Film Slate MagazineSecond installment in my series on Film Slate Magazine. Check it.
Read it here.
On this road I’m on, making my first film, I’ve been soliciting advice from everyone I possibly can. One of those people is an old acquaintance of mine, Cory Edwards. Cory’s working full-time in the film industry right now, doing some fantastic work, so I value his input immensely.
He gave me some really insightful pointers, but here’s the most valuable thing he said to me:
This is truly the best advice I’ve gotten so far. So, I wanted to pass it along to all of you. If you’re considering making your first film or really considering your first indie art project of any kind, take this to heart.
I’ll let the piece speak for itself: Where Do I Start?
Film Slate’s awesome, and I’ll be tracking the specifics of our production there, so you can track it there. Of course, we’ll still be blogging here too.
This guy was starting puberty last time I posted.
I’m sure it’s been with baited breath that you all have been waiting for an update from Redhouse about our upcoming project. Well, I’ve been busy, dagnabit! Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years and all of those True Blood episodes to catch up on. It’s been a busy, busy time.
Suffice it to say a lot has happened. We’re smack dab in the middle of yet another rewrite of our script (last version lacked “conflict”, whatever that is…), and oh, we may change the title, which is cool.
We’ve scored another producer named Greg who is awesome and have been talking to a couple of other producer/filmmaker type people about the upcoming hill climb of fundraising we have ahead of us. Oh, and I’m this close (makes tiny pinchy gesture with fingers) to securing relationships with all of our key crew. Life is good.
One more development: I’m going to be writing about the process of making a next-to-no-budget-first-time-feature-film over at Film Slate Magazine, which I’m pumped about. These guys have built a fantastic resource for indie film dudes like me, and the cherry on top is that they’re based in Ohio. If you’re interested in independent filmmaking at all, you should check them out. And watch for my feature (the series will span this year) to show up somewhere toward the end of this month.
Look for lots more updates here and on Film Slate!
I’ve actually gotten this question a lot as of late. Any time I tell someone about the project, it inevitably comes up. Right after they ask if it’s a short film.
When you get all granular about it, filmmaking is an incredibly complex process, involving many steps that sometimes overlap each other, and many, many different people. However, you can easily boil it down to a few simple steps that, as proven by films like Primer, can be taken by a relatively small group of people:
Develop Your Script – Fact is, you can’t even start pre-production without a script.
Form The Production Team – Depending on how big or small a role your producers play, this step may be later in the process. For us, it was the first thing we did.
Finalize The Budget – Yep. You gotta decide how much this is going to cost. You can’t play this number by ear.
Create A Prospectus – This is your plan of attack and is vital to the project. Anyone who feels differently will be cursed to teensy tiny budgets and films that are seen only by a select few people; probably their friends and family.
Start A Buzz – Easy enough. Get people talking about your project.
Locate Funding – There are a number of sources to fund your film. For us, it’s a combination of grants, donors, investors, and trade.
Recruit Crew – Basically, hire or get volunteers to do the various jobs on your set.
Scout Locations – Where are you going to shoot this thing? Yeah, that’s pretty important.
Cast Your Cast – Actors are a finicky bunch. Get them locked in early.
Get Stuff – Equipment, props, costumes…there’s lots of stuff you’ll need, so you better start getting it.
Storyboard Your Film – If you’re shooting on film (and you should), or even if you aren’t (really, you should), you should plan out every shot and every shooting day to the last detail. Storyboarding is the way to go.
Shoot It – This is the fun part.
Edit It – Cut it all down, line it all up, and make something pretty out of all your footage.
Score It – Gotta have some music. All the good movies have it.
Get A Distributor – Sure you can self-distribute; but you’ll be lucky if you can break even this way. Any number of routes could score you distro: someone who knows someone who knows someone, film festivals, or just knocking on doors in Hollywood (I’m not kidding).
So there you have it. 15 Steps to making a movie. Now get out there and make your own! Or, help out on ours.
…don’t mean I ain’t been busy! We’ve been busy behind the scenes at Redhouse finalizing the initial pre-production push on our current project, Jon the Baptist (working title). We’ve been drafting agreements (boring), crunching budget numbers (mega boring), and I’ve been working on the first of several rewrites of the script (hard work…but not boring). Basically, stuff’s been happening.
Our next major push is finalizing the budget and drafting a document called a “prospectus”. This is basically a business plan that will help our investors, donors, and partners to see the big picture and how we plan to accomplish it. Film production is a lot of fun, and it’s also a lot of work. That works takes planning. Planning, planning, planning. This is the meticulous, sometimes tedious part, but it has its own level of fun to it. It’s fun knowing that we’re really doing this; we’re really making this movie.
Once the budget and prospectus are done, we’ll move into initial marketing and fundraising. You can already get involved in helping to finance the film by contacting us. (you know I gotta push that, right?)
It’s exciting. It’s hard work. But it’s a blast. I can’t wait to tell this story. Stay tuned for more details!
Nope. Not going to hash out all of the pros/cons of film or HD here. A quick Google search will yield plenty o’ discussion about that topic. What I am going to do is clarify our position as a production company as to why we’ve elected to work with film for now.
In my humble opinion, both film and video have their purposes. We’ve all even seen narrative features shot on video that look fantastic. I also believe that we will reach a point in the digital world where the two are at least
visually indistinguishable. Right now, though, at this point in history, film provides an aesthetic that video, sorry…not even RED, simply cannot duplicate.
However, it’s not just the visuals that matter at this stage in the game:
1. Film provides the legitimacy and sex appeal that video simply doesn’t. Yes, the jig is up. One of our reasons for choosing to work with film for now is to reinforce the idea that even though we’re new to narrative feature film production, we take our work very seriously. Seriously enough to invest the extra time, money, and effort to shoot our projects on film.
2. Film provides an intrinsic discipline to principal photography. Sure, you could tell yourself “We’ll be disciplined. I’ll force it to happen.” But you’d be lying. If you shoot video, what will really happen is you’ll shoot a 20:1 ratio (that’s shooting 20 minutes of footage for every 1 minute of finished product, for you non-filmmaking folks), do way too many takes, and “just keep it rolling” more times than you should. Everything will get sloppy and you’ll add days to principal photog or hours to every day because you just HAD to get 50 options for one scene and more coverage than you need. With film, every single second that camera is running represents very real money. You gotta make every take count.
3. Whether we achieve it or not, theatrical distribution is always our end game. Everyone at Redhouse, myself included, is a movie lover. And not just sitting in our living rooms watching a Netflix DVD movie lovers. We love the tactile experience that is going to a theater. We want our movies to play in those theaters. This is what we will be going for on every project that we do, and let’s face it: if you shoot on video, even HD, then blow up to 35mm, you are facing several challenges…not the least of which is the incredible cost of blowing up to 35mm. Since our goal is a 35mm print, shooting on film is honestly a more economical way to go.
And that, my Friends, is why Redhouse is currently a film shop. Not saying that won’t change someday, but for now, celluloid is our friend.
Doesn’t that cat look happy?
That’s pretty much how I feel after our pre-prod trip to Ohio. Every single person we met with from the Mayor of Coshocton to the director of the local film commission was so positive and welcoming and helpful.
We started our week meeting with Coshocton’s leadership, kicking off with the Mayor and also meeting with the county Sheriff and then some local business leaders. As the week progressed, we met with local theater and art community leaders and a foundation that may also prove to be a valuable relationship.
The thing that strikes me, though, is that every single person we met with was incredibly professional and beyond courteous. Not that I’m surprised that they would be…I suppose one would just expect even a little opposition to such an idea. The contrary is true. Everyone so far has been incredibly supportive and some even excited about this. We’ve even already secured a few donations to the project.
In addition to meeting with people in Ohio, we also conducted a handful of interviews for our available Director of Photography position. We’ve been lucky to meet some incredibly talented and experienced individuals, and every one of them has expressed interest in working with us even with our tiny budget. This decision is not going to be an easy one.
The bottom line is that this trip was more positive and productive than I think any of us as producers expected it to be. We know that this will be a long road with its share of difficulties, but the momentum generated by this past week can’t be denied.
So now we’re on to some script rewrites and various pre-production busy-ness. Remember that you can always contact us if you’d like to be involved in any way.
Yes, I know, I know. I said these would be video from now on. Unfortunately I’m up to my neck in preparations for our upcoming production meeting in Ohio and just don’t have the time to script, shoot, then edit a vlog. It will happen though. Oh yes, it will happen.
The good news is that we’re really close to selecting our Director of Photography. If you’re not involved in film/video production, the Director of Photography (DP) is essentially a camera guy, but he/she is actually so much more. The DP is THE visual artist on the set of a production. He works directly with the Director in developing the look, composing shots, and executing camera moves. If a film looks great, it is often due largely to the efforts of the DP.
Bottom line, this is a crucial member of our production team.
We placed an ad on Craigslist a few weeks ago to get the party started (and it kept getting flagged down for no apparent reason…so I just kept putting it right back up), and we’ve had a ton of qualified guys apply. No gals, incidentally. Where you at, female cinematographers?
Last night, the producers met and we went over the demo reels and resumes of everyone who applied and have narrowed it down to a select few we plan on interviewing next week when in Ohio. Everyone is so talented and the experience is varied. Selecting just one person is going to be difficult. But we really want this to be a great fit all around and who’s to say the other talented people we’re meeting wouldn’t be good for another project down the road?
So I’ll do my best to keep this blog updated and keep you all posted on how this plays out.
So if nobody’s said it already, welcome to our site. It’s new, just like us, so it’s just a baby…but feel free to make yourself at home!
Producer and Director, Dan.
I decided to form this production company a few years ago when discussing the possibility of making our own movie with a few friends, and here we are three years later, actually doing it. It’s surreal actually.
The movie only has a working title: Jon the Baptist. No, it’s not about the character of biblical fame. It’s a story about coming home after being gone for a long time and rediscovering yourself in the process. I’m personally really excited about the story and can’t wait to shoot it!
We’ll be shooting in a small town in Ohio and are on track for a release in the second half of 2010. Currently, we’re in the pre-production stage, and are recruiting our department heads for the shoot. If you’re interested, you can check out our Classifieds section for available positions.
I plan to document the process here on this blog. I know that some people are curious about how a film is made from start to finish, so I’m going to try and track that a bit here; maybe lift the veil on the “magic” of moviemaking…at least a little. The truth is, this is our first time too. So maybe we can learn some stuff together, right?
Please keep checking back on the site. More information about Jon the Baptist (working title) will be available very soon.
Oh, and if you’d like to be involved in the production in any way, you can contact me here. or check out the Participate section of this site. I’d love to hear from you!