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.

The post Five questions filmmakers ask before making a film appeared first on Raindance.


Superhero Bits: Ben Mendelsohn Dodges Captain Marvel Questions, Justice League Credits Scenes & More

Thor Ragnarok Concept Art - Hela

How does Ben Mendelsohn respond to questions about being cast in Captain Marvel? Could Taika Waititi stage some kind of Jurassic Park reunion in Thor 4? How many credits scenes does Justice League have? What can we expect from the first two episodes of the Arrowverse’s Crisis on Earth X crossover? What does Danny Elfman have to say about scoring Justice League? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.

Explore the comic book origins of Aquaman before Jason Momoa plays the aquatic superhero in Justice League.

Read the official synopses for the Crisis on Earth X crossover episodes of Supergirl and Arrow coming this month.

Black Panther Movie Theater Standee

A new Black Panther movie theater standee has appeared on Reddit featuring all of the new Marvel characters.

During a Reddit AMA, Adrianne Palicki revealed that she would like to team up with Black Widow somehow.

Watch a promo for “Promises Kept,” the upcoming sixth episode of the sixth season of Arrow airing on The CW.

You can listen to the entire Justice League score by Danny Elfman online right now at YouTube or on Spotify.

Look at this stunning piece of Thor: Ragnarok concept art featuring Cate Blanchett as Hela the goddess of death.

Ben Affleck explains how directors Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon were complementary talents on Justice League.

Continue Reading Superhero Bits>>

Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over THREE pages. Click the link above to continue to the next page of Superhero Bits.

The post Superhero Bits: Ben Mendelsohn Dodges Captain Marvel Questions, Justice League Credits Scenes & More appeared first on /Film.


Star Wars Bits: The Planets of ‘Han Solo,’ Some Love For Aunt Beru, and Some Pressing Canon Questions

The Empire Strikes Back - Han Solo

In this edition of Star Wars Bits:

  • A possible look at the planets featured in the Han Solo movie.
  • An interview with the editor of From a Certain Point of View.
  • Author Meg Cabot shares her love for Aunt Beru.
  • Ron Howard shares more Han Solo set pics.
  • Pablo Hidalgo answers some pressing (and nerdy) canon questions.
  • A new Thrawn novel is on the way.
  • And more!

Making Star Wars says they know every planet that shows up in the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie. And here they are:

  • Corellia
  • Kessel
  • Iridium
  • Savareen
  • Vandor

And if you’re not the person who knows what all of those names mean instantly (and props to those of you who do!), they offer a breakdown of each planet is at the link above. However, many of you may be familiar already with Corellia (Han Solo’s home planet) and Kessel, which is most famous for a certain “run.”

However, at least one of those planets shouldn’t come as a surprise. Director Ron Howard confirmed Corellia on Twitter with a picture from the film’s set.

STAR WARS: FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW has a great interview with Elizabeth Schaefer, the editor tasked with assembling the 40 short stories collected in the new book From a Certain Point of View. Here’s a sample:

At the very start of this project, I sat down in front a blank Excel sheet and proceeded to fill in the names of all of my favorite authors. It was a dream list of people I’ve always wanted to work with. The craziest thing was how many of them said yes. The first-timers were universally invested in getting the lore right. Everyone wanted recommended reading lists — I think Sabaa Tahir went out and bought Star Wars: Kenobi on the spot to make sure her Tusken Raider story felt authentic!

You can read the whole thing at the link above.

aunt beru

In another great interview, author Meg Cabot explains why she chose to write about Aunt Beru in From a Certain Point of View and how this minor character is far more important than most people realize:

I chose Beru Lars right away. I was actually super paranoid that someone else might have chosen her first. But fortunately, the Force was with me. One of the reasons I wanted Beru so much is that I had just seen a guy dressed up for Halloween as a stormtrooper, carrying a sign that said “I Shot Aunt Beru.” After I finished laughing at how funny that was, because it was a little funny, I got mad. The Aunt Berus of this galaxy and the next never get any respect! I mean, I get it, it’s a funny gag…but without Aunt Beru, Luke would never have saved the galaxy. So I’d been kind of looking for a way to tell Aunt Beru’s side of the story when Elizabeth [Schaefer, the editor of From a Certain Point of View] contacted me. I still feel like the Force had something to do with it.

If you don’t have time to read From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars Explained has put together a handy video explaining how the 40 short stories plug a bunch of tiny plot holes scattered across the movies. That’s pretty handy for all the nerds out there (we say with love, counting ourselves among the nerds).

Meanwhile, Star Wars Explained has dedicated another episode to R5-D4, the red astromech droid that Uncle Owen almost bought instead of R2-D2. And this new story diverges from its original expanded universe story. You can learn how in the video above.

In other book news: Thrawn is back. In book form! And Timothy Zahn, who created the character in the old extended universe and returned him to the new canon with this year’s new Thrawn novel, is returning to the blue-skinned military mastermind. A new book is coming next year and you can check out a mysterious teaser above…

Star Wars The Last Jedi 38

When asked about J.J. Abrams returning for Star Wars: Episode 9, John Boyega was his typically charming self:

“Yeah, I’m really happy [and] really excited. I actually sent him an email and asked him if the real reason is because he misses me. And I think that’s what it is – that’s the only reason why he came back, and I appreciate that.”

Yeah, we’d miss hanging out with John Boyega, too. But in an interview with Coming Soon, Boyega removed the wink and spoke a bit more seriously about working with Abrams again on Episode 9:

“I think what’s fantastic is it feels like it’s coming back full circle. I don’t know nothing about the script, the story. I don’t know where Finn’s going, I don’t know where Rey is going, but definitely I feel this is the war to end all wars in this movie. I’m interested to know how he will handle that. I’m asking so many questions and I haven’t had a chance to kinda sit down and write J.J. a message just to say congratulations and I’m stoked. My fixation now is that he needs to get some SLEEP and GEAR UP because we’re doing another one of these movies, mate! But I think he’s gonna do a great job, as always. He’s J.J.”

Continue Reading Star Wars Bits >>

The post Star Wars Bits: The Planets of ‘Han Solo,’ Some Love For Aunt Beru, and Some Pressing Canon Questions appeared first on /Film.


Reader Question: What questions should I be asking when rewriting a script?

Writing is rewriting. Here are some questions you should ask in that process.

A reader question from Robin:

I am in the process of working on my third draft of a screenplay. I know there is something still missing from the story. I just can’t quite put my finger on it. What kinds of questions should I be asking in regards to story and/or character that may help me figure this out?

Robin, you have hit on one of the biggest issues in the entire process: Rewriting. Of course we’ve all heard the adage, “Writing is rewriting.” Fine. But what to do? How to do it?

I’ve had long conversations about this with Tom Benedek, the screenwriter who wrote Cocoon and my partner at Screenwriting Master Class. Tom taught a rewrite class at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in their MFA program and is as well-versed in this subject than perhaps anybody. There are many areas to focus on, but for purposes of this response to your question, let me suggest your first order of business is to make absolutely sure that the most fundamental dynamics related to your story’s characters are in order. Here is a series of questions to help start you in that process:

  • Who is your Protagonist?
  • What do they want?
  • What do they need?
  • Who is attempting to stop the Protagonist from attaining their goal [Nemesis]?
  • Which characters are the most intimately connected to your Protagonist’s emotional development [Attractor]?
  • Which characters are the most intimately connected to your Protagonist’s intellectual development [Mentor]?
  • Which characters test your Protagonist by switching from ally to enemy, enemy to ally [Trickster]?
  • What is the arc of your Protagonist’s metamorphosis?

By “want,” I mean conscious goal, something we know by the end of Act One the Protagonist is actively attempting to achieve.

By “need,” I mean unstated goal, some aspect of the Protagonist’s inner self that represents a key part of their Authentic Being or Core Essence.

The underlying assumption here is that most stories are psychological journeys, the events that transpire in the External World (Plotline) impacting the Protagonist’s Internal World (Themeline) which results in their metamorphosis.

Oftentimes I read scripts where it’s clear the writer has little to no idea what is going on in the story’s Internal World, the script a series of occurrences that don’t tie together in any emotionally satisfying way or barely scratch the surface of what transpires in the Protagonist’s metamorphosis.

And while it’s true that in some stories the Protagonist does not go through a transformation process, the fact is in most movies, they do.

Thus if the meta point of a story is about the Protagonist’s metamorphosis, then the surrounding characters and events that happen need to service that emotional plot.

I had a terrific conversation recently with David Seidler, the screenwriter who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech. We discussed how powerful a metaphor Bertie’s stuttering was. In the External World, this Protagonist had a speech impediment. But the real meaning of that condition is tied precisely to the story’s Internal World, the challenge for Bertie to find his voice to claim his right to be the King of England. Thus on the surface, there is the relationship between Bertie and Lionel, the speech pathologist, attempting a variety of methods to overcome Bertie’s stuttering. But the power of the story lies in Bertie’s psychological journey from a man plagued by the shadow of his father and haunted by the fear of his monarchical responsibilities to being thrust into a situation where he had to assume the throne.

David Seidler, screenwriter, “The King’s Speech”

In that process, Bertie had a Nemesis [his stuttering and at the root cause of that condition his father], an Attractor [his wife], a Mentor [Lionel], and a Trickster [his brother Edward]. Each plays a role in Bertie’s psychological journey as he moved from a state of Disunity [a member of the monarchical family who can not speak in public, who does not want to be King] to Unity [he learns how to manage his stuttering and finds his voice to become the King of the people].

In all honesty, I would say that 90% of the scripts I review that have rewrite issues, the problems go directly back to the characters and a lack of understanding about why they are there in the story, and what their respective narrative functions are.

So I would suggest you start there. Once you think through all that, then you can address the script’s structure as it relates to both the Plotline and Themeline, and so on.

GITS readers, what questions do you ask when you rewrite a script?

Comment Archive

Reader Question: What questions should I be asking when rewriting a script? 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

Finally, some of the big ‘Destiny 2’ questions are answered


There’s much we don’t know about Destiny 2. The raid is a (not at all surprising) no-show in previews, the system governing loot drops is a giant question mark, and the loot itself carries some inscrutable elements — such as mod slots — that will only be answered with the final game.

That said, this video clarifies how a huge chunk of the game works: PatrolsDestiny 2 brings back the original game’s open exploration spaces, but levels up the way those spaces work. 

Cooperative “Public Events” have increased in both number and complexity, which promises to make these public co-op spaces feel even more lively. Those events are also joined by new Lost Sectors and Adventures that function sort of like mini-missions — you can stumble into them just by wandering around and poking your gun into every dark corner, and you get loot drops and story development as a reward. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Gaming, Bungie, Destiny 2, and Entertainment

5 Questions Filmmakers Should Ask Themselves When Establishing Their Brand

Branding your production company, your media business, or even yourself can be a difficult road to navigate, but these tips should really help you get on the right track.

Other than making movies and videos, one of the most important jobs you have as a filmmaker is getting yourself and your work out there to the masses. This is hard, frustrating work, especially for those who don’t have any marketing or advertising experience, but it’s definitely essential for most (if not all) content creators who want to have a greater online presence. If you’re totally lost and have no idea on where to start establishing your professional identity, Kris Truini of Kriscoart gives you five helpful branding tips in the video below.

If you have literally no idea how to start the branding process, you’re definitely not alone. As a filmmaker, you may not have a whole lot of expertise when it comes to building and growing a brand, but Truini gives you five questions you can ask yourself that will help you get started.

Read More

No Film School

The Weekend Read: All Things ‘Guardians 2,’ Disturbing ‘Cars’ Questions, and an Amazing Horror Festival

kurt russell guardians of the galaxy interview

In this edition of The Weekend Read, we have movie reviews, interviews, editorials, lists, rankings, and so much more. Here’s every single original feature the /Film wrote in the past week.

Movie and TV Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a soulful superhero movie with a bit of a third act problem, says Jack Giroux.

It Comes At Night is a chilling horror masterpiece, says Alex Riviello.

Jamie Righetti says The Endless is an incredible must-see for horror fans of all stripes.

In his latest Fargo review, Jack Giroux attempts to discern who make the biggest mistake in a cast full of real screw-ups.

Who came out on top in the latest episode of Better Call Saul? Karen Han looks into it.

Jacob Hall says that the first episode of American Gods promises one of the most fascinating TV shows in a long time.

Silicon Valley continues to be as funny as ever in its fourth season, according to Alex Riviello.

Columns and Regular Features

In the first edition of The Unpopular Opinion, Anya Crittenton takes Guardians of the Galaxy down a peg or three.

The next edition of The Best Movies You’ve Never seen takes a look at under-the-radar science fiction comedies.

The latest Movie Mixtape examines films with secret and not-so-secret connections to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

An extensive breakdown of the first trailer for The Dark Tower, by Stephen King fan Jacob Hall.

Lists, Rankings, and Editorials

Everything you could possibly want to know about the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post-credits scenes, as assembled by Jacob Hall.

All 48 movies released by A24 (possibly the greatest modern movie distributor) ranked from worst to best, courtesy of Chris Evangelista.

A look at some of the most memorable song choices in the movies, from Karen Han.

With four Game of Thrones spin-offs in development at HBO, Jacob Hall speculates on what they could be about.

Here are 15 of the most amazing opening scenes in movie history, as compiled by Josh Spiegel.

Why the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are the best part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, according to Josh Spiegel.

Place your bets: this year’s 2017 Summer Movie Wager has begun!

Film Festivals

An in-depth look at every single crazy thing that happened to Alex Riviello at the amazing Overlook Film Festival.

A collection of capsule reviews covering every single movie Alex Riviello saw at the Overlook Film Festival.

Brief reviews of the 12 best movies Jamie Righetti saw at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Everything Cars 3

Where, exactly, do the Cars from the Cars movies come from? Ethan Anderton investigates the disturbing truth.

Ethan Anderton explores how a Cars 3 storyboard evolves into an actual movie scene.

Cars 3 director Brian Fee tells Ethan Anderton how he managed to snag the job despite having never directed before.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Interviews

The legendary Kurt Russell talks Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Tombstone with our own Ben Pearson.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige explains to Peter Sciretta how you make a great post-credits scene in a superhero movie.

The always interesting James Gunn chats with Peter Sciretta about writing and directing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 star Chris Pratt shares Kurt Russell stories with Ben Pearson.

/Answers and /Response

The staff compiled a list of their favorite comic books that need to be adapted into TV shows.

The comics that /Film readers think should be adapted into TV shows.

The post The Weekend Read: All Things ‘Guardians 2,’ Disturbing ‘Cars’ Questions, and an Amazing Horror Festival appeared first on /Film.


The Tobolowsky Files Ep. 75 – Three Questions


What is the difference between an answer and the real answer? I start with three questions.

The Tobolowsky Files is a podcast from the people who brought you the /Filmcast, featuring a series of stories about life, love, and the entertainment industry, as told by legendary character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. You can e-mail Stephen at stephentobolowsky(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also follow him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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The post The Tobolowsky Files Ep. 75 – Three Questions appeared first on /Film.


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