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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old December 20 2010, 07:15 PM   #31
Melonpool
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Barbreader wrote: View Post
I wonder if any of you have done cold readings of your film scripts in front of an audience to test them?
I have! And it was very educational. I peppered the audience with both friends and family as well as people that were coming into it really cold. This way, it helped to see how people that were unfamiliar with my stuff would react to it.

The result? I extensively rewrote the entire thing and added about 20 more pages to it. That was a little daunting, but as I've worked on it in the last few months, I've been able to whittle away about 8 of those, so I think the film is manageable again.

One other thing that has helped greatly is having someone else direct. His input has exposed a lot of story flaws that I never saw and has helped the script immensely.
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Old December 20 2010, 09:30 PM   #32
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I'm lucky inasmuch as my regular writing partner is a trained actor, so each time we sit down to work he typically reads back to me what we wrote last time, and right away I can hear if something sounds awkward. He's also good at pointing out when things are grammatically correct but tough on the ear or difficult to say.

I also love table reads. Last year I had a bunch of actors go through a script several times, but we'd switch who was reading what role each time, so I got to hear a bunch of different takes on the same characters. One actor improvised something for a character that was so funny that it changed the way we write that character now.
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Old December 22 2010, 11:33 PM   #33
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

No one's posted here for a bit so I think I'll add a new topic.
THE DIRECTOR AND THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

I think people commonly assume the Assistant Director (or A.D. or 1st A.D.) is an assistant to the Director, which isn't at all the case. Here're what the roles break down to:
DIRECTOR
The creative brains behind the production. On the set, the big D works primarily with the talent (actors) and the camera crew (DP, etc.) to get the takes.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Technically, the A.D. (who reports to the producer, not the director) runs the set. This is a vitally important role, as it leaves the director free to focus on the shots. The A.D. checks with departments to make sure everything is ready, calls all the technical stuff related to starting and stopping takes, and generally watches the shooting schedule to make sure the scheduled work is being accomplished.

(There are also 2nd and 3rd A.D.s, but it's exceedingly unlikely that any fan production would be big enough to require them.)
I originally made this A.D. Checklist document (PDF) for Starship Polaris in the event I could not be on the set for any reason or if someone else had to temporarily take over the A.D. job. Feel free to have a look or use it if you think it might be useful.
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Last edited by Maurice Navidad; December 23 2010 at 01:21 AM.
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Old December 22 2010, 11:53 PM   #34
MikeH92467
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Looking over the suggestions it looks to me like an obvious time saver is to have a guidebook for as many positions as possible, such as lighting director, grip, best boy, etc. It would seem pretty basic for the executive director to have all those positions filled as far in advance as possible and to have however many conferences it takes separately or in advance to make sure everyone has at least some idea of how a shooting set operates and what their role will be. Right down to who yells "action" and/or "cut"!
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Old December 23 2010, 02:08 AM   #35
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

If somebody decides to create on online guide of the sort Mike H just suggested, I'd want to link to it!
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Old December 23 2010, 06:24 AM   #36
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I'm a big fan of checklists, because they really help drill into your head the steps and make sure you don't miss any.
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Old December 23 2010, 03:45 PM   #37
Sir Rhosis
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Back to the writing:

Having read a number of fan film scripts (and pro scripts do it to, often) my beef would be with overwriting. Often you get something like:

EXT. SPACE

The Enterprise cruises slowly THROUGH THE FRAME, from right to left, at an angle bisecting the geometric balance of the galaxial plane. We MOVE IN SLOWLY until CAMERA is square on the mighty vessel which PASSES DIRECTLY UNDER CAMERA. CAMERA SWIVELS and ROTATES and REGAINS image of ship as it now MOVES AWAY from our perspective, and grows smaller moment by moment.

Or something much like that. For Chrissake, just say:

EXT. SPACE

The Enterprise cruises by.

or even simpler:

EXT. SPACE

Enterprise flyby.

The same goes for all scenes. There is often excessive description of every bridge establishing shot. What every single character at every station is doing is described (and what they're thinking, too, believe it or not). Instead of all that, just list the characters present and say something like "all intent at their stations."

"Don't direct on paper," is a maxim I have often heard. Which doesn't mean that you can't write with flavor and verve!

Sir Rhosis
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Old December 23 2010, 05:05 PM   #38
Andymator
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Sir Rhosis wrote: View Post
Back to the writing:

Having read a number of fan film scripts (and pro scripts do it to, often) my beef would be with overwriting. Often you get something like:

EXT. SPACE

The Enterprise cruises slowly THROUGH THE FRAME, from right to left, at an angle bisecting the geometric balance of the galaxial plane. We MOVE IN SLOWLY until CAMERA is square on the mighty vessel which PASSES DIRECTLY UNDER CAMERA. CAMERA SWIVELS and ROTATES and REGAINS image of ship as it now MOVES AWAY from our perspective, and grows smaller moment by moment.

Or something much like that. For Chrissake, just say:

EXT. SPACE

The Enterprise cruises by.

or even simpler:

EXT. SPACE

Enterprise flyby.

The same goes for all scenes. There is often excessive description of every bridge establishing shot. What every single character at every station is doing is described (and what they're thinking, too, believe it or not). Instead of all that, just list the characters present and say something like "all intent at their stations."

"Don't direct on paper," is a maxim I have often heard. Which doesn't mean that you can't write with flavor and verve!

Sir Rhosis
Do you mind if I ask why exactly you have a beef with this?

As a television director I really enjoy alot of texture and description from writers in their scripts. It allows me to really feel the tone and visualize the story as I'm going through it, like reading a good book. Obviously the first example you gave above is a bit rediculous, but that's just bad structure and lack of literal focus.

I find the best thing about getting a whole lot of material to work with is that I don't have to use it if I don't want to. It's only there to help me understand what the writer is visualizing when crafting the story. The better I understand the concept, the better I am at the execution. I suppose the downside is that it takes a little longer to read them, heheheh.
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Old December 23 2010, 05:15 PM   #39
Sir Rhosis
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Note my last line. Flavor and verve are good. I think we pretty much agree. Sometimes it is necessary to describe exactly what you see, others it is a waste. The first example, taken from memory, admittedly, does come from an actual script I read online. There is simply no need in a Trek fan film to overdescribe what is just a transitional shot. A flyby to indicate a passage of time/transition to another scene. YMMV.

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Old December 23 2010, 05:19 PM   #40
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Long passages describing opticals or action in more detail than necessary makes it difficult to estimate shooting and running time, IMAO.
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Old December 23 2010, 07:56 PM   #41
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

For questions about costuming, I think this thread would benefit by a link to James Cawley's forum on that subject. Even if he had never played the part of Captain Kirk, he worked on costumes for the real TNG. He's a bona fide expert on the subject.
http://forums.startreknewvoyages.com...hp?board=283.0
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Old December 23 2010, 08:28 PM   #42
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

It's fine to give flavor, but to describe a shot in excessive detail is pointless as anyone who's ever been on set can tell you. There are all kinds of practical concerns about matched looks and eyelines and visual composition that must be decided by the director and DP and which the writer generally has no knowledge of. Describing what side of the room something is on is silly since the writer has no say in the blocking, etc.

Here's some examples of how I handle stuff like this, from the aborted "Atlantis Invaders" script:
EXT. SPACE

The STARSHIP EXETER creeps up on a blue PLANET. Sneaky. Purposeful.


EXT. SPACE -- EXETER IN ORBIT

The mighty U.S.S. EXETER has the drop on an OLDER CARGO STARSHIP. It's of Federation design but antiquated; a WWII Liberty Ship next to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. The cargo ship tows two large tanker-truck like PODS.
In these I'm conveying what the shots should feel like rather than the specifics of the composition. That's texture without being overly specific.
INT. EXETER BRIDGE

ON B'FUSELEK working his console as Itzhak Perlman plays a violin. His fingers dance over the controls as his eyes follow the information flashing on the screens before him. We see why he's got this job! When one particular piece of data flashes onto a screen, he stabs a button and freezes it.
Here it's about what the performance is like without telling the actor how to do it.
EXT. COLONY -- RAILING -- SUNSET

Garrovick stands at the rail, looking across the sea at the setting sun. After a few moments, Callahan appears.

INT. COLONY -- CONFERENCE ROOM -- MORNING
This time the subject in the hot seat is BRAD JENKINS, the miner who earlier protested fixing Intake Four. He's older, worn down, a little scared and a lot hung over.


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Old December 23 2010, 10:16 PM   #43
Hudson_uk
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Not viewed any of these yet and they may be for real beginners. However, Vimeo have launched "Vimeo Video School".

http://vimeo.com/videoschool
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Old December 28 2010, 09:38 PM   #44
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

New topic...
STORYBOARDS

Some people don't like to use them. Some directors don't need to. Personally I find them very useful because they make me consider how I'm going to shoot and what coverage I'll need to get, something that's easy to miss if you're just making a textual shot list.

Some people skip storyboarding because they can't draw, but storyboards needn't necessarily be pretty. Stick figures will often do, as mostly what you're trying to do is illustrate how the shot is composed, and not necessarily all the details of said shot.

Below is a stick-figure storyboard I found online. It's not pretty, but it's perfectly serviceable, and something almost anyone could draw:


The following storyboard is something I drew for the music video I mentioned in the first post on this thread. It essentially illustrates a single shot, but breaks that shot down into each distinct action required for the choreography. You can see that it establishes that there are only two setups required for the shot: a medium shot and a punch-in for a closeup. The way you shoot this is to film the entire sequence from both setups allowing you to intercut as needed.


(In case you're wondering what the lines across each panel are, they're to break them down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so as to consistently remind me to be mindful of the shot composition and the Rule of Thirds.)

The following storyboard from "The Atlantis Invaders" is of a different ilk, as it's basically a shot by shot breakdown of an entire sequence. Some shots are again broken down into steps based on action, whilst others are single panels.


(There're actually an error in this 2004 storyboard that I'd never make today. The redshirts are mostly facing and firing towards screen left, and relating to Cutty also screen left, but in panel 4 they're facing right, which "crosses the line" and is a no-no.)

Both examples are rough storyboards and drawn quite small, with each panel being maybe 2-3 inches wide.


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Old December 28 2010, 10:26 PM   #45
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

One thing I would like to ask of the fanfilm producers who have done this before, is how do I go about setting up a website that can be capable of accepting PayPal donations towards our production and the like? I know how to start a regular free webforum, but both Alex and myself would really like to get a donation feature set up for "Battlestar Urantia", and I just don't know how to set that up myself. Anyone have any guidance on this issue?
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