On-Set Editing

December 6, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

The podcast on editing made me think of what’s been happening with on-set digital work-flow and I was wondering if you all had noticed. The possibility of on-set dailies is leading towards on-set editing and for some Indie productions and companies who produce small corporate commercials it is already happening. Editing on-set as shooting is going on is now within reach of the low budget filmmaker.

Craig T.  via Film-Method.com

I have noticed this as well and it can be a dangerous practice to get in to if you haven’t thought it all the way through. For some forms such as commercials, it might be a great thing.  But, for film, it is not a good idea to have your main editor cutting things together on set.

If you do decide it’s a good idea to cut dailies together on set, then I suggest having an assistant or 2nd editor who does that while keeping your main editor away from this part of the process.

This could actually be very helpful because you can make sure that you are getting all the shots you will need in order to cut the film together.  However, if you have done your due diligence in pre-production and you have a competent Director, DP and Script Supervisor then you should be fine.  People are people and mistakes do happen, but they can happen even if you’re editing on set.

It is a great idea to be sending your main editor all the footage as you go (this is what’s called “editing behind camera) so that they can get it all arranged and be working on their first cut while filming is still taking place.  But, it is important to keep the editor clear from any outside influence in regard to the edit.  What I mean by that is; if an editor is on set with you and knows it took 12 hours for you to get that one shot but the shot isn’t serving the film at all in the edit, what’s to keep him from leaving the shot in the edit?

The editor’s only focus should be on telling the story and it is your job as a producer to make sure they are not unduly influenced.

Episode Ninety-Five: Post-Production Recap

November 30, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

For our last episode of Season Four and of 2011 we recap the past season and all we learned about post-production, distribution and marketing. If you missed any shows this season this is a good summary of all that we covered. Jason Brubaker joins us to re-hash the season!

Jason Brubaker- Producer/Author

Jason Brubaker is a Hollywood based Independent Motion Picture Producer and an expert in Video On Demand distribution. He is focused on helping YOU make, market and sell movies more easily by growing your fan base, building buzz and creating community around your title.

Jason is a contributing author of The Independent’s Guide to Film Distributors, he is the founder of Filmmaking Stuff, a professional resource for independent filmmakers, and his articles on independent movie marketing, distribution and film production have been featured in The Independent, the New York Film Academy and Movie Maker Magazine.

Brubaker has has lectured on these subjects to filmmakers from around the globe through various filmmaking seminars, panel discussions and workshops. www.freefilmmakingbook.com
www.moviesalestool.com
www.modernmoviemaking.com

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Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

November 29, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

November 29, 2011

A good producer knows his/her strengths and more importantly, they know their weaknesses.  Why do I think knowing your weaknesses is more important than knowing your strengths?  I don’t if you really think about it, because, knowing your weaknesses is a huge strength.  It allows you to fill in the gaps creating a stronger team and therefore a stronger production.

When I first started, I didn’t know the first thing about giving script notes. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like and was very good at pointing out what I didn’t like. But I was not good at pointing out why I didn’t like something. Because I knew my weaknesses, I was able to find producers who were strong in the area of script notes. Through surrounding myself with others who had that skill set, I was able to learn and develop my own skills at giving script notes. If someone were to come up to me right now and ask me what my weaknesses were, I would be able to list them right now.  But, then I would also be able to tell them who I have surrounded myself with to balance those weaknesses out.

We are all imperfect and no one is good at everything, therefore, it is important for you to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to fill in the gaps.

Episode Ninety-Four: Editing Film

November 23, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

There’s a saying that when you make a movie you actually make three movies by 1) writing the screenplay 2) shooting the movie and 3) editing the film. The editor of a film can serve as one of the primary storytellers of your movie and therefore is a critical role to cast when hiring your crew. Editor Karl Hirsch joins us to talk about workflow, the technical aspects of editing, and collaboration.

Karl Hirsch- Editor

Karl Hirsch is an award-winning picture editor, post-production supervisor, and trailer producer/editor. His boutique post-production company, HirschFilm, opened in 2003.

Karl has worked on films such as For the Love of Money (James Caan, Oded Fehr, Edward Furlong, Delphine Chaneac), Officer Down (Sherilyn Fenn, Casper Van Dien), Fist of the Warrior (Ho-Sung Pak, Peter Greene, Michael Dorn), The Third Wish (Betty White, Jenna Mattison, Armand Assante), Frame of Mind (Chris Noth, Tony LoBianco, Barbara Barrie).  His films have been released by Lionsgate, Echo Bridge Entertainment, Phase-4 Films, Freestyle Media, Lifetime Television, Movieola, FunnyOrDie.com, Mini-Movie Channel, and Warner Brothers Video-On-Demand.

Other editing and post-production credits include Stuart Gordon’s King of the Ants, starring Daniel Baldwin and Kari Wuhrer; Paul Carafotes’ Club Soda, starring James Gandolfini, Joe Mantegna and Louis Gossett Jr.; bio-fuel documentary feature Gashole: Killer Movie, starring Kaley Cuoco and Paul Walker; The Tub, starring Melora Hardin and Dedee Pfeiffer; and HBO Films’ If These Walls Could Talk 2.

Karl has also produced and edited hundreds of trailers, promos and sizzle reels.  Recent work includes Lasse Hallström’s Hachi: A Dog’s Story, starring Richard Gere; 2nd Take, starring Sarah Jones and Tom Everett Scott; theatrical advertisements for the documentary screening series Something to Talk About; Smother (Liv Tyler & Diane Keaton) for Inferno and Variance Films; Jim Isaac’s action/thriller Pig Hunt; and promotional material for The Grammy Awards.  He has also produced sizzle reels for musical acts Il Divo, Bowling For Soup, and Good Charlotte.  Karl was nominated for a Golden Trailer Award in 2002, and was a Telly Award winner in 2008 and 2010.  The short thriller Clown was awarded “Best Editing” by the International Sci-Fi and Horror Film Festival in October 2005.

Karl is also a producer of English dubs of foreign-language features.  Credits include Gen (Turkey), Wolfhound (Russia), and the animated features Goat Story (Czech Republic) and Space Dogs 3D (Russia). Karl’s client roster includes Inferno Entertainment, Epic Pictures, The Recording Academy (The Grammys), Yahoo!, KidZania, Octagon Worldwide, Brainstorm Media, Siegel+Gale, Helio/Virgin Mobile, Future Engine, THINKFilm, VMI Worldwide, and Cutler Enterprises.  He was featured in Paul Osborne’s documentary feature Official Rejection, and in Kim Adelman’s book The Ultimate Filmmaker’s Guide to Making Short Films. He has guest-lectured at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, Film Independent in Los Angeles, and has spoken on film festival panels in Victoria BC, Austin, and Phoenix.

Karl and his wife Lauren have written three monster movies together, made a short film about hiccups, and are currently producing a series of childrens radio plays.

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5 Things to Remember Before You Write Your First Screenplay

November 22, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Writing Method

November 22, 2011

Q: What should you keep in mind before writing your first screenplay?

Question from EYESthatHEAR on Facebook

1. Screenwriting is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, there are some prodigies who can whip out a perfectly formed first draft, but most professional writers will spend months or even years on a script before they plug every plot hole, smooth every character arc and crystallize every line. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul.

2. You are writing a character’s story, not your story. Even if you are writing a story based on your life or the life of someone you know, you will need to give your character their own existence. They shouldn’t do, feel, think or say things simply because you do, feel, think or say those things. Your character needs their own motivations, reactions, faults and desires.

Even stories about famous people are rewritten for dramatic effect. Most people’s lives don’t naturally fit into a three-act structure, so even if you’re basing the story on a personal story, you will have to embellish or even create some details to make a story work.

3. Structure supports your story. Songwriters need to understand music theory to make songs work. Car designers need to understand engine mechanics so they make sure there’s room for one in their latest concept vehicle. Architects need to understand structural principals so that their buildings don’t fall down. Surgeons need to understand how cells interact with each other so they don’t kill their patients.

The same concept goes for screenwriting. In order to make a story work, you have to understand what the parts of a story are, how they work together, where they should fall and why they’re important. Otherwise, you may have a whole bunch of scenes, but not necessarily a working screenplay.

4. Writing a screenplay, selling a screenplay and producing a screenplay are very different things, so know what your end goal is. If you just want to write for the joy of writing, then have at it. If you want to sell your screenplay, finishing the script is only about 50% of the work—because next you’ll have to make and nurture the connections that will lead to a sale. If you want to produce your screenplay, you should make sure that what you’re writing is within your production capabilities—i.e. unless you have access to lots and lots of capital, maybe figure out another way to do that explosion on the moon sequence.

5. You’re in good company. Writing a screenplay is difficult work, but the good news is that lots of people have done it before you. There are plenty of blogs and websites (like this one) that can give you good, solid advice. There are produced writers (like this one) who can mentor you along the way. And there are hundreds of thousands of movies to watch to keep you inspired and writing!

Q: Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot. What is it and why is it so important?

November 21, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot.  What is it and why is it so important?

Brandie D.  St. Louis, MO

I’m glad you asked this question Brandie because I feel like it might be one of those questions that a lot of people don’t know the answer to, but are too afraid to ask.  I didn’t know what base camp was until I had done a couple of films early on in my career as an actor.

Base camp is the location or area set up where everyone gathers away from the actual set.  It’s like the conference room in an office building if you will.  It is the area where you set up your craft service table, have your walkie station, have some tables set up for people to take a seat for a minute, it might be where you hold extras, etc.  The reason for base camp is so that you have a place for people to gather when they are not needed on set.  If you are shooting at a convenience store for example, you probably wouldn’t have enough room for all of this to be staged inside the building (unless there is an entirely different room) because you will be seeing everything in the shot.  So, you would probably set up base camp in the parking area.

Sometimes, base camp is a drive away from where the actual filming is taking place.  An example of this would be if you are shooting on a large ranch and power for base camp is near the house on the ranch but your actually filming the scenes off in the woods somewhere, you would set up base camp near the house and drive people to the location where shooting is occurring.

The reason base camp is so important is that this is the area the cast and crew come to eat, check in for the day and get their assignments, have the daily meeting, ask any questions of production they might have, grab their walkies, etc.  If you are filming on the side of a road or off in the woods or at a location too small for the entire crew to fit, then you need this area as a gathering place.  It is important to have it to keep order and let everyone know what’s going on.

That is what we are talking about when we talk about Skye Rentals.  I love these guys because they provide everything you would need to have a successful base camp.  I know it sounds silly, but having a table and chairs and some tents or heat lamps makes all the difference in the world to how professional your shoot looks and feels.  It may not seem important, but if your crew knows you took enough time to set up a base camp that has at least the basics, they are going to understand that you take your job seriously and they will treat the production a little more professionally and that will show up on screen.

Episode Ninety-Three: Value Added Film

November 16, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

When making a film it’s important to be mindful of adding value to the project in order to sell it later. Those things, such as actors with names, can be attractive to a distributor who is looking to make a certain profit on your film and will also allow you to pay back your investors. Producer’s Rep Noor Ahmed joins us to give tips on how to increase the value of your project and on working with the MPAA.

Noor Ahmed- Producer’s Rep

Mr. Ahmed began his career in Ohio working as a production coordinator on various television commercials and indie feature films. Before leaving for Los Angeles, he worked on the indie feature Blue Car which premiered at the Sundance film festival and was released by Miramax.

After moving from Ohio, Mr. Ahmed worked at New Line Cinema on various productions including Son of the Mask, Freddy vs. Jason, and Dumb and Dumber 2. Following his time at New Line, Mr. Ahmed worked as an Associate Producer on the PBS documentary, California and the American Dream, a four part series that received a national broadcast in the U.S. After leaving PBS, Mr. Ahmed worked for the distribution company Roadside Attractions traveling to various film festivals as their Acquisitions Coordinator. During his time at Roadside Attractions the company acquired several high level indie films including Supersize Me and What the Bleep Do You Know. Mr. Ahmed left Roadside Attractions to join Reder & Feig where he worked with the firm as a paralegal on films including, Brick, Thank You for Smoking, La Misma Luna, Southland Tales, and other indie features (full list on IMDb) before becoming the firms in-house Producer Rep.

Reder & Feig’s Website

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A Word About Crowd Funding

November 14, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Today, I am not going to answer a question, instead I am going to talk about something that really made me frustrated.  This week someone posted a really not nice comment on Facebook about how if this person gets asked to support a crowd funding campaign for film, they automatically know that said film is not going to be professional in look and in treatment of the crew.  There were some other just plain idiotic comments in this post as well but I really wanted to focus on two things in regard to this.

1.  That is a bunch of malarkey!  Depending on the scope of your project, crowd funding can be an amazing way to raise money for it.  I do not recommend trying to raise millions of dollars, but who is to say that wouldn’t work as well.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have not used crowd funding to fund any of my projects, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t and I know plenty of people who have and their sets were run professionally and their projects looked fantastic.  Some even got great distribution deals.  So, if you are going to go out and raise money via crowd funding, I say go for it!  The key is to know your project and raise enough funds in order to make the experience for the crew and cast enjoyable, make sure you can get the equipment, locations, cast, crew, etc that will make your project look great, treat everyone with respect and gratitude and by all means, let them know what they are getting in to before they sign up.  If they are aware up front of the scope of the project and you have done your best to set yourself up to succeed then there should be no reason the cast and crew wouldn’t be happy to work on it.

2.  The most frustrating thing about this person’s post (aside from the discouraging manner in which he wrote it) is that this person is a consultant for producers.  To my knowledge, this person has not produced anything!  He does not have an IMDb page to speak of (yes, I understand that not all films get put on IMDb but it is the job of the producer to get those credits up there) and whenever you ask this person what they do, they are very vague and they change the subject and just say that they are a consultant.  I do not want to discourage anyone from doing what they love and if consulting is what this person loves, then great.  BUT, I do discourage fraud and at this point, that’s how I feel about what this person is doing.  For all of you just starting in the business, please do not say you are a producer, writer, director, editor, etc., until you have done that job.  I know, this may sound harsh and it is counter intuitive for those of us who have always been told to own what we are doing.  But, you can say, “I am an aspiring producer, writer, director, etc” or “I am studying to be a producer, writer, director, etc”.  Then get out there and make a short film, music video, web series, something that allows you to have done said job.  Then you can claim that title. Don’t start giving discouraging advice on jobs you haven’t done.  This business is tough enough and I can’t stand it when people make discouraging comments on things they don’t know about.  I may be harsh in my advice sometimes, but it is always coming from a place of love and encouragement.  Keep pursuing your dreams and never give up.  If it’s your true passion, then it will be yours one day.  Be patient and don’t put the cart before the horse and by all means, crowd fund away if that’s what you want to do.

Episode Ninety-Two: Tech in Film

November 9, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

As technology advances, the options for independent filmmakers increase significantly, which can make picking a camera or a digital release platform very difficult and overwhelming. Filmmaker Andrew Robinson joins us to talk about everything from selecting the right camera for your project to working with Hulu as a release platform and home theater technology.


Andrew Robinson- Director

Andrew Robinson’s career in Hollywood began eight years ago creating advertising and marketing campaigns for some of the industry’s biggest films and television shows. Upon graduating from The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California Robinson took a job at BLT & Associates working for clients such as ABC, TNT and CNN. Robinson left BLT and went to work for Shoolery Design and their primary client CBS, helping with the launch of the hugely successful CSI: Miami for Jerry Bruckheimer.

Following his time at Shoolery, Robinson worked for Crew Creative Advertising in their theatrical advertising department. During his first three years at Crew Creative, Robinson worked on various hit films, including Harry Potter, Superman, Jarhead, The Island, Rambo 4, Happy Feet, Dodgeball and The Dukes of Hazzard to name a few.

Robinson returned to television advertising as co-creative director of the newly formed Network Department at Crew Creative. While serving as the department’s co-creative director, Robinson oversaw the launch of TNT’s The Closer, Tyler Perry’s House of Pain, A&E’s Mad Men, and FX’s Dirt and Rescue Me, among others.

Robinson’s advertising and film work has been seen all over the world and has been covered by The Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, CNN, Fox, KTLA and more.

During his five years at Crew Creative, Robinson found time to write and direct the feature film, April Showers starring Kelly Blatz (Disney’s Aaron Stone), Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids), Illeana Douglas (To Die For) and Tom Arnold (True Lies). April Showers was released by Warner Brothers in the spring of 2011.
Currently, Robinson is hard at work on his next film Love in Training, which will begin production in 2012.

Andrew Robinson’s Website

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The Sum of All Parts

November 8, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Writing Method

The Sum of All Parts

A fractal is geometric shape that can be broken apart into infinitely smaller versions of itself. They look like this:

Photo by Idea go.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

They show up in land formations, on some animals, in lightning and in frost patterns. They should show up in your screenplays.

How does a screenplay work like a snowflake, you ask? Well, apart from the fact that it’s unique and its existence requires you to often be cold and transient, the 3-act structure that guides your whole screenplay should also guide each scene.

Your characters should be different at the end of your screenplay than they are at the beginning. At the beginning of your movie, an inciting incident forces the character to act. At the first act turn, they should make a choice that fundamentally changes their trajectory. At the end of the second act, they should, because of their own actions, be at their worst so that they can be redeemed by making a new set of choices through the third act.

Each scene should work this way as well.

The changes and choices will be on a smaller scale, but the same emotional movement should apply.

Your character should be different at the end of each scene than they are at the beginning. If they are not different in some way that means that they’re not changing. And that’s boring. If your character is happy at the beginning of a scene and then, regardless of what happens, is happy at the end of the scene, that indicates that either nothing happened or that your character doesn’t have the ability to react to things that are happening. Also, if your character isn’t changing from scene to scene, then it is unlikely that they will be able to change as a person when you look at the whole screenplay.

Each scene should have an inciting incident—something that makes this scene necessary. Whether your character is answering a phone call, introducing themselves to a new customer or planning how they’re going to jump off a bridge, there must be something new that is happening that your character is reacting to.

Your character should take action. Even if the character chooses to be inactive, the character must do something. The character can choose to answer the phone…or not. They can choose to be nice to the customer, ask the customer a question or throw food in the customer’s face. Or they can use tripadvisor to find the perfect bridge.

Something must happen in each scene that is new or different. The phone call can be from someone unexpected, or from someone expected but who’s delivering unexpected news. The customer can deliver a present, detonate a bomb or propose. All the bridges in the country, your character learns, have been washed away.

Your character must have a physical and emotional reaction. They may hang up the phone, call the police on the customer or decide to start building their own bridge. Whatever they do, they must feel differently at the end of the scene than they did at the beginning. If they were happy before the phone call, they must now be embarrassed or defensive or scared. If they were bored before the customer, they must now be titillated or sad. If they were content before the bridge searching, they must now be determined or vengeful. Whatever the change is, it needs to happen so that the larger change can happen by the end of the screenplay.

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