Saturday, April 30, 2011

Drop that BOX!!!

Once a production moves out of the Garden level, things get complicated.  Pre-Production, preparing before the camera is turned on, becomes key.  Communication is at the heart of preproduction.  One of the best tools I have found to keep the production humming along is Dropbox.

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Most people use it for saving work files to be used at a different location (doing work at home).  But for film production, it is gold!  It is simple to use, works just like a folder in your library.  But the best part is you can invite anyone to the folder.  

In other words, lets say you have an art director who takes a pic of a dress for the lead and want to find out if it matches.  Put in a folder named art direction and the director can look at her convenience and approve it.  Making separate folders for separate departments keeps the chain of command focused, which helps immensely when you get to principal photography.  

Even if you havn't worked in film, you have probably heard of the term"we'll fix it in post". In other words, a shot for the film didn't work and somehow it will be fixed while editing the film together. Well, when a problem arises in preproduction, I say, "lets make a dropbox folder". And a happy producer I am!

Production levels: Where are you? part 1

With rapid access to better technology and greater access to audiences, this world of filmmaking is opening up.  So I think now more than ever there should be a conversation about how to gauge what level a production is at and what the intention should be when developing it.

First the different levels of production.

1) the Basement- so you have a camera, a youtube account and a lamp pointed at your face.  If you are lucky you have a friend to hold the camera and laugh at you during takes.  Please know I am not knocking this level of production.  Many have launched a successful career this way but it is important to keep in mind that this level always starts with the enjoyment of doing as the motivator. This guy did not upload his face to get paid by Geiko Car Insurance. But paid he was and 114,000 subscribers he has.

Brandon is a perfect example of a basement filmmaker who wanted more and now is working on indie films. He jumped over a lot of levels because of his success, but lets follow the step by step and assume that at some point you want to do more than vlog.  You want to see the sunlight.

2) Garden level living-  So now we are talking about pre planning.  The garden level filmmaker wants to tell a story and this requires her to actually think out how she is going to capture the shots.  With no training other than watching movies, she learns first hand that our intentions and the end result are vastly separated.  A small community is built off of necessity to create the vision. Grandma plays a role but I need a taxi cab for a scene and a trench coat for my actor.  Realization of the limitations this level has while pulling off shots is great experience for this filmmaker. You begin to realize what you have that Hollywood doesn't, mainly the possibility of great writing and the lack of bureaucratic direction. .  But strange enough, the odds of monetizing at this level your film project is even less than in the basement.   There are very few that purposely stay at this level, but those that have revel in their so called weaknesses and campy films.

3) The Bellhop-  or rather the film student.  This production level varies greatly but makes a difference in the quality of the filmmaking.  Now a production has access to film specific equipment(no more table lamps for lighting)  a wealth of practical knowledge, and a community all focused in filmmaking.  This is also a community that each member is trying to stand out from the herd so a good deal of conflict can be found here.  Projects that at earlier levels would have been impossible to pull off can be accomplished but now there are several issues that can kill the simplest film.  A professor may not grant access to equipment because the script has poor structure, you need heavy lifting done on set and now one is interested because your director is not the nicest of people.  Projects may have no point beyond the student wanted a grade.  Many issues can come up that will kill a project, but that is the greatness of this level.  Student films are supposed to fail.  Its much better to have your production fall apart here than out in the real world with other peoples money.  Which leads us to the next level... tomorrow!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Shiny Things Trailer

Shiny Things - Trailer 2011 from Devin Hume on Vimeo.

This is a short film I helped with last month. Obviously, I could go on and on about how it looks like a feature but that will have to wait until a separate blog about the changing paradigm of accessible equipment.  For now, know that this was a joy to work on as both 2nd assistant director and as an actor.  The voice at the beginning is me. I played the coroner with the glasses.

Where it starts... a writer writes. A producer... produces...

So to start off on any film project, there is an idea. Obviously you need no title to come up with an idea, so anyone can be the catalysis to start a film project rolling.   It's the next step that defines them.  If you take the idea and start scribbling down the concept and start developing the characters, obviously we have a screenwriter on our hands.  Screenwriters have to be the least respected jobs in film and they carry the creative burden.  I usually respond to a person saying that they are a screen writer with "I'm so sorry"... well it depends on how much ass I am kissing at the moment... Which brings us to producers.

If you take that little idea for film and start furiously talking about it with anyone that will listen, chances are you are a producer.  Now there is plenty out on the web warning the budding screenwriters about choosing their producers carefully so I won't go into detail here, only to give the advice to watch out for a producer that promises the moon as opposed to a producer that shoots for it. 

This little bit is about the producers to be. So lets say you have a great idea but you chicken peck your emails and prefer sending texts.  Finding a writer is the next step and the good news is that there is an endless supply of writers.  The bad news is it may be hard to tell how good they are. I would recommend go to and read as many in the genre you are interested in.  There are tons of outlets to find screenwriters on the internet but most ideas will be best served through human interaction. Choose a local, and that way you don't end up with battlefield earth when you started with a romantic comedy concept. That and what a producer really needs is to be able to sell the imagery with her words.

Get in writing what you and the writer are working on, so when you start suing each other you can point back to that sign napkin as proof you were right. Just kidding, getting an entertainment lawyer is the way to go and we will have to talk about it another time.

The Theme

I am a thriving filmmaker in a town that is not known for filmmaking. Good Old Mile High Denver,Colorado.  Like most filmmakers, I have tried a ridiculous and random list of other professions and all the while known that film is the one for me.  I'm not entirely sure what I want this blog to be yet. Maybe one part personal experience, one part technical conversation about film management, or one part brainstorming new ideas and concepts.  I use my Facebook account for a distribution of the interesting short web based films I find and most FB friends seem to enjoy that there as opposed to me updating people on my sock color, so I think I will continue that but I feel a need to put down my thoughts on the actual workflow entailed in producing film projects.    From how to approach other filmmakers in the community to how to hold a meeting of creative and non creative or what software programs serve a production by keeping organized the best.  I have not found a blog that summarizes this and it happens to be my passion.  I look forward to trying different directions and maybe hearing others thought on this.


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