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


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Old February 27th, 2006, 11:59 AM   #1
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First shoot ever!

Hey everyone,

I'm finally going to get started on a short film in the coming months. Since this will be my first time with actors other than family, i wonder if i'm missing something i should be planning for...

Right now i'm just planning on finding actors and securing the locations (2 in all, the third is my house). I'll also have to plan for some snacks and meals.

Am i missing anything else? Is there anything else i should think about or consider?

Thanks.

Raji
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:17 PM   #2
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Unless you are a film student, I advise you to read up! The more you know, the more relaxed you will be on the shoot. People under you will do better if you project confidence. Any specific questions?
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raji Barbir
Hey everyone,
Am i missing anything else? Is there anything else i should think about or consider?
Yes, lots! Don't even know where to start, but most things you won't come upon until it is almost too late. Maybe you should get a producer with some experience to help you, but on the other hand, sometimes it's best to learn lessons on your own.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #4
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I'm missing that much? like what? dammit... ok so what should i read up on? are there any other threads on DVinfo that i should look up?

I feel that i should have mentionned the following; the film is going to be a VERY small production. Total running length should be around 10-15 minutes, the actors aren't getting payed and i'm the only crew member. I'll be doing all the pre-production and post-production work (except maybe the music but i'll probably end up doing that too).
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raji Barbir
I'm missing that much? like what? dammit... ok so what should i read up on? are there any other threads on DVinfo that i should look up?

I feel that i should have mentionned the following; the film is going to be a VERY small production. Total running length should be around 10-15 minutes, the actors aren't getting payed and i'm the only crew member. I'll be doing all the pre-production and post-production work (except maybe the music but i'll probably end up doing that too).
Hold it right there! You don't want to do this alone. Be sure to get some help. How are you going to hold the boom if you are manning the camera?
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #6
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i was planning on either using the onboard mic from the XL2 or carefully concealing the wireless Sennheiser G2 i just got for weddings.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 02:35 PM   #7
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Go For It! Plan your shoot to the best of your ability, ask lots of questions here...pick and choose the advice you take from it. Make mistakes, get dirty! Learn from those mistakes for the next shoot! Don't not shoot just because you haven't done it before, just go for it.

Here's some learning that I did:

http://www.yafiunderground.com/AJ/howto.html
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Old February 27th, 2006, 04:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emre Safak
You don't want to do this alone
I agree....you should at least get somebody to help you shift all your gear around.

Also I wouldn't use the on board mic...there not good enough. The radio mic will be ok if it is secured properly although IMO the sound off a boom is alot more natural.

Other than that like Cole said go for it.

Andy.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #9
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If possible, get somebody to assist you. That person can help you set up, write down the shots, keep track of continuity, etc. It's a lot easier that way and gives you more freedom to deal with the actors.

Good luck on your shoot. My own experience with actors, as opposed to friends, is that they are a lot more committed. The same goes for crew.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #10
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thanks everyone! I'm probably going to have to do with what i've got, which isn't much, but i really need practice and i wanna get going, so i'll work with what i've got sound-wise and cleanup in Audition if i need to. I'll do my best to manage without a crew either. If nothing else, the difficulties i'll face will teach me a couple of lessons, such as "you should really listen to people's advice when you ask for it" :D

i'm not sure if i should start a new thread for this next question, so i'll just ask it right in here.

Obviously i'm going to need to let potential actors read the script for me in front of the camera so i can see how they perform. The way i envision this, is that when the actors come in, i'd point to a page in the script and say "read this from here to here" and then push record. Repeat for all actors, send them home and then call them back if they fit the part.

How do i go about showing people my script without worrying about possible "theft" or whatever? How is this normally done? Do i just let them do a cold read like what i mentionned in the last paragraph?
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Old February 27th, 2006, 05:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raji Barbir
Obviously i'm going to need to let potential actors read the script for me in front of the camera so i can see how they perform. The way i envision this, is that when the actors come in, i'd point to a page in the script and say "read this from here to here" and then push record. Repeat for all actors, send them home and then call them back if they fit the part.
Another reason why you need help. You need someone for them to read the script against. Otherwise they will be delivering a monolog. You want to see how they will respond to another actor. Maybe they can't?
Quote:
How do i go about showing people my script without worrying about possible "theft" or whatever? How is this normally done? Do i just let them do a cold read like what i mentionned in the last paragraph?
Theft is definitely not a problem at your stage! Just give them the section you want them to perform (called a "side"), if you are worried. With a short film, you might as well send them the whole thing, since it's not that long anyway. Cold readings are cruel!
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Old February 28th, 2006, 05:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raji Barbir
How do i go about showing people my script without worrying about possible "theft" or whatever? How is this normally done? Do i just let them do a cold read like what i mentionned in the last paragraph?
Basically, you don't worry about it, it's not an issue. No-one is stealing 10-15 minute scripts. Anyway, if you're really concerned about it register the script. But in 15 years of filmmaking I have NEVER heard of a short film script being "stolen".

Maybe people will steal an idea, but ideas are not copyright-able, and nothing that can often be done about it. If I were you I'd show your script to as many people as possible. This thing about script ideas being "stolen" come up a lot with my students. Believe me, it doesn't happen.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #13
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Hey Raji.
For your audition questions:

First off, get a second person to sit with you and read with the actors. You'll thank yourself for this later.

Second, if you're worried about theft, just go to the WGA website and register it. It's only $20 and that's good peace of mind if you're worried.

Third, I would provide them with the entire script AND 1-3 pages of sides for them to read from for each character. I like to see actors come in and KNOW the material and have had the chance to work with it. You'll get better auditions this way, and you won't be wasting your time.

Good idea on the recording. Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you that can't hide from tape.

Good luck with it.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 02:17 PM   #14
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My advice is simple:

1. Rehearse.

2. Plan.

3. Block.

4. Make sure the camera is in focus and white balanced.

5. Make sure the audio is good--have a pair of headphones.

6. Have fun, make mistakes, realize this isn't the masterpiece you'll be making. yet!

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Old March 1st, 2006, 07:14 AM   #15
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Here's my checklist that I've developped over the past year (previously posted on another board):

...I slated other people to do the other jobs...murphy's law struck and life got in the way. I've ended up doing most of the jobs on the set. My advice for this is to schedule more time than you need, setup early with stand-ins so the actors don't get annoyed with you for making them stand around (hey, I did slate others to do the lighting sound etc.). Keep a very critical eye all the time. Have a checklist taped to the tripod with your workflow on it. Use it every time before you say action, no exceptions!

Readthrough
Block
Props
Lights (I recommend flourescents for the lack of heat)
Framing
Focus
Polarizer (yes, even indoors I use them)
Check for glare from the lights
Check frame for extraneous crap (mic stands, exposed logos, people's feet)
Exposure
Focus
Sound
Focus
Rolling
Quiet Please!
Slate
Background!
Action!
... (listen for sounds other than what the actors are supposed to be making)
Cut!
Lather
Rinse
Repeat
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