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Questions from a new film maker


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#1 Joe Sloan

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 05:34 PM

Hello. This is my first post here, but I've already learned quite a bit just from browsing/searching these forums, and will continue to do so.

Anyways, Ive wanted to create a low budget film most of my life.

I think (correct me if Im wrong) that it is much simpler to do now that HD video cameras are available?

I have quite a bit of experience with computers, as my full time job is a Graphic Designer / Web Designer, but I have only created a few short movies in Adobe Premiere.

Im confident if I shoot decent scenes, I can play with the video in editing software to give it a professional, blockbuster type look with the film. I just need to learn how to effectively use software (practice!) and learn how to compose good theme music digitally.

The FIRST thing I want to do is create a cool theatrical trailer thats 4-5 minutes long, then a script.

I absolutely know nobody in the film industry.

Also, obviously Im not trying to make money with this film. I just want to be able to put my heart and soul into creating a film, with the right music, etc. and then watch it over and over again for the rest of my life, haha.

If I could just put the scenes/music that I can imagine in my mind on film, I think Ill be alright.

So, here are some questions:

- With all the Computer Editing potential available, can I give this movie a high-end look (the 'grainy' look in the film, shading, colors, etc) with a low budget HD camera? Or is selecting the right Digital HD Camera still a huge deal when making a movie?

- The right theme Music in this film is going to be HUGE! Am I better off trying to compose the music digitally on my own? Or are there other options that are low budget?

- Will Adobe Premiere CS3 suffice? Or am I going to need something better?

I think thats it for now (the main questions). Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks
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#2 David Desio

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:52 AM

Joe,
welcome to the carnival!

It seems that you may have your priorities in the wrong place for a first time endeavor. 4-5min for a trailer, why not just shoot a 4-5min short? Also, if it were me, and everyone is different; I'd go with the cliched approach of having a compelling story and solid technique before I started worrying about how to throw a "film" filter on in post.

As for your editing set up, Premier Pro should be fine. If you want to really sweeten the look, bring your clips in After Effects and experiment with the many plug-ins that are available from BorisFX to Magic Bullet. Also, the filmic look has alot to do with how you shoot the movie and encompasses lighting, composition, all that jazz.

Maybe hook up with a DP and crew that has some experience( offering to compensate them of course :) ) and see what they can bring to the table.

How much hands on production experience do you have? You said that you've created a few shorts in Premier. Was that planning,shooting,and post production?

If you haven't much experience I'd suggest focusing on the production aspect first, you know, camera, lighting, etc.

Dave
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 10:06 AM

The FIRST thing I want to do is create a cool theatrical trailer thats 4-5 minutes long, then a script.


I think you've got this the wrong way round, unless you've got a good script there's no point in having a cool looking trailer. If you just go for the trailer, it's only a design exercise.

If you go for the suggested short you'll have to use the techniques that are required for the longer form film. I'd put getting the right actor, into the right character that the audience want to empathise with before the huge music. If the music is the huge part, you're making a music video, which perhaps may be what you actually want to make..
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#4 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:48 PM

I think (correct me if Im wrong) that it is much simpler to do now that HD video cameras are available?

It's not necessarily simpler, but it is certainly more accessible to beginners and those with little money. So if you've got some money for camera equipment, sound equipment, production design stuff, and everything else you need to make a film, then go for it!

Im confident if I shoot decent scenes, I can play with the video in editing software to give it a professional, blockbuster type look with the film. I just need to learn how to effectively use software (practice!) and learn how to compose good theme music digitally.

It's a pretty common misconception that the way a film looks is created in post. In reality, you can manipulate colors a bit, but ultimately you're limited by what you shoot. If you want a chiaroscuro look, for instance, you're not going to get it in post if you've lit everything really flatly. This is one of the most important functions of a DP, so I'm sure that pretty much anyone here will recommend that you learn how to light and how to create the look you want in-camera, and that you then use software functions to get yourself the rest of the way.

The FIRST thing I want to do is create a cool theatrical trailer thats 4-5 minutes long, then a script.

How are you going to create a trailer if you don't have a script? I think you've got your priorities backwards. Make a script, then make a film, then make a trailer from that. A lot of people, especially beginners, want to make really awesome trailers first, and I kind of can't blame them considering how damn cool some trailers are nowadays. But for many, many reasons, making a trailer instead of a complete film is way more difficult and complicated than you think, and really if you're investing that much effort into it, you might as well just go ahead and make the whole damn movie. And like Brian said, if what you really want to make is a 5 minute piece driven my music, then maybe you want to make a music video instead, or a a short film of some sort.

If I could just put the scenes/music that I can imagine in my mind on film, I think Ill be alright.

I'd recommend that you make some other stuff first as training. Lots of people (and this includes myself, so I'm speaking from experience) have assumed that they know what they want, and just jump in and try to make their magnum opus, and come out really disappointed when it ends up completely different from what they expected. Practice a lot first, know what happens when you do X, Y, or Z, and once you have that experience under your belt, use it to make something bigger.

- With all the Computer Editing potential available, can I give this movie a high-end look (the 'grainy' look in the film, shading, colors, etc) with a low budget HD camera? Or is selecting the right Digital HD Camera still a huge deal when making a movie?

There are all sorts of digital things that you can put on in post that simulate or approximate some sort of aspect of celluloid. But cheap video with filters applied to it still looks like cheap video with filters applied to it. It can certainly be a useful creative tool, but you're not going to fool anyone.

- The right theme Music in this film is going to be HUGE! Am I better off trying to compose the music digitally on my own? Or are there other options that are low budget?

If this is just for your personal use and to show your friends, no one is going to care if you use copyrighted music, so go nuts if that's what you want to do. Otherwise, if you know how to compose music, you probably have more easy options available now than ever before.

- Will Adobe Premiere CS3 suffice? Or am I going to need something better?

Most editing software, as far as I know, is roughly equivalent nowadays and mostly differs in terms of interface, so if you like Premiere and feel comfortable using it, then go for it.
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#5 Jim Keller

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:33 PM

I can concur with what most everyone else has responded, but figured that I should chime in that excellent music is often available at very low cost. Composing is one of those fields where there are a few very well-known people doing 95% of the (paying) work out there, and a huge population of people scrambling to get enough credits to get that remaining 5%. I've used several no-name, ultra-low-cost composers, and been happy each time. The trick, of course, is to be able to determine whose music will work for you and who communicates well with you, as opposed to just going with the "Oh, my little brother writes music..." recommendation.

For the no-cost option, when you're ready for music (i.e., your picture is locked and there won't be any more editing done to it, unless you're doing a musical, of course) get notices out to schools that have a film composition program. If there aren't any in your area and you prefer to work face-to-face, then any local college with a serious music composition program might have a few students with a strong interest in film. See what the students can bring you.

Low-cost options are widely available, too. Most composers have websites now, so ask people who they've been happy with, or just see whose music you like when you're watching other projects and then Google them. John Williams and Danny Elfman are probably going to be out of your price range, but there are a lot of excellent composers out there whose names you wouldn't recognize whose rates are therefore very reasonable (especially if you're not on a particular schedule and/or if your project is something that they could really use for their reel).

Therefore, I would advise that you not try to score the film or trailer yourself, unless you have an excellent command of both the film and the music vocabularies, and the skills to deliver what you need without that critical check of the director's ears determining if it's working or not. Even Jerry Goldsmith told stories of directors rejecting whole scores, and subsequently deciding they made the right call. Too many projects have failed because someone thought they could do it all...
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#6 Bruce Taylor

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:36 PM

- The right theme Music in this film is going to be HUGE! Am I better off trying to compose the music digitally on my own? Or are there other options that are low budget?


Great responses here, I would just like to add a comment about the music. First, if there is commercially recorded music that is perfect for your film, go ahead and use it. As said before, if it's for personal use there aren't any copywright issues. Maybe worth a try, I hear that some of these digital music composition programs are pretty good, though I wouldn't try to do it myself. There are a lot of real musicians out there (esp recent music school graduates) that can write and perform great stuff, and will often work for free or nearly free if they like the project. You'd be suprised what people will do when they get a chance to create.

Good luck,

Bruce Taylor
www.indi35.com
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#7 Joe Sloan

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 04:21 PM

wow, I've learned so much just in the few replies you guys have made. So should I shoot/edit the movie first, then add music?

Im thinking instead of a trailer - or a short, I should just shoot one 5 minute scene. I think I am going to try and take advantage of natural sun lighting, and shoot my scenes during the afternoon on a summer day. I love the way the shadows look when its 4 or 5 PM in Summer. Plus the scene I want to shoot will not require any props, etc. Just a desert scene/dialogue between two people. I guess I need to go out and practice taking 'cool looking' shots and practice on my computer with edting, etc etc
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 05:02 PM

Practice is key.
I think you'll find even shooting a good 5 minute scene will take you a good deal of time-- possibly several days.
You'd want to get close ups, mediums, wides, and cut aways, so you have choices in editing. Also, shoot your wides at the time it's supposed to be, then you can cheat the close ups.
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#9 Jim Keller

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 05:44 PM

So should I shoot/edit the movie first, then add music?


That's really a matter of personal preference. Some people like to lay down a music track and then edit to that track -- even if it's not the track that's ultimately going to be used -- letting the music guide the flow of the scene. Others like to edit the scene without regards to music, and leave it up to the composer (or the luck of synchronicity) to get the music to accentuate the key moments. I'd say try editing a short project (there's lots of "found footage" available on the internet for experimentation) both ways, and see what works well for you.
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#10 Joe Sloan

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 05:49 PM

Practice is key.
I think you'll find even shooting a good 5 minute scene will take you a good deal of time-- possibly several days.
You'd want to get close ups, mediums, wides, and cut aways, so you have choices in editing. Also, shoot your wides at the time it's supposed to be, then you can cheat the close ups.



Ya, I expect a week or so, just to shoot a 5 minute scene. I will not be happy with a scene until I have the look I want. Considering Im a new movie maker, and need alot of practice, that could take awhile!

Thankfully, I listen to downloaded movie scores quite a bit. I always find myself picturing the 'scene' in my head while listening to the scores. I like alot of Zimmer's stuff, along with Steve Jablonsky, etc
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#11 Peter Mosiman

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 03:47 PM

Ya, I expect a week or so, just to shoot a 5 minute scene. I will not be happy with a scene until I have the look I want. Considering Im a new movie maker, and need alot of practice, that could take awhile!


I have been practicing for a year and a half and I finally made something that I think has some merit. (Of course, I'm not constantly filming, but still, all the practice makes perfect comments are true. I guess I just never understood that practice also means heck-o-lotta time. haha

Thankfully, I listen to downloaded movie scores quite a bit. I always find myself picturing the 'scene' in my head while listening to the scores. I like alot of Zimmer's stuff, along with Steve Jablonsky, etc



Zimmer works the same wonders on me. Very inspiring music. :lol:
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 03:49 PM

It's all about Thomas Newman and Phillip Glass for me.
And, the sound design in Baraka is fantastic, says me, not sure off hand who did that one thought.
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