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-   -   What independent film making is really like (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/techniques-independent-production/12940-what-independent-film-making-really-like.html)

Dylan Couper August 6th, 2003 10:07 PM

What independent film making is really like
Keith Loh and I shot an epic 11 hour day at a remote BC lake last week for our Lady X project. Although not the end of our shooting, this represented 80% of our project and was the culmination of a month of preparation, stress, worry, endless driving, multiple meetings, and more...

Anyway, it occured to me that once a project is completed, you forget how miserable, painful, and completely un-fun process the whole thing is. So I came up with a little analogy that making a movie is like giving birth.
No... It's got nothing to do with putting your heart and a part of you into brining a beautiful thing to life. That's BS...
The truth is, indie film making is like childbirth in that you have months and months of preparation, stress, worry, and horror that culminate in hours or days of sweaty, screaming exhaustion and terror, that leaves you with a big sticky mess. Eventually that mess can be molded into something great, or maybe it was just a big bag of mistakes. However, once you've gotten there, you've completely forgotten how miserable the whole process was, and you're ready to try it again.

So what do you guys think? Is it just me or is it like this for everyone?

Alex Knappenberger August 6th, 2003 10:12 PM

As the backwoods folks' would say, uh, you hit the nail on the head, COOTER!

Charles Papert August 7th, 2003 12:56 AM


My perspective, Dylan (and I don't want you guys to think I haven't done my share of indies!) is that there's never enough time, money, crew (i.e. EXPERIENCED crew)or equipment to get the job done without pain in that end of the biz.

But you know what? It gets better each time--the more you learn, the easier it gets.

However: "an epic 11 hour day"?? Damn dude! I usually don't trot out the description "epic" until after 14 hours! Or was it 20 hours?

Josh Bass August 7th, 2003 01:26 AM

I agree (except for claymation--I remember it and won't do it again I swear by the all the gods).

However, I want to know how Dylan knows what childbirth is like. Have they finally perfected the technology used in the movie "Junior?"

Rob Belics August 7th, 2003 06:55 AM


"The Game of Their Lives"

12 to 15 hour days for two months (for me). But we got the weekend off! :)

Keith Loh August 7th, 2003 11:25 AM

And hopefully it's not an abortion...

Dylan Couper August 7th, 2003 11:58 PM

However, I want to know how Dylan knows what childbirth is like. Have they finally perfected the technology used in the movie "Junior?" -->>>

I saw some stuff on childbirth on TV, you know, before I could switch back to The Speed Channel... And it sure looked like it sucked. Plus my mom likes to remind me sometimes what a PITA I was, usualy just before her birthday....

Charles, I knew you'd have something to say about "epic" shooting. :) If you count our schelpping and driving time too, I think it would have been around 14 hours. But at least it was over in one day.
I'm curious to compare one thing to your standards though, the amount of shots we did. I had a shot list with 74 shots on it and we did 2-4 takes of each one, not including two major fight scenes. How does that stack up to the amount of shots you guys pull off in a regular day?

Rob Belics August 8th, 2003 08:13 AM

I can throw in my two cents. On the film I worked on (by the producers of "Hoosiers" and "Rudy"), It took us two hours and many takes to get a soccer coach talking to a player while walking 20 yards across a field. It took two days to get small parts of a soccer game.

It depends on the budget but I can guarantee the average number of takes per shot never goes below five and is more likely eight or higher. Now that's average over a whole shoot. Of course you get some shots in one or two takes but most directors want to cover their butts or experiment and will try again.

Zac Stein August 8th, 2003 09:48 AM

I am not sure about painful and stressful i think it is all frame of mind.

I have worked on around 30 indi shorts, 2 years on television (now that was far worse) and am currently doing a feature, and it is all about the people you work with.

Simple as this, people stress because they are doing more than they should. You are not superman and not every job should be yours. A movie shouldn't be made unless you can enough of the right people on board, you simply wait until you get them.

My last short, which actually was handed to me to shoot and direct 2 days before it was to be done, which i was not too happy about i was only the DOP before that, was quite an interesting experience.

I couldnt back out as this was a promise and i never break them, and the insurance and money was released for the location, and when you shoot in a supermarket with millions of dollars worth of stock, you got to be very careful about who and what you take in there.

But having to shoot an 8 minute movie in the space of 10 hours was hardly stressful at all to be honest, which just did the best we could in the time frame and that was it. I had the most fantastic crew, all the actors pitched in to help.

Not every movie will be a masterpiece, and not every shot will be ready for print as a postcard, don't ever stretch beyond what you can do, and just have fun and suprisingly your work will improve. I had so much fun it was insane... and we were working hard, real hard but it never ever felt tiring or stressful.

To put it into context, yes making a movie is like childbirth but nobody said you can't take a lot of painkillers. *grinz*


Charles Papert August 8th, 2003 01:00 PM

Dylan, 74 setups is huge. Obviously you guys were cranking, and hard. That does make for an epic day, no doubt.

It does sort of beg the question, was there any way to make it a 2 day shoot? Or even 1.5 days, just to make it somehow less brutal. I guess the accomodation issue may have been part of this, considering it was a "remote BC lake"--but you Canadians are all hearty camping types, right???!

I haven't pulled out my calculator but that seems like 8 minutes per setup. Maybe there was a way to eliminate some of the setups? That's a lot for a 5 minute short. But then again, action has a lot of cuts in it. I do bring this up, because even at the highest level, reducing the number of setups is always the goal in order to make the day.

Well, I'll look forward to checking it out when you guys are done, and see the fruits of your labor (another childbirth reference, hmmm).

Keith Loh August 8th, 2003 03:23 PM

If we did it again we would have insisted on the stunt performers doing it over two days, but because of availability issues that was not the case. In fact, two of the stunt performers doing falling stunts informed me the *night* before that they had to be back in Vancouver *that morning* for an audition for a *real* production. Which meant we had to rejuggle the schedules and shoot them quickly. Actually, their work looks good but we were mightily irritated by that portion of the shoot as well as by their not-so-subtle hints to speed up the production. Both Dylan and I suspect that they had known in advance that this was happening. So, they may have not given us warning so they could make both dates. If we had known in advance, we would have replaced them for certain.

Ryan McCrary August 8th, 2003 03:50 PM

i guess i'm weird but i love every minute of it.. maybe cuz i'm not so old yet.. heh.. (low blow)


Josh Bass August 8th, 2003 07:13 PM

I only like it when it's done and it doesn't suck. If only there were some way to by pass the doing of it. . .

John Locke August 8th, 2003 07:26 PM

Keith & Dylan,

Now they'll be able to compare and see which film gives them more screen time and portrays them better...I'm betting they'll be surprised.

Keith Loh August 8th, 2003 10:08 PM

Their stuff looks good in our ep.

They were only going for an audition and I don't know where that lead.

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