So I recently finished making my first film, and I was thinking about how difficult it was to make my movie, I mean I fell in love with my main actress, I was learning how to direct and experiencing everything that’s involved with making a film and being a director, such as you’ll never be on the schedule you make, and it’s very important to know what actors’ schedules and curfews are before hiring them otherwise you’re in for a very long an tiring shoot. Anyway with this, and pretty much everything that goes wrong with making a film, I’m finally finished, but I was curious to see if how other people’s experiences were in making or being part of their first film. So you have any stories; sad, happy, frustrating, e.c.t, on the first film you made or were part of, I would love to hear any experiences that people have had so please share if you want to.
high school film study:
i realized how important it is to obtain great actors who share your passion for making a film. if not, hire a cameraman you can personally trust and hop in front of the camera to get it right. i remember thinking that my best friend, although great otherwise, just sort of slumped down for the occasion and sucked. i would tell him things of course, but his heart wasn’t in it so no sparks happened…
Yeah I’m in high school and that’s actually what I did. I hired actors who did have a passion for film, even though they didn’t have the schedule that I needed in order to make the film quicker, but I had a director of photography, who was with me every step of the way, and directed when I couldn’t.
yea, it’s a must
I can’t recall the first time I made a film (there have been so many), but I guess the first time I needed to work with a group of other people (more than 2) was probably high shool film class. I was able to write the film and direct it all by myself, but I had to get actors and a cameraman to help me out. For the cameraman, I picked a friend with whom i’ve had previous experience in making films, and that worked out great. For the actors, I chose a few friends who spoke mostly Spanish and very little English (speaking all Spanish in the film). They were very easy to direct and understood everything that I told them to do.
I guess the main problems that I had were our conflicting schedules (causing me to almost miss the deadline) and a couple of injuries that occured while shooting the film (I probably shouldn’t have written stabbings and falls into the script while choosing such unexperienced actors). Another problem that I had trouble with was the editing process. I guess it really wasn’t too hard, but it was a pain in the ass. I had to use two VCR’s to record scenes from one tape and put them in the correct order on another…
I recently made a 15 seconds animation, drew 15 frames for each second. I know it sounds stupid, but I felt even 15 seconds is a lot.
lol Wow, I remember using 2 VCRs to “edit” way back in the day. But hey, you do what you gotta do to make a movie. Robert Rodriguez used that method all the time when he started out making films with his siblings.
I experienced similar obstacles in making my first movie. I cast friends essentially and they could never meet at the same time. I got into arguments with one of them and she pointed out some glaring holes in my script. I did all the production work (ie: camera, editing). I didn’t know a damn thing about using lights to create mood and atmosphere.
It turned out more or less unwatchable. But it taught me a great, great deal about filmmaking. Since then, each film has been more or less about improving upon technical mistakes made in my previous films.
I think that’s really cool that you guys go to high schools that have film classes. We had nothing of the sort when I was attending.
You have to work with people that share the same passion for filmmaking and the film you are making. Many times I have turned down being the cameraman for a friends film because I’m just not interested in the film they are making. It would make the experience for me horrible and cause my friends film to come out bad because of my lack of interest.
I am assuming that this is for a DIY project…
Unless you have highly skilled technical help, keep things as simple as possible. You are still trying to learn and you don’t want to bring unnecessary complexities into the process.
Make sure that your script uses as few locations and actors as necessary. Even those who like the script won’t have unlimited free time and the scheduling conflicts increase with the number of people and/or the number of shooting days.
Try to have a particular stylistic vision from the beginning and don’t try to drastically change it in the middle (because of a book you just read about filmmaking or a cool film you saw last week.) Things won’t match in editing and your friends may not like endless re-shoots.
Make sure that you have a good sound recording equipment and the person who checks the sound is not some (i)pod person who has damaged her ear drums. Unintended noises can ruin the whole scene and you may have to do a complete reshoot.
Try to have backups of both data and people. Your editor’s computer may fry or your cameraman may be hospitalized for a few weeks. Having a long interruption during the shooting can make people lose interest.
Yes, find people who are truly enthusiastic. An enthusiastic ok actor is much better than a better but unenthusiastic actor who will create problems and/or infect her attitude on others.
A lot of production is nothing but planning and project management so prepare in advance rather than waste people’s time during the shoot. Check the forecast for thunderstorms, for example.
A lot of filmmaking is also people management. Know the limits of others you are working with and learn how to get the maximum out of them instead of trying to be perfect. If others are not doing something to your satisfaction, it is really your fault for choosing them so don’t get upset at others (or yourself). Focus on your goal: completing the project within the resources that are available to you (until you become the next George Lucas).
Last but not least is self-management. Be respectful of people and their time. The best way to do this is to become sincerely nice. You are not a hot shot filmmaker (yet) and your unrelenting ‘artistic vision’ and/or the arrogant attitude can quickly sidetrack a project.