I constantly battle with this thought. This notion. This idea that money is what determines success - when really, it's not at all. Often times the stress of money and the time put into making it in most situations takes away from the point of life in general - to enjoy it and make the most of it with the ones you love. Ultimately, if you spend your life making money, you'll never get the chance to thoroughly enjoy how much you've made. That's not entirely the point of this article though.
When you're living your life as an artist, or truly, in any career decision, money should never be the most important factor. I say this because if you're only deciding to do something for the financial satisfaction of it all, where is the passion behind what you'll spend the rest of your days doing? How are you fulfilling your life's purpose, if you're leading it by the means of other's expectations? What I mean by this is, if you're doing it all for the money, where is the reason, the inspiration, that even had you wanting to do that something in the first place? Remember, you live this life by your rules, by the messages you want and need to tell the world, you might as well earn the freedom that money can give you on your own terms, on your own time, based off of the stories and work you create authentically - not because they could make you a whole lot of dough (though obviously, that'd be nice too) .
AS an artist - you're not thinking about the story anymore
If you're thinking to yourself, " If only I write this book and get it published, I can finally pay off all of my debt," or "Once I sell this script, I'll be able to buy that house I've always wanted," or truly anything along these lines, your treating your art has instead become your desperation - not your means of expressing yourself. If you get caught up in the money you might make and are rushing to get your work done, chances are, the story you were once so close to might get lost along the way.
If this happens, you might be doing all of this work and not get published, or if you self-publish, there's a chance that not many will connect to the story you've told. With this in mind, take your time and play the story out in your imagination as you write it down ( or truly whatever your passion is - give it the time it deserves [but not too much time - you need to take the leap]), and make sure that it rings true in your heart and soul. Once your work feels like it's the message you need to tell the world, the time has come for you to put it out there.
If your Only Goal is to Be Rich - You Need to Step Back and Take In What Life is Really All About
Money is great. It is a tool. It is an avenue for freedom, support, and comfort, but it's not the meaning of life. Yes, it is important, but realize when your time on this earth ends, you can't take your money with you. If you spend your entire life just pushing and thrashing through the teeth of a job you never truly connected with in order to get top dollar, but in the end have little to few experiences that truly made you feel alive - take a deep look inside yourself to figure out what you were truly put on this earth to do, and how you can make just as much if not more money doing what you absolutely love.
You'll never Be Truly Satisfied
If you put your work out there, and are rolling in dough, but are only creating off of the ideas that people think will sell ( or you think will sell) - can you honestly say you're satisfied? Like I said above as well, if you're working a job only for the money and not the work - are you happy with how you're spending the life you've been given? And last but not least, if you're only trying to finish something in hopes of it making it big, will it really mean that much to you if you don't put your heart into that work?
On the Other Hand - Don't Wait Until you Have aLl the Money In the world to Go on that Once in a LIfe Time Adventure
As I stated above, when you die, you're not able to take your money with you. If you're 22 and just finished college, or you're looking to take a gap year between high school and college to go travel the world for a while - obviously you don't have heaps of money just lying around. This time of life is when nothing is truly holding you down. You probably don't have children, a full-time career, a spouse to look after, or anything of that sort. The most valuable thing in life is time, and if you spend this time making memories and living life to the fullest - money doesn't really matter. You have the rest of your life to make money, use what precious time you have taking advantage of what this life is truly all about. Don't wait until you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank to go on that once in a lifetime trip. Pool together money with friends, fundraise a bit with bake sales, T-shirts, odd-jobs, or whatever you can to make just enough money to pay for a hostel, food, and transportation.
Just go out and live. This way, you'll create stories that will last a lifetime.
If Money Takes the Reins - Authenticity Takes the Back Seat
Don't try to be something you're not. Don't try to be someone else or something you think someone else wants you to be. When money or the thought of needing to be a certain something takes the reins, you lose your authenticity. In losing your authenticity, you lose the message that the world needs to hear - and that can only come from you.
Money is Nice and NEcessary, but having Your Passion be the means behind the success of freedom is what this life is all about
Money is nice and it is necessary. I love money and it allows so much freedom - but only if you earn it in the proper ways- which is through doing what makes you happy and what you're meant to do - not what others want you to do - or what you think will be the quickest way. So go out there, wipe your mind clean of how much money you could make, and think of how deep your story could go in the hearts of people. Passion drives success - and what I mean by that - the freedom to live the life you choose, that makes your heart smile, and makes you proud to be who you are.
We've all been there. Whether you're trying to think of the most elaborate and life-changing idea for an opportunity that just presented itself, or write because it's what you love to do, we always have a bit of a tough time figuring out exactly where to start. Today, I've listed a few little things I've always done to help get the ol' noodle where it needs to be for maximum storytelling. Take a peek below and try a few of these things for yourself if you haven't already!
Music | Listen to Spotify on Weekly Discovery
This should be every writer's go-to. It's also a fantastic challenge if you allow yourself to truly explore your head and imagination. If you listen to music you don't know, in genres other than pop (I usually recommend Classical, Instrumentals, scores, or Indie genres) and allow yourself to sit in a nice dark room with a candle lit, or take yourself on a walk, and close your eyes, magical things can truly happen. Letting yourself take in the music emotionally, imagine what you're feeling or where that music is taking you, you can picture yourself as a character discovering a new world. This practice also helps you to dig deeper within your imagination, and gives you the extreme power to develop and hone your emotions in a different space compared to what's happening in your reality. This is especially cool because it creates a world of your own - not a world that you see every day.
Also - if you have a specific genre in mind, it helps to listen to music with that sort of vibe. If you're trying to write a fantasy, listening to the scores from Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter may help. If you're trying to write a noir, listening to Lana Del Rey or maybe a little bit of Frank Sinatra may help as well.
Pictures! | Open Pinterest
Like I said above, if you're feeling or seeing a certain character, setting, car, window, forest, or really wherever your imagination and heart are telling you, looking up pictures with that sort of subject line always get the imagination jogging a bit. That, or if you're interested in something and want to incorporate it into a story, looking up pictures of that certain subject will help you create characters, a place where they go, different people, they interact with, etc.
For example, I love fashion photography and the different makeup styles, dresses, settings where people shoot, and the moods they create. If I wanted to incorporate something regarding the magic of fashion photography into my story - or I appreciated the story that a photo already tells, I would look up "fashion photography" on Pinterest and allow what I saw to help create a story in my head that I could build off of.
Read Letters Between Strangers
I know this sounds a bit weird, and it definitely can be, but I was researching a few different aspects of my town history at our local library in Rio, Wisconsin, among many other libraries for different research, and along the way, I came across letters between two brothers, a man, and his wife during the war, a thank you note from a local woman to the town mayor, and a postcard between sisters. These letters took me to multiple periods throughout time, telling me stories of strangers I'd never met, but could feel their emotions in their words. These letters painted four different stories in my mind and created a movie within my imagination that consisted of exactly the moment I sat there reading them.
On top of this, if you go into a used book store or local library, there may be dedications from loved ones or friends for a specific book. When you read the words they wrote, along with the story they attached them to for their loved one, you create a story in your mind about their relationship and boy, it sure can turn into something beautiful.
Look into Local History
Going off of what I said above if you visit your local library from a town you've grown up in and have been a part of your whole life, reading it's local history can develop new thoughts in your head. You can find old pictures, newspaper clippings, discover buildings, and come across stories that you're able to imagine in the exact place they happened - places you know about! Whether its that one of the first schools in the region of where you live stood exactly where your family's barn does now, that your town was the first to have gravel in the entire county, or the first mayor of your town was best friend's with Thomas Edison!
With looking into the history of the place you grew up, you already have an emotional connection and a spacial awareness that you can draw from. Why not use it?
Walk Around Places You've Never Been
Whether it's a new neighborhood with new houses, a different part of town with a variety of buildings, walking down a busy street with bustling and interesting restaurants, or a village completely on the other side of the world full of people who are so different and so beautiful. Pay attention to which places and which people jump out at you. Maybe there is a menu of a restaurant that serves "Unicorn Blood," or a dance club called, "Watch Me Whip." Think of how they make you feel. Is there a story that comes to your mind when you take them in with all of your senses? If so, while you're walking around, make sure to take a moment to let blood flowing throughout your body really do its job, and stand there to take everything in.
If you're in a new area and are walking, you observe your surroundings more. Give it a shot for your writing!
And I mean EVERYTHING! Whether you're walking, sitting, in class, at work, at a restaurant or bar with your friends, in a museum, or anywhere - watch, listen, smell, feel, taste EVERYTHING you can. Let what you take in with your senses soak into an emotional state. If you see a painting that especially resonates with you, take in the people around you at that time, maybe what you're drinking, or what you're listening to, and create a story out of it. All that you experience should be mopped up into your memory and your imagination like a sponge, and utilized if it resonates with you.
Just let your mind be open and clear wherever you go and it will reward you greatly.
As you observe everything, take into account the different people you come across. While you're sitting on the train, in the park, walking through the airport, hanging out by the window at your favorite coffee shop, or just as you live through daily life - pay attention to different people. How they walk, how they talk, what color their hair is, their mannerisms, if they're shy, hiding from someone, looking for someone, what key chains are attached to their backpack, and the clothes they wear - among many other details us humans have. I've brought this point up before, but if someone grabs your attention, grab back every detail you can muster regarding their personality without seeming like a creep. This will create some wicked characters.
Look Up Random Names and Jobs
Look up baby names from all over the world, last names and look into their meaning, as well as google "Random Jobs No One Knows About." Chances are, you'll find something completely crazy and/or unique that helps a story pop into your head, or possibly an insane backstory for your characters - which create stories of their own, really! Doing this creates a realm for your characters to work off of and build upon. I bet whatever you imagine is exactly what the world needs to read.
Sit in Nature and Be With Your Thoughts
I couldn't stress this enough. When you're within a place that has been untouched and beautifully created by God's hand (or whatever you choose to believe), you are able to absorb a sort of peace that takes your mind to different places. You are all of a sudden not having to think about the stresses of work, potentially running into someone, or protecting yourself from your surroundings. Here, you are safe. Here you are able to expand your mind without limits. Breathe and just take in all you see - what do you feel and how can you create from those things?
Have your phone on silent or don't have it at all when you're in nature.
The best way to truly ignite your imagination and keep it constantly flowing is to read every day. No matter what - no excuses. By reading, you're able to live a thousand lives in one and imagine things that stand the test of time, throughout time. You are truly able to immerse yourself in multiple different stories and allow yourself to see them through your own imagination. That's really the cool thing. No one can imagine a place, a character, how someone talks, a creature, or anything really after reading it as you can. That's the magic of reading. The experience is completely your own, while you share the story with so many others. Based off of what you imagine, it allows the worlds you've seen to intertwine into a world all your own. Write about that world.
Actually Listen to Strangers
Maybe you're on a trip by yourself or sit by someone on the subway who you start talking to. Whether they seem a little nutty or completely normal, ask them honest and genuine questions like, "Where are you headed," "Are you having a good day today?" or "What brings you here?" If and when they answer you, make sure you listen!! Sometimes the stories they tell and based off of how you imagine what they're explaining to you, create the absolute best fictional stories (make them fictional or else legality may be a thing later on).
Regardless though, truly LISTEN to them. They will appreciate it as it never happens anymore, whether you get a story or not.
Really Think of The MessAge you Want to Relay
Overall, so many people like to write about and are talented at writing different things. Sometimes imagination isn't where you need to focus at all. Think about you and your heart. What lessons have you learned? What experiences have you been through? What do you want to teach the world, and/or what is it that only you can tell them, that you think they need to know? First and foremost, be true to yourself, write the story that comes from your heart, not from what you think other people want to read. That way, none of your work will truly resonate. If you think of the message you want to relay and tie it in with your life story - there is your book or movie right there. It tells itself. Of course, with a message and/or theme, you can create a story from whatever you imagine, but make sure it feels right to you.
Just Start Writing, Don't Stop, and HAve Fun!
This is the BIGGEST tip and practice I can stress. If you just start writing from some random perspective, write down how you're feeling that day, explain the dream you had last night, create a character out of thin air who would probably be your best friend if they were real, or just start from a certain person being in a certain place, doing something. Whatever you start, don't stop! Just have fun with it and keep going. Write. Write. Write!!! This is usually where the best stuff comes from.
Don't think too hard or analyze yourself too much. Just keep going and finish the story you've started. This is always the most difficult part, but doesn't have to be - as writing should be fun all of the time! Heck, you're creating people! You're creating worlds! You have sensational ideas. You better share them, or no one will ever know what goes on in that magical head of yours.
The coolest part about writing and sharing your work though, are the people who read it and how they imagine and interpret it for themselves. There are people out there who need to experience your ideas, your words, and what you've created. Your stories could save lives. Give so many a sense of belonging, comfort, or friendship. Don't deny those sweet and incredible individuals of that freedom. Give it to them with open arms. All you have to do is pick up a pencil or start typing, and never stop.
You've thought up your idea, you've written it down. You're proud of what you've created. Now, why not make it into a short film? Nothing should stop you, right? RIGHT! There are a few things you need to know and prepare for though before showing up on set. After four years of film school, trust me, there are more steps to the process than what meets the eye, but by reading below, you'll have a great idea regarding the basics of how to make the best film possible and have it be a smooth experience throughout!
Photo by: Chandler Kravitz
To make a film, you need a script! One page of a formatted screenplay (see below) translates into a minute per page. You can of course format a Word Document yourself to look like this, but there are also programs like Final Draft (The industry standard and my preference if you're serious about screenwriting) or Celtx - which is fine if you're just beginning, that will format your action, characters, and dialogue for you (we'll talk about formatting scripts and things to think about in a later blog post). You do have to pay for both, though.
The script is a blueprint of the story you see in your mind for the director to ultimately visualize and put together. With a script, your job it to give your characters a unique voice within a story format that's engaging. Find links to both Final Draft and Celtx below.
Here's a bit of an example of a formatted screenplay. I don't agree with the scene heading (it's usually referred to as a slug line, but obviously scene heading makes sense and works too). If you're writing a teleplay ( a script for TV) you would need to center align (Cold Open for the first four minutes or so, then ACT ONE, ACT TWO, and ACT THREE with a page break after each is finished - besides act three of course because it's your ending.
Now look at you! You have your script! You’re on a roll! Now, what is your film going to look like? Who’s going to literally call the shots? You’re going to need a director - someone who has a vision and a way with people. This could be you, or it doesn’t have to be - just as long as the director of your film can make a decision, stick with it, and have a positive attitude along the way. Not only does your director need all of these things, but they also need the skill to communicate their vision with the Producers, Director of Photography, Wardrobe, Production Design, and most of all, their actors. Your director needs to be able to explain emotions and situations in order to get his or her actors in the right headspace to deliver the performance they envision. The director also needs rehearsals to go over blocking (movement in a scene and what the characters interact with) with the actors before the film and right before it’s time to shoot to ensure efficiency and understanding of what is going to be filmed. Make sure this person is reliable, hardworking, has great communication skills, is creative, and fun to be around. This person could make or break your film.
You'll also need a first assistant director, who is your first in command who whips everyone into shape, is in charge of the schedule, ensures that everyone is safe, and makes sure everyone is on time. I'll dive deeper into these roles with an e-book soon.
Tarantino is one of my favorite directors. Being that he was an aspiring actor himself, he has the ability to truly communicate with the actors about how they are unique and how they portray their particular voice. Ron Howard is also a great example.
For starters, holy cow this position can be a handful and is usually ridiculously underrated. The producer locks down your location, your crew, sets up your production meetings, handles legal work and permits, meals for cast and crew, makes sure everyone is accounted for, comfortable, on the same page, and doing their job, calls different companies, etc. to source funding, keeps track of spending, creates the budget, the shooting schedule, and makes sure everything and everyone are safe at all costs. They also decide the time of filming based off the creative needs of the director and director of photography along with the location's ability to accommodate the shooting. As your production grows, so do the needs and tasks of your producer. This person must be very level-headed, well-organized, a negotiator, timely, responsible, think of every possible thing that could happen imaginable - and be prepared for anything and everything. This person is very innovative and can think on the fly. They can't be shy. They can't be pushovers. They get things done, done well, and at as little cost as humanly possible.
When it comes to making or breaking your film, actors also play a major role in this as well. The casting process will be different no matter where you are, as will the talent pool. Sometimes your principal actors won’t be actors at all, and they’ll do a better job than most professional actors will. It all comes down to who seems the most natural in their performance. The best acting is when you can’t tell they’re acting. Also, the best actors are the ones who take their jobs seriously. They get their script. They memorize their lines. They create goals, intentions, objectives, tactics, and they execute them well. They show up on time and give the film everything they can. These actors are hard to find, so it’s best to ask all of the questions you can before you cast them such as - what’s your availability? How committed to this movie would you be if you were cast? Tell me, what is your on-set etiquette? Best of all though, ask them - why do you enjoy acting, and do you take it seriously? Making your movie should be a fun experience for you and everyone - and you can’t do it without actors - so might as well make sure they’re people you trust and that are fun to be around.
Director of Photography and Camera
Good golly, this department has so many parts. To keep things simple for now though, let's just stick to the director of photography, who usually on smaller and lower budget productions, handles moving the camera as well. The director of photography (or DP) listens to what the director wants the scene, frame, movement of the camera, tone, atmosphere, and lighting to look like, and the director of photography makes it happen. They tell the gaffer (the chief of lighting on the production) what they need done and where, then the Gaffer has his or her team of "electrics" make it happen. The Best Boy is the assistant to the Gaffer. The DP also tells his or her team of "Grips," the head being the "Key Grip," what they'll need regarding support of the camera, whether it be building a track for the camera to dolly or rigging anything regarding lights.
You need lights for your production! If you're indoors especially. If you're using natural light outside, that's a different story, but it doesn't hurt to have a little extra light on your actor or subject's face! If it's night time - then obviously a little light wouldn't hurt either - unless you have a killer aperture on your camera with high optic quality. That brings me to the need of your camera. Obviously to make a movie, you need something to document it with.
If you have a cell phone, are on a tight budget, and are just beginning to make movies (or not -Tangerine was an Oscar nominated film and shot on an iPhone 5) just use this as your camera. Why spend money on something when you have an incredible camera already in your hands. If you're looking to get more funky and/or have higher resolution on more close up shots, then you can level up to a DSLR and purchase or rent different lenses depending on your preferences, that you can keep switching out based off of the director's vision.
You also need a shot list - a detailed and scheduled plan of what you will shoot, what frame it will be, if there is movement within the scene, which scene it is, when the scene will be shot in sequence to everything else being shot, in what location, and what is actually happening in the scene. This will usually be created amongst the director, director of photography, first assistant director and the producer.
I almost forgot! Slating your scenes is necessary as well (this is the clapper thing you see in the movies about movies). This labels what scene it is, what shot, what take, what day of the shoot it is, and when the sticks of the slate clap - that's an indicator of where the editor should sync the audio as that's when the scene starts. The person who usually takes care of the slate is the second assistant camera - who also verbally expresses the take and the scene number as well. For example, they'd say, "Ronnie, Scene 204B(eta), take 4,"with the clappers open, and when they finished their label, would smack the sticks shut to create a peak in the audio .wav file for the editor to see.
Sound is something so many people forget about when in the midst of pre-production of their movie. It is one of the MOST important aspects of your film. You need at least one person with a shotgun mic on a boom pole getting in there on the scene between actors to catch separate sound levels of their dialogue. What records this sound is an external device, something within the "Zoom" series works well. It will need a separate SD card, and with this device you can adjust the levels of "gain" which ultimately opens up the range of the microphone you're using. If your actor speaks quietly, you will bring up the gain to about a 7 compared to someone who speaks at a normal volume. Their gain would be at about 4 or 5. Also - you can't forget to turn your shotgun mic ON! I've personally done this when my camera didn't run audio automatically...it was a mess and the footage was unusable as a silent film wasn't what was intended of this particular project.
If you're not able to afford a shotgun mic along with a boom pole, using your phone can work as well. You can use your "Voice Memos," app to record separate dialogue. Recording sound is especially important, and making sure it's recorded well is something you should do with every take. If there is a car horn, an airplane flying past, a dark barking, or a cell phone ringing (volume nor vibrate should be on during production), you should wait until the sound is gone to start shooting and rolling sound. Also - make sure that the recording device, whether it be a mic or a phone is not in frame.
Production Design & Art Direction
This is the person who makes your set a set! They bring life to it! They pick the furniture, the colors/pallet, the posters, what your character has in their living room, what kind of music they are into, what food they eat, what they drink, what kinds of cigarettes they smoke, if they have a stuffed animal, and/or what their decorative tastes are. this person makes your movie cohesive and gives it style and a heartbeat. Your production designer takes the mood and description from the script and creates it in real life. If your script is about a haunted house that as a sheesh tone of clown paintings - you best bet your production designer will find every clown painting they can scrounge up to make that house creepy as as Hell. If not, they will turn to their art director.
If there is a specific label or brand involved in your story, or your character is a painter, your art director will create these things for you. In the situation described before, your art director will either paint those clowns photos for your scary house, or they will figure out how to do it so they match the tone that your production designer has set for the film already.
Usually on smaller sets, the production designer takes care of the props as well. If your character swings a bat, has a special notebook, throws a tomato at a different character or so on, your production designer decides what that thing that your actor interacts with, looks like, and makes sure that it's it in the scene at the time you're shooting it. That's also why it's important to have shot lists, schedules, and locations set - so everyone is prepared on the day that specific scenes are happening.
No matter what kind of movie yours is, or your budget, you need production design. It will always make your film that much better and tell the story you're trying to tell on a deeper level. If your production design is completely out of line with your story though, it will instead be a distraction, so make sure you and your production designer are on the same page before you shoot. Having mood boards and visual examples of what you're looking for are extremely important and help a ton.
What are your characters wearing?!?! Is it a period piece? A sci-fi?! Is your character a robot? Or an alien? Well, if your medieval queen is wearing a sweater from Zara and a pair of hot pants, it's probably not going to be too believable that your movie takes place in 1378 - you know, unless that's what you're going for. Wardrobe is extremely important and having a trustworthy person who's willing to study the characters in your script, what the setting is, what social status each character stands within, paying attention to what kinds of things your characters like, if they're fashionable or not, if they are more of a recluse, or if they're a "nerd," etc., is necessary.
Like production design, wardrobe brings a movie together in a whole different way. What clothes your character wears helps the audience to get to know who they are a little bit better. Also, it should be cohesive with the color palette of the movie. Your costumer should also make sure to have all of your actor's sizes and measurements, and be innovative if you're on a budget and need specific costumes based on your script. A rack with labeled hangers with already scene-separated wardrobe for your actors should also be on set in order to be efficient and organized for each scene to be shot.
The wardrobe stylist also ensures that the attire that they put the actors in looks great on camera and is diligent at all times.
Hair & Makeup
You know when on screen, you must look fabulous...or bloody...dirty...like an alien...have a disease...whatever it may be, whatever the script and director call for, the actors must look accordingly to the imagined character they portray. This type of thing calls for a make artist and hair stylist. If your film includes both beauty makeup and special effects makeup, chances are you'll need two artist who specialize in each on set. Same goes for hair. If you need pigtails, long braids, wigs or hats, helmets, or horns - you're going to need someone who can do those things - these tasks go to the hair stylist...unless you need those horns - those go to the makeup artist - but either way, you're going to need these two or three key crew members to have your actors looking ready for camera.
These people should usually always have their own kits of the essential items, and if what you need is a bit more specific, that must be communicated with them so they're prepared for the proper look on the right days. They must always have the shooting schedule as well so continuity is also in check. Hair and Makeup should also be on set at all times to be sure that the actors are still looking at their best - whether it be wiping off sweat and reapplying powder to someone's face or fixing a flyaway hair after an actor was running. These people should always be prepared and know which tools/products to use as well as know whether or not the actors are allergic to anything (which the producer and 1st AD should know as well).
This. THIS is what EVERYONE forgets on set and doesn't truly understand the importance of. Your script supervisor watches every scene like a hawk and analyzes the continuity of everything going on, along with eye lines, details in the script being logical, and ensuring that the scenes that are being shot that day are brought in, compiled together, on small documents called, "sides." Not only that, but they keep logs and photos of what wardrobe, makeup, props, etc., were used in scenes sometimes MONTHS ago to ensure everything makes sense and is fluid, as well as what scene was just shot, what lens it was shot on, the frame of the shot, if there was movement, the time code of each scene, the details of what happened, and which was the best take. An example of this would be if there are twelve background actors moving in a busy street scene behind the principal actor - who is twirling a baton, it would be the script supervisor's job to make sure they are all moving to the exact same places they were in the previous take, doing the exact same things with their bodies and props, and make sure they do what they're supposed to be doing at the proper time.
An example of failed supervision would be in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts and Richard Gere are eating breakfast at the table in the hotel room and Julia switches from eating a croissant to a pancake every other shot. It's hard to notice if you're not paying attention, but if you are, it's comical that even at such a high level of filmmaking - continuity errors still happen. This also happens with logistics as well. For example, if your film or pilot is dealing with medicine or doctors, legal work, forensic science or the like - you better do your research to make sure what you're saying is correct - and if you have a good script supervisor - they'll double check for you. That being said - don't forget your Scripty. They can save your lives and your movie.
Video Village ( Monitor)
Whether you're shooting on a high resolution camera or your cell phone, having a monitor where you can see what you're shooting is necessary. Even if you're shooting film, you can't see everything going on, on screen through your viewfinder. Whether it be the lighting, the hair in your actress's face, the water bottle on the table from a crew member, or the boom pole and mic in frame - a take and time will have been wasted if you're unable to see what's going on.
My suggestion is to have a separate monitor from camera, that's attached to it, so the crew that needs to be able to pay attention to what's happening on screen - can. The more eyes on frame to spot something off the better - that way every take can be an option - just as it should!
Crafty & Meals
If your cast and crew are on set for 12 hours or more and are doing their work for free - you have to feed them. It's the least you can do. Besides, food really is the way to so many people's hearts, and if the food on set isn't good and tender love and care don't go into each meal, people aren't really going to want to come back.
This is also something you want to account for in your budget. If you have twenty people on your cast and crew, that's twenty lunches you need to buy, or a catered meal for twenty, along with coffee in the morning with some sort of breakfast options.
You also need crafty! Crafty are the snacks your cast and crew can go to between takes to tide them over during the long days on set. Having healthy options will only do you better. If you have chips, cookies, doughnuts, and candy on set - everyone is going to crash and burn, but if you have veggie trays, nuts, fruits, yogurts, and tons of water, you will have a cast and crew who are ready for anything! As long as they have full bellies and are treated right - everyone will be happy.
That being said, food can get expensive, so just remember its necessary you have it, and the fact that it's a necessity, means you need to budget for it. If you're making a movie at home though, take advantage of pre-cooking everything and making trays of foods yourself. It'll save time and money.
Depending on where you're shooting, you'll need a permit to shoot at the location you're wanting. If you're in Los Angeles or any film-heavy city or state, you will definitely need a permit. If you're in a more relaxed state with small towns or cities where they don't thrive off of getting money from every movie made (especially if you have little to no budget) you can get away with just asking someone if you can shoot at they're property when is most convenient for them and is consistent with your script. Better yet, write for locations you know you can use for free and on your own accord - like your house or your friend's backyard. If you do need a permit though and you're out in LA making your filmmaking dreams come true, go Film LA to obtain your filming permit if it's a public place, otherwise, if you'd like to save time and have less of a hassle, you can go to shooting space sites like Peerspace or Giggster to pay by the hour for a place and be just fine legally. Using these spaces are always my preference, because Film LA can be a pain and expensive.
Practical vs. Built:
Like I said above, paying for locations can get expensive, but obviously you need locations to shoot your film. That being said, writing locations into your script you already know you can get for free is really the way to go when you know your budget will be tight. If you have a connection with some amazing, vintage ballroom though that will set your movie apart from all of the student films shot in the living room of some place - you go for it. Using practical places that are already built, available to you, and fit your story are always the way to go, but if you just aren't feeling anywhere you've visited, have a giant shed or garage that's relatively sound proof, and are magically a carpenter or can build things, you can also create your own sets. That's what they do in the big movies or TV shows in sound stages where they need the set to be unique to that particular motion picture and they'll need it for longer than a day or two. These are called standing sets built of wood, wooden flats, styrofoam, chicken wire, and the like! Those these sets can get extremely innovative and creative, they can also get pretty pricey - it just depends on what your director envisions and how to make the story come to life in order to help you choose which you'd rather go with!
Last but not least, you'll need an editor! Preferably, you choose someone who's edited digital media or film before. This person should know how to format your digital SD cards or Mags that go into your camera, how to upload it onto your hard drives (you should always have two just in case something happens to one of them - that way you have a backup), knows how to label and log each take according to the slate, can sync your audio files with the video files, and can navigate around an editing software so they can splice your movie together in a creative way.
With that being said, sound design, sound mixing, visual effects (if you need them), and coloring are also giant aspects of editing that need paying attention to. If you are supposed to be in a busy bar in your script, but need everything quiet while shooting to hear your character's dialogue, you're going to need to put those diegetic sounds in to make the atmosphere of the character's believable. This could include murmured voices, glasses clinking, muffled music, etc. - that's part of sound design. Sound mixing would determine the loudness of any of those sounds, where they peak, where they crescendo, when they're super quiet - sound mixing is an art, and also a strategic form of not allowing any of the other sounds to be distracting from the story.
Visual effects are a whole other ballgame. If you need visual effects, it's best to know someone who can do them after your editor has finished your picture. Visual effects take time and skill - and it's good to know if you'll have them readily available to you or not while you're writing your piece -and if you're not sure you will, nor might you have the budget for them, it's best to leave them out.
Coloring! All can be done in multiple different softwares, but if you're doing the editing yourself and/or aren't experienced with coloring to an extensive degree and want to give your film that specific look - you can color within Adobe Premiere Pro. They also have speed looks if you're really stuck. Coloring is when you create the tone of what you want people to feel when they watch your movie. You could make it cooler blue tones to make your audience feel more unfeeling and afraid, or warm golds and soft reds if you're looking to inspire. It all depends on what you're going for, but the overall style of your film comes from coloring - take your time with it. It's worth finding someone who can do it well.
If there is anything you feel I missed, please share and comment below! I would love to hear and add to this list!!! Either way, please, if you have an idea, bring it to life! Make a movie!!!
Mary Gabrielle Strause