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The would-be filmmakers thread

post #1 of 607
Thread Starter 
Taking inspiration from the all-around kick ass thread started by Greg David, I'm starting this up to be sort of a central hub for all of us visually-minded Chewers to talk technique, shooting styles, the dos & don'ts of casting, and anything else related to getting the production going. Instead of making 5,000 small threads that really never get looked at outside of the actual film-specific production threads, here we can hopefully create as fertile a discussion for the actual filming as the screenwriters have in theirs.

I'll kick off with the conundrum that led me here: I went to the premire of an indie film called The Waiter over the weekend. I was an extra in it, and it was kinda cool knowing that I now exist in the same 90 minutes as Charles Durning and Glen Morshower (both great guys, by the way.) Anyway, the main reason for me going was to formally introduce myself to the production guys--not just the director, but the producer & the D.o.P. as well. I had chatted the D.o.P. up on set, basically to get him to remember my face & also hoping for those magic words: "Send me some of your stuff, we'll see how good you are." I made some success in this area, but as sort of a unexpected happenstance, I ended up talking to the main actress of the film.

I mentioned Fangdango and how we're trying to get people involved, and she told me she'd like to try out. Here be the problem: she told me the easiest way to get in contact with her is through her agency, Acclaim, and they would forward the email to her. Now I found the website, found her, but I'm not sure exactly how to word my email so that the Agency doesn't a) think I'm some sort of stalker, or b) think she's getting work without the agency's help.
post #2 of 607
Nice thread.

Regarding your situation: I would write the email similar to a press release. If it's professional (which I'm sure it would be), I'm sure they would pass it along to her without thinking twice.
post #3 of 607
PG-13? Submitted to the MPAA?
post #4 of 607
I didn't know you lived by myers87, that's wonderful. Honestly, I'm so excited for you, I wish you nothing but the best.

As for filmmaking myself, Ryan S.~ sent me an AVID system(!) so I think I'm gonna try to crack the instruction manual today, and figure out how to set it up on my laptop.
post #5 of 607
It's certainly a step up from what I'm used to, physically editing 16mm filmstock with razor blades and tape.
post #6 of 607
Avid is a very stable editing system but it can be a real bitch sometimes. The user interface frequently reminds you how PROFESSIONAL it is.
post #7 of 607
the only thing avid is good for is reminding you how stubborn the film business is. avid blows.
post #8 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormin
Thanks dude, and good luck, Avid scares the shit outta me.


And here's by far the best behind-the-scenes-pic ever taken:

Ok, so now I really want to see this.
post #9 of 607
To Answer Gregs question. The agency should have no problem with her getting offers that don't come from them. If actor and modeling agencies in the U.S are anything like they are here the actor signs a contract that the agent gets their percentage whether the gig is generated by them or not.
post #10 of 607
I just put together the first real budget for "Redemption Falls," which I'm hoping to shoot in August. I kind of want to curl up in the corner and cry.
post #11 of 607
From pre-production to post, counting what I've already spent on it, about thirty grand. This is an ideal budget one of my co-producers asked me to prepare, but still: Goddamn.
post #12 of 607
how much do you love your kidneys?
post #13 of 607
Thread Starter 
Yeah, budget proposals can be scary. You think you're only facotring the bare essentials, and you still run it up to the half century mark. Early numbers on Fangdango is looking to be $40 grand, after production and post costs--and that's not including us actually wanting to pay people.
post #14 of 607
The camp where we're shooting is charging me seven grand to shoot here, and that's in exchange for us doing a five minute promotional video for them as well. Don't get me started.

The actors I've cast, however, are great -- I met most of them when I was planning to do this as a independent television series. Many of them are in it for the long haul, and it's the belief in this project that so many people have that's gotten me through a lot. I'm incredibly neurotic, and this is going to be the first project I've both written and directed (however, I am also looking for a great DP/sound/lighting guy to fill in the large gaps in my technical knowledge), so having people's support for almost a year and a half now has really been worthwhile. I don't want to get all pretentous 'n' shit, but I really admire both the way Richard Linklater made "Dazed and Confused" and Robert Altman worked. That spirit of genuine, back and forth, collaboration is what I'm looking for, rather than the "I've got a barn, let's put on a show." (The twist here being that 90 percent of my cast is out of New York City, so part of our budget has to go to getting them to Ohio, where we're shooting, and putting them up once we get to Ohio -- see also the seven grand my bosses are charging me.)

Believe me, we've been working on fundraising for a while now, but we've hit so many snags that it's been difficult and depressing. And I know I'm probably the least knowledgable noob in this thread, but there you go.
post #15 of 607
We just figured out our budget to finish the 22 minute animation project I've been working on...I probably should have stayed in live action.

Even with the post-production budget being next to nothing (I can do the audio and one of the investors owns the best picture editing house in the Prairies) I'm looking at needing to raise 150,000 in capital. Since I'm not crazy enough to put the equity in my house up for the possibility of no return I need to find some other way of doing it.

It's looking more and more like we need to finish the animatics and hope someone picks us up as a series based on the pitch using the animatics.
post #16 of 607
My problems have all been sort of the opposite because my movie costs very little but to do it that cheap has meant it has dragged out over years when it should have taken months.
post #17 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan S~
We just figured out our budget to finish the 22 minute animation project I've been working on...
What sort of animation? CGI or stop-motion?
post #18 of 607
Figured this'd go better here than in the Shameless Links forum. Please check out my latest advert. It's for a local fast-food chain called Chicken Licken. You guys probly haven't heard of it, but it's pretty popular in South Africa:

Fake Breasts
post #19 of 607
One thing I'd reccomend doing Rath is making a short movie in the same universe as your camp movie, maybe find a lake somewhere where you can film for free which resembles the area where the real camp is. That way you have something to show potential investors, and you get more experience with directing the crew and actors. One of the best things you get with experience is you film alot faster than you do when you're still learning the ropes, The faster you can shoot the less money it will cost you.
post #20 of 607
There was something about the South African accents in that chicken ad that made it extra funny. Well done.
post #21 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarant
What sort of animation? CGI or stop-motion?
Traditional cel animation mixed with some CG. We're hoping that they will blend together like on Futurama.
post #22 of 607
Hey, my fellow would-be filmmakers, are there any tips as to what books about teaching yourself how to make a damn movie are best? I've read a lot in the past, and most have been crap. I'm looking for books about technique and books about the nuts-and-bolts of indie filmmaking -- I picked up "Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices" recently, and I am surprised how much I want to punch the writer in the cunt.
post #23 of 607
Most books about "indie" filmmaking are a sham. Read anything by Dmytryk or Walter Murch, maybe read Rebel Without A Crew (not a Rodriguez fan but I'd rather read the advice of someone who's actually done something), and apply as needed.
post #24 of 607
Thread Starter 
I highly, highly, highly reccomend Shot by Shot by Steven Katz. It gives the best kind of advice--straight-forward, no nonsense, and best of all, very aware that for every rule there are exceptions.

It doesn't preach, saying "do it this way or suffer utter failure", it just shows you how to approach shooting a scene, how to get coverage, and details methods that work just fine 98% of the time. Then it goes a step further and shows you the 2% of the time it'd be best to break the rule and try something else.
post #25 of 607
I almost picked that up, too, but went for the other one. I've heard awesome things about it -- I have the "Setting Up Your Shots" which is good as a reference point but not well as a how-to guide -- and this looked just as great. Thanks!
post #26 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by RathBandu
I'm looking for books about technique and books about the nuts-and-bolts of indie filmmaking -- I picked up "Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices" recently, and I am surprised how much I want to punch the writer in the cunt.
I've had FFaUCP for a few years sitting on my shelf and I can't bring myself to finish it. It's too boring to make me want to do anything to the writer. Like finish his book.

-warning: shitload of links follow, I hope this doesn't constitute as shilling-

Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television is a pretty good read. And if Lloyd Kaufman's Make Your Own Damn Movie doesn't teach you anything, at least you'll pick up new innovative ways to use cuss words from it.

More than books, I like to read filmmaker-interviews. Here's a few

Christopher Nolan - www.metro.co.uk, www.projecta.net, christophernolan.net

Shane Carruth - movies.about.com, www.ugo.com

David Gordon Green - www.wsws.org

Rian Johnson - www.chud.com

Joe Carnahan - www.leisuresuit.net, www.chud.com
post #27 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by 70sCinema
Most books about "indie" filmmaking are a sham. Read anything by Dmytryk or Walter Murch, maybe read Rebel Without A Crew (not a Rodriguez fan but I'd rather read the advice of someone who's actually done something), and apply as needed.
Murch will teach you just about everything you need to know about the post process and it's importance in filmmaking. The Coversations with Michael Ondatje is amazing and so is Behind the Scene about using Final Cut on Cold Mountain.
post #28 of 607
Just registered for the annual New Zealand 48hr film competition. Our team's made it through to the city final 2 years in a row but have yet to make it to the nationals. Hopefully this will be our year, but I mostly just do it cos it's fun. I think these are pretty widespread globally but for those who don't know you have to write shoot and edit/do the sound and soundtrack in 48 hours. you're given a genre you have to stick to at random and you have to work in a specific character (last year it was Robin slade: eternal optimist) a prop, and a line of dialogue.
Top 6 go to the city final then the winner of each city plus 2 o 3 selected by Peter Jackson go through to the national final that gets shown on TV and text voted.
post #29 of 607
Thread Starter 
Austin has something like that around Halloween. I'm moving there in August, and look forward to participating then. Sounds like a fun obstacle course for filmmakers.
post #30 of 607
Thanks for all the reccomendations, folks.

Let's talk auditions and your experience with them. How do you guys feel if you're writing something you're also directing? Is it initially weird to hear your words read by actors? Does it help with the creative process, or are you filled with the urge to watch it through your fingers? Would you rather have the best actor for the part or the person you get along with best?

I watched a tape of an actor who I'm considering for a pretty major role in 'Redemption Falls' last night, and it took me a good twenty or so minutes to psych myself up long enough to watch it -- they were doing a scene that I'd just written last week, and it usually takes me about a month to get comfortable with other folks reading my words. Because I'm like that. The guy was pretty good, though.
post #31 of 607
Thread Starter 
It absolutely helps the creative process. You're hearing a (I'm guessing at least semi-) professional deliver your lines, and even if it's a cold reading, if you've got an ear for dialogue at all you'll start picking up where dialogue sounds clunky, where it's not working, what should be rephrased, etc. Auditioning makes your script better, because if you can tell th e actor gets the character but a line sounds off, you should make a note and revisit it later.

As for which to choose--the best or the best to get along with--you should always try and find someone who fills both requirements. An actor could be Marlon fucking Brando on camera, but off camera if he acts like...well, Marlon fucking Brando, you might want to ask yourself if you can handle that without getting flustered and distracted. As long as you can get the performance out of them, that's what counts. You can't always be best friends. It is, of course, easier on everyone if you can, though.
post #32 of 607
I found it interesting the way auditions will change your thinking on things. I had a role I'd written as a sort of Texas blowhard oil tycoon type, and had a german actor come in and read the lines in a sort of crazed gustapo frenzy. It was one of the funniest line readings I'd ever heard of my stuff and it wasn't at all what I had in mind, but I cast him on the spot. I'd also written a character of a middle aged Maori detective but all the actors who showed up were white so I had to rethink that role also.

The other thing you notice is how different people can be when acting. Quite little mousy people can explode if thats what they're asked to do, but also you can meet an actor who's the most charismatic guy in the world and as soon he starts "acting" he turns into a piece of cardboard.
post #33 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark
Austin has something like that around Halloween. I'm moving there in August, and look forward to participating then. Sounds like a fun obstacle course for filmmakers.
Also the notion that I may have entertained Peter Jackson on 2 seperate occasions geeks me out every now and then.


One thing I forgot to mention about casting is I think reliabilty and getting along with the actors is doubly important on low budget movies because as a director you really have no recourse when your actors star misbehaving.. If you're not paying them then you have no threat of fireing them or anything so they can end up walking all over you and souring the whole experience not just for you but for everyone involved.
I've had many occasions where I've had a acene organised for 4+ actors, everyone gives up their weekend plans to make the shoot and then one douchebag no shows, you ring him up, and he cant come in cos he's hung over, or forgot it was today and vollunteerd to work an extra shift. And it makes you look like an unproffesional asshole to all the other actors because they've just cancelled all their plans for nothing. I had a 3 strikes rule where I'd fire them and recast the role no matter how many scenes with them I'd already shot because it makes you feel like you're just spinning your wheels and not moving forward if it happens over and over.
post #34 of 607
Oh, boy. I haven't filmed anything in a long time but it used to be a hobby for my friends and I back when we still had a website running (we were responsible for that guy in a banana suit who sets himself on fire). I used to just like filming short skits, all shot in one day so there was little room for style. Or consistency. Or anything good. But, hey, we got a bit of a reputation in our town and I was recognized once or twice.

I've been planning on making a short that has more serious subject matter, just to see. Sure, it would be a bunch of 18-21 year olds parading as adults, but that's fine by me. I really enjoy writing but I procrastinate much too much. There's a kid about a year younger than me and he showed a 3 hour movie he made at a local theater and people thought he was like, a visionary. His movie sucked hard... so I guess I'm motivated by that.

So back to the thread, as far as personal techniques go: I dunno. I'll get back to you on that one.
post #35 of 607
Thread Starter 
I just found out that there's a 48-hour film fest going on in Houston on May 18th. I've already signed up and got a group together--if any Houston-area Chewers want to chip in, give me a PM or email me at gac002@shsu.edu.
post #36 of 607
Good luck

They've announced the Genres and prizes for the NZ 48hrs not too shabby.

Prizes

Genres

They usually throw in a few curve ball genres on the night as well.

The PGR raiting requirement kinda takes the fun out of Horror and Grindhouse though.
post #37 of 607
To save money, I cast my friends from middle school and I don't use a crew.

Sometimes I buy them lunch, though.
post #38 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan S~
Murch will teach you just about everything you need to know about the post process and it's importance in filmmaking. The Coversations with Michael Ondatje is amazing and so is Behind the Scene about using Final Cut on Cold Mountain.
I found Murch's In the Blink of An Eye to be much more helpful than The Conversations. Blink doesn't walk you through the technical aspects of the process, but it goes real deep into the "thinking" aspects -- What makes a good cut? Why? And how do cuts work? -- which is really invaluable for anyone who is serious about good editing. I'd also recommend Ralph Rosenblum's When the Shooting Stops...The Cutting Begins, which chronicles a legendary Editor's experiences cutting pictures like The Pawnbroker, A Thousand Clowns, and Annie Hall.
post #39 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by horrid
The other thing you notice is how different people can be when acting. Quite little mousy people can explode if thats what they're asked to do, but also you can meet an actor who's the most charismatic guy in the world and as soon he starts "acting" he turns into a piece of cardboard.
I've experienced this, and it sucks. I was too young to know better at the time, and I cast the guy. Big mistake. When I cut the movie together, it died. I'll never forget that lesson: you can do everything else brilliantly, from writing to shooting to editing, but if the performance isn't there, you're dead. Dead. Because that's how the audience gets into the movie -- through the actors.

Another mistake I made on that movie, which I swore I would never make again, seems like a pretty common one for first-time Directors: casting "types." Maybe they look the part, but that only gets you so far. I've seen tons of other indies with exactly the same problem -- the lead looks right, but they have no soul. There's a charisma-shaped hole in the screen whenever they walk into a scene, and usually the slightly more offbeat actor in the supporting role beside them is a million times more watchable.

Now, whenever I'm auditioning, I only ever focus on one thing. Not "can they play the part?" or even "can they play the part well?", but always "Are they so awesome in this role that nothing else matters?"
post #40 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Strange
I found Murch's In the Blink of An Eye to be much more helpful than The Conversations. Blink doesn't walk you through the technical aspects of the process, but it goes real deep into the "thinking" aspects -- What makes a good cut? Why? And how do cuts work? -- which is really invaluable for anyone who is serious about good editing. I'd also recommend Ralph Rosenblum's When the Shooting Stops...The Cutting Begins, which chronicles a legendary Editor's experiences cutting pictures like The Pawnbroker, A Thousand Clowns, and Annie Hall.
Ah, Walter Murch. The "Murchandise" as I like to (erroneously) call him. We met once. He struck me a very nice guy; he thought I was a presumptuous asshole, though. I told him that The Conversation kicked ass but Apocalypse Now was too long.

I remember distinctly that he had bad breath (not terrible, but just slightly malodorous) and it was very weird since here I was talking to the guy who edited all these unbelievable movies and he had bad breath. It's like when you listen to a live performance of Mozart's Requiem Mass and the singers are kind of ugly. It fucks with you.

I thought his book was okay, but the advice he gave me in person differed somewhat from the advice in the book. For instance, no where in Murch's book did he say "I have to go now; leave me alone." But I digress.

He actually offered me some good advice, too--and I'll never forget it. It's informed my editing (and my shooting) ever since, and really improved my films in the way that only the ineffable emotive quality one can express purely through film form can. "Magic" as I like to (erroneously) call it.
post #41 of 607
I have a lot of other stories, too.
post #42 of 607
Stories are great, I particularly like the one about the Troll who went away.
post #43 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by horrid
Stories are great, I particularly like the one about the Troll who went away.
You're even meaner than Walter Murch.
post #44 of 607
Joss Whedon:

A great man. Well, at least he's nicer than Walter Murch. He's almost like a character in one of his TV shows--extremely goofy, but with a wit so quick that you wonder if his affability is a cover for his daunting intellect.

The first time I met Joss, I was holding the door open for him at some sort of event in his honor. "It's an honor to hold the door open for you," I said--and I meant it. "It's an honor to have the door held open by you," he quipped.

Another time was a few years later and he was in a tent and I kept on pretending not to notice him but making excuses to go in the tent so I could video tape him. Less successful. I ended up just having someone video tape me shotgunning beers instead, and the footage was better anyway.
post #45 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Strange
I found Murch's In the Blink of An Eye to be much more helpful than The Conversations. Blink doesn't walk you through the technical aspects of the process, but it goes real deep into the "thinking" aspects -- What makes a good cut? Why? And how do cuts work? -- which is really invaluable for anyone who is serious about good editing. I'd also recommend Ralph Rosenblum's When the Shooting Stops...The Cutting Begins, which chronicles a legendary Editor's experiences cutting pictures like The Pawnbroker, A Thousand Clowns, and Annie Hall.
I forgot about Rosenblum's book. Thanks for reminding me. I need to go re-read that again.

I like Blinkas a primer for editing but I find Conversations and Behind the Seen great for really hammering home his points made in Blink. Regardless, if you want to be an editor and not just a cutter the Murch books are a must.
post #46 of 607
Thread Starter 
So I'm currently 13 hours into the 48 Hour Film festival, and I've got a solid, six-page script that might actually be one of the most surrealistic things I've ever penned, landed a DVX for the weekend for a great, nigh unbelievable, price because I ran into an old buddy from high school, got my actors and locations all in order, and even managed to eck out an hour and a half of sleep. It's 7:30am now, and in about half an hour I'm gonna start on a marathon, damn-near-12-hour shoot. I'm exausted, but I'm having a fuckin hell of a blast.
post #47 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormin
Just getting on a stage and having 500 people all start clapping and cheering for ya.... that's why we got in the entertainment business.
That's exactly right. Enjoy it! Enjoy the hell out of it!!!

Good work, sir. I'm willing to bet that's one night you will remember forever. Because you may have greater success in the future, and I hope you do, but there's nothing like the first time.

Big congratulations to you -- you've earned it.
post #48 of 607
Just got home from Our 48hrs competition. I ended up being an actor co-director writer and editor so I have had almost no sleep,and words a very fuzzy right now. We got super hero film as our genre, which was one of those sneaky genres that we neither wanted or feared so we hadn't given it any thought.

We got it in with 20 minutes to spare.

Like Greg this has probably been the most surreal thing I've ever written. it involved a lumberjack being killed by a mad scientist, who was trying to cross breed trees and sharks. The forest brings him back to life and he goes on a quest for revenge. It also involves tales of men being raped by killer whales, telekenisis, and a brief but fun penguin vs axe fight.

Congratz to Stormin for his big success. Lines out the door, good to hear.
post #49 of 607
So when we gonna see these films?
post #50 of 607
Congrats stormin, I'm still afraid to ask my friends to be in the short films I play with and stick to 0$ budget and lego people.

I guess I'll drop a little shortcut, on my last film (theres a link somewhere), I had a walking lego man. To save time on creating the stop motion sequence, I shot all the shots of him in one position, just moved over and then went back and shot him in the other walking position. Went into Premiere and moved the footages to alternate and you had a stop motion walking lego man.

I'm working on a longer version of the last film ala a Evil Dead 2 way, and I'll see if I get more than 10 hits on youTube.
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