Fan Filmmaker's Primer

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

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    FYI re U.S. Copyrights and Music Covers (emphasis mine)...

    Mechanical Licensing Laws
    Under the U.S. Copyright Act, the right to use copyrighted, non-dramatic musical works in the making of phonorecords for distribution to the public for private use is the exclusive right of the copyright owner. However, the Act provides that once a copyright owner has recorded and distributed such a work to the U.S. public or permitted another to do so, a compulsory mechanical license is available to anyone else who wants to record and distribute the work in the U.S. upon the payment of license fees at the statutory "compulsory" rate as set forth in Section 115 of the Act.

    About the source—the Harry Fox Agency—(LINK). Relevant excerpt:
    In 1927, the National Music Publisher's Association established HFA to act as an information source, clearinghouse and monitoring service for licensing musical copyrights. Since its founding, HFA has provided efficient and convenient services for publishers, licensees, and a broad spectrum of music users. ​

    Video requires a sync license, which is a different thing.

    Due to vagaries caused by U.S. Copyright law revisions over the years it's possible for a recording to have fallen into the public domain but the song itself to still be Copyrighted and still require a Mechanical License. And even if you've secured a Mechanical License, if you want to use your cover in a music video to put on YouTube you'll also need a Sync License.
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    SCHEDULING A SHOOT

    So, on Aug 18th I worked as the A.D. (Assistant Director) on a short film made for the 2019 San Francisco 48 Hour Film Project. Since it's a small film and fresh in my mind it seemed like a good sample-in-miniature of how you schedule a film shoot.

    First here's our film:


    A quick precis for those unfamiliar with these kinds of film contests.

    The kickoff starts at 7:00 PM on a Friday when each team is assigned a genre or genres (you either pick one or combine them). We got Musical -OR- Vacation or Holiday Film.

    At 7:30 PM the producer reads off three requirements each team must include in their film. In this contest the elements were:
    • Character & Occupation: Jake or Julie Turlington, a Voice-Over Artist (which happens to ve the occupation of our team leader Erik Braa!)
    • Prop: Golf Ball
    • Line of dialog: "She's not in charge any more."
    And then it's GO and you have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit, score, and deliver a complete 4–7 minute short. If you're 1 second late handing over your thumbdrive, you do not qualify for any of the judges awards, and only can get Audience Favorite.

    As such, the edit is never as polished as you like.

    So, have a look at the film and then continue below as I discuss how I scheduled this shoot and do a breakdown so you can see how it's done and the factors considered.


    SCHEDULING IT

    The AD's job involves the shooting schedule and shot list, so the first thing I did when I had half a moment was walk through the location and see where we could shoot what scene and—after getting the director's assent or changes— figure out the shooting order.

    Here are some of the most common parameters:
    1. Cluster all scenes in the same set back to back. Why? You don't want to move the crew and gear out of a set and back to it, because that takes time.
    2. You try to schedule scenes with the same Talent (actors) as close together as possible. Why? You don't want to put people in and out of makeup and costume, and...
    3. You want to WRAP (release) as many people as possible as soon as possible, especially on a guerrilla shoot like this where actors and extras can take on other tasks when they are freed.
    4. You want to figure out which sets are are going to take the longest to dress (make pretty) and light, and make sure other stuff can be happening whilst said set is being prepared.
    5. You also want to keep in mind breaks so that Talent that are in a lot or most of the scenes have a chance to take a break while other Talent is working.
    6. etc.
    So here's the shooting schedule I established, the rationale for the choices, and the effects of those choice.

    READTHROUGH
    I always recommend this. As soon as you get a chance, get the Talent, Director, DP, AD, and Script Supervisor to sit down and read the script through several times, because the actors get to ask questions here before they start rehearsing and you save a lot of wasted time in front of the cameras by solving most of the issues at this point. In our instance, the relationships between the characters were decided and dialog was tweaked based on the discussion and hearing it.

    0. sc1 & sc3A — Exterior Building
    These were merely establishing shots for cutaways, so I did not schedule them other than to tell the DP to get someone to go shoot them as time permitted (this is what we call "2nd Unit" stuff).

    1. sc2 — Lobby
    Because this scene required the most of everything (bulk of cast, grip gear, mics, costumed extras) I put it first so we could get the most complex scene nailed first
    • 6 of 7 actors required (1,2,3,4,5,6)*
    • 6 costumed extras
    * In film & TV each actor/character is assigned a number so you can list them easily without writing out long lists of names. Shatner knows he's "1" and can at a glance see which shots he's needed for the on the day's schedule by looking for the 1s.

    —@ scene wrap—
    • 6 crew acting as extras could get out of costume and back to their real jobs
    2.. sc7 — Lobby
    Scheduled second to avoid a crew move and to exploit our existing grip and camera setups for maximum speed
    • all 7 actors (6 from previous scene +1) (1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
    —@ scene wrap—
    • CREW MOVE TO OFFICE SET
    LUNCH!

    3. sc3 — Office
    Scheduled next because it used almost the entire cast and we could wrap (end the day) of one actor upon finishing
    • same 6 actors as sc2 (1,2,3,4,5,6)
    —@ scene wrap—
    • 1 actor wrapped and released (6)
    • 3 actors sent on break (2,4,5)
    4. sc4 — Office
    Scheduled here to avoid a crew move and to exploit our existing grip and camera setups for maximum speed, and also because we could wrap another actor upon finishing
    • 2 actors remaining from sc3 (1,3)
    • 1 actor added (7)
    —@ scene wrap—
    • 2 actors released for break (1,3)
    • 1 actor wrapped and released (7)
    • MINIMAL "A" CAMERA CREW MOVE TO EXTERIOR SET
    • MINIMAL "B" CAMERA CREW MOVES TO MISC. ROOM (basically, we flipped around to the adjoining room)
    • BULK OF CAMERA GRIP GEAR MOVED TO BAR SET
    THEN we temporarily split the crew to get both of the following simultaneously

    5. sc6 — Yard
    • 2 actors called back from break (4,5)
    —@ scene wrap—
    • "A" CAMERA MOVES TO BAR SET
    • 2 actors wrapped and released (4,5)
    6. sc6A — Misc. Room
    • 1 actor called back from break (2)
    —@ scene wrap—
    • 1 actor wrapped and released (2)
    • "B" CAMERA MOVES TO BAR SET
    DINNER!

    7. sc5 — Bar

    Scheduled last because
    1. Daylight was not a factor if we did not choose to use the windows (we didn't)
    2. All but 2 of the cast would be wrapped
    3. The bar was in the process of being remodeled so but putting it last it gave the crew the most time to "dress" the set to an acceptable state
    • 2 actors called back from break (1,3)
    • 7 members of crew used as extras
    —@ scene wrap—
    • 2 final actors wrapped (1,3)
    • CREW wraps
    • "Reset to 1" cleanup of location
    IT'S A WRAP!

    TIMELINE
    • Crew call was 7am
    • We wrapped at 9:03pm
    • The gear was all out by 10pm
    • The location was cleaned and locked up by 11pm

    Hope that was illuminating in some small fashion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
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  3. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    Thanks for reminding me I still need to watch this!

    Edited to add; watched and enjoyed it. Cute film.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
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  4. USS Jack Riley

    USS Jack Riley Captain Captain

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    Fun film.

    Is there software to assist with this? We had a discussion either in this thread or your other thread about the basic differences, but I don't recall scheduling the shoot as part of it. If so, is it specialized software or a simple spreadsheet?
     
  5. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    I believe there are dedicated software options, I haven’t really used them myself. Shotlister is one I know of, which is a tablet app. I think Celtx, which used to be a free scriptwriting software, had scheduling abilities but it’s been a while since I used it and I can’t recall the details.

    In the past, I’ve used a word template that I found online. I don’t have it to hand but if you just google shooting schedule and you’ll find one easily enough
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    Gorilla and Chimpanzee are scheduling tools. I used Gorilla on Polaris. They help you organize the stuff but you still have to use you noodle to figure out the practical order of things. This shoot was too fast to bother with any serious paperwork. I made decisions walking the location and basically scribbled notes on my script and worked from that.
     
  7. USS Jack Riley

    USS Jack Riley Captain Captain

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    Thanks USS Intrepid and Maurice! This thread is a treasure trove of info for those of us who discovered their interest in production at mid-life!
     
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  8. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    COPYRIGHT LAW & the SO-CALLED "25% DIFFERENT" RULE

    This comes up now and again, as per this article (LINK):

    “Back in April of 2017 the task of the Enterprise making an appearance came to be and work was to start right away,” Eaves explained (with some of the grammar modified for readability). “The task started with the guideline that the Enterprise for Discovery had to be 25% different, otherwise production would have most likely been able to use the original design from the 60's. But that couldn’t happen so we took Jefferies’ original concepts and with great care tried to be as faithful as possible. We had the advantage of a ten-year gap in Trek history to retro the ship a bit with elements that could be removed and replaced somewhere in the time frame of Discovery and the Original series.”​

    Emphasis mine.

    Bullshit.

    Here's the deal about Copyright Law: it's not that specific. It doesn't carve out safe spaces. I sat down with my entertainment lawyer friend—who teaches this subject and has written books about it—to ask him about how much use of footage of old videogames would be considered Fair Use in a commercial film of TV Production, and he said, "You're better off getting permission. There's no rule about how much or how little time is considered Fair Use." As we discussed it more, he explained that, as with so many legal things around creative matters, what crosses the line is really in the eye of the beholder: the judge and/or jury that tries it. (And Fair Use gets especially slippery around things that are not works of critique.)

    Also, even if there were some 25% rule, how the Hell could you define what constitutes 25%? 3/4 of the object is the TOS Enterprise and the remaining 1/4 looks like a brick? It's such a vague definition as to be utterly meaningless.

    So, in short, beware of "formulas" that profess to describe so-called safe zones. They're generally horse manure.
     
  9. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    Agreed, it’s absolutely impossible to define 25% difference legally. At least wen it comes to artistic designs. Of course, Eaves clarified to say that wasn’t a copyright issue, just a creative rule of thumb, and really just about updating the ship for modern audiences.

    Of course certain clickbait youtubers are still claiming otherwise, despite a ton of evidence to the contrary.
     
  10. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    To add to software posts: I've used Magic Magic software (scheduling & budgeting) in past which was great at integrating changes between the two programs. But it's very expensive (couple hundred $). Some of my students use StudioBinder's software on a monthly basis when working on specific projects.
     
  11. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Already knew about scheduling around what locations you have available at what times, but I never thought about scheduling actors so that they could finish up their parts in the film as early as possible. Could save a lot on catering, lodging and transportation. Also, I'd imagine that if you have uniforms from actors that have already wrapped on their scenes, you can recycle them for other actors and extras.
     
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  12. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Extremely smart. I wished I had had this when my friends and I were attempting some larger projects.

    One thing I still struggle with is doing a shot list for locations. I have a very linear mine when it comes to filming so editing it together is something that requires reminding. In other ways, "Fireproof, slate the shots for each location, shoot them and we'll edit it together later."

    Thanks, Maurice!
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    A quick aside about a shoot I just did....

    I spent Thursday and Friday on a rather arduous film shoot where I again acted as the A.D. We drove 60 miles and 1:41 out of Portland into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From the trailhead to our campsite/main shooting location was ~800 vertical feet up the Grassy Knoll Trail #146 (link), up which we had to schlep 3 tents, 6 sleeping bags and associated bedding, camping gear, food, camera and sound equipment and a drone. There were only six of us including the talent (one actor), and it was too much bulk to get it all up in one go, so we had to send two guys back to get the rest. It was exhausting work, but the view was amazing, and we camped on the precipice from which we planned to shoot the sunrise across this vast valley towards Mt. Adams. Links to tweets with photos below.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the footage because it was shot with Filmic Pro on a gimbal stabilized iPhone XR using an anamorphic lens to get a 2.4:1 aspect ratio in 4K. The drone was used to track a car along a dirt road from overhead, and then to do a titanic pullback from the actor on a rocky outcropping back and back and back across the valley until he is just a speck. We didn't get the sunrise due to weather, but we got an amazing set of shots late morning that will be just fine.

    Exhausting work. Hopefully the end results are worth the effort!
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  14. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    Sure.

    I assume what I've underlined is supposed to be "In other words"? Either way, I'm not quite following what you're getting at here. Can you clarify?
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    It's more about efficiency than anything. Why keep people on the set longer than necessary? But you have to be careful not to jam too many scenes back to back in a way that actors don't have time to prepare for the next scene, change wardrobe, or get makeup done (if it changes). In my example we had no costume changes and the script was short so those were not significant factors, but they can be even on shoots this short.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Whoops, yeah. In other words, I need to figure what shots at what location and shoot those, not worry about it being linear. Editing is not something I'm great at.
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    The way you do it is
    1. Take the script and cut it up and put all the scenes on the same sets together
    2. Identify which characters and background are needed for each scene and try to figure out what’s the optimal order. e.g. if the captain is only on the bridge in 4 out of 7 scenes you might try to put those together instead of shooting them in order, conditional upon...
      • Special makeup or costumes that will require time between shots to execute, or will require more time than usual for an actor to be readied and might be optimally done later on that set
      • Set dressing and special lighting considerations, etc. if the condition of the set changes (battle damage or what have you)
      • If the set is “wild” and pieces need to be rearranged or reconfigured
      • If you need a greenscreen or other special setup
    3. Then you think about your shot list and how that affects your planning. If you’re using dolly track or a jib arm or something for only a few shots you want to try to get those back to back in order to avoid a lot of unnecessary equipment setup and reset time.
    4. Then you go through each scene and break it down by how you want to cover it. That informs the order in which you’ll plan your shots. You try not to do things like shoot a closeup, then a master, then another closeup and then a two-shot because you’re wasting time moving the camera back and forth, switching lenses, adjusting the lighting and flags and reflectors more than in necessary
    5. In each scene you generally try to get the master (widest) shot first, because if you start in on the close angles you risk missing the big picture in terms of character movement and action. By blocking and shooting the biggest shot first everyone knows what is happening off-camera even when in tight closeups, and thus will make everything run more smoothly when you are going in tighter and also helps avoid continuity issues that would otherwise make your editor miserable.
    Etc.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
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  18. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    I posted twitter links to some pix, but here are 3 at full size. Click to embiggen!

    [​IMG]
    Looking across a bazillion trees at Mt. Adams in WA. This just a bit before sunset. We camped overnight right on this precipice.

    [​IMG]
    This the following noon. Our actor (Kyle Vahan, who some of you might've seen as John Oblinger on Grimm) is about to have an OTS (over the shoulder) shot done.

    [​IMG]
    It's a wrap!
     
  19. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Maurice, thanks for posting these! Very cool!
     
  20. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    Fantastic!
     
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