What Exactly Is Film Making? I guess the word speaks for itself, film making is the process of making a film from a story idea you have yourself, or being hired by another to make a film. A film maker is in charge of script writing, shooting, editing and distribution to the public. Film making involves the employment of a large number of people and, at times, it has taken several years to complete. This is dependant upon the complexity of the subject, and the problems that come up while film making. The stages of film making are: 1. Development- The script is written and formatted into a workable guide for the film. 2. Pre-production- This is preparing for shooting the film, crew and cast are hired, locations are chosen, and the sets are built. 3. Production- The film maker shoots the film in it's entirety. 4. Post-production- The film is edited, music, sound effects, and any other effects are added. 5. Distribution- A distributor takes the film on, and it is shown to the public. Development: The film maker's idea, or a story found by the producer, is transformed into a usable script. This story can come from many sources books, true stories, plays, other films, etc. When the theme is chosen, a step outline and synopsis is developed. This will break the story down into scenes of one paragraph in length. A treatment of 25-30 pages, is then prepared, describing the mood and characters of the story. The screenplay is then developed, this is edited as many times as needed to make the story viable. A film maker may want to contact a film distributor at this time to assess the market for this type of film to assure it's financial success. Hollywood distributors may be hard to sell, and will consider genre, target audience, the success of similar films, the directors of the film, and the actors that may appear in the film. DVD sales and distribution rights need to be taken into account. The film is then presented to film financiers. If they like what they see and hear from the pitch, financial backing is offered. This can be offered from major film studios, the film council, or independent investors. Pre-production: A production company is created and an office for the company is opened. The film comes to life with a story board and drawn out with the help of concept artists and talented illustrators. A film budget will be comprised at this time. The film maker will hire a crew. The budget and type of film will determine the type and size of the crew. Production: The movie is filmed, and more crew will be hired. To help manage this stage of film making. The director is in charge of most of what happens on the set, but he will need to delegate responsibility to others until the film is done. Post production: The film is edited for time and best shots using film and a mixture of film and video. Distribution: The movie is released to theaters and duplicated according to need. Press kits, posters and other advertising materials are published to advertise the movie. A campaign to launch the film with much publicity is launched. The movie will succeed or fail. Profits from this are divided between the production company, and the distributor. Why Should I Go Into Film Making? Most people love watching movies, many of them are excited by the prospect of watching the much anticipated movie on the huge screen. When we are viewing a good movie, we tend to leave our world of troubles and stress behind, and step into the plot on the screen. There have been times that I have been so involved in a movie, I felt a bit let down when it ended. I wanted to stay with these wonderful characters and be a part of their lives. When a movie has that effect on the members of the audience, it is sure to be a hit. The world over, one of the most popular forms of entertainment is going to the movies. The movie industry sees more than 6.5 billion dollars in revenues every year. You certainly recognize the actors and there are times when the name of the director rings a bell. The truth is, unless you know them personally, you probably have never heard of the members of the crew that work hard to make the film become a reality. These are the talented and creative people who work in set design, sound recording, editing, casting, location scouting, electrical technology, make-up, publicity, and many more positions. Hollywood film makers produce and distribute anywhere between four and five hundred films every year, and Americans contribute billions of dollars to the industry by watching the films. DVD's are also lucrative for the film making industry, with the number of people who watch movies at home. There are many markets for DVD marketing, feature films, informational, and industrial films, to name a few. Employment in the film making industry is growing rapidly and anyone interested in a film making career will reap the benefits. Satellite and the internet have become a wonderful delivery system for the film making industry. The international marketplace is still key to the success of the film making industry, with over 40% of film revenues coming from foreign markets. This is the time for those interested in a career in film making or television. Many films are shot in the city of New York, bringing a great deal of revenue to the economy. This fantastic film industry boon will mean many more opportunities for employment in the less glamourous, behind the scenes positions, like set construction workers, and production assistants. These jobs could pave the way to a higher paying position. This job growth is going to affect film reproduction and distribution, as more and more the major studios embrace the concept of DVD rentals and cable. More jobs will open up simply because there is a high turnover when it comes to the film making industry, as many people find they don't have what it takes to hang in there until they can move up to a higher paying job. There is also going to be an increase in high paying, glamour jobs, such as acting, directing, screenwriting, camera operation, production, and grip. These jobs are in high demand, and for the newcomer, will be few and far between. With the right attitude and patience, you may find a producer or director who likes to work with the same crew time after time. This is the key to a long lasting career in the film making business. Where Can I Go To Learn Film Making? There are several choices when it comes to film making schools. At the Los Angeles Film School, you will learn the art of film making by actually making a film. Your first week you will be handling a camera, and by the time you are ready to graduate you will have made many films during the span of a year. The Los Angeles Film School campus is located in the heart of Hollywood. Where better to learn film making than in the town that made it famous. You will learn film making on the corner of Vine and Sunset where the school is located. You will be only a few steps away from The Kodak Theater, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The LA Film School boasts a faculty of Hollywood professionals who have credits on films like Spider-Man, The Matrix, and Blade Runner. They bring with them their years of experience to help you become the best film maker possible. You will be taught directing, producing, screenwriting, the art of cinematography, production design, everything they believe will be useful in the career of a film maker. While experience and location are important, the curriculum is of the latest in technological film production. This state-of-the-art curriculum in film making is one of a kind and cannot be found anywhere else. This school is the best place to begin a career in film production. The members of the faculty are the current film makers, the students, the film makers of the future. It is the mission of the LA Film School to send the next generation of film makers into the industry full of self-confidence in their abilities, a sense of excellence, and a passion for movie making. The five biggest reasons to attend the Los Angeles Film School are: 1. The small class size and a hands-on environment. 2. The faculty of professional film makers that are devoted to teaching the craft. 3. The state-of-the-art facilities. 4. You will keep all rights to any films you make. 5. The reasonable cost of your education. The school is located in the heart of Hollywood, and is surrounded by the major motion picture studios and the film industry business. You will be within walking distance of many of the studios you have, until now, only dreamed about working for. While no film school will guarantee you a permanent job when you graduate, you will get to know your instructors who ARE the film making business. They will be able to give you instruction on the best way to go about breaking into the film making business. Your instructors want you to succeed by teaching you everything you need to be able to develop a career in the film making industry. Not only will you be in the thick of things when it comes to the film making business, you will learn how to approach major production agencies. By the time you leave the LA Film School, you will know the business inside and out, not to mention have more than a few films that will show what kind of a film maker you can be. What Will My Film Making Crew Expect From Me? In this day and age, anyone can become a film maker with a bit of knowledge about the film making industry. Where the new film makers are concerned, the crew with the best equipment is the crew they want. If the man with the camera has a brand the film maker is familiar with he may just get the job. No matter the operators ability or experience, the camera operator's abilities come up after the fact. The production sound mixer, also called the video tech, is usually the one who will keep the camera man in line. He is also responsible for capturing the sound and he is expected to be close to perfect at this. The most important aspect of hiring a sound man is whether he has the right radio microphones. Production companies feel that these two are the only crew they need and the cameraman has to negotiate to get a crew of at least five, they have to negotiate to gain approval in the budget. They are clueless about how many people are needed on the crew. Once the crew has succeeded in getting a few more people hired on, they find they need to educate others. The crew needs to know what the next shot will be and not what they will be shooting next week. Many new directors do not understand how to just explain the next shot. Without the information the crew does not know what to do next. When the film maker has made any changes, they need to include the sound mixer in the explanation. The gaffer, assistant cameraman, and the grip can get instruction from the cameraman, but the sound mixer needs to know what direction he is going in to get the best sound. If the sound mixer is not kept in the loop, there will be many delays. The crew needs to see a rehearsal of the scene before they actually shoot it. New film makers tend to think that skipping rehearsals will make up for lost time. The crew really needs to see the rehearsal to see how they will shoot the scene. This is very important to make sure the lighting, sound mikes, and focus are right. Some new film makers want to roll the tape anyway, although even the stars don't understand entirely what they are supposed to do. The crew can see that rolling tape at this particular time is a complete waste. Good scenes don't happen by themselves, but many new film makers wait for everything to become clear once the camera is rolling. The foreground and background action needs to be tried and gotten right before the shots will be great ones. Looking at the script will not make it happen, the crew needs direction. The film maker needs to tell the cameramen and sound mixer when to roll and when to cut. They need to be clear about this, when they are satisfied with the shot. The crew hears action before they hear roll camera, much too often. With video tape, there is a slight delay between the time the cameraman starts the machine and it is ready to record the action. You will need to record several seconds of lead film for the tape to be edited effectively later on. Cut is the word the cameraman wants to hear when they stop rolling. Some film makers don't say cut until they have had a long talk with the cameraman. The crew needs to hear the word cut so they will know when the take is over. There are other peeves that a crew has with novice film makers, but there are too many to continue in this article. The best bet for any novice film maker is to get feedback from their crew so that everyone knows what to expect from each other. What Is The Best Way To Get Into Film Making? To find a job in film making is quite a difficult task, film making is not widely advertised. Film makers looking for a crew rely on networking and the gossip route to communicate. Positions are filled by the time production starts. When a film is being made, any jobs are only the duration of the production. Film makers and producers are only into one project at a time, they do not hire a permanent crew especially when they are an independent contractor and not part of a major network. It is based on what and who you know, and most importantly, what you have done in film lately. Anyone who has worked in film making knows you are always thinking ahead to the next job while you are on this one. If you do not know how this business works and what the hiring process is, you will not get anywhere. You need to formulate a few strategies to get hired. If you are new to film making never send a resume unless it is asked for. Producers and directors don't have time to read through these and they will usually end up trashed. When a job in film making is in the classified ads, they are usually taken before the ad is in print. Quite a few personnel departments advertise jobs that they already have someone in mind for, to show good intentions when it comes to equal opportunity. They are able to show that the job was open and in the papers before anyone was hired by the number of resumes they received before they hired someone. Do not make demands at the interview or spout off a list of the errands or tasks you will not perform, you may as well stay home if this is your plan. A job in film making or television, means schedules and even tasks are constantly being adjusted. There is no set quitting time and a work day is usually 10 to 12 hours long. Your family and friends are put on a back burner while you are working on a project. Those who work in the film making industry love their jobs and wouldn't think of doing anything else. Never act like a beginner, even if you are, as you will find you will not get anywhere in this business. No matter if it is your first day, the moment you are hired you are a professional. Always think and act professionally, if you don't you may be let go as the powers that be may feel you are not competent to handle the job. Professional people produce high quality results, no matter how long they have been on the job. They never worry about the pay, long hours, or tasks they need to perform. A professional has learned the rules of the trade before they step onto a set, and will act accordingly to achieve excellence in their work. They are always working to be the best at what they do to convince the film maker that you were the right choice for this job and hire them for the next project. You need to maintain a good attitude most of the time, nobody wants to work with someone who constantly has a poor outlook and is sour all of the time. Everyone has an off day, but that shouldn't be every day. If you are a downer most of the time or have a great deal of personal problems, this type of job is not for you. If you really desire a job in the film making industry you may need to accept an internship or volunteer and show them how professional you are. You will need to be willing, as a beginner, to work for little money or even free. Once you have your foot in the door and show that you are willing to go the distance and do an excellent job you will have a good chance of being hired on future projects. Why Should I Work For Free In Film Making? When you work for free in the film making business, it will not be because you don't need or want to get paid. It will be because you are trying to gain experience and be able to find work in the film making industry. For one thing, you need experience to be hired in the film making business, and to gain experience you need to have worked in the film making business. It is a vicious cycle and most of the time the only way to break it is to intern or volunteer to work for free on a project. This can actually lead to paying job on the film maker's next project if he likes your work. This is a great way for a film maker who is on a tight budget be able to work with a production crew. And whether the film is a success or a flop, the knowledge needed to find gainful employment will be yours when the shoot is done. You will be able to add this experience in your resume to show that now, you have the experience needed to be a paid worker on the crew. If you worked hard as an intern on one production, but the film maker did not hire you for his next project, you should not worry too much. You will be able to show the experience you have gained and have at least a fighting chance to get a paid position. If you enroll in a film making school or University, you will see that an internship with a film maker is part of a four year course of study. It certainly isn't inexpensive to take a four year course at a school. Deciding to work on a film making crew as an intern, will be one of the best choices for you, if you have no experience in the film making industry and want to rub elbows and make contact with people who know the business inside and out, and they may be able to point you in the right direction. You will even find that some production companies will pay their interns minimum wage. Investing your talent and know how in an internship will build your resume and network so that down the road you will be hired for the position you desire. You may want to intern more than once to really add to the experience on your resume. This is not a free ride for you, you must show the film maker that you are serious about working on the film, and are up for the position. Do network with the crew to aid you in finding a paying job after your internship is through. If you find the work too grueling, the hours too long, and you just aren't getting in the swing of things as you should be, maybe it is good that you learned this early. Above all, no matter how new you are to the film making business, always act in a professional manner and you will find you will be on your way to a great career. What Are The Top Five Film Making Producer Skills? The knowledge of film making is not enough to create a good movie producer. This quality might be good if you are a studio executive, or in any other job out of film making production. To be a good producer you need to develop certain skills, for you to become an independent film maker. The first and most important skill is organization. You may already have this skill, and frankly it is not an easy skill to teach or learn, but you can learn to become more organized. If you have trouble remembering where you put your wallet or the last time you had the oil changed in the car, you will need some help in this area. Buy a book on how to get organized or take a class in organization. Do what you think best, but get organized. The second skill is the ability to make quick decisions. No matter how well your plans have been laid, there are a lot of gray areas and changes that can come up during filming. You will run into decisions that need to be made right now. You can develop this skill by realizing from the start that you are in charge, and you will be making all of the decisions, any mistakes that are made, you will be making. If the decisions are wrong you will know it soon enough. As the film maker you must act decisively, accepting blame when necessary, the members of your cast and crew will go along with what you say. The third skill is the ability to be a good negotiator. You will find that you will be making decisions about everything on the set. Everything will usually need to be negotiated. When rates are negotiated, know the top price you can pay for any one item according to your budget. Try to lower that by 20 or 30 percent by negotiation, you really need to keep yourself in the know. One thing to remember, if you don't negotiate the right price you can decline the item and look elsewhere for it. The fourth skill is one of diplomacy. Film makers need to keep a close reign on gossip and rumors. You may have to step in the middle of feuds and conflicts. The trick is to remedy the situation without taking sides. You need to practice diplomacy every working day. To be a great film maker, you will need to have plenty of energy. Caffeine may help you wake up in the morning, but you will need real energy if you are going to make it through the duration of the film. You need to eat well and make sure you take vitamins to keep yourself from breaking down with the long working days. When you have mastered these five basics of a film making producer, you will be able to use your knowledge of the film making process and produce a great independent film. What About The Cannes Festival And Film Making? For 12 days in the month of May the city of Cannes celebrates the National Film Agency. The town is filled to capacity with more than 200,000 film makers, stargazers, and film fans, who gather on the Croisette to attend the Cannes Film Festival. During the 12 day span thousands of films are screened, careers are started, and disappointment shows itself. Stars the world over come to get their share of attention. Since the 1950's when Brigitte Bardot ran on the beach for the cameras in her teenie bikini, Cannes has blossomed to celebrate the worlds most favorite pastimes, cinema and sex. Cannes has grown to be the most famous of all festivals of film. Cannes is spectacular with the palm trees, red carpets, stars that come out to sparkle in the flash of paparzzi cameras, and the famed celebrity parties. Cannes may not look like the best place to host the world's most famous film festival. Cinema was invented in France, Paris France. The weather in Cannes is nice, but that is not the best selling point. The Cannes Film Festival exists as a result of the rise of fascism in Europe during the 1930's. In 1932 the first competitive film festival was sponsored in Venice. This was called the Mostra di Venezia, and the awards it gave, was mostly about the prestige of the countries that participated, as it was about the films. As time went by, the fascist alliances in certain countries received favoritism when it came to judging the films and giving of awards. In 1938 Jean Renoir's "La Grande Illusion" was passed by for the top prize in the festival, despite being the obvious favorite of the festival attendees, and the jury members. Instead the award was given to two films, a two-part German film called "Olympia", commissioned by Joseph Goebbels to show the Nazi success of the 1938 Berlin Olympics, and "Luciano Serra, Pilota, made with the supervision of Il Duces son. When the announcement came, the French were furious and withdrew from the festival. The American and British jury members resigned to protest the fact that fascism could walk all over artistic excellence. Later that same year, a group of film makers and critics petitioned the French government to put run an alternative, international film festival in France. A festival where film makers could show their films and compete without censorship or bias. The French government was not very happy about going against Mussolini, and were dragging their feet. The group kept putting pressure on the government, and they finally gave consent to the event. The competition is the main event of the festival today, this is where the glory and glamour come in. The films screened are referred to as being "in competition". The most coveted award is the Golden Palm for best picture. This is one of the most prestigious awards on earth, and will give the film a huge boost. For low budget films and novice film makers, this can mean millions of extra dollars at the international box office, for foreign films it brings worldwide distribution. The competition is usually open to narrative films only, but there are times when a documentary is introduced. Michael Moore's " Fahrenheit 9/ 11" won the top prize in 2004. The film makers are welcome to enter both features and shorts. There are awards in each category. What About Investing In Film Making? You need to practice caution when thinking of investing in film making. Many people who are quite financially successful, often loose their investment, when putting their money into film making. Investing in film making is exciting and glamourous, but not every film becomes a hit, and a flop can mean a huge loss for you. Never invest in anything, unless you can afford to lose the amount you have invested with minimal damage to your finances. The winners in the film making business have proven that they are successful, and are already completely financed. These film makers have many years of experience in the film making field. While it is possible to invest in film making and make money, it isn't very easy. There are several people out there who are waiting to give you poor advice and take your well earned cash. A few quick tips to set you on the right track: 1. 30% to 40% in equity should be enough to make most films if others will agree with the idea. 2. Keep the budget low, foreign should cover at least 50%, 70% would be even better. 3. Search for a script carefully and take your time, don't grab the first script that interests you. You need to make sure film makers will agree with the use of the script. 4. You will need to take care of distribution with your own money, distribution is where you can make a good deal of money from your investment. 5. If you invest more $5 million or more, you will be able to buy into more than one film. 6. Never put up more than 50% of the total amount it will take to make the film, the producer should be able to drum up the rest, if they can't -- withdraw now. 7. Do not look at hit movies made by major motion picture studios as a guide. You will be working with independent film makers, and there are big differences. Do your homework and become knowledgeable about the workings of independent film making. Know the film trends that work and what is popular, and what trends will be expected to last for a year or more. Has the film maker worked in the industry at all, if so to what extent is his expertise? While investing in film making can be quite lucrative, you should believe in the film project and the ability of the film makers before you invest a dime. Meet with them to see how professional they are and what their goal is when it comes to the film project at hand. How excited are they about the project? Do they seem like the go-getter type that will be able to see the film making project through to completion? Are they opposed to you visiting the set once in a while to quietly see how the film is progressing? These are all things you should check out before you decide to invest in film making. There may be other issues you will be concerned with, make sure you write them down while they are fresh in your mind and bring them with you to the meeting. There is never a guarantee when it comes to investing in anything, but if you believe in the project and are satisfied with the film makers there is a good chance you will see a profit. What About Internships In Film Making? A job in film making is like any other position you apply for. If you have no experience, you will probably not get an interview. When you can't get an interview, you won't get the job, and if you can't get the job you will not gain experience. Experience is a must to get a job in film making. There are times that people get a lucky break and seem to fall into a job in the film making industry, this certainly doesn't happen very often. Realistically, if you want to get into the film making industry, it will be up to you to make it happen. While internships are hard to find, as there is fierce competition in the industry, they are a good way to get your foot in the door. You can overcome some of this by contacting production companies and proposing your own internship. Film makers are more liable to accept free help during busy times. You will probably make important contacts that can be invaluable in the future. There are a few different ways to arrange your internship. You may approach a film crew during a shoot and volunteer to help. If you are persistent they will usually allow you to do some work on the set. This may not be your ideal job, but once you are in the mix you will meet people who work in the film making industry. These contacts could lead to big opportunities down the road, and the job you really want. Or you can check the classifieds in the trade papers for mid-level, or senior openings in the field you are interested in. If they are recruiting for that position, they usually are short-handed and need some help in that department. When you spot an ad like this, call the office manager directly. Once they are on the phone, tell them you are interested in an internship. Add that you know they are busy and you could meet with an assistant instead. Ask them who you could contact about this and tell them you will call them yourself. Make sure you do contact them if you are serious about getting an internship. It is imperative that you act professionally when contacting anyone in this industry. You can call the human resource department of any production company, at any time and offer to be an intern. Try to pick a department that you have the most interest in becoming part of, or learning about. Whatever your choice, make sure you keep a good attitude, it may take a little time, but sooner-or-later there will be someone who is willing to accept your offer. The film making industry is a close knit group and the more people you meet, the more likely it will be that you find work in the area of film making you desire. Above all, even though it may seem fruitless, don't give up, you have as good a chance as anyone to break into film making. What About Flim Making Finance? Every film maker will reach a crossroad when they must make a decision on whether they want a full-blown career as a film maker, or they prefer to make films as a hobby. This decision usually depends upon the film makers ability to fund or finance their own projects. Most film makers do not think about financing future projects, they usually have all of their attention on the work at hand. Any film maker needs to acquire a knowledge of what it means to be a professional film maker, and how film investment works. There will be plenty of people who want to give you advice and take advantage of your ignorance on these matters. While there are many legitimate companies, there are also those that will try to rook you out of the money you have earmarked for your film making project. A legitimate organization will not promise you they can get you a list of potential investors. The interest in your project will determine whether it should be presented to investors, not good fortune at running across a group of investors by chance. The legitimate consultants know that there is no money to be made in the few hundred dollars many producers can afford to pay for their services. Serious financial consultants don't even want a percentage of the funds earmarked for your project. While they will charge you fees for their services, their goal is to see that your project succeed and find distribution. You will want your consultant to think of accumulated interest on the money borrowed over the course of production, and other aspects of the financial end of the project. The most difficult thing about this will be to convince a legitimate producer's financial consultant to become involved with your project. The investor is the key to this, you need to find someone who is willing to invest in a high-risk film making project. You will need to know the investing criteria from the point of view of the investor. Below are a few film investing basics. - A film investor will usually put up about 50% of the total film cost. The film producer is responsible for the other 50%. - 30% to 40% should be enough to get most films made, depending on whether you will be able to convince other end users to buy into the plan. - The investor will want to keep the budgets for the film project as low as possible. Foreign sales should be enough to cover at least 50%. - An investment of $5 million should allow an investor to buy into several films. It can be quite difficult for the independent film maker to gain financing. Another idea on financing your film making project is the idea of grant awards. There are many out there who will give an award to film makers who are excited about, and believe in, their film project. You will find them by doing a search for film making grants. Make sure you become knowledgeable about each grant, as they all have different criteria for the grant giving process. What About Film Making And The Internet? This is a most exciting time for independent film makers. Now that the internet and digital technology have paired up, we are seeing the old way of Hollywood shifting to the new independent film makers. The emergence of this technology has paved the way to new markets and tools for the film making industry. Most significant is the fact that this development has changed the areas where the independents have had the most difficulty- development, marketing, and distribution. Studio big-wigs have ignored the internet, treating it as a passing fad or a tool for film promotion. When Time-Warner was taken in by AOL, they understood what the impact would be. The Blair Witch Project brought this point home, the young film makers brought fame to the film with very clever web marketing. Hollywood production, marketing, and distribution has become the old way of film making, and this is causing a good bit of anxiety with the major studios. Independent film makers who have traditionally been left out and ignored by the film making industry, are now building websites. These sites deal with the traditional ways of film making, but many of them address the problems with financing, marketing, and distribution, and suggest remedies for these problems. Independent film makers are able to directly contact potential investors with scripts and potential story ideas. They are able to pitch their ideas to the investor themselves. There has also been an insurgence of online festivals, distributors, and resources where an independent film maker can market their film to a worldwide audience and show the product to the interested party directly. This market is available to all, and the forerunners make up the criteria as they go. These new film makers will harness the internet, and be successful in digital film making. There are several methods and techniques when it comes to digital production. There are innovative trends and studies of up-and-coming independent film makers, online. You are able to learn about script development, marketing, digital distribution, how to enter film festivals, and much more. These topics are available to anyone who is interested in learning the new techniques in film making. The internet is fast paced and growing steadily. These techniques have been out there for a while now, but as I said they has been ignored by traditional Hollywood for quite some time. These techniques are evolving rapidly and they will be critical tools for the independent film makers who want a successful career in the new revolution of the film making industry. Of course, before you jump into film making with everything you have, my advice is to become familiar with every internet concept and tool that can help you produce, development, and market your project. Weigh the possibilities to find the best technique for you, your budget (while it does come with a cost, you will find internet based film making is cheaper), and your artistic abilities. As far as financing your film making endeavor, you may want to look into film making grants. There are several out there, just do a search on the ever evolving internet. The Joys of Film School For the aspiring filmmaker film school is a joy. Not only does it serve to give you the rudimentary skill set you will need, but also it serves to mold your passion and give you the momentum once leaving school, to produce work that is fresh and new. There are several schools in this country that have outstanding reputations. Of course California is going to produce more film schools than you can shake a stick at, with New York a close second, but there are plenty of film school opportunities in other parts of the country. I will discuss some of the heavies first as they are the "Pie in the Sky" for many aspiring filmmakers. The premiere school to go to would of course be the AFI conservatory. Founded in 1967, they provide 6 areas of course study: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting. AFI is particularly devoted to traditional narrative film. California Institute for the Arts (Cal Arts), was created in 1961 by Disney in 1961, with an emphasis on animation. San Francisco State University has a film program, also created in the 60's amid the political expansiveness of that time and their course work is heavily influenced buy experimental film. Then there is always UCLA Film School and USC as well. In New York you have Columbia University School of the Arts and NYU. Both have heavy rosters of Directors and Film writers that have come up in the ranks at these schools. I think of Spike Lee when I think of NYU. These are the most famous of them all, the 'A' list, and to get into these schools is practically a miracle from god, but if you do, you just scored Willy's Golden Ticket. If you find yourself to be one of the many that are outside the golden gates looking at all the happy film students, do not despair. There are plenty of other film schools around the country that have great programs where you can get the skills and training you need. There are some things that you must consider when picking a school off of the 'B' list. How much is the education going to cost? That is the bottom line, because if you get loans to get into school, you better be able to make those loan payments 6 months after graduation. To that end the next consideration is what kind of internships do they offer. See if you can have a conversation with the senior students in the film program so that you have an idea of what is in store for you once you leave school. Who else has graduated from this school that is noteworthy? Film School is that wonderful island in the middle of an otherwise uphill battle. The equipment loan programs in themselves are worth the price of admission. Here you will have the opportunity to use cameras, recording, and editing equipment along with edit bays and sound studios. There will be a pool of actors and crew to draw from as you each help crew for each other. For this one brief time you have the benefit of all this. Once on the other side, however, you are on your own. The Pacific Northwest has several film schools. University of Washington has an excellent film school. The Evergreen State University is notorious for their liberal/alternative education. Some take issue with the fact that there are no grades. Instead there is an evaluation system in place where the student and teacher write evaluations of themselves, the teacher, and the program. Greeners, as they are called, pride themselves in critical thinking and their program, MediaWorks, has provided the film community with radical, cutting edge filmmakers. Whatever school you decide to attend, enjoy it while it lasts. It will be the one place you can experiment and have the support you need to get your projects done. Plan on sleeping very little and learn to love pizza and Top Ramen.
Tell Me About Film Making Equipment Rental When thinking about the film making equipment you will need for your project, you will need to make a list as soon as your budget and schedule have been worked out. This is when you will need to contact film making equipment rental houses to see which ones have the best price on what you need. Some of this equipment is used often and you may need to reserve it much earlier than you will actually need it. You will need to get a list of vendors that offer the film making equipment rentals that you need. Some rental houses can put together a complete package for you, and others may be a bit more constrained. As long as you have a complete list of equipment needed you will be able to find the right rental house to serve you. When you contact the vendor, ask if they will have the equipment you are going to need by the time you will need it. Tell them what your project will require in the line of film making equipment. Most of the rental houses are current on the latest equipment, and could help you with information you weren't aware of. It is imperative that you reserve the equipment for the dates of your shoot. This should be done in advance, and is called a hold. This does not mean you will need to pay for the equipment before you pick it up. If the film making equipment has already been put on hold for someone else, you may need to accept a hold for a later date. If you know that the date you have given is the date you will be getting the equipment, ask the vendor if you can firm your order. The rental house will contact the people with the hold prior to you and ask them to firm the order or give up the hold. When you firm an order, you will be obligated to pay for the equipment from the day you have the hold, even if you don't use it then. If your plans change, you will need to contact the vendor as soon as possible so they can make other arrangements with other customers. Since you are renting equipment that has had several users, it is a good idea to test it out before you are actually ready to shoot the film. The vendor is not liable for anything if you use faulty equipment and waste time and money. Most rental houses will ask you to show proof on insurance, if anything should happen to equipment while you are using it, you are responsible for replacement. If you do not have insurance, the rental company will put you in touch with an insurance company that will cover the production. Make sure you get a signed agreement on the terms of the film making equipment rental, cost, time of pick up and return, and a list of liability and responsibility terms. Check the equipment when you pick it up to make sure it is all there. It is much better to find a missing element while at the rental house than when you are ready to shoot. Check everything with your list to make sure nothing has been left out, you will avoid wasting time on trips back to the rental house to retrieve missing equipment. Check everything over thoroughly and don't miss anything, no matter how small. You may want to pick up the equipment a day or two before the day you will be shooting. This will give you plenty of time to test the equipment so there will be no surprises. So Many Cameras, So Little Time Without the camera there is no film, no movie to make. If you start making film on a regular basis you will learn to capture image with a number of different cameras. You will have your favorite but there will be many different ones that you have to hold. At a certain point using film became all but obsolete and digital took over. The introduction of the digital camera made capturing image infinitely easier. Film cameras are good to work with in the beginning because they teach you how to use a lens. You learn about depth of field and how so push and pull focus plus a variety of other things that you will use when directing the camera. I like to think of using actual film as more organic. The image is a bit hazy and lacks that artificial crispness that a digital image can have. However there is no denying that digital is immediately gratifying. In the beginning digital was no match for film, but the technicians tweaked it until they developed cameras that are amazing. Film has been relegated to high art and now we have no second thoughts about shooting in digital over film. The costs of processing are totally absent when you use digital to shoot. Getting your film developed was so expensive that in many cases it was prohibitive, but now there are completely acceptable digital cameras in a variety of cost ranges. Find a digital video camera and a tripod to work with. You will need a tripod with fairly thick legs for sturdiness and a good fluid head for panning. Also before you buy your tripod, make sure that the camera releases from the tripod easily and quickly. You will want a camera that has a good battery system for remote shooting. There are, any number of great digital cameras out there. You should be able to find a decent camera to shoot action between $500-$800. If you can manage to scrape together $1,000 a good camera is the Samsung VP X220L camcorder with wired external lens. This camera has a neat compact body and it is very durable. A testament to this fact is that this camera was used in the Jack Ass show. Do some product research, buy your camera and start shooting. Handle your camera so you know just how to pan and focus with the equipment you will be using. Play it back and see how it handles different lighting levels and shutter speeds. Check out how it focuses automatically and practice a bit of manual focusing. I suggest that you start carrying a camera and building an image bank. An image bank will give you basic generic images that you will need to use as cutaways and various other functions in your film. Learn to look at things through the lens. Direct and build different scenes in the frame and shoot them in still photography first. Before you start production of the actual film, practice shooting with your new camera. You can shoot your crew and the talent. Shoot anything that moves until you get it down. Promoting Your Film One thing I have learned from friends who have made independent films is that you have to start promoting your film the minute it is complete... as a matter of fact, don't wait, as soon as you have a title run with it. This is your baby, your little brain-child so get out there and promote. Large studios have their own publicity departments but the little guy or gal has nothing but their reputation by word of mouth. In order to build that rep you have to work at it and there are various tools that you have available to you. Previously there were only billboards or newspapers, and later on there was the television to get the word out there about your film. These were actually fairly costly and only the studios could truly afford these avenues. The rise of Internet has impacted marketing of independent film and the entire film industry as whole. There are so many different promotional tools that it offers you, it is hard to choose. The best thing to do is hit them all because you will need them. When you are at the beginning stages of making your film start a blog. Once you have that going and you are making regular entries turn your attention to making a logo and then a website. The logo will carry though to many other things but for the moment it will help in making your website come together visually. There are services out there that will make a logo for you but, as in all things, it is always better if you do it yourself. The website can be made by you as well. There any number of sites out there that offer domains and website building tools. Once you have built yourself a website then you can submit it to a search engine. Make T-shirts and hats with your film logo on them. A friend put her logo on panties and sold them. More girls bought those panties. These items made enough money to help her get through post-production. So, after you have made the regular website go to Myspace and build a Myspace page for your film. After the Myspace page is done, put something up on YouTube. These are all free for the most part so take advantage of them. Music artists have used Myspace to promote their music and it has worked really well so why not use it for the purposes of promoting film. One of the more simple things you can do is to find someplace small that shows your type of film and will be willing to let you show your film. Make some eye-catching fliers and post them at the local college. There is usually an area for student public postings and fliers are all over these boards. College students love to see new and different material so if you can draw them in to view your film, that is a very effective way to build a following (dare I say cult film) especially if your film is quirky. This about exhausts all the free or ultra cheap methods of promotion. Once you have your film to the point where you can do a premiere showing, you can consider preparing Media Kits to distribute to the local TV and radio stations. If you have gotten this big with your movie then you might even need a publicist. Now things are on a roll. Next stop, distribution Let There Be Light Filmmaking is an orchestration of various elements that brings about the desired result, your story literally brought to life. Screenplay, crew, actors, location, camera, lighting, sound, and editing are all working together to bring you the finished product. One literally cannot do without the other. Lighting however is what makes your production look professional and if you are looking to actually market your film you want it to be as professional as possible. There are many professional lights kits on the market and many of them are quite reasonable, but in many cases they are not necessarily needed. You can make your own light kit with a few things that can be purchased at the local hardware store. There are lights found at the hardware store used in garage repair shops that are metal and that have a high reflectance. These come with clips at the end and can be clipped and moved wherever you might need them. These are great to use and you can use a number of different bulbs that will give different wattage and color. The next items you must have in great numbers are extension cords. These will be used in every other part of your filmmaking, but you really need them with setting up your lights. Another very useful tool would be old sheet music stands or something similar that has a 3 leg stand that can be raised and lowered. These can either hold the clip-on lights or a light diffusion material of some sort. You will also need white board for white balancing your camera before you shoot, also white boards can be used as bounce cards for bouncing light back on a subject. The last thing in your light kit will be some sort of diffusing material. That can be any gauzy white material that the light will pass through. You can use your stands with binder clips on them to clip the material too. Shine your light through the material and this in turn will diffuse the light on the subject keeping it from being to bright or "hot" as they say in the business. A consideration that most people starting out with lighting don't consider is that light comes in different colors. Only when you start using a camera do you find this out. If you shoot in a room at night and you have only the interior lights to use, you may find the overall color of the light will be a little yellow. This is because the bulb lights in your house are Tungsten light and these give off a yellowish cast. Fluorescent lights give of a greenish cast that is quite unattractive, so if you film in an office building then that is a consideration as will. Outside light is blue light and while you always want natural light, things may be a little too blue for you, especially when you shoot in the shade. The absolute best time to shoot, to get that magical quality, is that time right before the sunset. The sun is hanging low and directly on the faces of the subjects and gives everything a Carmel colored warm glow. The only drawback here is that the sun sets quickly so have everything ready in anticipation of shooting the final minutes before the sun set. Look at things at this time of day during late spring or in the summer and you will see what I am talking about. The first thing to learn is the three-point lighting set up. This is a standard lighting technique used by professional photographers, television taping, and shooting film. This consists of three things: a key light to shine on the subject, a fill light to fill in the shadow created by the key light, and a backlight or kicker to use behind the subject to add dimension the subject. You will use variations of the 3-point lighting set-up in most work you do. I advise strongly that you practice this lighting set-up and shoot it to see how effectively it works. You will have to move the lights a little here and there to get the desired effect but this is the must useful lighting strategy that there is. It is always good to use natural lighting whenever possible. Always remember that high noon is usually a harsh lighting situation and will cast unflattering shadows under the eyes and nose of the subject making them appear tired. You will have to use a light low down on the ground to counter-act this effect. Also anytime you light a subject from the ground as opposed to above the subject, you will get an eerie spooky effect that can be used in moments of suspense. If you are not looking for this effect though it might be disturbing to viewers. This is lighting in a nutshell and I would highly recommend that you take some production classes in order to practice and get some tips on lighting. How To Produce Your Own Film Making Endeaver? You may want to start out by producing your own film, if you are up to the task. It is a great burden to take on a project, especially when you are new to the business. If you can accomplish this, you will have a film you can show to display your commitment to a film making career. Once you decide to produce your own film, you will need the resources to make your movie. A film grant is one way to get the funding for your film, but it can be difficult to get this type of grant. You will need to know how the process works when applying for a grant. There are different types of film grants, money, equipment, room and board, film, music, producing, screen writing, directing or a combination of any or all of the above. Each grant giver has certain guidelines you must meet to qualify for their grant. Quite a few of them want you to produce a documentary of some type. Many of these grant projects have been given awards and are shown on television because they are so inspiring. The purpose of these grants are designed to help film makers who are unable to get other funding. Others do not have the money to get into a good film school, but they have the talent. These grants create great film makers as well as wonderful films. Some grants allow film makers to get regular funding in the future, after they have shown what an excellent film maker they are. When a grant funder is considering a project to give to, they look for the passion the film maker has for the project. This is the most important point of consideration when reading a grant application. The film maker will carry this passion and dedication throughout the film making process, no matter how long it takes to finish the film. The Guerilla Filmmaking Grant was designed to encourage creative, resourceful filmmaking for artists working outside of the "Hollywood industry". Twice a year they award $1000 to produce, shoot, and edit a feature length film. The film maker has control over the look, feel and content of the film. A DVD release of the movie is included. The film maker keeps all rights to distribution. They also include Marketing Advice to help the film maker distribute and sell the movie. All film rights are retained by the film maker. Anyone in the world that is thinking of producing an English language feature film may apply for this grant. You need to go to http://www.mediadarlings.org/filmgrant/ to check out the entire grant process of this grantor. You will find all of the information you need, and all of the guidelines you must go by to apply for this Guerilla Filmmaking Grant. If you have any questions you can contact them. There are many places an independent film maker can apply for. Just type filmmaking grants into your favorite search engine and you will see what I mean How Can I Learn Film Making Without Going To School? This site can put you in touch with a course that will teach you film making without going to school. This DVD course is taught by 15 Emmy, Telly, and Cine award winning Hollywood film maker Jason J. Tomaric. He spent over 2 years developing this ideal film instruction course. He uses his film- "Time and Again" as a case study for the 5.5 hour interactive DVD that will take you through the entire film making process. He has taught at film schools throughout the nation, including the New York Film Academy, and Ucla, and will take you to the set of his film. Your instructors will be the professional film makers who worked on the film. There is certainly no boring instruction on this DVD set, and you will be shown how to make a Hollywood caliber movie on a very small budget. The advice and guidance you will glean from this DVD series is easy to follow, and no serious student of film making should be without it. Everything the novice film maker needs to know can be found on this series. These quality production values are available to anyone who has ever wanted to be a film maker. You will learn everything about directing, casting, writing, cinematography, producing, editing and much more. This set includes a CD-ROM with all of the storyboards, scripts, industry resource guides, and contracts. There is even unabridged footage that you can practice editing at home. You will also receive in-depth interviews with cast, crew and other important people on the film. First you will watch the film "Time and Again", and then move on to Disc 2. This has over 30 chapters in 5 units over 5.5 hours. These cover the film making process from start to finish. Disc 3 contains the actual script with notes from the director himself. You will also receive templates to use for your own projects. The Producer's Notebook is a tool that will show you the paper structure you will need to make a great movie on a small budget. This includes: * Directors notes and Shooting Script. * Storyboards. * Contracts with crew, cast and locations. * Breakdown of the scenes. * Call Sheets. * Camera Logs * Industry resource guides from, Panavision, Apple Computer, Arri, Audio- Technica, Lowel, Matthews Studio Equipment on lighting, editing, camera gear, and more. You will also receive a 270 page Production Manual, full of tips you need to know, diagrams, resources, tricks, and charts. This manual will tell you everything you need to know about film making, and covers everything from insurance, acting, directing, editing, distribution, fund raising, and budgeting. If you want to know more about this great DVD on film making, or you would like to order the DVD set you can find it all at: Filmschoolondvd.com. You will learn film making from the best and never need to set foot in a film school. Better yet, you will learn at your own pace how to become a great film maker. Fly Filmmaking Fly Filmmaking is closely related to Guerilla Filmmaking. The latter is done literally with all that there is on hand and in the shortest amount of time possible. Spike Lee did this with his film "She's Gotta Have it" and he has received continuing critical acclaim for his first effort. Fly Filmmaking is very similar and was conceived by the organizers of the Seattle International Film Festival. The name literally refers to filmmaking on the fly and this is a challenge done every year for about the last 10 years. This is done to showcase the filmmaking community in the Seattle area. It consists of 3 separate teams that are given all that they need to make a film and a time frame of about 10 days. In this time they have to conceive of and create a film. The run time of the films is anywhere from 5 minutes to 22 minutes. The judges view the ending result and announce the winner at the festival. The arrangements and actual work are done about 3 weeks before the festival starts. The producer, director, sound engineers, director of photography, actors, and post-production facilities are arranged and after everyone meets to go over the final details, the 3 crews are let loose to make their films as fast as they can. The music is even done on the fly by local composers and recorded by professional musicians. This challenge is an effort to have film made without the consideration of cost and avoiding the politics that are so frequently present in filmmaking. However, the boundaries of time can be a bit of a headache, but that is the challenge. Participants are surprised by their own efforts. This form of filmmaking has been "borrowed" by other festivals in the following years and it has always been a real crowd pleaser. It would seem that a similar plan was used with the new Fox show "On the Lot". There may be some differences but basically it is the same model as SIFF's Fly Filmmaking. The results of these attempts are amazing and it would seem that they took much longer to make. Usually in the process of making a film a great deal of time is taken to make decisions about what would be best in the production. There is no time to spend making decisions or discussing ideas. You have to go with whatever comes up at the moment. As an experiment I would suggest that as an exercise you try Fly Filmmaking. Of course you may have to use your own camera and figure out how to do your own post-production as best you can, but it may be worth it. Any film school student could probably pull this one off. Use the school's equipment loan program and you would also have a post facility available to you at not cost. This should challenge you and teach you to economize on the time and resources it takes to make a short film. Finding a Location or Your Film Being a location scout would seem to be the most fun out of all the jobs offered in the filmmaking industry. It seems that it would be a dream vacation to travel and see if a location checks out or not. Believe it or not, headaches abound in securing a location to shoot. There are many more details involved in securing a location to shoot a film than simply finding the location. There are permission and releases to be obtained from everyone involved. Proof of liability insurance and authorizations of access to the location may need to be obtained. The scout will convince the owner that having a 150 person crew camped out on their front lawn it going to be good fun. Previously it might have pacified the local authorities if you gave them some small compensation, like a good bottle of whiskey, but these arrangements are no longer available. Now you must have official permission from the local authorities to use certain locations for filming. These releases must be paid for and put on file so that they can be accessed during the shoot. Once the location scout has secured the location they become the location manager. This means they are responsible for parking access and accommodations for he cast and crew. Sometimes unusual arrangements are made in order to use a location. Stephen King's "Rose Red" was filmed at Thornwood castle in Lakewood, Washington. This castle was brought over from Europe, brick by brick, and rebuilt on she shore of American Lake by Chester Thorne. Chester Thorne was one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma. Initially while it was a good location, the castle needed to be returned to its old grandeur. The production and location managers struck a deal to refurbish the castle. The result was that almost $800.000 of renovations were preformed on the castle. The restoration work done to the castle can be seen at Thornewood castle's website. The work done was in exchange for the use of the location once it was finished. The owners of the castle in exchange for the use of the location received $800,000 in renovations. I am sure they thought it was good deal. This case exemplifies the lengths to which producers will go to in order to secure a good location. Location scouting was previously done at a time when the digital technology was not available to the location scout. Scouts were required to travel to the actual location and they usually ended up using Polaroid shots for their reference. Now there are location agencies that can give you virtual tours of locations and the scouting can truly be done online. All you need to do is put in a request for locations on the Internet and you will find scads of listings for location scouting agencies. Now for those of you that are producing your own independent films, you will have to use your wits to secure your locations. If you are using your own house or apartment it will be no problem but if you are using a location that doesn't have general public access you will need to secure releases from the owners of the facilities you want to use. Filmmaking is Storytelling My first introduction to film in school was during a film analysis class, although technically, it was classified as a philosophy class. The professor was quite pompous and made a big deal out of discussing how to actively view a film. No speaking was allowed, and we were to take notes while viewing. He was a little like the Movie Nazi. We discussed film theory and the power of the director in the making of a film at great length. As a cultural phenomenon, film traces the human need to tell stories back to our oral traditions. Aside from recording history, we all want to be entertained and we all want to hear a good story. If you are going to make a film, you have to have a great story and then be willing to run with it. Talk it up to everyone you know. Enlist the help of others and win them over to the cause of your film. Give your film a catchy name--one that will pop out of people's mouths. Promote your film shamelessly before you ever have anything in the can. Sell T Shirts with your film logos and sell bumper stickers. Make a website and develop a fan base. Start a blog and be just as edgy and out there as you can, but make sure that people have your film's name on their lips, regardless of how good
it is. I have a friend who produced a film about her high school experience 10 years ago, and this summer it will be distributed. She developed a website, sold things from her film promotion stock, and made a very good fan base for herself before the film was even edited. Her fan base, through the purchase of T-shirts and other promotional items, paid for various things throughout production of the film. She managed to get it made and now her film has been picked up for distribution 10 years later. To be a filmmaker is to have a big picture mentality on a small picture budget. It is tough to stay true to the storyline when you have a bottom line that is keeping you from the production. One of the reasons you want to talk your film up is that, in the beginning, you will need to find a crew. Usually you will have to use talent that is willing to work for nothing (or next to nothing). You may have to act in your own film as well....and write, direct it, and edit it. Do what you have to do to get the film "in the can" and ready to edit. You will have to develop tunnel vision with the project. If you have a day job, get used to the idea that you may have to take an extra job for a while to buy a camera or other necessary equipment for shooting. If you have the good fortune to still be a student you have great resources for equipment. If you are not a student, then maybe you can decide to go back to school and study film. You will have at your disposal some of the best resources an aspiring filmmaker can have. Film programs at universities have awesome loan programs that are a hidden resource. At college, while you can take film equipment out on loan, you may also have access to edit bays and sound booths. In some cases, they are available 24 hours a day. Students are up all night anyway, right? Also, when forming a production crew, students provide good talent for your film when you are in need of actors. You may want to take turns crewing for your friends' films, and they, in turn, will act in yours. Do what you can to build a crew, gather the bare minimum of equipment needed to shoot, and develop a shooting schedule. Once you have the crew and the guns to shoot, everything starts to gel. Press onward. Filmmaking: In the Beginning In the years following the rise of the various social revolutions that took place in this country and abroad, the making of film changed vastly from the old world of film studio dominance to the exciting world of independent film. In the 50's, 60's and even 70's, independent film was synonymous with Underground film, art film, and foreign film. Simply defined, a film that is independent is a film made outside of the umbrella of the studio without the funding or distribution options offered. Producing a film independently has become quite popular, and this is due to the public no longer being satisfied with the Hollywood formula. The audiences of today have become much more sophisticated and expect something different and new every time they sit down to watch a film. The old Hollywood formula just doesn't cut it anymore for entertainment. It has been too predictable for film buffs. We look for cutting edge, quirky and groundbreaking films. However, the most important aspect of independent film is that anyone with a song in their heart and the burning desire to make a film can now do so. We have the new technologies to thank for this as well as the public's yearning for raw footage with a gritty storyline. So this means you can achieve your dream of making a film, and you don't have to be a big film studio to get it made. It also means that you have the joys of the financial headaches and creative challenges. There are three main phases of making a film: pre-production, production, and post-production. There might also be a 4th phase: distribution (if you're lucky). The longest phase of making a film is pre-production. This is also the most important part of the production, because it is what makes the film. Without good planning it will be difficult to get anything off the ground. While you don't really need one, it is good to have a script. So in the beginning you have to have a story, a concept, or an idea. Once you have one, you can move on to all other modes of production planning. Of course, there are several ways you can tell your story, but in filmmaking there are two main classes of film. These would be the short film and the feature length film. It is usually better to start off with a short film rather than a feature length film, and if you are a film student, you rarely have time to produce feature length films. A professional screenplay is typically scripted for a run time of 90 minutes in three acts. Each act is approximately 30 pages long, and each page is the screen equivalent of one minute. This is a timing consideration that is more typical of the American film industry than it is of the rest of the world film making community. European films have less restrictions concerning film length. Rather, they have the tendency to let the film unfold and tell itself, allowing however much time it takes to tell the story. Once you have written your screenplay, if you have no immediate plans for production it is best to write a treatment, which best describes the film in a nice neat three-page write-up. These three pages represent one act of your screenplay in a treatment, and is the format commonly acceptable to shop your screenplay. Very often, this is all that gets read, and can make or break your screenplay's acceptance. However, for the independent filmmaker, all you need is a working script and you are on your way! Film Festivals and the Filmmaker Chris Gore writes a book called "The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide". In the first 10 pages of the book he talks about going to Film Festivals all over the world and enjoying each and every one of them. I don't know about you, but this sounds like heaven to me. Whether you are a film aficionado or a filmmaker with a film entered, a film festival is an exciting experience and one you will want to repeat as often as possible. There was a time when film festivals were far and few between. Studios controlled every aspect to filmmaking and there was not much of an independent spirit to be found anywhere. It seems however, with the rise of Indie films that every state in the country has it's own film festival. In California alone there must be twenty or more film festivals. There was a time when films did not happen at all unless they were under the auspices of the studios. There was no real chance of the little guy getting his or her film out there. But now it is a whole different ballgame. The little guy likes to show his films anywhere he can, hence the rise of independent film festivals all over the country. Sundance, Tribeca, and the Toronto Film Festival are the first and foremost festivals to submit your film to. However there are at least a hundred other film festivals that you can submit your film to. This is rather like the lottery; if you don't play you can't win. If you don't enter your film you can't get it shown. You must continue to submit your film as many times as you can until you finally get acceptance into a festival. You might get quite a few rejection letters until you get your first acceptance letter. There are a few things that might help you out though. You must remember that a film festival board may have 800 submissions and only 40 spots for a film to be shown. Many a rejection letter has given the reason that they had far too many submissions to even view them all. My advice to you is that once you have your film done and you have the very first date they are opening for submissions then submit your film. Don't wait until the last minute. Make sure your film is entered into the right festival for instance, you would not enter a children's film into an adult alternative film festival. I am not sure there is even the latter category, but you get the general drift. Also, read your application carefully. It may require your entry to be mailed, done online, or even in person. In the category of short film, be very careful you adhere to any time requirements for your piece. If it is a little too long then do some more trimming. Just to be on the safe side if the film is to be 10 minutes long, make it for 9 minutes. Don't give them any reason to kick back a rejection letter. Rejection is a funny thing with Film Festivals; there is art even in rejection. The Slamdance film festival came about as an answer to the rejections from Sundance. The Sundance Festival shows in Park City, Utah. At the same time in Park City, Utah Slamdance runs. This is a deliberate attempt to show the films that have been over looked by Sundance. I'll bet there's a lot of action in that town during the combined running of both festivals. If you get a chance to visit the Pacific Northwest during the end of May and beginning of June, the Seattle International Film Festival runs for almost a month sometimes showing as many as 300 films. They have great filmmaker's forums and there is their original "Fly Filmmaking Challenge" that they hold every year. Theirs is the longest running and shows the most films of any other film festival in the country. I encourage you to do your own search of film festivals and check out their application processes. Do this research sooner rather than later. Don't wait until the last minute. Can You Hear Me Now? Audio is one of those things that you have to have for your movie but don't want to really think about. You want it to just magically happen and let's face it, nothing in filmmaking happens "magically". It might look that way but it doesn't. What you need is a good audiophile, somebody that loves to hold a boom with a microphone on the end of it. You can look for someone talented with sound or you can figure it out yourself. I suggest that you get at least 2 decent remote mics that sync with your camera. While your camera may have sound it is usually really bad. The remote mics can be worn on the body of the actor. These will work adequately but proper mic placement it necessary. When placing the mic on the talent use your fist with thumb extended up and pinkie extended down in the ol' hang loose hand sign. Place the thumb under the chin and at the end of your extended pinkie is where the mic should be placed. This places the mic close enough for good sound but far away enough from the mouth to prevent popping and sibilance. If you are fortunate to have a mic with a boom then this is the way to go with group scenes. It is a real pain for a boom operator to handle a boom for an entire day of shooting, but those audiophiles just love this stuff. They will hold a boom for days and love it. Once you get your sound back in the studio you will need to edit it along with the image. Previously filmmakers had non-linear systems to edit their sound but now you have available non-linear editing. This means that NLE gives you the ability to move sound clips back and forth within the video itself. Along with recording the dialog of the film there is always sound effects and a soundtrack to provide. The movie would be quite dry if there is no soundtrack or sound effects. Making a soundtrack can be quite difficult unless it is all original work. This is when you might look for music that is already recorded but that could present quite a few problems. Violating copyright on anything belonging to another artist or their agent that owns the rights to the music, can hold up you up in post-production and keep you from being able to release your film. There are ways around this but only a couple. You can always use music that is public domain. Any piece of music or image that has not ownership attached to it means that there is no person or organization that has a proprietary interest in this music or image. The second solution for adding a soundtrack to your film is to simply use original work. This is easy if you happen to have a friend that writes and performs music that works with you film. Many budding composers and musicians are looking for a chance to work with a filmmaker so that they can partner their music making talents.
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