Loading...

Follow TFP Blog - The Filmmaker's Process on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Filmmaker Stories are crowdsourced articles from the Filmmaker Freedom community. To learn more about writing and submitting your own Filmmaker Story, click here.

FILMMAKER: Carl MasonSTORY: The Rocky Journey of a Personal Short Film, & What It Taught Me

Hi, I’m Carl. I’m the Director & Producer of ‘Revival’, a post-apocalyptic short film exploring a life without music.

Here it is.

REVIVAL - Short Film (2018) | Life Without Music - YouTube

This film was deeply personal to me.

As a musician myself, I wanted to explore what life would be without music, and what it would feel like to rediscover music again for the first time.

And, as a big fan of The Last Of Us, I thought it would be interesting to explore this concept in an apocalyptic landscape, and see where the story would take us.

With it being such a personal story, I made the decision to develop the screenplay myself rather than working with a screenwriter like I had done in the past.

However, I always had the issues of how we were going to fund an apocalyptic film in the back of my mind, and ended up rushing the first draft in an attempt to reach the deadline of a screenwriting competition.

After the first rejection, I soon came to the realization that the draft only really touched the surface of the story I set out to tell, with major pacing and character issues which were a direct result of rushing the writing process.

I decided the best course of action was to share the screenplay with a mix of people; friends, fellow filmmakers and even a script doctor to hear a variety of perspectives on the story.

This feedback would prove to be an invaluable resource for me in helping to shape the screenplay into what the film is today. It was vital to iron out these story issues as early as possible, as story is king and financially I would not be prepared to face these sort of issues later on down the line during production, as I couldn’t risk reshoots.





Once I had completed the screenplay I was still faced with the major issue of financing the film.

I tried reaching out to film funds and sponsors, but as it was an independent short film no one was interested. The next step, like many independent filmmakers was to try the crowdfunding route; so I spent weeks researching successful campaigns, developing graphics and concept art, traveling across country to film campaign trailers and yet still, only raised a quarter of our goal.

The fundamental element that was missing? An audience! Campaigning blindly to friends and family can only go so far.

Revival - Short Film Behind The Scenes - YouTube

By this point I felt like I had reached a dead end, but knew I couldn’t let the project lose momentum, otherwise it would be put on the back pile and forgotten. I did, however, finally have a completed script and a range of concept artwork which could help us visualize the story I wanted to tell.

So I decided to take a chance and send over the script and concept art to a few crew members whose work I had been following, to see if they might possible be interested in the project; namely our casting director, costume designer and cinematographer.

To my surprise, even though there wasn’t a budget in place, they all connected with the script and wanted to get involved. This was a breakthrough, and after weighing up the costs with the head of departments I decided to bite the bullet and try and finance the film myself.

This would prove to be quite a turbulent experience, trying to balance my freelance career with free time developing the short; jumping on-board as many projects as I could in order to save up the money in order to get the film financed.

Looking back now I appreciate the risks of funding the film this way and how unpredictable it was, but when I think back to how effective short films can be and the impact my previous films have had on my career in the past, I always feel the positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to the experience and networks gained.

The biggest hurdle I faced during pre-production was finding the perfect ‘apocalyptic’ location which gave us the flexibility and accessibility to shoot on-location with a crew whilst on our tiny budget.

I spent weeks scouting locations across the country, in talks with location agencies to try and make something work within our budget but had no luck. So I decided to compromise, and adapted the screenplay so it was less ambitious so we could film in just one or two locations, rather than having multiple unit moves.

This worked in our favour, and after updating the script came across a farm in Lancashire, North England which offered acres of woodland, desolate countryside, abandoned cars and derelict buildings all within one location.

Compromising in this way not only meant we could save on costs, but this new location really became its own character in the film. Our patience paid off in the end!

Despite the wet and cold weather conditions production went off without a hitch. We made the decision early on to shoot on two cameras so we could work as efficiently as possible; one camera primarily on steadicam and the other handheld which meant we could get double the amount of coverage per scene allowing us to move faster, which was essential when shooting in winter without much light.







The next challenge for us came during the post production process when we were faced with the edit.

After we had worked on assembling the first few drafts we felt the original ending in practice wasn’t as effective on screen as it was on paper.

I was faced with a big decision, so we edited two versions of the film, restructuring the footage to produce a cut that felt more ambiguous leaving the film more open ended, and a version with the original ending like it was written in the script.

I sent off both versions to a test audience of friends, family and filmmakers to hear their opinions and the consensus agreed the ambiguous ending worked better for the film, despite not being as it was in the screenplay.

This was the biggest lesson for me during the production of Revival, not being afraid to rewrite and rearrange the story during each stage of the production process, being comfortable enough to make compromises in order to get the film made and being confident enough to make myself vulnerable to feedback, taking chances despite what others may say.

The experience you gain from going out there and producing your own film really is a masterclass in filmmaking like no other.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. Each week, I share my latest writing, curated stories from around the web, a short film that I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

Are you ready to take your filmmaking to the next level?

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Filmmaker Stories are crowdsourced articles from the Filmmaker Freedom community. To learn more about writing and submitting your own Filmmaker Story, click here.

FILMMAKER: Ross OzarkaSTORY: Breaking Up With No-Budget Filmmaking & Finding a More Empowering Way to Make Films

Dear No-Budget Filmmaking,

I'm leaving you, and it's all your fault.

For ten years, you've been setting me up for failure with your backwards way of life:

  • Your director is also the caterer.

  • Your lead actor disappears halfway through.

  • Your movies are shot and edited on your cousin's iPhone.

How can I grow as a filmmaker with your bad habits holding me back?

I can almost hear what you'd say about this: “Baby, you need me!”

I can see why you'd think that: I have no money, no network, and I've never even set foot on a real movie set. You might think that I couldn't be a filmmaker if I didn't have you.

Now that we've spent some time apart, I can say this: I'm free.

“I know how we’d talk about the modern classics we were going make together, how our films would screen at Sundance, how their sheer brilliance would shine through the scant production value to catch the eye of a StudioCanal rep. But let’s admit it: that was all a fantasy.”

I've met new people, and they've showed me techniques that satisfy me in ways you never could, like:

Recording dialogue before the shoot.

I never understood why you'd make such a big deal out of location sound. Remember that time we jacked those lavaliers into the actor's cell phones? The quality was awful.

I learned this new technique, and I don't know why it never occurred to me before—get the actors in a dry and low-echo room, and record all their dialogue at once.

Oh. My. God.

It was so nice to have no on-set distractions. To able to concentrate on the actors, and not c-stands. For the first time, I could direct. Really direct. It felt amazing.

No more retakes for passing planes and trucks. No more performances ruined by a fridge. Now I only need a microphone for room tone and foley.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I have a confession to make. I've been...

Filming movies without actors or locations.

The endless casting calls on Craigslist, chasing permits from the local film office, begging cafe owners to film for an afternoon... and scheduling all that together was a nightmare. Why were you into that?!

That's why I prefer to make my movies without actors or locations.

“With the power of editing and shot composition, I can tell any story I want with a toothbrush and a bar of soap.”
— M̶a̶c̶G̶y̶v̶e̶r̶ Ross Ozarka



Sock puppets, Barbie dolls, my own drawings... I can puppeteer anything into an actor; one who's always available for reshoots, one who can do as many takes as necessary. As long as it can move in time with my pre-recorded dialogue, it can act.

And no, the story doesn't suffer at all. With the power of editing and shot composition, I can tell any story I want with a toothbrush and a bar of soap.

With actors so small, I don't need locations. I can draw backdrops on cardboard and light them with colored gels.

It looks pretty good, and for the first time, I have complete control of the mise-en-scene. I never even thought about mise-en-scene when I was with you!

Far from being limited, I have more storytelling tools now than I ever had with you.

No-Budget Filmmaking, I have a confession to make...

I've been doing this for the past three years. In fact, I've already made a feature!

Please don't be jealous.

I know how we'd talk about the modern classics we were going make together, how our films would screen at Sundance, how their sheer brilliance would shine through the scant production value to catch the eye of a StudioCanal rep. But let's admit it: that was all a fantasy.

I need to make films with someone who can solve the problems of filmmaking in new ways. Someone who will let me tell the stories I want to tell. You just weren't cutting it. With you, I could never make a film set in 16th Century Spain. But that's what I've been able to do.

Let me introduce you to my film. It's named “Oops, I Murdered the Person the Person I Like Likes.” You can watch it here, and use the coupon code OOPSBUCK to get $1 USD off the ticket price.



Yes, I'm distributing it online, forgoing festivals entirely.

Will that work? I wish I could tell you the best practices for promoting a film online, but I've never done that before.

All I know is I would love to find a way to distribute my films with no need for a Festival Programmer's approval. Maybe I'll write you again once I've figured it out.

Goodbye, No-Budget Filmmaking. I will think of you when I re-read the chapter of my life called “mistakes.”

-Ross Ozarka

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. Each week, I share my latest writing, curated stories from around the web, a short film that I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

Are you ready to take your filmmaking to the next level?

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Filmmaker Stories are crowdsourced articles from the Filmmaker Freedom community. To learn more about writing and submitting your own Filmmaker Story, click here.

FILMMAKER: Beatriz BrowneSTORY: How a Full-Time Producer Makes Time for Her Own Films

One of the challenges of being a filmmaker is deciding whether you want to play the lottery or remain satisfied with dividend stocks.

And by that I mean, making your own films and hoping one will turn your career into a successful one, or playing it safe and having a regular job while trying to pursue your passion on the side.

In my case, I attempted both.

The first option led me to an extremely anxious year, where I began focusing on the bills I had to pay and losing the energy, passion, and desire to be a filmmaker.

I then opted for an office job, and with that, I learned that you really don’t know what you've got 'til it’s gone.

Thankfully, my office job is working as a full-time producer for a media company. So really, I’m fortunate to be doing what I love everyday.

But of course, nothing in life is butterflies and rainbows, and that job comes with long production hours, lots of energy and multi-tasking between projects, and by the time the clock strikes 6pm I’m ready to go on hiatus in my bed and watch Parks and Rec until I’m asleep.

“The most important thing when having to use all of your extra time... is to truly be passionate about your film.”

Yet I still felt the urge to just go and pursue my own work.

But while the ideas were flowing in my head, I whirled into one desperate question: where am I going to find time to do any of this?

Quite frankly, I don’t have a straight answer, nor a formula that will work for everybody.

But as I am going through the process at the moment, I feel the ultimate need to share my experience, so it can hopefully shine a light onto some of you.

But before we get to that, a little more about me.

I am a producer and filmmaker whose focus is primarily on documentary work.

I have worked on a few docu-series, such as this one, and I’m currently producing my first feature doc, “The Monster of Carmine Street."

The film is about an independent bookstore in New York City which is home to an eccentric community of artists and writers, that is possibly the last bit of cultural heritage of the neighborhood.

I’ve had this film in mind and in pre-production for around one year, and we are finally in production. Yet there is still so much of the story left to unravel and plenty of obstacles to overcome.

I think the most important thing when having to use all of your extra time towards a passion project, is to truly be passionate about your film. Right now, I am in love with the story that is unraveling, and I feel compelled to tell a story about a community that is vanishing. That is essentially our purpose as storytellers, to keep these stories alive for years to come.

With that, here is a breakdown of the times how I’ve been managing my time:

1. Dark Hours

And by dark, I mean post-work hours. During the week I’ll commit myself to either going home and working on my project, or making use of my evening time to attend networking events, workshops, and classes that still revolve around my work.

When I head home, after refueling myself with food, I will normally sit at my desk and devote at least 2 hours to dig deep into research, pre-production, and writing (most of the time with snacks around me).

I also designated a wall in my bedroom that I call the “Doc-wall”, where I like to build storyboards and visual boards for my upcoming work to help it come to life.

However, this isn’t to say this doesn’t require a lot of discipline. In fact, it’s so easy to get home and relax, that I really have to push myself to focus.

A way I am able to do that is by setting personal deadlines (sometimes with rewards). I will do daily deadlines and weekly deadlines that I have to meet within my work, and for each deadline I meet, I get a few minutes of relaxing time.

Currently, on my film, I will also use evenings to shoot a scene or an event with my protagonist, and that will often end in late nights but the reward is often more satisfying.

2. Weekends

Yes this unfortunately means sacrificing a lot of social time, but truthfully, there is always going to be time for that in the future and/or during vacations.

So the weekends are really my time to go out and shoot, and I am very grateful for my crew and literally everyone involved in this documentary, because they truly are also sacrificing their time for a project everyone is passionate about.

Weekends are also a great time to catch up on sleep and health, something that is extremely vital for every filmmaker, which leads me to my next point.

3. Balancing Extra Hours with Health

I’ve definitely noticed that with working overtime and on the weekends comes a great lack of sleep and self-care.

Which is severely dangerous, because without the proper nutrition and sleep, you will never be able to achieve your best work as a filmmaker.

I am guilty. I have pulled all-nighters, I’ve forgotten to eat, and I didn’t take time to breath or just take my mind off of work.

And when you work like that, it becomes draining and detrimental.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with pulling an all-nighter here and there, or truly working nonstop on your project. Because when you are passionate about something and ideas are flowing, nothing can stop you!

But there has to be a sense of self-control that will allow you to thrive even more, and if that means sleeping a few extra hours the following day, or having a huge meal of pasta, by all means do it.

We are all human and our bodies can only take so much. Production hours are already pretty intense, so it’s important to learn how to handle it.

My advice is to take at least an hour of the day to do some exercise, practice a different hobby, or even meditate. When it’s time to work, it’s time to work.

Final Thoughts

With that, I can safely say it’s been a challenging journey. I have failed and succeeded multiple times.

And you will too.

But that’s part of the learning process, and it will only make you more prepared for your future films.

I always dream of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, which is our final product. But it’s important to also fall in love with the process.

At the end of the day, everyone is different, but I have been learning what works for me and what doesn’t, with the uttermost importance of taking care of my health. When I feel good, I thrive in my workspace, and I am able to give my subjects, my crew, and my film my best energy and devoted time.

Finally, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned working in documentaries is that you have to be prepared to abandon any and all rules. Things change, and being able to adapt is only part of the process.

So be comfortable in the uncomfortable, and truly let the storyteller within you lead the way.

Beatriz Browne is an NYC based Producer and documentary filmmaker specializing in multimedia digital storytelling. Some of her work includes documentary series for Fatherly, “My Kid The”, and “Passing the Torch” in a collaboration with Hearst Media.

She is also currently producing her new documentary film “The Monster of Carmine Street”, which is set to circulate festivals in early 2019. Her work has been recognized by major publications such as Good Morning America, Upworthy, Babble and PopSugar.

www.beatrizbrowne.com
Twitter: @brownebeatriz
Instagram: @biabrowne

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. Each week, I share my latest writing, curated stories from around the web, a short film that I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

Are you ready to take your filmmaking to the next level?

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

About two years ago, I posted something on the site that seemed pretty insightful. These days, I'm pretty sure it was misleading advice. So let's set the record straight.

The article was a take on the old saying, "do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."

The idea is simple and attractive.

If you genuinely love the process of filmmaking, you'll stick with it and make more films.

And if you make more films, your chances of being successful go way up.

To take it even further, if you love the process enough, you'll be better prepared to deal with the adversity that come with filmmaking.

So not only will you make more films, but you'll be hardened against obstacles you'll undoubtedly face.

Makes sense, right?

So the advice was, learn to love the process. Participate in the process for its own sake, and try to divorce yourself from the results.

Because if you can learn how to do that (which isn't easy), you can reap those benefits, and the results will eventually take care of themselves.

Oh how naive I was.

How this advice sets us up for disappointment

I've since come to realize that there's a bit of truth to "learning to love the process," but the advice is bad in one key way.

It doesn't account for those times when the filmmaking process sucks ass.

It's such a ridiculous, unrealistic expectation to "love the process" at all times. Because no matter what anyone says, there are so many different aspects of making a film, and you won't love all of them.

Which has been a big realization for me, because I honestly felt broken for believing that I didn't love the craft enough.

I wanted to follow my own advice, but I just couldn't force myself to love every little piece of it.

Sure, parts of the filmmaking process can be super fun and rewarding and creative. 

But some parts of the process are downright painful, depending on your disposition.

  • Ask basically any writer ever, and they'll tell you they hate writing, but they love having written.
  • And I don't know about you, but I find most pre-production tasks to be tedious and time-consuming and frustrating.
  • Not to mention, almost every step of production and post is fraught with complications and obstacles and setbacks. (I find those fun, but there are still times where I want to pull my hair out and give up.)
  • And if you happen to finish a film or series, you can bet your ass that marketing and distributing it will be a painful process.

There are plenty more examples too. Maybe you like the idea of production design, but you don't much care for the day-to-day work of building sets and props.

Maybe you want to be a great producer, but you're such a creative introvert that dealing with people and money and logistics nonstop wears you down.

But you know what, we do these things anyway.

Regardless of how much or how little we "love the process."

Why?

Because stories are part of our DNA, and we're driven to tell the ones we care about, no matter the cost.

Because we're driven to create, to make things, to put our own little dent in the universe, no matter how small it is.

Because deep down we know that life isn't about comfort, and it's not about doing what's easy.

Instead, we intuitively understand that life is growth.

And the best, most meaningful growth comes from pushing through discomfort, through pain, and coming out the other side of it with something to show for it.

In that way, the films we finish and put out are like battle scars.

They're a piece of us. They show the world that we have what it takes to push through the pain and get it done.

So no, you don't have to "love the process."

You just have to have a deep desire to create.

There will be discomfort. There will be adversity. There will be pain.

But that's ok.

Because you're going to come out the other side stronger and more capable.

And you'll have some awesome scars to show for it.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. Each week, I share my latest writing, curated stories from around the web, a short film that I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview