Watch: 5 Tips for Making a Perfect Action Scene

Action is a movie staple, but how do you do it right?

If you want to know how a clock works, take it apart. You look at the way one piece fits into another, the way the gears turn in relation to each other, how the parts become the whole. Then, whether you can put the same clock back together is irrelevant. You’ve learned something. Films work the same way. If you want to know how they work, take them apart, scene by scene, shot by shot, line by line.

Patrick Willems’s new video essay does just that with an action-packed scene from the short film The Wrong Trousers, in which the beloved Wallace and Gromit chase a duck named Feathers, who’s stolen some very valuable diamonds, to answer a question that’s probably on many young filmmakers’ minds constantly: how do you make a great action scene? Check out the video and read our top five takeaways below.

Read More

No Film School

Reader Question: Do you have any time management tips on how to write while holding down a full…

Reader Question: Do you have any time management tips on how to write while holding down a full-time job?

Some practical advice to engender productivity even while working full-time.

A question from Tom:

I’ve always believed that emulating those who are successful is a key to success. You say to immerse yourself in cinema and I agree. It’s also very difficult to do while working full time at something only vaguely related to writing. I’ve wondered for years how you do it. What does your typical day look like? What did your typical day look like when you wrote K-9, Trojan War or Snowbirds (i.e. when you wake, how long you write, how much you read, when you watch films, are you a Churchill kind of sleeper, etc.)?

I’ll answer this in three parts: (1) How I wrote K-9. (2) How I worked full-time as a screenwriter. (3) How to balance writing with work and family commitments.

How I wrote K-9

In the fall of 1986, I was performing as a stand-up comic, traveling up and down the state of California. When I started working on the spec script K-9, I booked gigs to allow me to maximize my time on my writing. So I’d work for 3 weeks, 7 nights a week, then take off a week, then back on for 2, back off for 1, and so on.

When I was traveling between gigs, I would carry a pocket tape recorder with me. So for example as I was driving up Interstate 5 from southern to northern California, I would work out the plot on tape. Then when I would wind my way back home to Berkeley where I was living at the time, I would transcribe all those notes into my wife’s Apple IIc computer (complete with the 5 1/4 inch floppy discs).

Then back down to L.A. to meet with my writing partner. Once we cracked the plot, I’d head off on the road again for more gigs, but then I focused on working out each scene, again using the tape recorder, and again transcribing those notes.

When it came to actual page-writing, I scheduled a week off and wrote as many hours a day as I could stay awake. I managed to write a first draft in five days and revised it in another two.

After receiving feedback on that draft, I did a marathon rewrite session, basically staying up for 36 straight hours, slept for half a day, then did one final polish. Sent it off and it sold in January, 1987.

So if you have a flexible schedule like I did, here are a few points to take away:

  • You can work on your story any time using some sort of voice memo device.
  • When you are ready to pound out pages, schedule a good chunk of time (1 week is optimum), then commit yourself to your writing — nothing else.
  • Make sure to take off a week or so between drafts to clear your head.

How I worked full-time as a screenwriter

I did that for 15 years in L.A. working on 30 paid gigs for studios and networks. On projects I worked on with a partner, we wrote in the afternoons, generally from 1–5. If we were writing pages, the goal was to produce 5–7 pages per day.

[Note: I always took care of personal business including exercise, emails, and all the rest in the morning, making sure to get all that ‘stuff’ done by noon].

If I was working on my own projects, I would do that at night (I’m a night owl). Also I would go away to Lake Arrowhead for 48 hour writing weekends. This was especially valuable for pounding out first drafts as I would typically knock out anywhere from 50–75 pages.

But as I described in this Business of Screenwriting Post — The Art of Stacking Projects — whatever paid gigs we had lined up, I always had a couple of things I was working on privately, one spec project I was researching, another I was either breaking the story or writing the pages.

So if you can work at screenwriting full time, a few tips:

  • Write every day.
  • Set a goal for the number of pages you need to hit each day.
  • Stack projects: Researching one, breaking the story of another, writing one, polishing another, etc.

Balancing writing with work and family commitments

Today my life probably resembles yours: I have my day work — teaching, consulting, mentoring, blogging — and my writing (currently working on a book). I’ve found I’ve had to completely alter my approach.

Nowadays the first thing I do in the morning is put in 50 minutes writing. It has to be before I do anything else because as soon as I check my emails or my calendar, I am down the rabbit hole, and lost for hours. I have so many things going on between teaching at UNC, teaching, consulting and doing private mentoring through Screenwriting Master Class, and GITS, if I don’t get my writing done in the morning, I never get to it.

That morning time is for actual page-writing. For research, brainstorming, and prep, I do that at the other end of my day, late at night when I don’t have any distractions.

So if you’ve got a day job and you’re trying to write, read scripts, watch movies, and all the rest, here are a few tips:

  • Create a master calendar with goals. Fix those to specific dates. Hit those deadlines.
  • Write every day (some things never change).
  • Stake out a consistent time during the day to write and stick to it.

Here’s the biggest tip of all: Download this app. It’s called Focus Buster. It sits on your computer’s desktop and gives you a 25-minute work block, then dings to give you 5 minutes to do whatever you want (e.g., check e-mail, stock market, soccer scores). Then start another 25 minute work session.

Given the sheer volume of stuff I have to do each day, this has been a godsend. It just makes you work more efficiently and keeps you focused.

How about you? What time management tips do you have?

Tomorrow’s question: What about writing for the web?

Comment Archive

[Originally published May 19, 2011]

Reader Question: Do you have any time management tips on how to write while holding down a full… 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

9 Tips For Making A Raindance-Screened Short For Nowt

9 Tips For Making A Raindance-Screened Short For Nowt, by Colm Field

I’ll never forget the phone call from Ashley to say that our ‘short for nowt’ Skipped had got into Raindance Festival. It was one of those time-freezing moments, where years of blood sweat and tears coagulated for one brief glorious moment into a single drop of success. I remember now that every filmmaking hurdle flashed before my eyes in one instance. But, let’s face it, I love films and it probably didn’t happen quite so cinematically as that.

Give a shit, let’s pretend anyway! ‘Cos we at Shiftwork have made a host of films on miniscule resources, have encountered a whole host of effing challenges, have learned from all of them and will hopefully learn from bigger challenges in the future. Raindance for us is an opportunity, a springboard, but it’s also a chance to reflect on the shorts we’ve made and the challenges we’ve had making them.

And – this being a Buzzfeed age – we can present it in a handy list with a plug for our next project at the end. So here’s our list of tips on making festival-screened movies for nowt – apologies if some of it seems like teaching to suck eggs btw.

1 Get a good team and be good to them.

Because they’re being good to you. Oh yes, you beret-wearing despot genius, it might seem that the sheer brilliance of your vision should be enough for anybody to beg to work for you, but movies are a business, and you probably ain’t paying. Your cast and crew will hopefully get to use this film to further their own careers, but whether they do or don’t they’re helping yours, so at the very least they deserve respect, food, travel and expenses. The same applies to the post-production team – there are incredibly talented composers, colour graders, animators out there looking to further their careers and make some penny-pinching art alongside you if you treat them right.

But how to find them? There’s loads of great sites out there already, I’d recommend Mandy ( for crew, Casting Call Pro for cast. They tend to give back what they put in – so if you want talented people, you need to make sure your profile looks professional, that your job post is well worded, you need to be apologising for the fact that you can’t pay them what you should, and you need to offer travel expenses and food WITH THE INTENTION OF ACTUALLY PROVIDING THOSE THINGS YOU DIRTY RAT.

Honestly, I am so fed up with helping on and hearing about sets where people aren’t fed properly, are told a wrap time that the producer/director has no intention of sticking to, are treated rudely, and are then still waiting for news about the finished film five years later. Every set you shoot will have at least 80% brilliant people who you’ll want to work with again in the future, so make sure they feel appreciated. If I’m lied to or talked down to in my day job I’ll down tools and walk – and I get paid for that shit! Which brings me neatly to-

2 Get a job, hippy.

Now I know there are some people out there who can go years on bohemian living, an artistic vision, and yes, a large inheritance from their father, Earl Goodman. Everyone else has to eat. And unless you secure outside funding, even a no-budget film will, oxymoronically, cost time and money, especially if you’re looking to get it into a decent festival. Both myself and Ash work hard jobs to make this dream possible. We’re not ashamed of those jobs, we’re proud of what they’ve enabled us to do.

3 Don’t film till you’re happy with your story and shots.

Our most recent short film Leticia Drowned was developed with the cast (a la Mike Leigh) over the course of a year’s rehearsals, had carefully comprised shots that were lovingly prepared with the DoP beforehand, and featured a complex set-piece sequence. Conversely, Skipped was rewritten throughout improvised rehearsal and on the shoot day, all to create a deliberately spontaneous style for the film. And despite the hugely differing styles of preparation for these films, on both we didn’t start filming until we were as sure as could possibly be that film would work.

There’s a range of ways to do this, but they all boil down to two things. For the shots, the writer, director and DoP discuss what they see when they imagine this film, and then the director, DoP and crew discuss how this can be feasibly achieved. For the script, the director and writer discuss their own vision alongside with what is feasible and not, revise that vision through the auditions (and for us through rehearsal), until they have a story, and then the writer keeps that in mind in support of the director while being open to the possibility that events may force it to change (see tip 5). During these meetings there will be differences of opinion and visions that are impossible to realise. I can promise you that resolving these beforehand these is nowhere near as harrowing as trying to fix them on the day. That having been said, you should still-

4 Aim high.

I don’t mean epic battles, or anything like that – although if you think you can pull that off on a lo-budget it would be a wonder to behold. What I mean is that the age of budget films being allowed to look cheap is long gone.

There really is no excuse any more. Phone cameras shoot in 4k, lights can be built for close to nothing or just found from everyday sources and there are countless videos for how to make your DSLR footage look the dog’s bollocks in every editing software. I’m not saying that money and equipment doesn’t show, of course it does. But for me, making a crappy looking or sounding film is no longer excusable. Although, of course-

5 Expect that something will go wrong during the shoot.

It always has for us. It’s a lot to take on, all this planning, and something usually goes awry. But there’s never been anything yet that has meant we can’t film. “Oh but what be the antidote to such celluloid poison?”, you ask in a petrified willowy voice. Well, as Montell Jordan says, this is how we do it.

First, we look to fix the problem direct. If the next scene is meant to be shot on a deserted street and a busload of tourists are roaming around photographing bins, we’ll try to shift them along with good manners and hearty laughter at their inevitable “can I be in your film?” jokes.

Then, if the problem can’t be fixed directly, if these tourists don’t care about our film, if it’s a busload of coked-up obnoxious investment bankers, say – we’ll look to the crew for salvation.

Can the DoP find an interesting angle to shoot with good (enough) lighting that dodges the drug-crazed sociopaths? Can the sound department engineer the recording to reduce their unconscionable braying to a whistle on the wind? If your editor is contactable (or, as with our shoots, working on set in a different role) do they know if it’s at all feasible to lose the bankers in post?

Remember that nine times out of ten, if they specialize in the job they’re doing today these crew members will know more about their trade that you do. Don’t be too proud to use that knowledge, don’t be too quick to write off the scene. And if they don’t know, don’t be afraid to Google.

However, if after all of this there still isn’t a solution or workaround, if you cannot possibly find another location or another shooting day, then the only answer left is to change the script to suit the new circumstances and you must do this. Just as the difficulty in getting everyone together for a low-budget shoot makes it madness not to prepare thoroughly, it is absolutely crazy to give up on a film/scene now that you’re all here.

Handily, I’ve an example of how this can work, can even make the film stronger. And whaddyaknow, it’s from one of our shorts! The Estate Agent is, I think, a very enjoyable, nicely satirical comedy horror – and I’m definitely not biased in any way. The lead actor going into filming was going to be a tall blonde woman in her early twenties. That Hillary Derrett isn’t and the film still works is testament to her brilliant performance, and some last-minute ruthless script editing.

5 Be as ruthless in the edit as you were with the script.

You’ve done it! You’ve overcome the severe lack of funds, the DIY Bank Light worked great, the watering can-rain trick paid off, your cast and crew had a great day and want to work with you again, and above all – YOU HAVE GREAT FOOTAGE. Surely you’ll want to get every drop of wonder out of these beautiful tapes eh, no shot left behind?

Unfortunately that’s the worst way to look at an edit. The more film I cut, the greater heartbreak every time I realise that some portion of these lovingly crafted words/shots/performances/direction will be lost. But for low budget, the decision is made for you. You’re up against films with twenty times your production value; can you really afford to have that joke fall flat on the festival screen, despite how much you loved writing it, despite how much it killed on audition day, despite how much it tore up rehearsal? Does that dying hero’s final scream of anguish that seemed so potent in the shoot actually sound a bit daft, and how will it feel for you and the lead when it causes snickering on the back row? How quickly will everyone dismiss your film, you, as just another bunch of amateurs who, well they’re nice and all that, but they’re not really media are they?

Editing is really enjoyable. It’s like writing a story out of a load of pages that you’ve found in a box that are all mixed up higgledy piggledy, then realising that you wrote the book they were torn from. But, more than any other part of budget filmmaking, there just isn’t the space for anyone’s ego to fit in the edit suite (also known as your living room with the headphones on your second-hand Macbook ‘cos the kids have bagsied Paw Patrol on the big telly).

6 When editing, get free stuff.

Seriously, there’s a lot out there. Want to get some fresh EDM on a characters phone ringtone? Google “royalty free music”. Want a shot of someone checking said phone but forgot to film it? Google “free stock footage”. Need the sound of a skip lorry pulling in to a driveway? Google “freesound”. Need to find out how to key frame someone without a green screen? Google- you get the idea. And once you’ve cut your footage and free stuff into a masterpiece that will burn up any cinema screen, just double check that it is a masterpiece and…

7 Get notes from people you trust not to be nice.

I know people who are caring, so caring. They want everyone to be happy, and would never say anything to hurt anyone’s feelings. And they’ll be precisely no help when it comes to giving me notes on the next edit.

My girlfriend, on the other hand… well, she’s caring as well, natch. But she loves movies, knows her opinion, and has never, so far as I know, sugarcoated it for me. So, without ever being dismissive or derisory, if she thinks anything we’ve done doesn’t work, she’ll tell us about it. It’s a priceless input, which is why when she starts voicing such reservations on something I’ve worked away at all week, I now make every effort to shut up, to not answer back, and just go away and think about what she’s said. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree with her – Christ, sometimes it doesn’t even mean I’ll like her very much in that moment – but it does mean that when I go back I’ll need to have a valid reason to disagree beyond “that’s just the way I want it”. And if four more people I trust say that same thing that she does, then that’s a note that need serious consideration.

Of course, you want more than five people to like your film. That’s why you have to-

8 Get the damned ‘Short for Nowt’ seen!

This is the one that baffles me the most. I’ve have seen GREAT shorts – I mean really, truly brilliant, ones I would love to see – and have later learned that I’m one of about six people to see them, because the filmmakers expended all of their passion into making it, and for whatever reason didn’t extend that passion into showing it off. WHY?!

If you’re proud of your film and of the people you made it with, you owe it to that film and those people to show it off. There are several ways to do this with shorts – online and Festivals being the primary routes, and although Shiftwork gives a home to our films online (at our excellent YouTube channel should you have an hour free – feel free to like, and email across offers of enormous donations while you do this) our main target has always been festivals. Three reasons for this – one, people go to film festivals who might be able to help you make more films, two, film festival accreditation is great on your CV, and most importantly three; we make our films with the dream of them being on a big screen in Leicester Square in front of a packed house, and with Raindance that’s what we’ve got.

But how to get into festivals once you’ve got the film you’re proud of? This is something that we’ve worked on developing over the course of the last year, and only now do we feel more confident that we’re getting it. But the very absolutely first step would be to read these two articles; 16 Things Film Festivals Hate About Filmmakers and Tips For Maximising Your Film On The Festival Circuit and do absolutely everything they advise. Build a website for your film – you can do this for free on plenty of sites. We use Weebly but that doesn’t mean they’re the best, get posting about your favourite fellow filmmakers and what you’re up to on social media. Look up your favourite festivals, your dream festivals, let them know that they ARE your dream both publicly and in the application you’ve lovingly prepared. And, if after all of that…

9 If after all of this your excellent film still isn’t getting into festivals, rework it.

This is the aspect of budget filmmaking that simply doesn’t apply to the big leagues. When every penny, every minute of your film is precious…it’s too precious to let go to waste.

Our short, “Skipped”, that is showing at Raindance this year, wasn’t the first iteration of our film. That was “Level Load Only”. It shared much with this film, and yet it’s not at all the same. When “Level Load Only” failed to get anywhere with the festivals we wanted, we took it away, dug out the purest story it had to offer, and reworked it into a brief teenage romance. It was hard to do. There was much to jettison, and we were proud of all of it. But it wasn’t getting into festivals.

Short movies – I prefer that term to film – are art, entertainment and business, to a degree. They have to find an audience. They have to get into festivals already full to bursting with shorts, and sometimes that might mean they have to be shorter. Some of the work that won’t be shown at Raindance was heart-wrenching to lose. But the work that will be shown is a credit to all who worked on it. And, in keeping with the spirit, we’ll make sure to keep us with them on the way up. Because the festival circuit is LONG, so you always must-

Fade Out:  Be working on your next film.

Alright, let’s face it, this bit will be a plug for Shiftwork (what, I hear you cry, even more than the rest of this bloody essay?) The fact is, we have loads of stuff on at all times, and just to, ahem, illustrate how important it is to be constantly busy, we’re sharing two of those projects.

Sarama is a Muay Thai film, about a referee who must face up to the rot at the centre of the sport – and who might just rediscover the hope and redemption it can provide.

Health And Safety is a construction site musical, in the vein of The Singing Detective. When the pressure onsite and off get too great for Leroy, his world slips into an acidic song-and-dance, but the consequences that bleed into reality are dire.

These are both films that will cost MONEY. We’re hoping that, with the help of Raindance, we can find that money. If we succeed, we will be departing the world of low-budget filmmaking that has brought us so much pain, madness…and joy. But…it won’t be for long. Or at all, in fact. We just filmed a comedy for nowt the other week. Can’t wait to see how it’ll do.

About the author

Peace and love shiftworkers – you know who you are. Colm wrote scripts and put’em in drawers for time. Then he met Ashley Belgrave, they founded Shiftwork, and since then he hasn’t looked back. They’ve seen four shorts into festivals, Colm’s script was shortlisted for BAFTA Rocliffe 2016, his story was longlisted for Public Space (though to be fair I heard that list was LONG), and now their film Skipped is going to Raindance. And he could tile your bathroom! Mega!

The post 9 Tips For Making A Raindance-Screened Short For Nowt appeared first on Raindance.


Watch: 4 Tips from Oscar-Nominated DP Luke Geissbühler on Cinematography and Being ‘In Pursuit of the Light’

There’s much to be learned from the 40+ films Luke Geissbühler has shot—and the five cameras he owns.

Academy Award-nominated DP Luke Geissbühler has perhaps one of the most diverse reels in the business today: he’s shot everything from the colorful Muppets movie, to the farcical Borat, to the stylized doc Helvetica, not to mention an insanely complex Chinese furniture store ad with OK GO who are known for today’s most visually innovative music video offerings.

After over 25 feature films, 20 documentaries, and a bunch of prominent commercials, he has plenty of advice to offer up-and-coming cinematographers. Check out this profile from KitSplit and read our takeaways below:

Read More

No Film School

Watch: Tips for Breaking into Cinematography from ‘American Horror Story’ DP Michael Goi

Emmy-nominated DP Michael Goi says persistence is key.

Michael Goi, ASC has an impressive slate of TV credits to his name, including popular hits like Glee, The Mentalist, and American Horror Story. His track record is in part what led to his service as President of the American Society of Cinematographers from 2009-2012. But the success didn’t come overnight.

In an ASC Masterclass series, Goi reveals his humble beginnings and what he did to move up. The main key, more than talent and creativity? Persistence.

“When you move to Los Angeles, you’re starting over again at the bottom.”

When he first moved to LA, he recalls, “For six months, I lived on the two hot dogs for 99 cents at the A&P…but I refused to leave and I refused to give up.” And this was after he already had 300 commercials and six features under his DP belt. “When you move to Los Angeles, you’re starting over again at the bottom,” he said.

Read More

No Film School

‘Film Your Nightmares’ and 6 More Tips from Horror Godfather Yoshihiro Nishimura

Japanese horror auteur Yoshihiro Nishimura’s latest, ‘Kodoku Meatball Machine’, confirms his rep as a wizard of carnage.

Filmmaker and make-up artist Yoshihiro Nishimura lives by his own rules. Known affectionately by fans as the uncontested godfather of contemporary Japanese horror, he’s responsible for cult classics such as Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. A glance at his IMDB page shows just how influential he’s been as a make-up artist: a veritable wizard of carnage. Japan’s Tom Savini.

Wherever Nishimura dives in, he makes a huge crimson splash—but he’s far more than just a bloody face. A bonafide jack-of-all-trades auteur, he’s a DIY screenwriter, producer, director, make-up artist, FX master and editor. Even better, in the process of achieving all that with minimal outside assistance, he has developed an unmistakable—and surprisingly hilarious—style. His latest victim is the Fantasia Film Festival, where his Kodoku Meatball Machine had a standout North American debut this past month.

Read More

No Film School

Script Analysis for Directors – Five Top Tips

As a film director, we may be very technically adept, have a great visual style or be skilled at soliciting a strong performance from our actors; we should aim to be all three.  However, no matter where our key strengths lie, we need one thing first to be able to shine in those areas. We need to know our story inside and out.

A great screenplay functions on many levels and is far more than just a ‘blueprint’ for the film. The more we work with it and its creator, the more we will be able to know we are not only getting what we want but what an audience needs. Engagement.

In addition, our preparation time is not just about making decisions, its also about exploring possibilities. We will be working with other collaborators who will also have ideas of how to approach the different elements if the screenplay. It is in our best interest to be prepared for change and be able to communicate our ideas based on a through back to front insight into the story of the film.

1. Read For Pleasure – First Impressions

When you either are given a script to read or sit back to read through your own opus, there is one vitally important question to answer. ‘Does this excite me?’. Everything else will hang on your response to that.

In addition, our passion for the story often dictates how much others are prepared to do to help you bring the vision to the screen.

Our first read through should be like we are reading a novel, or short story, poem or comic book. There is a tendency to begin the analysis like we might have when we were asked to analyse a book or poem in high school or university or worse treat it like a manual or instruction book.

The harder it is for you to enjoy reading the script the harder it will be for your cast and crew to help you and ultimately for your audience to enjoy the results.

So have fun, the feeling you have by the end of that first read will often be the feeling you are left with when you watch the movie made from it.

 2. More Detective Less Engineer.

To direct a screenplay well we have to really know the screenplay. Although we can view the script as a ‘blueprint’, my experience has shown me that there are many more layers and hidden treasures beneath the surface. The screenplay is not a precise plan for the film but a map showing the journey of the story and, as such, can offer optional routes to take on that journey.

As we progress through our early reads of the script, it helps to put on a deerstalker hat and look at it the way the great fictional detectives might as a puzzle and loaded with clues for its solution.

Our initial intuitions and images that pop into our head are valuable and should be recorded for later reference but we can dig much deeper. We should be looking first for possibilities of approach to the visual storytelling, performances, production design and use of sound etc.

Having a list of possibilities allows us to test them, then narrow it down to the best options. If we start with one choice only then we have, at best, made an assumption and not really made a decision at all. That to me seems a lot like gambling on a horse because it is a nice colour or you like it’s name.

 3.  Question Everything!

Also like a detective we should come away from each read not just with possible solutions but also with questions.

These questions we will use on our chief suspect. The writer. Often much is left off the page, by necessity or mistake and by questioning the source of the story we gain greater insight into the film it can become.

These questions also bring to light any weaknesses, glossed over motivations and overly repeated ideas that may exist, and allow a more focused development process to take place if needed. And it’s usually always needed.

As a writer/director this list of questions becomes invaluable when preparing to share our baby with others. We will have so much foreknowledge and acceptance of the world of the story and the motivations of out characters that we take it for granted is obvious on the script and to others understanding.

Be prepared to give clarity on any potential confusion by questioning the script as if someone else has written it.

As we progress, using questions with our other collaborators, especially actors, is often the easiest and most dynamic way to bring them around to our understanding of the story of the film.

4. Insight over Knowledge

A vital by product of both the passion to tell this story and the amount of digging deeper we do is that we move from a basic template knowledge of the ‘type’ of genre and style we are dealing with and get to see the unique qualities of the specific story we are telling. We start to experience the story. The world of the story becomes familiar and the characters move from being ‘plot vessels’ into dynamic layered individuals with their own codes of behavior.

By testing the possibilities and asking questions we gain something far more valuable, a deep grounded understanding of how the story should unfold, why the characters behave the way they do and how we might be able to engage our audience.

To ‘entertain’ is to hold our audience inside the world of the story, the more we can apply insight the better chance we have of preventing them from popping out for popcorn or checking their Facebook page and updating it with how bored they are whilst our film is running.

5. Listen to others.

As our other collaborators come on board, they will also have read the screenplay and have both ideas and questions for us as the director. I find it best to wherever possible let them speak first and share those ideas. I actively promote that by asking them to tell me the story, rather than start with how they might go about their roles in the process.

Listening with full attention and an open mind sets you in good stead to be both fully aware of the challenges you might face and also allows others to see that you value the contributions. We will need to do this from the beginning right through to the last moment in post- production in our edit, grade and mix.

Always allow yourself time to evaluate the options that arise. Put them to the test. The best way to handle a strong choice made by a fellow collaborator that seems to fly against your vision is to say “show me”. You then have the ability to see why and it will or will not work and direct accordingly.

These are just some of the key areas we will explore and expand upon in the upcoming Script Analysis For Directors course, the aim of which will be to give a practical and dynamic set of tools for getting the most from the screenplay, your other collaborators and yourself as the director.

It will also be of great benefit to writers and producers too.

Hope to see you there.

Happy filmmaking

The post Script Analysis for Directors – Five Top Tips appeared first on Raindance.


Kai Wong’s 10 Tips for Becoming an All-Around Better Image Maker

We all want to become better filmmakers, and former DigitalRev host Kai Wong gives you some advice on how to do it.

I know, I miss DigitalRev too, but one half of the DV dream team, Kai Wong, is still making informative and hilarious gear reviews on his personal YouTube Channel. In his latest video, though, he takes a break from critiquing cameras to share a bunch of tips on how to become a better photographer/filmmaker. Check it out below:

There are so many things that can hinder you as a filmmaker, whether it’s something technical, like not having the right gear, or something psychological, like not having the confidence to pursue a career in filmmaking. But for every issue you face, there is always a solution, and half the battle is being able to recognize what that solution is.

Wong provides ten tips in his video on how to combat many of the pitfalls you run into as a photographer/filmmaker.

Read More

No Film School

10 Lifesaving VFX Tips for Your Indie Film

An Emmy Award-winning VFX Supervisor whose artist credits include ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Iron Man’ shares how to avoid some common VFX pitfalls on a smaller budget.

As a visual effects supervisor who works on a variety of film and TV projects (Some recent ones include Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and Woody Allen’s Cafe Society), I am constantly aware of the dilemmas that filmmakers face when working with visual effects.

These experiences led me to write my book, The Filmmaker’s Guide to Visual Effects, to be released this week by Routledge/Focal. The book provides a comprehensive guide to conceiving, planning, shooting and reviewing VFX, from pre-production to post. I wrote it specifically for film and video professionals, indie filmmakers, and film students.

In the book, I discuss fundamental concepts of VFX like 2D vs. 3D, 2.5D, photorealism, roto vs. green screen, parallax and perspective shift, and then I move on to a detailed description of each VFX craft, from previs and modeling to matte painting and fluid simulations.

Read More

No Film School

Watch: Here Are 5 Clever DIY Tips All Filmmakers Should Know About

Need some nifty tricks to tackle some common filmmaking issues? Well, you’re in luck!

For DIY filmmakers, it’s always nice to have solutions to problems that are 1.) cheap or free, 2.) easy to pull off, and 3.) can be done using stuff that’s probably lying around your house right now. If you’re looking for a few new DIY tricks to add to your repertoire, you might want to check out the latest video from the Film Riot team. Learn how to fake a crowd, create colored light without gels, and get that iconic anamorphic light flare with nothing more than some fishing wire. Check it out below:

Here are the DIY tips host Ryan Connolly mentions in the video:

Read More

No Film School

1 2