Five questions filmmakers ask before making a film

You have an idea for a film – now what? Reflecting on these five questions will help you begin production and put you in a better position to pitch your film to investors.

1. What will it add to the conversation?

Ideally, your film should be meaningful, entertaining, and distinct. It shouldn’t simply echo – it should be able to stand alone. Perhaps it covers a fascinating, noteworthy topic. Maybe it is innovative in terms of form or style.

One of my former film teachers, Clifton Raphael, used to instruct his students: “Tell me something I don’t know and even if I did know it I wouldn’t have been able to guess it.” His advice has stuck with me through time because it encapsulates the importance of constantly questioning conventions and learning to break them.

2. Is it practical?

Consider whether you have the financial means to support yourself throughout the production processes. Films generally take a while to begin generating revenue. Do you have a plan for applying for and obtaining grants? Do you plan to pitch to investors? What kind of support will you need from the cast and crew? How do you plan to compensate these individuals for their work?

For advice on low-budget filmmaking, consider taking Elliot Grove’s Lo-to-no Budget Filmmaking course at Raindance London; if you’re not in the area (or his course isn’t within your budget!) read his articles Compromises Low Budget Filmmakers Make and 10 Expenses Most First Time Film Director Forget.

Also consider time restraints. What are your other commitments and priorities? Create a plan for how you will divide and manage your time so you can devote sufficient energy to each stage of production.

3. Why now?

Consider what is so unique about the current state of affairs that warrants the production of your film. Perhaps your film will cover a topic that is currently the subject of political discourse. Maybe it reintroduces a long-forgotten narrative that you wish to revive.

Also consider the timeline of your production and whether your film will still be relevant once you’ve wrapped production and completed the final cut.

4. Why me?

Ideally, you should be the only one who could tell the story. Reflect on what makes you special as a filmmaker and how your specific skill set will benefit the production of your film. Perhaps you have exclusive access to a story. Maybe you are already extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter.

Ask yourself what makes you indispensable to the production. Reflect on your weaknesses and plan for how you will overcome them.

5. Why film?

Why should film be the medium used to disseminate your story? Would your story be better as a novel? How about a podcast? Or a photography exhibition? Perhaps it would be better suited as a Virtual Reality experience.

You should be able to articulate why film is the ideal platform for your story. Not all stories lend themselves to the screen. Consider why you desire to tell a linear story comprised of sounds and images and whether that medium is the best choice for your specific story.

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Reader Question: Is it necessary to have scene description before dialogue?

Another supposed screenwriting ‘rule’ bites the dust!

From Jake Gott:

Hey Scott, I have a question about scene openings.

When you start a new scene, is it necessary to say what the characters were doing or can you jump right into the dialogue?



Jeff and Meg are talking.

JEFF: Blah blah.

MEG: Blah?

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

Would it be needed in that instance? Thanks Scott, keep up the good work.

Technically per the old school way of doing things, I learned you should never have a primary slug line without some accompanying scene description before moving into dialogue. Frankly I don’t know where that came from, but I seem to recall having seen it in more than one format guide / discussion.

However there is the theory of screenplay format, then there is the reality of actual screenplays written by actual Hollywood screenwriters where you see things like this (from The Shawshank Redemption):



No scene description after a slug line before a line of dialogue.

“Fat-Ass” in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

To me, it’s far better to approach the question from the perspective of storytelling: Does the moment require scene description? It makes no sense to insert a line of scene description like the one in your example — “Jeff and Meg are talking” — which adds nothing to the narrative: we don’t need a line describing them talking because the scene actually shows them talking. So from a pure storytelling point of view, I would say do not make up and insert a line of scene description simply to fulfill some supposed arbitrary guideline, especially if that line isn’t necessary.

However if you do what I do — consistently use primary slug lines to signify a new scene — you will almost invariably need to set the stage in order to bring the reader ‘into’ the scene. Again from The Shawshank Redemption:

INT — SHOWERS — DAY (1947)

Shower heads mounted in bare concrete. Andy showers with a
dozen or more men. No modesty here. At least the water is good
and hot, soothing his tortured muscles.

Bogs looms from the billowing steam, smiling, checking Andy up
and down. Rooster and PETE appear from the sides. The Sisters.

You’re some sweet punk. You been
broke in yet?

Or here:


Red enters, sits. 20 years older than when we first saw him.

MAN #1
Your file says you’ve served forty
years of a life sentence. You feel
you’ve been rehabilitated?

Red who’s just about to tell the truth… and win parole.

A new scene involves a shift in time and place, therefore the writer needs to provide a context for what transpires including the dialogue.

Finally there’s this: If a writer includes a lifeless, unnecessary line of scene description only to fulfill an obligation to some strict format guideline, they are in effect breaking a much more important screenwriting credo:

Never be boring!

Far better to focus on making each line of scene description entertaining, visual, active, and compelling.

Comment Archive

Reader Question: Is it necessary to have scene description before dialogue? was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

Joe Cole in Intense Trailer for Muay Thai Film ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’

A Prayer Before Dawn Trailer

“I’ve got not family, no money, just give me this one chance.” A24 has debuted an intense, badass official trailer for a film titled A Prayer Before Dawn, shot by a French filmmaker in a real Thai prison starring real inmates. This film is about a young English boxer who is thrown into prisons in Thailand, where he fights back and trains to be a competitor in a vicious Muay Thai boxing tournament. Joe Cole stars as Billy Moore, the one white man in this Thai world, apparently based on a true story. The cast includes Vithaya Pansringarm, Panya Yimmumphai, Nicolas Shake, Pornchanok Mabklang, plus the real Billy Moore in a cameo role. This looks frickin’ awesome! I can’t believe I have missed this film until now. And A24’s trailer is exciting, building up the intensity right until the last second. I actually can’t wait to see this. ›››

Continue reading Joe Cole in Intense Trailer for Muay Thai Film ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’

A British reporter got a tip-off about ‘big news’ 25 minutes before JFK was shot


It’s not an exaggeration to say that the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on 22 November 1963 is the mother of all conspiracy theories. 

So even small events that preceded the murder, contained in the fresh batch of JFK files just published on the U.S. government’s site, take a sinister, prescient light. 

A memo from the C.I.A.’s deputy director (Plans), James Angleton, refers to an anonymous phone call that senior reporter from local paper the Cambridge Evening News, received just 25 minutes before the president was shot.  Read more…

More about Jfk, John Kennedy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jfk Murder, and Jfk Files

Download this: Ikea’s AR app lets you preview furniture before you buy


Apple dropped iOS 11 this week and, in addition to a load of new features, the update brings the first wave of augmented reality apps created using the company’s new ARKit tech. 

But one of the best use cases of ARkit so far is not a game or an app to make your selfies more interesting: It’s from Ikea. 

Called Ikea Place, the app uses Apple’s augmented reality technology to help make Ikea shopping a little less painful. It uses your phone’s camera to quickly scan a room — you’ll need iOS 11, but not an iPhone 8 or iPhone X to use it — so you can then “place” Ikea furniture around you. Read more…

More about Tech, Apple, Ikea, Augmented Reality, and Apps And Software

Theme Park Bits: ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Ride Concept, ‘Star Wars’ Galactic Nights, 35 Years at Tokyo Disneyland


In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • See what a Nightmare Before Christmas ride might have looked like, as envisioned by one Imagineer
  • Cars characters get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up at Disney’s California Adventure
  • The Star Wars: Galactic Nights event is returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Get details on how Universal Studios and Legoland are incorporating VR worldwide
  • The parent company of Louis Vuitton is bringing a steampunk theme park to Paris
  • Details for Tokyo Disneyland’s 35th-anniversary celebration have been announced
  • And more!

First, a few follow-ups from last week. In case you were not already sold on visiting Disney’s California Adventure for Halloween (and c’mon, you should be, even NASA scientists have turned out), Disney Parks Blog has shared some nifty photos of the Cars characters in costume. On Twitter, they also posted a pic of the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house at Disneyland Park.


Fans of this seasonal version of the ride, based on Tim Burton’s 1993 stop-motion musical, might get a kick out of seeing old concept art for a Nightmare Before Christmas attraction that never came to be. The design above comes by way of Disney Imagineer Christopher Merritt. Disney and More has some additional illustrations posted.

In another life, perhaps, we could have had coffin ride vehicles. Alas, parkgoers in Anaheim will just have to make due with the sight of grim grinning ghosts. Or they can always bask in the return glow of a new and improved Fantasmic!which still boasts the best black dragon of any show by that name.


Over on the East Coast, meanwhile, the Walt Disney Presents gallery has now opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The full model for next summer’s Toy Story Land is on display. Inside the Magic also has video of some concept art for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, as well as the first available part of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model.

On December 16, the day after Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters, Hollywood Studios will be hosting a sequel of its own for Star Wars: Galactic Nights. This special, one-night-only event, which requires a separate admission ticket, will allow fans to don costumes and enter the park — on a red carpet, no less — for an epic Star-Wars-themed party.


In addition to the regular Star Wars attractions on offer at Hollywood Studios, there will be an interview with one of the stars of the franchise, as well as a panel discussion on the future of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. And get this: there will be Ewoks on hand, and a DJ, meaning the whole thing could theoretically dissolve into a teddy bear luau like at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars fans, this is your chance to celebrate the love (yub, yub)! Galactic Nights lasts from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. You can find more information about it on Tickets are available on the Disney World website.

Continue Reading Theme Park Bits >>

The post Theme Park Bits: ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Ride Concept, ‘Star Wars’ Galactic Nights, 35 Years at Tokyo Disneyland appeared first on /Film.


Become a Workflow Master, Part 1: Before the Edit

Mastering post-production workflow can be a lifesaver for any project.

Becoming a post-production workflow master may not sound super exciting, but the time, energy, and frustration that you can save by mastering your own workflow will lead a more successful, less stressful, and more efficient post-production experience.

When I launched my video production company, it was a solo operation so my workflow didn’t need to be super clean. Today, Fractal Visuals has grown into a phenomenal and talented team of over 15 cinematographers, editors, and support crew. Creating a universal, ultra-clean, and unwavering workflow was a critical part of this growth. For any production company, a carefully crafted workflow ensures maximum productivity, no failures of communication, rapid turnaround times, and quality organization for archiving.

A carefully crafted workflow ensures maximum productivity.

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12 Movies to Watch Before You See The Dark Tower

12 Movies to Watch Before You See The Dark Tower

12 movies to watch before you see The Dark Tower

Author Stephen King has never been shy about wearing his influences on his sleeve, and his “Dark Tower” novels have always been an exotic blend of Herbert-esque sci-fi, Leone-style western, Tolkien fantasy and Lovecraftian horror. Hence, in the wake of Sony‘s new filmic adaptation of The Dark Tower we’re giving you twelve films to have seen or at least be aware of going into it.

RELATED: Stephen King Talks The Dark Tower, Plus a Tour of King’s Maine

Our list contains three different kinds of movies: 1) Films based on King’s own writing that have direct connections to the “Dark Tower” world, 2) Films that directly inspired King when writing the eight “The Dark Tower” novels and 3) Movies that are similar enough to The Dark Tower that they will get you in the right mindset. If you’ve already seen The Dark Tower movie this list will contain a lot of interesting connections as well.

It also so happens that two key movies on this list have just been released on fabulous new Blu-ray editions. On August 15, Kino Lorber is releasing a 50th anniversary edition of Sergio Leone’s western classic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly which contains a gorgeous 4K transfer of the original theatrical cut, available for the first time ever in HD. Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series has also just recently unleashed a Warlock three-movie Blu-ray collection, so if you want to get your B-movie sorcery on that’s the surefire way to go.

Click here to pre-order Kino’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray!

Click here to order the Warlock three-movie collection on Blu-ray!

Which of the movies on our list do you think connects most to Dark Tower? Any others you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

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