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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old November 9th, 2003, 05:13 PM   #1
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Film communities

Does anyone have any experience with local film production communities? A group of people who pool their skills and/or money to put together their own indie films?

Fellow DVinfo member Keith Loh and I have been discussing the pro's and con's of setting something like this up locally, and are looking for any stories or feedback we can find. There are groups like this out there already, but we want to avoid a group that is full of wannabe's who are more talk than action, and people who dominate and boss the show around.
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Old November 9th, 2003, 05:24 PM   #2
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Here's a few notes I want to add.

- Neither Dylan and I are part of the film school community. Dylan dropped out and I've only taken part-time. Both of us are more do-ers than theorists. This is not to put down any graduates; we are just following the ideal of digital film by picking up the tools and going to work.
- One thing I find distressing is the amount of effort that is put into what I consider wank films. Star Wars fan flicks. Someone's martial arts demonstration with a thin veneer of a plot. Someone's tribute to Dawn of the Dead. It seems like the more enthusiastic an amateur group is, the more low brow the ideas. At best, it's someone's fun hobby. I'm all for fun but I'm no longer interested in wasting time so other people can snicker at your group's web movie.
- I'd like to build on the example of the Lady X series that really has spawned cooperation and the exchange of ideas, creative impulses through the Internet. However, there's only so much you can do when people are separated geographically.
- throughout the history of film there have been examples of 'schools' or groups of peers who have gotten together and produced great works, some more successfully than others. Dogme for example. It's a cliche now but I still support the impulse behind it.
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Old November 9th, 2003, 06:58 PM   #3
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group 101 is quite successful - i think one of the cable channels is now showing their work ...
http://www.group101films.com/

problems = $$ anytime you pool $$ you'll have problems ( even if it's investors) ..

seems everybody wants to direct or DP .. so when you have 5 directors and 10 DP's show up if they do NOT know/respect the tried/tested method of there is only 1 producer ( ok i know you see 20 in the credits but there was only ONE line producer) , 1 director and 1 DP

from my experience film making by committee doesn't work. one should learn from the person with more experience provided that persons show respect to the lesser experienced person/crew. so when your 10 DP's show up somebody is going to have be a gaffer, electrician, PA etc ...if you have a DP that does not have much experience hook them up with the most experienced of your 10 Dp's that showed up and he's your GAFFER or lighting director ( provided they can work together) .. now your DP should use the gaffer/LD and milk him/her for all he can learn from person ..
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Old November 9th, 2003, 08:53 PM   #4
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To a great degree I will probably echo Don's observations. Such pool groups may seem practical on paper. But, somewhat like software "users groups", they tend to attract two types of people; those who want attention and those who need help. Neither group represents a good ingredient in an endeavor that depends so heavily on individual vision.

As Don said, "seems everybody wants to direct or DP...". So how many gaffers and grips do you expect to join such a group?
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Old November 11th, 2003, 01:45 AM   #5
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Re: Everyone wants to direct or DP.

Thats the #1 issue we would anticipate. No solution we can think of yet. We are hoping to find a way to prevent it. Some good points so far.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 01:51 AM   #6
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One approach to consider is to attempt to amalgamate two or more separate groups of interested parties. Shooters, musicians and writers are the three groups that immediately come to mind.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 03:02 AM   #7
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The issue you've run into is probably the same reason so many movie makers use the same people over and over again in all their productions.

I'd just add everybody wants to direct, dp, or act ...


I'm still building my "crew", and I don't have the answers for you but I use these rules for my group to keep things balanced.

1. If you want to direct or dp - you have to fill a crew position for another existing or future production. If there isn't a production in the works, then your promise goes into the crew pool, until one comes up.
2. Since I own most of the equipment, I also made a rule that I'm executive director/producer on all productions :-) so I can enforce rule #1.

It's not a perfect system and it's not truly collaborative, since basically I have last say, but I have found a few solid people to work with.

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Old November 11th, 2003, 10:11 AM   #8
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For me personally, I want to direct and/or dp - someday. I don't know enough about it yet, so I'd be one that would sign up as a grip or gaffer. But I'd also want to see a path to the cooler positions.

So, some thoughts, off the top of my head, from an admitted newbie...
  • Before you can direct/dp, you've got to put in your time as a gaffer/grip, or
  • If you write the script, you can direct/dp
  • Make an effort to really teach and pass on the art to those grips and gaffers who stick around and want to learn
  • In fact, make that learning and honing the craft the focus - spend at least as much time talking about why you are doing things a certain way as you do shooting, editing, etc.
  • break some of the tasks down into their parts and do hands on workshops on them, e.g.,
  • Lighting a set, an interview, outside, with available light, etc.
  • How to achieve DOF with a DV camera
  • Editing for the film look
  • DIY: Build a dolly/boom pole/Light kit
  • Sound: ambient, score, microphones, Foley work, etc.
  • Writing: scripts, treatments, storyboards, shot lists, etc.
I'm sure there is more, but you get the idea...
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Old November 11th, 2003, 01:29 PM   #9
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I know I would like to find someone close by who was stronger in the DP and Camera department.
True, I own the company and so I would take on the Producer and Director role with possibly the editing. Ideally for my current company I would like a four way split.
1. Producer and Director
2. DP and Camera
3. Talent
4. Editing and Special effects.

It would be really hard for me to stay completely out of the editing. We will produce more shorts. The question is, how many talented people can we find to work with us.
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