Scheduling your short film shoot: set-ups

A set-up is a shot. The set-up changes every time the camera changes position.

The rule of thumb for every set-up is:

  • 30 minutes for an average shot
  • 45 minutes for complicated shots (e.g. dolly, steadicam)
    • If there are added complications, such as traffic, lots of extras, or weather, I would allow 60 minutes
  • 20 minutes for an easy handheld ECU

Beginner filmmakers may be a bit confused. “How,” (they may ask), “can me and my friends with a DSLR take more than 10 minutes per set-up?”

If it is just you with your camera with no lights and no separate sounds, sure, 30 minutes is a lot.

However, on a professional shoot, with lights and sound and actors, this is what happens in a set-up:

  1. The 1st AD calls “moving on”, and directs the crew for the next setup;
  2. The Director may have the actors do a quick block through, while the HODs watch;
  3. The Director and actors move away;
  4. The camera department move the camera; change the lens; change the height of the tripod or put it on a dolly or whichever;
  5. The Gaffer and the Sparks may need to change the lighting set-up;
  6. The DP and Gaffer and their teams make sure the lighting and camera are right (which can take a lot of faffing time);
  7. The sound recordist checks where they can be to not cause boom shadow, and where the top of frame is;
  8. The AD calls the director and actors back in;
  9. The actors do a technical block through;
  10. The AD checks if the director is happy;
  11. The AC puts markers down for the actors and checks focus;
  12. The AD calls last checks;
  13. The MUA and wardrobe check make-up, hair, and costume;
  14. Once they exit frame, the AD calls quiet on set;
  15. The Clapper Loader (2nd AC) holds the slate in front of camera;
  16. The AD calls turnover;
  17. Sound and Camera roll; their operators call “Speed”
  18. The Clapper Loader slates;
  19. They exit frame; as soon as they stop moving…
  20. The AD calls “action”
  21. The action
  22. The Director calls “Cut”
  23. The Director gives notes to the actors; the script supervisor gets feedback for their notes.
  24. You go at least once again (steps 15-23) for safety (assuming you got it right the first time)
  25. Print: moving on

And that is what takes 30 minutes.

How to create an IMDb page

I created a resource for my students recently, that shows the steps for creating an IMDb page. I share this here with you…

 

Down Below poster

and here is the page

Review

  • Check with your cast and crew whether they have an IMDb page first.
  • A spreadsheet will help you. So will having your film open in a tab with the credits.
  • You have to have an official website for your film.
  • You should already have your film online.
  • Anyone can submit to IMDb, but having IMDbPro and Contributor Status helps get your films approved quicker and easier.

Another few points (that I don’t think I made in the video)

  •  don’t create an IMDb page until you have shot your film. Even though you can create an ‘in development’ page, it is really hard to remove a credit from IMDb if someone drops off the project last minute. If you wait until your film is finished, the credits will be correct.
  • Have a portrait poster image.
    • Adding a thumbnail poster to your IMDb page makes the film look 100%* better for everyone involved.
    • IMDb thumbails are portrait (rather than landscape), so make sure your film title works portrait.
    • Because it’s a thumbnail, it is going to be very small. So you don’t need the credit block or lots of writing on your poster.

With AOTS, we have started creating poster thumbnails specifically for IMDb. Below we have two versions of the poster from our June 2017 Action On The Side project, ‘Exposure

Now, check the IMDb page for Exposure here. Click the pages for some of the Cast and Crew: doesn’t it look better on their page? The thumbnail really adds to their pages.

Recently I even went back and created thumbnails for some of my earlier films, using Canva.com.

Creating a poster is vital for your films. (I’ll write another blog post on this soon.)

Good luck creating IMDb pages for your film!


*or 150% or 200% or 1000% — I hate hyperbole when it comes to percentages. Also, that’s a made up number. Just — it makes your film look more professional and way better.

The Last Postcard

It’s been a long time since I updated my blog. I’m on set for our March 2018 Action On The Side short film, The Last Postcard. As Producer, I’ve organised everyone to be here: the cast, the crew, the location, the budget. As on-set DIT, I receive the footage and sound files and save it onto three different hard drives. As the Organiser, I’m in charge of the skills development of the project. People taking part benefit from my teaching on film production techniques, so they can become better filmmakers (part of the AOTS USP).

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Here’s me showing Adriana some script supervision techniques. Photo by Stine Olsen.

I learn something new on every film shoot. So far I’ve learnt that there’s no way of knowing when the building will hire someone to steam clean the carpets (on a weekend no less!). Every AOTS iteration I invest in something to make life easier in future: for this month, we have lids on our cups (sustainable and safe); I’ve developed more resources (like a Director’s checklist, a location recce checklist, and a chain of title checklist); and now we have three AOTS External Hard-drives.

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We’re shooting in a beautiful flat in Holland Park. Gavin, the DP, is shooting on a BMCC, with an external monitor.

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Isabella Stevenson-Olds on the monitor

Overall the shoot is going well. I’m looking forward to see the finished film in two weeks’ time.

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Be sure to check out our @actionontheside Instagram and the #actionontheside Facebook page for behind the scenes posts.

 

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Me talking to Jabari on set. Photo by Leyla Alizada.

 

Check out this https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FActionOnTheSideLondon%2Fvideos%2F769011923287302%2F&show_text=1&width=560“>Facebook Live post from today’s shoot

Now to return to DIT work and lesson planning.

Copper at the Divine Queer Film Festival in Torino

Pleased to announce ‘Copper’ will be screening at the Divine Queer Film Festival in Torino, 10 November 2017.

Copper screening in Italy

We have just been advised that Copper has been selected to screen at the Divine Queer Film Festival in Torino.

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This is a free event on 10 November 2017 in Torino, Italy.

‘Copper’ will represent the Best of the Fest from CineDeaf 2015, where we had our Italian premiere. CineDeaf have a special collaboration with the Divine Queer Film Festival and recommended ‘Copper’.

 

Congratulations to everyone involved in the project. Now to update the IMDb page

Transmission

Check out a 48 hour film that I did sound recording on.

Transmission

And check out the poster!

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This is our teams entry to U48 2016. Our genre is “Eeppisen elokuvasarjan ensimmäinen osa” which translates to “A first film of an epic film series.” Mandatory elements were a prop – “A miniature” and a character – “An idealist.”

The film was shot in Uxbridge, London, UK. Production was 8.00-18.30. Writing and planning took 9 hours (17.00-02.00.)

Cast in order of appearance

Scientist #1 (and her twin sister) :::Anna Britton
Scientist #2 ::: Christian Evans
Manager ::: Liis Mikk
Executive ::: Stine Olsen
Resistance leader ::: Manrina Rekhi

Director, Colourist, Graphics ::: Jani Sourander
Camera, Editor ::: Eero Vihavainen
Script Supervisor ::: Sanna Peltola
Writer ::: Zulf Choudhry
Co-writer ::: Heather Speake
Clapper Loader ::: Azad Sachedina
Focus Puller ::: Milena Rutkowska
Location Sound ::: Patricia Hetherington
Composer ::: Jonne Kytö
Music ::: Kalle Hahl

The vlogging journey

I’ve been all ‘heads-down, tails-up’ with my master’s studies, working 4 days a week, running the March 2016 AOTS project, running the business and doing general filmmaking stuff.  In the lead-up to the June 2016 AOTS project — two weeks away! — I’ve started vlogging.

Check out the first one below:

In one of my master’s modules (not this one, but the next one), I’m going to be developing my mentoring and training skills through vlogging. I’m starting now with promoting Action On The Side. Expect more to come.

And, click the Closed Captions button — isn’t that nifty?

Building your own website

A step-by-step guide to creating your own (film) website with Wordpress

Picture this. Someone posts on a film forum that they’re looking for a crew or cast member. They’re looking for x, and x is what you do. Your friend recommends you. It’s a professional gig — yay, you could get paid.

The first thing this potential client is going to do is check out your website. They’re going to google. They’re going to see if you have a twitter, a blog, a Vimeo or youtube channel, a facebook page. Basically they’ll check your online presence, to:

  1. see if you have one (an online presence that is);
  2. see examples of your work; and
  3. decide if they want to work with you.

(I suppose there is also 4: find your contact details.

Three of my friends have had this situation in the past two weeks. If you don’t have a website, then you could be missing out on work.

Filmmakers nowadays have to be their own brand. In every meeting, you could be meeting a potential collaborator or a potential client. You are effectively pitching and selling yourself as a commodity with every interaction. There is a lot of competition in this industry, and it is difficult to break through that noise.

Film is a relationship industry. When hiring cast or crew, producers make their decisions based on the following, in the following order:

  1. people they have worked with before (and like);
  2. people personally recommended to them (by collaborators they trust);
  3. people who look professional.

This latter point can be covered by people who have a good amount of credits, credits from reputable professional projects, and people who have a personal brand.

This could be through having a social media presence (twitter, instagram), by having a reputable blog, by having an up-to-date profile on industry pages (shooting people, filmandtvcrewpro), or, most importantly, having a professional looking website.

You need to develop a personal brand identity. I’m not going to go into that now. If you’re interested in finding out more about personal brands, check out this post from Raindance.

But what I am going to cover is the basics of setting up a website, and some of the pros and cons of different social media.

Continue reading “Building your own website”

London Film Communities

As part of my MA, I researched the London Film Communities currently available. Here is the list.

My most recent project for my Raindance MA was a Research Methods Report. For this, I researched the Film Communities currently available to London-based filmmakers.  This was aimed to help me place Action On The Side within the market, and to determine its USP (Unique Selling Point, or Value Proposition). My overall MA goal is to develop AOTS into a sustainable short film business model.

After doing all the research, I had a large appendix with details on film organisations. And why not share that information?

Here is a list of the London Film Communities…

Of course, since writing the report, new communities have cropped up, or I found ones I should have included. Please add a comment if you see any errors or omissions and I will amend them accordingly.


 

Continue reading “London Film Communities”

Copper at Seattle Deaf Film Festival

Copper will screen at the 3rd Seattle Deaf Film Festival in April

We are proud to announce that Copper has been selected for the Seattle Deaf Film Festival 2016.

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The 3rd Seattle Deaf Film Festival will run April 1-3 2016 at the Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98122, USA. Make sure you get along. Like their facebook page here.