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Old December 18 2010, 11:55 PM   #25
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Dennis wrote: View Post
The main problems with both of the low-budget films I've worked on - "The Tressaurian Intersection" and Polaris - were ultimate script issues. So far Polaris is less problematic than TTI, so maybe I'm learning something.
Exactly. Fixing it on the page is the cheapest and best solution, provided you know what to look for.

A good thing to do with a script is read it for what I call "filmability". For instance, with words it's easy to say, "but Maria is lost in thought about Jake's father", but how does the audience know what a character is thinking. If Maria is looking at a photo of Jake's father, then we can infer what she's thinking about. As I often write in script notes, "Just cause the script says it doesn't mean it can be filmed."

Dennis wrote: View Post
Allowing enough time - particularly preproduction and shooting schedule - is the other big planning factor.
Another "exactly. When we shot greenscreen in Indian Head for Polaris there were no storyboards for the shoot, I found myself drawing storyboards there on set just so we'd know what we were shooting. Not optimal at all.

Dennis wrote: View Post
Assuming that you can meet a shooting schedule "if all goes well" is a big mistake. We only finished the Fort Washington phase of Polaris successfully with some very long days (although I'm told that we had nothing on some other productions our folks had worked on) and because a non-shooting/construction day had been built into the schedule. Needless to say we shot all day on the non-shooting day.
Which is a good setup for...

If you can be on set long before the actors, block all your potential camera positions. Move the camera to that position, mark the floor where your sticks will rest, measure the height of the tripod, get your focus and then write down the lens, the zoom, the and other settings that will get you the shot you want.

Use standins to block out the action. Mark where chairs and actors need to go.

Check the setup for potential problems re reflections, etc., that you might miss in the rush when everyone arrives.

In short, do this as much as you can so that when the actors are on set you can speedily move from setup to setup. Don't do it when the cast is on set. It's a waste of everyone's time.

On the music video I mentioned above we only effectively had 75 minutes of time available with the singers in costume before the cameras for our first location. We got numerous takes in three setups (and a forth punch-in on some setup) in that time only because we'd done the above: prelit and marked all the setups so we could jump from one to the other in minutes.
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