Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Prepare Yourself

Making a film look easy, doesn't it? Effortless, even?  You think to yourself, "Oh, I have a story. I just need a camera and some actors."

And then you try to make it.

Your actors aren't real actors, probably your friends, right? And they flake out on your and don't make it on days your shooting... suddenly you realize you have to get the same scene from different angles... how will you ever actually show an explosion? When you finally get to look at your scenes, holy crud monkeys. The sound sucks.

And so it goes.

Am I saying NOT to try? Absolutely not! I think if you have a story inside you, you need to set it free.

If you want to make a film that will really capture attention, mark my words: surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.

You're only as good as your team. And if your team consists of a best friend who runs down the batteries videoing girls on the beach instead of your intense monologue in the Sahara, well, he shouldn't be part of the team.

Start small.

By small, I mean a short film. It's a lot easier to navigate, fail, rebuild and refilm a short film than it is a feature.

Learn to write a script. My GOD PLEASE LEARN HOW TO WRITE A SCRIPT. I can't tell you how many times I've had people give me their works of art and it's not formatted correctly, or slug lines are naked, or it's in the wrong font.  Read Blake Snyder's book SAVE THE CAT and William Akers book: YOU'RE SCREENPLAY SUCKS! for help.  Both of them are gold. Oh if people would read them more.

Find a local film group in your area. Today, the internet makes everything so much easier.  You can find Meetups or local colleges with film schools.


LISTEN to your team. I've worked with outstanding people with a wealth of knowledge, but the director wouldn't listen to them. So, what could have been a kick ass movie became a ho hum sleeper.

Movie making is a tedious task. It takes a lot of preparation. And by a lot, I mean months of planning before you even have your first shots. But it's in these months where you iron out all the bumps.  It's in the prep that you get to know your team, too, and how they flow.  Who's the weakest link.  Who is the worker bee.  Who's the one with the connections.  Where the problems are.

If you can troubleshoot BEFORE you shoot, it makes all the difference in the world. Your shoot goes a lot smoother, and before long, you look like you know what you're doing. :)

So please. For your sake, and the sake of your crew and actors: prepare.

Everyone will thank you. And pretty soon, you'll be making the walk down that red carpet.

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