Jump to content


Photo

New film maker here. Do I have all of the necessary equipment?


  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#1 Daniel Hueque

Daniel Hueque
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Student
  • Texas

Posted 12 April 2009 - 09:00 PM

Hey everyone,

I’m preparing to make my first couple of films in the next few months. One film being about 4 minutes long, and the second a full length film (90 or more minutes). I will be the writer, director, editor, cinematographer, etc. for both. And my friends will play the actors, and be my crew in whatever ways they need to be. We own all of the video equipment I will list below.

We are all in our mid twenties and are serious about making movies for entertainment purposes. These aren’t for school or anything, and we aren’t interested in making documentaries. Just normal films to entertain whatever audience we can get. We are all relatively new at this, and would probably be considered amateurs or advanced amateurs. We are financing all this ourselves, and have pretty much no experience outside of what I write about here.

So here’s my short introduction. I’m brand new to film making. I know nothing about the technical aspect of film making other than what I’ve read on this website recently. But I am obsessed with movies, and when I watch them I pay close attention to directing and lighting, etc.

I’ll try to give as much information as possible for my question. My question is this: Looking at my list of equipment, is it sufficient for my needs, and if not, then what other equipment do I need and would you guys recommend?

First, I’ll describe the two films we plan on shooting. Second, I’ll list the equipment we have and discuss our budget. (Skip to the end of the post if you would like to read our budget information first). We are interested in making other films in the future. Our goal is to continue making films for years to come and to become a small production company producing and making our own films. So we would like to do this right and grab some decent gear for now, so we can upgrade to better stuff later if we are successful.

The two movies:

The setting for the first film is going to be mostly inside an apartment. There might be one outside shot looking into the apartment through the front door. The film is going to be less than 5 minutes. There will be two scenes total. The first scene it will be dark in the bedroom with the light off. I want the colors to look as normal and naturally dark as possible, while still allowing the viewer to see everything normally. So just dark enough for the viewer to think that the lights are off. The second scene will be in the living room with the lights on. Again, I want the lights to just look natural and normal, like any normal living room during the day, with maybe the shades open and the sun reflecting in. There will be no special trick shots or special effects. There is no dialogue. Only the footage plus a narrative voice over the entire time.

The atmosphere of this movie is serious and futuristic like Gattaca. The lead actor is the only actor for 95% of the movie. Another character appears at the door for the last 5% of the movie. She will be wearing a professional looking dress suit like Uma Thurman from Gattaca, except grey. There will not be a lot of movement. The characters will be standing still or lying down at all times.

http://www.independe.....ca SPLASH.jpg

The second movie is going to be more complex. I will need the same apartment shots as the above movie. Plus, I will have some outside shots with a poor man’s steadicam and a poor man’s dolly. Again, I’d prefer all the lighting to be natural and normal. Not anything spectacular or colorful or what not. All of the outside shots happen around early afternoon. This movie will have dialogue and about 6 characters with dialogue, plus another 2/4 without dialogue. No serious action sequences. Two scenes involve a character running through a city. That’s about it.

The atmosphere of this movie is serious and futuristic, but more dystopic and depressing like the book 1984 and the movie Children of Men. If I have any color changes, I will want the movie to look like the first part of the Russian movie Stalker: yellowish over pale colors. There will be one shot with special effects…the last shot. Far in the distance, an asteroid falls through the atmosphere and right as it nears the horizon above the tree line, the screen fades to white. That’s the only special effect, and I can do without it if necessary and just narrate that it happened. The clothing of the characters and the decoration of the settings will be grey/brownish, like Waterworld.

I consider both movies to be relatively minimalistic in every way that I can think of. I don’t know anything about the technical aspects, other than that we are using the Canon XH A1, and filming in HD, etc.

The equipment list:

1. Cameras:
- Canon XH A1
- Canon Vixia HF 100

2. Accessories:
- Poor man’s steadicam and poor man’s dolly, both self built.

3. Audio:
- We have Sennheiser and (I think) Rode microphones. I don’t know the details, but I know he has normal mics, shotgun mics, and the little ones you clip under the actor’s tie. Plus he has the hardware that goes with it. I’m pretty sure we are good to go in this department. During the filming, I ONLY want to record the dialogue. I don’t want any other audio. Only their voices. I want to add all other sound effects/music/noises/etc after filming during the editing process. How does that sound?

4. Software:
- I don’t know which software to buy. It looks like my main choices are Avid or Final Cut Studio 2. I think I would prefer Avid since I have a Windows computer. Is there any reason to buy a Mac computer and the Final Cut Studio 2, instead of just buying the Avid software? Also, I’d prefer the Academic version if it comes with all of the features as the non academic version. It’s ok if I can’t upgrade it, so long as I get all the features the regular version has.
- Also, I don’t know which version of Avid to buy. Final Cut Studio 2 is like 60 gigs, but Avid looks like it is less than 5 gigs…how is that possible? I don’t want to miss out on a ton of great features. So (a) should I get avid, (B) which version of Avid to get, and © which other software do I need in addition to this?
- I will be personally doing all of the editing and will be the only one using the software.
- So far I’ve been looking at Nitris DX plus Liquid. I have no idea if those are good choices or what.

5. Lighting (sorry if these descriptions are bad or non specific):
- Clamped lights (metal dishes you put the bulbs in) with 250 watt color correct tungsten photo flood bulbs.
- Shop lights, 4 of them, halogen, with barn doors to make them directional instead of flood.
- Ultra bright 36 led panel for forward lighting. I think this is attached to the Vixia HF 100.
- Scrim butterfly (?) for utilizing natural light and softening natural light on a subject.
- Photo umbrellas.

- I don’t know what any of this stuff is. Lighting is the area I feel most incompetent about. Will this gear do, do we need more, and what else do we need for a basic set up? I feel like we need some lights like this:

http://www.lowel.com/kits_multi.html

6. Lens and filters:
- I have none of this at all. Can I get by without buying any of this? If not, recommendations?

7. (did I missed any more categories)???

The budget:

Our budget is not much. I will buy the editing software such as Avid out of my own pocket. In addition, what is the next most important thing to buy? My guess was lighting equipment.

Our budget for extra gear/more lighting equipment is $3,000. We might be able to scrounge an additional $1,000 from somewhere if necessary. So a total of $4,000 ultra maximum to spend, excluding the price of the editing software.

That being said, we don’t want to buy cheap, crappy gear if we can avoid it. Quality, but reasonably priced amateur/advanced amateur equipment is about the range I think we are looking for. I am open to any and all suggestions on this and everything else.

Sorry this post is so long everyone. Again, my main question is whether my grab bag of equipment here is good enough for what we want to do, or do we need to buy more. I am completely open to any and all suggestions, even about things I didn’t talk about or might not know about.

Do I have any idea what I’m talking about here?

If something I said doesn’t make sense, or if you need more information about something please just let me know. I don’t know if I left out any crucial information. All replies and suggestions are sincerely appreciated.

Thanks a ton for reading.

Edited by Daniel Hueque, 12 April 2009 - 09:03 PM.

  • 0

#2 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 12 April 2009 - 09:19 PM

So here’s my short introduction. I’m brand new to film making. I know nothing about the technical aspect of film making other than what I’ve read on this website recently. But I am obsessed with movies, and when I watch them I pay close attention to directing and lighting, etc.


Based on the above statement...your first mistake will be trying to make a 90 minute narrative film after you've made only one four minute short film.

Unfortunately you can't learn that much about making movies by simply watching them, you have to learn by doing in film.

So I would suggest two things 1) Try and enroll in some sort of professional training program 2) Make a lot more than one short before jumping into a 90 min feature.

Otherwise I guarantee the experience will be very frustrating and you will not be happy with the results.

R,
  • 0

#3 Daniel Hueque

Daniel Hueque
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Student
  • Texas

Posted 12 April 2009 - 09:29 PM

Definitely good advice and will do. We'll stick to short films until we feel experienced and know what we're doing a little better. Also, my equipment questions still stand because will still be needing the gear in the immediate future regardless.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to enroll in any classes, but I do have time to read books. I didn't ask for book recommendations since I know there are great lists floating around this site.

Much appreciated.
  • 0

#4 Michael Kubaszak

Michael Kubaszak
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 206 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Chicago

Posted 13 April 2009 - 10:51 AM

Richard is 100% absolutely correct. Try getting on stuff too. Or since you own a camera or have to access to one, offer to shoot for people who know less or not much more than you. Also, putting yourself in the writer. director, shooter, editor, producer, art depart. etc will probably kill you. There is a reason most times there is one person fulfilling each job, they are all very important and require a lot of knowledge, time and energy.

Edited by Michael Kubaszak, 13 April 2009 - 10:55 AM.

  • 0

#5 Daniel Hueque

Daniel Hueque
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Student
  • Texas

Posted 13 April 2009 - 11:38 AM

Ok. I definitely agree. My only problem with getting people to help me is that I don't have anyone to ask or who is interested. But we'll try to find more people to fill specific roles so I can delegate jobs. Also, I just wanted to get some minor experience under my belt in different areas of film making.

Either way, I'm still curious about the equipment questions, especially since we plan on making a couple shorts within the next few months. We could figure it out on our own, but with our budget, we just don't have extra cash for mistakes, such as by not buying the most important equipment we need right now.
  • 0

#6 Michael Kubaszak

Michael Kubaszak
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 206 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Chicago

Posted 13 April 2009 - 02:25 PM

computers and editing software: 1 editing software has a learning curve. 2 Get a Mac. I would recommend FCP, also, if you have a Mac you can use one of the various torrenting sites to get the application.

Camera: the xh-a1 is HDV not HD, there is a difference. That camera should be fine, I have shot several shorts on that camera and it is okay.

Lights: unless you are shooting black and white, the lights you have are all different color temperatures and not standard ones at that(3200k, 5600k) Lowell kits are okay. If you are shooting anything you have got to have a good knowledge about lighting as that is a big part of cinematography.

i suggest finding some film students that need help on their productions(craigslist, flyers and the film schools dept. etc,) and work on them and become friends with them, pay a ton of attention and work hard. Then maybe they will help you on your project, bring some know-how and some gear.
  • 0

#7 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 13 April 2009 - 03:14 PM

Do not Pirate software, least of all FCP software. Last thing you'd want is auto-update to brick your FCP while you're editing.
I highly recommend buying the Acedemic Avid. It is cheapter ($295) and on the PC side will have enough to get you buy and make DVDs.
BUT, Avid is a STEEP LEARNING CURVE. Once you learn it, you know it and you'll be fine, but it's not as easy to use as FCP. Of course buying FCP and a mac will set you back... Also, check that your PC will work with AVID, AVID has specific hardware and software needs.
FCP is 60 gigs or so because of the content it comes with, such as motion/soundtrack/dvdstudio pro templates. I don't recall how big my AVID install is, but it's light on it's feet.
Also, yes, the Canon is an HDV camera, which isn't really HD. It's highly compressed but, when downsampled to SD will look better than other "cheaper" cameras and they're in demand so hell, you might be able to rent it out a bit!
Yes, you'll need lighting, you'll need tripods etc etc. And that gets expensive (especially a good tripod!). What I would do is nudge around craigslist and try to get some used lights, Arris, Omnis, DPs, Moles (love the old moles!) and find a friend whose electrically inclined. Lights are pretty easy to re-wire most of the time if they need it, and you can get some heads pretty cheap off of ebay. Both my Mole 2Ks with doors/scrims cost around $150 and another $100 for a junior stand from BH (used) and I was on my way.
You certainly don't want to wear too many hats, and I don't think you'll have to. Film is exciting, you can get yourself a core group of people all of whom are just learning and make your mistakes together. Get some people, from wherever (craigslist?) and mention these are fun projects and you're just trying to learn etc. Don't expect to get professional crew (unless you're lucky) but you might get some local students along who can help you out, and vice versa.
Work on shorts, build up your talent therein. Work with your limitations and you'll be fine.
This is a process of learning and you'll make mistakes along the way and that's totally fine. If you ever wind up buying me enough drinks I'll show you all my horrible shots/films I did... and I do mean HORRIBLE! You F-up and you get over it and you don't do it again! (I am still haunted by an emulsion scratch!)
Also, a lot of good lighting isn't how much light you can add, but how much you can take away! Sometimes it's fine to just have on bare, bright white bulb in a scene dangling from a cord (Thinking Children of Men here). Other times, you just need a few Candles (Barry Lyndon) and still other times you need to tweak the hell out of lights in a Diner (The Road to Perdition). Make your lighting and camera choices work for the script, to supplement it and comment on it without being too heavy handed. And remember, this is important, you can only shoot what is in front of the camera. on the Low budgets, getting the right locations is very important. If you get a location that Looks the right way, well then you can normally shoot it the right way. There is nothing worse than getting to a location which is a white walled nothing and being told "Ok, this is the apartment," or worse, a curtained off "studio" with a fold up table in it which is supposed to be the back room in a speak easy.... and that's all that's in there... oh the stories I could tell!
Good Luck!
  • 0

#8 Michael Kubaszak

Michael Kubaszak
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 206 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Chicago

Posted 13 April 2009 - 03:40 PM

There is nothing worse than getting to a location which is a white walled nothing and being told "Ok, this is the apartment,"



I just shuddered.
  • 0

#9 Daniel Hueque

Daniel Hueque
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Student
  • Texas

Posted 13 April 2009 - 04:17 PM

Excellent. Thanks everyone for the replies. I'll be around if anyone has anything else to add, but I just want to note that these replies have been super informative and were exactly what I was looking for. All good advice as far as I can tell, and I wanted a push in the right direction, especially if we we're headed in the wrong direction. We'll stick with shorts. Also, I’ll buy some books on lighting and starting looking for 2nd hand lighting equipment.

Our core group is me and two other guys I grew up with, plus a few others who might be interested if they get serious about it. I’m most interested in directing and cinematography, which is why I’m so interested in the equipment. Again, thanks everyone for the replies.
  • 0

#10 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 13 April 2009 - 07:42 PM

Don't get too wrapped up in tools/equipment. They are just that. My dad used to say to me, before he passed, "the camera is just a holder for the film." And it really is. It's how you use this holder/film which is important. If you get control of you're lighting/style and work diligently, you can make breathtaking images on ANY format. People get too wrapped up with I need this and that and that to make my film when in reality; most of the time, it just adds unneeded complexity.
  • 0

#11 Michael Collier

Michael Collier
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1262 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 13 April 2009 - 09:10 PM

Your bound to make mistakes no matter what you buy. You don't know how your going to work after the first short. You'll like some things about your kit, some things you won't, some you wish worked differently, etc. Every setup is different, every Key Grip is different, every Gaffer is different, every DP is different. There is a lot of crossover in what one crew of people prefer compared to another, but if you have never really worked then how would you know? How do we know what to recommend?

I would say the best that you can do, given your limited budget, is to spend 1/10th of it right off the bat. Buy some totas, buy some bead board (basically the white foam insulation they sell in 4x8 sheets at home depot, break it down to 4x4 squares) buy a pack of color correction gels (don't bother with party gels just yet) maybe a cardolini and a gobo head. A couple c-stands if your feeling crazy, but that is way more than 300 bucks to get to that point, so maybe slow down.

finish your first short film and review the process. look at equipment that might make your job easier. Don't spend the other 9/10ths just yet. maybe just spend another 300 bucks. make another short. Spend another 300. Make another short. Spend 500, etc. As you grow as a film maker, so will your understanding of how your style and talents affect what gear you would use (as well as resources. No sense dropping money into a 20x frame if you don't have the grips to fly it, or the knowledge to know what rag you need and why)

We can't answer questions you haven't thought up yet, so the best thing is to start making movies and find those problems that we all experience every day and figure out how your going to solve them. No matter how complete of a list we give you, you won't get it all for 3000 and you will likely find 10 more things you wish you could afford for your next short. Start small and expand.

I guess its akin to saying: don't buy a full woodworking shop yet. Buy a hammer, a saw and a miter box and build a few projects before going out and buying a planer and a dovetale jig. It takes years of woodworking before you would know what to do with the new Yankee workshop, film making is no different. don't kid yourself into thinking your going to be the next savant right out of the gate.

The camera should be decent to start with. You might want to upgrade later, but it should get you through a year or two of experimenting. An FCP will edit just fine for years to come, so it might be a good investment.

Just as an aside: I don't see a tripod on your list....take care of that. Its essential. Not for all shots, but you can't fake not having a decent tripod. 50 bucks at walmart doesn't cut it.
  • 0

#12 Daniel Hueque

Daniel Hueque
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Student
  • Texas

Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:02 PM

I'd be lying if I said that every post wasn't super helpful and helped to give me perspective on how to approach this. We're definitely going to take it slow (making shorts, and spending just a little bit of cash each time). Oh and Adrian, that reminds me of how so many movies that I consider masterpieces were made without modern technology and equipment. Since my friend already has Final Cut Express (I think it's called), I'm going to get the Academic versions of Avid and the extra 3rd party software for about $500, plus I'm going to buy some lighting and cinematography books, and that's all I'll spend for now. I think we have a good tripod, I just forgot to list it. We'll get the rest as we go. Thanks everyone times a million.

Edited by Daniel Hueque, 14 April 2009 - 07:03 PM.

  • 0

#13 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:23 PM

Any time and best of luck!
  • 0

#14 Chris Lewis

Chris Lewis

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Camera Operator

Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:26 PM

Hi Everyone,

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for the great responses. I'm one of the people on Daniel's crew, and we are excited about trying to get into the industry. I'm glad we got some great responses, b/c in a way it brought us down to earth a little bit where we didn't get in way over our heads right out of the gate and ruin our whole perception of what film making is like.

As for equipment we have, I saw someone ask about our tripods. We have 2 Manfrotto 3001BN's with Manfrotto 501HDV liquid heads. Our cameras are 2 Canon XHA-1's and 2 Canon GL-2's and the other one Daniel had listed. Shotgun mics are Rode NTG-2 and Sennheiser EW100 G2 for lavaliers. Lighting equipment is a category we fall short in at the moment, but we do have plans to improve it. We only have standard head lamps that attach to the cameras for the time being. (We shoot wedding videos normally, is where the compilation of equipment came from).

I just wanted to say hi and list some of our equipment to see if it is adequate. I'm sure we will have many more questions to come. Does anyone have experience with poor man's steady cam or personal steady cam creations of their own? The harnesses can get pricey quick and we'd rather not dump money into that right away if there are acceptable alternatives. Once again, thanks for all the replies.
  • 0

#15 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:33 PM

If you don't need steadycam/jibs then don't use them. You have to motivate your choices. Don't just dolly for the sake of dollying. Don't use steadycam for the sake of steadycam.
For lighting, who says you need any lights? Who says you need heads? There are many times you can modulate what you have there already to suite your purposes.
Over time, build up your lighting and grip equipment, but never forget how to work with what's already in the location (example, you're on a subway platform. it's already lit for you with the floros overhead..so just modulate with a little something from the side for some definition in the close ups). Or, if you can, watch how sunlight falls in a room, shoot your wide when it best benefits you and then again, modulate with whatever small heads you have for the close ups.
Sometimes, all you need is what's there already. I was shooting in a bar, recently, and my only lighting were some 40W houshold bulbs hidden beneath the bar and reglobing their overheads with 60Ws.
  • 0

#16 Brandon Ruiz

Brandon Ruiz
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 18 posts
  • Other

Posted 15 April 2009 - 03:33 PM

I wish you could rate threads on this board. You guys have given some incredible advice.
  • 0

#17 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 15 April 2009 - 03:41 PM

You can rate members by clicking on their name and then going to their profiles ;)
  • 0

#18 Del Collens

Del Collens
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts
  • Other

Posted 15 April 2009 - 11:39 PM

Ok, first thing, and I don't want to impose in any way so take it with a grain of salt.

Primary people you are dealing with on this forum are cinematographers, videographers and the occasional DP.
So this one important factor, that was not mentioned once as expected, before you do anything;

HAVE A STORY

Avant-Garde/experimentation is good if you don't care for story, however my suggestion to you is lock your story.
You're wearing a lot of hats, which is a bad thing unless you're goddamn amazing at filling each glass equally, very few people in the world are, so think twice about what all you should be focusing primarily on.
You want to write, direct, photograph and edit, and from the sounds of it, produce it.
If you have people who want to specialize in a particular craft, and you trust them or are close enough to collaborate well with them, do it. Putting your hands in too many things will sacrifice what you want in post.
Also, working with others is a great step in realizing what it is truly like in all stages of production, it's what you have to do regardless of the position. It's a collaborative artform whether you like it or not, and often times it's not art :)

So, figure out what it is you really want to focus on and try and get others too take some of the load off in the other areas if possible. (I know it's easier said than done, but it's worth trying.)

If you're writing something just to do some cool camera shots, stop and possibly rethink what it is that you're aiming to accomplish. If that is all you're wanting to do, rent anything you can afford and take advantage of the most experimentation possible -- HAVE AT IT -- and use the knowledge you gain for your next film.

However, if you are wanting to engage or make your audience think, rather than have something to simply show your friends and family. Write a story and keep it short and simple. It doesn't have to have dialog, in fact, it's an accomplishment if you don't have any dialog at all but have a solid story.

Get Final Draft if you want to write in a professional structured format just to get your feet wet. People on this forum may be willing to read your short and give constructive criticism -- If you get desperate send it my way and I'll give it a read.

A DP friend of mine wrote a book in the early 00's that covers basic composition and numerous other tidbits helpful to aspiring DPs, if you have questions about composition or standards of either videography or cinematography give it a go if you have the money.

If you're editing, I suggest getting a old copy of Avid Xpress Pro HD or possibly Media Composer if you have the money.

Lastly, the more prepared you are, the better off you are. Don't get flustered, remember it's for the experience, and remember to have fun.

Edited by Del Collens, 15 April 2009 - 11:42 PM.

  • 0

#19 Rhys Cooper

Rhys Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 26 posts
  • Student

Posted 16 April 2009 - 02:16 AM

We are all in our mid twenties and are serious about making movies for entertainment purposes. Just normal films to entertain whatever audience we can get.


There are more to films then the superficial layer that most of the audience will see. As a director it is your responsibility to figure out how best to represent actors, sets and scenarios, as well as include minor things like codes and motifs.

Having friends as actors isn't always a great idea. If you get frustrated with them you may lose them not only from the production but forever; just as some people recommend not to hire a friend for a repair job. It MAY work, and it has plenty before, but you can't always be reassured they'll keep their attitudes, will have a professional outlook on acting or do a good job; which can become VERY taxing. I'm not saying dump your friends from the production, but be weary.

I am obsessed with movies, and when I watch them I pay close attention to directing and lighting, etc.


...I don't see how you can pay attention to directing, it's a fairly invisible art. Directing is the creative influence on acting and cinematography, but they don't have complete control and you can't exactly tell whether it was actor, director, editor, cinematographer, etc. Sorry for that rant. :lol:

We are interested in making other films in the future. Our goal is to continue making films for years to come and to become a small production company producing and making our own films.


What are your reasons for wanting to get into film? I don't want to be a narc or a dream-crusher, but so many come into film because they see it as an easy way to get a lot of money; which is why so many people (directors and actors) fail when they go to Hollywood.

Your first short film sounds as if there is no story, and by the description you gave -- the completed film will be about 10 seconds in length. It sounds like nothing more then a quick test or experiment. I really don't want to be rude or sound narcissistic, but you don't sound like you have a great idea about film making. Try making a number of short (that's over 8, and don't rush them). You are jumping in FAR too deep with little experience. Are you sure how you will model the asteroid, animate it and apply all the fire effects to it to make it realistic? Before you'll composite it over whatever footage? Are you going to be using stock footage? What are the sets you are planning on creating and using?

HAVE A STORY

You're wearing a lot of hats, which is a bad thing unless you're goddamn amazing at filling each glass equally, very few people in the world are, so think twice about what all you should be focusing primarily on.
You want to write, direct, photograph and edit, and from the sounds of it, produce it.

So, figure out what it is you really want to focus on and try and get others too take some of the load off in the other areas if possible. (I know it's easier said than done, but it's worth trying.)

Lastly, the more prepared you are, the better off you are. Don't get flustered, remember it's for the experience, and remember to have fun.


Multiple jobs can become very frustrating. It consumes so much more time then it would if you were purely directing experienced people, and then you are likely to end up getting frustrated at your small cast (who you may push into becoming crew, too) or crew because you feel it is insanely unfair, despite the fact you set it up like that (happened to me). Have like... 3 jobs, max. Direct, DP and edit. You shouldn't put so much on your plate, or you'll explode.

Prior planning is VERY important. Story boarding prior to filming is useful to save time during production with your limited set time; just as rehearsals are.

A lot of filmmakers can make better films with less equipment, because they focus more on what they have. Look at Hard Candy, it was filmed in 18 days with under a million dollars and is one of the best films I have EVER seen. They shot in at 3 locations. The directors focused more on getting good shots and directing the actors to give a solid performance to explain the story, rather then trying to make it extravagant with a bunch of effects, multiple storylines, hundreds of locations and overly complex soundtracks; which can actually distract the audience from what the script is trying to explain.

You have far more equipment then I do, and I feel that I am a fairly good filmmaker (for my age and everything). You should be fine with the stuff that you do have. Having less often gives you more.

Jumping straight into the deep end with a 90 minute film is not a good idea. Give yourself quite a bit of time to get your head around your job. Being a director can take people 10 years to get a hold of, so trying to fulfill so many jobs could become quite difficult for you. I can almost guarantee you that your production will crumble from stress or lack of experience (most likely both).


I really hope I don't sound rude (I'm basically judging your experience by a post), but I thought you might want to see the dark side so you can fix those tungsten lights and get a great production (yes, that was a petty metaphor).
  • 0

#20 Daniel Hueque

Daniel Hueque
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Student
  • Texas

Posted 17 April 2009 - 12:03 PM

Hey again. I don’t take any of this advice as sounding rude or imposing. In fact, I would rather honest/tough advice over sugarcoated advice. Before getting interested in movies, I wrote short stories and critiqued other peoples’ short stories as a hobby. I would always say the same thing before peer reviewing their work: “I’m not trying to sound rude at all. I just want to help you as much as possible.” So thanks again for all the honest advice.

Also that leads me to my next point, which is that I do love writing in general. Having a story and finding a way to tell that story will always be the central goal. In my first post above, I just described the movies generally and just described the set locations, etc. without talking about the plots because I wasn’t sure if it was important for this post. We do have stories though. It’s what I’ve been working on all month. I’m not interested in experimental/avant garde movies at all.

And I will definitely try to find others to help us, so I will not have to wear all the hats. We will be filming in the same city as our undergrad college, so we’ll start by checking if any students in the film department are interested.

But if I’m writing a movie, my general writing plan will be to (1) write the script, (2) draw a storyboard that corresponds with the script, and (3) have a third document noting soundtrack cues and sound effects and other things like this. I can’t get Final Cut, but I will be able to get The Academic version of Media Composer and also the Academic version of the third party software bundle. This should pretty much give me the software I’ll need as a beginner, as far as I can tell.

So for any special effects (like the possible asteroid I mentioned above), if I can learn how to use the special effects program properly, then I’ll try it that way. If I can’t, then I’ll take it out of the movie since it isn’t that important to the plot. Also, we’re not going to film the full length movie for a while anyway, since we’ll be focusing on shorts for now. So hopefully by the time we get around to making that movie I will have learned how to use the special effects program.

And I agree with the advice that I shouldn’t use my own friends as actors. Luckily for me, I won’t know the actors personally. They will most likely be the friends of the 2 or 3 guys I’m working with. I’m already planning on talking to each of the actors/actresses before they sign on to make sure they are ok with having to do the same thing a bunch of times over until we get it right, and also to tell them that I’m an extremely patient person and I’ll ask if they can be also. I know I’m brand new at this, so I’m hoping to do the best I can in my relationships with other people involved and to learn along the way how to best handle and deal with people (as a director).

The reason I want to make movies is because I love movies and think I MIGHT be good at doing this, and also because I think it will be one of the few things I might enjoy doing. Not much else is interesting to me right now. I really think I’ll like doing this. As for money, I hope we can eventually make money off of this, but I’ve already told everyone involved that I don’t expect to be making money anytime soon, if ever. I want to do this because I hope someone will want to watch what we make.

Lastly, as I mentioned above, I am going to be huge on prior planning. I’m going to do as much in advance as it will be helpful to.

I think that covers everything. This thread has been amazing. I bought some cinematography books from the book list I found on this site and I can’t wait to get them and read them. Thanks again everyone for the helpful and honest advice.
  • 0


Wooden Camera

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

The Slider

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Opal

FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Wooden Camera

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

CineLab