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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tidbits on making a movie

Someone recently inquired about how to make a movie...thought I share some of my personal insight! 
#1. Screenplay-completed  
#2. Cast your actors
#3. Once the screenplay is completed and actors have been selected...
#4. The next step is the Reading (can be at a church, large office, if you know your actors personally even in a living room, etc) 
#5.  Next meeting would be a Production Meeting (that is if you have selected a cast and crew).
#6. The shoot
#7. Editing
#8. Distribution
Random tidbits for making an independent film:
*It always helps to build a website and start thinking about idea's for a movie poster.  If you don't have your actors yet, you can still get creative or like I did, used a stand in until I cast my actors.  A website is good to have so actors will have a place to visit and see what the film is about, the goal of the movie, etc.  Any pics used for the movie poster should be taken with a professional high quality camera at least 300dpi. 
*I've also learned that though a film is low-budget it can still be a very good film!  She should make sure she has good actors, good lighting, and a good editor.  These elements are crucial to a quality independent film.
*Be on top of the editing to maintain the direction in which the film goes
*It is always to have a few (~5) different locations because it could get boring, however, if it is a really good script and takes place in one location, it could still work.  Be aware of the noise in the locations (construction, too much wind, etc. as the mic picks up everything, even the sound from an ac running in a building).
*Scouting locations: do things in exchange for film credit....most people will work with you.  Get film permits if needed.  In Florida such film permits are free as long as you don't have certain types of equipment, need police to block off streets etc.  Usually you just need insurance.
*Independent films are usually shot with one camera
*Unless there is a large budget, most filmmakers don't have money to pay actors up front....most seasoned actors know this.  They pay is usually the reel.  There are also other payment  methods that you can use (deferred where the actor makes money when the film makes money.  I like to tell my actors that honestly their pay is the experience/exposure.  That said it may be best to work with non-union actors who are not well known...they want the exposure.  It's crucial to be upfront and honest with the actors about the pay and remind them that though the project may be non paying or deferred, whatever the case, it will still be a professional film.
*Meals should be provided for actors as a shoot day could be easily 10 hrs. This can get pricey depending on the size of your cast and crew so if you know someone  to make sandwiches, that may be the affordable way to go.  You could even try to get donations from restaraunts in exchange for film credit.  Pizza is usually the most reasonable way to go.
*Depending on the legnth of the scene, she may want to shoot one scene perday, unless the scenes are brief shot of a car driving away, pulling into a parking lot etc.
*Always keep your title as the proudcer
*Auditions should be held in a place that has two rooms (large office, hotel, etc  I would stay away from doing at home unless you your friends and family are cast.  It just looks a lot more professional at a venue).  One room to serve as a waiting room and another where the video camera is set up in where they actually audition.  The actors will slate (this is them simply saying their name, the part they're reading for, and their contact) Have sides (excerpts from the script for the actors to read unless you are letting read their own monlogues. 
*Have all your paperwork together (shoot schedule, actor profile <usually tells if they will or will not cut/dye their hair, appear nude etc>appearance release forms, location release forms, payment agreements, etc all of which can be found as templates online)
*This is an independent film which means that the budget is not big, thus actors are responsible for their own wardrobe.  Again, be clear about this and you can create a form that the actors will sign that they agree to use their own clothing/make-up.  Its a team effort! 
*During the shoot, take lots of pictures so scenes will be consistent if you don't complete the shot.
*Get your props, music, and sound effects together so it will be ready when time to edit
*Raise money ( i.e.  Or before making a feature length film, make a short, submit it to a film festival which can cost $50 or never know, you may be the winner.  Napolean Dynmite started off as a 8-10minute short film, someone saw it and well, in the end the movie made millions!
*Review your footage at the end of each shoot day...I learned this the hard way as I had to redo some audio for a scene we did months prior!
*Remember this is an independent film not Hollywood.  So you may not have all the resources to make that Hollywood type film, but as I said earlier, with a camera, lights, sound, excellent actors, and a great editor, you will produce a great product!  I thought I needed a crew of 20, lots of equipment (dolley's, monitors, etc. but we got creative ;) for example, you can sit someone in a wheelchair, place the camera on their shoulder and move in and out as a dolley). 
*Stay clear of special effects, it looks amateur unless your editor know what he is doing and zooming in and out with the zoom buttons.
*Lastly, it takes a special person to work with actors, should anything happen and you have to replace someone, may be even a lead, it has happened before. (you may even want to consider having a contract w/ the actors)
*You also may want to consider having an attorney
Again, I am newbie at this, and this was just MY personal experience in making a film...I am in the process of learning about setting up a screening as well as how distirbution works.  Hope this helps and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!
Ade' Knight

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