29 Jan, 2016

Starting to make a short film or an independent film: advice from a Novice first time filmmaker, GET THE BASICS DONE

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Many a times you make a plan and stick to the bones to make it work and it applies to almost anything you want to do in your life. The same goes out for filmmaking. There’s can be various reasons as to why you’d want to be a filmmaker, but there are only a few to understand why your project doesn’t even take off or if it takes off it fails. I know, it’s been talked about that the greatest filmmaking reward I to be a filmmaker and you learn from your mistakes as you move forward, but it makes sense to prepare and be fully equipped before you head out to hunt for success. I went to a director friend of mine who’s somewhat a top shot and a really experienced person when it comes to theater and filmmaking all thanks to his over TWENTY years of experience. I thought I was atleast NINETY percent prepared and done with all the things that I require to start my first ever short film. I went to meet him last week with some of my important documents like my story, my script and my storyboard and I explained him about the equipment that I wish to use and why I wish to use that, but when I finished and came home I realized that I was only TEN percent done and way behind my schedule and my preparation.

So, why did this happen? For starters, I was a Journalism and Mass Communication student and the only likeness that I had developed for films and filmmaking was actually all that I developed while completing my studies, I am more into writing, but that’s not something I plan to do in order to make a living. Moreover, whatever training I did for my journalism degree while working for a newspaper was all half-hearted as I learned that the current newsmaking, the newspaper industry doesn’t really care about the cores of journalism at all. Everybody’s busy faking the news stories or are busy collecting and presenting the redundant TRP inspired stories to masses. Anyhow, that was that, here I am trying to make a living, collecting some funds working in Sales to finish my dream, my first ever short film.

Now, my director friend asked me to anwer a few questions and sort some important things before I go any further. These are basics that revolve around the pre shoot paper work that hepls you out a great deal on the day you actually are ready to pick the camera and shoot/record. I’m not an expert, but these are amazing new things that I’ve learned and I know they make sense, these techniques have been helping me a lot and I hope these will definitely help a few others as well.

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Make a checklist: Ofcourse, you have to make a checklist for all those small things, big things, wanted and unwanted things that you haven’t thought of. This includes making a list of the equipment you’re going to use. From your smartphone to your professional DSLR, to your audio recorder, to your lighting, to your grips, your camera rigs, your camera stabilizers and more. Then you need to ponder on exactly how many people you need on your crew, who’s going to what.

Breakdown: As easy as it may seem, breakdowns aren’t easy and they can’t be ignored either. Breaking down your work is somewhat similar to what storyboards are for, only intense. This involves breaking down your story, your location, your props, your shots and almost everything else you’re going to do on your shoot. For example, you need to breakdown the props that are going to be used by your team in every shot. This will save time and everybody would have a better understanding of the whole shot.

Use paper: I know, online script writing tools, storyboard making applications and other online services are a boon and really save you a lot of time as well, but try to use paper as a more personal medium. Share the papers to other team members and explain them the real vision. These papers are useful when you rehearse  your script with the actors before your final shoot.

Use the Internet: Yeah, I know what you think. Anyhow, use the internet and learn other short films, watch award winning filmmaking, first timers, look out for the things that’s amazing and look out for the things that are bad, learn and then learn some more. Follow some filmmakers, follow directors and listen to them, watch them as they work. If you find another filmmaker in your neighborhood, beware. Yes, I said that and the reason is that some times the other filmmakers who are still in the business or were in the past will somehow manage to provide you negative thoughts on how tough this really is and how it’s not for everyone. Trust me, I’ve been there and I was almost certain that while I work my job, I won’t be able to complete my project, but that doesn’t mean that in order to finish my dreams I have to quit my job and sit at home. If it’s important to you, you’ll do it anyway.

Do something everyday: This is the best thing you could do till the time you actually reach the point when it’s time. Make a habit that everyday you’re going to do something about your project for a short period of time. It really doesn’t matter if it’s only FIFTEEN minutes, the sense of responsibility would keep you on the edge and you’ll remind yourself that this is something that you have to finish. Make storyboards, make them on a notebook, choose the setting of your location, plan about the props you would use, try to visualize your characters, your camera angles and write everything on your notebook.

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“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.” -Stephen Chbosky
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