Fan Filmmaker's Primer

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

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I've never really got into camera discussions here because I suspect most fanfilm makers are using what they have available and not going the pro or pro-sumer route.
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Speaking of cameras...

    “If you really don’t know where to put the camera, then you really don’t know what to do in the scene.”
    —Orson Welles (as related by Peter Bogdanovich)

    Here's from the same source, emphasis mine:

    I think there is one ideal place where the camera should be at any one time, and the job of the director is to find it. I usually map it out before I get on the set, just notes for myself, so I know how many setups I’m going to need for each given scene. That said, the best piece of advice I can offer is from Orson Welles, who once said to me, “If you really don’t know where to put the camera, then you really don’t know what to do in the scene.”

    Hitchcock always insisted that every scene should have a point of view. He didn’t necessarily mean that the director should have a particular attitude toward it. Hitchcock had a great ability to jump from the subjective point of view of a character to an objective point of view. At times the audience is in the head of the character and at other times not. It’s all done with camera angles and use of lenses and framing. Much of Rear Window is told from Jimmy Stewart’s point of view as he looks out over at the buildings opposite. But at other times, at key moments, Hitchcock shifts to an objective point of view where he purposely shows you that Stewart is asleep and clearly doesn’t see certain things. It helps build the tension because the audience says, “Aha! He didn’t see that!” A shift like that is often done very subtly, without the audience even noticing, but the question is always the same: from whose point of view is the audience seeing the scene? For example, if you have a close-up of me and a wide shot of you, it’s obviously my point of view. If I have you sitting there, and we start with a close-up of you and then cut to a shot of me from where you’re sitting, it’s obviously your point of view. It’s really important to remember when you’re writing a script or directing, because it affects everything in terms of the framing, the size of the image, the way you move the actors within the shot and how they interact with each other. Hitchcock did it wonderfully. It’s absolutely a forgotten art. Most films don’t have a point of view, they just have shot after shot. Always ask yourself: precisely which part of the story am I telling with this shot?
    I'm going to try to do more posts like this when I run across material I think might be of value to fan filmmakers (assuming any read this).

     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Hokey smokes...all these years of writing in this topic and it never occurred to me to share the one Behind the Scenes video I've made! Back in 2007 I participated in my first 48 Hour Film Project with TTI director Scott Cummins. We drew the genre "superhero" and I wrote the script for a short subject titled Secret Identity Crisis. Here's a little slice of what our shooting day was like.


     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  4. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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  5. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Over the years here—and especially post-Axanar—there's been a lot of discussion about what constitutes fair use. I ran across this video today which covers both product placement and fair use, but which gives some good examples of the latter, including cases of copyrighted designs (i.e. a statue used on a Netflix show) being the basis of a suit.

     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2019
  6. Bixby

    Bixby Captain Captain

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    Saw a couple of recently-released fanfilms that have their own thread on this first page...Seeing their lighting set-ups, they should probably take a gander at this short film
     
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  7. Bixby

    Bixby Captain Captain

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    No sooner do I finish watching the previous video that a second one that`s just as interesting pops up...Many things mentioned have been championed by Maurice more than a few times
     
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  8. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    This is great stuff, but knowing the speed at which most fanfilms are shot and the very limited gear most have, I think many of them would just assume they can't do this kind of stuff and ignore this. But there are a lot of DIY type solutions to get a similar effect as real grip gear. Heck, just getting black and white foamcore sheets you can use as flags and bounce-cards, fer instance.

    Yeah. I've seen fan filmmakers argue that the 180º Rule is "just a suggestion" and so on. What they don't grok or refuse to accept is that these rules were established for a reason: they make a scene understandable by eliminating potential confusion.
     
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  9. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    These are fascinating. You don't realize what extraordinary detail goes into films until you really dissect them like this.

    And I can see where fan filmmakers could run into a ton of problems. I think the biggest takeaway I get from this is to simplify as much as possible. In particular, when budgets are small. The idea of using opaque coffee mugs instead of clear smoothie cups of course is perfect and costs basically nothing, seeing as actors could even bring in mugs from home. That also fixes an error I noticed which they didn't talk about in the second video, which was the moving straw angles. No straw, then no problem.

    And that's just the freakin' drinks in the scene.
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Here's a fun video essay by the director of Shazam about filmmaking as problem solving, and in it he illustrates the why of some staging and other choices in the film.

    As he describes it:

    A short video expanding on something I talk about on the Shazam commentary track (Shazam is now available on digital and if you buy the iTunes version you get a commentary track along with the other extras).​

    The Problem Solving of Filmmaking

     
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  11. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Okay, I'm not a lawyer *cough* @jespah *cough* but a lot of what "Lindsay Ellis" said it contrary to everything I've ever read about copyright / fair use. At the beginning of the clip, she talked about working for three years at a product-placement research firm. How, exactly, does that make her an expert in copyright law??

    She listed satire as being covered by fair use. My understanding is that satire is not covered. As I understand it, satire is a means of making a political / social statement. The Barbie example was a full-on example of satire. They got lucky in that they made the case it also was a dark parody of Barbie herself. They were making a statement about the social ills of "searching for the perfect woman", which of course Barbie opening tries to represent.

    Regarding Weird Al releasing a song for "free" to avoid being sued doesn't make sense, as copyright law does not require the violator to "make money" to be breaking copyrights. Regardless, I think he would have won the case that it was, in fact, a work of parody. While one definition of parody is to "imitate the work to ridicule", broader definitions are "an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect" or to "mimic humorously". Maybe I'm misinterpreting it, but I think all of Weird Al's works fit those definitions.

    The whole bit about Big Bang Theory (believe it or not, I've never watched the show) using Cheese Cake Factory as a place setting "obviously not fair use", quoting the commentator, I'd have to disagree. Maybe the parody was too subtle for her to see, but it's there. Again, one doesn't have to lampoon the *bleep* out of the target to poke fun at it. I'll admit that one would be a flip of the coin which way a judge/jury might go on any given day.

    But what do I know? I'm not a lawyer. I'm not even "trained as a lawyer".
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  12. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    What is covered is parody. Satire is slipperier. She's conflating the two terms, which a lot of people do. It's like how people use myth and legend interchangeably even though they mean really different things.

    This page might help clarify the distinction (link), but here's a relevant quote:
    As the Supreme Court explained in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., “Parody needs to mimic an original to make its point, and so has some claim to use the creation of its victim’s (or collective victims’) imagination, whereas satire can stand on its own two feet and so requires justification for the very act of borrowing.”

    Nonetheless, every attempt at a parody is not created equally, and in each instance the particular parody would need to undergo the four factor fair use analysis to determine whether it constitutes a fair use. For example, an attempted parody of a song that borrows too much of the original composition and lyrics, and as a result sounds too much like the original, is less likely to qualify as a fair use.
    An important example of parody, which created the so-called "Mad Magazine exception" was Berlin v. E.C. Publications, a copyright law case decided in 1964 by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit . It involved suing Mad Magazine over parodying songs. Berlin lost.

    Weird Al does both parody and satire, and it's his parodies that are at issue. Of course giving it away for free doesn't protect him, but it was a way to dissuade the Copyright owners from going after him in court. Since it was a parody he was probably safe anyway, but likely didn't want to get into a court case.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
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  13. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    Far as I can tell ~~ Spaceballs is a parody. It's intended to show up Star Wars to comedic effect. Mel Brooks changed a lot of names, but it was obvious he needed the audience to understand the princess, the rugged hero, the furry sidekick, etc. I think Dave (the film) is more like a satire. It takes the earnest Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style of story and flips it on its head. The main character doesn't want to be in Washington; he's just a perfect double to the president. So you don't need to know Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in detail or any other gee, I'd like to get elected film out there to enjoy and understand the plot (although it can help the viewer to appreciate the film better). All you need to rely on are basically scènes a faire, such as images of the Capitol building, the cabinet meeting, the country has problems, etc. All of those are trope-y parts of a film like that so they don't fall under copyright, anyway.

    Kind of hybrid (I believe): Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As a parody, it relies on understanding at least a bit about Arthurian legends. Knights, kings, horses, fair maidens, deep and mysterious woods, magic, and combat. But a lot of those are scènes a faire, and you don't necessarily have to know Arthur at all, not even by name, to see how the film is sending up the kinds of stories that are often excruciatingly serious.
     
  14. Jedman67

    Jedman67 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Music copyright is a bit different than video copyright. Essentially, as long as you pay a license fee and royalties, you don't actually need "permission" to cover a song or use it in a production. It's a bit convoluted but I believe the record company or label has to accept payments.
    That's why for every birthday party shown in TNG, everyone sang "He's a Jolly Good Fellow" instead of "Happy Birthday"; as "Fellow" was public domain and "Happy Birthday" would have required royalties.
     
  15. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Again, I'm not a lawyer, nor even "trained as a lawyer, but I don't believe there's any difference in copyright laws for music than with anything else.
    Licenses / royalties are not unique to music. I'm trying to remember the book, but I know one author gave permission to another author to use his characters in a cross-over story.
    I'm pretty sure that's not true. See the PRETTY WOMAN case. They asked Roy for permission; he said "no". They went ahead and did it anyway and got sued, albeit they convinced a judge it was a parody and thus got away with it. The point being, one can't just use it and then say, "sorry I didn't ask first, but according to Jedman67, I didn't really need your permission." If it worked that way, why did Led Zeppelin and Robin Thicke / Pharrell Williams get sued???
     
  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    If it worked that way why did a musician get sued for sounding too much like himself?
     
  17. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    Musical copyright lawsuits are kinda all over the place. I have to run, but the main takeaway I have is that (a) no one's really sat down and said okay, this is how it's gonna be. So there are all sorts of interpretations and they can often conflict. And (b ) usually the pay to play royalties/cover license setup works really well. Then again, I have no idea if, behind the scenes, say, Ben Folds asked Steely Dan's Donald Fagen if he (Folds) could record a cover of Barrytown.
     
  18. Jedman67

    Jedman67 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @Sgt_G I looked it up at one point in time. Here is the Wikipedia version:
    I know it's not exhaustive, but that's the short answer as to why Weird Al can publish a song without the artists or labels permission (in addition to protections provided by Fair Use as a parody) or why anyone can cover famous songs without fear of lawsuits as long as the appropriate credits and royalties are paid.
     
  19. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Commodore Commodore

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    Yup. Al's made it clear in the past that he asks for and listens to the artists' wishes as a courtesy (see McCartney, Prince)
     
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  20. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think you're reading that right. Or maybe I'm not. For sure, one of us isn't. To me, that's talking about the legalities of playing a sound recording, such as a CD or MP3 or even a player-piano.