Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a great reference. A lot of fan films and other small productions assign credits incorrectly. Co-Producer is one of the worst, as the people who get it rarely do anything related to a co-producer job.

    As a member of the Producers Guild myself it's nice to see the new p.g.a. mark mentioned in the article.
     
  2. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Especially the writing credits, take STARSHIP FARRAGUT's latest outing for instance.
     
  3. captainkirk

    captainkirk Commander Red Shirt

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    No one's posted here in a while but I have a question that I'm sure many people here are capable of answering. On a low-budget shoot, what crewmembers are essential, which ones would be nice but not required, and what roles can be merged?
     
  4. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Rather than think in terms of people it might be easier to talk about necessary skillsets. for instance, you must have adequate camera work, lighting and sound. Depending on their background, one person might be able to handle or at least supervise all three roles. Similarly, someone has to be the director, but again, depending on that person's background and the complexity of the shoot, the director might also be able to handle some other role such as handling props.

    To really figure out what personnel you're going to need, you're going to have to have a finished script. A detailed script (storyboards may seem like a luxury, but even crude ones can be huge timesavers in terms of helping envision how scenes should be set up and in spotting potential trouble spots. If you don't know what a storyboard is here you go) is your roadmap and studying it in advance will give you an idea of what resources in terms of materiel and personnel you will need.
     
  5. captainkirk

    captainkirk Commander Red Shirt

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    Well right now I'm still at the story phase of a film I want to make possibly next year (not a fan film). But I am trying to see what's possible with very little money. And since a large portion of the story would be shot on exterior locations it would be cheaper to have a small crew.
     
  6. Duane

    Duane Captain Captain

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    Having a person who is expert in some of the more recent apps available for filmmakers helps a lot. Recording good sound on location needs attention as well, although I'm told a good audio engineer can do wonders with inferior sound (if so, I've yet to meet this person but would love to.)
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    From earlier in the thread:
    I know some people disagree about separate director/D.P., but my experience is that beginning filmmakers make a lot more mistakes if they're trying to combine those roles.

    DO NOT SKIMP ON SOUND! Sound trumps picture, and bad sound ruins beautiful photography. The reverse is not quite as true. It's very tough if not impossible to fix sound in post. Don't risk it.

    Do you have any live-action filmmaking experience? If not, the best way is to learn by doing. It appears you are in South Africa. Are you in or near Johannesburg? You could enter or join a team participating in the 48 Hour Film Project there (link here). I did five of these and they are great, low impact introductions to making movies in limited time and under extreme restrictions. Taught me a lot.
     
  8. scienceguy

    scienceguy Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I would recommend the following:

    Director
    Cinematographer/DP
    Sound Mixer
    Assistant Director
    Script Supervisor
    One person to handle makeup, wardrobe and production design
    2 or 3 people to help with lighting and setting up equipment
     
  9. captainkirk

    captainkirk Commander Red Shirt

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    Thanks everyone. I live near Durban, not Johannesburg which is a problem because we have almost no film industry.
    I do want to get as much experience as possible so I try to look out for events to participate in.

    I'd been looking in the credits of a number of short films and I figured it would be something like that.
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Basically, on a no-budget film you end up wearing a lot of hats. When you have fewer people shifting as much work as possible to pre-production and doing planning and contingency planning is what'll save your bacon.

    I may have mentioned this upthread, but when we did what became "Stagecoach In the Sky" for the 2009 48 Hour Film Project we did as much work as the contest rules would allow long before the actual contest: I secured a location 5 weeks in advance and toured it with my DP several weeks beforehand, taking a lot of photos and discussing with him the practicalities of shooting in the plane. The lighting gear we rented was based on this assessment. This planning made it possible for us to walk in on the shooting day and get right to it. It saved us HOURS of time during the shoot.

    In other words: plan everything you can, then keep planning. It's never too much.
     
  11. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Shooting our 36 hour production, "Closing Time," at Trek Trax Atlanta, we had the following folks:

    Sara Higgins Mackenzie (director, camera operator)
    myself (director of photography, lighting, continuity, script supervisor, prop master)
    Each person appearing did their own makeup, but Brian Holloway of Phase 2 did Eric Stillwell's (Korgoth the Bartender) abd the ladies from Reliant did their own Andorians.
    We provided the costuming for the Starfleet regs who didn't have their own.
    The actors did a great job of getting their own makeup and costuming in order.
    We used the built-in microphone. (We will be rerecording some lines for the official release next year).
    Mark Brennan provided pre-made VFX (which will be tweaked a little).
    We used Tony Lunn's music from previous episodes (which will be replaced with an original score next year).
    Rick Foxx provided the credits (only one error -- not bad at all!).

    After the shoot, Sara edited the rough cut. I tweaked the sound as best as I could, and it came out fine.

    For our latest studio shoot, things were a bit different. We had...

    director/camera operator
    lighting/director of photography
    continuity/script supervisor
    boom operator
    production assistant (i.e. gofer)

    Too many people underfoot is definitely not a good thing for a small production.
     
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My short films typically have about 25 people (about 8 cast and 16 crew) and it never feels like there are too many people, especially since everyone has a specific job or jobs.
     
  13. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Doesn't sound like a fan film.

    For our most recent production, we filmed in a hotel room in Alpharetta to represent a couple's residence on Gault. Two cast members present. Three crew present. Throw in half a dozen lights, and you really don't have room for any more crew.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Contrarian.

    25 people doesn't sound like a fan film? Have you seen one of the bigger fanfilm crews when they are shooting? The Tressaurian Intersection cast and crew easily numbered into the 20s.

    The point is that the line of too many people is relative. If the "set" is small that doesn't mean you don't need people, it just means that you move the people who don't need to be near the camera off-set to your basecamp. When I shot in a 70 year old flying boat we had a basecamp set up outside the plane, and the only people inside it were those who needed to be there at that moment. Makeup comes in, does touchups then exits, stage right, etc.
     
  15. captainkirk

    captainkirk Commander Red Shirt

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    This has all been helpful. If I'm ever able to afford to put my idea into production I don't think being able to fit people into locations would be a problem as the ones I have in mind are pretty large. The harder part would be convincing the owners to let a bunch of film makers take over the place for a while.
     
  16. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe it's the confusion between "fan film" and "no budget film". Phase II and other fan films is certainly not "no-budget".

    What I also don't like it when people say they made this film with no budget, but then you look at who was involved and it's semi-professionals who have access to equipment worth a couple of thousand bucks in either renting or owning. Other people have access to a camcorder and to a free copy of Adobe CS 2. Those can claim they did their stuff without a budget.
     
  17. Pingfah

    Pingfah Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure what in the name "fanfilm" would suggest its status as such would be dependent on the number of people involved in making it. It's a pretty self explanatory descriptor :vulcan:
     
  18. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Maurice, I'm just pointing out that many fan films don't have the personnel, the space, the budget that your short films do. I think you're comparing apples and pecans. Sorry you resort to getting personal in your remarks. Or is that being "contrarian" too? :rolleyes:
     
  19. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    There are several tiers in fan film production. The top tier has quite a bit of a budget. The middle tier has a modest or even minimal budget. The lowest tier is literally being made on a shoestring, and might even be doing the editing in the camera.

    Potemkin is fortunate enough to be a middle tier production. We have a modest budget (which comes out of my pocket usually) that goes to the set construction material, purchase of mini-DV tapes, costumes, makeup, lighting. None of it goes to the producers, cast members, VFX guys, directors, etc. Construction is done by volunteers, e.g. my son and I relocated and rebuilt/built the sets for Potemkin this summer.
     
  20. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, I'd argue it's not. The descriptors are getting murky.

    Is "Renegades" a fan film? Is "Of Gods and Men?"

    Is Phase II still a fan production? Is Star Trek Continues? Is Starship Farragut?

    At what point does having professional involvement push a fan film out of that arena and into a semi-professional or even professional production?
     

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