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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old December 17 2010, 02:13 AM   #16
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

USS Intrepid wrote: View Post
Sounds like blankets would be very useful to us. We have the most annoying echo in the theatre we use for greenscreen shoots.
Pretty much any heavy blanket will help somewhat. That's what C-47s are for holding up. lol
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Old December 17 2010, 05:29 PM   #17
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

My suggestions would be uselessly general: plan, plan, plan. No matter how much you plan out, it's less than half of what you should. The simplest and most effective way to solve problems is to write them out of the script.
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Old December 17 2010, 05:56 PM   #18
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Sound was the main problem we had with our film. Our set was built in a very echoey hall (it was all we could get) and much of the dialogue reverbed too much to be usable. We ended up dubbing the whole thing!

I'd second the notion to do as much planning as possible. Plan every shot, every angle, visualise the whole thing before you shoot it. We didn't do enough of this, and we found we wasted a lot of time just trying to work out where the camera should go for every shot. A bit of a pain, that was.
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Old December 17 2010, 06:09 PM   #19
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I've rewritten the script no less than 26 times since we started the project. That's the one good thing about it taking so long to build the sets (and the puppets) it affords a lot of time to focus on the script and storyboarding process. If there's anything in your script that you feel is "good enough" I say address it before you start shooting -- otherwise, it's going to be the one thing you focus on when the entire project's finished because it will get a groan every time you watch it (probably from you!).
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Old December 17 2010, 06:24 PM   #20
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

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.

Allowing enough time - particularly preproduction and shooting schedule - is the other big planning factor. 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.
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Old December 18 2010, 01:42 AM   #21
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

USS Intrepid wrote: View Post
Sounds like blankets would be very useful to us. We have the most annoying echo in the theatre we use for greenscreen shoots.
Great idea! You might check out your local discount stores (if you have them in Scotland ) for bedding sets. Even the cheap ones these days seem to include fluffy comforters. I'm sure you could spend a lot more on acoustic tiling, but blankets or comforters will work almost as well for a lot less money.
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Old December 18 2010, 05:40 AM   #22
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Or a thrift store. They don't have to be new or pretty. They just need to be thick enough to be useful.
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Old December 18 2010, 06:52 PM   #23
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Good suggestions, thanks guys.

This may not be the easiest location for us to implement the blanket solution, because of the layout of the place, but I'll look into it.
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Old December 18 2010, 08:03 PM   #24
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

USS Intrepid wrote: View Post
Good suggestions, thanks guys.

This may not be the easiest location for us to implement the blanket solution, because of the layout of the place, but I'll look into it.
Maybe hang them on large ladders or easels behind the cameras. They don't have to necessarily be hung from the ceiling or walls.
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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...

HOW TO WORK FAST ON SET
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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Old December 19 2010, 04:06 AM   #26
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Start Wreck wrote: View Post
Sound was the main problem we had with our film. Our set was built in a very echoey hall (it was all we could get) and much of the dialogue reverbed too much to be usable. We ended up dubbing the whole thing!

I'd second the notion to do as much planning as possible. Plan every shot, every angle, visualise the whole thing before you shoot it. We didn't do enough of this, and we found we wasted a lot of time just trying to work out where the camera should go for every shot. A bit of a pain, that was.
Speaking of having to dub entire sequences: IIRC, virtually all of the bridge scenes from ST:TMP needed to be dubbed, because all the bridge displays used back projection, and the roar of all those projectors was simply too loud to filter out.

The point being this: There's a reason that the phrase "We'll fix it in post (production)" is considered a Hollywood cliche. Even pros run into problems that sometimes require the same kind of seemingly inelegant solutions that we sometimes utilize. (Like having to loop dialogue and sound for an entire set of sequences.)

Having to use some trickery to avoid a reshoot, and to save an otherwise unusable scene should not make you feel unduly amateurish, as even veteran pros do that all the time. This kind of "faking it" is the magic of Hollywood.
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Old December 19 2010, 05:34 AM   #27
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

^^^But neither should it be an excuse for doing it in post when you can try to do it right on set.
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Old December 20 2010, 09:57 AM   #28
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

^Sure. It's just that I've seen fan film groups disintegrate over accusations of one another "making amateurish mistakes" that aren't remotely amateurish at all. Planing is hugely important, but it will never eliminate all error... not even all the foreseeable ones. Rest assured, no matter how meticulously thought out in advance your plans are, problems will still occur, and most will be stupid little things that should have been obvious to, well, someone. And in every case, those involved are best served by seeking solutions, rather than someone to blame. Every set should have that sentiment on a sign someplace... "Seek Solutions not Scapegoats".
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Old December 20 2010, 04:55 PM   #29
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

One of the very interesting things about film and theater productions is that they must be collaborative. I had tried to write a number of novels, but they had numerous problems for the reader... too long, too pedantic. Then I tried to write a play. The feedback at the cold readings told me a lot, including, sadly, that people were making one of my 'heroes' into a bad gal (she was a she) because of stereotyping. Questions to my audience showed they didn't care a whit what she said or did, or that she was consistently helpful. She stood up to some people, and there were traits she had that labeled her a 'bad guy.' That was not even sci fi, let alone Trek, but it was an education.

I wonder if any of you have done cold readings of your film scripts in front of an audience to test them?
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Old December 20 2010, 06:51 PM   #30
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

My actors do a take and then say "can we please change this?" and I say "yeah, let's please."
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