Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Film Masterclass Part 1 - 21 Nuggets of Know-How

Last weekend I joined over 300 filmmakers in London at the Guerrilla Film Makers Masterclass with Chris Jones.

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.

  1. When looking for ways of reducing a budget, look for big elastic cost.
  2. Tips of negation. I'm not going to tell you what they were just in case I ever have to negotiate with you!
  3. How to reduce the cost of a shoot by editing the script: eg "It was raining heavily" … no it wasn't!
  4. Keep the number of story days to a minimum & avoid costume change.
  5. Ensure title, poster and effects are consistence for genre. The title and poster should tell you what the film is about.
  6. To add production value look for great actors, locations and props you can access for free or on the cheap
  7. Find all locations within 5mins walk of a central base.
  8. Install an editor on site during your shoot. Daily A-cuts.
  9. Watch out for too many white walls
  10. Spend money on the design team, a bad prop will kill your production.
  11. Director should always be first on set, last on set (I already knew that, but I think it's worth mentioning again)
  12. 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.
  13. Fire bad apples.
  14. 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.
  15. Shoot all scenes in the script, even if you think you can drop it, at least just shoot one take as a wide.
  16. Post - Take your time, get it right
  17. Plan post workflow and test it before the shoot. eg. camera - CF card - HD - Prores - FCP - color - compressor - QT - Tape
  18. 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)
  19. Opening Titles - White text on black only. Easy to change and no one is impressive with fancy titles.
  20. Press pack should have 50 stills in. (I have normally only included 3)
  21. 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



Kate Harrison Whiteside said...

Hey, those are great. I like the shoot everything and have editing equipm on site.

Are you going into features now?


Hotaches Productions said...

Hi Kate, I'm planning a Do-Drama feature. Think 'Touching the Void' meets 'Trainspotting'.