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How NOT To Make A Film
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How NOT To Make A Film


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A presentation I prepared as an outline for the workshop on indie-filmmaking at NIT Trichy.

A presentation I prepared as an outline for the workshop on indie-filmmaking at NIT Trichy.

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  • 1. How NOT to make your first movie Confessions of a former virgin filmmaker who learned to get screwed and now enjoys it. SUDHISH KAMATH
  • 2. Show me the money
    • Dave: But movies cost millions of dollars to make.
    • Robert K. Bowfinger: That's after gross net deduction profit percentage deferment ten percent of the nut. Cash, every movie cost $2,184.
  • 3. What NOT to say?
    • Ok, you want to make a movie.
    • Why? What do you want to say? Do people want to know? Art? Entertainment? Poster? Painting? Scrapbook? Expression? Communication? Indigestion?
  • 4. Art & Entertainment
    • Between wanking around and being a gigolo, what do you rather do?
    • Does doing it for yourself give you more pleasure or making someone else happy give you pleasure?
    • What is honesty?
  • 5. Indie filmmaking?
    • Dil pe Mat le yaar,
    • Haath me le!
    • Just do it.
  • 6. Part 1: How NOT to write
    • Write without thinking (Exercise)
    • Is everyone creative? Are there are any new stories left to tell?
    • Make it up as you go.
  • 7. Stages of development
    • Concept Note
    • Synopsis
    • Scene Breakdown
    • First Draft
    • Rewrites
    • Final Draft
  • 8. Character/Characteristics
    • Who? What? Where? When?
    • Why?How?
    • Details… Digesis…
    • Backstories…
  • 9. Anatomy of a scene
    • Scene or story, it’s all about beginning, middle and end. Set-up, Confrontation, Resolution
    • Every scene should tell a story and many stories should tell a larger story. If any of these stories is not needed to tell the larger story, why should be part of the script?
    • What determines length? What’s a plot point?
    • Character arc, Hero’s journey
  • 10. Text, Subtext, Context
    • What you want to say?
    • What do you want to NOT say but hint
    • What gives what you are saying more perspective
    • Plot/ subplot/ metaphor
    • How NOT to title your film/tagline
  • 11. Structure
    • Should story be told from A to Z?
    • What are the other ways to tell a story and when do you use alternative structure?
    • Examples: Pulp Fiction, Groundhog Day, Run Lola Run, Let’s talk… Lost
  • 12. Tools to help you write
    • Celtx/ Sophocles/ Final Draft
    • MS Word
    • Notebook/ Tissue paper/ Toilet paper/ Bus ticket - Index Cards
  • 13. When is your script ready?
    • Are you convinced completely, entirely after the honeymoon period?
    • Have you read it and not got bored even after the 50th time?
    • What about your friends?
    • How many rewrites are necessary?
  • 14. Part 2: How NOT to prepare
    • Who do you cast? How do you cast?
    • How do you know what is needed to shoot? How much it is going to cost?
    • Script Breakdowns - Production Manager/ First Assistant Director - Two hands of a filmmaker
  • 15.  
  • 16. Picking the team
    • The road trip
    • The recce
    • Will there be sex on the sets?
  • 17. Budgeting
    • People
    • Places
    • Properties
    • Costumes
    • Converting Breakdown Sheets into Money or Resources
  • 18. What Dicky Fox told Jerry McGuire
    • “ The key to the job is personal relationships.”
  • 19. Particulars Amount
    • Actor Solid role
    • Actress Mileage
    • Villain RapeScene
    • Clown Girlfriend
    • Location Friend’s Place
    • Film/Camera/Fuel Beg
    • Vehicle Borrow
    • Location/Permissions/Music Steal
    • Costumes BYOClothes
    • Food Mere Paas Ma
  • 20. Scheduling Tools
    • Excel Sheet
    • Sticky notes & a Chart / Index Cards
    • How NOT to schedule
    • D/N, Location availability, actor availability
    • How much can you shoot?
  • 21. Contracts
    • You know WHO, WHAT, WHEN, HOW… now get them to commit.
    • A signature can save your soul… Or ass.
    • Internet or Rick Schmidt’s book
  • 22. Rehearsals
    • Test shoots
    • Dress rehearsals
    • Stand-ins
    • Substitutes
    • Improvisation/Rewrites
    • Final changes/lock script/production
  • 23. Creating your own set-up
    • Build lights with tubelights
    • Wheelchair as trolley
    • Rope and suspension
    • Build your own steadycam
    • BUT remember, prepare to travel light!
  • 24. Why NOT to film
    • VHS tape - 230-250 lines (333x480 px)
    • DVD Quality - 480 lines
    • Mini DV Single CCD handycam - 450 lines
    • Mini DV 3 CCD - 720 lines
    • High Definition - 1080i/p Resolution
    • Film - 2K Resolution
    • Scarlet - 3K Resolution
    • Red - 4K Resolution
    • IMAX - 8-10K
  • 25. Part 3: How NOT to shoot
    • Lights, Camera, Action
    • AD duties: Logging takes, Coordinating with dept heads for present and next scene, Crowd control
    • The madness of trying to capture live sound
  • 26. Dealing with your team
    • Good cop, bad cop - ADs
    • Finding method in the madness
    • Working with the chaos
    • ALWAYS keep a cool head
    • Morale of the team
    • Brownie points - always end the day with a carrot no matter how much stick you’ve given
  • 27. Actors
    • Who’s your Daddy? Equation is everything
    • Fragile egos
    • It’s all about the mood.
    • Don’t let them go till you get what you want
    • Difference between team work and anarchy
    • On camera rehearsals, out-takes, alternative scenes, cutaways, mood shots, montages
  • 28. Food for thought
    • Eat/Feed three to four times a day
    • Red Bulls/ Water/ Glucose
    • First aid kit
    • Fruits on set
    • Importance of tea-breaks
  • 29. Plan B
    • Murphy’s law
    • What do you do if you lose your lead?
    • Films are not made at the set, they are made at the editing table.
    • You can tell the same story using different characters, tools (voiceover, animation sequence, comicbook) or sometimes even using text.
  • 30. Making of the film/ Production Stills
    • Keep a photographer on stand by
    • Continuity and Publicity
    • Shoot as much video as possible - making of the film, stock footage
  • 31. Part 4: How NOT to cut a film
    • Letting go
    • The art of patience
    • The editor-director conflict
    • The director-writer conflict
    • Film is a product of what is shot, not what is written
    • Making sense out of rushes - how to salvage what’s not available
  • 32. Part 5: How NOT to complete a film
    • Remember a film remains incomplete if you miss out any of these processes:
    • Adding Foley sound, ADR (even if you have done live sound)
    • Background score
    • Sound mixing - 5.1 Dolby or DTS mix
    • Titling/ credits/ acknowledgements/disclaimers
  • 33. Background Score
    • Copyright free music
    • Garage Band
    • Rock/Pop bands albums
    • 20 second rule - but you cannot sell this music
  • 34. Censorship
    • Registration of title - Earlier the better
    • Publicity Clearance - all posters and publicity need to be cleared by the producers council or the local governing body
    • Shooting Script
    • Censorship fees
    • Screening and food
  • 35. Part 6: How NOT to distribute your film
    • Do it yourself?
    • Word of mouth?
    • Media?
    • Festivals?
    • Theatrical Release?
    • Alternative Channels?
    • Satellite and Video rights?
  • 36. Rate your own film
    • Get everyone who watches it to rate it as honestly as possible
    • Take into account all reviews - your own, internal, external, neutral, biased and arrive at an average. Be open to criticism from people who matter
    • Below 4: Move on, don’t even try to promote it
    • 4-6: Give it free, distribute on channels where the audience does not have to pay
    • 6-8: Never give up, keep pushing the film shamelessly
  • 37. Being an indie filmmaker
    • Be active on IMDB
    • Make sure your films and you have a website with your work/portfolio
    • Compile all reviews and keep a record
    • Keep working on scripts, it’s all just a matter of time before you start again
  • 38.
    • No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy.
    • A motto of the British Special Air Force is: “Those who risk, win.”
    • A single green vine shoot is able to grow through cement.
    • The Pacific Northwestern Salmon beats itself bloody on its quest to travel hundreds of miles upstream against the current, with a single purpose, sex of course, but also… life.
    • - Drew Baylor (Elizabethtown)
  • 39.
    • “ I know what I have to do now. I have to keep breathing. Tomorrow, the sun will rise, who knows what the tide would bring?”
    • - Chuck Noland (Castaway)
  • 40.
    • The End