoot, and edit without any problems.
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