I found myself in one of the hardest situations I've been in years this summer: Stranded and alone (filmmaking-wise). I spent the summer in a small Tennessee town where my parents live, and while there I decided to make a short film. What I assumed was going to be a simple project turned into a nightmare.
It wasn't like in Miami where there's a growing Film community. This town was empty (I couldn't even rent a tripod), so I was either going to do this alone or scratch the project altogether. No AD, AC, DP, or any of the other abbreviations; it was just my 2 actors and me.
Long story short, we shot the short film, titled "Angel," and I'm currently in the VFX stage! While spending countless hours working on particles and motion tracking I got to thinking:
What if I didn't know how to shoot, direct, write, edit, do VFX, and color grade? What if I only could do one?
In the world of low/no budget Filmmaking finding a reliable non-paid crew can be a nightmare. For smaller shoots lasting 1 or 2 days it's usually not too big of an issue, but for anything longer than that it's almost impossible for some to put together a dependable team that is will to go through the hurdles with you.
I've seen many ambitious projects crash & burn because of zombie crews (they're neither dead or alive. They're just kind of there.) The director, of course, is very passionate about the project, but the crew look like they don't want to be there. These productions usually last a few weeks until the director/producer finally gives up because the crew slowly disappeared.
Last week I started this series by giving an introduction on how to make money with your Filmmaking skills. Today I'll go into more details on how to go about doing that. Two questions I usually get from those who want to start are "Where do I find clients?" and "How much should I charge?"
How much to charge.
As I mentioned on my last post, I started small with my video business and expended as I gained more experience. When starting out I would advise you to charge based on how much you need to do the job (very important), and how much you're comfortable with handling. Your first few jobs shouldn't be about getting rich but about building your portfolio and your gear list, so if you can't yet handle the pressure of a $3000 job, don't charge that much.
You can make money with your talents, and the best time to start is now!
A lot of us Filmmakers are very talented individuals, but we fall into the trap of the Starving Artist. We have the talent, but we struggle to monetize it. I know we all just want to make artistic films, but bills and responsibilities don't care about our art. Filmmakers need to develop some business skills, and a great way to do that is by getting paid work.
I'm talking about doing Music Videos, Corporate Videos, Weddings, Live Events, and everything in between that doesn't fall in the conventional Movie category. In this post I'll give you some basic tips on getting started with paid gigs, and share a little about my experience.
How I got started.
All throughout my High School years I never once entertained the idea of doing anything other than movies. My big plan was to graduate High School, go to college, get a film-related job, and become the next big movie director. That plan was, to say the least, naive, and I'm glad my eyes opened when they did. Things don't always go according to plan, unfortunately, so I began doing things the unconventional way.
With all the recent news of new cameras and Filmmaking gear coming out, I began to notice something. I guess I've noticed it before but never took the time to think about it. What I'm seeing is that a lot of us Filmmakers (myself included) keep waiting and waiting and waiting for that perfect time to make a movie.
"If only I had that Camera/editing software/lens I would finally make a movie." *sad face*
Really? Would you? Because there is always going to be better equipment coming out, and once you go down that road nothing will ever be good enough for your movie (and it will never happen). I feel like a lot of us (again, myself included) sometimes use our lack of "proper" gear as an excuse to sit on our butts and do nothing.
Why it's not a valid excuse.
Lack of having the "right" equipment is only a valid excuse if you don't have a camera and editing software. I understand that in some cases our script requires something that we aren't currently able to get, but in most cases WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A SCRIPT!
The following is a guest article by Producer Jason Brubaker.
Independent Filmmaking has changed a lot in the decade since I started my career. It sounds silly now, but back when I started, there was this collective belief that if you made your movie, you would sell it at Sundance and live happily ever after. Perpetuated by sensational headlines touting the successes of Ed Burns, Kevin Smith and Robert
Rodriguez, Sundance Fever became a full-blown epidemic resulting in maxed out credit cards, angry investors and film festival rejection.
Even if you were one of the few filmmakers fortunate enough to make a movie and have an amazing festival run, it soon became apparent that you were nobody unless you could reach the marketplace. And because there were thousands of poorly produced titles flooding the festival circuit, distribution became discriminatory, abusive and monopolistic. As a consequence, many filmmakers settled for crappy distribution deals. At least getting something felt better than nothing. Or so we thought…
Having worked on several features since then, I am happy to report that times have changed. As a result of modern tools such as crowdfunding, social media and Internet based marketplaces you now have the ability to get your movie seen and selling, without the middleman. But just because you can get your title into iTunes, Amazon and Hulu does not guarantee that you will make money.
Hey guys! If you sense some slight anger in this blog post, that's because I'm really getting tired of a dangerous creature that roams independent film sets. This creature is aggressive, rude, annoying, and will stop at nothing to ruin your film. I do not know the land these creatures come from, all I know is the name we give them in our world: Know-it-alls.
This past weekend I was helping a friend of mine light a film he was working on. Everyone there were volunteers, and as far as I could tell there wasn't much money involved in the shoot. I knew nothing of the movie, and my sole purpose there was to help with the lighting.
I brought my light kit, and started setting it up in the room we were filming. It was then that it happened; the know-it-all entered the film set. This was the single worst case of Know-it-allism I had ever experienced. The moment this guy entered the set, he acted like it was his moral duty to tell everyone how to work.
This wasn't my set, so I was in no mood to get myself worked up over this. I figured if the director brought this guy on board, he must have had a good reason. This know-it-all then proceeded to tell me how to light. He started to point out "mistakes" he was seeing in the lighting. I calmly let him know that we weren't done setting up the lights, and kept working. Next thing I know, he's telling me about the difference between daylight and tungsten light.
What's up Filmmakers! So we all should know that filming outside in bright sunlight is usually a pain. In fact, the worst time to film is when the sun is high up in the sky (like at noon). Not only is it freakin' hot, but there's so much light reflecting everywhere that you'll run into a lot of exposure issues.
When filming in bright sunlight, the contrast between dark and light objects is increased and it becomes hard to keep all areas of the frame in correct exposure. When you watch professional videos, you'll notice that the exposure usually is more or less correct in all areas of the frame; that's because these scenes are controlled with lights, reflectors, flags/scrims etc.
Because there is so much scattered light on a bright sunny day, it becomes nearly impossible to control in a wide shot. This results in sub par footage, no matter what fancy camera you're using.
Thanks to Circular Polarizing Filters, you can tone down those harsh reflections to get a better image and richer colors. You screw the filter in from of your lens, and turn it to adjust the amount of light that gets cut off. Unlike ND filters that darken the whole image, CPL filters target specific areas of light.
The following is a Guest article written by filmmaker Michael Malko.
Making your own films is great, but what if you want to pursue filmmaking as a lifetime career? There are a lot of jobs out there in the industry that doesn’t even involve holding a camera or directing. If you’ve ever wanted to get into the digital video/film industry, or wanted to know what half of the people do in the credits after watching a film then keep reading.
I’ve made a chart of the main jobs you’ll come across in your journey and descriptions of what exactly you do on a professional set. This will help give you brownie points on sets and give you more of an understanding of what others are doing.