I am submitting my first film for the Sundance short film contest and would like anyone’s input on how I should proceed.
Synopsis: The story would follow one man’s attempt to win the affections of a girl he previously could not attain.
5 minute running time
The story would follow one man’s attempt to win the affections of a girl he previously could not attain.
So the same as 2/3rds of movies, then? I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific about it.
I have a very detailed outline but I didn’t want to post the whole thing because someone could just steal my idea and use for the contest.
Tell me what you think and how it could be better. The outline I sent you has not been updated. Most of the music choices have been made. Also the dialogue has all been written. Also the story has been more fully developed to better suit the actors. This is a short for this contest: http://www.youtube.com/timewarnercable
The story is supposed to be simple and easy to shoot as it is my first film. I would like just some constructive criticism.
On your page you said you worked on some film sets. Have you made a film and if yes can I see it.
I worked as a PA, so nothing special, though I’m about 2/3- 3/4 of the way through a 22m long (ish) animation I’m working on with a few other people (I wrote it and did many of the key animations, so it’s pretty much my movie). I don’t really have anything at all interesting online, however. In any case, it’s 1:30AM- is it alright if I take a look at it tomorrow? I’ll send you a PM.
(Ah, PS: I updated my profile just in case it was a bit misleading. I hadn’t really considered that).
Cool, sounds great. We can talk later.
I guess what I want to know is, without seeing the outline for the film, how many speaking roles does it require, what is your budget, what have you attained and can you attain as regards film equipment, lighting, sound, etc, and where are you pooling your crew from?
The main thing to keep in mind about these YouTube competitions (having shot a couple myself) is that the curve is HUGE. 99.9% of the entries are utter crap and the the remaining .1% is painfully good in comparison (making one question why they’re wasting their time making YouTube videos….), but the one that always wins is the one with an average-to-cliched story with great technical skill. I do not mean to depress you or anything, I am just telling you what your audience is looking for and what your competition is going to be like. In order to win a YouTube contest of this type, you must seriously focus on the technical qualities more than anything else, and make sure to upload the video in the crispest and cleanest manner possible.
Thus, knowing what you’re working with can help with giving advice on how to prep. Even if you have crappy lo-tech equipment, there are workarounds considering your vague synopsis above that nevertheless can help it feel like so much bigger of a movie than it is.
That said, if it is your first short it is going to have problems you will not anticipate. This is actually a great thing because a) you’ll learn, and b) it’s only a YouTube competition. Thus why 99.9% of YouTube competition entries are crappy, they’re firsts done by people learning. I should know. I’ve entered YouTube competitions before! (And no, I was neither the .1% of excellence nor the winner of either YouTube competition I entered).
Great insights POLARISDIB. I don’t have much equipment besides my Nikon D90 which shoots great video on 16:9 format. Nobody is getting paid we are doing it for fun. I don’t expect to win but I just want experience. Not to sound cocky but I have seen a lot of films and I’ve taken a video techniques class, so I feel confidant that I can get the job done. The only thing I am worried about is directing actors. I have stripped down the story to the bare minimum of dialogue. I will shoot outside in the early morning using only available light. I will send you the outline If you are interested in specifics.
That sounds good, even though there are few lines, since you’re working with actors and feel a bit worried the best thing to do is shoot them over and over and over and over and over and over again. This will be difficult with changing light but the point is to get a lot of coverage and allow them to perform in many different ways. That is how I shot this one Heinz ketchup commercial for—you guessed it!—a YouTube competition and it was almost surreal how well it cut together considering the performance from shot 1 was completely different from the performance from shot 15, but the change informed the drama. Considering the fact that the script sucked and the dialog was completely unbelievable, the fact that the actors look like they’re in character was a major feat for them! (Didn’t help me, my writing was to blame for, you know, the not winning of that particular competition).
i would argue that rehearsal w/ the actors is more important than covering them. if you have 2 hours worth of coverage but they’re spent that won’t help you. sit down w/ actors and go over everything, expressing fully what you need from them and your end vision of the film. then on set you can at least feel comfortable knowing that that aspect has been addressed.
simple and easy to shoot is a good idea for the first film. remove as many barriers as possible.
Run the camera, lie to the actors about it being rehearsals.
Personally, I would try to quickly do some type of storyboards for your short. There are other people on here who would say “I never do storyboards, it’s all in my head, blah blah blah” and that’s fine but if this is your first short film, it will help TREMENDOUSLY. It cannot hurt anything by doing it. It just can’t. I agree with whoever above said to do rehearsals, that is very important! This will make your actors/friends all become very comfortable with the material, with you, and everyone should lose their nervousness. Once you have your shots planned out and actors knowing what they’ll want to do, it will go much more smoothly.
Also, one big mistake I learned from when shooting outside with available light is, ALWAYS white balance before each shot. I shot a short film where we decided to use natural light and it was a very rapid shoot, take after take after take. When I got all of the footage, some of the stuff earlier in the day looked fine and to my horror, each shot kept getting more gold/yellow as it progressed. I spent at least 20 hours having to color correct everything and wasted a shitload of time. Always white balance when using natural light! And check your shadows, things like that as the day progresses.
yes, i agree. do storyboards and a shot list. you can always deviate on set if you’re struck by a flash of genius. some directors prefer not to storyboard – the late arthur penn comes to mind – but i think that, since you’re just starting, you would be helped by nailing down very specifically each shot you’ll need. this will also aid you in terms of communicating w/ your crew
Thanks Ryan and Brian I will take that advice and do storyboards. All of the posts I have received have been extremely helpful. Also Ryan I am shooting with a DSLR. What white balance setting should I put it on for the best results for morning to mid-day shooting. Daylight? Thanks again for the advice guys. Mubi needs to be more popular with cinephiles.
If it’s a DSLR, odds are that it is doing an auto-white balance. You should look in your manual and see if there is a way to manually white balance when filming with it. What you’ll have to do is carry around a blank, pure white index card of sheet of paper. You’ll then place it in front of the camera, hit the button to white balance it, and then it should change it’s color settings so that the picture looks normal. Each camera is different of course but if you do a big of research/Googling, you might be able to see if yours has it manually.
Auto-white balance isn’t so bad if that’s all you have but keep in mind that when you’re moving the camera, it might be shifting colors around since it’s searching for something that’s white in the scene. That’s why it’s always best to do it manually if possible.
Second the white balancing. Outdoor shooting is carnage on continuity.
Update: The rough cut of the movie is on Youtube now. It’s only on there for a contest. I hit a few snags but the final product will be done by the end of the year. After I finish this semester I will work on it some more. Also I had to completely alter my approach to the film after I saw what was completely not working. I’m trying to do something sorta Chris Marker style but in my own way. Blending Still images with regular 24 fps video.
If you REALLY want to see the rough cut send me a message or post on the thread that you want to see it. Otherwise lets pretend it doesn’t exist.
JP Schmidt entered the contest and is a finalist so let’s hope he wins.
Also does anyone know if the Garage will let you have copy written music in your video? I have a piece I really want to use but I coudn’t use it on the Youtube cut for the contest.