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How to prepare for a shoot

Posted: Mon, 13th Oct 2008, 6:55pm

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RodyPolis

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For the past months I've been pre-producting a web series. I'm not going to make an official thread right now since I want to make sure everything is going well first.
Right now I just want to know if anyone have good advice on how to start a shooting day.
Like, what should I bring other than film equipments?
How do I help my actors give their best performance without yelling at them.
Since my actors are free, how can I make it fun for them while still being serious.
How can I save more time. Usually it takes me a couple of hours filming a simple talk scene.
I know there's a lot I didn't mention, so please if you can throw something in there please do. Thanks
Posted: Mon, 13th Oct 2008, 7:40pm

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Serpent

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Bring food/water for everyone. If they are your friends, I'm sure they'd even pitch in for that. In general, make the film feel not like your's, but everyone's. If they feel like they are part of creating something rather than doing you a favor, they'll do better, perform better, etc. That's probably why most of the members around my age have been successful here: we are surrounded by people who want to work on the film with us.

One way to make it fun is to set the tone of the set. Make it a fun, creative experience and your cast/crew will have more fun. Have a positive attitude. Make it physically comfortable for them too. That means if it's hot, make sure you have a place to go to cool off. Some people like to b*tch about things. Make sure you aren't that person, and make sure you accommodate that person so it makes the atmosphere relaxed and not bitchy.

Always bring extra everything, portable chargers, etc. Bring head phones for mic check. Bring stuff to clean your camera. This is mostly stuff that falls under "film stuff," but just a reminder: bring everything you could possibly need for any situation, and keep it all organized.

Bring a script, bring a story board, bring any documents that you think will make production go smoothly.

Basically it all boils down to being organized and having everything planned out. If you can bring that to the film set, things should go more smoothly than the normal smoothness (trust me, it won't go "smoothly" regardless).

That's all I have to offer after shooting for 5 years under similar circumstances. Best of luck!
Posted: Mon, 13th Oct 2008, 9:33pm

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Mellifluous

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Serpent makes some excellent points. I'd emphasise drinks and organisation.

Make sure you have a folder with everything in it, e.g. script, storyboards, contacts etc. Make sure you know what you want shooting before you turn up on set. Have a realistic time of how long everything's going to take, so you can give estimates to people. Coordinate everything days before the shoot so that all you and others need to do is turn up and shoot.

Treat actors with respect, keep them informed etc. Time when certain actors are actually needed - it's pointless doing shooting or prep while actors not being used are wandering around bored for hours. And having crew and actors standing around doing nothing feeling they're wasting their time is when the bitching starts. Being on the ball and organised cuts out the bitching.

Be ultra aware. Know what you want as a filmmaker and don't be afraid to push everyone around you that extra bit if you're not feeling what you're shooting. Stay nice, and people won't mind. To this end, also preview important core scenes back on your camera or if possible, an external monitor, rather than rewatching later and deciding you need to reshoot. This'll take time but send people off for a break or invite them to watch too - either way, give people something to do rather than twiddling thumbs.
Posted: Mon, 13th Oct 2008, 9:52pm

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Balketh

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I recently had a successful shooting of two short films for my multimedia class, and I did try to make them as quality as I could, and they came out well. The editing is shoddy because it was all rotoscope masks because I lacked a large enough greenscreen to complete my task, but hey, I got by.

So, the point I'd like to emphasise is on your friends. Organisation and food are all great points, but they're all things you should be doing anyway. With friends, you've gotta take a couple extra steps.

Make them feel appreciated , like (a bad analogy) when a dog does a good trick, you reward it. As Serpent said, don't treat them like they're just there to fulfil your glorious film (even if they are XD), make them feel apart of the team, ask for their opinion occasionally, or some such.

Always make sure everyone's doing something. If you're directing, (this is a big tip of mine) Get in there! Get into the scene, show 'em how you want it, but leave room open for their personality to mingle with the character a little. If you're bright and exuberant on set, others will follow suit, and, of course, a little hands on directing is both good to use and fun to watch, it raises moods.

Be funny, even if the scene doesn't call for it. Of course, not when you're about to film, but take everything light heartedly, it'll let the cast and crew know this is a fun endeavour.

And, yeah, provide shade, cool drinks and good food, and you've got yourself some happy actors -and- crew.

biggrin
Posted: Mon, 13th Oct 2008, 9:57pm

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RodyPolis

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wow, thanks to all of you for the quick replies. I'll keep all that in mind.
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 12:09am

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pdrg

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Excellent responses above, not that much I can add, but a couple of small points may help.

Planning - with a pen and paper, run through the entire day in your mind. Start with breakfast and just write notes as you think of things - for instance if you're starting at 8am some of your cast may not have eaten at home before coming over, so make sure there are some healthy breakfast options (yogurts go down well, granola/muesli is excellent at sustaining energy, fruit and real juice, tea and coffee are essentials on adult shoots, but keep the sugary stuff to a minimum). Work through how everyone will get there (will they need to park? Is there space? Will the buses be running?), who needs to arrive when, what they need to do on arrival etc. Make loads of notes as you go right through to evening - what time will you wrap? Can people get home? Are you providing dinner/drinks to say thanks? Ordering in pizzas? etc. Notes, notes, notes!

Later review the notes, and work out things like catering, toilets (extra toilet paper?), etc. You won't think of everything of course, but you can eliminate a lot of surprises this way (shoots are tough enough without surprises!).

Call sheets are extremely valuable - find a few examples online and make your own. Essential information for a call sheet includes
*the name, role, email and mobile number of everybody on set for the day
*details of the location and how to get there (maps are very useful)
*what people need to wear (outdoor gear/suits/costumes etc)
*itinerary for the day - it can be rough but must show who should be where and when (eg Crew assemble at Rody's house 8am to dress the set and prep cameras. Cast members A, B and C meet at Rody's house 8:30am and change into costumes to be ready by 9am. Cast members D,E,F be at the park by 11:30 in costume, we will meet you there)
*Emergency numbers (some people need to be reminded of 911) and who is responsible for calling that number if there's a problem
*Weather forecast for exteriors

I'd also suggest you get going as early as possible - if you can pre-light the night before that helps - even have a friend stay over so you feel you've got a team effort on the go already before loads of people arrive and start asking you questions! Lunch should be as late as you can get away with - people start flagging after lunch, so get your key scenes as early as you can.

Release people as quickly as you can - if you're done with an actor, tell them they can go if they want now. If you can organise the day to get most people out of the way by lunchtime, all the better (and fewer mouths to feed).

Be firm. It's great to keep everyone involved to a degree but professional shoots work by having clearly defined roles. You and you alone (as director) decide when to retake and when a shot will do. Have your mate who slept over in charge of all the other stuff, you're looking after what goes onto the tape and will not have time to run to the shop/dress the set/make everyone tea/silencing whiners.

Crew up heavily and give everyone specific jobs - it saves confusion.

Be realistic - in one day you just cannot shoot 1 hour of excellent stuff. You might get 3 minutes of greatness, 10 minutes of good stuff, or 1 hour of "it'll do" stuff. The worst thing that can happen is to be only halfway through what you need to shoot by the end of the day - that's a disaster, most people can't make it the next day as well, you lose crew, cast, you're tired etc. Instead divide the script up by the number of hours of good shooting time you have (probably about 6 hours after all the meal times, getting set up, costume changes, etc), and know at each point in the day where you need to be upto. If you're running late, you go into "it'll do" mode until you catch up - you can always re-shoot those scenes again at the end of the day if you've got time, but if you're missing whole scenes you can't even cheat it in the edit and you're doomed.

Actors are like children who need to be told how good they are the whole time. It's not a bad idea to do the same for your crew too. At lunch find everyone individually and tell them how well they're doing their specific job - find an aspect they can take pride in and elaborate! "Thank you for holding the mic for us today, you're doing a great job of keeping the sound quality good but just out of shot - it can be quite tiring can't it, but it is crucial so thanks again", "Thanks for looking after keeping the location tidy and in order - it's hard work isn't it, but so useful as it means we can reset the camera more quickly without all the stuff in the way, and that means we get a better film at the end of it", "Running to the shop to get coffees may not seem like an important job, but believe me it makes a massive difference, and the fact you're also keeping an eye on the weather helps us plan the shooting schedule for the afternoon, thanks again". You get the idea - do it one-to-one with people aside from the group, it pays off.

Keep an eye on what time it gets dark.

Keep a big pot of cash on hand - you never know when you'll need it! For instance maybe the tape stock you bought turns out to be stuck and you need to send a runner to the shop to get another tape. It may be that they need to get a pack of 5 plus batteries for the microphone (always start the day/afternoon with fresh ones, you can use the part-used ones for remote controls later). They will need cash or your whole shoot stops dead. Get the cash out and into your wallet in advance. Sometimes you just have to pay extra at short notice just to keep a shoot on track - cash is essential for this!

Buy a thank you present for everyone if you can! And not just your crew and cast, but also get some lovely flowers and chocolates for whoever owns (eg your mum!) the place you shoot at - it'll be a pain for them having a shoot there (it always is, always) so say thanks properly - it'll also make it easier to ask if you need to shoot there again!

A tidy set is an efficient set. Pro crew are very organised - everything goes back in boxes, back in trucks, everything is easy to find because it was put away properly. Do the same - have zones for stuff, mark them out with tape "Camera kit only - no bags no drinks no rubbish", "cast bags", "clean cups only no rubbish", etc. Actors are often sloppy and leave their sh*t everywhere - create a culture of tidying up as you go along (and get your location guy to do that too - and make people keep tidy). Buy bin bags and use them and make everyone else use them. If anyone is sitting around, they could easily be keeping the place tidy instead! The location owner will appreciate it too!

All of this is the thankless work of the producer - no glamour but gets the job done efficiently. Finishing a shoot on time on budget is a real skill but will be a skill you'll use again and again in all walks of life - get good at it and you'll always be in work! Planning is the key, think about the details and your set will run smoothly meaning you can calmly go about shooting your film!
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 1:20am

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DVStudio

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Make sure you have plenty of food and water. People tend to get cranky and can disrupt a film shooting very easily.

Also, be sure to keep an eye on the weather for that day. Try not to shoot on a 110 degree day or a 30 degree one. Also, you obviously don't want to be rained out and too much wind can be bad.

Asd said above, always have chargers and extra batteries so the filming goes smoothly. I like to have several copies of the script on hand and a laptop with wifi just in case. Be sure to have enough mini dv tapes or dvds as this can be a HUGE pain.

Be sure to get enough footage and always make sure you get exactly what you want or else it can be very hard to match lighting conditionsa and camera positions if you aren't filming in a studio.

Just some thoughs. Good luck on your project. biggrin
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 3:36am

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Serpent

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pdrg wrote:

not that much I can add, but a couple of small points may help.
smile
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 3:48am

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Jrad

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These are all really great tips!

Here's some more-

Pre-Production. This is where all of film making is at, you can never be over prepared. This includes a shot list, storyboards, hiring people, scheduling, call sheets, etc. Higher more people to do jobs for you. It is very hard to do all of this on your own.

About 3/8 of a page represents about 2 hours of shooting, keep this in mind. Some scenes require more time, some require less.

Make a schedule, and do your best to stick to it.

Learn how to improvise. Mistakes and things will go wrong when you shoot. It happens to everyone.

Learn how to combine/cut shots, like I said, it might happen.

Be assertive, tell people to pick up the pace.

Again, schedule...

Food, water, coffee

Find out if people are allergic to food or don't prefer certain kinds

Scout your location, do you need permits, is there anything going on the day that you will be shooting?

When you schedule, do not have more than a 12 hour work day.

Have a script supervisor, organize, create a ditty kit, and a weather bag.

It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

My #1 tip: HAVE FUN!!! It's a lot of work, its stressful, its tiring, but its fun, and the final outcome is worth it all.
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 10:57am

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Simon K Jones

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There is some truly awesome advice here! I've done a little news post on this topic, so hopefully that'll bring in some more people with tips. As always, FXhome.com is full of knowledgeable people!

We've done a few shoots this year. There was Fracture (the FXhome film project) over the summer, which was a really major production with a cast and crew of over 20 people on a set for a week, full working days. Then more recently we did a new three-day shoot with a tiny cast and crew for some new upcoming projects. I directed the three-day shoot and learnt a huge amount in that time.

I really can't emphasise the importance of having a producer. This just needs to be someone who is hugely organised. Most people tend to have at least one friend who falls into the 'ridiculously organised' category, so make sure you try and get them involved on the project. We were lucky in that we had Lucy join the company at exactly the right time, and she ensured a smooth shoot for both projects. Looking after your cast/crew AND being creative at the same time is really tough, so if you can get a friend on board as producer it'll make things easier for everyone - it can feel like a bit of a thankless task at times, though, so make sure they understand just how important they are, and support them as much as you can. On both projects, without Lucy we'd have been utterly screwed.

From the directing POV, I'd offer the following advice:

- PLAN! Plan every single shot down to the fine details. Camera moves, lenses, shutter speeds etc. Will you need a tripod, a dolly of some sort, handheld? Do you need to get really low with the camera but still have it stable (ie, does your tripod go that low, or will you need something else to perch the camera on?)? Do you need to get really high shots?

- STORYBOARD! As part of the shot planning, consider creating storyboards. These are useful to help you remember exactly what you wanted from each shot, as once you get to the shoot you have SO MUCH to keep in your head that it's easy to lose track of things. It also enables you to communicate to the cast and crew what the shot it going to look like, so that everyone is on the same page. It doesn't have to great art, as long as it gets the point across.

- THINK AHEAD! If you've got complex shots, will you need additional people to help with the camerawork? For one shot that ends up looking quite simple in the finished cut, it actually required 4 people on the camera in order to keep it smooth. Make sure you're ready for this in advance. You don't want to be working out HOW to achieve something on the day, as that'll just result in people standing around getting bored.

- COLLABORATE! Creative collaboration is a very useful technique for keeping everybody interested. This is especially true on a low-budget production where people are not getting paid. On a professional shoot where people are being paid, they'll do what you tell them whether they like it or not as it's their job (though obviously you still want to keep a happy set!). On a low-budget set it's entirely different. Everyone is there to do you a favour and help you out. They're doing it because they either like YOU or like the PROJECT. This is even more important if they're just friends - they might not have any interest in a filmmaking career, so it's only you that will get direct CV/experience benefit. So you need to make them feel a part of it. If people have ideas, listen to them. If you know somebody on the set is good at something, go to them for advice. It's still you that makes the FINAL decision, but being open to ideas can really help foster a spirit of camaraderie.

- DON'T BE AN ARSE! Keep the number of takes to the minimum possible while still getting good results. Just because Stanley Kubrick is your favourite director does NOT mean that YOU are Stanley Kubrick. You might be one day, but not yet. Don't do 20 takes when take 4 was awesome. Keep things moving fast, keep progessing through the schedule. This is also why pre-planning is crucial - if you know exactly what you want, you'll also know exactly WHEN you've got it, and can move on.

- DRINK! Drink lots of water, and make sure everyone else does too. It's easy to not realise how dehydrated you are until the headaches have begun. smile
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 12:07pm

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Leeloo

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These are excellent answers and very good advice, particularly from Tarn and pdrg. FXhome had a very successful shoot this summer. Team spirit was especially amazing and we developed a very close bond very quickly despite being largely strangers on day one. We've followed that up with smaller efficient shoots for upcoming projects.

I've also experienced broadcast TV productions with completely the opposite situation and it's a fine balance, but there is much you can do in pre-production to give yourself the best chance for success.

Re: What should I bring other than film equipment?
pdrg has a fantastic answer on this. No advice can be fully comprehensive without knowing more about the specific production so...
think through the day from the perspective of your crew. You will need food, drink, clean toilets, somewhere to sit, places for gear, places for trash, if you're outdoors are you prepared in case it rains, how are they getting there, where will they park, is there privacy for costume changes, facilities for make-up or caterers, e-mail, phones etc. Just keep thinking till you get from Plan A to Z and you've got an answer for every contingency.

You don't necessarily have to put all those contingencies into practise but you should know the answers just in case. This includes risk assessment! Do you have a suitable first aid kit? fire extinguishers? do you know where the nearest source of emergency help is and how you'll get there? do you have a phone with reception to call 911? are your crew safe? It's easy to be relaxed about safety until an over enthusiastic crew member trips over a cable and ends up with a fallen redhead in their skull or... a bullet, don't go filming things with guns, smoke, any loud bangs without checking with the police, fire brigade, warning neighbours etc. No footage is worth any physical harm or a custodial sentence.

Oh and if you need to get everyone in the right frame of mind at the start of the day then good coffee and a bacon roll/croissant/pancake whatever, gets everyone to arrive on time, awake and ready to go. Lets face it its probably the only chance YOU'LL get to eat all day.wink

Cake also has magical properties for crew morale or ice cream on a hot day.

Re:How do I help my actors give their best performance without yelling at them?
Be confident and articulate enough to explain every nuance of what you are looking for, they aren't mind readers. This relies on you knowing what you need so despite having all the above to do, as Tarn says, Plan, Storyboard, Think Ahead. No one works well if they're being embarrassed in front of a crew, so rehearse before the shoot if you can and be prepared to take a cast member away for a quiet moment so you can discuss privately what you need and how to achieve it.

Since my actors are free, how can I make it fun for them while still being serious.
Limit the time they need to be present with a good schedule. Work out how long costume/make-up will take and let them start late if they don't have to be on set till late. As pdrg says release people as soon as you don't need them any more. Giving your time for free can become very annoying if your Director/Producer/ADs are wasting it dithering about. There is likely to be a lot of hanging around waiting, make sure they have somewhere to go to sit, perhaps something to do...a games console helps. Let them contribute. Hopefully you're clear what you want your actors to do but they might actually have a better idea based on their skills and experience.

How can I save more time. Usually it takes me a couple of hours filming a simple talk scene.
Get yourself an AD, let them worry about keeping to time and keeping people focused whilst you get the shots you need.
An industry rule of thumb is 5 script pages a day... that's the most you're likely to get through even with the best crew. Any more than that and it will be horrible, any less and it feels like you've been let outta school early. Script pages are split into eighths, add up the number of eighths you have in your schedule for the day, if it passes 5 pages worth try to re-jig them or they'd better be the simplest dialogue-free shots. If your crew is inexperienced 3-4 pages is more likely in a day.
Save time by moving the camera and lights as little as possible so organise yourself to do all the shots from position A consecutively then go to position B, don't move back and forth from A to B a dozen times. Agree your action in such a way as to limit the amount of re-setting/re-dressing and do the big explosion or whatever as the last thing in the day. Then you can send everyone but a few helpers home while you clean up.

Smile You, your Producer and Ads set the tone. Smile, be organised, be calm, treat each other professionally. Sounds simple but its not easy to do when you've had 4 hours sleep and a crew member has just left their apple core next to the trash can instead of in it!

Have a goal You may be filming for the love of the art but some of your crew may not be. It can help to have something to look forward to during the tough times like a Wrap Party!. Like small gifts (see pdrg) these are kinda traditional and a generous thank you if you can organise one along with everything else you're doing, particularly if you've had time to edit a quick a blooper reel.
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 12:35pm

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Simon K Jones

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Another thing to note when scheduling...the first couple of shots always seem to be a bit tricky. I imagine this gets easier with experience, but chances are you're always going to be working with a slightly different cast/crew, which results in an inevitable hour or two of "figuring each other out."

This tends to result in the first couple of shots of the first day of shooting taking longer than the rest. It might be a good idea to schedule some easy shots to start off with, so that everyone can get used to working with each other before moving on to the challenging stuff.

So yeah...when it comes to the schedule, build in some extra buffer time for the start of the shoot. Once you get through that you'll be flying.
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 12:59pm

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RodyPolis

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wow wow wow, you guys are awesome. This is way more then I could expect. Thanks for spending your time to help me out on this. There's so much good advice on this that I think this thread should be a sticky. So it helps not just me, but everyone else around here. Some truly great advice here, thank you
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 1:14pm

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Simon K Jones

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RodyPolis wrote:

There's so much good advice on this that I think this thread should be a sticky.
Not a bad idea. Consider it stickied!
Posted: Tue, 14th Oct 2008, 2:33pm

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pdrg

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Good idea stickying this little +1 factory! It's very useful to have this combined wisdom available to everyone, and full credit to you too Rody for asking in the first place!

For all the great posts here, and all the preparation you do, don't worry if things go wrong - every shoot has its own problems and panics you can't prepare for, and its what makes all those great stories you'll have in the future! You'll also come back to this thread after your shoot and doubtless add another dozen things you'll remember for next time!!

I did forget my final important tip in my other post - have nothing important to do the next day. When I have a big shoot/event, I have a huge comedown afterwards. Shooting is hard and emotional work, it's hard to explain outside of our little support group here, but that comedown can really knock you for six. The bigger the gig the worse it is, but even weekend shoots can leave me feeling hollow and tearful the next day or so. Make sure you have a quiet day to reflect on the activity of the previous days - take some time out, you'll have earned it wink
Posted: Fri, 17th Oct 2008, 9:32am

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mercianfilm

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As has been said so many times in this thread- scheduling is important! One thing i've found is that researching in the pre-production stage is going to be one of your most valuable assets during production- if everything necessary is planned- all should run smoothly- for example- a major place where i'm filming is the peak district in my home town of Derbyshire- it's a national park so we can't film in large numbers/set fires/camp without a lot of permisiion from a lot of people! It's always best to do your homework first- than break the law biggrin
Posted: Tue, 21st Oct 2008, 8:43am

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Dead Iris

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Here's a nice little video from Indy Mogul. It's got some good tips in it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TH-qMGvU0k
Posted: Sun, 16th Nov 2008, 6:45pm

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DaFlea

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Taking this a step further with all the great information how would one go from taking the information from script and story board to setting up the shot.

What is the thought process for taking what’s on paper and bringing it to life so that you set the shot up i.e. lighting and other elements needed and then being able to relay to the actors and crew on what you want. I believe that has been the most challenging thing for me taking it to the next level.

I know when I was involved with the filming of Deadland http://www.deadlandthemovie.com/, I was amazed how what was on paper was brought to life. Then seeing the final results at the Dixie File Festival really brought it into perspective of how much work was involved.
Posted: Sat, 20th Dec 2008, 10:21pm

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Paradox Pictures

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Well...

1. Bring food
2. Try to alternate actor's shots
3. Give short breaks "Take Five"
4. be enthusiastic.
5. Understand mistakes/bloopers. Nobody's perfect
6. Doing something unusual? Explain to actors and crew what you are doing. If they listen.
Posted: Thu, 29th Jan 2009, 1:10am

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DVStudio

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Here are some other general tips that may be helpful on a shoot:

-Be sure to have enough mini dv tapes or dvds as this can be a HUGE pain.

-Be sure to get enough footage and always make sure you get exactly what you want or else it can be very hard to match lighting conditions and camera positions if you aren't filming in a studio.

-Have some extra cash on hand just in case you need to run and grab something you forgot about! ?

-Make it fun for the actors so they don’t just want to go inside to play X-box. Show them that they are part of the final film and make them feel proud and they will work better.

-Compositing? Need some help? Check out my tutorial here: DV Studios Compositing Tips and DV Studios Compositing Lighting Tutorial

Just some more tips in addition to the really great tips by everyone else. Keep up the awesome work!
Posted: Mon, 18th Jan 2010, 7:30am

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Struker

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Tarn wrote:

There is some truly awesome advice here! I've done a little news post on this topic, so hopefully that'll bring in some more people with tips.
What was the subject of that news item, Tarn? Or, roughly when did you post it? I'd like to read it, but couldn't find it in News.

Struker
Posted: Mon, 18th Jan 2010, 12:22pm

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Simon K Jones

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Don't know sorry. It was back in October 2008, so my memory is a bit hazy. smile
Posted: Sun, 24th Jan 2010, 2:41am

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Toruk Macto

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A WELL-FED CREW IS A HAPPY CREW
Posted: Mon, 25th Jan 2010, 11:51am

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FXhomer32915

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As far as yelling at your actors, that only happens if they are inexperienced and/or you have failed to communicate what you want them to do. First of all, DON'T USE FRIENDS OR FAMILY!!! Advertise in the local papers and your local area film office and the local colleges or film clubs or drama groups, local theaters, etc. You'll get experienced actors who respect you as the director and will not only better understand what you're asking of them, but will often times be better equipped to help you define it for the other actors as well. Best of all, they're not opposed to working for free and are happy just to have a legitimate project to add to their portfolio. That being said, make sure it is a legitimate project and not just something you're playing with. While they're happy to work for free, they're doing it so an audience will see them, so if you're not aiming for distributing your film to a legitimate audience, do them and you and great favor and don't waste their time.

If you're directing this project, be sure you're at least reasonably competent at the task. Even novice actors can spot a poser and will walk off your project shortly you can get started. Be familiar with the terms and methods of direction and go over each scene yourself to be sure you can effectively communicate what you want from your actors and then LET THEM ACT!!! That’s very important! They won’t insult you by trying to tell you how to direct and they don’t want you telling them how to act. Just tell them the feel or emotion you’re trying to evoke in the audience and then let them do it. They’ll come through for you if they’re any good and, if they’re not, don’t cast them. That brings me to CASTING. When auditioning the actors, go over the parts beforehand and list out the emotions they will be expected to play, then have each actor auditioning perform something that demonstrates their ability to give you that emotion, BUT NOTHING FROM THE SCRIPT!!! For example, if the part calls for him or her to cry after being told their spouse has been killed, have them perform it as though they’ve been told their pet died. After you cast your project, do a “table reading” where you all sit around a table and go through the script from start to finish and guide their performances by specifying what you want so they can make notes in the margin of their script, then the following day, show up and start shooting your film. Things should run fairly smooth from that point, as these things go.

Have fun,

Ben Rigsby
Redwood Motion Media™
Posted: Mon, 25th Jan 2010, 11:23pm

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Struker

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Ben, just like to say that's the most useful advice to directors that I've read in quite a while.

I always think the most important part of the director's job is to provide all the "As Ifs" to the actors. And, the appropriate "As Ifs", at that. To do that successfully, one needs not only to have the imagination to suggest the right "As If" that will get the emotion one wants, but more importantly to know one's actors well enough to divine which specific "As If" will work best for him or her.

If budding directors understand just that much, they're halfway there.

Struker.
Posted: Thu, 28th Jan 2010, 6:11pm

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Gonzalo_TC

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Some really great advices in here, thank a lot!
Posted: Tue, 19th Jul 2011, 5:52am

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Master Wolf

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RodyPolis wrote:

How do I help my actors give their best performance without yelling at them.
Yelling at people, especially actors is never a good idea. I like to work with people with zero to little acting experience. Because I work with a cast and crew of novices, before I start shooting I like to have a group meeting and go over what I expect of them and what they should expect of me. One thing I make a point of is that I only need 1 good take. It doesn't matter how much you screw up, your best take is going to be the one that makes it in the final film. If it takes all day to get that one good take then so be it. I let the actors know that my main concern is making them look their best. The better they look on screen the better I look as a director. The other thing I do is I don't hold the script in an iron grip. I don't care if every line is said perfectly as written. I usually talk to my actors and tell them what the important information to get across in the scene is and then let them make it their own. I tell them that my main concern is that the lines sound natural and sound true to their character. So if they change a word here or there, I don't care. Some times an actor wants to do it their way and I don't feel its the right way for the story. In that case I take them aside and say "look give me one good take my way, then we can shoot it your way and see what works". This is actually a bit of a tick on my part because later in the editing room, its just me and my choice is final. But don't think you are always right, sometimes the actor sees things you don't. By getting them to do it your way, then letting them do it their way, it gives you the choice in the editing room, you may decide they were right after all. Never yell, do all you can to take the pressure off of people. Gently guide them. Get them to do what you want and the whole time get them to think it was their idea. When ever you feel the urge to yell, ask your self how well you work with someone yelling at you.
Posted: Mon, 31st Oct 2011, 3:56am

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AnnabelleD

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When you're running a small project and needing to organise everyone yourself it's important to make sure everyone has a feel for the "big picture". If you can take some time to do a very quick run down of the biggest view - what the film's about, why you're doing it, the view for the day - what needs to be achieved today and then down to each scene. Then your talent and crew will be better aligned and you'll all be aiming to achieve the same thing.

Timing: try to keep to the scheduled time. This is great practice for when you start doing paid work and the time schedule is critical. Make sure you have 5 minutes at the end of the day to do a quick chat on what was achieved and what's next. Even one they've all left and you're on your own, take some time to celebrate a wee list of stuff you did really well and what you completed. This is really important to help avoid burnout!
Posted: Fri, 30th Dec 2011, 1:56pm

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benjaminwesley

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Yeah, some greta stuff here- I think preparation for a shoot is really very key-

Some stuff I've found out along the way- and most of it the hard way:

Fxhome products are actually really pretty awesome, a couple tutorials some community forums, and practice, and you can get some really great effects, grades, etc.

Detonation films also has some pretty cool explosions as well.

Recently we've been doing more animation so this site has been veyr helpful to us- really cheap 3D animation models that look awesome! http://www.turbosquid.com/Search/Artists/ThinkingOnPause?referral=ThinkingOnPause
Posted: Thu, 12th Apr 2012, 5:18pm

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WilliesVFX

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*Start by talking all of your equipment you will be needing for a day and pack it in bags!
*Then call everyone whos gonna be in the shot and helping around!
*Meet up with them! And go to the scene where the shot is gonna take place!
*Check that everything that needs to be in the shot is there!
*Film the shot! Then go to a restaurant and eat pizza afterwards! biggrin