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starting film making


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#1 Bellizzi

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 03:35 AM

Im 16, Ive been doing photography for 2 years and now I really want to start making movies but where can you learn. Obviously a book of somesort but are there any classes where you dont have to be in college or over 18? Because where Im from our school doesnt offer anything that is fun. lol.(photography/film making etc.) But if anyone has any helpfull advice I would very much appreciate it. The library didnt have any books on cinematography or video. So Im pretty much not sure where to go from here.

Im in California in the bay area anyone know any where in the bay for learning?

THANK YOU!!!!

Edited by Bellizzi, 04 August 2006 - 03:36 AM.

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#2 Kevin Masuda

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 12:44 AM

Im 16, Ive been doing photography for 2 years and now I really want to start making movies but where can you learn. Obviously a book of somesort but are there any classes where you dont have to be in college or over 18? Because where Im from our school doesnt offer anything that is fun. lol.(photography/film making etc.) But if anyone has any helpfull advice I would very much appreciate it. The library didnt have any books on cinematography or video. So Im pretty much not sure where to go from here.

Im in California in the bay area anyone know any where in the bay for learning?

THANK YOU!!!!


I'm from the Bay Area too and there is one place although I'm not sure if they have an age requirement or not but Film Arts Foundation is a great organization for the indie filmmaker and they're right in San Francisco. $65 per year and you can get benefits and take classes(discounted for members). Check them out: filmarts.org. Since you've been doing photography for that long I assume you have some pretty good knowledge of basic composition and lighting and such so you could also pickup a super 8 camera on ebay and start making some films. Have fun and just keep making movies over and over and over.

Kev
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#3 David Sweetman

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 03:11 AM

The best way to start -- is to freaking START. Get a few buddies together and make a movie. Do it often. It's a lot of fun, do it when you've got nothing better to do, weekends, whatever. Even write the script as you go. Books are good, and from them you can learn filmmaking theory, but you can't learn filmmaking. You learn that by shooting a lot of stuff, and seeing what works and what doesn't.
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#4 Robert Hughes

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 04:07 PM

How to become a filmmaker:

- Buy a cheap Super 8 camera and a roll of film
- Shoot the roll of film
- send it out for processing
- watch the results and see what you like, and avoid what didn't work
- Buy another roll of film and try again.

PS It doesn't have to be super 8, you can do it with DV, but believe it or not it's harder to learn with DV because video shooting is so effortless. With film, you've got $$$ running through the gate every time you pull the trigger, so you gain more of an appreciation for conservation of film and time.
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 03:45 AM

You live in the Bay area and you can't find a library w/ a book on filmmaking in the entire city? You just didn't look hard enough and not trying hard enough is a bad first step to becoming a filmmaker. You obviously have a computer you can use, so the first step in doing some research on the web. Anything you can read in a book you can pretty much find on the web if you look hard enough. You 16 so I'm assuming your completely broke. I'm sure your parents have a video camera of some type. VHS and High 8 are good, Digital is is better. Get the tripod that goes with it or buy one. For smaller cameras, they're cheap. This way you don't have to pay for processing and can record over your mistakes, plus tape is very cheap and you can probably afford to buy it. If they don't have one, save up your pennies and buy one on Ebay or at a pawn or thrift shop or ask for one for Christmas or your birthday or borrow one from a friend and make him your cameraman.

Write a short script WITH OUT ANY special effects or anything in it, you don't already own, have availible or can't get ahold of easily. Set the location in your room, your backyard, at the park, at school, anyplace you can use for free and are sure you can bring your cast anbd crew to work on for a few days. Look at M. Night Salmaylan films, everything "BIG" takes place off-camera, so it shows you can tell a story with all the bells and whistles of big productions. Tell a personal story, they're te best ones anyway. Keep it down to 2 to 4 charatures because people will flake on you and it's easier to find a few reliable ones than rely on a lot of flakey ones, plus it will be hard enough to deal with everything you have to deal with while shooting your first movie, without throwing a big cast and crew into the mix as well. Get kids from the drama club or whatever equivilent your school has to be in it and work as crew, they will be thrilled to be working on a film. Don't worry about fancy lighting, costumes or props. Shoot during the day, and tape some aluminum foil, dull side out to some cardboard get some foamcore at a crafts shop or flat sheet of white styrefoam at a hardware store and use it reflect the light. Keep the story to between 3 th 5 minutes long. A page of dialog in proper script form (Look it up on the web under screenwriting.) is about a minute. Plan a 2 day shoot over a weekend and KNOW what you plan to do BEFORE you step onto the set. Plan out your shots. Try storyboarding your film beforehand. Stick figures will do for right now. Just draw out several 3i nch tall by 4 inch wide boxes on notebook paper and go though your script. Everywhere you see the scene change in your mind, skcetch it out with stick figures in a box with the dialog where the change happens (It's a lot easier to do set up your shots on paper and fix your mistakes then try and figure it out on the set, plus it will give you confidence the shots you planning to use are the right ones to film when you recreate them in the camera) , then use the storyboards as a guide for your "Shot list" (look it up) If your computer has a firewire port, great! You probably already have editing software that came with if. LEARN TO USE IT. Read the manuals and practice. If there is no editing software on yur computer, you can download free editing software from the the web, again, just do a search. A/B Roll isn't bad, I think that's at abctv.com if I'm not mistaken. Its very basic but that's what you need right now. There is also free computer animation software at Blender.com and terrigen.org if you what to do a cartoon. If you don't have a firewire port or a USB 2 port, or if your using a VHS camera and you don't have a capture card, you may have to edit "in camera" or edit onto a vcr, both of which are a pain but if your a real filmmaker it won't stop you from getting your film made.

Get a couple of RELIABLE friends to hold the reflectors for you and do a little research on how to use them. make sure you've got some food and drinks on the set (10 or 20 bucks worth of eats will be worth a few thousand bucks in free labor if you do it right)

Once yuou have everthing you need to begin filmming, printout and give your cast and crew a "production schedule" and "Call sheets" (look it up). YOU and the crew show up on the set FIRSTand get everything ready, set up "craft sevices" (Food, a lot of water and drinks), make up and wardrobe if any, the camera and any lighting needed, Prop table, ect and do this all before the actors arrive (schedule thier call times accordingly). Bring folding chairs and tables so the actors have a place to sit and go while your setting up for the next shot or doing someones close up, so they're out of your way. Make sure there's a BATHROOM nearby and shade for them to sit under. Tell the crew to bring hats and sunblock because they'll be standing out in the sun all day. Schedule a meal break and feed them. Plan the shoot to be no longer than 12 hours per day and plan get set up early so you can shoot duing "magic hour". Be firm about people taking the shoot seriously and showing up on time and ready to work. Nothing will KILL an all volunteer cast and crew's moral faster than one person not showing up or showing up late and screwing around while everyone else is trying to work. Hitchcock used to hire one person specifically so he could fire them loudly in front of the cast and crew on the first day to get the others to snap into line right off the bat.

Now when your on the set, Your the captain so act like one. Be a strong leader and MAKE DECISIONS about what you want, where you want it and when you want it to happen.Treat your people with respect but keep them moving forward all the time top get the film shot. Go to a film "terms" page and learn what the various shots are as well as the meaning of other term used on the set so you sound like you know what your talking about, cofidence is everything in front of your cast and crew and because confidence is everything, don't get self concious on set. Be sure communicate clearly with people in a way that makes them understand what it is you want from them. They'll generally give it to you if you make them understand what it is you want.

Now for you as the filmmaker just remember, All you trying to do with this first film is learn how to visually tell a story. Pay attention to "composition" and "camera angles". Look at, not only what's in the foreground, but what's in the background as well and how it effects your story. (don't film a scene with a lightstand in the shot because no one noticed it was there). Always think to yourself, How does this shot help tell the story?.Try to keep it as simple as you can and plan out how one shot is going to flow into the next, always thinking when your setting up your shots how are you going to get them to cut together and make it belivible for the audience. What you what to emphisize in the shot and what you want to hide (if the camera doesn't see it it doesn't exist). Watch films with the sound off and see how they're cut together, how the light is used, where the camera is set and how the shots are composed. Get several "cut-away" shots (look it up) in case you screw up and your footage doesn't cut to gether (<-ntentional visual aid :D ).

Finally Don't quit and don't let anyone or anything stop you from COMPLETEING your film. An unfinished film is worse that never having even started because you have let down all those who worked on it for you. Now, just go do it.- B)
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#6 Mark Allen

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 04:45 AM

Here are some thoughts, Bellizzi. Let's call this the Mark Allen Film School... Filmmaking 101

1. Read these books: There is a book called "Film Directing Fundamentals" which is very comprehensive if you are just starting out - it is literally a film class in a book. Make sure you watch all the movies he describes when he first brings them up. Advancing for there to some important details...Read "Story" by Robert McKee - because filmmaking ends up being storytelling even if you string a bunch of random images together so it helps to understand the concept. Read "Film Directing" by David Mammet because he talks about some really important issues regarding directing not brought up anywhere else. Read "directing shot by shot" to start thinking about shot design. Read "Film Art" to start thinking about film at multiple levels. Watch "Visions of Light" DVD to start thinking about photography. There are lots of good books - that's a good place to start. There is a book called

2. Start watching movies that appeal to you with a critical mind and a note pad. Try to start analyzing how a moment was built. Notice things like... how tension is built, or humor... try to figure out how the editing or cinematography helped the moment. Feel the timing. I used to both watch movies without the sound and then listen to movies without the picture when I was studying them early on.

3. Get into any acting class you can. Now. You must study acting even if you never ever appear in front of the camera (which is probably best unless you've been an actors for many years).

4. Don't worry about the technology at all - worry about constructing scenes and creating an emotional reaction. DV is just fine - i'ts easy to use - simple to edit - etc. Do this until you feel like you really got the hang of it - might take a long time.

5. Try to get around people who have been doing this for a decade or more and observe how they do it. Don't assume they are doing it right - but try to find in what they do what seems to work best for them if you can. It's always good to learn from people. If you can't, you'll just learn by trial and error.


Good luck.
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#7 Dan Horstman

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:08 AM

1 - Come up with idea.
2 - Write script
3 - find actors, crew, locations, props
4 - shoot - DV, 16mm, Super 8...it doesn't matter at this stage...your movie will probably not be very good no matter what your mom tells you ;)
5 - Edit, add sound effects and music
6 - get your friends and family together and show it (don't believe them when they say you are the next Orson Wells)

Repeat until your movies are good.

Best of luck!
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#8 Bellizzi

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 01:17 PM

wow thanks for such great feed back, I bought a somewhat expensive camcorder in my view, a optura 50. From money I had saved up from working etc. But the advice is really great I really appreciate this help and I will be making a movie soon after.
Plus right now Im really happy I dont need to spend any more money :D, my dad gave me a couple of old videolights(1000 watts each) which I can white balance etc. Although theyre broken and I have to rewire the electrical wires...GOOGLE time! lol. I hope I can start soon because this is all very exciting

thanks!
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#9 Chris Durham

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 04:15 PM

Guys this is great stuff. I'm a fledgling filmmaker myself just working through some screenwriting ideas, just purchased a dv camera, reading a lot of stuff, watching as many movies as I can with an eye towards cinematography, and preparing to work on my first short directly. Advice like this is great because it's motivated me to "just do it" and I'm really excited. Thanks.
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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 01:56 AM

wow thanks for such great feed back, I bought a somewhat expensive camcorder in my view, a optura 50. From money I had saved up from working etc. But the advice is really great I really appreciate this help and I will be making a movie soon after.
Plus right now Im really happy I dont need to spend any more money :D, my dad gave me a couple of old videolights(1000 watts each) which I can white balance etc. Although theyre broken and I have to rewire the electrical wires...GOOGLE time! lol. I hope I can start soon because this is all very exciting

thanks!


The optura is a GREAT little camera, it will do a good job for for where your at right now. Save up 15 or 20 bucks and by a light-wieght tripod for it if you haven't already. There are techeniques you can look up on the web to use your tripod as an improvised steadicam to make some of your hand-held shots smoother in addition to it's primary function. You can add a lot of production value to you films with simple things, the reflectors I mentioned before are used constantly on BIG productions and cost almost nothing. They can be used to augment your lights by reflecting spilled light as fill light, control light spill in a pinch or soften your lights by turning your lights around and bouncing the light off the reflectors onto your subjects. An old wagon or a wheelchair (if you can scrounge one up) can act as a dolly on a flat surface. Skateboard dollies for such a light camera are easy to build and plans for them are all over the web, add a couple of 10ft pieces of 2in PVC tubing and you got yourself a nice little setup. A chinese lantern gives off a beautiful soft glow similer to a very expensive softbox. A piece of 6in wide plywood about 3 or 4 ft long with a hole drilled in the center for a bolt to hold the camera to the board and ya got yourself a shakeycam. You mount the camera in the center have a guy at each side run with it and it gives you a very cool effect. They did that in Evil Dead, held the board low while they ran along, lifting it up over stumps and fallen branches and it became the evil dead's POV as they chased the D.I.D. (damsel in destress) though the forest, into the cabin. I guess what I'm saying is think out of the box.

When you have no money you have to get creative, look at Spielberg. The only reason you almost never actually see the shark in Jaws is because the damn thing never worked so Steven had to rethink his shots on the spot, which actually made for a better movie than it would have been had it gone as planned. Speaking of Spielberg, If you get the chance, Look at the films he did when he was 16. He made a war picture where he used a teterboard piece of board covered with dirt to simulate explosions very effectively. The actor stepped on the board as he ran and dirt went flying up in the air. He cut stock WWII footage together with shots of kids in a plane's cockpit shot at low, odd angles to simulate a dogfight and it worked fairly well. Remember film is all make believe. You can force prespective, maniputate time, turn the camera angle around and seem like you've moved a hundred miles, add sounds that were never there, show the audience things charatures don't see. (Hitchcock said if you want to build suspense, don't show a bomb under a table and blow it up, show a bomb under a table and let the audience squim while the charatures sit calmly talking unaware the bomb is ticking away) change the mood film from a comedy to a drama by changing the lights and the background music (score) so just because you shoot the exterior of a house in one location doesn't mean you can't use a room somewhere miles away as the interior of that house. Think OUTSIDE of the box. What editing software do you have and does your computer have a firewire port? B)
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#11 Bellizzi

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 12:01 PM

yeah I have a tripod, and I have a firewire w/ the connector. The editing software I have is Magix movie pro, better than windows movie maker
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 01:26 AM

You got everthing you need to to make a film. Start working on your script and again keep it short. when it's done find some friends to help you and go turn it into a film short. Do a lot of surfing for filmmaking sites and research on technique. There's a great little virtual reality lighting technique training program at the Kodak website, do a search on eather there or on this site and it should come up. The address was posted fairly recently in the lighting forum I think. Once you've finished your short, post it here, we'd all love to see it. You'll get honest feedback and will learn what you did right and what you could have done better and why. Have fun, it's gonna be a blast to see what you wrote an paper become a movie! B)

Edited by Capt.Video, 09 August 2006 - 01:28 AM.

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#13 Zoe Bergeman

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Posted 13 August 2006 - 09:55 PM

I just wanted to add in a thank you for those who took the time to reply here. VERY helpful information here. I've been wanting to make the jump from photography to cinematography (for super family movies :lol: ) and this is great advice for getting started.
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#14 Josh Posey

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 08:25 AM

I would suggest you read "Rebel Without A Crew" by Robert Rodriguez. It's very inspirational.
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