Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dance Party USA


After hearing about Dance Party USA I was interested in watching it, so I ordered from the filmmaker. I like supporting other filmmakers, and am always interested in new work that seems to get noticed. Dance Party USA is about Gus (Cole Pensinger) a 17 year old who always seems to brag about sex in a graphic and misogynistic way. It isn’t until he meets Jessica (Ana Kavan) that Gus begins his transformation from crass ladykiller to sensitive boyfriend. Aaron Katz directed & wrote this film and he does have an ear for naturalistic dialogue. Dance Party occasionally has its young actors talk about life, or sometimes they don't talk about life. The film isn't afraid of long, silent takes, and maybe that’s where I had a problem with it. Dance Party captures that feeling of aimless youth wandering the landscape, but there is a fine line between naturalistic dialogue & being dull. Did I care enough about the characters to see them through the film, and I’d have to say I fast forward some of the long drawn out pauses in the story.

Aaron Katz has made a very interesting & dynamic film, but one wonders if it would have made a more dynamic short. The film was budgeted at 3 K, and Katz shows a lot of ingenuity with his limited budget. The film was filmed in and around Portland, Oregon where the filmmaker is originally from. It was also shot on digital video. The cinematography by Sean McElwee is stellar, and you really get a feel of the protagonist’s surroundings. I was inspired by watching the film. Dance Party USA is a good example on what you can do with a minimal budget. I don’t regret at all buying the DVD, and hope that the film finds proper distribution. Maybe his target audience are the very teens he writes about. Along with the music within the film I would think that a much younger audience would be interested in Dance Party USA.

Still I look forward to more of Katz’s work and hope to see more from this unique filmmaker. Only time will tell, but Katz is only 22 years old so I figure he has a lot of good work ahead of him.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Joe Dante Blog-a-thon


Joe Dante has been a favorite of mine since I was young. I loved Gremlins, and my wife is a fan of Innerspace. A favorite of mine is Matinee which I think shows a love of B-movies that only Dante could bring to the screen. Then there’s Small Soldiers which was a cute little film that my son’s really like. But what is it that makes Joe Dante that special sort of filmmaker. I do have a theory and that is Dante’s film’s have a humor about them that the audiences connect with. Mr. Dante’s films also contain a certain amount of anarchy which we all love.

My first Dante film was Piranha, which was his first film he directed for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. His first film which he co-directed with Allen Arkush was Hollywood Boulevard and is legend on how it was created using stock footage from numerous films. The film is a homage/parody of ultra low budget movies, and is required viewing by filmmakers of all ages. But the one film that I went ga-ga for was Dante’s The Howling. The film was a re-telling of the werewolf legend and it was a brilliant horror film that contained a lot of Dante’s signature of comedy and horror. In an early scene in the film involving a character being killed by a werewolf, Dante intercuts a cartoon that reflects the victim's predicament. As a teen I was struck how Dante used comedy in the film. I’m sure this is all due to Mr. Dante’s training as a skilled editor for Roger Corman.

Some critics have criticized Dante for getting lost in his cartoon like world, and using it too much, but that isn’t true on several of his other films. The Burbs is a story that takes place on one city block, and is about the boredom of suburban life, and the embracing of the unusual, or Innerspace one of Dante’s best films with great comedic performances by Dennis Quaid & Martin Short. Both films show a flair for good performances and good storytelling.

Which brings me to Matinee. This is a film that is a love poem to the B movie, and who better to make it then Joe Dante. Dante shows off his love of old films (especially that of the 50’s moviemaker William Castle) and the ritual of going to the movies, while poking gentle fun at Castle-like film extrodinare Lawrence Woolsey who is played by the great John Goodman. As the kids in the theater watch the film with-in a film unspool we the audience cannot feel some sort of nostalgia to our own past.

Joe Dante’s filmography is extensive, and there are too many films to talk about all in one blog, but one thing that stands out in Mr. Dante’s films is his love for the cinema. Having worked on all levels of productions Mr. Dante is a filmmaker who has worked his way up the ranks from low budget films. Happy 60th birthday Mr. Dante, and thanks for the memorable films, and here’s to a lot more years of making memorable work.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman 1925-2006


Okay two in one day, and both obits! Today America lost a great director. Robert Altman passed away Monday night in LA. What can be said about this man that hasn't been said before. He's given us such films as The Player, M*A*S*H, Gosford Park, Short Cuts, Nashville, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Just this year he was given a life time achievement award by the academy. His style and his love for filmmaking were unbound, and he will be sorely missed. Altman directed actors like a maestro conducts an orchestra. Everyone wanted to work with Altman, and he was in a class with such greats as John Ford, Billy Wilder & Orson Welles.

My first Altman film that I ever saw was M*A*S*H, and I was hooked on it from the first frame. The darkness of the film, and yet the laughter the film gave us. You knew by watching the film you were watching something special. Altman gave us a lot of work, and thank God for that. His films will be studied, and revered forever.

Gary Graver 1938-2006


Gary Graver was a cinematographer who worked on a lot of B-movies, and by doing so he worked with a lot of up and coming people such as Ron Howard, & Peter Bogdonavich in the late 60's & 70's. What Graver will probably be best known for was working with Orson Welles. Graver had tried to finish Welles last film "The Other Side of the Wind" & to this day tried to get it finished. Mr. Graver tried to raise $3.5 million he thought was necessary to piece together thefilm from Welle's script and editing notes. Welles had only shot about 40 minutes of the film before he passed away. The film is about a gifted director's artistic decline that Welles had worked on for 15 years. It starred John Huston & Peter Bogdanovich

Mr Graver had shot such films as "Grand Theft Auto, Satans Sadists, Toolbox Murders, Deathsport & numerous other films. I remember a lot of his films having seen a lot of his films on late night TV. It would have been really interesting to see Graver's obsession come to the screen. I do remember in interviews he gave he had mentioned it a couple of times. He also directed films under the name Robert McCallum. Check out his website that he had here. The one thing that amazed me with Mr Graver was that he was a filmmakers filmmaker. He knew cinematography, editing, producing, & directing. He did more films then I know any other filmmaker made. Okay so some were not steller, but that never stopped Mr. Graver from giving it his all. He was no movie snob, and he had a passion that I admired.

Monday, November 20, 2006

DIY & the Internet

Here's a link that may interest some. It's a lecture with several filmmakers who did the DIY route. The filmmakers are Lance Weiler, (The Last Broadcast, Head Trama), Tiffany Shlain (The Tribe), Susan Buice, Arin Crumley (Four Eyed Monster), David Straus (creator of Withou-a-box). It's an interesting lecture, and a detailed look at three films that use the web to self promote.
It's interesting, and pretty eye opening. I'm excited and yet frustrated all at the same time. The lecture was given by Digimart: The International Digital Cinema Market

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ideas, Trailers, and posts

Okay I've done enough talking about ideas, and what I need and want to do, but I do get a lot of questions from students on what they should do. What idea should they write about? I hear constantly "Mr. B I don't know what to write?" I can't say I've had this problem because as far back as I can remember I always had ideas. Comic books, sci-fi novels, and TV , and movies kept my imagination fed. Now-a-days the average adolescent is bombarded with media of all sorts and it's any wonder they can form an original idea from all the nonsense kids are hit with. What I've noticed a lot is that "gaming" is very popular, and has taken hold of this generation in a strong way. I guess I can understand this since I loved playing asteroids, or missile command when I was a teen. But compare those old arcade games to what kids are playing now, and it's like comparing the stone age with the information age. The games kids and young adults play today are light years away from the old Atari games we once played. graphics are sharper, computers are more powerful, and interaction in games have become more and more personal. what one gamer experiences may not be what another one experiences.

When I grew up I read a lot. This generation does still read, but their gaming has kind of stunted their imaginations. Even movies are the culprits now. I've always complained that a lot of what Hollywood produces are games on film. These films have car chases, explosions, action tweaked to the ninth degree, and a lot of kids are robbed of their imagination. I've seen some creative writing teachers help in the idea department when a child is having a hard time coming up with an idea to write. It's a hard line to walk. On one hand you don't want to influence them with an idea of you're own while at the same time you want to cultivate their own ideas. Children don't realize that they do have unique stories to tell. A little coaxing and you would be surprised to see how well a child could write once pointed in the direction. Of course there are self censoring that some teachers do which are counter productive. I've never believed in censoring a child. If it is a story that I don't want to hear that's just too damn bad. Maybe there is a reason why the child writes what he or she writes. Not all is of wine and roses.

That's why I like film making. We are a visual culture and we pick up things fast, and we don't even realize that we've picked it up. Film making forces you to write. I think that everyday the newspapers are littered with stories to be told. Hollywood keeps playing back the same stories to us, and we buy it, but I'm hoping someday that regional film making will become more prevalent. Maybe what plays in the mid-west won't play in the east coast, but on the other hand it might, and maybe we might learn something about each other. It's the story that is of interest. with digital film making it doesn't take that much money to make a really good film. I see and hear about good films everyday, and am inspired. even at the old ripe age of 42. If it inspires me, maybe it can inspire a 16 year old boy or girl who feels alienated, but has something to say. There is ALWAYS an audience out there. You just have to find it, and elevate it to a new plateau & make others interested.

On a personal note I've been trying or working on a better trailer for my film. The one up isn't at all good, but it was done in haste, and it need to be reworked. Finding the time on the other hand will be the difficult part.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Filmmaking in the Digital Era

As all of you know I've been looking around the today's film making landscape, and am trying to come up with a viable idea for another film. As to date I am writing another script, but some articles which I read on different blogs have kind of made me think. One article is of a actor who is now doing wedding's on film. I've actually toyed with this idea, and have at times when I've been filming a wedding or at an event as a guest taken along my Super-8 camera, or my old Bolex. I usually just do it for myself, and I like the experience of shooting on film. I've even taken the old Arri out, and filmed our first Thanksgiving dinner as a married couple. Sync sound and all. The only reason I did this was for doing it. I like film, and am partial to it. Video comes close now-a-days, but shooting in film feels good. Focal length, f-stop, t-stops, depth of field, and film speed are all factors that go into shooting on film, and coming from the film arena I'm comfortable using them. Film has a latitude that I love. In low light, or in well light areas film looks good.

Now getting back to the article. I've always wanted to do a character piece about a wedding or event such as a anniversary or even a baptism. Weddings seem more fun to shoot because there is a lot happening, and everyone is in their finest. I still edit & shoot weddings on occasion, and I never have a bad time at one. I like doing it, and I take my time, and put no undue pressure on myself since I am usually doing it for next to nothing, or just for my own self. I did a lot of weddings in my college and high school days when I worked for a local wedding event company in NY. I learned a lot then, but I also learned what NOT to do, and as I get older I seem to be getting more confident in my abilities as a filmmaker. Especially now where all things seem to be done in digital. I've learned that it's in the editing where the magic really happens. When I shoot at events I shoot a lot of footage. It's only video after all, but when I shoot film I pick & choose the scenes I want to film. I try to get the key moments on film when I can. I combine the footage I shoot in different formats throughout the video.

Now here's the idea. Why not do a film based on the idea of a wedding. Use actors, and non-actors, and stage a wedding over a week-end. Of course the story needs to be GOOD, and interesting, and the film has to have that feeling of reality. After all don't we all love to look at other people and see their problems and joys. Hence all the reality programs playing now on television. The film would be scripted, but I think I would leave room for some improvisation. Trying to create the happy accident within the scene. Did you ever read how they shot the wedding scene in "The Godfather". Francis Coppola knew how to stage that, and it felt real, but I believe only Francis could pull that off, and make it feel so authentic. Of course that is only a scene in a movie. One really GREAT movie to be precise, but none the less it's an example of what you can do.

I'm not even saying shoot the whole film on film. Mix formats. Super-8, 16mm, digital video can all be combined, and give that feeling of authenticity of the film. The Blair Witch Project works because it feels authentic, and yet we are seeing actors up on the screen.

I bet a lot of filmmakers & aspiring filmmakers can do a lot with this. All kinds of stories are possible here. Over at "Lost in Light" a website where "they are devoted to preserving, showcasing, and celebrating films created on the small-gauge 8mm film format they're retelling old stories. I think this is a GREAT idea and something that needs to be explored even further. I've always said everyone has a story, and these small films tell that story. By using this footage one can only be inspired.

So I really don't know what will come out of all this. All I can say is that I'm excited by the prospect of using a variety of formats to tell a story. It's always been about the story for me. That hasn't always been the case earlier in my career. Style, and shots were more important back then. Now in this digital arena a lot of styles can come together, and a story can be told. I'm excited by this, and I feel that the many ideas springing up within my head have potential. Now it's just a matter of getting them up on the screen. Ain't that always the challenge.

Monday, November 13, 2006

In search of an idea


Sometimes what works for me is that I write my original material in notebooks hand written, and then type it out in Final draft. While I type it out I begin re-writing some scenes, and in effect I create an 2nd draft of the script. It's frustrating, and maybe a bit time consuming, but it's how I get to the meat of the story. I have a tendency to write on, and not concentrate on what I really need as opposed to what I think I need. In film you need to get to the story quick. William Goldman said the first ten minutes (ten pages) are what you need to draw your audience in. I'm not the greatest writer, and I've worked with others and always found it difficult accommodating others styles. I'm not against writing as a group, but only when there is an agreement with everyone involved on the story. Working on sections of stories is sometimes a good way to work. But all need to agree on where the story is going, and how the character(s) will get there. But mostly writing is a lonely act that you need to shut out the rest of the world, and concentrate on the story. Sometimes this is fun, and at other times it's hell.

I've been trying to get a story done that I can shoot for. No pie in the sky, and therefore I needed to obey certain low-budget film rules. I think I've listed some of them in a previous post so I won't go over it again.

I see all kinds of software for writing scripts or writing stories, but I don't buy into all of it. I type my script out on Final Draft, and it's not the latest version either. I'm comfortable with the version I have, and I can crank out a script quickly in it since I'm familiar with it's features. There are other software applications out there, but I know of people who use word, and are happy to use that. It's the idea. Not the software that makes you a good writer.

I don't know if this is a film I'll even do. I'm not sure how I'll be able to pull it off, and make it, but at least I'm trying. I need to continue this until something hits me so strong that I will be compelled to get it made. As my screenwriting teacher said "it's in you're head". SO the wheels spin, the smoke begins to rise, and here's hoping for some divine inspiration.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

So long Jack!


Jack Palance died yesterday at the age of 87. He was one of my favorite actors of all time, and I was glad to see him win an Oscar for "City Slickers" back in 1992.

But what I remember Mr. Palance most from was such films as "The Professionals", "Portrait of a Hitman", "The One Man Jury", "Revenge of the Gunfighter"" & "Vamos a matar Companeros" both directed by the Italian filmmaker Sergio Corbucci. It was only later in the 80's where I saw Jack Palance on the big screen in such films as "Alone in the Dark" and "Without Warning". Most of the movies he had done were considered B-films, but man when Palance was on screen you could feel your skin crawl. His bad guys were memorable, and no one played the tortured protagonist better then Palance. In the late 60's & earlier 70's Palance played in numerous films directed by such filmmakers as: Sergio Corbucci, Freddie Francis, Richard Brooks, Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi, Jesus Franco, Enzo G. Castellari, & Gianfranco Baldanello. These were the days of the spaghetti western, and a lot of films were co-productions with studios in Europe.

I saw a lot of these films in old theaters on 42nd street, and on late night television. So I guess when you mention Palance I can't help but think about these films. Some were so-so, but all entertained, and as a young child growing up in Brooklyn they had a BIG influence on me.

So long Mr. Palance, and God speed. You were loved, and you brought joy to countless hearts in the roles you played. We loved hating you, and we're going to miss you a lot.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Filmmaking in Progress (BEWARE)


The above photo is from when we were shooting my film "Deadly Obsessions". It was the last day of principle photography, and I was quite relieved we were ahead of schedule, and actors had already their next gig lined up, so production was coming to an end. One of the crew made this sign to alert people that we were shooting a film. We didn't want to cause any problems with the neighbors like we did earlier in the shoot. We even had a police officer on the set to make sure that we were okay. Philadelphia now provides a police officer free of charge to a production if you request it, but back when we were shooting we had to pay for the officer. It was no big deal, but I could have put the money somewhere else had it been free. After all every dollar counts in a low-budget film.

I currently find myself now in the process of writing another script. The first draft is done, and it needs some re-writing, and this picture reminded me that I should have that sign up 24/7 outside my house. If I'm not writing, I'm editing, if I'm not editing, I'm shooting something, so I still live and breath filmmaking. What I find so frustrating is the time between films. I want to make more films. Yes I know ALL the pitfalls, and the problems of making another film, but something still draws me to it. I've said it before I'm like a junkie who is chasing their last fix. I've always had a lot of energy and that has sustained me and my filmmaking endeavors, but as I get older, and wiser I'm more slower to react. I take my time, and work at something I really care about. Something that I'll be working on for awhile because as I said before time is what I got a lot of, so I better use that time and plan. Yet I'm not one to keep on talking and not do anything. I hate people who do that, and I certainly don't take after these people. After awhile it's time to get off the pot & move forward.

So what am I talking about? Writers write, painters paint, photographers photograph, and filmmakers make films. I haven't done anything and it's making me crazy. My day job provides an outlet of some creativity, but I need to start another project.

There are obstacles abound, and I have NO idea on how I'll pull it off, but if I worry about it now I'll paralyze myself into doing nothing. Doubt is the killer, and I can't let that happen. I may not shoot the script I just wrote, but it's the first step in a process to something better. So yeah the sign is up, and the keys are clicking away. The old wheels in the brain are starting to spin, and I'm smelling smoke. How? What? Why? and who? are the questions that fill me, but maybe if I get excited again I'll actually get others excited, and when that happens good things happen. It's the fucking journey that counts isn't it? So it's time to set sail, and try out the things you learned. No guts, no glory!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Adrienne Shelly 1966-2006



So I just found out that Adrienne Shelly passed away on November 1st in her office. Ms Shelly had been best known for her parts in Hal Hartley’s film “The Unbelievable Truth”,which was her debut film, and “Trust”. She was a very interesting actress, who was lately concentrating on directing. She appeared in ”Factorum” this year as Jerry, and has appeared in many other films. Her directorial debut was “Sudden Manhattan” which was made in 1996.

Born in Queens and raised on Long Island, Shelly lived in Tribeca with her family and had been focusing more on writing and directing lately and caring for her daughter. Shelly recently wrote and directed a film called "Waitress," which starred Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. Ms Shelly had just sent her most recent film, Waitress, off to the Sundance selection committee.

Ms Shelly made a big impression on me when I saw her in Hartley’s film “Trust”. She brought to the role a kind of vulnerability that really made me interested in her character. I always thought that when Ms Shelly was up on the screen you couldn’t look away. "She was beautiful, and projected the essence of a smart and slightly lost young generation"*. Since she was close to my age I guess I identified traits in her characters with my own generation that seemed to not know everything & didn’t have all the answers. This is a blow to the independent film community, and she will be sadly missed. There is a Newsday article , which has more, and over at Filmmaker Magazine is another write up.

* Filmmaker Magazine quote (Scott Macaulay)

**Final Post-script

Indiewire posted that the NYC police have arrested a Brooklyn construction worker for the murder of Ms Shelly. More infor here at CBS/TV

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Amateur or Professional?



So what’s the difference between amateur & a professional? The dictionary defines amateur as “a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons.” While the dictionary defines professional as: “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain”. The word amateur comes from the Latin word “amator”, which means lover. I kind of like the word amateur, but it’s used a lot to look down on individuals who do not do what they love full-time. What made me think about this is what is happening now in the realm of filmmaking. Digital video has made filmmaking more accessible to the masses. All you need is a computer & a camera and you can do a lot with that. Along with the Internet one can be seen by millions all at the touch of a keyboard or mouse click. Of course this flood of films has produced some interesting and some not so interesting films. But why look down at these people who do it for the love of filmmaking or the love of a genre. Coppola once said something in the same vein and that was that one day a farm girl from Ohio will make a movie that will blow the socks off the industry, and she’ll do it all from her computer in her bedroom. Already we are seeing signs of this. Shorts, documentaries and some features are being made at half the fraction that Hollywood usually pays out.

It takes passion, determination, and something worth saying to get a movie made. Yes, we all know that the story needs to be worth hearing, but usually these people who are creating these types of work are ones that newspapers and the media would label “amateur”. Now I kind of twinge at the use of this word, but part of me wants to shout from the rooftops that “yes I am a amateur, and I like it”. The Cinema has been something that is special to me. It means a lot to me, and it’s my love for it that has gotten me this far. Sure I’d like to make some money at filmmaking, but if I really were interested in getting my investment back I would have sunk my money in a less volatile scheme then making a film. There is no guarantee that I’ll ever make a success out of this endeavor, but I’m hoping that if I keep plugging away I’ll get it, and be a better filmmaker, and maybe a more successful one.

I’ve been reading, and have met several people out there who make films for next to nothing, and every time they keep coming back for more. It seems that the one’s who are successful at filmmaking get out of their cliques, and venture out into the world coming into contact with other cinephiles, and lovers of cinema. We learn from each other and grow from that. There are others who don’t venture out of their circle of influence and only wind up to be pigeon holed as a genre director/producer or “amateur”..

I think in order to be successful you need to bring something personal to you’re work. Sure we can all write about the action adventure we see regurgitated on TV and in the movies, but what will separate us from all that is the personal. How can we connect to the viewer, and how she or he connects with us. I’m not saying that one genre is better then the other. I love many genres. I just feel that in order to be successful you have to come up with something new that others can relate to. Amateurs do this because it’s what they know, and it’s their strongest suit. We are becoming more and more a society that is very selective, and one that has specific needs or wants. I see more and more films that are either in the category of horror, supernatural, or family orientated films. All from different distributors that seem to cater to their target audience. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Who can say? Are having so many choices a good or bad thing? I think those answers are best answered at a personal level. A don’t think people watch ONLY one particular genre. They like variety, and the Internet, and cable provide that for them, but if you look at cable they repeat their product over and over again, so that’s telling me that there aren’t enough shows out there to fill program schedules.

Now I’m sure there is product out there to program for these markets, but maybe not of the caliber that network TV or cable is used to. Where am I going with this? Simple it all comes down to money. Amateur & professional productions are usually categorized by production budget. Is the film shot on film or digital tape? Are there stars in the film that markets can exploit to its audience? After all we are still a celebrity driven culture. We like to see beautiful people up there on the screen. Star power adds another hook that you can market you’re film with.

So there is a line between amateur and professional, but audiences don’t care. If you’re story is solid, and the production is of professional caliber your sell your film. What do I mean by professional caliber? Lighting, acting, editing, sound, & direction are important. TV has been around for some time now, and the audience’s are getting smarter. They know bad when they see it. They also know poor quality when they see it. What destroyed the video market in the mid to late eighties was that video companies were beginning to pick up product of inferior quality. Usually the film was shot on video and it was slickly packaged for video stores to buy. Back then all you had to do is show a few exploitative elements on the package and you would be guaranteed a sale. The audience got wiser, and are now much more selective in their buying habits.

I like the word amateur, but I don’t like the connotation that the word brings. Bad acting, poor sound, and so-so story. It’s good that YOU care about YOUR film, but should anyone else? Is there a market out there you can target? The days of the big advances from distributors are gone. No longer do distributors fork over huge sums of cash for a film that you made. These advances now don’t even cover your production expenses, so you have to be smarter. There is a lot of product out there, and though a lot of it is of poor quality there is still a lot of product out there for them to choose from. The one’s that the distributors will choose will be ones that will be good, and have some sort of exploitative element so they can hook their audience. The word is entertainment, and that is what the distributors are in the business to do.

So great you’re an amateur filmmaker what can you do? If you have no money start looking outside your circle. Use professional actors. Maybe go see some local plays and see whose good. There are a lot of great actors out there dying for exposure. Pay them something for their time. We all have to eat. Write, write, and then re-write you’re story. Get people involved early in the work, and let the seed grow. Research you’re chosen genre that you would like to write about. All this is called doing you’re homework. It doesn’t matter on what you shoot on now as long as your story is good, and you know you’re medium. It’s okay to be a “lover” of the cinema, but unlike writing a book, or taking a picture, or painting a painting, filmmaking is a collaborative art form, and one that is expensive. We just can’t go out and buy a canvas and some color paints and start drawing our masterpieces. Filmmaking is dependent on a variety of art forms to come together, and is subject to the whims of the entertainment marketplace. You have to be smart & know you’re end goal for you’re film, so keep that “amateur” status in your heart, but strive to be a professional, and then maybe just maybe you will graduate to doing that next film.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

$10K & under!

So this week-end is the Delaware Valley Film Festival, and I’m thinking of going. I do know of someone’s short film that is in the festival and it would be great to see it. The festivals requirements were that the films budget was not over ten grand, and that’s why I never bothered to submit my film. Now you say that with just $10K or less how can a person pull off a successful film? There would be certain limitations that is for sure when you’re filming for such little money, but there are also a lot of things you can do that will make you’re film just as interesting as the ones Hollywood churns out.

How? You ask. Well first you’ll be shooting in DV. Not film. No lab, and no film stock, so you can now channel some of that money into your cast & crew. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hire REAL actors. Go out and hold auditions, or use a local casting company. Local talent is preferred. That way you don’t have to splurge on hotel rooms, and extra meals. When you make a film you will be surprised to find where the money really goes. Food, room, and transportation can eat at any budget, and when you have a small budget of $10K or less every dollar counts.

I’ve already gone over on how to make a film for less by limiting actors, locations, and crew, but one thing I haven’t discussed is scheduling. Scheduling a film is important. I see or hear of too many films shooting and stopping and then shooting again. The hardest thing to do is start filming again after a brief time of not filming. Especially if you are not paying people. If you are paying people, and you schedule this brief hiatus then actors & crew can make alternate plans on their off days. It’s even great that you may have friends who are really talented, and can act, but paying them ensures that they’ll be there when you need them. It also says that I value you’re time, and I don’t want to exploit you because you are my friend. I know it’s hard, and every cent counts, but keep cast & crew happy and you’ll ensure that you’re film will get finished. Remember also to treat your people right. Feed them properly. Not just quick take-out stuff, but real meals. Remember you are what you eat, and if you serve junk you might be looking into a rebellion happening among your cast & crew. So in the end do the cheap thing and provide for the cast & crew. You won’t regret it.