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How Much Should I expect for costs?


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#1 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 12:40 PM

I'm an aspiring Director, looking to make low budget films. Now let's say we set aside the costs of actors, catering, locations, and props and just concentrate on film look and cinematographers. If I really wanted to capture the look of an early 80's film identical(and I mean just like it was made the same year with same camera and stock, identical) to the works of John Carpenter and lets say the film Bacholer Party with Tom Hanks. How much could I expect to pay equipment wise, and for a cinematographer who would have said knowledge? Just a ball park figure would help. Also could anyone give me any suggestions, such as how to aquire most bang for my buck?

Thanks in advance
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#2 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:49 AM

It depends, are you making a short film? How long do you take to shoot, i.e. lengthy periods or short and quick? Are you renting or using owned gear? Do you know people that would would put in free time, even a cinematographer?
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:51 AM

If I really wanted to capture the look of an early 80's film identical(and I mean just like it was made the same year with same camera and stock, identical)


You won't be able to use the same film stock (5247 I suspect), because it isn't available any more. John Carpenter films did use Panavision gear, so I expect you could use their older anamorphic lenses. I guess all this would come down to if you can do a deal with the rental company that fits your budget and if you can replicate the look of those older stocks in post.
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#4 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 11:31 AM

I would like to make full lenth features, not sure about how long it would take, depending on whether I get it on the first few takes. I'd proably try to keep the scenes short, so there is less chance of messing up lines. I don't really know anyone yet, But I'm going to school soon and hoping to meet some people hopefully, maybe I can draw some in with some of my ideas should be fun either way. I might have a couple of people but not many. But no, unfortunatly I don't know any Cinematographers at this time. If I was only friends with one, who knows maybe we could have already made quite a few movies.

I'm a little releuctant of doing too much in post, it seems films anymore look to doctored as a result of light changing. They all seem too dominated by one color be it blue at night or orange in daylight. Is that by director's choice, or does it develope that look from changing light in post? It seems like anyone who does movies nowadays which are suppose to look like films at the time never quite get it right. Seems like most of the movies I like the look of are more white light lit rather than the strong orange of today, but what do I know?

Not sure If I'm renting or buying, kind of just gauging my best options. Based upon what I can find out, will put me in the right direction. Now you mentioned Rental Companies, can you suggest any of their sites for me?

Edited by Dutch Gannon, 06 February 2012 - 11:32 AM.

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#5 M Joel W

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:10 PM

Panavision is willing to rent some of its gear very affordably now that demand for it has decreased. Get a few quotes from local rental houses (NYC or LA, you can google the major ones) and see what's cheapest, bid them against each other. You should be able to get a camera package and grip package for next to nothing if you negotiate smartly. Many DPs will reduce their rate if it means the chance to shoot on film, but then you still need a full cast and crew (and locations) in addition to your DP's fee.

If you're set on shooting 35mm film, anamorphic, etc. and want a full good non-union crew, my guess is you're looking at $200,000 if you pull in tons of favors to a million.

Edited by M Joel Wauhkonen, 06 February 2012 - 12:12 PM.

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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:14 PM

Feature film producers tend to rent equipment, they usually don't want the capital expenditure on cameras. There are rental companies worldwide, here are a couple of US companies

http://panavision.com/home

http://www.ottonemenz.com/

The coloured look is a style thing and you can put it in during post or something similar during production. Alternatively, you can use a more neutral style. Also, you also have to include lighting into the equation.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:20 PM

Also don't forget or underestimate, the importance and costs of good production design, as in the end we can only shoot what is really in front of the camera.
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#8 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:46 PM

True enough, doesn't matter how it's filmed if it isn't in the story, characters or other various things that make a movie good. But I'm just wandering if I shouldn't attempt to make films look the way I want them to out of the gate, or maybe wait until I'm a bit more established and just in the meantime do somthing with a similar look with the most modest equipment I can. What is in your opinions some of the best cheap equipment that could get me in the closest vacinity of what I'm looking for?

Edited by Dutch Gannon, 06 February 2012 - 01:48 PM.

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#9 M Joel W

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

I sent you a PM but you should really hire a producer and DP if you want substantive answers to these questions rather than just semi-anonymous opinions. The cost of additional gear for shooting film rather than video might be as little as $100,000, but the additional crew and potentially slower set up times will mean you'll need a higher budget. Thus the figure I gave above for a very low budget indie shot on 35mm.

If you've got the money to shoot film and you love the look, go for it. But you should hire a producer and, eventually, a DP before even thinking about gear. Gear won't be your biggest expense, nor should it be your top priority.

Edited by M Joel Wauhkonen, 06 February 2012 - 02:11 PM.

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#10 Pat Murray

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:19 PM

I'm an aspiring Director, looking to make low budget films. Now let's say we set aside the costs of actors, catering, locations, and props and just concentrate on film look and cinematographers. If I really wanted to capture the look of an early 80's film identical(and I mean just like it was made the same year with same camera and stock, identical) to the works of John Carpenter and lets say the film Bacholer Party with Tom Hanks. How much could I expect to pay equipment wise, and for a cinematographer who would have said knowledge? Just a ball park figure would help. Also could anyone give me any suggestions, such as how to aquire most bang for my buck?

Thanks in advance


Shooting Panavision Anamorphic has been mentioned a couple of times and I thought I'd highlight that point for you if you want to shoot a John Carpenter type film. Anamorphic lenses are mentioned because that's how Carpenter likes to shoot and he is, in my humble opinion, excellent at composing images for a wide lens format. For sure get a Producer together, but make sure your DP is competent with anamorphic lenses. Especially if you're going really low budget. Carpenter is no Ed Wood, if you catch my drift.
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#11 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:58 PM

Yes, Carpenter is one of my favorite directors. I love that pulled back look, that's another reason why new films are not really my kind of style, more often than not they are too close I feel. Several people I've talked to feel that the film makers are filming it that close because they are trying to hide somthing. I like seeing everything, wide shots like Sergio Leone. His characters and method of story telling also have a pace to them that fit his music so well.

I'm also a big fan of Michael Mann's work in the 80's with Thief and Manhunter.
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#12 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:55 AM

Liking and learning from some good films is the first part, but the next and most difficult part is to just go out and do and that's not an easy road to go down. Most first work suffers from the sole fact of being first work and that itself takes time to get past. But remember a good filmmaker is constantly evolving. I personally encourage the pursuit of short form projects in early directors, shorts and even commercials if possible (spec, or promos or whatever). There's not much weight in such things in the proof of your ability as a director, but it's always important to practice and I think what better way to practise on the basis of organising a significantly cheaper shoot in a day for a 30 second spot or a 5 minute film, than for a much bigger project that can cost significantly more and carry much bigger risks?

Out of curiosity, what kind of work have you done in the past and what school are you planning on going to?
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#13 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:47 PM

Actually I have no projects of any kind under my belt, though I do plan to purchase a camera and start doing skits for Youtube. I'm actually planning on going to school for Special Make-up Effects, so anything I learn about film making will be where I can pick it up.
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#14 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:55 PM

But I'm sitting on about two hundred ideas (Littarly not exagerating) for film scripts. And feel that I have a natural ability for Directing (At the risk of sounding like a pompous heel).
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:27 PM

Give it a go. Worst you can do is fail. I recommend finding some like minded people, who also want to learn, and giving it a shot. Make all the mistakes you can, and learn from every one of them. Don't get concerned yet with looks. If you want to direct, you need to get into the story and how to tell it. Don't try to make it look like X or Y film, yet. Make it look like your film. See how that goes.
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#16 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:40 AM

Give it a go. Worst you can do is fail. I recommend finding some like minded people, who also want to learn, and giving it a shot. Make all the mistakes you can, and learn from every one of them. Don't get concerned yet with looks. If you want to direct, you need to get into the story and how to tell it. Don't try to make it look like X or Y film, yet. Make it look like your film. See how that goes.

Yeah, just go for it, I've seen to many people say they'll do this and that, but they never actually do anything which can be disappointing if they potentially have a lot of talent.
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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 03:56 AM

But I'm sitting on about two hundred ideas (Littarly not exagerating) for film scripts. And feel that I have a natural ability for Directing (At the risk of sounding like a pompous heel).


I'd also check out on the craft of scriptwriting, you'll spend more time writing a feature film script than you will making the thing. It's a process that you also need brutally honest feedback on, so that the script is the best you can achieve.
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#18 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 08:02 AM

Alright thanks, lot of good advice I appreciate it. Can you guys recommend any good cameras for me to start on, maybe something digital, something that would at least mount one of those anamorphic lenses? Not to sound still worried about the look for now, but I would like to give any idea the best that I can give it. And I'm in the market for a good affordable camera.
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 08:54 AM

No digital camera which is affordable can mount an anamorphic lens-- well not a 2x squeeze on. Worry about the camera last.Write out the script.
But, if you must but a camera, I personally like the look of the new Nikon D800, but for that price, The Panasonic AF100 or the Sony F100s (another personal fav) would be a better investment. But, even then, you still need lenses/tripod.. and that's a lot of money.

I
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#20 Dutch Gannon

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 07:19 PM

I feel as if I might be overlooking somthing. If your saying that it would be expensive to make it look like the early 80's, then how did John Carpenter do Halloween for a budget of $320,000 total? if that is the look I'm going for it shouldn't cost about the same?
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