A Guide For Indie Filmmakers Part II

MattBusiness, Filmmaking, Marketing4 Comments

This is Part II of our Guide For Indie Filmmakers. Don’t forget to check out Part I right here!

Although a little dated now, this is still a very relevant article and still a cornerstone piece on this site.

It’s also a very long read.

Edit 2015: As mentioned in the first part, this is a guest post by Adam Rench and was written a while back. Some of the product recommendations are slightly outdated now, but for the most part, it’s just a case of finding the newer product in the line (which is ever-evolving, anyway).

One of the main new considerations since this guide was written is the DSLR revolution, where affordable DSLR cameras with great video capabilities have swept the indie filmmaking and videography landscape.

No equipment guide can maintain its freshness for very long. The fundamentals are still in tact.

I recommend that you read this series of posts in order. So, if you haven’t already, you should shoot on over to Part I.

So, without further ado, make sure you have your cup of coffee ready (or other drink of choice) and let’s tuck in.

Sound Equipment

I’ve not done as much research as I probably should have on sound.  I will tell you what my experience is and why I’ve chosen what I have.

My first camera was the Sony HDR-FX1 and it had no XLR inputs.  At the time I had a little money left over to purchase some decent sound equipment.

I had two choices.

Since my camera didn’t have any XLR inputs, I could have purchased an adapter to plug-into my mini microphone plug-in the FX1 which would give me XLR inputs or I could have chosen to purchase an external recording device.

I chose the external device.  It was the Marantz PMD670 and it had two XLR inputs which had phantom power and it recorded on Compact Flash cards.

At the time, this sounded ideal because this way, the sound guy was not tied to the camera guy.  They could work independently.

The bad thing about this is that you have to sync up the footage to the sound.  It wasn’t too bad to do this, but the thing I didn’t like the most was that the quality of the sound, in my opinion, was not as good as I got when I used the mic on the camera!

I have sold the Marantz recorder so I could use that money elsewhere.  What did I get with it instead you ask?  I bought the Hollywood Camerawork DVD set, which you can read about later in this guide.

If you choose to purchase an external microphone, there are numerous brands you can choose from.  I purchased an Audio-Techinca shotgun microphone.  It came with a shock mount which helps keep the sound of the boom and operator from reaching the microphone.

A couple of other brands you might consider are Sennheiser and Azden.

Lighting

This section on lighting can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be.

Do you want to know how to light a film properly?  Do this:

1)  Close your eyes

2)  Picture your shot with composition in mind

3)  Can you see the light hitting your subject?

a)  Yes.

i)    Then think about where that light needs to come from and put a light there.

b)  No.

i)    If you can’t picture your subject then start walking around, look at people and places; try to understand how the light hits a person’s face while walking under direct sunlight.

How does the light differ from that of the same person walking under moonlight or a cloudy day?

ii)  Try to think about these things.  There are a few books, CDs, and DVDs that may also help you learn about lighting which I will mention below.

Hopefully that wasn’t too basic, but like I said, it can be as basic or as complex as you want to make it.

There are two types of lighting – hard and soft.

  • Hard lighting would be described as light that is not diffused.  An example would be a flashlight under a person’s face or a fully sunny day shining down.  This will cause very precise shadows.
  • Soft lighting is the total opposite of hard lighting (hence the name), where the light is diffused.

Clouds are the perfect natural diffuser.  An example soft lighting on a set would be to take a very powerful light and put a white bed sheet (don’t use a bed sheet as it might burn) in front of it.  This causes the shadows to be much less defined.

There are a few great resources available to use to learn more about lighting.  All of these items can be found at the American Society of Cinematographers’ fantastic website. I love this website and I’ve also subscribed to their incredible magazine.

Check their store on the website and look at the ‘Instructional’ books, CDs and DVDs.  I picked up Art of Lighting for Film by Kodak, Kodak Master Class Series: Shooting For Drama with Robby Muller and Peter James, and the book Painting With Light.

I really enjoyed all three but I highly recommend the Art of Lighting for Film.

TIP: Check out Pyramid Films.  They sell used lighting, grip, camera, and all other used film equipment.  Instead of viewing the items on their website, just call them and tell them what you are looking for.  They will set you up with whatever you need!

And, don’t forget, these days you can find all sorts of used film and video equipment on eBay and Amazon. There are lots of bargains out there. The key is to really research the kind of equipment you’re looking for, know what price is good and then watch multiple auctions to see what a good going rate is. That way, you can get a fantastic bargain!

Editing

This is going to be quite a large section on editing. As we know, editing is a really

Considerations When Choosing An Editing Software

I would say that one of the most important things to consider when choosing an editor is cost and value for your dollar.  You can purchase a basic editor for around $100, but this will not have the features that you will need. I guarantee that.

The bare minimum you will spend on a decent editor is around $400. What you want to look for in an editor is format acceptance. Most of the editors I’ll mention below can all handle HDV now, but it was a frustrating experience to have an HDV camera without support for it.

This will happen quite a bit when new technology comes out.  I had the HDV camera, but there were no editors that could natively edit it.

One thing I have to say is that Avid by far is the one that you have to wait the longest for to support the new technologies. It’s not a really bad thing though because they like to make it the best that you can get.

Apple, on the other hand, is very good and quick at supporting new technologies. The quality with Apple is also very good, so it’s more of a preference between Avid and Apple.

I’ll break this section into the different makers of the editors starting with Avid.

Avid Family

Avid makes quite a few different options for the indie filmmaker to choose from.  The biggest thing I can tell you about Avid is that it is the most popular professional editor there is.  Not just Indie filmmakers, but even the pros in Hollywood use it.

It took me a little while to finally learn how to use it efficiently, but after learning it, I love it.  Avid has software in the prices ranging from free to over $100,000.

The free version is called Avid Free DV.  It’s very basic, but if you order it, it does come with a very nice instruction CD.  This is how I first got my feet wet with Avid.

The next step up is Avid Xpress DV.  This is a very nice featured editor that costs $495.  Avid Xpress DV comes with Sorensen Squeeze Lite which is a very important piece of encoding software which I will talk about a little later.

Avid Xpress Pro – This is the heart and soul of Avid editing.  This is the full featured editor that is almost exactly the same as the editing softwares that run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The reason why this is so much less expensive than the higher priced ones is that it’s the software only.

You will really need to make sure that your system is compatible with Xpress Pro. Xpress Pro is also compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms.  Xpress Pro runs about $1,695.

Avid Xpress Pro w/ Power Pack – If you can afford this extra Power Pack, I highly recommend it. This comes with Avid 3D, Avid FX, and Avid DVD by Sonic.  This gives you a big jump in your ability to work.

Mojo – The Mojo is a hardware accelerator that helps with effects and also is your avenue for inputs and outputs.

You can take the Mojo and with it hook up a TV set and use it as your monitor!

At first, I thought the Mojo was unnecessary because I didn’t think I needed it.  As I was editing, I found that to be able to use an external monitor would be extremely helpful.

Plus, the Mojo takes the work that your computer would have had to do to make effects processing real time and does it itself freeing your computer to run much quicker with editing.

The Mojo is a must have if you have the money.  You can get the Mojo by itself for $1,695 or in a bundle with Xpress Pro for $2,995.  You can also get it in a bundle with Xpress Pro w/ Power Pack for $3,795.

Adobe Family

Adobe is a great alternative to Avid and is used widely by the indie filmmaker group. Adobe offers either just the editor, Premiere Pro, or a suite which comes with some other very nice programs.

Premiere Pro – This editor is a very solid.  It has support for HDV (but you can’t use HDV with Premiere Pro in conjunction with After Effects without a $500 plug-in).

It supports 24p and has quite a bit of plug-ins available for it.  The common misconception is that Premiere is the old version of Premiere Pro, but it’s not. Premiere Pro is a completely new editor redesigned from the ground up that is geared towards professionals.

Adobe Video Collection – This suite of programs is extremely powerful and represents extremely good value, too.  You get the editor, plus After Effects (titles, effects and compositing), Audition (music/sound creation and editing), Encore (creation of DVDs), and Photoshop (image editing).

The standard version (comes with After Effects Std) is a very inexpensive $999 and the Pro version (comes with After Effects Pro) costs $1,499.

Sony Vegas is a great value at $499 for the editor and DVD creator, but if you can afford $1,499, then the Adobe Video Collection Pro is by far the best value around (unless you are on a Mac that is).

Apple Family

Apple has become one of the premiere video solutions around.  They created Final Cut Pro, and it has gained huge recognition in the filmmaking industry.

I’ve had people ask me why if I had the money to buy an Avid system, I didn’t go the Final Cut Pro route.  I would reply, “Well, I would have, but I don’t have a Mac.”

The only issue with using Final Cut Pro is that you need a Mac.  Macintosh computers are typically more expensive than their PC counterparts.  You can pick up an iMac with a 27” screen for around $2,500.

If you are a student, Apple offers a decent discount off of their computers so surely check into that!  You can get the same computer for $1,999.

Final Cut Pro comes in two packages.  FCP also supports multiple camera angles and also supports HD and HDV!

Final Cut Pro – The editor itself is huge.  Read through Filmmaker magazine and look at the movie articles in the section called “how they did it” within the article.  You will see that quite a few indie films were edited on Final Cut Pro.

For instance, the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know was cut on Final Cut Pro.  The editor costs around $999.

Final Cut Pro Studio – This is by far the best value around on any platform (Mac or PC) in my opinion.

The studio for only an extra $300 comes with FCP plus it comes with a DVD creating software, a music program called Soundtrack, and an effects program named Motion.

The only thing that FCP studio doesn’t come with that the Adobe Video Collection comes with is Photoshop and a professional compositor.  Apple’s professional compositor is Shake which is pretty expensive, but does nice work.

See the short film Broken for an example of FCP in action along with Shake.

Sony Family

Sony is a great option for a filmmaker on a limited budget.  You can purchase just the editor or the bundle package that comes with a DVD creating software.

Sony Vegas is a relatively young editor, but has gained a very large audience.  I’ve seen some products done by Vegas and they look great. I’ve not personally used the software so I don’t know how user friendly or intuitive it is, but I do know that there are quite a few people that enjoy using it.

Vegas – You can purchase just the editor for around $350 from an online retailer or from Sony directly for a little more.  There might be rebates for this software as well to bring the price down to around $300.  Vegas has support for 24p as well as HDV.

Vegas Production Suite – This comes with Vegas plus DVD Architect and a Dolby Digital AC3 encoder for your audio needs.

The suite also comes with some stripped down versions of the Boris effects software.  You can purchase the suite for around $499 from an online retailer or from Sony also for a little more.  Great value!

Other Editors of Note

There are a few other editors out there for the indie filmmaker.

Avid just bought out Pinnacle but that is more of a consumer type program that I have no experience with.

The new Avid/Pinnacle products can be investigated on Avid’s website.

The other main editor to note is Canopus.  I don’t know much about this editor, but they offer software only solutions as well as software/hardware solutions.  I’ve heard great things about the Canopus software but have never seen a product from it or used it.

Deinterlacing

If you cannot afford a camera that shoots in progressive mode, there is an option available; deinterlacing.

This process allows you to take interlaced footage and turn it into progressive.  To help make your footage look more like film deinterlacing is very important.

There are a few options for deinterlacing:

Magic Bullet is a plug-in for either After Effects or some of the more popular NLEs (non-linear editors) that really helps to make your digital footage look like film.  Check out the Red Giant website for more information.

There are two types of Magic Bullet plug-ins. Magic Bullet Suite and Magic Bullet Editors.

Magic Bullet Editors does not deinterlace. The Magic Bullet Suite does deinterlace as well as adds special looks and feels to your film and also adds the feature of converting any footage into 24p!

Magic Bullet Suite only works with Adobe After Effects.  The suite is roughly $800 at the time of this writing.

There is more on MB Editors and MB Suite in the Color Correction and Looks portion of this guide.

DV Film Maker is a deinterlacing tool that is much more affordable than Magic Bullet except it doesn’t have the color tools like Magic Bullet does.  DV Film Maker costs $145 at the time of this writing.  Consult the DV Film Maker website for more information.

Avisynth is a free open source program that deinterlaces.  This is a great tool and I’ve seen the results of it.  I’ve personally never used it, but it looks great and it’s free!

It does not have a GUI (graphical user interface) however and is text driven.  The learning curve for Avisynth is much higher than that of DV Film Maker or Magic Bullet, but it’s free.

Check out Avisynth’s website for more details.

Color Correction & Looks

Recently, since I’ve decided to stick with MiniDV for a couple more years, I’m able to really take my budget and do some great things with it.

I was going to move to HD this year, but found that in order to make the switch I needed to upgrade so much of my system components that I didn’t have the funding available to do the switch properly.

I then had the funding, however, to put towards making my DV footage even more incredible that it already is. I started researching color correction and getting specific looks for my footage.

Magic Bullet Editors – One of the easiest programs to use is Magic Bullet Editors.  This is a plug-in I had mentioned in the deinterlacing section that can take your basic footage and apply certain looks to it.

It does more than just colour correction, however.  It can do much more than just your NLE’s native color correction tools, one of which is diffusion.

Take a look at this website to view samples of the looks that this plug-in provides.  It’s amazing how quickly you can change the look of your footage.  These looks are not static, though.  When you apply an effect to your footage, you can then access a massive control panel with many options to completely customize the look to your needs.

They offer a demo and this demo is what sold me originally on the product.  I highly recommend trying this out.  It’s a very inexpensive plug-in and Red Giant Software is constantly upgrading their programs and developing new versions, as well as expanding compatibility with the major editors and effects programs.

Magic Bullet Suite – This is also a plug-in, but only for After Effects.  This has the same features as the Editors version except that it adds much more functionality as far as correcting your DV footage.

It can remove DV compression artifacts, add true 24p motion effects, and more.  I haven’t personally used the Suite but judging from my satisfaction with the Editors version, I’d be confident to recommend this plug- in. You can read more about Magic Bullet and the many tools that Red Giant Software offers on their website. They really are pushing things forward and will be a strong force for indie filmmaking editing in the future.

Color Finesse – This is probably the most used actual color correction plug-in to date.  It differs from the Magic Bullet programs because it does more of the color correction instead of applying a look and then customizing.

I’ve looked into this program as well as one other color correction program called FinalTouch.  Color Finesse is close to releasing its next version, Color Finesse 2, and is a stand alone program or plug-in.

It will work with many editors and provides 32bit floating point correction tools. This greatly improves the quality of the color correction done from what you can do in your NLE. 

If you would use a program such as Color Finesse, you would not do any color correction in your NLE and simply use Color Finesse to do the grunt work for your corrections.  You can read more about Color Finesse and download a demo on their website here.

FinalTouch – This is a relatively new product and available only for Final Cut Pro.  It has gained a quick and steady following as it has been designed by professional colorists.

The structure of FT is a little different than what most would expect.  Professional colorists work in what they call ‘rooms’ which are actual physical rooms where the work on the footage is done.

FinalTouch is structured the same way. You move from room to room with your footage and apply the different types of work to it that that specific room does: e.g. Primary Color Correction and then Secondary Color Correction.

I have seen a demo of this program and have to admit that I was very impressed.  It is a little more expensive than many of the other color programs.  The SD version is $995, the HD version is $4,995, and the 2k version is
$24,995.

However, if you compare that to what it costs to get your footage put through a DaVinci system (a $300,000 system), then these prices seem quite reasonable.

FT is a great tool but I have heard it has a very high learning curve.  I had experience with color correction for still photos and portraits but never motion footage so it would be a little new to me, but I would at least have some color correction experience to help me along.

I’ve recently had the chance to demo FinalTouch HD. I was impressed with the real-time presentation of the footage.  However, I was not impressed with the interface at all.

The warnings I received about FT having a high learning curve were not as true as I would have thought, as I was able to start fixing the colors with ease only minutes after importing an XML export from Final Cut Pro.

What is very different in FT is that the interface is not your typical Mac OS X interface, so you must first learn how to use the new interface, and then also learn how to use the color correction tools.  I found some of the controls to be extremely cumbersome.

An external control interface is recommended when doing high end color correction and I can see why.  Using a mouse to manipulate the controls was not fun at all.

I think that FinalTouch has great roots and will eventually become an extremely popular program to use, but at this point it is still a little too young.  It needs an interface overhaul,  in my opinion.  I know that SiliconColor markets this program to only a specific group of people and this interface may be the way to go for them.

However, for an indie filmmaker such as myself, looking for a more high-end program to correct my films on, I may steer away from this program simply because of the interface.

You can read more about FinalTouch on their website here.

UPDATE: Final Touch has just been purchased by Apple so expect some great things with this software!  The interface will probably have a huge overhaul and the integration I think will probably get enhanced as well.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: By 2015, FinalTouch, which was basically turned into Apple’s Color application, is now a standard part of the Final Cut Pro X framework. FCPX came onto the scene and pretty much revolutionized the indie filmmaking community.

Sure, it was unpopular at first, but after many updates and fixes, it became a beast of a software.

Nowadays, no matter what editing software you go for, a lot of the above mentioned plugins and apps are integrated with the software. This has pros and cons, but has mostly made for better and more efficient editing platforms. Therefore, a lot of the above info is understandably obsolete and outdated.

Compositors

A compositor takes multiple sources of footage and brings them together.  After Effects by Adobe is probably the most used one. AE (After Effects) was used to composite the movie Hell Boy.

Compositors are also used to create very cool graphical titles for your films.  The neat titles that can float away or animate in and out are done by these types of programs.

Do you need a compositor?  It’s a luxury and it’s very nice to have one, but it’s not a necessity.

These kinds of programs are used for special effects and cool titles.  A low budget indie flick doesn’t really need these things to make it a good movie.  You only need to have a good script, great actors and do solid camera work and the rest will take care of itself. Sounds easy, right? 😉

If you don’t need a compositor and just an effects program, there are a few stripped down programs like Boris FX that do just effects.

After Effects – This is the most popular compositor there is for the indie filmmaker.  It’s available for both Mac and PC platforms and comes with a lot of nice pre-made animations.  It also has a huge amount of plug-ins available for it as well.

After Effects comes in two flavors, Pro and Standard. Standard costs around $699 and the Pro version costs around $999.

Avid FX – This program is a variation of Boris Red. I’ve personally used this program with very nice and high quality results.  You can get Avid FX if you get the Avid Power Pack or you can purchase it separately for $1,595.

Boris Red – This is very similar to Avid FX and costs around $1,395.

Combustion – I’ve heard this is a very good program.  I’ve not personally used this program but you can watch a few videos about it on their website.  Combustion runs about $1,000.

Shake – This is Apple’s compositing software.  I’ve heard and seen great things from this program.  It was expensive however at around $3,000, but has recently dropped to a nice $499.

Music Creation

Creating music for a movie, otherwise known as scoring a movie/film, is one of the most important aspects you can add to your movie.

When I first showed my short film to my crew it had no music in it at all and they were pretty bored.  I told them to not worry and that I will be spicing it up with some music in a few weeks.  I had talked to someone that creates music on his computer and he had agreed to score the film.

He ended up getting into some scheduling problems and wasn’t able to do it when I was ready for the music to be added.  I had already scheduled the premiere and sent out invites and I needed music – quick!

Luckily I had dabbled with a few music programs and knew my way around them, but I surely needed some major training on how to use these programs.

The two programs I used were Sonicfire Pro by SmartSound and Acid Pro 5 by Sony.

Sonicfire Pro – This is a very neat program that fortunately came as a bundled package with my Avid software. What this program does is takes pre-made songs that are built from a group of loops. You can have different “feels” or “moods” to each of the songs and this is a very neat tool.

Like I said earlier, I needed music fast and I used Sonicfire to make the intro credits music and the end credits music for my short. They both worked great for what I was trying to accomplish and I was able to create this music in less than an hour!

Sonicfire is available for $199 for both the PC and the Mac.

Acid – This is a much more robust program, but also takes much longer to create music that can match the quality of the music created in Sonicfire.  What you give up is the speed of music creation when using Acid instead of Sonicfire, but what you gain is much more customizable music.

I created one piece of music for one of the scenes using Acid.  This took me only a couple of hours and I was able to throw in all kinds of sound effects to add to what I was trying to create.

Acid is also a loop based program, so what you have to do is put all of the loops together by hand to create the songs.

Acid costs a little more than Sonicfire at $300 but is only for the PC.  Acid by far is the best scoring software that I’ve ever used and it is surprisingly easy to use.

There are a few bundle packages for both of these software packages and there are many other CD sets that you can purchase to add to your loop library.

Propellerheads Reason – This is an amazing program for those of you who want to create loop based music and/or create music using your own musical talent.

I’ve already put this on my list of programs that I will be purchasing within the next few weeks.  The website for this program, has so much information regarding their programs that it’s a very wise decision to visit it and see the power of this program.

I’m getting Reason 3.0 and the Korg microKontrol keyboard to use with it.

A very nice feature of Reason is that it has been designed to work with many control surfaces and the Korg microKontrol is one of them. When you switch to a new voice on the keyboard it changes the voice in Reason and visa versa.

It’s an incredible program and you can purchase it at the SRP of $499 or cheaper from some online vendors such as B&H.

Software Must Haves

There are a few essential pieces of software that will help you film your movie.  In my opinion you need three programs in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier to help you along your path.

Magic Bullet Editors (or suite) – I mentioned this in the color correction area above, but I have just recently added this program to the must haves.

For the amount of money you spend on this program, it’s absolutely incredible the amount of work it does for you.

If you do not have a large budget, then you really need this plug in. Just click here for an example of what you can do to your digital footage.

DV Rack – This is a great program made by the folks at Serious Magic. This program allows you to hook up your laptop (Windows only) to your video camera via Firewire.

What it does is capture your video directly to your hard drive (this is huge), act as a monitor for the director to view what the camera is seeing (this is huge), and also has a vast amount of tools to assist with things like focusing, color correction, ets.  This program only costs around $300 and that $300 is by far some of the best money you can spend on indie filmmaking.

You can find more info about DV Rack and other Serious Magic products right here.

Compression software – I was also gifted with Sorensen Squeeze when I purchased my Avid software.

This is a compression software program that takes your finished product out of the editor and converts it to either streaming video for the internet or converts it to the format that is needed to be used on a DVD. You really will need a program like this.

NOTE:  If you purchase the Final Cut Studio, you get Compressor, an Apple compression program.

DVD creation software – You don’t necessarily need this, but if you want to create a DVD to show people then you will.

There are a lot of DVD creating software programs available ranging from very cheap to very expensive.  If you have chosen to go the route of the Adobe Video Collection or Apple Final Cut Pro Studio, then you are already set as these come with DVD programs.

This site has some good information on the different types of programs. Keep in mind that some of the programs are for only SD and some of the newer updated programs have the ability to burn HD DVDs.

Apple’s DVD program that comes with the FCP Studio can do HD and some of the new Sonic brand DVD programs can also do HD.

Other Essentials

There are a few other things that I have learned along my travels to become the next Francis Ford Coppola that I need to share with you.  I read a few books and have bought a few DVD sets that really helped me along the way.

Books

Digital Filmmaking 101This book is a must read.  It’s funny and very informative.  You will learn how to make a movie from start to finish with this book.

They tell you every little nuance that you would have never thought about.  I even had a question about which tripod I should get, which I emailed them and they responded to tell me that I had chosen a good one.  Great book!

Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build – This is another great book that tells you how to put together your own cranes, dollies, car mounts, stabilizers, and all that fun stuff.

The book has over a thousand pictures to illustrate the exact product you need to purchase and the pictures to show how to put together these pieces to make your rig a reality.

I’ve also emailed the author, Dan Selakovich, with questions and he is super quick to respond and extremely knowledgeable.  This is another must have book for the indie filmmaker.

On Film-making: An Introduction to the Craft of the DirectorThis book was recommended to me by Dan Selakovich.  He said that it’s the best book on directing he has ever read.

The book is comprised of lessons that were taught by Alexander “Sandy” MacKendrick (he directed The Lady Killers (1955), The Man In The White Suit, The Sweet Smell of Success among many others).  Sandy taught lessons on directing and all of his handouts were put into this book.

DVD Instruction Sets

There is usually a DVD tutorial or instruction set for your editor.  I highly recommend picking one that was created for the editor that you choose to use.

I bought 4 DVDs that taught me how to use my Avid software and it taught me so much more than the book I read on it did. It shows you visually how to do things, what to look for, how to color correct, and create special effects. I can’t say enough how much these DVDs taught me.

Hollywood Camerawork DVD set – This is a 6 DVD set all geared towards camera work.  It tells you how to block your shots, compose your shots, how to create moods using only the camera and not relying on your cast.

Think Alfred Hitchcock – he was a master at creating a mood just by using the camera. Many times he would tell his actors to just stand there and do nothing, and he’ll take care of what needs to be done.

This DVD set runs about $479 but when you compare this to a forty thousand dollar film school degree, it looks pretty darn cheap.  These DVDs are incredible and will make filmmaking more enjoyable and more intuitive.  This is a big must have.

Dov S-S Simens’ DVD Film School – this DVD set is incredible.  It gives you real life teaching (not theory) about filmmaking.  He teaches you everything you will need to know about making a movie, but doesn’t get into detail about art; it’s only geared towards the business of making a movie and how to handle yourself in the different stages of a film’s life.

Publications

Studio Monthly – There are quite a few excellent publications that I currently read. My favorite is Studio Monthly.  This is a great magazine that offers quite a few reviews, how-to articles and many other great areas to read about.

This magazine is also offered free.  All you have to do is visit their website and sign up for the Studio Monthly magazine.

DV Magazine – This is another great magazine and just like Studio Monthly, it is offered for free to filmmakers and videographers.

Simply visit their website and click on the menu item called “DV Magazine” to subscribe.  This magazine has great articles, wonderful reviews, and is geared towards the serious professional or hobbyist.

Film Festivals and Distribution

Okay, so now you’ve created your masterpiece.  What do you do now?

Two words – “Film Festivals”.

There is a great resource out there on the web called Withoutabox and you can search for either feature film or short film submissions, or any of the other search options they offer as well.

There are a great many prizes out there to be won if your film is good!

Remember that you need a press kit, the director’s bio and picture, your lead actor(s) bio(s) and picture(s), and cash to submit the film for review.

Distribution information can also be found on the withoutabox website.

Another neat website I ran across is Microcinema.

Make sure that you have all of your legal forms – location release, actor releases, copyright permissions (if you used any copyrighted material in your film), and composer release. If you don’t have these releases, then a distributor won’t touch your film with a 10 foot pole.

Good luck!

Movies to Study

After you watch the Hollywood Camerawork DVD set, go and watch a few movies.

I would recommend watching how the camera moves, when the edits occur, and just make yourself aware of the movie.  You might have to look closely, but if you’ve followed the DVD set in detail, you should be attuned to this by now.

I’m sure you have seen these movies before. Even if you have already, I highly recommend watching them again, but this time look for those things in them.

Here is the list of movies I recommend:

Jurassic Park – Look at the little things in this movie like the cup of water that ripples when the T- Rex walks.

12 Monkeys – Look at the wild and amazing camera angles and production/set design in this movie. Be aware of how the camera angles make you feel uneasy.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Pay special attention to the shot composition in this movie.  Be aware of the amazing close-ups that Peter Jackson uses in his shots.
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Rear Window – This is one of those movies where Hitchcock doesn’t really show you what’s happening and he creates the mood strictly on camera work and the storyline.
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The Godfather – Watch this movie to see how the actors are so incredible. This is the epitome of acting ability.  As a director, strive for this quality, even if you don’t achieve it, still this is your goal.
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Big Night – No special effects, sometimes there are long moments of silence but this movie captivates the audience because of the wonderful acting and storyline.  Simplicity can be extremely effective if done properly.

Conclusion

This guide is a collection of all the things that I have picked up in the year and half that I’ve started researching indie filmmaking.

Each one of the things I’ve learned here can be easily researched on the internet or using forums, but what my guide does is tell you, the newbie filmmaker, what to look for and what to research.

I hope that what I’ve written in here will help you and make your movie a success!

Good luck!

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4 Comments on “A Guide For Indie Filmmakers Part II”

  1. Pingback: A Guide For Indie Filmmakers – Filmmaking Lifestyle

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