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New Year Resolution...


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#1 Tom Doolittle

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 02:08 PM

Looking back at 2005, I realize I have spent waaayyy too much time thinking about shooting film and not enough time actually doing it. I suspect that, like me, there are plenty of other wannabes out there with real jobs and far more important things to do than run around burning up 16mm film at $20 a minute, but for some reason can't get let go of the dream. I imagine these folks, like me, would jump at the opportunity to partner with people similarly afflicted with the movie-making bug, but being busy with wife and kid and job, don't have the time to lounge around coffee shops and film schools hoping to meet people with whom they might work.

And so, I was hoping to open some discussion between such people; discussion that might ultimately lead to collaborative efforts (for myself and for others), instead of another year of day-dreaming, wasting time on the internet, and making dumb short films starring my dog. :)

If nothing else, could someone at least direct me to a more appropriate forum for such a discussion?

Tom Doolittle
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#2 Chance Shirley

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 01:16 AM

I think one thing that makes shooting "for fun" 16mm difficult is the minimum charge set by most post houses. You can shoot a 100' roll of film and get it processed for around $20 a minute -- say $30 for the stock, $15 for processing, and $15 for transfer. But most transfer houses are going to charge a minimum of $50 for processing and another minimum of $75 (at least) for transfer, so all of the sudden your $60 "fun" shoot gets twice as expensive (at least).

I'm not blaming the post houses -- I understand they have to make a profit, and the minimum charges aren't a problem on projects of any size. The minimum charges do make me think twice about shooting a couple of minutes of vacation action or family holidays on 16mm.

It seems a good way around this would be a not-for-profit collective of 16mm shooters. Everybody could send their raw footage to one person, who would then send it to the lab when enough was collected to avoid any minimum fees. When the tape came back, the various stuff could be transferred off to data DVDs and sent out to the different shooters (saving tape stock costs, too).

Of course, this would require extra work on someone's part -- maybe the responsibility could be rotating? It would also involve a lot of trust. Now that I think about it, this plan might work better on a local/community level...
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#3 Tom Doolittle

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 11:46 AM

Not a bad idea, really. A "collective of shooters" would certainly help those looking to run a few rolls of film through their cameras every now and then, and would keep costs reasonable. Despite the professional intent of this forum and others, I suspect a significant number of posters and regular visitors do not work in the film business, but nonetheless have a deep interest in the subject. I certainly don't earn any money shooting 16mm film, nor do I expect to in the future.

Cinematography is "just" a creative outlet for me, one I would like to pursue on a deeper level, but find myself limited not necessarily by equipment and money (although those are certainly factors) but also by lack of real world contacts with whom I might collaborate (sharing time, talent, equipment, and cost) on a singular project. Personally, I'm not interested in shooting vacation film or family holidays- that's what video is for. I want to make narrative films, but: a) Have limited equipment; B) Don't know many people who share my passion for filmmaking; c) Am a working professional who doesn't have the time to visit local film schools in hopes of drumming up contacts, and frankly am not terribly interested in working with students anyway.

My point being, given the apparently vast number of visitors to sites such as this one, and the rate at which older, decidedly non-professional cameras trade hands on eBay, I can only assume that there are a hefty number of "armchair" cinematographers and camera nuts out there, a percentage of whom would probably like to participate in some actual production work, if only for the sheer joy of it. One fellow might own a decent camera, while another has a good set of lights and a sister who likes to act. A third person comes along and can contribute writing skills and a tripod. Sooner or later, you've taken a bunch of people who would otherwise be shooting 100' rolls of their trip to Disneyland and turned them into a production company with some potential. They probably won't be making the next Sundance surprise hit, and they surely won't be turning a profit, but they will be having fun, and that's what counts in the end. If someone provided a place (online, ironically) for these folks to meet and form those intial connections, I have little doubt that it would ultimately result in the formation of production companies that would not have existed otherwise, film stock that would not have been sold, cameras that would have remained in closets, actors undiscovered, scripts unwritten, films not made.

By nature, filmmaking requires collaboration. I suppose you could lock the camera off, flip the run switch and jump in front of it to act, but come on- that's only going to satisfy you for so long, and trust me, you feel pretty silly doing it :) .
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#4 Michael Carter

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 04:13 PM

I suppose you could lock the camera off, flip the run switch and jump in front of it to act,


Documentaries about yourself would require that much at least. I have a spring loaded timer that presses in the cable release after a minute or so. Filming yourself as a talking head becomes possible, all by yourself.
My films of castles and United Trust properties in the UK would need some of the talking heads to break it up.

I'm located in Pittsburgh PA. Where are you? Your profile does not say. I could use some help.

I'm going to sign up tomorrow for a 16mm-filmmaking-one class at the local film school and finish my UK films off with music, narration, talking heads, map shots, stills and whatever else a travel movie can hold as one of my projects. Help from other students may not be realistic but the school has equipment that I want to be permitted to use later as an artist member.

My studio is going to be set up as a documentary shooting place for talking heads. That much I can do. It is not an easy thing to do to be able to shoot good head shots of people talking. It is a start, however. A thread on filmshooting shows how someone had done it with S8 equipment.

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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 12:21 AM

Hello,

What are your needs? If you want to get used to being in front of the camera, then shoot on a home, video cam. If you want to get the hang of lighting and exposure, try using an SLR, still camera to get the hang of film; and digital to get the hang of composition. There's little way around knowing cine except to shoot cine. If you want to do something cheap then you may have to take up another hobby. Cine is expensive. Everyone here struggles with that. You're in good company.
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#6 Tom Doolittle

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 03:08 PM

Hello,

What are your needs? If you want to get used to being in front of the camera, then shoot on a home, video cam. If you want to get the hang of lighting and exposure, try using an SLR, still camera to get the hang of film; and digital to get the hang of composition. There's little way around knowing cine except to shoot cine. If you want to do something cheap then you may have to take up another hobby. Cine is expensive. Everyone here struggles with that. You're in good company.



This thread seems to be drifting a bit off my original intent. What I was trying to do was drum up some contacts with people like me-- people who already have a solid understanding of cinematography fundamentals, including the basics of lighting, exposure, and composition. I'm not a beginner, but rather a guy who shoots primarily as a hobby. I think there are others who, like me, might be amateurs but have skills, ideas, and equipment that could be applied to more ambitious projects if only they were able to link up with others on a real-world basis.

I was resisting turning this into a "personals" ad, but I suppose its going to have to go that way sooner or later: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm not a student, but a thirty-something married guy with a "real" job (included only to emphasize that I am NOT a kid looking for people who might pay for film). I have a solid background in photography, and I've been shooting 16mm film for about three years now. What I'm hoping to do is meet people who are currently working on or would like to work on a collaborative, amateur film project, sharing talent, equipment, and costs. And THAT is why I started this thread. :)

-Tom
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#7 Scott Bullock

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 07:28 PM

Tom, it sounds to me like your "resolution" is something that can be best facilitated by appealing to people in your general locale. You're in the Bay area for Heaven's sake; there are a lot of people living there who are interested in making films and might be unconnected just like you. If I were you I'd drop an ad in one of the many publications available in your area saying, "Filmmaker seeks collaborators," along with your contact information. My guess is that you'll find yourself becoming connected in a relatively small amount of time. Other things that you can do are take an acting, theatre, or writing course at a local college, or even at a "free university." Just one or two courses could send you down the road to establishing contacts that may prove of real value in attaining your goals.
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#8 Sam Wells

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 08:11 PM

You could make lots of contacts through Film Arts Foundation in SF.

(plus seminars screenings, post gear etc etc)

-Sam
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#9 Ahjudah

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 10:01 PM

This may or may not be related, but...For people who are interested in a self-reliant paradigm of filmmaking, check out Paul Harrill's blog:

http://www.selfreliantfilm.com/

Jon Barr
Film Student
Philadelphia, PA
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#10 Tim Carroll

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 09:20 AM

Tom, my wife and I just arrived in Portland Oregon after living and working in the film community in Chicago for years. Was like a total wasteland out here. So I put an ad up on craigslist and called a meeting of folks interested in making films. Got some good responses. Had the meeting at a local watering hole. Met more people, found out about and went to other meetings. Am slowly but surely finding a group of people to work with. It takes time, but you need to initiate the process. You are going to meet folks who want to do something totally different than you and some who want to do something similar to you. So you're nice to the ones who want something different and move on, and you nurture a connection with those who want something similar and see where it goes.

-Tim
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#11 Tom Doolittle

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 10:48 AM

Excellent advice, Tim (and all). I think you're right about just taking the time to develop those connections. I've chatted with a few people about filmmaking here, but haven't run across anyone who was serious enough to spend the time needed to put together a decent project. An ad on Craigslist might generate more local leads.

-Tom
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