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


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Old August 24th, 2006, 05:28 PM   #46
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I see what you're sayin' but here's how it works for me:

It takes me a really long time to actually do one of these things. To get an idea I think is worth making into a script, then to get everything ready to go, that even for one of these little shorts, it's still a huge deal.

So it would be a super mega super dooper pooper huge deal if I ever got it together enough to write a 80-120 page script that I thought was screenworthy. That being said, I'm not gonna kill it by trying to produce it on the cheap. I would at least want the chance of a limited theatrical showing. If funding can't be found, I would rather spend my own savings and rent pro gear and pay pro people than do it on miniDV and all.

I'm DPing a 30-minute short for a friend, no budget of course, and I FEEL like I've been shooting a feature. I think we've been at this for two months or so already. We can only shoot one day a week, and we've still got a way to go. Luckily there've been no huge catastrophes except for it raining last weekend and pushing us back even further.

If you guys are more prolific (which I wish I was) and don't mind doing a couple features on the cheap (that's not to say if you do, that they won't go anywhere, but let's be honest, the odds are against us) for the experience, that's great (and I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically).

Anyway, back to topic, at least try to get committed actors. There're people out there that are good that'll work for free. It's even better if you can pay 'em a little something.

My next short's got a lot that takes place outdoors, so wish me luck.

In regards to the post following my last one:

The technology is getting more affordable, but there's still a point, I think, where you need help/money. Even if you have the greatest gear ever, if your'e the only knowledgable crew memeber, every shot's gonna take forever. If your actors are still unpaid/uncomitted, the fancy gear won't make that problem go away.

I think it's about writing a story that you can bring to life with what you have available. Don't write crazy action sequences and special FX and whatnot if you can't pull 'em off. Don't set it in a castle unless you have a castle available.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 05:47 PM   #47
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We all agree on the same points, especially the actors thing, we all just do it a diffirent way which is what makes the world such an interesting place.

Josh I absolutely wish you the best of luck man, and I hope you get the weather for it

Andy.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 05:55 PM   #48
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Thanks, dudes. Keep on truckin' but don't truck blindly. Or something.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 05:59 PM   #49
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You know... those shock collars don't just work on dogs. You adlibbing again? *push* Yiiiiipe!
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Old August 24th, 2006, 07:38 PM   #50
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You're thinking too small.

Those actors don't need to leave the set. Ever. Electric fences, baby.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 07:44 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass
I see what you're sayin' but here's how it works for me:

The technology is getting more affordable, but there's still a point, I think, where you need help/money. Even if you have the greatest gear ever, if your'e the only knowledgable crew memeber, every shot's gonna take forever. If your actors are still unpaid/uncomitted, the fancy gear won't make that problem go away.

I think it's about writing a story that you can bring to life with what you have available. Don't write crazy action sequences and special FX and whatnot if you can't pull 'em off. Don't set it in a castle unless you have a castle available.
Agreed. You can't polish a turd. You just get shiny poo.

To be honest though, if you're the only knowledgeable crew member and your cast are uncommitted, I would suggest you rethink your working practices or further scale down your ambitions.

It is simply impossible to get a theatrical release-quality picture made on your own with just the aid of some 'work-experience' helpers on board. ANd before he's mentioned Rodriguez don't count. He was NOT on his own.

Smaller scale projects... Train these mofos up and mould them into an efficient fighting unit before tackling the masterpiece. I doing a similar thing now with the guys I'd previously trained up in Avid use (which they now do professionally )and they are coming along quite nicely. The day one of them suggests a certain gel to use I think I might shed a little tear.

As with actors.. .Well I make it very clear from day one that they are not doing me a favour - that in fact the reverse is true because all this time and effort is being used to make them look great and help further their careers and they are not having to spend a single penny on it. If there's even the merest hint of them being slack I won't use them. That said, once they're on-board I do everything in my power to help them out, especially if they're really pretty... ;-)

In terms of cheap acting labour, I'd go for final year drama students, the ones that have done a few shows and had to learn the discipline of call times and taking direction etc... Anything less than that and it's all just a big game and telling people you're the star of a movie. Agh...


Ben
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Old August 24th, 2006, 10:41 PM   #52
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I dont know if i agree with the "you cant polish a turd" thought.
If everyone waited for funding and the newest gear than no one would ever get anything accomplished.
By and large the whole lot of us are filmmakers by our own means.
We work hard to write, produce, direct, dp, edit and sweeten. Most of us polish our own audio, color correct, produce our own artwork, create our own dvds and develop and maintain our own websites. We create the entire experience.
This is, by far, the most interesting and promising time to be a filmmaker in history.
The human race has developed the technology and the demand has made it all affordable for us to carry our own complete studio on our sholders (as was predicted by coppola).
30 years ago this whole idea, the idea of having your own complete production studio was totally unheard of, so i say use what we have at hand.
This is not to take anything away from those who have worked hard and saved to buy the coolest of the cool toys.
You have the cash? Write a great flick, shoot on HD or 35mm, cut it on an avid turnkey, make a print and wait for the money, drugs and whores.
written a strong script but have no money? shoot on digi 8, cut on windows movie maker and burn it to an SVCD, wait for the unemployment check, cheap cigarettes and coffee house intelligista chicks.
Either way, you must produce!
In my opinion we are doing nothing but wasting our lives and burning opportunity when we wait for the cash or the glitzy gear to make our flicks.
Get a cheap camera and shoot! Make mistakes and learn! There is a wondeful nobility in that,
This is what a filmmaker does!
Don't sit on your ass and wait for gear you'll never get or a check you'll never cash!
This is what a dreamer does.
Just a random collection of scattered thoughts.
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Old August 25th, 2006, 08:46 AM   #53
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I agree with all you've said. My comment was more in relation to the idea that a one-man band with no pro actors or knowledgable help, could produce something that would get a theatrical release.

But you're right. THEN is the time to be training up and learning from mistakes before the assault on the bigtime.

Ben
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Old August 25th, 2006, 07:59 PM   #54
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After doing the 48-hour film project a couple of weeks ago, I think this is a great way to build your chops - you either learn to live within your limitations (including time) or die. First learn to do things efficiently - next learn how to do them with improved quality, but at the same quick pace.

The actors and weather aren't the enemy. The passage of time is the enemy.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:23 PM   #55
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Lotsa location problems for you guys. Perhaps you should consider set and soundstage shooting in my country (and no I do not work for the tourism and film board!) It's very affordable. Ok, think of this, I spent 125 USD to build a section of an f-16 cockpit, complete with buttons and everything. Like 200 USD to build a section of a German looking castle. The soundstage rental goes for 50 USD a day. Soundstage shooting is not big here, location shooting is more big.
Oh and about actors showing up, never use friends or family as principles. Contact B rated actors, or older actors who never had a starring role. They are usually more enthusiastic and give their best.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:45 PM   #56
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Wow. Could you move your country to mine?
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Old October 4th, 2006, 11:13 AM   #57
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Hey Bass, besides my family's in Dallas. Great deal here. You guys should really consider shooting here.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 08:42 PM   #58
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some more bad luck stories:
Hired an Elvis impersonator, who was great in rehearsal, but didn't tell us he had a rare blood condition which came on any time he over-exerted himself (which he did in the rehearsal) result - one ambulance ride, zero hours footage shot.
Hired a generator. Hired a truck to tow it. But found out too late that the tow hook on the truck was not compatable with the tow hook on the generator.
Had the entire production budget for a short film stolen from my jacket pocket (fortunately later recovered)
Arranged to use a car park location, only to find it being re-tarmac'd on the morning of the shoot
Had an actor get too much into his role as a gangster character, and threaten the owner of a location we wanted to use (before we used it). Fortunately we had a producer who was good at apologising...
Not to mention the usual crew fights, food poisoning, rain, snow, hail and floods...
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Old October 4th, 2006, 08:52 PM   #59
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I'm sorry but THAT is funny! You should do a reenactment and post that somewhere.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 05:46 AM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jefferies
some more bad luck stories:
Hired an Elvis impersonator, who was great in rehearsal, but didn't tell us he had a rare blood condition which came on any time he over-exerted himself (which he did in the rehearsal) result - one ambulance ride, zero hours footage shot.
Hired a generator. Hired a truck to tow it. But found out too late that the tow hook on the truck was not compatable with the tow hook on the generator.
Had the entire production budget for a short film stolen from my jacket pocket (fortunately later recovered)
Arranged to use a car park location, only to find it being re-tarmac'd on the morning of the shoot
Had an actor get too much into his role as a gangster character, and threaten the owner of a location we wanted to use (before we used it). Fortunately we had a producer who was good at apologising...
Not to mention the usual crew fights, food poisoning, rain, snow, hail and floods...
You could make a new film with that content!
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