Sunday, March 14, 2010

How To Make a Film in 13 Short Steps

By Kristen Anchor, Dir. of Creative Alliance MovieMakers, a great resource in Baltimore for film equipment, networking, workshops and diy film screenings

Prep work, prep work and more prep work.  Most of the work on a film happens way before the camera rolls.  (Of course many brilliant people have broken this rule but I'd bet that everyone like Lars Von Trier who breaks the rules is lying a little bit about how spontaneous they are and anyway most have made a few films with LOTS OF PLANNING before they experimented.) 

1. Watch lots of movies. 

2. Watch more movies. Look at how the shots and cuts tell the story. Notice how most films are not shot with one camera on a tripod on the other side of the room. Take notes on your favorite films. 

3. Make friends with people making films. They might have gear and they will need your free labor. You'll learn a ton if you keep your ears and eyes open. 

4. Make lots of friends. You're gonna need people who like to do stuff for you. Help people move heavy objects and build your karma. 

5. Get an idea or find someone with one. There's no shame in working with a writer if you are more of a director, or the other way around. 

6. Have somebody who is not involved in the writing look at your concept or script  and then (and this is the VERY IMPORTANT PART) has hard as it may be, listen to them. Turn off defensiveness and listen up. 

7. Ask someone else to look at it and repeat step six.

8. Pull together your resources and your friends' friends' resources -- this means people you know who can act, lift stuff, hold stuff, cook stuff, people with film skills to work on your movie, people with the gear to work on your movie, etc. 

9. LIGHT YOUR DAMN MOVIE, it will look a million times better. 

10. USE A BOOM AND MIC and a sound guy or gal if you can find one - BAD SOUND IS WHAT MAKES OR BREAKS A FILM. 

11. Use an editor. It is a rare person who can distance themselves enough from the project they are directing to be a good editor. You are still the 'boss' of the editor, so it isn't so bad, but really, listen to them.  They are going to want to cut stuff you are very attached to, but it WILL make your film better.  Let go, you can do it! 

12. Have a big premiere!  Do it up right! 

13. Don't be discouraged by film festival rejections  you need to get started on your next film anyway!

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