I've attended a few filmmaking courses and classes since I first picked up a camera over 8 years ago. I've mostly attended courses aimed at adventure filmmaking eg AFA Pro (Kendal), Banff's Adventure Filmmakers' Workshop, etc. This was the first event where I mixed with filmmakers aiming to make drama feature films and it's a different world! Not least the budgets and crew sizes these folk talk about.
I'm going to split my blog on the course into two parts, Part 1 - '21 Nuggets of Know-How' and Part 2 - '12 Actions'. After all there is no point getting new knowledge if you are not going to take any action resulting from it.
So here we go with Part 1:
Part 1 - 21 Nuggets of Know-How
I did learn a lot from last weekend, this list does not represent what the course covered as such, it is simply a list of nuggets of know-how which hit home with me. I'm sure other people attending the class would come away with a completely different list.
- When looking for ways of reducing a budget, look for big elastic cost.
- Tips of negation. I'm not going to tell you what they were just in case I ever have to negotiate with you!
- How to reduce the cost of a shoot by editing the script: eg "It was raining heavily" … no it wasn't!
- Keep the number of story days to a minimum & avoid costume change.
- Ensure title, poster and effects are consistence for genre. The title and poster should tell you what the film is about.
- To add production value look for great actors, locations and props you can access for free or on the cheap
- Find all locations within 5mins walk of a central base.
- Install an editor on site during your shoot. Daily A-cuts.
- Watch out for too many white walls
- Spend money on the design team, a bad prop will kill your production.
- Director should always be first on set, last on set (I already knew that, but I think it's worth mentioning again)
- If you are going to pay the crew, pay all the crew the same rate, consider national minimal wage. Give a feeling of we're in it together.
- Fire bad apples.
- Meet all the crew and actors before the shoot and get drunk. During the shoot give everyone else the opportunity to have a drink, but refrain yourself until the wrap.
- Shoot all scenes in the script, even if you think you can drop it, at least just shoot one take as a wide.
- Post - Take your time, get it right
- Plan post workflow and test it before the shoot. eg. camera - CF card - HD - Prores - FCP - color - compressor - QT - Tape
- Use music sparingly, only use to take the scene to the next emotional level, not to dictate the emotion the audience… (unless you are Peter Jackson)
- Opening Titles - White text on black only. Easy to change and no one is impressive with fancy titles.
- Press pack should have 50 stills in. (I have normally only included 3)
- When you attend the premier / award ceremony, take no credit for yourself and say it was all down to the rest of the team.
Read my 12 Actions in Part 2 here