Having attended the Raindance Saturday Film School, led by Elliot Grove, a few weekends ago, I thought it worthwhile to jot down a few of the handy insights I picked up on the day. Although there were four sessions to the day, I have chosen to only include three as the first session, Writing your Screenplay, is more theory based and less easily broken down .
LOW TO NO BUDGET FILM MAKING
- The trick to make your low budget film look more expensive? Keep the camera moving; tracking shots over zoom.
- Push your cameraperson along the floor on a skateboard for a cheap but effective tracking shot.
- When shooting in public, you don’t need a permit for handheld cameras or monopods.
- The money made from films is more likely to come from its soundtrack than the film itself. (They tell a very interesting anecdote about Quentin Tarantino and his trick to securing great soundtracks that was worth some of the ticket price alone!)
DIRECTING FOR FILM
- Who chooses the shots on set, Director or DOP? If you know what you are doing, the crew will let you choose them. If not, the crew will direct it for you.
- In short, go on set, prepared and with a plan.
- Directing for screen is all about cheating. It needn’t look realistic in real life, so long as it looks right on camera.
- Theatre deals in breadth, film deals in depth.
- For any aspiring screen actors, apparently it’s “more important to hit your mark, than to act well.” Probably best to aim for both!
- Mirror shots are bullshit! For the audience to see the actor on screen in the mirror, the actor won’t be seeing themselves but the camera.
- Another one for actors, measure the volume of your voice according to the size of shot, as opposed to where your co-star is.
E.g. Even if your co-star is on the other side of the room, if there closeup is on you, whisper!
BREAKING INTO THE INDUSTRY
- If someone leads you to talent, this makes them an Co-Producer.
- If someone leads you to money, this makes them an Associate Producer.
- The person with the money is an Executive Producer.
- Show some variation. If you wish to be a DOP, show range of light and dark shot, indoor/outdoor, etc.
- Put your name and contact details in a (news) ticker, running along the bottom of the screen, so they are visible throughout
When shooting a film, be sure to get three types of photos whilst on set.
- Staged publicity shots from the film
- Cast & crew shots e.g. actors in the makeup chair
- Photos of yourself, as the director, producer etc.
Be sure to hire a stills photographer who understands movement.
I learnt considerably more from the day than the above but perhaps this will help to give you a taster of what to expect. If you are novice film maker, like myself, this course is a great starting point. Even if you have a short or two under your belt, it is useful in determining whether you may be interested in any of Raindance’s other courses.
And if you are thinking of attending, set up a news alert for a Groupon deal, or similar, as most people there, like me, seemed to be there on the cheaps!