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Jim H
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« on: September 10, 2009, 11:19:49 PM »

Well, for several months now I've been trying to put together everything I need to make my own feature film.  I now have a rather good camera, solid enough audio gear, finished script, etc. 

This is all well and good, but man has this been an extremely frustrating experience.  You pour your heart and soul into this sort of thing (and a good deal of money), only to have equipment break, the weather screw you over, one of your actors bail on you, constant stupid delays, and a million other incredibly frustrating things.

It's especially bad because of the relatively simple requirements of my film.  All I needed, really, are a few very simple costumes, a forest to shoot in, five total actors (which, for the most part, don't share too much screen time in order to facilitate scheduling), and some simple practical special effects.

Will it be worth it?  I don't know.  To be honest, it's starting to feel like it will never get done. 

But venting is always good.
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2009, 11:44:30 AM »

Jim,

I wish you luck.  We make fun of a lot of low-budget movies, but I have enormous respect for the hard work that goes into making them.  To me, making a movie seems like trying to write a novel, direct a play, organize a photography exhibit, and compose a symphony, all at the same time.  Given these challenges, it's really no wonder so many of them end up sucking.

I'd be very interested if you'd clue us in a little on what your film is about.  Also, I'd be interested to know whether you've completed any shorts first.  I'm sure you've considered this, but a lot of directors just starting out will shoot a story as a short first, and then expand it into a feature later. 
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Jim H
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2009, 02:44:07 PM »

Jim,

I wish you luck.  We make fun of a lot of low-budget movies, but I have enormous respect for the hard work that goes into making them.  To me, making a movie seems like trying to write a novel, direct a play, organize a photography exhibit, and compose a symphony, all at the same time.  Given these challenges, it's really no wonder so many of them end up sucking.

I'd be very interested if you'd clue us in a little on what your film is about.  Also, I'd be interested to know whether you've completed any shorts first.  I'm sure you've considered this, but a lot of directors just starting out will shoot a story as a short first, and then expand it into a feature later. 

I've done a number of shorts.  Most very short, actually.  I've also done a bit of animation.  I'd originally planned to make a longer short (in the 30-40 minute range), but I realized a few variables had come in to play that would mean this time in my life is probably the best chance I have of getting a feature made (right after I got out of college, before I could find full time work).  It's taken so long, that's starting to not really be the case. 

Probably the biggest issues I have is most of my shorts have very little dialogue, so I'm not as comfortable directing that type of acting.  We'll see how that plays out, but I don't really have professional actors anyway, so... 

My film is probably best described as action horror, but it really leans toward action with a few horror elements hanging on it.  The plot can most easily be summed up as two men fight a murderous cult.  The storyline is nothing great, and I don't know how well the writing will play out, but there's a couple memorable characters (well, I like them and so do my actors), and one thing I've learned after studying tons of action films is how to pace them and create solid action scenes.  For me, those are the two most important aspects in an action film.  I'm playing to my strengths here - I know I can't make Citizen Kane as a first feature.

As far as starting out with a short and expanding it...  I had considered it, but the pace I believe I can shoot this at, if I have the number of people I need on location..  Making a feature will generally not be that much harder anyway.  The thing I really need is to get more reliable people.  If I could just manage to find six people who had proper scheduling and I knew would show up every day I asked them to, I wouldn't be worried about completing my film.  As it is, I really only have two or three reliable people, which just isn't enough.

It looks like I might be able to have the first day of shooting this Sunday.  But one actor for the scene bailed out, apparently, and I don't know if I can find a replacement in time.  More and more, it is looking like I'll have to wait until the spring to shoot this.  Very frustrating.

Thanks for listening Rev.   Cheers
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2009, 02:57:19 PM »

Hey Jim,

Keep at it. Even if you have spent alot of time and effort (and of course, money) on this feature film project, the main thing is to see it through. Even if it sucks and you hate every second of it, it's an experience and you didn't quit. Hell, if comes out just as you envisioned and you can look back and say "I had a great time doing that", then it's definately all worth it. Plus there's an audience for absolutely everything.

To my shame, I once "acted" in a short film made by two friends of mine (at the time), called "A Frolic Through The Park" (inspired by the Death Angel album of the same name). I had a fun time doing that, even though I spent 4 days straight filming in cold, wet, woodland at one point dressed as a catholic schoolgirl. It was basically about an escaped mental patient (me) who casues havoc in a small town until once again incarcerated. Only for the short film to end with it all being a dream......the dream of a 7yr old boy!  (Bwahah!) Buggedout

I pray that the clip of me talking to, and then eating a piece of moss did NOT make its way onto YouTube...  Bluesad
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Rev. Powell
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2009, 06:13:38 PM »



To my shame, I once "acted" in a short film made by two friends of mine (at the time), called "A Frolic Through The Park" (inspired by the Death Angel album of the same name). I had a fun time doing that, even though I spent 4 days straight filming in cold, wet, woodland at one point dressed as a catholic schoolgirl. It was basically about an escaped mental patient (me) who casues havoc in a small town until once again incarcerated. Only for the short film to end with it all being a dream......the dream of a 7yr old boy!  (Bwahah!) Buggedout

I pray that the clip of me talking to, and then eating a piece of moss did NOT make its way onto YouTube...  Bluesad

This is now at the top of my MUST SEE list!
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"The best parts are watching Sly go through the full range of emotions: deadpan, deadpan with raised eyebrow, deadpan with quivering lip. There's also a great sequence where Sly drives his VW Beetle down the interstate for about 20 minutes, staring dramatically through the windshield.."-Joe Bob on A MAN CALLED RAMBO
Jim H
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2009, 09:58:29 PM »

On another note, I just finished my first day.  I'm attempting to back up the footage (it's on two hard drives, burning it to DVD-Rs next), but it doesn't want to burn which is weird.

Anyway, first day went OK overall.  Looking back at the footage, I made a number of errors which annoy me, meaning parts will have to be reshot.  Most obnoxious, I forgot to cover/destroy a few logos on items (a phone in one shot, binoculars in another), ruining a number of shots.  On a related note, it's ****ing stupid you can't show the logos in a movie of common items without risking a lawsuit. 

I also realized with what I have when shooting outdoors, I can't help but have blowout in a lot of my shots.  It's unfeasible to diffuse the light where I'm shooting, and I'm shooting in bright sunlight, so there you go.  Call it part of the look, or sheer incompetence, but working around it with my resources is impossible.  Whatever.

Still though, it went OK.  But, I also found out my lead actor will probably be leaving the state in spring, meaning in all probability the film is essentially doomed unless I can miraculously finish it in 6 or 7 shooting days.  Not likely, but I'm going to try. 
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Rev. Powell
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2009, 10:49:24 AM »

Most obnoxious, I forgot to cover/destroy a few logos on items (a phone in one shot, binoculars in another), ruining a number of shots.  On a related note, it's ****ing stupid you can't show the logos in a movie of common items without risking a lawsuit. 


I agree, particularly since corporations will often pay huge sums of money to have their products displayed in major films.  Unless the logo is being used in a disparaging way, no one should care.

Anyway, good luck on getting the film finished.  Persevere despite obstacles and you should have something you can look back on with pride.
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"The best parts are watching Sly go through the full range of emotions: deadpan, deadpan with raised eyebrow, deadpan with quivering lip. There's also a great sequence where Sly drives his VW Beetle down the interstate for about 20 minutes, staring dramatically through the windshield.."-Joe Bob on A MAN CALLED RAMBO
dean
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 08:48:20 AM »


GOOD LUCK!

Making a feature, especially as a director is very much like going to war: you're constantly putting out spot fires and have to be the most organized person imaginable.

I'm hoping to make a feature in my lifetime, but will focus on some shorts for now, and it's a tough enough time with that.

Keep us posted!
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Jim H
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 12:05:02 PM »


GOOD LUCK!

Making a feature, especially as a director is very much like going to war: you're constantly putting out spot fires and have to be the most organized person imaginable.

I'm hoping to make a feature in my lifetime, but will focus on some shorts for now, and it's a tough enough time with that.

Keep us posted!

Yeah, that's a good way of stating it.  Due to the very low key nature of my production, I'm also doing about a billion other things.  Camera operator, storyboarding, prop creation, costume creation, editing, logistics, feeding the people I'm working with, etc. 

Latest bad news: lead actor for the scene I was hoping to shoot this Saturday was asked to take a shift on Saturday (a day he normally doesn't work) and agreed to do it.  This means I have less than half the time I had originally planned to shoot with.  >_<

On the plus side, I've been mentally toying with the idea of another feature.  It's something I had considered earlier, but decided to go with my current idea instead.  If I can't finish this by the time fall is too much in the swing of things (every day that is looking more and more likely), I'll go ahead with it.  The idea is to do an anthology film, a sub-genre I quite enjoy.  Logistically, for my situation, in most ways it's far easier.  The only difficulty is you need even more actors than a normal film, which has been my biggest problem. 

But the basic idea would be a wraparound story and four inner stories.  Something somewhat akin to The House That Dripped Blood.  A lot of the stuff I did for my current feature I can reuse for it, and the basic plan would be to do each separate story over three or four long days. 
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Jim H
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2009, 12:31:50 AM »

Heh.  Another update.  My actor who said he could only be there for half the day now can't be there at all.  I don't have enough prepared to do much else (I could do a couple of scenes, but other actors for more aren't available today).  That was the last straw.  I now am quite sure I won't be able to get the film done this fall.  I'd be able to get a good chunk done if I continued to work..  But it will cause large continuity errors as the forest I'm shooting in will have changed, and the people will look somewhat different, etc, due to the six month gap.  So, I'm shutting down filming until the spring. 

On the plus side, I'm now going to start work on the script for my anthology film.   Each segment of this will be in a single location with a very small cast/crew.  It'll basically be like making a series of shorts, something I'm a bit more familiar with.  And I can segment the shooting over a long period if required, due to that.  Should be fun, and good practice for finishing my other feature in the spring. 

Cheers
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dean
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2009, 04:04:23 AM »


If you haven't read it already, read Robert Rodriguez's book Rebel without a crew, it's a fantastic read about the up and downs of making a feature.  It's basically his diary of the pre-production and production of his film El Mariachi, and I personally found it to be not only really helpful, and also somewhat inspiring.  The guy went through a whole lot to make a movie for $7,000, and it did quite well.

Now that you seem to have a bit more time, go get it and read up!

Of course 'the game' has changed somewhat now, some things are easier, some things aren't, but still, it's a good basic how-to for low budget filmmaking.
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Jim H
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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2009, 12:48:43 PM »


If you haven't read it already, read Robert Rodriguez's book Rebel without a crew, it's a fantastic read about the up and downs of making a feature.  It's basically his diary of the pre-production and production of his film El Mariachi, and I personally found it to be not only really helpful, and also somewhat inspiring.  The guy went through a whole lot to make a movie for $7,000, and it did quite well.

Now that you seem to have a bit more time, go get it and read up!

Of course 'the game' has changed somewhat now, some things are easier, some things aren't, but still, it's a good basic how-to for low budget filmmaking.

I've read a bit of it (started reading it at a library once).  I also listened to his commentary on El Mariachi, which is one of the most informative ones about film making I've ever heard.  Good stuff there.
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« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2009, 08:46:21 PM »

Quote
My film is probably best described as action horror, but it really leans toward action with a few horror elements hanging on it.  The plot can most easily be summed up as two men fight a murderous cult.  The storyline is nothing great, and I don't know how well the writing will play out, but there's a couple memorable characters (well, I like them and so do my actors), and one thing I've learned after studying tons of action films is how to pace them and create solid action scenes.  For me, those are the two most important aspects in an action film. 

Hey, I love action horror; if you're pretty sure you can put together something reasonably interesting and exciting, hype it up online - create a Facebook page, write about it on the Bloody-Disgusting forum, post some exciting clips on YT, etc. And if you can keep the expenses pretty low, making that back in some form shouldn't be /too/ hard. [But I really don't have any film experience; I'm just stating the obvious.]

All I request is that you find a way to add in /one/ explosion. [Preferably a shed or cabin-like structure, however simplistic it might be built.] ;)

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MilkManPictures
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 06:42:11 PM »

I feel you brotha!!! I spent the last 2 years on the production of my first feature film. We finally wrapped in August. That was a very emotional time. We've been in post since... trust me when I say the frustrations never end. Getting a rough cut of the film done was a great moment. There is nothing I'd rather be doing than making films no matter how much of a pain in the ass they are. You just have to keep at it. It is totally worth it! Good luck!

-MMP
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