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How NOT To Make A Film

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

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How NOT To Make A Film

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