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


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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Richard
So why not answer the question vs banter the symantics of the question :(
Yeah, it's usually a budget thing. Most Indie producers I know would die for a Helicopter shot, but they can barely afford to have more then 3 angles in their final battle scene (due to time constraints.)
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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:42 AM   #17
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Art can be a number of things--but above all, it needs to accomplish something. It has to have meaning, it has to evoke feeling and emotion, it has to make you think. Anyone can craft a portrait that looks like a person--but does it have meaning? It is usually more artful to pose people in ways that tell you who the person is. There needs to be meaning, emphasis on meaning.

I would actually consider the recent Napoleon Dynamite art--it is a representation of life in Idaho from the directors point of view. Sure, it doesn't have an intricate plot, or fancy camera movements--but to me, it is still art--the movie makes me understand what it is like to live in that part of the country. A lot of people overlook that aspect. Movies that were written and directed by one person are always more likely to be considered artful.

Looking at a former example, XXX. Hmm, I don't know much about this, but by my guess, the screenplay was probably written by at least five different people over a period of two years. It was probably directed by someone chosen based solely on their name value, who had command of a crew of about 75 people--the director probably never touched the camera. To me, this isn't art, it is factory work--pure craft, no passion.

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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:46 AM   #18
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Glenn..If you mean low budget, then yes lack of jibs, or other things to make fancy shots usually indicate less money spent (maybe), but then again if you check around dvinfo, there have been some very excellent low cost solutions to getting special types of shots.

Glenn, the question about camera moves is irrelevant to indie or studio made.
They have to do with the type of story you are telling and how you are using the camera to convey it. Is this about copying someone elses style?

Do you mean do unusual/extra camera moves add or detract from the story?
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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:49 AM   #19
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>>Glenn, the question about camera moves is irrelevant to indie or studio made.
They have to do with the type of story you are telling and how you are using the camera to convey it. Is this about copying someone elses style?<<

That's exactly what I said, in my first response. I was only trying to answer his question the best I could.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:03 AM   #20
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Really drop the indie arguement... I was just trying to give the topic perspective... it's not limited to this

I also believe I said "I'm from the school of use what you can, plus I feel that steady cams and dollies make the shots feel more natural" so I'm not sure how "unusual/extra" get's thrown in here.

Personally I'm wondering what makes "indie" (or better yet stuff I d/l on the internet) look more amatuer... is it: Bad Sound... boring or stale camera angles... bad acting is certainly a big one but what can you do about that on our budget? I think you can get better sound and camera angles... I was just wondering if I was "missing" something to this "art" I have never been to film school so I don't have it engrained in me to be "artsy" with a film.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:17 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Richard
Really drop the indie arguement... I was just trying to give the topic perspective... it's not limited to this

I also believe I said "I'm from the school of use what you can, plus I feel that steady cams and dollies make the shots feel more natural" so I'm not sure how "unusual/extra" get's thrown in here.

Personally I'm wondering what makes "indie" (or better yet stuff I d/l on the internet) look more amatuer... is it: Bad Sound... boring or stale camera angles... bad acting is certainly a big one but what can you do about that on our budget? I think you can get better sound and camera angles... I was just wondering if I was "missing" something to this "art" I have never been to film school so I don't have it engrained in me to be "artsy" with a film.
There are a ton of factors that separate commercial movies from amateur ones, and it definitely is not limited to camera angles. In fact, I would say camera angles have very little to do with how professional/commercial a movie is (unless they are totally distracting.) Some of the factors that affect the quality of a movie are:

Script
Acting
Art Direction
GOOD MICING
GOOD LOCATION ACOUSTICS/AMBIENCE
Cinematography
Editing
GOOD ADR
GOOD FOLEYING
GOOD SOUND MIXING
Music Composition

I capitalized SOUND so much, because to me, that is the technical aspect of movie making that really tells an audience as to whether or not they are watching something professional, or simply something home made. Trust me, I know, the sound in my feature film (RAP QUEST) aint all that great, and it hurts me more then any other "boring" shot ever could.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #22
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I worked for a film finacing company for a while back in 2000 in LA. (Filmtown) So, I'm in-the-know about how indie films are funded most of the time. I can tell you right now that "indie" has nothing to do with any of the crew or any of the creative decisions. It's about where the funding comes from and how the film makes money.

I think everyone is missing the main reason Independent films are called such. If they are made from funds from entities that are not "studio" related I'd call that a true indie film. (a lot of indie films are made with money from doctors, lawyers and regular people approached to help finance a film) We're going to see films being made really soon from corporations...like Coca Cola is going to make a film with Nike. That sort of thing is bound to happen.

In my experience, an indie film just means there are less chiefs and more indians because of the nature of the funding. The studio films have hardnosed chiefs making very specific choices and you don't have a say - regardless of your position on the film. Indie films that actually make it into theaters are generally made with money from multiple sources - not just one studio. So, in theory you have more "chiefs" because of the multiple sources of funding. However, it usually allows for more freedom to the filmmakers (creatively) because they don't have to answer to a "studio" (aka bank).

In short, you can think of the "studio" and "record company" in the same way. Those types of entities are really just banks with money available to fund a project from start to finish. The "indie" film has to get the money to start, produce and finish the project from multiple sources. It's great in one way because you can find some rich person(s) who believe in some type of theory or idea...and get them to dump money on the project. (unique ideas creep out of the indie world this way). The studios don't care about ideas - they want to reach population. From the top down it's about audience attendance. Indies sometimes get made because they are going for a narrowcast...a certain segment of the population. (Farrenheight 9/11 for example - no big studio would allow a film like that to be made because it slaps a huge segment of the population in the face with its staunch opinion)

There are definately variations - indie films get made through post production with funding from various sources. Then they are shown at a film festival or whatnot - then the "studio" sees it and thinks it'll "open big". They gobble up the project (buy out) and then it rides the studio track until release. It's still independent in nature because of the multiple sources of funding, but in the end the studio gets the benefits of its distribution and reaps the larger rewards.

It's funny - the studios have created these "indie" boutique branches for themselves. They work great for them because they can be indies up until the final stage and then be shot out of the studio canon. The Hollywood system morphs in so many ways...gotta love it for that.

That's my 2 cents from personal experience!
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Old April 19th, 2005, 01:04 PM   #23
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Christopher, after this, I'm going to drop the indie thing as Kevin requested.

What you said is what Hollywood thinks Indie films are. What you really meant was Independent financing vs Studio Financing whitch still has nothing to do with a true 'indie' feature. Okay, no more indie

Kevin, sometimes the grainy look is on purpose. Have you heard of 'Dogme95' and the rules they made about film making? They no longer certify features, but most of them had a 'low budget' look because based on the 'Dogma' they subscribed too. Among may other things...they weren't allowed to bring anything to the set other than the camera. Only things found at the location were allowed for use. No sneaking things in either.
No makeup, only available light, no wardrobe, not even an extension cord. It was/is an attempt to return to true story telling that wasn't wrapped up in fancy/schmanzy technology (aka Hollywood style movies). They couldn't be genre stories either (scifi, western...) had to be in th present tense (no historical or speclative fiction). None of those movies used anyting but handheld or the camera was tied/taped into place (Dancer in the Dark used something like 100 pd100/150s for a particular scene).

The most famous was 'The Celebration' shot handheld on a 1chip PAL DV camcorder and blown up to film (on of the requrements was getting it transferred to film). This was a case where the grainy low budget look complemented the story quite well as the increasingly blocky, grainy look matched the breakdown of a family gathering. Another example was a movie caled 'Julian Donkey Boy' by Harmony Korin. Very grainy, poor audio. But it was done on purpose, not from lack of skill.

The most famous of this movement is Lars Von Trier, one of the founders.

They stopped certifiying becuase they were afraid Dogma95 would become one of the things they were against, a genre or particular type of film making.

In the above cases, no jibs, dollys,balloons or anything else to enhance camera movement was allowed.

If they violated any of the rules, they had to make a public 'confession' before getting certification.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 01:24 PM   #24
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So basically if you would like to have the best of the best in lighting then trying to say dolly shots and crane shots are "too hollywood" is sort of rubbish... it's at least a double standard.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 01:41 PM   #25
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The Dogme people wanted filmmakers to concentrate on story and performance rather than on who has the biggest budget or resources at hand. Which is at core a criticism of commercial filmmaking or, if you like, 'Hollywood'.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #26
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Joe, no....what I said is what I said...not what you said.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 03:28 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher C. Murphy
Joe, no....what I said is what I said...not what you said.
Exactly!

An indi can be low quality, or the finest quality, it can use amateurs, or it can use the finest crews and cast available.... and that is that.

Many in demand and highly paid actors are working for scale, or even buying in to an indi film in order to be in it. They do this because they feel that they are able to make a much better film and really develop their characters, not because indi films are of worst quality!

Hollywood studio films can sometimes sacrifice quality for commercial viability. And when I say quality I mean "story quality" not the high production values that expensive equipment bring to the table! The studios may be perfectly willing to make a crap film, if they think they can make a killing at the box office, whereas an indi may fall into that trap, they are more likely to pursue scripts that are great, but don't include an explosion every 5 minutes.

So I guess everything hinges on your definition of quality.... right?
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Old April 19th, 2005, 06:09 PM   #28
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Chris I know what you said. I was disagreeing with the premise.

Even small so called independent productions can create stuff just as bad as the crap from Hollywood. Take for example this years Project Greenlight on Bravo. In one episode they decided to go with a poorer,weaker, but more comercially viable script. That was the last episode I watched. Even worse than the first two seasons.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 07:04 PM   #29
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My posting didn't really talk about content - it talked about funding. Why are you saying I said something that I didn't? Maybe you've misunderstood my post - I don't really know.
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Old April 20th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #30
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No Chris, I wasn't attacking or anything. There seems to be so many interpretations about 'indie' I get confused. I even misunderstood what the original poster of this thread meant.

My interpretation is strictly about content and integrity, whether it's outside or inside the studio system. Not about a certain 'look' or being edgy for the sake of being edgy, or ironic or low budget grainy or beautiful saturated shots. It's not about film vs digital either.

Lest anyone think I'm some sort of snob, for some unknown reason, I like Lindsay Lohen movies. Maybe it's my weakness for good looking redheads with freckles, I don't know. I'm also a life long Star Trek fan (but not a Trekkie or Trekker), I even watched bad Star Trek like the Voyager series.
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