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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old April 11th, 2009, 02:54 PM   #1
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Working alone

I have a choice between doing a short animated film by myself, or focusing on a short narrative live action film. I can do the former by myself, the latter I am not sure about.

I dont have anyone, either a family member or friend who is interested in helping, and while I can afford to pay for some help(i.e. hire a camera) and the locations and shooting requirements are modest, I would be on my own in terms of organizing, casting, rehearsal etc. I dont mind the work or doing as much as I can myself--I enjoy it, but a voice keeps telling me that you have to at least have someone else behind the scenes, i.e. a co-producer to help on set and I struggle to find examples of people who have absolutely no one(excluding the guy who did everything, including playing 5 parts in front of the camera, and went insane j/k). It seems like there is always someone else involved.


I have tried the stranger route but got unreliables, flakes or people who were completely disinterested in what I was doing as much as I was disinterested in what they were doing. Each negative reinforced a feeling of bad luck superstitious vibes which I really dont need in pursuit of something like this. And I have heard the horror stories of people planning to shoot something and wasting money because people didnt show up. I feel if its just me alone, people may not take it so seriously since its not a group effort(or perceived as one). Strength in numbers-know what I mean?

Maybe its just jitters since I come from an fx animation background where you work in isolation, but I dont think so. I have dealt with many people and never have a problem when I am focused on an endeavor. I get anxiety about lots of things and it never stops me from trying.


I have eliminated most financial risks from my current live action plan(modest locations, cast etc), so if it doesnt work I wont lose much.
But I am still stuck with the position that its either going to be me with a camera and whoever is going to be in front with maybe a couple of PAs, or me and a hired camera person.
I really dont want to be in a position where the only people around me are those that have been hired, and may not even care about what is being done.

Am I right to be reluctant to delve into a live action narrative project without help behind the scenes, or are there examples of people who do it(a narrative dramatic work, not a documentary or experimental) all the time(and when I mean working alone-I mean, no spouse, relative, friend aiding them even for moral support)?
If I have other examples to look to and gauge what they were able to do by themselves, maybe I would feel differently.
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Old April 13th, 2009, 01:33 PM   #2
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I usually do a lot of the pre-production by myself, but on bigger films I'll hire an AD to schedule, a co-producer to help with other stuff, etc.

If you can do casting, scheduling, location scouting, storyboards, script, etc., then you'll be okay to hire a camera/lighting person and a sound operator and perhaps a PA/grip or two, and be fine.

Filmmaking is collaborative.

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Old April 13th, 2009, 04:11 PM   #3
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surely there's a high school / technical college where you can find some interested students - talk to the principal. What about the actors or their friends? Even if you do all the preproduction you need backup during the shoot.

Trying to direct a scene, prepare lunch for the crew and order a taxi for one of the cast is not the way to go - get some help
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Old April 13th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #4
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I forgot about catering--an intern or PA can do that.

Plan ahead!!

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Old April 13th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #5
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I tried colleges before. Results were lukewarm. Generally people wanted to help with the technical positions, and not help with anything else(behind the scenes).

Didnt try high schools but thought of it as the last resort. maybe its a better option.

Thought about actors helping in other ways but I had bad experiences with actors who claimed they were producers. Also, I expected to do casting last-didnt really want to be in a position where I would cast someone and dangle the question: can you help behind the scenes too?
I didnt want to put them in a position where they only wanted to do acting but felt compelled to say yes to anything.

Anyway I am just getting info because I had a previous project I was very inspired to do, but wasnt possible without help, and I tried until i was exhausted. So now I am thinking of something else much smaller, but I am not so enthusiastic. Depending on what i hear from the experiences of others, it might pull me towards live action, or animation.
I have been doing cg anyway--and would be using it in either option(to assist with traditional animation or enhance a bit of live action).

PS
I am a pretty decent cook so maybe I could try baking and directing at the same time. ;)
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Old April 18th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Goden View Post
Didnt try high schools but thought of it as the last resort. maybe its a better option.
I would think there would be issues with hiring minors - even for no pay. You should go through their teachers and make it an extra-curricular activity so you don't end up with parents on your back.

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Originally Posted by Kelly Goden View Post
Thought about actors helping in other ways but I had bad experiences with actors who claimed they were producers.
Ooh boy, do I ever agree. If I pay an actor to act, I don't want him to chime in with his opinion and looking over my shoulder...

I don't let actors do nything but acting. They need to concentrate to do the best job in front of the camera. And if I can avoid it, I don't do camera work anymore either. It's too difficult keeping an eye on everything when you're looking through a viewfinder.

Frankly, though, I don't understand why you have so much difficulty finding people to work with. I always found more people than I needed through Craigslist who were willing to work for food and experience.


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Old April 18th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #7
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I would think there would be issues with hiring minors - even for no pay. You should go through their teachers and make it an extra-curricular activity so you don't end up with parents on your back.
**yeah that was what i was thinking.


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Originally Posted by Jacques E. Bouchard View Post
Frankly, though, I don't understand why you have so much difficulty finding people to work with. I always found more people than I needed through Craigslist who were willing to work for food and experience.

*** It was decent for inquiring about specific crew positions(camera, makeup etc-although mainly for pay) but I was trying to find a producer/co-producer/collaborator. CL was absolutely horrendous for it. I talked to hundreds of people.
In fact every now and then i would see similar ads(people wanting to collaborate on a film) and I would respond of course-and they would say that they had had a lot of responses, but by the time they got to meeting the people one or two showed up(usually a composer and an actor) and then they would have coffee and that was it. The people would disappear again. And the same people complaining about the disappeared then did the same thing to me. And they supposedly wanted to collaborate.

Plus-when you meet people over and over again who make promises and they dont keep them ,and you are prepared to spend your own money--eh becomes really risky., I encountered people who had blown $15000 because an actor didnt show up. I wasted $6-800 on room rentals for a specialty costume fitting(armor) and never got to use it because I totally burned out from exhaustion trying it all on my own. Then after a couple of months I recovered and tried the ads again...and continued to pursue it on my own-until I encountered my final actor/producer who went nuts on me 2 days before we were going to cast.

Maybe I was dumb to even try ads but it just seemed like everyone I met making a film always had some partner or producer or friend or relative who helped in some capacity behind the scenes that was other than a specific crew position--more like a managerial helper. And the more I tried to get my project going, the more it seemed that the extra hand was needed. Lack of confidence maybe, but I just felt that it was better recruiting from a position of it being a "we" project and not an "I" project.
I tried other local sources besides craigslist(cineworks, women in film, etc), and usually got zero interest. I had come from a strong traditional art background(propmaking, sculpture, painting, stop motion animation) as well so I was able to make a good presentation. Hell, I even offered services for other people's films, propmaking, computer graphics. Didnt even get curious inquiries.

Not sure what to make of it. At this point I am doing computer graphics demo shots so maybe after I have a few of them it may spark some interest, but I am highly skeptical.

If I have to be my own camera person I will, just not sure if its folly to try it since I am having trouble finding examples of it. I have heard of people claiming they were one person this that etc but there's no way to verify it.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 08:27 PM   #8
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Try face-to-face networking. I created an independent filmmaker group through Meetup.com (not an endorsement) and advertised on a few forums. We met once a month as a social and professional gathering. Within a few months we were over 100 members. After a year I have made several contacts with people who are genuinely interested in helping out (and did). I've also met a collaborator who became a best friend.

BC should have even more resources than Montreal for filmmaking. Just remember: network, network, network. Go to screenings, organize get-togethers, join local forums. You'll make contacts that'll last your entire career.

I also found, quite unexpectedly, that Facebook is a great resource. You can join a local network and advertise on specialized groups. Whenever I put out an ad looking for cast and crew on a Montreal filmmaker group, I always get hundreds of replies.


J.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 09:39 PM   #9
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Thanks for the ideas.
I havent tried starting a meetup(though i checked out the one they have for Vancouver--mostly actors attend). I will see what i can do with that since I am in Surrey and its big population wise but not well represented for activities. I would like to do something here since this place doesnt get as much filming as Vancouver and has more suitable locations for me(vacant lots, scrap yards etc).


The only local film forums i know of are cineworks, a co-op and its a desert.Very little posts.

I cant find any web site where it lists local projects(except the one for BC film--as in foreign productions).

I'll look into Facebook too. I tried myspace for networking a few years ago but mostly got spam.
There doesnt already seem to be a Vancouver filmmaker facebook from my quick google search. I can see the Montreal one is quite active.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 10:22 AM   #10
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You might find that a lot of people wait for someone to organize something rather than take the initiative. I had to form the Montreal group on Meetup (it cost me $19/month as organizer) but everyone who joined told me they had been waiting for something like it to come along.

Likewise on those forums with very little activity. There may be dozens of people reading but not posting (like you) waiting for something concrete to happen. Post an announcement, organize an event at a restaurant or local hangout.


J.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:03 PM   #11
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I forgot I also tried print paid ads in a major newspaper. I got less responses with each ad!

I hope I just have really bad ad etiquette or its bad timing and not a regional thing as I have heard could be a factor.

I find most responses I got to ads were from non locals. And they flew through town pretty fast.
Anyway I will try again.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 02:47 AM   #12
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Hey Kelly,

Doing things on your own is a big bummer, I'm doing a music video alone and tomorrow is the first day I'll have someone helping, should be good.

also,
I'm a dp/cam op and I'd love to chat about your project if you want to pm me. I don't flake out and I'm always down for the cause!
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