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Writing a Script or just Making it up. Which one??
I've made several movies with my friends, and probably the most fun ones were the ones where we had absolutely no idea what we were putting together, but we were having a great time doing it. But the more quality films that we've made involved an actual script with directions and dialogue. So I'm wondering what's everyone's opinion on how to make a movie. Is there anyway to bring the spontaneity to a big budget production, or is it better to have everything in it's place and a place for everything. What do you think??



While this may seem like a dilemma, choosing between free-form and fixed-form, actually, even a scripted or storyboarded project has the same creative flow taking place. It is the scripted form which is a more refined concept of the brainstorming and creative juices put to paper for others to review and evaulate. Certainly it is a great feeling to be able to make up dialogue and action on the spot, but does this have to be done during the production of the project?

During production you'll need a camera, tape or film for the camera, lights, microphones, props, the necessary actors to tell the story, people to help behind the scenes and definately other costs will appear no matter how much you plan. When you have all these in the same room, is this the time to "just make it up"? While there may be some new side of the script that was not realized in rehearsal and you may have a few minutes to "see what happens", the production stage (which follows the development stage) is the time to be efficient and not waste money or time.

The creative part is best applied in rehearsal. Here many ideas and thoughts can be tested as the actors find out who their characters are and what are their characters' motivation. Once this is refined and put on paper, a.k.a. - the script, then it is time to call upon the production team to capture that which has been refined .

An excellent method is to tape the rehearsal, edit it, show it to the actors to help them realize the end product and then shoot the real one using the best equipment and people you know or can afford. This "storyboard" video is like making all the mistakes before the really event.

The creation of a project can be summarized as:
1) Development of the idea and theme with a script created.
2) Pre-production is the time to schedule and plan the production of the script.
3) Production is the capturing of actions onto film or tape.
4) Post production is the editing or piecing together of the best clips from production.
5) Exhibiting is showing the final project.

How does scripting differ from story writing? The key is only the spoken words and absolutely necessary actions are written in the script. While in a story format, you may read pages about the scene, with every detail laid out for you to visuallize.

The script provides the skeleton for the story. It has a beginning or opening which tells of the conflict or problem to be solved by the end of the story, a middle or body for the story to develop and an end where the conflict or problem is solved or concluded. Yet a script does not need to go into the detail that a novel would.

It is up to all the creative departments to add their touches to make the scene come alive. From the Director cordinating the actors and framing the scene, to the Director of Photography determining where to add light and any special colors to the Costume Designer selecting wardrobe and Production Designer selecting background and props to be used, it takes many people behind the scenes to create those memorable moments where we recall our favorite actors.

In brief, scripting should tell a story and tell it in the most word conserving way possible. I won't go into detail, as there are many books written about scripting, but do select your words carefully, desribing as much as possible with as little as possible.

Write like the wind!


Where do I start [acting]?

The first myth I'd like to denounce is "once an actor makes it big, they never have to work or do anything again".

Acting is a job just like doctors, teachers, and taxi drivers have a job to do. Being hired or paid to act can be a very rewarding job yet it takes constant effort and the dedication to do a better job each day forward than the last.

So from day one, the best mindset is that you will continue to strive to get better and that you will constantly be developing new skills and techniques. With this in mind, try to find like minded people, friends and fellow thesps. who are striving to develop too. Begin a theater or acting group and test out plays and one acts you can find in your library. Or take a scene from a television show or movie and recreate it or put a spin on it. All this should be done in the safe environment of practice. Only when you have ironed out all the wrinkles should it become a performance for others to see.
Next, try out for parts at a local theater or in school, or get a video camera and plan out a short story to shoot. These are the learning experiences that really need. The negotiating and studying side of acting. At some point as you branch out, get a professional head shot taken of you and start submitting yourself to things like commercials, student films and theater.

Just remember, no matter where you are as an actor, always keep learning.


Re: First call back [ How should I act in an audition?]
While your friend was trying to be helpful by provide a quasi "insider's scoop" on how to nail an audition, especially a call back, I would suggest that you spend a little more time in preparing to be like the character and if you are concerned about your outfit, choose similar clothing that the character would wear, if you were to meet them on the street (within reason).

Know your character, know the background of the character, know how they think. What are his thoughts on religion? What are her thoughts on politics? What would he say about his life philosophy? How would she talk, walk, sing or dance?

Working on an independent film usually means that the person involved with casting, also has other involvements throughout the film's production, they might even be the director or producer! But remember, casting (aslo known as the casting director, C.D., or the casting company) has an image or a vision of what the character from the script would be like, the better you fit this image, or convince casting that you are this character, the more they will want you to portray this character in their film. Sure, if you went to audtion with 500 other actors in a casting call, then maybe wearing the same clothes would help refresh casting's memory. But I suggest to you to try the method style of acting and prepare for the role just like one practices for a game or studies for a test. So to sum up, know the character and then be (act as) the character. Best wishes.

I was wondering if there was anywhere i could get make up tips for my horror movie in pre production
Try a makeup shop for theater and film in your area.

Remember, horror makeup is a HUGE amount of time to get realistic looking gore. Using liquid latex, paint it on, let it solidify and add color.

If you live in a small town, try ordering liquid latex and paints from an online store. BTW, this stuff ain't cheap. A 32 ounce bottle of latex goes for about 30-45 US dollars here in LA.

What is a good dv camcorder to use to make an independent [film]
I would recommend using a professional model that allows for firewire transfer of digital video.

If you dont have that kind of $$, you could look for a rental shop and most weekend rentals give you Saturday and Sunday for the price of one day.

For the best pricing to service ratio I like www.bhphoto.com . Be wary of any other NY camera supply companies, they may advertise a lower price, but they are not too honest (they deal in gray market electronics) not always timely on shipping. (everything is always on"backorder")

Many cameras are now tapeless, they use either hard disk drives or flash media. Stay away from cameras with high compression. If the large video can fit into a tiny chip or tape, it may not maintain the best picture for editing.


What kind of movie would you make??

Part 1

The ultimate story is the hero's journey. It is a tale of births, deaths and rebirths. The hero must first recognize the call to adventure, the quest. Here is the pivotal point of our hero. Should he ignore the call, he will forever live in the realm of despair, lost, and hopelessly without. This is the world of the washed up and desolate. Drowning their sorrows of missed opportunity and chances gone by. If our hero does answer the call to adventure, Act 1 ends and Act 2 begins.

Here our character must undergo the trials and tests where he earns his stripes. If he is so prepared and takes the correct tests, he should pass them. He can have a few options: pass the test, choose a test too difficult to pass and the failure teaches the valuable wisdom of experience, choose a test to difficult to pass and the failure destroys him. (Why is is that only the experienced knights go off to slay the dragons? Because the scribe does not have the ability, knowledge, and timing to beat the beast. ) With each passed trial, he gains the wisdom of experience. These incremental trials are leading up to the slaying of the dragon and after much experience, the hero needs the guidance of the master or wizard figure. Merlin instructs Arthur and guides him to the rites of leading others.

So the boy turned man goes in search of the magic that the dragon holds, the damsel. The dragon cannot use the magic or riches, but merely holds onto those and protects them from the unworthy. Now magic is held by the woman (creator of life via birth).

Our hero must battle the beast, slay it and the magic is opened up to him. (A girlfriend's father can seem like a dragon.) The woman gives up the magic and entrusts it to the man for the benefit of the world (life). From Act 2 to Act 3, the hero returns to society with the rescue of the damsel and riches the beast held. Here the hero turns leader, motivator, and overall guru as he brings the lessons learned on the journey back to society. If he does not return, he becomes the hermit, whose "shell shock" prevents him from social interaction. The rebirth is the new life that is created upon the return, only to continue the cosmogonic cycle* once again.

Everyday we journey and encounter trials and tests. Wise people on our path guide us (hopefully) toward the goal of slaying our personal dragons. Some may have dragons too big to be destroyed in this lifetime but they should try to "make a dent" into the beast for the next generation. This is a better choice and more fullfilling than giving up.

[This brief outline is an interpretive synopsis of Joseph Campbell's book of "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". A must read for any screenwriter. George Lucas' "Star Wars" is based on Campbell's works.]

*Campbell terms the endless birth and rebirth a.k.a. "the cosmogonic cycle".

With this framework as a guide, I will tell my story of a no-ceiling budgeted movie in Part 2.

What kind of movie would you make?? Part 2
Just thinking about this "open budget" movie, I dont know where to start. Here's a go.

I would open the setting in the greek town of Sparta with the birth of a spartan (one who lives by sparce means). Here, our lad would mature into a young adventure. He would be well traveled because he is a son in a traveling merchant's family. By his late teen years, he would have tried his hand as a merchant, but gives this up as he hears the call of a louder trumpet (metaphor).
He would make he way to a far away land, and here, become awakened to an unknown culture and strange customs. In this land of plenty and abundance, a girl of his liking would emerge, only to be out of reach but somehow, within sight. Blocking him from the girl would be a local racket of sorts, also repressing the town. Our hero would use a mix of brain and brawn to squelch the hord and establish order once again. This new order wins the girl's acceptance. They do many lunches and their agents work out a prenup for the kingdom. Bells are ringing and the cycle continues...

Fundamentally, a Romeo and Juliet story. Sounds genetic, but all stories fall into common themes.

I am working on a script... I need help with twists

Get you actors together and do a "walk through", crafting the story by way of group development and group input (be sure to record all the notes so you can get it as a script later). This will help in filming b/c your actors will have had plenty of rehearsal time under their belt.

I am just starting to experiment and make movies. I was wondering if you know any tips for war movies or making realistic battle scenes?

30 years ago, you would film miniatures and then insert your subjects in action. This is quite difficult to do, but it is how Cameron, Lucas and Spielberg got started (check out the stop motion work done in Empire Strikes Back). Remember they used film cameras and there are specific lenses and specific camera shutter speeds for shooting these miniatures.

In our current state of technology, one could create a computer generated world (CGI) and get a virtual world effect from programs like Lightwave and 3D MAX (both programs cost big $$$ for an indie but this is cheap for a studio budgeted film).

How "big" a battle scene do you envision? What type/period of battle? WWI, WWII, futuristic war?


Battle Scenes con't:

We want to make a WWII battle scene?

At what stage of the script are you at? Fully written and you are committed? Just beginning to toss the idea around the circle? How does or how do you see the battle scene in helping tell the story and dramatize the character's motivation and/or dilemma?

Can you narrow down the battle?
European? Pacific? N. African?
Air? Planes, Bombers, Recon?
Land? Infantry?, Artillery? Tanks?
Sea? Subs? PT's? Battleships? Destroyers?

How long will the movie be? Under 30 minutes, Btn 30 and 60? or greater than 60 minutes?

More than likely, you will do some form of using miniatures. This is probably more within your budget and I doubt you can get a farm for a couple of months and some explosives experts to help make some good fox holes.

Go to your local hobby shop or model train store and check out all the realistic scaled versions of trees, hills and bldgs. Just imagine lighting this well, using a fog machine or working in low light to help reach some level of realism. Its not going to convince many, but it will get you started and help you refine your craft.

Well i've just started writing the script and im tossing a few ideas around in my head and i know i want the battle scenes to really be important like the main part of the movie. It wont be longer then 60 minutes and i was thinking it should take place in northern france on a farm with german infantry and a lot of firefights. My friend lives on a huge farm and we play paintball so we already have a lot of fox holes and trenches all we need is the explosions.

What kind of props (with special FX) are you thinking? M-1's, Grenade launchers, Flame throwers, mortars, howitzers? Get the plastic version of these, paint them realistic with camo colors, dirt and damage marks. In filming, shoot the prop from a distance so the camera doesn't get any close up shot.s

Creating realistic war movies is a very popular question with young filmmakers, but I cannot emphasize enough how dangereous this stuff is. Remember that only highly trained, licensed professionals should handle any fire or explosives, even a firecracker or sparkler!

Having been a safety supervisor, I cannot emphasize enough the danger of creating large scale explosions. Working around fire and small explosions is one thing but anything much bigger and any accident would cause serious/fatal injury. If your timers/fuses are miss calculated, the results are potentially deadly.

Think in terms of filming the EFFECT of the blast (flying dirt, camera shake) and then inserting the sound (boom!) in editing. Think and Work away from using any "LIVE" ammo or concussionary blasts.

I am searching for ways I can get started with my career in film. I want to get started at an early age and was wondering how I can make it into the industry. I have so many ideas and I just want to create them into a movie. I don't come from a family of fame or great wealth so I don't have access to the materials I need to become successful. Is there any way for me to get an agent or start making short movies and submitting them somewhere? I really want to be successful in this business and if you have any ideas or information I would appreciate it so much.

#1) This is a crazy business. I would not encourage anyone to enter this biz until they have had some life experiences. Travel, see the world , see people, know what makes a good story. Be able to tell the crooks from just the bad guys. In the mean time write stories, draw storyboards, learn the language (and pacing) to communicate to other filmmakers. READ. You can never stop learning. Do not get into this biz for the $$. OR any biz for that matter. It will eat you like a disease from the inside out. Set goals for the long term, not one or two years but 5 to 7 generations. Being passionate about what you want to do because when you are 60 and you look back, you may have a lot of regrets if you are not honest with what compromises you are willing to make over the next 43 years.
Know now where you stand on drugs, porn, the ten commandments, etc. because to wait until the moment can lead you to make the weak decision. What was Faust's character flaw? Ceasar's? Thoreau's? (search net) Know history and try not to make the same mistakes, instead make new ones. Learn from your and other's mistakes quickly. To make money is this biz you have to sell something. Know what you are selling and whom you are selling it to. Understand basic Keynesian Economics and personal financial planning. Know enough about interest rates and inflation so you don't go making bad business decisions with OPM (other people's money). If you can, continue your education in school, you can learn in the work force, but its always difficult to focus on getting a job done and making observations on what is going on around you. BTW, college grads make more money for some reason.
#2) This is a crazy biz.

I have an idea for a movie but was wondering what you thought of it before I do anymore.

(Idea not printed here on the website)

What do you think ?
?

Interesting. Try to map out the beginning (introduction of characters/setting and the character's motivation to make a movie and the dilemma), the middle (place where they make the movie and the joys and frustrations that they come across, The climax ( the pivotal point where the character must show his true colors/feelings/passion) and then the end or resolution ( where the dilemma is solved).

The finished script is the most important "plan" for any movie. Ignore this and you have no anchor or blueprint to follow.

This could be an outline or a few paragraphs. Read it then and see if it has enough "pull" to keep a viewer's/reader's attention.

Write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and ... get the picture?


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