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3. FEATURE ARTICLE - "55 Story Elements for Writing Romance"


Over the years, I have accumulated many elements and concepts for
writing a romance script or novel. I have taken these elements
from countless books and articles. The following is a collection
of 55 elements to help you write a romance script or novel.

1. sexual love is one of the great romantic themes along with adventure

2. the mythic element in romance is vital

3. romance stories should contain symbolic representation of good and evil

4. romance is written primarily to entertain: it absorbs the

reader into experiences which are otherwise unattainable - it
oversteps the limits by which life is normally bounded

5. travel motifs: the traveler represents the evolving unity

of experience - as he passes through an "exterior environment",
he undergoes an "inner development"

6. the individual spirit in conflict with society - a society

which the individual may reject but cannot escape for he depends
upon it for his very existence as a human being

7. absorbed with the ideal of romance (it has an element of

prophecy) it remakes the world in the image of desire

8. the force of the subconscious: it thrives on allegory and

dream to involve what is mythic within our own world

9. two primary impulses: to imitate daily life/to transcend daily life

10. the modern story is preoccupied with representing and

interpreting a known world (concentrates on "actual" possibilities)

11. the modern romance story is preoccupied with making

apparent the hidden dreams of the known world (concentrates on "ideal" possibilities)
12. romance stories are always concerned with the fulfillment
of desires; especially desires which cannot find controlled
expression within a society

13. romance explores the fertile darkness beneath the surface of personality

14. it affords intimacy with what is obscure in all of us

15. it concentrates intently upon certain themes until they

have taken fire and seem to be the flame of life itself

16. the ideal world (society) is shown in imaginative

perfection which can never be attained in life

17. it thrives on psychic responsibilities; it shows us the ideal

18. love and adventure are presented through a ritualized code of conduct

19. combat is not the central crisis; the emphasis is on

various forms of love

20. two universal impulses in romance fiction - aspiring

towards the ideal and accepting authority

21. two characters need each other to interpret the world

22. the illusions of life can end only with death because they
inform all our perceptions

23. it explores the fertile darkness beneath the surface of

personality. It affords intimacy with what is obscure in us

24. the world is preoccupied with complex moral issues, acted

out by characters living according to a conscious code of conduct

25. they instruct us on our own world even while they allow us to escape from it

26. it tells stories of the heart in search of love and

adventures of the heart
27. a view of life as an individual seeking and journeying.
From a "man lost in a crowd" to "the spiritual growth of the
individual in a newly discovered area of freedom"

28. the inward quest: a man must get to know himself

29. it contains a great sense of common' objective (ideal) It

is at once universal and quite individual

30. heroes of romance seek solitude for the exercise of their essential virtue

31. romance stories contain individual moments of great dramatic intensity

32. repetition with variation - an unequaled means of heightening drama

33. the psychological situation: the conflict is within the

lovers' hearts, not inside them. The story consists in revealing
the world of duties, scruples, and delicate hesitations which is the essence of love

34. reason is inconsistent with the dictates of love - reason

does not reach the heart

35. the subtle balance between the two duties (the dictates of
reason/the dictates of love) is what motivates both the hero's
hesitation and his action

36. in writing romance, the urge is not merely to move and

impress, but to understand

37. romance stories depend on the proper working upon the

unpredictable nature of chivalric combats and the equal chances
for victory and defeat

38. in tragic love, the protagonist dies

39. question: what is the source and symbol of eternal love?

40. question: what event keeps the lovers apart?

41. tragedy does not exist where a sinner is justly punished

42. emotions show a sense of futility of the noblest endeavor
in face of the uncontrollable forces which govern man's destiny

43. the tragic doom is deepened by the shadows which destiny

casts upon the whole range of human life

44. the tragic hero: he must be of high standing; he must

oppose some conflicting force (external or internal); he should
have a tragic flaw ( an excess of a certain character trait);
this flaw leads to his downfall and, because of his status, the downfall of others

45. the central view of all Romantic artists: growth/ flowering/decay

46. romantic stories give great importance to individualism,

to human relatedness, to discrimination, to passion

47. the effect is to alleviate our concerns for individual

characters while enmeshing us more completely into their world

48. the impulse to idealize/the impulse to imitate

49. the subjectivism of romance has become the common artistic

attitude (the remote and exotic are harbored in each of us)

50. a romance story maintains an emotional tone of the

narrative and that the final catastrophe emerges, not out of an
articulated casual scheme, but with heightened intensity, out of
a series of logically unconnected but emotionally significant events and situations

51. contemporary morals or properties do not dictate the

structure and composition of the romance

52. the moral basis of human existence, disturbed and

threatened, is capable of being redeemed from hate and chaos.
That redemption occurs, not from the state or the church, but in
the ideal love of two young people for each other

53. hints of tragedy help to increase the suspense (and irony) of the story
54. a romantic tragedy, like Romeo and Juliet, can end on a
note of hope - the lives of the lovers are burnt up, but the end
of the story is optimistic: the tragedy has left things better
than they were at the start of the story

55. in Romeo and Juliet, the lovers suffered, but the intent
of the suffering was a more transformation caused by the power of
ideal love, which may or may not have been fulfilled in sexual love


To read back issues of The Director's Chair, visit:


"Hate to shatter your ego, but this ain't the first time I've had a gun pointed at me."

Samuel L. Jackson, "Pulp Fiction"

3. FEATURE ARTICLE - "A Short History of the Horror Film"

"Monsters and Demons: A Short History of the Horror Film"

Going to the movies may not seem like a novel way for little
kids to spend an afternoon. But have you ever brought your
child to see a Disney flick and ended up viewing trailers
for Jeepers Creepers 2 or Freddie vs. Jason? When this
happened in a Birmingham, Alabama cinema last year, parents
became concerned about what the main attraction would be.
But before the managers at the cinema could turn off the
previews, the main attraction came on, and it wasn't Piglet.
Instead they were presented with the gruesome opening of
Wrong Turn, an 18-rated slasher flick in much the same vein
as the previews.

Is there a more genre more criticized than the horror film?

Not bloody likely. There's the argument that horror films
are socially and morally irresponsible, even influencing
some people to imitate the brutal methods of the killers
portrayed on screen. Horror films actually have the opposite
effect on normal people - sick minds will commit atrocities
anyway. Watching horror films lets us encounter our secret
fears, share them with other viewers, and eliminate the
terror by meeting it head-on.

The genre is almost as old as cinema itself - the silent

short film Le Manoir du Diable directed by Georges Mèliès in
1896 was the first horror movie and the first vampire flick.
The movie only lasted two minutes, but audiences loved it,
and Mèliès took pleasure in giving them even more devils and skeletons.

In the early 1900's German filmmakers created the first

horror-themed feature films, and director Paul Wegener
enjoyed great success with his version of the old Jewish
folk tale Der Golem in 1913 (which he remade - to even
greater success - in 1920). This fable about an enormous
clay figure, which is brought to life by an antiquarian and
then fights against its forced servitude, was a clear
precursor to the many monster movies that flourished in
Hollywood during the Thirties.

The most enduring early German horror film is probably F.W.

Murnau's Nosferatu (1922), the first feature-length vampire
movie. But one movie paved the way for the "serious" horror
film - and art cinema in general - Robert Wiene's work of
genius The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, still held up as an
model of the potent creativity of cinema even to this day.
Early Hollywood drama dabbles in horror themes including
versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) starring Lon
Chaney, the first American horror-film movie star.

It was in the early 1930's that Universal Studios, created

the modern horror film genre, bringing to the screen a
series of successful gothic-steeped features including
Dracula, Frankenstein (both 1931) and The Mummy (1932) - all
of which spawned numerous sequels. No other studio had as
much success with the genre (even if some of the films made
at Paramount and MGM were better).

In the nuclear-charged atmosphere of the 1950's the tone of

horror films shifted away from the gothic and towards the
modern. Aliens took over the local cinema, if not the world,
and they were not at all interested in extending the
tentacle of friendship. Humanity had to overcome endless
threats from Outside: alien invasions, and deadly mutations
to people, plants, and insects. Two of the most popular
films of the period were The Thing From Another World (1951)
and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956).

Horror movies became a lot more lurid - and gorier - in the

late Fifties as the technical side of cinematography became
easier and cheaper. This era saw the rise of studios
centered exclusively on horror, particularly British
production company Hammer Films, which focused on bloody
remakes of traditional horror stories, often starring Peter
Cushing and Christopher Lee, and American International
Pictures (AIP), which made a series of Edgar Allan Poe
themed films starring Vincent Price.

The early 1960's saw the release of two films that sought to
close the gap between the subject matter and the viewer, and
involve the latter in the reprehensible deeds shown on
screen. One was Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, the other was
a very low-budget film called Psycho, both using
all-too-human monsters rather than supernatural ones to
scare the audience.

When Rosemary's Baby began ringing tills in the late

Sixties, horror film budgets rose significantly, and many
top names jumped at the chance to show off their theatrical
skills in a horror pic. By that time, a public fascination
with the occult led to a series of serious,
supernatural-themed, often explicitly gruesome horror
movies. The Exorcist (1973) broke all records for a horror
film, and led to the commercial success of The Omen.

In 1975 Jaws, directed by a young Steven Spielberg, became

the highest grossing film ever. The genre fractured somewhat
in the late 1970's, with mainstream Hollywood focusing on
disaster movies such as The Towering Inferno while
independent filmmakers came up with disturbing and explicit
gore-fests such as Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

John Carpenter's Halloween introduced the

teens-threatened-by-superhuman-evil theme that would be
copied in dozens of increasingly violent movies throughout
the 1980's including the long running Friday the 13th and A
Nightmare on Elm Street series. Horror movies turned to
self-mocking irony and downright parody in the 1990's - the
teenagers in Scream often made reference to the history of
horror movies. Only 1999's surprise independent hit The
Blair Witch Project attempted regular scares.

So go ahead, take a stroll through these favourite horror

movies of all time. But pick your way very carefully, this
walk is not for the faint of heart. And if you happen to
hear what sounds like some subdued whispering or soft creepy
grating sounds, just pay no attention to it. It's probably
only the wind.

3. FEATURE ARTICLE - "Working with Actors on the Set"

Director Guidelines - Working with Actors on the Set

- Motive (Inner) Determines Behavior (Outer)

- always try to layer the performance

- no performer should be "One Note" (flat)

- should always be at least "two" things going on in each scene with a performer
- motivate the actor to help trigger a response

- help actors to play the character and find the moments

EXAMPLE: (Director): "show me what I don't know about the character"

- directors want ACTION not a STATE

- an actor can go "over the top" as long as you know how to pull them back

- do not talk to an actor in states of being or attitudes

Example: (don't say) "Give me more anger here" (say) "What would
happen if (he hit you)? What would you feel (anger?)

- make sure the actor knows his OBJECTIVE for each scene

- actors want to know why they do things (You must always have the answer!)

- once an actor feels, he will do (always ask for the feeling)

- every actor should have at least one moment

- look for the special quality in each actor and use it

- fish for information from the actor (don't let them off the hook)

- every actor knows his character's "destiny", so you have to

work backwards to detail the behavior - to structure the
performance to lead up to the logical ending

- find the key to an actor's performance in order to change it

- emotions have different ways of being expressed

- a good performance happens when both the inner and outer

(physical) life of a character are portrayed

- find the emotional context to trigger a response

- give an actor a place to go (restrict his freedom)

- make sure an actor does not change the INTENT of the scene

- do not have two actors playing off a different element within a scene

- determine what is driving the scene (where are we going?)

- with "temperamental actors", devise unusual and devious

techniques to get a performance

- do not instruct actors. Guide the performers along in their

own interpretations (never show an actor what you want by acting it out)

- make sure actors have the conception of the relationship of

their part to that of the other actors in the story (have an
informal reading of the script)

- try to iron out differences with the actors before shooting begins

- preserve an actor's ego (use tricks to get best performances)

- the moderate approach is to work calmly and quietly with an actor

- guidance when necessary; encouragement where deserved

- suggest rather than command

- you need patience and understanding

- if an actor is nervous (time problem), take the pressure off

the actor ("lots of time")

- show that you have the confidence in yourself

- use emotion and intellect when talking to an actor (don't just

ask for the result)

- some actor's are like children - they respect authority but

will behave outrageously if they can get away with it
- never let an actor suspect you are depending on them (lead
them into a position where you can extract their ideas)

- when a scene is flat, slowly paced or uneven, ask the actor to

do it again, but as rehearsed

- never ask an actor to do another take unless you can make

constructive criticism of the performance

- discuss with an actor the concept of the character

(background), what motivates him and the overall result that
should be accomplished

- directors should know how to interpret every scene and line of dialogue

- everybody likes a compliment; a craving to be appreciated

- most actors don't like surprises

- actors depend on the director to construct a performance which

will appear sustained

- technical actor (portrays a character the way it was created by the writer)

- method actor (wants to be the part through inspiration and

improvisation) Cannot turn it off like a technical actor

- acting qualities are based on behavior (limited to your personal experience)

- an actor must feel strongly the emotions he is performing so

an audience can be moved

- reproduce emotion in a scene to stimulate the emotions of the audience

- Memory of Emotion (recall past experiences from reality and

transfer them to the character)

- an actor has to really believe the character and the scene

they are portraying. If he doesn't, neither will the audience
(lack of sincerity and false emotion)
- in dealing with an actor, determine what kind of personality
he is working with, then decide how to handle it

- actors are required to be vulnerable (it is the nature of their profession)

- make sure that each actor understands thoroughly the meaning

and purpose of the story and they understand the reasons for
each scene, each character, each line of dialogue, and the
interrelationship of their character as a whole

- each actor must understand where the scene they are doing fits into the story

- a good actor doesn't act (register emotions), he reacts (creates)

- an actor must "listen in character" (he must listen to another

actor's lines as if he is hearing them for the first time)

- watch out for actor's who anticipate lines and actions

- acting is being, not behaving (must have an honest attitude; show it in the eyes)

- an actor's speech and his actions must appear spontaneous

- a director should make an actor feel completely secure,

encourage the actors to take chances, try for something new, to
go beyond the accepted interpretation, separate the good from
the bad and communicate his thoughts to the actor

- actors should have a complete understanding of the setups and

the effects the director wants to achieve

- encourage the actor to fit their established characterizations

into the desired patterns and to integrate their concepts with yours

- actor should have clarity of choices

- be aware of habitual behavior

- praise a job well done

- give credit to anyone making a useful suggestion

- do not belittle anyone on set

- each actor should make his dialogue his own, commit himself to
a way of speaking that best fulfills his screen character

- underplaying (only giving his lines the importance he feels

they deserve and tossing them away)

- an actor's movement should always appear to be a natural

result of the emotions and attitudes expressed in the scene

- actors are always ready to give a big performance all the

time. You have to be able to "keep it real" -be able to tone it down ("The Pump")

- actors can change lines and improvise as long as you know what
the intent of the scene is

- actors should not anticipate the moment

- creating the moment (make it special - share it with other

actors; concentrate on the face and the words)

- try and negotiate habitual behavior (mannerisms create "manner acting")

- don't have an actor "play the result" (don't play a weak

character weakly)

- find a different way to change a mannerism (or uses it of it really works)

- make actors demand

- motivate the actor to trigger a

6. FEATURE ARTICLE - "What to Avoid in Low Budget Scripts"

"What to Avoid in Low Budget Scripts."

Last week I attended several Trade Forum panel discussions at

the 19th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival.
One of the panels was called "Writing for Low-Budget Features"
with Writer/Director Guy Bennett ("Punch"), Director Mina Shum
("Happiness and Prosperity") and Producer Marc Stephenson ("On the Corner.")

The main topic of the panel discussion was the following "10
Things to Avoid in Writing Low Budget Scripts"

1) Avoid too many characters

- keep your speaking roles to a minimum
- try and combine characters

2) Avoid too many locations

- a large part of your movie should be in one location
- a house can offer many locations (rooms)
- try and combine scenes to accommodate a few locations

3) Avoid too many special effects

- squibs, smoke, rain, explosions, wet downs

4) Avoid to many stunts

- physically demanding on your actors
- safety concerns (takes more time)
- stunt performers are expensive

5) Avoid large exterior scenes on streets and sidewalks

- crowds, police control, vehicle movement, extra crew

6) Avoid large night exteriors

- expensive to shoot (lights, manpower, equipment)

7) Avoid places where you need crowds

- extras are expensive

8) Avoid period pieces

- expensive for art department and costumes
- limited location availability

9) Avoid children and animals

- children can only work a few hours a day
- during school months, they need tutoring several hours a day
- animals take time to work with (plus use up a lot of film)
10) Avoid scenes that are dependent on weather and water etc.
- you can't depend on the weather (sun or cloud)
- when working on water, everything takes twice as long

Many of these items are self-explanatory, but as you write your

script, or you are in pre-production with a low budget feature,
review this list often to help bring your movie in on time and on budget

7. FEATURE ARTICLE - The 12 Biggest Mistakes Directors Make

"The 12 Biggest Mistakes Directors Make" by Frank Hauser

and Russell Reich, co-authors of 'Notes on Directing'

Learning from one's own mistakes is an important component of

getting better at any craft. Better still is avoiding the
mistakes in the first place - recognizing where others have
commonly stumbled and then detouring around.

Here, then, in no particular order - gleaned from observation and

from hard-earned personal pain from which we want to spare all
others - is a compilation of common errors in action or
perception committed by directors of all stripes

1) Giving emotional directions

Imagine yourself as an actor being told to "be angry," "be

disappointed," "be sad," or even "be awestruck." Is there a
greater guarantee of an insincere result?

Instead, get the actor's attention off himself. An action is

not an emotion. Give him something fun and interesting to do.
Occupy him. Vividly describe the circumstances he's in and the
challenges he faces. Set a goal for the actor. Give him a stake
in what's happening on stage. Give the actor a task that
involves changing an emotion in someone outside of himself.
Paul Newman once said that the best direction he ever got was,
"Crowd the guy."

2) Applying style without reason or intention

Elements of style are best applied with intention, purpose, and

meaning - not as ends in themselves.

A character in a Restoration drama, for instance, bows with

open palms extended away from his body to demonstrate he has no
weapons. Ironically, this may also indicate he still wants
them, needs them, or has them hidden somewhere, so beneath the
benign courtesy lies a simmering threat. A woman waving a
perfumed handkerchief desperately as she speaks does it to hide
her atrocious breath.

Without intention, style is empty.

3) Criticizing and bullying actors

Too many directors choose shouting or sarcasm or, worst of all,

imitation to cover up their own ignorance about what to do or
say. They figure if they're intimidating enough it will keep
everyone on their toes. While this technique will often get a
laugh, it will just as surely make an enemy.

It's all too easy for an actor to feel he is getting it all

wrong. Rather than criticizing or controlling through
intimidation, try sincerely praising actors early and often.
Instead of correcting them all the time, get into the habit of
frequently telling them what they are doing right. Francis Ford
Coppola reportedly directs this way; he only says what he
likes: "That was terrific!" or "Let's see more of that!" Let
that be your model.

Also, be sure to tell your actors whenever they look good on

stage. They'll trust you more knowing you are concerned with
their appearance and dignity, and it will free them to go about
their duties with less self-consciousness.
4) Failing to include all the actors

Surely you know that in the theatre, silence is invariably

taken for disapproval. Be sure to include every single member
of the cast in your note sessions. The exception here is a
critical note that should, clearly, be given in private.

When you make a change, it is not enough simply to discuss a

new idea or change prior to performing it. Even the smallest
business must be walked and spoken through on stage and in
character prior to running it in front of an audience. You
cannot know all the possible consequences in advance. Good
actors do an enormous amount of internal work based on the
circumstances you and the script have set up. If you change
those circumstances you must give ALL the actors the
opportunity to adjust. And don't forget to include the stage
manager, who will likely be responsible for directing
replacement actors and, in your absence, ensuring the show runs
as you intend it to.

5) Being lazy

No actor likes a lazy director, or an ignorant one. You should

certainly know the meaning (and the pronunciation) of every
word, every reference, every foreign phrase.

Also, be decisive. As the director, you have three weapons:

"Yes," "No," and "I don't know." Use them. Don't dither; you
can always change your mind later. Nobody minds that. What they
do mind is the two-minute agonizing when all the actor has
asked is, "Do I get up now?"

6) Using nudity to indicate inner nakedness and vulnerability

Some sincere directors seem to be addicted to getting actors

naked on stage, all the while denying the prurient interest of
it all. It's all very self-justified, flimsily defended as art.

But beware the naked truth. Earnest nudity imposed by sincere

directors is rarely the reliable conveyer of inner emotional
nakedness and vulnerability they suppose it is.
More typically, when the skin makes its appearance, the
audience is ripped from the world of the play along with the
clothing. The audience is deposited in a prurient inner world
far from the plot. Their eyes no longer watch the eyes, mouths,
and hands of the performers, but are diverted, no, riveted to
other body parts. The audience and the story often become lost
to each other.

7) Mandating the revelation of real life on stage and the

repeatability of dictated, on-the-nose moments

You can't expect both. If you have skilled actors at work there
will be some variations moment to moment and performance to
performance that make it real and therefore subject to change.
Expect and accept that.

Audiences come to the theatre because live performance -- at

its best -- can make us feel more connected and alive, as if we
are part of the important and real events occurring on stage
right now. As in sports, it should feel as if anything could
happen at any moment.

Such real and true moments can be a bit messy, unpredictable,

wonderful, spontaneous, dangerous...and very difficult to repeat.

Rather than exerting your control over it all, dedicate

yourself to keeping the life between actors alive. Don't
micromanage. Decide what you will allow to live and flourish
without all your potentially damaging or inhibiting
intervention. As Elia Kazan said, "Before you do anything, see
what talent does."

8) Using technical solutions when acting solutions will do

The problem here is spoiling the audience. Hydraulics and

turntables can solve certain problems, albeit in a kind of
self-conscious and self-referential "look what we can do" kind of way.

Spectacle has its value, but when we wean the audience from
simple human drama, we commit a kind of suicide. We disenable
the audience, and ourselves, from recognizing basic
person-to-person connections, disconnections, and
reconnections. It becomes instead all about the eye rather than
the ear, about cleverness and money rather than insight and
skill. Remember that the audience has come to the theatre to
believe, to respond to the magical words, "Once upon a time,"
not to admire a laser show.

9) "Concepting" the play

Directors need to stop coming up with "concepts" that mean

omitting passages which don't fit, altering an emphasis for the
sake of novelty, or twisting the writer's overt intention in
order to bring out some hypothetical Inner Meaning.

In other words, directors should be more honest. Lloyd Richards

said that if you continually find yourself itching to make
changes to a script, consider whether you should give up
directing and take up playwriting.

The current fondness for updating texts, Shakespeare, the

Greeks, is basically a form of snobbery: "How amusing! They're
quite like us!" As if there were anything to be said for
dragging Medea or Hamlet into our appalling time. Contrariwise,
if the plays are well presented in their own period we have the
far more fascinating and educative experience of time travel,
going back across the centuries and finding out how like them we are.

10) Thinking good art is whatever the audience cannot understand

Too many audiences blame themselves for not following a story

when their negative experiences may in fact be the result of
directing that undervalues clarity. This misguided approach
grows from a romantic and narcissistic notion that great ideas
and those who think them are valued by the degree to which
they're misunderstood. There are historical precedents for the
suffering genius, but inverting this phenomenon and
deliberately inducing confusion for self-promotional purposes
is hardly the route to winning over an audience.
Confused audiences may be lost forever, thinking theatre and
art in general are not for them. This is a crime.

11) Neglecting the audience

The object of the director's attention is, lamentably, often

not the crowd in the seats, but someone else: the director's
idol, a former teacher, colleagues, parents, critics The real
audience, of course, is the one showing up. They're paying
money; they're in the theater; they are ready for an
extraordinary experience. Scratch on a director, though, and
you'll often find beneath the surface that the last thing he or
she wants is a relationship with this audience. There's a
slight self-distancing that occurs. When directors do this,
they are not likely to want to give much of themselves to the
audience at all. Directors need to confront their personal
feelings about their audience. To succeed, a director must love
the audience and want only to give to those in it.

12) Lacking self-awareness and acceptance

Young directors often don't know or accept themselves. This

leads them to imitate the most notable stylist or theorist they
can findBrecht, Derridathinking they will inherit that style
and the critical notoriety that goes with it, without realizing
the unique experiences and struggles that the idols had to
endure to become who they became. Robert Wilson's life, for
example, isn't mine and isn't yours. His unique approach, for
better or for worse, arose out of his experience and unique
personality and inclinations, which can't really be imitated
productively. Better for the young director to develop a sense
of legitimacy to his or her own experience and inclinations
than try to borrow that legitimacy from someone else.
Obviously, find out how you work best and do that:
paraphrasing, playing animals, improv (short for "improvement,"
not "improvidence").
5. FEATURE ARTICLE - DV or Film? Don't let cost be a deciding factor.

Part One: "DV or Film? Don't let cost be a deciding factor."

By A.J. Wedding

A director with a great project shouldn't be limited in his

choice of formats because of budget...and you don't have to be.
This feature story will discuss several ways you can shoot on
film for the same budget as DV, and remain true to your vision.

Having just directed my first 35mm short film, I have recently

put these tips to the test. My original plan was to shoot on
DV, but in my heart was the dream of film...a dream that was
not as far off as I thought...

When I finished the script that I planned to make, I started

looking into the ways I could make the project look like it was
shot on film. I researched cameras like the Panasonic DVX-100,
I looked at video lighting tips, and learned sandbagging tricks
that make your camera moves feel heavier and more film-like.
(Which we can discuss in another article!) The thought of
actually shooting on film never crossed my mind, as I simply
assumed it was out of my reach. But I believed very strongly
in this project, and knew that it's true medium was film...even
if it meant I had to sell my first-born.

With a passionate plea, I finally convinced my co-producer Bill

Ross to help me look into the cost of shooting on film. Our
findings were absolutely shocking. There was a way. There were
actually several possibilities available, and none required the
sale of my yet-to-be-conceived child.
First off, let's talk equipment. There are many people that
purchase camera packages for their own projects, and are happy
to let you use them for a few hundred bucks. This can be a
great deal, since $100 looks pretty good to someone who would
otherwise let their camera sit on a shelf. And normally,
people who own cameras can also operate them, and might want to
work with you for free if they believe in your project.

Camera rental houses have their set prices, but they are always
willing to deal with rising artists. They know that if they
treat you well while you are struggling, they will benefit when
you hit the big times. In my case, Panavision was the hero
that gave me the best deal in town. Free.

Big houses like Panavision have "experimental filmmaker"

programs which allow you to get on a waiting list for use of
free equipment. The list can be quite long, but they will
notify you with enough time to get your production up and
running. I suggest calling right now and getting on the list.
If you aren't ready when they call, they will offer you the
next available slot.

If you can't wait for the list to come around, you can always
get a DP with a relationship to a rental house. When they call
and plead about how good your script is, you are guaranteed a
better deal, if not a free package.

Another possibility is to look into the 8mm format which has

gained so much popularity in the anti-digital community. The
quality of the film makes for an interesting style, something
that could work well with a dramatic piece. And the price is
actually less than most digital camera rentals.

If you do use a rental house, they will want proof of

production insurance before they let you use their equipment,
whether you are paying for it or not. You can call around to
find the best rate, just make sure you have the amount of
coverage that the rental house requires. One interesting way
to get inexpensive insurance is to sub-lease it...

Online communities like are great places to

find crew, people with equipment, and production companies with
long-term insurance. Often times, a production company will
purchase long term insurance to cover several projects
throughout the year, but have down times that they still have
to pay for. These companies sometimes look for small
productions that can sub-lease their insurance...and since
they've already paid for it, the deal you get is as good as
your finagling skills.

Now on to film stock. Everyone has heard of places like Dr Raw

Stock and Short Enz, who sell re-cans and unused studio film
that has been bought up by these companies at a great low rate.
There are other alternatives. Along the same line as
Panavision's experimental film maker program is that of Kodak.
The prices are about the same as re-cans, but you are getting
brand new film. If you aren't a part of any film artist
networks, you should look into them. Getting together with
other film makers and discussing the tips and tricks that they
use is the best resource you will ever have. Often times, you
will find a friend amongst your group that will give you their
leftover film, or sell it to you for less than you can purchase
it anywhere. Just make sure you take it to a lab and get it
snip-tested to ensure it is usable.

Once again, I found an ally in Fuji. They are struggling to

survive with the development of digital movie making, and being
in the wake of Kodak who owns the corner on the market. Many
film makers will tell you that Kodak has far better color, but
that is simply untrue. We tested a 500ASA Kodak against the
Fujifilm rival, and were astounded at the difference in
quality. Fujifilm makes a fantastic product, and will do
whatever they can to meet your budgetary needs. We were able to
get the film half-off, by buying 2000 ft rolls, used in special
sitcom cameras. The film is rarely ever purchased, so Fuji has
a lot of it sitting around. All you have to do is go and have
it cut to fit your camera magazines, for about $3 per cut.

The studios always order more film than they need, and then
sell off the excess every few months. If you are a part of a
film artist network, you might want to pool your money and put
in a bid for the studio's leftovers. That can be a great deal
for everyone involved.

The decision you need to make is this: Is film what you REALLY
want? In many cases, such as the television pilot I co-wrote
and directed, digital was the way to go. But use it because it
looks right for your project. "Blair Witch" wouldn't have
worked if it was shot on film. Just be true to your vision.
Don't compromise on issues of format because it looks
impossible on paper. Use your passion for your project as a
catalyst for allies. Everyone wants to work with someone who
has a strong creative vision and a deserving project.

Next month we'll look at ways you can save money during the
production phase, in part two of this three part
4. FEATURE ARTICLE - DV or Film? Don't let cost be a deciding factor.

"DV or Film? Don't let cost be a deciding factor."(Part 2)

By A.J. Wedding

Part Two: Production

This section is devoted to the production phase of your film,

now that it looks good on paper for you! Some of these items
are still related to pre-production, but they are steps that
many people overlook in their excitement to start shooting. One
matter that budget becomes an important factor in, is your
locations. The more set-ups you have, the longer it takes to
film. You can't expect to make a short film in 2 days with 8
locations. The best thing you could do is to have a story that
takes place in 1 or 2 locations. "Causality", the short film I
just completed, has two locations, and was shot in 24 total hours.
As kids, our imaginations are amazing. A living room could
become hot lava, a backyard could become a battlefield. Tap
into your childhood when you are scouting locations, and be
creative. A police station doesn't always have to be a police
station. Something that I am fond of doing is writing stories
that can take place in locations I already have access to, or
rewriting them to work in those locations.

As a director, I find it supremely important to take as much

time as you need in pre-production to get your DP on the same
page with you. Plan your shots down to the F-stop, and you
will flow through production at a much faster rate. There will
never be a point at which you and the DP disagree, because you
have already worked out all of the kinks. Work the same way
with your actors. Get their blocking down, in the actual
location if possible, and make sure they are on the same page
as to how your story unfolds. Less takes = less film. Simple
math. This is where theatre-trained actors are so helpful.
They are used to playing out entire characters from start to
finish, and tend to have the discipline to memorize all of
their lines and character thru-lines. Doing all of these
things will help you focus on the most important thing during
shooting...getting the performances from the actors, and making
sure the pieces of your story are coming together as you planned.

Efficiency. No artist wants to talk about it, but it is one of

the most important parts of production. If you are not funded
by Universal, you don't have time for a great deal of tinkering
during the production phase. Do that during pre-production.
Being efficient requires a great assistant director who can
watch the clock and keep everyone on track. If you are able
to, it is great to have an AD that is also a director, as they
can keep whispering options in your ear. Even though your
vision is clear in your head, it's always good to have another
voice looking at things from a different point of view. Your
AD can also suggest time-saving alternatives to some of your
shots. Here's an important note: Every time you move the
camera, the lighting has to be readjusted. Very often you can
get the same feel you want by changing a lense instead of
moving the camera. Sometimes it is an improvement on your
original shot idea, and a creative alternative that saves you
time. Time = Money!

The joy of the moving master. In every scene you do, find an
interesting way to shoot all of the action in the scene, with
the camera in motion. Steven Speilberg's films are synonymous
with this. It will save you time, create an interesting shot
you can use 90 percent of, and will cut down on the amount of
extra shots or coverage you will need. I found in my film that
a good moving master can reveal plot elements in the order with
which you want them to unfold, without editing. Hitchcock's
"Rope" is a great example. The entire film is a moving master,
and today could be shot on 35mm film for less than $5000.
Staggering, but true.

Often times in low-budget productions, many crew positions are

not filled. One position you absolutely need to fill is that
of the script supervisor. Make sure that someone other than
you is in charge of making sure that every shot is made, and
every line is correct. If you are lucky, this person will also
be looking out for continuity between takes and fluidity of
motion. Without this person, you could forget a shot and have
to have the dreaded re-shoot.

One place you cannot skimp is on sound. A movie without

picture is radio, but what is a movie without good sound?
Amateur. There is no way around it, bad sound sticks out like
a sore thumb. Do not use the microphones that come with
digital cameras, and make sure the person you hire knows what
they are doing. Listen to other projects they have done. I
have made the mistake of skimping on sound and it has now
become my biggest warning to others!
Make sure you shoot close-ups on prominent props, the view out
the window, the dog, anything that finds it's way into frame.
This will give you several options for cut-aways during editing
which you will need. You may see your movie in your head
exactly as planned and think you don't need these shots....get
them anyway, even if you have to do it while the rest of the
crew is eating lunch.

Now, I am young and a bit naive, but I refuse to listen to

those people who say, "you just can't do that." If you truly
believe in what you're doing, you will find a way. And
hopefully these discoveries that I have made in my journey will
serve as a roadmap for you. Post-production is a whole other
animal that we will discuss in the final part of this series next month!

4. FEATURE ARTICLE - DV or Film? Don't let cost be a deciding factor.

"DV or Film? Don't let cost be a deciding factor."(Part 3)

By A.J. Wedding

Part 3: Post Production

It is no secret to any person who has worked on

production is expensive! The best thing you can do is plan the
entire process down to the last print, and make sure you know
what you're getting into.

Having never worked on film prior to my short film, "Causality,"

I was as blind as a bat when it came to the 'post' discussion.
All I had to go by was the rundown that my D.P. ran past me on
several occasions before it finally sank in. This section of
the article will explain the film post process, as well as give
you some more money saving tips.
Before you get into the details, ask yourself what you want.
Is this project going to be distributed? Are you going to film
festivals? These questions are important because you want to
know what your final format will be. If you want to have a
film print of your movie, your path is a bit more expensive
than if your master will be digital (D5 or Digi-Beta.)

There are several labs that can do a great deal of your work,
but there are no one-stop-shops. Make use of all of the
services that your chosen lab provides, as you will get a
discount. When you are comparing lab prices, don't use the
rate cards. Speak with a sales representative and let them
know that this is your first film project. Everyone wants to
help new artists that believe in the "dying medium" of film.
The sales reps will give you rates that are anywhere from 15 to
35 percent off of their published rates. Crest Labs in Los
Angeles is known for their great rates, as is Fotokem. Fotokem
offers many more services, and has top rated facilities. Ask
about their developing rates per foot, and tell them you want
to use them as your lab from beginning to end. They will want
to know if you are finishing digitally or on film, as it
impacts the services that they give you quotes for. Call
around and really do the footwork and you will save in the long run.

Once the film is in the can, your first step is to get it

processed and screen your circle-takes in a theater. This will
show you if there are any problems with the film that wouldn't
be noticed on a monitor such as a hair in the gate or unwanted
reflections. Don't skip this process, because it is very
important. Besides that, most labs will allow you to do it for free.

Now it's time for that mysterious word, TELECINE. This is the
process by which your actual film is transferred into tape so
that you can edit it digitally. If you are planning to finish
on film, you want to make sure that you tell the lab you want a
time code window burn. This will allow the negative cutter to
use your tape to find all of the cuts you have made digitally
...but we'll get to that later. Make sure that you are laying
down your film onto a decent format. If you are doing a film
print, the lowest quality tape that you want to use is DVCAM.
If you don't, the negative cutter may end up missing a few
frames which could hurt you when you try to line up your final
soundtrack. If you are finishing the movie digitally, I
suggest laying it down on the highest possible quality tape.
This is the Digibeta D-5, and will allow you to move to any
format including HD.

The telecine operator, or colorist, will ask if you want them

to line up the sound with the picture. In trying to save time
and money you might be thinking you can do it on your own later
on during editing. Don't kid yourself. It is an arduous
process for you, whereas your operator can do it fairly
quickly. The extra $100 it may end up costing you will save
you weeks in your editing process.

Now that you have your digital tape, you are ready for editing.

The development of digital non-linear editing makes this

process very easy for you. There are many editing houses that
will charge you hundreds of dollars per hour to use their
equipment, when you can accomplish the same goals for a lot
less. Here's a few tips:

1: If you are familiar with editing and can do it yourself,

invest in a Mac. Get a mid-range G-5 with Final Cut Pro and
you will be able to do everything, including output to DVD. If
you are finishing digitally, this is a great thing to have.
While the computer will not have the capability to support HD,
it will record your edits which can then be taken back to the
lab and rebuilt on their high end computers in less than a half hour.

2. If you are finishing on film, don't worry about the

output quality. As long as the time code is readable, the
negative cutter will have all that they need.

3. If you are unfamiliar with editing, put an ad on one of

the crew websites:,, etc.
You will get a wide range of responses and eventually work
their price quotes down to something you can manage.
Go through and put in all of your transitions, if any, and
titles. Final Cut Pro gives you many effect possibilities that
can be re-created on film, so make sure you go for your exact vision.

While you are editing, pay close attention to the sound. Make
notes on all of the sound effects that you need to add. Also
note pieces of dialogue that may need to be re-recorded.
Another trick is to try and pick up some of the dialogue from
other takes. It can work very well, and save you an extra day
of dialogue recording. Remember, every movement requires sound
to give it depth. Footsteps are the most commonly forgotten
foley. Even if the feet aren't in frame, put in the sound!

The more depth and color your sound has, the more engaging your
film will be. Final Cut Pro has a pretty decent set of sound
editing tools that you can do most of your work in. When you
get your edit and sound together, listen to it as loud as it
would be in a theater. Make sure the mix sounds right and that
no sound is peaking. Monitor the amount of background noise,
or room tone and decide if it is distracting. Once you have
all of your edits locked and your sound mixed tweaked, it's
time for music.

Cheap music is a dead giveaway for a cheap movie. Licensing

popular artists and their music will cost you roughly $8000 per
use of a 30 second clip of music. But here's a few things you
can do to have great music for a budget price:

1. Go see local bands play and buy their CDs. You might
find something that really fits your movie! Local groups are
eager to get their music out there, and might let you use it
for free. If not, a few hundred bucks is usually good enough
to make a deal.

2. Look for composers on crew websites. Make sure you

listen to their work, and make sure that they have the
capability to record it at no extra cost. With the modern
world of digital sampling, some of these composers can create
full orchestral scores that sound a huge
discount. One of those amazing composers who I stand by is
Gordy Haab.

3. Think simplicity. Many movies have entire scores that

contain a single instrument, such as "The Firm." Music
students are a great source for monophonic scores. A cello,
piano, zamphir, bongo drum, you name it, it's been done!

4. If all else fails, plug in a microphone and sing your

background music. It works wonders with comedic pieces.

Okay, those of you who are finishing digitally,

congratulations. You are done. Take your computer batch list
in to the lab and have them reassemble your film on their
high-powered computer to get your master copy. Now you can
make DVD's Digi-Beta copies, miniDV, whatever you want. Film
finishers, read on.

Look at all of those titles, fades, and effects that you put
into your film, and make sure you absolutely need them. Why?
Because optical and digital effects are pretty expensive when
finishing on film. If you can do without them, do it. My
nine-minute short had 3 minutes worth of titles and effects for
a grand total of $6000. Ouch. But if you need it, you need
it. There are many optical and title houses out there, and you
will need to do some dealing. This process will take a little
longer, as you will need to meet with each company in order to
get an accurate quote. This effect and titling process has to
be completed before you go to the negative cutter. When the
effects are complete, the effect house will give you digital
versions of the FINAL versions of the titles and effects that
you need to re-edit into your master. The reason for this is
that the final effects will have a new time code for the
negative cutter to read. Otherwise, they will cut together
your originals without the effects and titles.

Finding a negative cutter seems to be much more difficult than

paying for one. There are very few companies that do it, but
there are many individuals that have the capability if you ask
around. Digital film making has weakened the demand for such a
business since the major studios do their own cutting. When
negotiating with the cutter, they will want to know how many
edits you have. Count your cuts. The fewer the cuts, the less
the cost. And since there isn't a lot of demand for cutters,
you should be able to get a pretty sweet deal.

Alright. The negative is cut and pasted together...and your

sound mix is good. Take the sound mix to the lab and get an
optical track printed. This is the thin line that will attach
to your film to match the sound with the picture. Make sure
everything lines up correctly and you are ready to make answer

With a low budget, you will probably only make one print to
screen at festivals. But if you have a little extra money,
it's always good to have a back up. Most labs will keep your
prints and your originals stored in a safe, temperate vault at
no charge to you, for as long as you want. Keep your extra
print there, and only use it when absolutely necessary. The
more a film is run through a projector, the faster it degrades.

Much of this article will sound like Greek the first time you
read it. I never thought I would get through it, and at times
wished I had shot digitally. But when you throw a film up on
the screen that you created, it's worth the extra effort to see
something so dazzling and professional....and little did you
know that you could do it so cheap.

4. FEATURE ARTICLE - Finding the Right Agent

This article is an excerpt from the book, "The Working

Director" by Charles Wilkinson.

Do you have the right agent? Should you look for a better one?
Do you need an agent at all? Consider this: Virtually every
director finds and signs their first life changing deal without
the aid of an agent. That first low-budget movie. The first
music video that lights the kindling that starts the fire that
will become your career. No agent on earth can light that fire
for you. Nobody in the directing trade gets "discovered." BUT,
once you start a merry little blaze no one can turn it into a
roaring bonfire like a good agent. So if your excuse for not
working is that you have the wrong agent or no agent at all,
that may be just what it is. An excuse.

If you're not currently working it's because the people doing

the hiring aren't thinking about you. Or they're thinking the
wrong things about you. Assuming you are qualified for the
work, the right agent may be able to change this situation. But
how do you get the right agent? By being a promising director.
And how do you do that?

Direct. Wherever you can. Do a play that gets good notices. Do

a music video for a group about to break out. Do a commercial
on spec, a student film, a wedding. Enter every festival under
the sun. Win an award. Suddenly the agent sees you (and more
importantly can sell you) as the award winning director who just...

Can the Right Agent Get You Work?

Sometimes. If you are studio or network approvable for the kind

of work you want and if your agent is in that particular loop
then yes, they can. What does that mean?

If you've directed 20 episodes of prime time drama and if your

agent talks daily with the producers who hire for prime time
drama then your agent can probably get you more of the same
kind of work. Can that agent get you a studio feature? Almost
certainly not.
On the other hand let's say you have one low-budget feature to
your credit. Say it didn't go theatrical but a few critics
liked it and it won some awards. Can an agent who's plugged
into the world of small features get you serious job interviews
for more of the same? Yes. Can that agent get you on to this
season's hot prime time episodic? Almost certainly not. Agents specialize.

GM Goodwrench mechanics know nothing about fixing Ferraris.

They never see one. Likewise, the perfectionist Ferrari
mechanic wouldn't know where to start on that $49.95 tune-up.

Directors often complain about their agents. The agency is too

small. Nobody takes their calls. Or they're too big. They don't
take your calls. Or they're addicted to packaging. They claim
your name doesn't have the sizzle that the latest ex-rocker
first timer's does. The complaints may very well be true. But
the complaints we make about our agents are often excuses.

Put yourself in the agent's place. They can't stay in business

if they don't have income. In a way an agent is like a
salesman. Give a salesman a desirable product and they'll move
it. As anti-art as it sounds, if you make yourself that
desirable "product" your agent will sell you.
4. FEATURE ARTICLE - Script Analysis Check List

The purpose of script analysis is to find out what the story is

really about, who the characters are and what happens to them.
Detailed script analysis will give you facts, images, backstory
ideas, and help you understand the characters. Remember, good
scripts are multi-layered, full of subtext and not over explained.

- what are the beats (or events) in every scene

- what just happened before the scene

- what is the THEME/IDEA (what is the story about)

- what is the LOGIC (does the story make sense)

- what is the EXPOSITION (what is the doing)

- what is the COMPLICATION (what is the drama/conflict)

- what creates the TENSION (what will happen next)

- what is the MAIN QUESTION (what problem is to be resolved)

- what is the MAIN ACTION/SPINE (what event hooks the audience)

- what is the CAUSE OF THE ACTION (happens to the main character)

- what is the RESULTING ACTION (answer to the main question)

- what is the CONCLUSION (what happens)

- where are the BEATS (specific moments of a scene or act)

- where are the TURNING POINTS (of each scene and act)

- where is the CLIMAX (of each scene/act/story)

- what is the PLOT (carries the action)

- what is the SUB-PLOT (carries the theme)

- what are the ACTION POINTS (events that cause a reaction)

- what is the SOURCE OF CONFLICT

- who is the PROTAGONIST (the main character)

- who is the ANTAGONIST (one or more characters)

- who is the MOST INTERESTING CHARACTER (not always the main character)

- what is the INTENT of the scene (what is the scene needed for)

- what are the MAIN ELEMENTS of the scene (points to get across to the audience)

- what is the EXPOSITION (what are the characters "doing")

- what is the COMPLICATION (the drama)

- where is the CLIMAX (what is the turning point of the story)

- what is the RESOLUTION (how is the theme resolved)

- what is the CONCLUSION (how does the scene end)

- what are the MAJOR POINTS OF ACTION (graph them out)


- where does the IDEA CHANGE (beat or unit change)

- what are the important LINES OF DIALOGUE (story/character/plot)

- is there a RECOGNITION & REVERSAL SCENE for each character (character


- which character CONTROLS (pushes) a

4. FEATURE ARTICLE - Finding a Film Job

Finding a Film Job - Jeff Anderson

Film jobs are hard to find, but for the fortunate few, very
rewarding. The key is not to set your goals so high that
they cannot be attained. By that I mean, if your goal is to
be in the next big Brad Pitt film, and you're a relative
unknown, you're probably setting yourself up for
disappointment. But there are plenty of film jobs that you can get.

The world of independent film is rich with opportunities for

those starting out in the film industry. If you are prepared
to make your services affordable and be persistant, you'll
have a chance to succeed. When you first start out, you'll
probably be working for credit, or at best--deferred pay.
This means that there won't be any up front money on the
project, but you will begin building a resume and this has
value in itself.
Once you have a few films on your resume, and clips of these
films that you can submit as a demo reel, you will start
being considered for more work. This type of experience is
priceless. Let's face it, there are a lot of things that we
think we can do, but we never know for sure until we try
them and succeed. I always advise young composers to respect
the work of those who have gone before. Believe it or not,
there will be a time when you are one of these elder
statesmen and will appreciate the respect.

About The Author

Jeff Anderson knows his films. He knows what to look for and
what pitfalls to avoid. Let him guide you to finding out
more about films. Contact him at
or visit the blog at his site

Here are some website links for more information on

finding work in the film and TV business.

1) -
2) -
3) Film and TV Jobs -
4) Jobs in the Film Industry -
5) Television Job Links -
6) Hollywood Creative Directory -
7) Mandy's Film and TV Production Directory -
8) Jobs in Film -
9) -
10) -


Movie Magic Scheduling, Version 3.7 (Mac or PC)

Ivan Francis Clements has produced an excellent DVD tutorial on

"Scheduling with Movie Magic." In this two disc set, Ivan takes
you step by step through Movie Magic Scheduling so that you can
create your own production board in a way that makes sense to you.

Movie Magic is now the industry standard for film scheduling

and is the best way to manage your production. I have used
Movie Magic Scheduling for over 15 years and as I went through
Ivan's tutorial, I found many tricks and ideas to help me
organize my productions better.

Also included in the tutorial is Ivan's famous "Shooting Ratio

Calculator" as a free bonus! The purpose of this calculator is
to give you a daily check on how your shoot is going in terms
of daily page count, footage count and most importantly,
whether or not you are on SHOOTING RATIO.

This calculator is really important on no/low budget filmmaking

where your film stock is your GOLD!!!

If you are a Producer, Line Producer, Production Manager,

Director or 1st AD, I highly recommend this tutorial.

Check out Ivan's "Scheduling with Movie Magic" tutorial at


I have made a special deal with Ivan for subscribers of The

Director's Chair. The normal price for this two disk set is
US$99.00. But as a subscriber to The Director's Chair, your
special price is US$59.00.

To get your discount rate, when you click on the GIP Ltd Order
box at the bottom of the page.

4. FEATURE ARTICLE - MAKING IT in Film Production!

MAKING IT in Film Production!

©2005 John Gaskin

Whether you are, or want to become, a film director, or

already work in some capacity in film production of any
kind, this article will help you make it!

Why aren't there more AD's becoming Film Directors,

graduating Film Students becoming filmmakers, Film Crew
becoming Line Producers? Why aren't more crew reaching the
level of Department Head? Why aren't more film school
students finding work? I'm sure there are lots of reasons,
but take a quiet moment to really look. Let's see.... It's
not competence - most crew disappear pretty quickly if
they're slow witted and incompetent. Film students who
graduate have shown they're pretty smart. It's not a lack of
drive - again, for the same reasons. Wouldn't you agree that
the biggest hurdle is getting the opportunity? Well, that's
true and not true. The biggest hurdle is MAKING the

How do you increase the odds of landing a contract as a Film

Director, a Line Producer, a Department Head (if you're not
one already), or even a UPM on a small independent
production? Lots of film school graduates are ready to burst
with ideas to get their scripts into production; how do they
get to produce their scripts?

First you need to get the confidence of the person in front

of you. That single person in front of you needs to believe
that you can control your sphere of work so effectively that
you can get on with creating a film from words on a page.
If you're already a working professional in film production,
you can easily convince someone that you can control the
heck out of your area of expertise focal points, schedule
breakdowns, casting whatever professional avenue you've
traveled before can be handled with past experience. But,
what do you do when you want THAT film or video project. You
know - the project everyone else wants, too. What's the
thread that will convince the Executive in front of you to
hire YOU. (In the big leagues of sales it's called the GO
BUTTON). What do you know about the relationship of your
department to all other facets of film production? How do
you convince that one person in front of you that you're the
one for the job?

Well, you need to be able to convince others that you

understand the underlying, common denominator of all
filmmaking. Some people feel that a creative mind is all
that's needed. Nobody denies that you need to have a
creative bent in film productions. But let's lay it on the table -

The driving force behind film production is MONEY.

By the time we, as working filmmakers, start working on a

film production, our creative bent is totally bent by the
amount of MONEY available to us. We want to get the best
product we can out of every buck. Like it or not, your
performance in film production is measured, to some degree,
by how well you control the money. It's like 'Directing',
only you're 'Directing the Money'.

Do you want to be the best? Do you want to get that

wonderfully creative script to work on? Do you want to get
that opportunity? Then, learn the language of those who
'Direct the Money'. To my way of thinking, that's the only
way to be taken seriously.
Here's the deal - you need to show them, with attitude, that
you will provide them with a controlled environment from
which you can create a vision to create something from
nothing but a script. The only way I know of to do that is
to graduate to a 'Director of Money'. From that position you
can be the go-to Film Director, Line Producer,
Producer-For-Hire, Department Head, UPM, etc.

Let's pretend for a moment that you've met a hot new Writer,
Director, Actor or Executive Producer, etc. with a script.
Whoever you meet, they'll be in love with their script and
they'll be very excited to talk with you about it. They want
someone interested in their baby and they want someone to
contribute to its success in any way. After the first _ hour
or less, how do you segue into being their Film Director,
Line Producer, Producer or UPM?

You already know the creative side of things. But, have you
thought of translating those creative ideas into money? Here
are some real questions that would knock their socks off and
show that you're the one to 'Direct the Money' (if you're
foggy on some of these terms, be patient, you'll be very
familiar with them after a little reading):

1) Do you need help with the budget? (Don't agree to build it

from scratch - but know someone who can; find out what you
can about the script breakdown)

2) Do you have an idea of the Above-The-Line costs budgeted?

(Cast, Director, Writers, Producers)

3) What kind of bottom line do you have in mind for the final budget?

4) Who needs to approve the budget? Will it be an independent

film or studio driven? (This is important for your chances -
if it's studio funded, you'll need all of his/her backup,
and if it's an independent production, find out which
bonding company is involved.)

5) What locations are in the script? (Suggest using the

services of various Film Commissions to scout for cost
efficient locations compatible their vision)
6) How many days of shooting are planned? (If no script
breakdowns are completed, recommend somebody you know to do it)

7) If union crew are planned for, find out how many shooting
hours a day are planned for? (Insist on at least 13 worked
hours per day, as well as a storyboard artist)

You get the idea. You need to know the 'lingo' of budgets
and you need to understand that those budgeted numbers need
to be directed. You'll also need to inspire confidence in
the Financiers, or the Bonding Company, that you know what
the weekly financial report card is all about (that is, the
universally standard Weekly Cost Report).

Most of those questions, with a little imagination, can also

apply to anyone who wants to upgrade to a Department Head.
Take my word for it; a Production Manager would be
completely blown away if a crew member started showing an
informed understanding of how budgets and costs could
advance the Production Manager's career!

So how does a Film Director (let alone a crew member) get

familiar with Budgets and Cost Reports? I've been a
Production Accountant for 20 years and I've NEVER shown a
crewmember a Final Budget or a Weekly Cost Report (the
universally standard financial report card issued to the
Financiers and Producers every week) in that entire time.
They are considered sacrosanct by Studio Executives,
Financiers and Bonding Companies everywhere.

Well, I'm about to tease you with some relevant articles

that will open the door enough to let you walk through.
They're written for the complete novice, so be patient if
you've already been exposed to budgets and cost reports.

The articles are NOT techniques on budgeting. They are

techniques on being FAMILIAR enough with budgets and cost
reports to be able to 'Direct the Money'.

Let's better define the end result of my five articles:

Budgets: The reader will be able to make comments about
budgets with the confidence that financiers and producers,
not just in Hollywood, but also throughout the world,
universally accept the words and topics. You will also be
able to read and follow the style and format of the industry
leader of budgeting software, Movie Magic Budgeting©. It
won't make you into a master, but it will certainly give you
the confidence to upgrade at your next opportunity.

If at
any time you need help, you can always email me by visiting
my web site and I'd be happy to
point you in the right direction.

Weekly Cost Reports: The Cost Report at first glance looks

incredibly detailed, and to some, even complex. As a direct
result of these articles, the reader will be able to
understand the layout of Cost Reports (remember they're the
same the world over), and be able to make comments about
them intelligently. You'll have the confidence that you'll
be using the same terms, and are looking at the same topics,
as the pros. You won't become a production accountant, but
you'll get the drift, and with experience it will become
second nature. There are several more examples and charts in
my book, "Walk The Talk," which will expand on your
familiarity with Cost Reports.

The reading is six more articles - all only about 3 to 5

pages each. The practice comes from drilling the content of
the articles, asking pertinent questions at work and bugging
me whenever you get stalled. There is a seventh article that
could have been added for those who haven't been exposed to
the simple administrative procedures like petty cash,
purchase orders, check requisitions, etc. But in these
articles I'm going to assume you are already familiar with
those procedures. If not check out my book at, or simply click this link Walk The
Talk to buy the book now.
Here are the remaining article titles:
1. Introduction to 'Directing the Money'
2. Translating Ideas Into 'Money Talk'
3. Your Participation In Above-the-Line Budgeting
4. Your Participation In Below-the-Line Budgeting
5. Your Report Card - The Internationally Recognized Cost Report
6. Presentation of the Weekly Cost Report It's As
Important As the Dailies

When you read my articles, print them out. Make your own
examples. Reread them. Send me your questions if you get
stuck. You'll find that you'll be way out in front of the pack!


John Gaskin - 20 years experience in the Film Industry as a

Production Auditor. See 'About the Author' at

Visit his web site at The articles

are available FREE. Or, just buy my book, "Walk The
Talk" for the full information and training on 'Directing
the Money'.


NEXT MONTH - "Introduction to 'Directing the Money'

The topic of money in general is a little scary to most of

us. When you approach the topic of money in film production
- steel your nerve! There are reputations at stake and
careers on the line.

4. FEATURE ARTICLE - Directing the Money

"Walk The Talk"- Introduction to "Directing the Money"

©2005 John Gaskin

The topic of money in general is a little scary to most of

us. When you approach the topic of money in film production
- steel your nerve! There are reputations at stake and
careers on the line.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that

'Directing' Money in the film production business (or any
business, for that matter) is fundamental to your career -
especially if you want to rise on the food chain of film
production. If you're already a Film Director, you know all
about the flow of spirit, vision and creative collaboration
that it takes to make a film. If that momentum is stopped in
some manner, the whole project is clouded with doubt and
apprehension. Film crew of all stripes can smell that
arrested movement almost immediately ? sometimes even before
the Director and Producers.

Beneath the noble flows of creative spirit and collaboration

runs the green flow of money. NOTHING happens without a
corresponding effect on that money flow. Begin to think like
a film director, but in the area of money flows. (It's
really just a minor skill, like playing bridge.) Would a
good director worry about the small stuff? (Okay, maybe, but
let's hope not.) Then don't put your attention on every
penny - think in concepts of $1,000 at a time.

Keep those creative juices flowing; however, like it or not,

your performance is measured to some degree by how well you
can 'Direct the Money' - in whatever level of production you
choose, but especially if you?re an aspiring, or working,
Film Director. How well you can do that is how well you
control your career in film.

Anything that's bought (I mean ANYTHING) is tracked and

compared to the budget. Every conceivable type of film
equipment, prop holding rooms, toilet paper, you name it, is
compared to the 'approved budget'. But, you're not going to
get fired because you wasted toilet paper. On the other
hand, if you 'Direct the Money' (and know it when you're
doing it) by borrowing the Construction Department's
forklift for a couple of hours, instead of renting another
one, you're 'Directing the Money'. Now you just need to
learn how to parley that into a truce with the Studio Exec,
Producer, Production Manager, etc. by talking competently in
terms of budgets and costs.
It's time to introduce some details. Let's take a look at
what, exactly, is a priority in order for you to be seen as
a competent 'money talk' person in film production (say a
Producer, UPM or Department Head).

The very first task is to be able to make comments

intelligently about the budget. Read the shooting schedule
(and other script breakdowns) from a viewpoint of money. Ask
the accountant what is the average cost of shooting per day
and multiply by the number of shooting days. Become familiar
with the terms of the budget and learn how to comment about
the most important elements (read as, know what categories
of costs could benefit you, or hurt you, the most). Become
familiar with the 'look' and presentation of a budget, so
that you're not mistaking a subtotal line for an expense
(actually, I've seen that happen too often to laugh). You'll
get some hands-on practice in the next article, or simply
click the "Walk The Talk" link below to buy the book.

Before going any further, let's look at the 4 basic sections

of a budget. (As I said in my article 'Making It in Film
Production' I've written these articles for the complete
novice, so please be patient if you've already been exposed
to the fundamentals here).

Have a look at the illustration below. This is page 37 of my

book, "Walk The Talk".

These Are the Four Major Sections of Any Budget, Anywhere.

1.Above-the-Line: This section includes all costs associated

with the Writer, Director, Producers, Cast and Stunts. The
costs of the writer, director, producer and stars is driven
by the market place, Major Studios or financiers, so I won't
spend much time on them. However, you will need to have a
good understanding of the costs associated with the
daily/weekly cast and stunts. (Note: In the very early days
of film budgeting there was actually a heavy line drawn here
- thus the term 'Above' and 'Below' the line.)

2.Shooting Period: This is the most important section for

anyone looking to produce films. As you would have guessed
from the title, it includes all production costs of the
actual time of shooting the film, including a bit of 'wrap'
time (say a week or two) after the shooting is completed. It
includes all of those costs that you would intuitively think
of - like the labor costs of all crew, camera-grip-electric
equipment rentals, as well as, all construction-wardrobe-
transportation costs, etc. When I first started in the
business everyone called this section 'Below-the-Line', and
I still hear it occasionally. The official definition
currently in use for 'Below-the-Line' is the sum of the
Shooting Period and the Post-Production Costs (see point #3 below).

3.Post Production: This section of the budget includes all

costs associated with the time period AFTER the shooting is
complete - costs like editing, sound mixing, music, visual
effects, etc. I won't be spending any time on
post-production costs. It's in the interests of the Studio
and Financiers to create the best 'look' they can. There are
experts in this area who stay current with the technology.
The only control you can hope for is a tight coordination
among the Director, Editors, Post-Production Supervisor and
Financiers to arrive at some real plan for 'post'.

4.Other: Finally, the last section includes costs like

insurance, on-set publicity costs, legal expenses, etc. The
financiers have certain requirements for these areas and
usually have a pretty good idea what they'll cost before
approving the financing. So, in the interests of
self-preservation, always defer any discussion of 'Other'
costs to the Studio, Bonding Company or Financiers.

Occasionally, an 'Overhead' account is added after

Contingency - but it's almost never used. Again, they are
what they are, once the financing is in place and the
Bonding Company agrees to bond the show. (Note that if
there's a bank involved, there will always be a Bonding Company).

The four different sections illustrated above is a typical

Budget Summary sheet. These four sections are universally
referred to; so don't be afraid to use the terms.
Additionally, if your show is an independent production,
there will be three more lines at the bottom (always
presented in bold) - they are Financing Charges, Bond Fee
and Contingency after the budget is approved (often referred
to as the 'Locked Budget) all costs incurred are compared to
the approved budget.
At this point you need to switch gears from budgeting to the
process of reporting the costs as they compare to the
budget. There is an internationally agreed upon format for
this purpose, called the Weekly Cost Report. It's the
'Report Card' of how the show is going.

This Weekly Cost Report process is where the fun begins and
you'll need to be familiar with the many in's and out's of
cost reporting. How the costs are gathered together is a
technicality belonging in the realm of accounting - what you
need to know is the importance of the Weekly Cost Report,
and how to 'Direct the Money' by knowing how to acceptably
manipulate the reporting process to show an honest, but
credible presentation of the production costs. It is THE key
report card presented to those with the money behind the
film production. It's presented to the Financiers/ Studio
Execs/ Bonding Company every week, on every financed film
production on planet earth, period.

Presentation of this cost report can make or break your

credibility. AND, to my knowledge, there's nowhere else you
can learn these tricks of the trade - except for an off-hand
statement here and there in the larger film schools.

I want to remind you that in the 20 years that I've worked

in film production, I have NEVER shown a crew member a Final
Budget or a Weekly Cost Report. They are considered
sacrosanct by Studio Executives, Financiers and Bonding
Companies everywhere. Well, I'm about to open the door and
let you walk through.

These articles are NOT techniques on budgeting and cost

reporting. They are techniques on becoming FAMILIAR enough
with budgets and cost reports to allow you to 'Direct the
Money'. Stay tune in for my next article, "Translating Ideas
Into Money Talk".

When you read my articles, print them out. Make your own
examples. Reread them. Email me if you get stuck. You'll
find that you'll be way out in front of the pack! For the
full information, simply click this link Walk The Talk to
buy the book.

4. FEATURE ARTICLE - Translating Ideas Into Money Talk

"Translating Ideas Into Money Talk" by John Gaskin (c)2005

Most directors, producers and crew have elected to stay away

from budgets and costs. The heavy grinding SHOULD be left to
accountants - BUT, the control still needs to rest with the
Director, Producers, Production Managers and Department Heads.

Get a degree of familiarity with the money flow, especially

with the budget creation and the weekly 'Report Card' - the
Cost Report. Find a comfort level where you can, AT THE
VERY LEAST, KNOW WHAT TO ASK. Know how to formulate the
questions - you'll impress the money belts off Studio Executives.

Picture the following scenario - you are a Line Producer and

your Director wants to do a crane shot that entails several
movements best handled with a 'Techno Crane'. It will also
involve 100 background extras (the first 50 need to be SAG Union extras).

Studio Executive: "That'll cost $200,000 and I don't see

how that will pay back at the box office. It cost even more
than that on my last show, and THAT was in Denver just last
February yaddy, yaddy, yah."

(Remember, the Studio Executive is going to estimate high).

You, the Line Producer (or the Director could do this

himself), rather than feeling out of your element, say,
"According to my charts a top of the line 'Techno Crane' can
be rented for $8,000 for a week (if you aren't already
familiar with basic costs of Techno Cranes, etc. Figure
17.2, Table 1 of my book presents some general costs that
can be used as 'round numbers' to help formulate this kind
of answer). We can shoot out the extras over two
days - according to my charts that's about $14,000 a day for
the SAG extras and $7,000 a day for the non-union extras
(see Figure 17.2, Table 2 of my book). According to my math,
that's ($8,000 + 14,000x2 + $7,000x2) = $50,000."

Then, after taking a breath, you also say, "Because we're in

the Studio I know that we can get our shots with 10 Hour
shoot days all of this week. As you know, wrapping the crew
2 hours early saves $10,000 a day (See Figure 15.3 I've
made a chart to broadly indicate the cost of crew labor for
the last two hours of overtime on small/ medium/ big budget
shoots to give the reader a general familiarity with the
costs of overtime). There's the $50,000 we need. And
anybody who would shoot in Denver in February must be".

Directors, Line Producers, Department Heads, etc. deserve

all the help they can get. Some of these people, through the
school-of-hard-knocks, have developed a 'knack' for
conceptually streaming their creative ideas through a
'what's the cost?' process. But that process is all too
often tainted with blame on 'the blue suits' and 'the money
guys' and 'all they're interested in is the money', etc.
It's also often based on misinformation, biased toward a
predetermined decision. Take my word for it; unless you can
be familiar enough with the language of money in film
production, you're up the proverbial creek.

Some training and drilling is needed to get to know the

tricks of directing and controlling the costs during film
production, but not a lot.

There's a regularly occurring pattern of problems presented

by and to the director, producers, production manager,
department heads, etc. on down the line. Conflicts that come
up are almost always due to poor, or no, translation of a
creative need into a cost that is based on accurate
projections. Most attempts made by creative people to
trade-off expected costs with some kind of savings somewhere
else in the budget are clumsily presented and easily shot
down by those who know the 'lingo' of budgets and costs.

Let's take up an example:

You're the Director of an Independent Film Production.

You've shot the exteriors called for in the script and
you've seen the dailies; however, you KNOW that there's a
better shot of that exterior in Oklahoma that would give the
perfect hook to the opening of your film.

You know that you can convince the producers of this on a

creative plane. But, you also know that the most producers
will shudder at the task of dropping that bombshell on the
financiers/Bonding Company that you need to dip into the
closely guarded Contingency funds. (Oh, did I tell you that
we're going to Okl).

How do you pose solutions to those added costs?

2. What's the right way to approach the game of cost trade-offs?

3. It's always going to be a challenge to present this kind

of choice but, a very doable challenge if you know how to
translate your needs to cost trade-off's by using my Walk The Talk ideas.

Here's a variation of three typical kinds of questions for

feature film or TV productions. I've shown the way the
questions are usually posed, as well as the Walk The Talk way.

Example of Walk The Talk On Reshoots

Usual Way:
As the Director you sincerely express your view that the
Oklahoma shot would be a perfect opening for the movie. What
kind of response do you think you'll get? Here's the most
likely, from my experience:

Producer/Bonding Company Rep This will put us over-budget

by $130,000. I'll talk to the 'whoever' (it's a stall for sure).

Walk The Talk Way:

Alternative: Director/Line Producer The cost of shooting 1
day of exteriors will not require a full crew in Oklahoma.
I've called the Film Commission there (see my web site for
internet links to all Film Commissions and major Unions) and
they have assured me that there are plenty of local crew
available to work at a very decent rate. I estimate it
should cost about 1/2 of your estimate, say about $75,000
(see Figure 17.2, Table 3 in my book) to give us a bit more
than we absolutely need. I can get that back over the next
5 days here in New York. You see, I've rehearsed the next
five days with my very experienced cast and there's no way
that we can't complete the scenes scheduled in 10 hours a
day instead of the budgeted 13 hours a day. And, as you all
know, that last 2 hours in New York costs about $10,000 a
day (see Figure 15.1 in my book). Alternative: Bonding
Company Oh. Have the accountant make a schedule of the
costs and we can check them. (That's a Financier's last
stand it's up to the accountant to verify your estimates.)

Example of Walk The Talk On A Crane Shot

Usual Way:
Line Producer/Director: The Director wants to replace the
opening scene with a shot of the fields from over 100 feet
up, viewing the pond at about a 45-degree angle to the pond.
Then the Director wants it to slowly swoop down to the
surface of the pond where we'll focus on the car's outline
in the murky depths.

Producer/Studio Exec That kind of shot will require a 150'

crane and there aren't any around here. So, we'll have to
bring it in from Georgia (1,000 miles away), and we'll need
divers and a special effects crew to raise the bottom of the
pond with platforms, etc. etc. etc. It'll cost at least
$150,000 more. (Again, Producers like to go high.) I'll
talk to the studio.

Walk The Talk Way:

Alternative: Director/Line Producer I have a great idea
for a crane shot. The concept is easy to sell to the studio.
From my study of costs, it will cost about $13,000 to get a
150' crane and crane operator "all-in" (if you aren't
already familiar with the basic costs of cranes and
operators, etc. Figure 17.2, Table 7 presents the general
costs that can be used as 'round numbers' to help formulate
this kind of answer). We're replacing the other opening
scene (driving too fast on the highway at night) so; let's
assume that the only additional costs are putting the car on
a platform and settling it into the pond. I'll leave that up
to you - BUT, if it's more than $5,000 I want to know about
it. So, let's say it'll cost no more than another $20,000
for the shot. Let's talk to the Key Grip and Gaffer (the
department heads of the Set Operations and Electric Dept's)
for their opinion. (Never-I mean NEVER-go to the crew for
opinions about costs without the Line Producer in tow. It'll
make an instant and long-standing enemy.)

Alternative: Producer/Studio Exec - Oh. Have the accountant

make a schedule of the costs and you can check them.

The purpose of these articles is to give you a familiarity

with talking and thinking like those who do the budgeting.
These articles stick just to the budget 'talk' that you
really need to know, without becoming a budget technician.

A budget is simply an amount of money needed, or made

available, for the purpose of producing a film/TV

In the last article we covered the four major categories of

any budget. Review the categories and get a 'feel' for the
types of account descriptions that are listed. Don't spend
too much time on it right now; we'll be spending more time on it later.

The full process of budgets and costs travels the following

simple course of events:
1.Budget Preparation During Pre-Production
2.Final Approved Budget (Just Before the Shoot)
3.The 'Cost Report' Process Starts (The Cost Report compares
the projected known costs with the budgeted costs on a
line-by-line basis). Note that the Weekly Cost Report has
the same structure universally, so if you are familiar with
one cost report, you've become familiar with all Cost
Reports everywhere. It is regarded by all film productions,
in every country, as a report card of how well you're doing
with the investor's money.


Here's some general information on budgeting and how it
relates to 'Translating Creative Ideas Into Money'. This
final section of the article segues into the next couple of
articles, where we'll be looking at some details to increase
your familiarity with budgets.

The budget is intended to be a direct reflection of the

final shooting schedule. Every time the script says
something simple like "Joe looked at the clock" or as
complex as "Dawn in the Desert" all of the associated costs
for that activity should be detailed in the budget.

Furthermore, every aspect of the script that has been

detailed by the First Assistant Director through the various
reports that assist in organizing the shoot should be
detailed in the budget. When the Final Approved Budget is
signed off by us all (the Director, Producers,
Financiers/Studio Executives, Production Manager and the
Accountant) we are attesting that the budget, the shooting
schedule and the script are all dynamically linked.

So, you need to contribute to the "Final Approved Budget" in

any way that you have the authority to do so. As a
Director, feel free to insist on ample budgeted working
hours for the crew as well as for the more obvious elements
of cast, stunts, special effects, camera cranes, etc.

If you are a Line Producer, Production Manager, Department

Head (or even a crew member keen to get an upgrade) you
should be familiar with the format of a budget page, like a
Departmental Budget. (See Chapter 17 of my book for an
example of a Budget of a 'Small Unit' to shoot a "New York
Alley Scene"), or simply click this link Walk The Talk to buy the book.

The usual production 'breakdown' reports, like the Shooting

Schedule, Day-Out-Of-Days, etc. are usually well known and
very familiar to Directors, Producers, Production Managers
and Department Heads; however, translating the associated
costs into a budget requires such detailed monotony that it
quite often overwhelms (or, under whelms, if you like) the
creative minded people. However, you can quite quickly get
familiar with the language of Budgets and Cost Reports. From
that stepping stone you'll be able 'Direct the Money'
without getting lost in the techniques.


If you found this article helpful, get the full information

BUY THE BOOK at "Walk The Talk".

When you read my articles, print them out. Make your own
examples. Reread them. Email me if you get stuck. You'll
find that you'll be way out in front of the pack! For the
full information, simply click this link Walk The Talk to buy the book.


3. FEATURE ARTICLE - Five Good Producer Skills


You may believe a thorough knowledge of filmmaking and the

entertainment industry is enough to make you a good movie
producer. While it certainly helps to know the nuts and
bolts of movie production, and even the details of financing
and marketing a movie, that knowledge is not enough to
create a good producer. It might make for a good studio
executive, or other job out of the fray, but you need to
develop specific skills, to help you make an independent film.

The first and most important skill you need is organization.

If you were the kid who kept the minutes of the club
meetings, edited the yearbook, or organized the prop-closet
by era, you already have this skill. It is something that
is hard to teach, but you can certainly learn it, to become
more organized.

If you are the person who can't find his keys and has no
idea how much is in your checking account, you need help.
Get organized. There is simply no substitute for it.
Buy a book about getting organized. I recommend "How to Get
Organized When You Don't Have The Time" by Stephanie Culp. Or take a Franklin - Covey course. Do
whatever you have to do, but get organized.

Second, you need to be able to make decisions quickly.

Despite the best planning, things change moment-to-moment
during production. You will have to decide right now
whether to set up the next shot despite the looming storm
clouds, or to move on to another location, completely
disrupting the schedule.

The best way to develop this skill is to completely bury

your doubt. Know that you are in charge, any mistakes to be
made are yours to make and you will suffer the consequences
of bad decisions. If you act decisively, and accept blame
when necessary, your cast and crew will accept your
decisions unquestioningly.

Third, you must be a good negotiator. You will have to make

deals for every single thing on the set - the equipment, the
sets, the crew, the film stock, everything. Even if you're
borrowing your mom's station wagon, you will have to
convince her you will take good care of it, and return it
washed, and with a full tank of gas. Everything will have
to be negotiated.

When negotiating rates, know the maximum you can pay for any
one line item on your budget and try to shave 20 or 30
percent off of it. If they negotiate up, you may still save
15 percent or so off what you expected to pay.

There is one thing you need to know when negotiating: You

can always say no. If you can't get the deal you want, just
say no. Practice it. No. There is no need to be a jerk,
just make it clear that you will take your business or offer
elsewhere. If a crew member doesn't want to accept your day
rate, he doesn't have to. You will find someone else
(assuming you set your rate at a reasonable low-budget level).
Fourth, a producer also needs diplomacy. It's surprising
how often a film shoot devolves into a third-grade
playground. In just a few short weeks, cliques form, rumors
start and friendships are formed and ruined. Crew members
and actors will, believe it or not, come tattle to you.
Sometimes you will have to intercede in petty squabbles and
personality conflicts. The trick is to smooth ruffled
feathers while not making one combatant feel like you've
taken another's side. That will only set factions against
you, and that's the last thing you want on your set.

And fifth, of course, you will need energy. Lots and lots
of energy. Caffeine helps to get you started after only a
few hours sleep, but it is no substitute for real, healthy
human energy. One of the things you must do during
pre-production is get yourself in shape for the rigorous
weeks of shooting. You're in training, not for a sprint,
but for a marathon.

Working on lower budgets, independent films often have a

much tighter schedule, making for longer days and fewer days
off. Take it seriously beforehand, and train like a
champion. Exercise, eat healthy, and take vitamins and
supplements to build your energy stores, so you can get through it.

After you have these five basic producer skills down, you
will be ready to develop your knowledge of the filmmaking
process and the entertainment industry, by producing a
successful independent film.
Angela Taylor is a Hollywood producer, and a seven-time
Telly Award winner. She teaches Independent Producing at


4. FEATURE ARTICLE - Using Music Legally in Your Work



A: You need to acquire a license when you want to take music

that you have not personally created and use it as a
soundtrack in your production. Acquiring a license gives you
the legal right to include someone else's copyrighted work
as a part of your own work.


A: Copyright is a federal law that protects creators by

giving them exclusive rights to their works. Once a work is
under copyright, it is illegal to use the work without the
permission of the copyright owner.


A: Music that has been recorded and issued on CD is

protected by 2 copyrights. To use a recording of a musical
composition in your work, you need to get permission from
both copyright holders.

The first permission you need is from the music's publisher.

The music publisher holds the copyright for the actual
written music the melody, the lyrics, the accompaniment,
the actual music as it would appear in sheet music. This
copyright is shown by using the familiar © symbol.

The second permission is for the recording itself. To get

this, you would approach the record company that released
the recording. The record company holds the copyright for
the actual performance of the song captured and mastered on
tape and released on CD. The symbol for this copyright is
the letter (P) inside a circle. (look on the back of your
own Cds, you will see these symbols in use).


A: The fact that music is protected by copyright doesn't

mean you cannot use it, it simply means you have to seek
permission to use it. To receive that permission you will
typically have to pay a licensing fee.


A: Here are the licenses you need for the right to use music
in your media project:

Synchronization License This license is issued from the

music publisher. The Synchronization License (often
abbreviated as sync license) gives you the right to
"synchronize" the copyrighted music with your images and

Note: Having a sync license means you have permission from

the publisher to use the music but it doesn't give you the
right to use a specific recording of the composition. For
that you need the following

Master Use License This license is issued directly from

the record company. Fees can range from several hundred
dollars to millions of dollars depending on the popularity
of the music.

Once you have paid the music publisher for a Sync License
and the record company for a Master Use license, you have
the legal right to use the music in your production.

This article is about music that is under copyright and NOT
in the public domain. Music written before 1933 is in the
public domain and can be used without having to acquire a
synchronization license (you still need a master use license
if you use a recording of a piece in the public domain).
Music written after 1933 is still under copyright according
to US law. I hope to discuss the public domain in more
detail in a future article.


A: As you can see from the process described above,
licensing music can be a time-intensive, form-laden, and
expensive process. Using music from a Production Music
Library (also referred to as stock music), is the quickest
and easiest way to license music. When you buy music from a
production music library, you are immediately granted both
synchronization and master use rights to use the music in
your work.

Production Music fills a niche for producers who don't have

a million dollar music budget and can't afford to license a
major hit song. Production Music gives the smaller,
independent producer the ability to use music soundtracks in
his or her production.


A: Production music is protected by both the (C) and (P)

copyrights. When you buy a track from a production music
library, you'll receive a license agreement which gives you
both synchronization and master use rights.

Production Music is not copyright-free as some have termed

it. It is fully protected by copyright law. With production
music you get ease of licensing. You don't have to contact
several sources to seek sync and master use licenses.



A: There are no production music pop hits. You won't find

an Eminem track in a production music library. To use an
Eminem cut you would have to negotiate a license with
Interscope Records. That's not to say you can't find Hip
Hop tracks in production music libraries but you won't find
current or past pop hits.

Unlike a pop song, production music is composed to be used

specifically as background music. It is usually
instrumental, with no vocals or lyrics, and is similar to a
film soundtrack.


A: The license agreement grants you very broad usage rights.
For instance, with the license agreement from my company,
UniqueTracks, you are not limited to one-time usage; you can
use the music again in any other production you create.
You don't have to inform us of your intent to use or report
back once the production is complete. Once you have
purchased the music, you are free and clear to use it as
often as you like within the boundaries stated by the
license (i.e. the music has to be used in synchronization
with narration or visuals)

The simplicity of Production music licensing makes it a

great choice for independent film, multimedia applications,
commercials, corporate videos, Flash animations - virtually
anywhere where music is helpful but where the project budget
doesn't included hundreds of thousands of dollars to license
expensive songs.

John Bickerton is Creative Director for the UniqueTracks
Production Music Library. He writes the monthly
e-newsletter "Underscore - Secrets of Successful
Soundtracks", published by UnqiueTracks. Click to subscribe

6. FEATURE ARTICLE - Filmmaking - What Is A Pro?

"Filmmaking - What Is A Pro?" by Sam Longoria

The word "Professional" is often bandied about by indy

filmmakers, and I've heard and read many things I just
wouldn't expect a "Pro" to say, though the person writing or
saying them claims to be one. Time for a definition of terms.

Question: What qualifies a person to be a Pro?

Answer: Paycheck.
That's the short answer, but anything longer is just
embellishment. It's one thing to make movies. It's a whole
different animal to get somebody to cut you a good check,
for the work you've done.

Paycheck is more important than anything to a Professional,

because you have to eat and pay bills, or you can't
function, much less create pleasing Art.

Question: How does a person become a Pro?

Answer: By adopting a Pro attitude. The Pro attitude is "I

work in the movie business. I do good work, and I must be
paid for it." This is regardless of the budget of his
current Project, whether it is high or low.

Some don't become a Pro until many paychecks, but you can
have a Pro attitude right now, even if you've never been
paid for doing your art. If you adopt the Pro attitude now,
you multiply your effectiveness many times, and shorten the
time until those paychecks come in.

A person with a Pro attitude has aligned his brain cells and
unconscious mind, so every action and thought is geared
toward one outcome - to be paid for his work, what his work
is worth. This has many benefits, chiefly the quality of
his work improves.

You can take years to get a Pro attitude, or you can do it

right away. I recommend you read a book with a funny name
by Stuart Lichtman, an expert on the human brain from MIT.

Another great book on developing a Pro attitude is Napoleon

Hill's classic "Think And Grow Rich." It's free in the
library, or get it here online.

They are both good books. Stuart's is like a series of

games, so it's almost effortless, and it will improve every
aspect of your life. Napoleon's classic book takes a while,
and you have to muscle it through by will power, but it's great.
Once you've adjusted your attitude, your unconscious mind
will steer your every action and memory, every skill you
have, and those you need to learn, toward delivering what
you need to do your job, and be paid your paycheck.

Once you do, your natural love of your Art has a chance of
being fulfilled. Until you do, you're just floundering.

You may disagree with my brutal bottom-line assessment of

what a Pro is. You may feel a Pro isn't defined by a
paycheck. To you a Pro might be merely a person with a lot
of experience in a certain area, or a person with a natural talent.

Well, "Professional" is defined,

"Pro*fes*sion*al, n. A person who prosecutes anything

professionally, or for a livelihood, and not in the
character of an amateur; a professional worker." --
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Unless he has a paycheck, his "lot of experience" just makes

him a hobbyist. By definition, a hobbyist is not a
Professional anything. There is nothing wrong with being a
hobbyist, or an "amateur," (which means you do something
"for the love of it"), but generally, amateur quality is not
up to a Pro standard.

It's common to say, "You have so much talent, you're a real

Pro," but even natural talent, practiced and refined, won't
be Pro until one's work quality is good enough to motivate
another to pay him for it.

While skill and/or talent certainly are important, the

defining quality of a Professional is payment.

Think "paycheck." May you earn many big ones.

Sam Longoria is a Hollywood producer, working in film since
1970, in a variety of jobs. His work graces several
Oscar-nominated films, and one Oscar winner. Sam teaches
Independent Producing at

© 2005 Sam Longoria, All Rights Reserved. You may forward

this in its entirety to anyone you wish. Hollywood
Seminars, Box 2449, Hollywood CA 90078 USA

6. FEATURE ARTICLE - Music Licensing

"Music Licensing" by Steve Veloudos

Music licensing can be a very confusing subject. My intent

with this article is to give you enough details on what
music licensing is and what are your rights to use music in
advertising and / or video productions.

A few months ago I was contacted by a company that was

celebrating 20 years in business. They wanted to put
together a radio commercial that highlighted their
celebration. Their request was to use Kool and the Gangs
song Celebration in their radio spot. I explained to them in
order to do this they would have to obtain a licensing which
would cost them quite a bit of money. This was not an option
for them due to their limited budget and ultimately they
told me that they "went another direction" with their advertising.

If I had agreed to use this song without obtaining a

licensing I would have put both of our companies at risk. It
was not worth the risk just to make a sale. Beware that
there are unscrupulous production companies that will do
this type of illegal activity so the best protection you
have is knowledge.

The copyright law protects writers of music by giving them

exclusive right to their music. Once a piece of music is
under copyright protection it is illegal to use it without
getting permission to the owner of the copyright.

There are actually two types of copyrights in the United

States. One is the actual copyright which is denoted with
the familiar C with a circle around it. This protection is
for the actual melody, lyrics and arrangement of the music.
The copyright is usually owned by the actual artist that
wrote the piece or their publishing company.
The second form of copyright is the actual recording itself.
This is denoted by a P with a circle around it. This
protection covers the performance of the song caught on tape
or digital media and released on CD or other media. Many
times a record or production company will own this
performance right.

If you want to use a song in a production, you need obtain a

Master Use license from the owner of the copyright and a
Synchronization license (often called a sync license) from
the owner of the performance of the song.

The fees for synchronization licenses vary greatly. Low-end

TV usage (music is playing from car radio in a scene) can
cost up to $2,000. In a film, the fee may be as high as
$10,000. A popular song is worth more, possibly $3,000 for
TV and $25,000 for film. A song used as the theme song for a
film might get $50,000 to $75,000. Commercials can get even
more money. Fees for a popular song can range from $25,000
to $500,000 plus per year. The typical range for a
well-known song is $75,000 to $200,000 for a one year
national usage in the United States on television and radio.

I think you will agree with me that that is a lot of money

and usually way over budget for many video and radio productions.

To get around these outrageous fees, music production

companies sell buyout music. When you purchase a buyout CD
you do not need to obtain a licensing to use the music. You
can use the music hassle free and at a much lower cost.

Buyout music or royalty-free, as it applies to my products,

means that for your one-time purchase price, you can legally
use the music in your productions for life of ownership. All
copyrights of the music remain with Zebra Music LLC. My
jingle licensing agreement allows a protected area of 200
miles. By doing this no other companies in a local market
will have the same jingle.

Many other production companies offer a similar buy out

music licensing. I would advise you to read the licensing
agreements with other production companies and ask questions
if you have concerns.
Network broadcast and international broadcast of buyout
production music is cleared through a performance
organization (like BMI or ASCAP). The revenue that these
songs produce when they are aired is paid directly from
broadcast station licensing, NOT from you as a producer.
These performance organizations then in turn pay each artist
based on the amount their song or songs were aired on the
radio or TV.

I hope this article has cleared up any confusion or

questions that you have had about copyright and music licensing.

Steve Veloudos owns and operates Zebra Music LLC. It's a
one stop shop for jingles and library music. Visit Steve's
web sites and get free monthly music that you can use for
your productions.

7. FEATURE ARTICLE - Digital vs. Film

"Digital vs. Film: Some Post Production Complexities"

By Kulwant Rajwans

Last week I had a meeting at a post-production studio to

discuss my options for my next film which is to be shot this
summer. I figured that since the fast rise of HD has
penetrated much of the market, particularly the home
camcorder market, making my film with a prosumer HD camera
would prove to be less complicated (and maybe less
expensive) than the more traditional methods. As it turns
out, this may not be necessarily true.
The main issues when it comes to considering the complexity
and cost of post-production are what type of processes the
film must go through to have the desired look, and where the
film will be exhibited. At the outset of a project, it
would be beneficial for filmmakers to decide what format he
or she will be exhibiting his or her movie. For example, if
you plan to release your film in Theatrical (35mm),
Theatrical HD, DVD, or television, then there are options
that are worth considering.

As an independent filmmaker, you are likely to exhibit your

movie at festivals on DVD and on television. Take note that
today there is a large growth in the amount of digital
projection systems at festivals; however, there are so many
digital films that that there is growing competition for screenings.

If you are shooting digital, often the rational presented is

that the tapes are cheap and there is no added cost for
processing the film stock. For the past couple of years,
camera manufacturers began launching low priced prosumer
digital cameras which attempt to provide the qualities of
HD, including offering an HD look, but cost only a fraction
of the price! Also, professional editing software is now
affordable and capable of operating on a home computer
system so the financial risk of making a movie is perceived
to be minimal. To better understand if this rational makes
sense, let's look at the way professional post production is
done and if it is in fact less complicated to shoot your
project in film.

35mm & 16mm film

Let's begin with the scenario that you're shooting your

project in film. You've made arrangements with the
post-production studio and given details about your project.
Let's look at a very general overview of what goes on.
Here's an example:

Production dates
Type of project
Format to be shot on
Formats to be output on
Sound Completion requests
Special requests (FX/Sound/Colour/Titles)
Project due date

Presume that you film each day and send the film and sound
to the lab for the dailies to be processed and the sound to
be synced and transferred to a format that you can have your
editor begin capturing and cutting. It is at this time
that the film goes through a process known as the '3:2
pulldown' to be converted to a digital tape. The 3:2
pulldown is where 24fps (film) is converted to 30fps (film).

Although NTSC is said to run at 30fps, it actually runs at

29.97fps with 2 fields per frame. Essentially, one is
transferring 4 frames of film to 5 frames of video. This
means that it is running 0.1% slower than 30 fps, so to have
the transfer lined up properly the film must be slowed down
by 0.1% during the transfer and the fields transferred
accordingly. The end result is not really noticeable to the eye.


to see diagram of 3:2 Pulldown.
4 frames of film are transferred to 5 frames of video.

Once the film is completed and you have finished editing

your process you export a list known as an EDL (edit
decision list). This list is used to perform an online edit
of your film at a Post Production Studio where they will
also do a final colour correction of the movie. Once that
is all done then the project is outputed onto the different
formats that you have requested. If you have shot on 16mm
there will be an additional cost to blow up your film onto
35mm, and take note that 16mm has a grainier feel.
Shooting HD-24p

Now, let's look at the situation where you're shooting your

project on HD-24p (High Definition) and want to output it on
35mm. Although I feel that film still looks better I
believe that HD is going to play a more prominent role in
film and television productions, and understanding HD's
format is going to be beneficial.

When it comes to the post-production process it is very

similar to film post-process but HD has the added benefit,
among others, of the flexibility to colour correct while
shooting during production, and the film shooting process
does not allow for this during production. However, in the
case of HD, having a film print made requires another
technology which generally means added costs.

To output a digital project on film, a scanner is used to

burn each frame onto film. This added complexity can be
very expensive and the price has generally not decreased
over the past couple of years. Note that once you choose
this route, post production houses usually charge by the
minute, and it would be prudent to investigate the rates.

Shooting Prosumer 24p & SD (Standard Definition)

The process that many independent filmmakers are using today

is shooting on what is commonly referred to as a prosumer HD
or a SD (Standard Definition) camera with the idea of
converting it to film just like the HD-24p scenario. What
most people do not know is that prosumer cameras are
generally a capture-only format. This means that when you
want to convert to film you now have the added cost of
capturing/converting it into HD and then another expense to
have the project burned onto film.

To understand better, SD has a 4:3 aspect ratio and captures

at 29.97fps NTSC while standard 35mm film has a ratio of
1.85:1 and operates at 24 fps
to see diagram of Frame Sizes / Aspect ratios

Having provided a brief sketch the differences of

post-production process between film and digital, I would
suggest to filmmakers that they should consider the type of
venue in which their film will be exhibited, and to learn
more about the details involved in the post-production
process prior to commencing their shoot. Keep in mind that
film projectors are still the dominant projection system in
theatres today and that shooting on digital may not always
seem to be the easier way at the end of the day.

Kulwant Rajwans graduated in Film Studies from Ryerson
University in Toronto, Canada. He formed his own production
company and has directed numerous short films and TV
Commercials. He is currently in pre-production on his next
film expected to be completed fall 2006. Kulwant can be
contacted at:

10. FEATURE ARTICLE - Importance of Securing Chain of Title

"The Importance of Securing Chain of Title"

By Jindra Rajwans, B.A. (Hons.), M.A., LL.B., M.B.A., LL.M.

NOTE: The information in this article is not intended to be

legal advice and is of a general nature. Consult a lawyer
for advice for any specific situation.

Professionals in the film industry, especially writers and

producers will hear about a concept called "chain of title",
if they have not already heard about it. Chain of title
refers to the succession of title of ownership of copyright
back to the original owner.
When an idea for a film is formulated in writing by an
author who is not an employee or who has not by contract
negotiated away his or her copyright in the respective work,
that person is generally considered the original author and
owner of the copyright in that work.

As the old adage goes, copyright does not exist in an idea

itself. Rather, in Canada and the United States (and most
other jurisdictions in the world), copyright protection
exists for works in tangible form. It is the expression of
the idea rather than the idea itself that is subject to
copyright protection. In other words, the idea has to be
"fixed" in material form.

For a literary work such as a screenplay, copyright protects

it or any substantial part of it in any material form from
being, among other things, produced, reproduced,
distributed, published, translated, adapted, made into a
film, or communicated to public by telecommunication without
the permission of the author.

Now, screenplays oftentimes start out with an idea and then

a treatment or synopsis is derived from such treatment.
Alternatively, some screenplays are derived from novels or
stage plays. In cases where a screenplay is derived from a
treatment, the first thing to note is that the screenplay is
a derivative work of the treatment, and as such, the
treatment is the first element in the chain of title.
Without the permission of the author of the treatment to
create a screenplay based on it, the chain of title would be
broken, so to speak. Moreover, the screenplay is oftentimes
a joint effort among more than one author, therefore, the
producer who wishes to use the screenplay may likely have to
obtain the appropriate rights from all those joint-authors
who contributed to that screenplay.

If there is a possibility that a producer believes that a

specific third party may have some rights in the screenplay,
then the producer may want to take precautions by having the
third party execute a quitclaim or other similar document
that effectively establishes that the third party has no
interest in the screenplay.
To ensure that the producer fully owns the film, the
producer will also have to secure all the necessary rights
from everyone involved in the production so that chain of
title of the film itself, is intact. Agreements with the
director, actors, cinematographer and everyone else involved
in the production will have to be executed.

The most significant reason why producers want to keep an

eye on the chain of title is to ensure that they can secure
distribution. Distributors will want the producer to ensure
that all rights to the film have been secured, and they will
require the producer to make certain representations and
warranties in regards to the ownership of the film.

For example, the distributor will likely require the

producer to represent and warrant that the film does not
violate or infringe, among other things, any agreement with
any third party, trade-mark, trade name, copyright, moral
right, patent, literary right, dramatic right, and rights of
privacy and publicity. If any of these representations and
warranties turns out to be untrue, the producer will usually
have to indemnify and hold harmless the distributor for any
breach of the respective representations, warranties and any
covenants under the distribution agreement.

Prior to making a film, it would be prudent for a producer

to make himself or herself aware of the kinds of agreements
required to secure chain of title of the film, and a lawyer
oftentimes can provide valuable assistance with these
matters. Although there is an upfront cost and time to
properly secure chain of title, the cost of not doing so can
ultimately be much greater as the chances of entering into a
distribution deal may be jeopardized

10. FEATURE ARTICLE - Producing Films for the Internet

"Producing Films for the Internet" by Billy Schwarz.

Hello my name is Billy Schwarz and I am the Executive
Producer for High Tec Productions. Before I get into
producing a film for the internet let me give your some
background on myself and High Tec Productions. When I
started 7 years ago, I didn't know which end of the camera
to point. My expertise is in computer engineering. My wife
Carol is a writer, she writes educational material. "Spanish
for Mission Trips", "Spanish for Newcomers", "El/Civics",
"English Right Now". She can spell!

First we started with the audio for "Spanish for Mission

Trips" using an 8 bit sound card and a 486 I recorded the
audio, edited it with a program call sound studio that came
with the sound card. In 1998 we purchased an old seed
warehouse in Mercedes, Texas and built the audio recording
studio. In 1999, purchasing a Canon XL1, we started out
making music videos and mixing them on CD-ROMs that played
on computers.

The first internet web site which is still operational was

"". Video was still not very good because
most people had dialup but we did encode some at 56kbs, they
were blurry and played in a very small screen.

So much for that. Lets get into what it takes to produce a

good video for the internet. Like any movie you make, first
you will need a script, you will need good audio. All the basics.

Video cameras shoot at 30 frames per second which give a

smooth action. The problem is that when you encode for the
internet your frames per second drop to 20. You have just
lost 1/3 of the frames. It doesn't matter if you are
encoding for streaming video or download.

Lets look at the difference between streaming video and

download. Streaming video requires a streaming server such
as the Real Audio Helix server. This allows your movie to
be shown on the computer screen as it comes in. The speed
of your stream determines the quality of the video. I used
this method at first thinking the stream would allow my
customers a better quality. I soon found that the stream
would breakdown and cause buffering as the bandwidth opened and closed.
We now encode all our video for download, using a 3 second
buffer before playing starts. The technology allows
downloading and playing at the same time. We encode at 240
kbs this gives a good quality video and allows the viewer
who has a limited bandwidth, lower DSL to get the quality
without the buffering.

In our "EL/Civics" course the 3 videos are 20 to 30 minutes

in length, they will play on a DSL line with no buffering,
blurring. There is a video on, it is
a tour of the City of Brownville Texas, and it was filmed on
location, with real people and no actors. The camera was
our Canon XL1 shooting at 24 fps. Edited with Adobe
Premiere and encoded for download play with the Microsoft
Windows Media Player 9.

Want a good quality movie for the internet?

1. Use good production and directing

2. Make sure that your movie plays smooth when played over
the internet. (encode for max viewers)

3. Shoot your video at 24 frames per second, this way you

only loose 4 fps after encoding.

4. Make sure that your movie starts within 17 seconds from

the time the viewer clicks the start button.

5. You video must start clear and end clear; sometimes

internet videos will start blurry and clear up as they
progress. If your attention-getter is blurry you have lost the viewer.

The internet is a new media. Internet commercials, movies

and documentaries are just beginning. There are many
internet TV stations now. High Tec Productions is producing
Worship services in Spanish for First Baptist Church Santa
Maria, Texas. These will be used by other churches as
worship services for there Hispanic outreach.
Thank you for your time

Billy Schwarz
Executive Producer High Tec Productions


"INDIE Financing" by Wolfgang Wagenknecht

The holy grail of INDIE movie making has always been

financing because without money "nothing goes". So how
should one do it? What I am talking about in this article
are INDIE productions with up $2.5 million dollar budgets,
please keep that in mind.

First, and that may disappoint some of you, there is no one

hard and fast rule, unless you live e.g. in Europe where
Governments have grants and will fund low budget movies.

There are a few considerations when undertaking the stormy

waters seeking money from private investors for your
production. When I made my first feature film I started out
with nothing but my script and the burning desire to get it

We had my friend to produce, we had a reputable Line

Producer, myself to direct, and the "package". With that we
started to contact people we knew, or have been told, wanted
to invest into an INDIE movie. It was a trial and error
process and sometimes frustrating, but eventually we found
our two investors and the production was financed within a
couple weeks. What did we learn, and what should you do
before approaching a serious investor:
It all starts with the script, a solid professional package,
your team, and talent attachments if you have any. The more
you have done your home work on the package the easier it
will be for an investor or production company to say "yes."

Try to surround yourself with more experienced people and

create momentum "positive energy". Have your production
attorney available to take calls from investors if needed,
he is one more piece in the puzzle to make investors feel
comfortable if they want to talk to him. The key word here
is to anticipate, and be ready for what investors might ask
from you. Make a check list prior a meeting so you wont get
"caught with your pants down". You only have one shot, first
impressions count. Be over prepared and know about the movie
business so you can talk with confidence.

Your goal must be to make the investor(s) feel comfortable

to entrust you with their money!

Don't talk art and artists fighting the evil powers of

commerce. Talk dollars and sense. Network and find out who
might be a potential investor(s) and pursue the leads. Many
of them will turn out not to come through. It's a numbers
game, read up on the the "Colonel Sanders story". Always
have a package ready to send out, or show if needed, "strike
the iron when it's hot".

Be professional when meeting a potential investor, remember,

for them it's in investment opportunity, they are looking
for a safe and reasonable ROI, you are using other peoples
money. Investors lend you money to make more money, simple
as that. Be conservative when you give projections and let them know.

Be realistic when budgeting, meaning, the script must fit

the budget. Always be conservative. There is nothing worse
to find out later that the budget doesn't fit the script and
you need to go back to your investor.

If you are a first time director be polite and patient with

investors asking you questions, some may want to replace
you, stand your ground, and don't get discouraged...
preservere. You are being entrusted with a lot of money and
investors have the right to bombard you with questions
5. FEATURE ARTICLE - DVD Replication for Dummies

"DVD Replication for Dummies: 4 Easy Steps to Professional

DVD Replication" by Morris Anderson

Every avid independent filmmaker has dreamed about making

that special interest documentary, or short film to show off
their creative prowess. Many have great ideas and want to
'wow' the film-festival scene, or video renters with their big project.

But once you have the film 'in the can' (no easy feat), how
do you move from a couple of master DVDs with the 'Sharpie'
marked hand-written title inside a secondhand CD case, to a
pile of cardboard boxes full of shiny new, retail-ready
DVDs, with UPC barcodes and polywrap sitting on your doorstep?

You need to create eye-popping artwork and have your project

replicated. Using a reputable full service DVD Replication
company like PacificDisc, Inc. to partner with is certainly
a helpful option to ensure a professional end result, but to
help with your DVD replication project, here are 4 easy
steps to follow for good DVD replication results:

1. Prepare your DVD master - To ensure the replication

company can read your master, you either need to create a
DVD-R master, or output your project to a DLT (Digital
Linear Tape). DLT has been around for years and used to be
the only way to replicate. Thankfully DVD-R technology has
advanced so much over the past few years, that a pair of
DVD-R masters are normally all that is required when working
on a standard DVD5 project. Why a pair? Just in case one of
the masters gets damaged in transit, you don‚t waste time
looking for another good master.

2. Create your artwork - You'll need to design artwork for the

DVD face, the outside of the case (commonly called a wrap)
and, if desired an insert for the inside of the case
(postcard, or booklet). All CD or DVD Replication companies
will have templates on their websites that you can download
and use to assist in layout of your art. Just make sure you
download the correct template for your project, as there are
many variables and you won't want to waste time with the wrong layout.
While on the subject of artwork, it's important to mention
that you need to decide if your project needs a barcode
(commonly called a UPC, or the black and white dashes inside
a box on many products). If your DVD will be sold through
retailers, you should have a UPC issued, as many retailers
won't stock an item without one.

3. Find a DVD replication partner - Although there are

literally dozens of DVD replication companies out there
(just type 'dvd replication company' into your favorite
search engine) not all DVD Replication companies are created
equal. You'll see all kinds of pricing models that will do
an excellent job of confusing the heck out of you.

Instead, look for a partner who offers good pricing and tries
to simplify the process. Make sure you are comparing the
same thing when shopping around and watch out for hidden
extras, like overage (where the replication company makes an
extra bunch of discs and then expects you to pay for the
extras). Watch out for setup fees, glass mastering fees,
extra costs for offset printed discs, extra costs for
3-color vs. 5-color artwork.

A little homework up front will ensure your DVDs look great

when they arrive and you aren't left with the feeling of
being cheated, or have crappy looking discs that nobody will want to buy.

4. Approve check discs and artwork proofs - Once you have

found the DVD replication company, you will be asked to send
in your masters, artwork and cash. Most replicators want
their money upfront, as they start burning materials as soon
as the project lands. Within a few days of delivering your
masters, you should see either email proofs of your artwork
(simple digital prints (PDFs) showing you how your art
elements will line up when printed. If you ordered a hard
proof, the DVD replication company will ship you a print
proof printed from the actual printing press earmarked to
print your job. With a hard proof, you know exactly what
you're getting before you print hundreds of them. If you
request a check disc, you'll get a small number of 'silver
discs' to ensure your project has come through the DVD-R (or
DLT) master to 'glass' master process successfully.
Assuming everything checks out, and you send back your
approvals, within a couple of weeks, you should hear the
beep-beep-beep of the FedEx truck backing up your driveway.
After a quick signature, you should be the proud owner of a
pile of cardboard boxes filled with shiny DVDs -- your DVDs!

Morris Anderson is the co-Founder and CEO of PacificDisc
Inc. - a smaller, more boutique replication company that
specializes in helping first-timers through the CD or DVD
replication process. Morris has over 20 years experience in
the production field, having run three Television stations
and an Independent Production Film company, prior to
founding PacificDisc, Inc. To learn more about CD or DVD
Replication or to partner with a first-rate DVD Replication
company, visit

5. FEATURE ARTICLE - Good Inexpensive Production Music

"Music and Television Programming: Good Inexpensive

Production Music" by Michael Sweeney

Television has taken on an entirely new look and feel, even

in the past decade. What was once an industry based on three
major networks with very limited programs in the 1950's has
erupted into many major networks and thousands of cable
channels available throughout the world in every imaginable
language. Television has truly become a three-dimensional
experience for producers, directors, project coordinators
and other professionals in the industry, not to mention a
multi-dimensional experience for viewers. With a variety of
genres and styles of programming available, from news
programs and specials to different types and lengths of
commercials, sit-coms, dramas, reality programs, game shows
and countless others, being someone involved in television
production is both wrought with opportunity and teeming with challenges.

Finding inexpensive background music and production music

for television programs can be much more difficult than
finding it for other types of media projects because the
medium is so diversified and so societally pervasive. As a
director or producer of television programs looking for
ear-catching television music for your show, you have to be
very cognizant of not only your target audience, but also
what you are up against in your allotted time slot.
Sometimes whether a show succeeds or fails has nothing to do
with its quality. Success in television programming has more
to do with what you are up against and the time and day your
program airs. If you are producing a talk show, for example,
you might be on at the same time as more than five or ten
other talk shows. Or your program might conversely be when
no other talk shows are on television, but at a time when
typically people are more likely to watch news programs,
Sit-coms or other types of programming.

Still, choosing the right television music can certainly

help you make the most out of your particular project.
Again, because of the diverse nature of television, there
are many different types of production music and background
music to choose from. There is music for commercials, music
for dramas, music for news programs and specials, music for
sit-coms and many others. As a producer of a television
show, you probably also will have to consider how your music
will blend in with the music of commercials that might air
during your broadcast. Because the line between commercials
and programming has been blurred, starting in the 1960's
commercials have become an integral part of all television
shows, sometimes not only on network television but also on
cable television. Before the mid-1960's, commercials used to
have to be signaled in all television programs by an
announcement that they would begin. Similarly, announcers
were responsible for signaling the return of the regular
program. Now, there is not always any clear sign where the
show ends and the commercial begins or vice versa. It's all
about the timing.

Because Copyright Law has become stricter to account for the

proliferation of diverse recorded music, finding and
affording production music and background music for
television programming has been further complicated. Before
the 1980s, music in commercials and even on many television
programs was limited to jingles and transitional music, most
of which was instrumental or with very brief and simple
vocals. Occasionally lyrics to popular music would be
changed to fit a particular product or the theme for a show,
a phenomenon that would not work easily or cheaply under
today's copyright standards, and didn't come inexpensively
then either. Still, while some pop and rock songs were
re-recorded for television programs and commercials, the
cost of licensing original recordings was very daunting
until the late 1980s when it became more doable.

Today commercials use many popular songs as background music

and production music, and many programs, particularly those
geared towards young people use popular music regularly in
an effort to promote burgeoning music groups. Television has
become such a cultural phenomenon and a showcase for music
that many shows, including "Dawson's Creek" and "The O.C."
have even gone on to put out music compilations based on
music heard in episodes of the show throughout specific
seasons. Previously, songs were often used without artist
consent, but thanks to stricter Copyright Law this is no
longer a possibility. Still, most artists are willing to
accept often high payment for use of their songs in popular
television programs and enjoy the exposure they get as a
result to very specific markets made up of people that will
buy music they make in the future.

Using popular music in television programs and commercials

can be incredibly expensive for the typical producer and
director. Whether your show is a hit with a large budget, or
a smaller show just starting out, you want to make an impact
musically at minimal cost, as there are so many other
elements to consider in the production of television
projects. Fees for use of popular music can total thousands
of dollars, and when you multiply that by how often you will
probably use songs as themes, production music, background
music and other incidental elements, the numbers can add up
quickly. But, even though you want to save money on
television music, you certainly don't want to skimp on quality.

What are your options when it comes to production music and

background music for your television projects if you want to
build a collection inexpensively and still honor the spirit of your project?

As a producer or director of television programs, you most

likely travel in circles of artists and musicians. You might
know some good composers or bands, or people you know might
know some that would be happy to help with music for your
project. Because of the almost culturally invasive nature of
television, most struggling musicians or composers would not
object to helping you out with your project in exchange for
exposure and the chance to work on something beyond the
norm. Many bands have been launched when their song was
chosen as a theme song for a television series, and many
composers have broken into the film, television and music
industry after working on scores for television programs.

Finding under-appreciated talent in your network is a good

option and often one that could help get you a deal on
production music or background music, but it is by no means
a simple solution, nor one that is long-term. If your show
is a hit, or your theme song or the band that sings it is a
hit, you will be morally, if not legally obligated to pay
more for the music you are using. This either leads to the
same problem you had before of expensive music or back to
square one, looking for inexpensive television music.

Another option for inexpensive production music, and one

that more producers and directors are choosing every day, is
royalty free music provided by reputable music companies.
Choosing royalty free music
( allows you
access to a catalog of music in varying styles and can be
downloaded directly from a centralized royalty free music
company website online. Well-known companies such as Royalty
Free give you music libraries with songs you can
add permanently to a collection. This means you can build
your own store of production music and use it in present and
future projects. And because of the nature of the music, you
just pay a very low upfront fee to satisfy all aspects of Copyright Law.

Television production gets more complex as time and

technology progresses, but directors and producers will
never lose the ability to control what production music and
background music fits best with their projects. Television
music is critical to keeping a program or a commercial at
the top of its game, and helps communicate important themes
to viewers. As a producer, director or project coordinator,
the musical choices you make are some of the most important decisions.

Michael is an Expert Author. You can read
more film articles by Michael at

7. FEATURE ARTICLE - Filmmaking and Directing in Jordan

Written by: Sandra Kawar Samain

Director/Producer from Jordan

Introduction :

Hello all, let me take this opportunity to say Merry

Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you. May this year be
full of joy and blessings for all.

And I would like to take this opportunity to put Jordan in

the spotlight in filmmaking and directing.

Filmmaking & Directing in Jordan :

Now a days, we're witnessing the birth of digital filmmaking in Jordan.

In the past, filmmaking needed heavy cameras, expensive film

stock and huge budgets for crew, editing, production and distribution.

But for aspiring filmmakers, changes in video and technology

are making it possible to experiment with making movies
without having Hollywood budgets.

Recently, the media industry in Jordan has adapted to the

technology in high standard ways.

Filmmaking has always been a marginal activity at best. The

video production industry started to develop, but never
really broke out of the local and Arab markets for drama
series and some documentaries.

Riding the wave of the technological revolution that is

transforming filmmaking in the world might open an
opportunity for aspiring Jordanian filmmakers and Directors
to experiment and create films that could attract a local
and eventually an International following. The Internet is
also changing the rules of film distribution and promotion,
enabling filmmakers to reach potential buyers more easily.

The television standard here in Jordan is PAL.

Considering the high standards that are growing up in

Jordan, many films have taken place here because of its
fabulous history and marvelous locations.

Here in Jordan we have many locations that get world wide

filmmakers to shoot their movies in Jordan. The geographical
places in Jordan are variable such as: Sea, Desert, Green
Areas, Historical Places..etc, and that helps a lot to
consider Jordan as a place to shoot their movies.

In Jordan we have many creative people that are waiting for

the chance to come to blow their creativity on these
projects (films). By the way, I'm one of them. I'm waiting
for this chance to come, and I have a chance to become a
director for a cinema movie.

As a director and producer, I usually research through the

Internet…etc, to keep following up the technology in this
field that I love (Directing & Filmmaking). It really helps
a lot and you keep learning and learning….

In my thoughts, there is no one on this planet who knows

everything, especially in our field. Some tools, equipment,
and tricks change from time to time so we have to keep
updating our knowledge and information from time to time,
because a man dies in a time he's still learning things.
Take it as advise from me.

There are many ways to keep updating your knowledge,

especially in filmmaking and directing, such as:

- On-line references
- Film reference books
- Biographical books
- Articles about director
- Collection of film criticism
- Watching latest movies
- Workshops and seminars…etc.

We all know that the director is a story teller, but he/she

tells the story in a different way. Each director has
his/her own style, to translate from letters and alphabets,
into visual scenes.

Each director must have his/her own techniques, some

directors follow the tricks, some of them concentrate on
nice locations (nice shots)…etc.

In my opinion, the director must develop his/her techniques

to reflect his/her creation.

The director has to train his/her mind, to let his/her mind

blow its creativity and live the project, to understand it,
and to reflect it to the audience.

Always work on a concept, without a concept, the result will be nonsense.

I don't want to make this article longer for you, so if you

want any information or inquiries, please don't hesitate to
contact me anytime at:

I'll be more than happy to share my experience with you.

Kindest regards,
Sandra Kawar Samain
Producer-Director/ Jordan


"Music Rights in Film (Part 1): Using Pre-recorded Music in

Films" by Jindra Rajwans, Business & Entertainment Lawyer

NOTE: The information contained in this article is of a

general nature and not intended to be legal advice. Consult
a lawyer for advice for any specific situation.
Music Rights in Film (Part 1): Using Pre-recorded Music in Films

Filmmakers and producers who wish to use pre-recorded music

in their films must first secure the appropriate rights from
the copyright owner of the music. The first important point
that needs to be understood by a producer is that two
separate copyrights exist in the music. One copyright
exists in the written musical composition itself, which
usually is a combination of both lyrics and music or melody.
The other copyright exists in the sound recording that
embodies the written musical composition. The second
important consideration for the producer is that generally,
different parties may own these two existing copyrights.

Typically, a music publisher will own the copyright in the

written musical composition, and a record label (now CD
label) will own the copyright in the sound recording that
embodies the written musical composition. Music publishers
(which are often affiliates of the label that own the sound
recording of the music) will hold the copyright in the
written sound composition for the purposes of administrating
the performance rights of the songwriter(s). Accordingly,
licenses will have to be secured from both the copyright
owner of the sound recording and the copyright owner of the composition.

Three kinds of licenses need to be secured to use the music

as part of a motion picture that is going to be exhibited
either in theatres, on television, or to the public using
other exhibition vehicles such as the Internet. One license
that is required from the copyright owner of the musical
composition is called a "synchronization license" whereby
the copyright owner(s) grants a license to the producer to
use the musical composition with the visual images or motion
picture. The reason why the license is called a
synchronization license is because the producer is coupling
or adding the music with visual images, or in other words,
the music is being used in "timed relation" or "synched"
with the visual images.

Another license that must be secured from the owner of the

sound recording that embodies the musical composition is a
“master use license”. In the master use license, the
copyright owner of the sound recording is in essence
granting the producer the right to use and to reproduce, in
whole or in part, the recording of the song in the film.

The last kind of license that needs to be secured is a

"performance license" because when the music is being played
in theatres or on the television while part of a film, it is
now being publicly performed. Although, a performance
rights license is usually obtained from organizations known
as performance rights organizations (PROs), such as SOCAN in
Canada or ASCAP and BMI in the United States, a prudent
producer should still verify that all necessary performance
rights have been secured.

Jindra Rajwans is a business and entertainment lawyer in
Toronto, Canada. The entertainment area of his practice
focuses on providing legal services to writers, directors,
producers, actors, musicians or other professionals, and
companies in the entertainment industry.
6. FEATURE ARTICLE - Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms

"Your First Draft: Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms" by Michael Adams

I met a friend a while back whom I hadn't seen for some

time. We caught up and regaled each other with our
respective screenwriting adventures. I guess mine sounded a
bit better because he ended up asking me to take a look at
his latest effort and giving him my thoughts on a rewrite. I
said, "Sure send it over". He asked me what paradigm I
wrote with. I said, "Whatever works". 'Oh" he said, "I use
the Vogler Paradigm" disappointed in my lack of commitment
to what he considered were the 10 commandments of screenwriting.

Now, I've read Christopher Vogler's book, THE WRITER'S

JOURNEY, and I think it's a terrific piece of work. So is
Syd Field's SCREENPLAY and Robert Mckee's STORY, but I don't
recall any of those books, or any of the other insightful
books on screenwriting available and worth their price in
salt, gold or rap video bling, ever promising me that if I
followed their formula to the letter I would become a
successfully produced screenwriter.

I've also read uncountable numbers of interviews with

successful screenwriters who unvaryingly admit that if they
do commit to a certain story structure or paradigm, it isn't
until the most important creative task, the first draft, is
done. After the first draft is complete, if a particular
style or story structure is formally considered, it is the
needs of the story that dictates what structure is chosen.
The creative process is MORE IMPORTANT than any structure,
formula or paradigm. You wouldn't create a story within a
certain structure anymore than you would choreograph a dance
in a phone booth.

Can't put it any simpler than that.

The Jan/Feb 2007 issue of SCRIPT magazine has, among other

excellent articles, a wonderful piece by Michael Arndt,
screenwriter of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. When asked what
advice he would give to aspiring screenwriters, Arndt's
reply was one of the most realistic and eloquent I've heard.
He related a series of studies that were done to
differentiate between good professionals and great ones.
These studies applied to all types of professionals,
including writers. The results boiled down to this key
difference between good and great - 10,000 hours.

10,000 hours of dedicated study, practical application and

executing your craft; the equivalent of 4 hours a day, 5
days a week for 10 years. That sounds about right. It took
me about eight years and ten screenplays before I really
started liking anything I wrote. And I think if we take a
look at the so-called 'overnight successes', a substantial
history of learning and doing would be revealed.

So now what? How does that relate to breaking free of

structure paradigms? Do we just toss out all the books and
structure theory? Do we stop writing screenplays and study
for the next ten years?

Not on your life. If anything, write more and study harder.

Stay hungry for the knowledge that helps you improve your craft.

Vogler, Field, McKee and many other excellent mentors

including Michael Hague, William Froug and Pilar Alessandra
have done their 10,000 hours, and then some. Why wouldn't
we want to benefit from their knowledge and experience?

The question that follows then is not, "WHAT structure

paradigm should I write my screenplay with?" but "WHEN
should I apply structure theory to my screenplay?"

The simple answer is - after your first draft.

The more complex answer is, all the time, but, as a

conscious effort - after your first draft.

Okay, so how does that work?

Let's agree on a couple of things; first, we never stop

learning, and second, directed or focused learning is more
effective than a laissez-faire approach. If we incorporate
dedicated effort to learning story structure, not just one
but all of the paradigms, studying the work of great and
successful screenwriters, analyzing scripts and taking note
of script to screen transitions, we will find that as we
write our own stuff, we have to think less about formal
structure and we'll be able to concentrate solely on the creative flow.

The Buddhist concept 'satori' or sudden enlightenment has a

practical application - to act without thinking. One can
achieve satori by practicing the basic tenants of something
over and over to the point where, when required to act,
rather than thinking then acting, one acts without thinking.
So then, as we write, we're aware of story theory without
having to stop and think about it. This is pure creativity.

When you write your first draft, forget about structure.

Forgetting about structure and theory liberates your
creativity. You want your first draft to be all about that
one resonant emotional chord that inspired you to write the
story in the first place. Write from your heart and soul.
Take your character on a journey that moves you. You can't
do that if you’re stopping to think, "Oh, I've got to have a
plot point on this page!"

Your first draft is the place where you get to break all the
rules. If it helps you, don't bother writing it in script
format. Write in any format you like as long as the format
allows you the utmost freedom to create. Eventually, you'll
become so adept at writing in script format anyway; it will
become the format that unleashes your creativity most effectively.

After your first draft, do a rewrite dedicated to story and

structure analysis. You may find that you don't want to
change a thing, you've broken all the rules and you still
have a compelling, resonant, fulfilling story. Fantastic;
move on to looking at your characters. But if you see holes
in your story, if the emotional journey of your lead
character isn't resonating a strongly as it could, if the
impact of your story could benefit from changing or adding
plot points or using a different time structure, do that now.

By adjusting your story in the first rewrite, until it truly

resonates with you, you've laid the foundation to work on
all the other elements in your story. You wouldn't want to
do a rewrite pass on the relationships between your
characters without having the architecture of your lead
character's emotional journey laid out.

So after all this, how do we ultimately break free of

structural paradigms? We embrace them.

We learn so that we can forget. We forget - so that we can

do. This is breaking free - this is creativity.

Michael Adams is a screen writer and script consultant who
lives in Vancouver, Canada. He has been writing for 12 years
and has written or co-written 19 feature length screenplays.

He has also been consulting for 8 years. Michael's clients

range from producers looking for new material or a complete
rewrite on an existing project, to new writers looking for
help with their first script.

Producers and directors who are looking for new scripts or

help with an existing project can reach Michael by email at
5. FEATURE ARTICLE - A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors

"A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors" - by Rob Young

In my 35 or so years working in sound for films I have

worked for many directors, the good, the bad and the ugly
but probably the most memorable were the six films with
veteran director George Schaefer. Two of these were with
Katherine Hepburn and one with Betty Davis but what made
these films memorable and unique where that all six of them
were 100% production sound. Not one word was looped and
every word was recorded on a practical location. How was
this possible? It can be summed up in one word:

It all starts in the initial interview were a good director

will be honest with the sound mixer and lay out his
priorities. Is sound important to him? Would he do another
take for sound? Of course this can all change when 'the
unstoppable snowball rolling down the hill' known as
production starts. I have actually worked on films with as
many as three directors before it was finished.

My first big American feature was 'First Blood'. I left the

interview with the producer with mixed feelings. Buzz
Feitchans, a veteran of several action films told me they
expected a good guide track. My only response was 'I have
never been hired to record a guide track and would really
like to try for good production sound.' I told no one that I
had been hired to record a guide track. Three weeks into
production Buzz came to me and said 'the post people love
your sound, forget what I said about a guide track'. I
should also point out that we had a wild but sound friendly

Step Two is the location survey. I have always attended the

location survey although I have been told that some
productions consider it a waste of money. If the sound mixer
can save one scene as a result of the survey his salary is
more than covered. A good director will include the mixer as
part of his film making team. If the location is perfect in
every way except for the road or river in the background,
consider including it in at least one angle to justify the
background sound. This simple shot could save looping a
perfectly acted scene that might be impossible to reproduce
four months later in a studio.

This is also the time to get to know your crew, the people
that will be supporting you for the next three months. It is
much better to get to know the key members of your crew in a
less stressful atmosphere than that of a busy film set.

The next step of course is production when fifty people are

asking you questions all day. The crew is watching the
director regarding his attitude toward things like sound. I
have noticed it time and again. If the director cares about
sound so will the crew. Sadly, the reverse is also true. If
the director says "we'll loop it" then it is not long before
the forth grip is repeating it as he drops equipment in the
middle of takes.

As director you have the power to control all of these

things. Remember you are the leader of the most efficient
form of government, a dictatorship. When training new people
one of the first things I tell them is 'the director is
always right even when he is wrong'.

I have not always followed my own advice regarding this. One

of my early mixing jobs was on an American movie of the
week. These were in the days when they always brought in a
sound mixer. The producer had looked at footage from a
series I had worked on to the check out the work of a local
camera operator. He didn't get the job but the producer
wanted to know who the sound mixer was.

During the interview he told me he was going out on a limb

by hiring me because the network wanted and American sound
mixer. The first week was in the bowels of Robson Square.
During the survey we were told that the people there would
need at least three to five minutes warning in order to shut
down the exhaust fans. The first day the 1st A.D. gave them
one minute warning and yelled roll. I refused to roll
thinking that I could not hand in such a noisy track. When
the noise stopped I rolled. This happened several times and
the 1st AD and the director were very annoyed. I thought my
first day was going to be my last day. At lunchtime the
producer who had gone out on the limb arrived and wanted to
talk to me. I was mentally packing up my equipment and
looking at unemployment. He took me aside and said 'I heard
about what happened this morning.' Pause. 'You did the right
thing. You are definitely going to finish this movie but
this director probably will not.' As it turned out we both
finished the movie and the director turned into a sound
friendly one.

If I could stress one thing to a director it would be this:

You have looked at the resumes, hired the best crew possible
so why not utilize their experience and skills during
shooting. Any suggestions from your team are made only to
give you a better film. Don't reject their ideas because you
didn't think of it first. You have enough to do, leave the
sound to the sound mixer. My personal theory is not to
bother the director with trivial things; most of these can
be worked out between departments. I only approach the
director when the problem is serious and it is something
only he can solve.

Let's look at a couple of these. First the multiple camera

situation. When I started in the business you know when we
rode to the set on Woolly Mammoths and not crew vans. In
those days the film was shot with one camera although a
second one would be brought in for big stunts, car crashes
etc. Today two or more cameras are the norm. Since it is
impossible to turn the clock back lets look at the best way
to shoot with two cameras. Having more than one camera means
a compromise in lighting, camera angle and sound quality.

Simply put, when a shot is too wide for a boom microphone

the mixer has to resort to radio microphones. When two
cameras are used as in a wide and tight radio mics are also
used. I find nothing more frustrating than the wide and
tight and then the next setup is one tight for the coverage.
Why not do the wide and then two tights? I have managed to
persuade several new directors to shoot with this method so
that their tight shots are big fat boom microphone tracks.
These close tracks can also be pulled and used over the wide
shots so the whole scene is beautiful rich seamless sound.

This is just one example of how a bit of communication can

give you have a much better soundtrack with no time lost. By
the way, George Schaefer would never use a second camera.

Rob Young C.A.S. is a veteran of over 35 years recording
sound for motion pictures. Starting in documentaries in the
early seventies he moved into feature and television sound
about 1975 working as a boom operator for American feature
films. As a production sound mixer Rob has worked with
directors such as Clint Eastwood, Edward Zwick, Sean Penn
and Bryan Singer. He as an Oscar nomination and two British
Academy Award nominations as well as one for the Genie
Awards, Cinema Audio Society and two MPSE Golden Reel
nominations. He is the subject of a one act play, 'The Sound
Man' which premiered in New York in 1999. Most of his work
is in Vancouver, Canada where he lives.

8. FEATURE ARTICLE - Hero's Journey (Complete, 106 Stages)


"The Hero's Journey (Complete, 106 Stages)" by Kal Bishop.

Beyond three and four act story structure, lies the Hero's Journey.

The Hero's Journey is the most usable story structure

consisting of at least 106 stages and the template for
successful contemporary stories, from Star Wars to Al Pacino
Scarface to The Incredibles to War of the Worlds to The
Dirty Dozen to Midnight Cowboy.

The Hero's Journey is a valuable template because:

a. It attempts to tap into unconscious expectations the

audience has regarding what a story is and how it should be told.

b. It gives the writer more structural elements than simply

three or four acts, plot points, mid point and so on.

c. Interpreted metaphorically and symbolically, it allows an

infinite number of varied stories to be created.

One (usually critical) stage of the journey is the

Supernatural Aid.
The Supernatural Aid encompasses the Meeting with a Mentor
as well as the receiving of Magical Potions or Gifts.
Writers often mistakenly believe that this is a
straightforward affair.

Often the Hero has left his Ordinary World knowing that he
has broken an Interdiction. As such, it is not unusual to
find that the Journey to the Mentor takes place at night and in haste.

Even though the Hero may want to embark on the adventure, it

is not unusual that there is resistance to it (expanded upon
in the Refusal). Therefore, the Hero is often pulled into
the adventure. The Pull can be the result of a number of
factors - a death, an event, the lead of an ally and so on.

The Hero will know that the Journey to the Mentor is

dangerous and will be wary. There may be natural or man-made
obstacles and dangers. Thus this is also a reason for haste.

The Hero may undergo a near death experience on the way, and
may be saved by the Mentor – who may use his own magical
powers. This demonstrates the superior nature of the Mentor
and the status relationship between them.

The Mentor will seem to know the Hero, as if privy to some insight.

Wary of danger, the Mentor will take the Hero to a Safe

Place, where a meeting between then will take place. This is
a Sacred Meeting and others will recognise this and make
themselves absent.

The Hero will relate the Call to Adventure and the Mentor
will intuitively understand it (and may have had previous
experience of it) and likely encourage the Hero to embark on it.

The Mentor will be familiar with the Hero's history and

relate it to him, which up to now has been a mystery to him.
It will seem as if the Hero is destined for the adventure
and following in the footsteps of ancestors or blood relatives.

The Mentor will provide Magical Potions, Gifts and Spiritual

Guidance to aid the Hero on his adventure. These will have
limitations – he will be warned not to misuse them.
There is much more…

The 106 stage Hero's Journey and other story structure

templates can be found at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Kal Bishop is a management consultant
based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media
and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and
Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and
innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco,
Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays.
He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on

9. FEATURE ARTICLE - Art as Business or Hobby


"Art as Business or Hobby – It's Your Choice" by Miata Edoga

Many people dream of artistic success. Whether you are an

actor, painter, musician, sculptor or singer, you want to
make your living (and more) doing what you love. But many
people run their artistic careers like hobbies, and then
wonder when they don't get the results they desire...

You are an artist. You may be an actor, a painter, or a

writer, but you are an artist. And of course, you are
running a business. Or is it a hobby? The biggest question
of all is – do you know the difference? Think about what
makes a business a business. Think of how a big company
runs things. They have a business bank account and business
credit cards, they keep records of all business expenses,
they keep records of all sales, they pay all their expenses
from their business bank account, and they know when they
have made money (a profit) and how much. And you would
certainly never see the CEO going out and buying printer
supplies from his or her personal bank account.

You need to ask yourself, do you run your business like

this. If the answer is no, then you are not running a
business. If the answer is no, then what you are doing is
merely engaging in a hobby, and it may be an expensive one.
You might be saying, "But I’m no accountant, I'm an actor."
True. However, as painful as it may be, you can learn to
keep proper track of your business finances and keep them
separate from your personal finances.

At Abundance Bound, Inc, one of the first things we discuss

with our clients is their financial starting point, because
you need to know from where you are starting in order to
know how to get to where you want to go. Having an accurate
"snapshot" of your finances as they are is essential as you
begin the wealth-building process, and it also allows you to
truly see how much, where, and on what your money is going.

NOTE: If you would like assistance with this, email and put "Chart of Expenses"
in the subject line. We will send you an Excel chart that
allows you to track your monthly income and provides an
extremely detailed list of possible expenses to help you
remember all of the different ways you are currently
spending your money. There are also free tele-seminars that
will help make sense of this process. See AbundanceBound -
Financial Education and Planning for Actors and Artists for
details at:

The absolute most important thing to do for your business is

to separate all your personal income and expenses from your
business income and expenses. As we mentioned above, you
would not see the CEO of a Home Depot go out and buy
printing supplies from his or her personal account, and you
should not do this either. This means you need to have a
business bank account. If you do not, then all your income
and expenses are mixed together and it is far harder to keep
track of everything. You can easily start a DBA (Doing
Business As) which will allow you to qualify for a business
account (for more information visit

So, you have a personal account and a business account. Now

you place your personal earnings (your day job such as
waiting tables, tutoring, etc …) in your personal account
and you put your business earnings (acting jobs, work sold
to a publisher or at an art exhibition, etc …) in your
business bank account. Likewise, you would pay for all of
your personal expenses (rent, groceries, clothes, vacations,
etc …) out of your personal account and you would pay for
all of your business expenses (acting or art classes, head
shots, mileage to/from auditions, etc …) from your business account.

This is very straightforward. The thing is it is simple,

but not necessarily easy. First, it depends on how
organized a person you are and it depends on your desire to
do these things. The point is they can, and must, be done
if you are to run your artistic business truly as a
business. Right now, you may want to say, "STOP! I don’t
make enough money from my business to pay for all of my
business expenses." If this is the case, simply make a loan
from your personal account to your business account, and
make sure you record that loan. When the business becomes
profitable, it can then repay the loan. Be sure that it does.

You should also have a separate business credit card (even

if the card is in your personal name). You should only be
charging personal items to your personal credit card (and
hopefully you are paying off the balance every month) and
business expenses should only be charged to the card that
you have designated as your business credit card. This way,
if you are carrying a balance on your business credit card,
then the interest will be tax deductible. This is not
possible if there is even one personal expense on the card.

Now, what about those expenses that cross the line –

sometimes they are personal and sometimes they are business.
These are things such as mileage on your car or household
expenses if you work from home. For these expenses you must
keep very clear records of when and how much of your
expenses are personal vs. business. Keep a small book in
your car to record business mileage. Make sure you keep all
your household bills (mortgage/rent, phone, hydro, etc …)
filed away so that you can use them to determine what
portion you can write off as a business expense.

There are three reasons why it is important to treat your

business like a business and follow the suggestions above.
These are:

1. If your business is not run as such, you will never be

successful. And if you do not treat your business as a
business, you will never make a business income.
2. If you do not keep appropriate records, records that
clearly indicate you are running a business, then, if you
are audited, the IRS may classify your business as a hobby.
This could mean loss of tax deductions, and you may even
have to pay penalties. Worse, the IRS could go back through
previous years returns, and apply the same filter to your
deductions (we had a student who, before he started with us,
had this happen to happen to him. Needless to say, that was
not a happy day for him!). This is not what you need when
you are trying to make your business profitable.

3. You will be able to track the progress of your

business easily. You will be able to look back a year from
now and say, "Wow! My income went up by that much?" Or,
"Yes! I finally turned a profit this year!"

You can do this. Have faith in yourself and your business.

It will grow and you will be successful. Just remember to
keep the personal separate from the business and keep clear
records of the two. Then you can watch your business grow
and never look back.

Miata Edoga studied acting at Williams College, MA, and at
the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Five years ago
she realized that the only way to guarantee the career she
wanted was to do it herself, and so started educating
herself about finances. This led, two years ago, to the
formation of Abundance Bound, Inc,
a company who's mission is to develop a community of actors
able to pursue their financial goals free from the crushing
weight of financial stress.

8. FEATURE ARTICLE - What To Do Until The Money Arrives


"Filmmaking - What To Do Until The Money Arrives" by Angela Taylor

If you are not busy making your movie, you should get busy
making your movie. "How can I start," you whine, "when I
don't have any financing?" I know it seems you can't roll
film or tape until you have some money, but your lack of
funding isn't permanent, is it? You will have money at some
future time, won't you? You must have faith that things will
get better, or they won't. So that's a good place to start.

Generate a little faith, and step out on it. Actively

visualize how your film will look, and sound, and how it
will be financially successful. Visualization is key here.
It literally costs nothing, but makes the real movie possible.

I recommend the book, "Creative Visualization" by Shakti

Gawain. Ignore any negative people in
your life, and drive yourself on faith that your movie will get done.

Visualizing your movie may seem like a waste of time, but is

one of the best uses of your time. Visualizing your movie is
working on it. A present lack of money should never keep you
from working on your independent feature.

Besides visualization, there are many things you can do

until the money arrives. Work on your script. Read it, then
read it again, and rewrite it. Punch up the dialogue, fix
the scenes, weed out weak characters, get to the point of
each scene. Your script is never perfect, it needs work.
Working on it a terrific use of your time before financingarrives.

Have parties, where you and your friends read it aloud, just
like doing a radio play. Take note of audience response, and
revise accordingly. After each revision, read it again, and
again. When funding comes through, you will know your script
inside and out and upside down. You'll know the scene
numbers, without looking at the script.

Once your script is polished, start planning. Now you need

to be as artistic as possible. Read your script again, with
your Director hat on. Imagine what the players look and
sound like. Make notes in the margins of your script, and
figure out how you’re going to do it. For now, don't even
think about the money.

Once you're sure how the movie will go together, start

breaking the script down. Make lists of all the cast and
crew and props and costumes and locations that you will
need. Assemble your ideal team, on paper. Figure out how
many special effects shots there are. Then make up your
preliminary schedule.

Think through the shots and get a real understanding of how

long setups and shots will take. Just because a shot only
takes two sentences in the script, doesn't mean it will only
take twenty minutes to shoot.

Obviously, after you've broken down the script, and know

what you'll need to buy, then you make up your budget, last
of all. Really think about each line item and do some
research to determine realistic costs for crew and
equipment. Call labs and rental houses and get rate sheets.
The good news is a practical budget and schedule and artwork
will help you get financing. When you show Investor
Prospects you've really put some thought into how the money
will be spent, they're much more likely to see it your way,
and give you the money.

You might read "Secrets Of Raising Money For Your Movie," by

Sam Longoria, to learn how to gather and approach investor

You should be using your TBF (time before financing) to

network. When you call those labs and rental houses, get to
know the people who work there. Ask for names, and write
them down. They'll be good resources when the time comes, to
get things at a discount. Not only can they help you on
rates, but they'll know crew wanting to break into features,
who will also work at lower rates.

Join a filmmaking group. A good one is IndieTalk, It's online, and you can reach it from
anywhere. Networking with other positive filmmakers gets you
moral support, and you can learn from the mistakes of
others. Be selective, don't hang with people unless they
have a "can do" attitude. If you let them, individuals and
whole groups can waste your time! If all they want to do is
argue or debate, move along.

Pitch in! Help out on other filmmakers' shoots, to get a

better idea of how a set runs, and how long setups and shots
take. This helps scheduling your own film. By lending a hand
to other filmmakers, you also make deposits at the favor
bank. You will need to visit the favor bank repeatedly as
you make your film, so it's best to have an account there.
If you help on their projects, it will be hard for your new
filmmaker friends to deny you assistance, when you call.

Put your face before the industry. Filmmaking associations

have events where industry professionals speak. Go to these.
Be bold, and push through the minions and introduce
yourself. Go to film festivals and be sure to attend the
mixers and panels. Go to film markets, and sit in the lobby
and talk to everyone.

When your financing comes through, and you have a green

light to start pre-production on your film, you will already
have done most of the work, just about everything but
casting. Your schedule and budget will be done, you will
have leads on crew and equipment, and your script will be in top form.

About The Author Angela Taylor is a Hollywood producer, and
a seven-time Telly Award winner. She teaches Independent
Producing at © 2005 Angela
Taylor, All Rights Reserved.

8. FEATURE ARTICLE - Location Scouting Tips


"Location, Location, Location: Scouting Tips" by Scott Spears

Just like in real estate, when you leave the studio (if you
were ever in one) one of the biggest factors to a good
shoot, is location, location, location. I've been on many a
location scout and have seen some great location and so not
so great locations. One of the biggest things when seeing
what looks like a great location is you have to think will
it work logistically. The factors to locations are cost,
sound issues, power and logistics. We'll break those down in a minute.

First, who should be on the location scout? As many crew

people as possible, but it's not feasible to take the entire
crew to each location (unless you have a small crew), so you
need to pick department heads, the director,
cinematographer, 1st assistant director, art director, sound
mixer and production/location manager. I like to bring my
gaffer if possible. These people all look at locations in
different ways and will have different and valuable input.
When all these people aren't there, then somebody on the
scout should be looking out for them. Sometimes when it's
just me and the director out scouting, we both have to wear
different production hats and not just consider picture needs.


This is the easy one, either can afford the location or you
can't. A good producer might be able to wheel and deal a
better price. Sometimes you have to use some imagination
with a place that doesn't quite work, but is affordable.
This is where the director has to envision the shots he will
need. There’s a famous story from Akira Kurosawa when he was
asked how he achieved a "perfect" frame for a period film he
directed and he said, if I had panned to the right there was
a modern factory and if I panned to the left, there were
power lines, so the frame was set. I've been on scouts where
people have said the location wouldn't work because of some
factor, but after talking with the director, we realized
that element would never be on camera.


Here's a line I like to use on sound mixers (please sound

folks, don't take a offense, I’m joking), "they're called
motion pictures, not motion sounds." It usually gets the
riled up, but seriously, you have to not just look at a
location, you have to listen to it. Is it on a street with
heavy traffic? Is there construction nearby or the potential
of it? Is it in the path of an airport? Do a bunch of
college party kids live next door who will throw the world's
biggest, noisy-est party ever in the middle of your intimate
drama? If it’s a multi-story building, who lives upstairs?
Somebody who stomps around in combat boots? There are
hundreds of noise factors that can slow or grind your
production to a halt, so be on the lookout.

If you start to like a location and think it will be high on

your list, take a moment and stand silently. Listen for hums
and buzzes. Find out if they can be eliminated. You should
visit it again at a different time of day to make sure there
isn't some factor that changes. Say you visit an apartment
that looks perfect in the morning, but it sits above a bar
that at night cranks up the music, well that would be a
sound killer. Some smaller airports cut back on night
flights, but during the day your location will have a flight
overhead every two minute. In general, try to think when
you'll be shooting and seek out any sound factor which would
slow or halt shooting. Sometimes these things can come out
of nowhere and cannot be predicted, but you should do your homework.

(Here’s a side note: Refrigerators are the bane of sound

mixer's life, humming back to life in the middle of takes
thus ruining the sound, so the solution is to turn them off
during the shoot, but often times they don't get turned back
on after the shoot and the production gets a bill to replace
the spoiled contents. Here's a clever way to avoid that:
somebody is assigned be the last person to leave the
location, be that the A.D., location manager or a PA, they
should put their car keys in the fridge, that way when they
go to their car to leave and pat their pockets for the keys
they will remember they put them the fridge for a reason and
will have to return to the fridge and will remember to turn
it back on. This was taught to me by a wise Assistant
Director. I love tricks like this.)


A nightmare for gaffers is lack of power. If you need a

shaft of sunlight pouring through a window that is created
by lighting, not the sun, and production can't afford a
generator, then you need lots of power. Older buildings
should be given special inspections. I've shot in apartments
that had only two twenty amp circuits which means if you
plug in more than four lights, you’re going to start blowing
breakers. We ended up borrowing power from an apartment two
stories above and just dropped cables out the window to feed
our lights. Not ideal, but it worked. Does the place have
plenty of outlets? Where are the circuit breakers? You
should know where they are so if you blow a breaker you can
get at it to reset it. I've had hour-long production delays
because a fuse box was locked in a closet and nobody could
find a janitor to open it. Get to know whoever's in charge
of the keys to all the doors in a building and make them
your best friend.
(Another side note: Here's the Scott Spears lazy man math
formula for calculating power needs for lights. Say you want
to use three 1000 watts lights (1Ks for short) and a 500
watt light. You take the watts and add them up which makes
3500 watts, then you divide that by 100 (I know it should be
110, but that’s why I call it a lazy man formula) and that
will give you the amps you'll need, which in this case will
be 35 amps. Most houses have 20 amp breakers, so you'll need
at two dedicated breakers for your lights. Total watts/100=
amps needed. 3500/100=35)


Locations bring there own set of logistics, just like

people. There are a lot of things you don't think about as
you walk around a cool location lining up shots and thinking
how you'll use the space, but there's a lot more to a
location than that.

Where the heck are the cast, crew and equipment vehicles
going to park? A film production takes up a lot of space so
there better be parking. How do you get all the gear to the
location? Are there elevators or is the crew going have to
drag a ton of equipment up four flights of stairs? Exterior
locations have these same concerns. I’ve had to hike about a
mile uphill for a shoot with gear on my back and in each
hand which ain't fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Do
that six times to start and end your day and you’ll think
twice about that location.

Don't forget about changing rooms for cast and a make-up

area. Here's a biggie, are there enough bathrooms? Nothing
can get you booted from a location faster than to have 30
people trying to use one bathroom and to have the toilet overflow.

Now you and your stuff are on set, but where do you put
people and extra gear when they're not working? All the
grips and cast not on camera need someplace to hang out
while shooting is underway.

Do you have a place for the cast and crew to eat? Is there a
large space so everybody sit together and eat? That's a
great way to build camaraderie (as long as the food is good,
but that's a whole other topic.) If you don't feed people on
site, are there restaurants nearby. Be careful letting cast
and crew loose upon the world because they'll all come
staggering in a few minutes late with the excuse that the
waiters were slow or some other problem.

Some locations have special requirements, like no shoes,

cover the floors or be out at a certain time. Make sure
everybody respects these rules or you may be looking for a
new place. If a location throws on too many restrictions off
the bat, you may want to look elsewhere because once you're
there, life may get even worse with more rules and
complaints about even minor infractions.


Everybody hates paperwork, but make sure to release forms

signed well ahead of the time to shoot at your great new
location. If you wait until the last minute, like when you
have all your crew standing outside waiting to get to work,
then the owner my find some "unknown" reason for jacking up
he price, otherwise known as they've got you over the
barrel. Have proper forms and photo releases for the location.


I'll close by saying my rule is to try to leave a location

better than I found it. Don't leave a mess because
eventually that reputation will catch up to you and you’ll
start getting locked out of places.

Scott Spears is an Emmy Award winning Director of
Photography with 14 features under his belt. He's also
written several feature screenplays, some of which have been
made into movies. You can learn more about him at
8. FEATURE ARTICLE - Using the Internet to Find Funding for Your Film
"Using the Internet to Find Funding for Your Film"by Ryan Vinson

If you're an up-and-coming filmmaker, you don't have the big

coffers of studio money at your disposal like most
filmmakers in Hollywood. You know that you have to fight and
scrap for every cent you can get just to get your films
made, and even then, your budget is tight. That's why
finding the right investors can increase the success of your
film. One of the benefits of modern technology is the advent
of the internet, and it is proving to be helpful in more
ways every single day. Now, it's simple for filmmakers and
investors to come together online.

Web 2.0

There are several ways you can use the internet to your film
funding advantage. First, you can set up a social network to
solicit funding and private investments from friends and
family who support your work. With the advent of Web 2.0,
you can literally create your imprint on a social media
site, publicize your work and what you are trying to
accomplish, and draw people to it, including investors. Many
social media sites provide great networking tools that work
just like word-of-mouth advertising, only virtual. Plus you
can keep your investors and friends updated on your
progress, marketing and release of the finished product!

Lend Me a Hand (or Dollar)

If you would prefer to find someone a little less close to

home to fund your project, there are investors that you can
find through the internet yet another way – social lending
sites. These are sprouting up all over the place, and they
put those who need money with those who have it to invest.
You may never meet them face to face, but you can borrow the
money you need from many of these sites thanks to many
members who are willing and savvy investors. Such sites
include: Lending Club, Prosper, or Zopa. You can use Circle
Lending to help gather money from family and friends, or use
ChipIn or Fundable in order to solicit donations from fans
through your film’s website!

Grant Me This Wish

Finally, depending on the type of film and subject matter
you are focusing on, you could use the internet to research
and find grants available to you. There are, of course, the
well-known grants that everyone knows about (National
Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the
Arts, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation,
and the MacArthur Foundation). The problem is, everybody
knows about them!

Go for the smaller amounts of funding that are less sought

after. You can still put them together to create a large
amount if you approach this method wisely. There are also
organizations that offer sponsorships specifically for films
and documentaries, so there might be less competition with
these: International Documentary Association (IDA),
Independent Film Project (IFP), Film/Video Arts, Film Arts
Foundation, IMAGE Film and Video Center, Women Make Movies,
Film Forum, and Documentary Educational Resources.

Gaining funding for your filmmaking can be a tedious and

daunting task. But, thanks to the social networking and new
social integration brought about with Web 2.0 on the
internet, the task is getting a little easier each day!

Ryan Vinson is the founder of VersusMedia, a marketplace
that links independent filmmakers with musicians with the
common goal of obtaining music for films. The company has a
strong following in the independent film industry, and has
assisted over 900 films to date. For more information, visit

9. FEATURE ARTICLE - Shooting an Action Short on a Shoestring Budget.


"Shooting an Action Short on a Shoestring Budget" by Alfredo Quinones

Shooting a movie, whether it's a short or a feature, is no

easy task. Now, throw in the mix of "Action." Guns blazing,
fight choreography, falling, and so on. You, the filmmaker,
can be easily overwhelmed. So, my main advice to you is to
prepare, prepare, and prepare some more.
Your first task, of course, is to make sure your story takes
place in one location. Before writing your script, make a
list of things and places that you can get your hands on for
no money, i.e. location, props, fake blood, mats, elbow
pads, camera (preferable two), sound equipment, etc.

I know you've been told this many of times, but it's true.
Just like a horror movie where the villain chops up everyone
at the sleep away camp (one location), your hero is going to
beat them up, all at one location, like a bank or warehouse.

Keep your stunts simple. No fire burns, no high falls, and

no car chases. Just fighting, and basic falls. Now fashion
your story around everything you've begged and borrowed from.

Once you've secured your location visit it as many times as

you can. You may also have to rewrite your story to fit your
location. If you have a digital still camera, take as many
pictures from every angle where you feel you will be placing
your camera. These pictures will accompany your shot list as
a reference point. You will also use them when it comes time
to editing.

Now, for casting your short. If you ever have the

opportunity, take a class in stage combat. This is a great
place to network with people who know how to deliver a punch
and react to it in front of the camera - it's also a great
place to add a new skill, whether you're a director, writer, or actor.

Have your cast meet at a place where you can rehearse. If

any of them take classes in martial arts quite possibly they
can ask their instructor to use the dojo, if not, meet at
your local park and rehearse on the grass. Video the
rehearsal and study it. Come up with ideas on how you can
make the action exciting. Bear in mind, as a director you
must not only think of story and performance, but now you
have to think of safety. You don't want anyone getting hurt.

Once you have your cast and crew, now comes the daunting
task of trying to schedule everyone to show up at the
location. If anything, this is where you will pull your hair
and your patience will wear thin. Remember, you have these
people coming over to shoot your movie for free, so be nice.
In my case, by the time I had a commitment from everyone on
their available days, my location was going to be torn down
in one week - giving me only Friday night, Saturday, and a
Sunday to shoot. Lucky for me, I did my homework, and was
able to scale down my shot list, and I scheduled everything
to be done in that weekend.

Your first shots should be of all the action, the fighting,

the running and the shooting. You'll want to get all the
physical stuff out the way. This is where having two cameras
in your action movie comes in handy. Use one camera for your
master, the second one to catch all your medium shots and
close-ups. Leave dialogue for last. Don't go shooting a
fight scene then go shoot a dialogue scene. Actors/fighters
will have to go and clean up, and your scenes won't match
and you'll waste more time. I've worked on independents were
they have done that and all it’s done is extended everyone's day.

Now the most important thing you need to remember is that

you need to feed your crew. This is where your action movie
budget goes. So besides buying tape stock and some
expendables, you need to feed your crew, and feed them well.
Go to your local pizza shop or deli. If you did your
homework, you should know how long it's going to take you to
get everything in the can. Get a head count on your cast and
crew. Get a price on a six foot hero, and a tray of
whatever, most likely chicken. Trust me, no one will
complain. I had a five man crew, and if I included my cast
it would have been around more like twenty. They were all
helpful in carrying equipment to the next scene.

Now that you have your short in the can, there are two more
words besides "Action" and "Cut" that you should use for
your cast and crew, and that is "Please" and "Thank You."
Remember, they went out of their way to help you get your
short off the ground. And make sure when you're done cutting
it, that they are the first ones to get a copy.

To see my short "BUSTED," here is the link. Feel free to view

it, vote, and make comments. Hope you enjoy.

And at

Alfredo Quinones is a filmmaker and owner of New York based
Ronin Film Studios, Inc. He has worked on independent movies
and commercials as a director, camera operator and fight
coordinator. He has a background with over 20 years in
martial arts and 17 years in film and video. He has trained
with stuntman/effects coordinator Brian Shuley who he has
worked with as a fight coordinator and stunt safety.

8. FEATURE ARTICLE - Using the Internet to Find Funding for Your Film

"Using the Internet to Find Funding for Your Film"by Ryan Vinson

If you're an up-and-coming filmmaker, you don't have the big

coffers of studio money at your disposal like most
filmmakers in Hollywood. You know that you have to fight and
scrap for every cent you can get just to get your films
made, and even then, your budget is tight. That's why
finding the right investors can increase the success of your
film. One of the benefits of modern technology is the advent
of the internet, and it is proving to be helpful in more
ways every single day. Now, it's simple for filmmakers and
investors to come together online.

Web 2.0

There are several ways you can use the internet to your film
funding advantage. First, you can set up a social network to
solicit funding and private investments from friends and
family who support your work. With the advent of Web 2.0,
you can literally create your imprint on a social media
site, publicize your work and what you are trying to
accomplish, and draw people to it, including investors. Many
social media sites provide great networking tools that work
just like word-of-mouth advertising, only virtual. Plus you
can keep your investors and friends updated on your
progress, marketing and release of the finished product!

Lend Me a Hand (or Dollar)

If you would prefer to find someone a little less close to

home to fund your project, there are investors that you can
find through the internet yet another way – social lending
sites. These are sprouting up all over the place, and they
put those who need money with those who have it to invest.
You may never meet them face to face, but you can borrow the
money you need from many of these sites thanks to many
members who are willing and savvy investors. Such sites
include: Lending Club, Prosper, or Zopa. You can use Circle
Lending to help gather money from family and friends, or use
ChipIn or Fundable in order to solicit donations from fans
through your film’s website!

Grant Me This Wish

Finally, depending on the type of film and subject matter

you are focusing on, you could use the internet to research
and find grants available to you. There are, of course, the
well-known grants that everyone knows about (National
Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the
Arts, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation,
and the MacArthur Foundation). The problem is, everybody
knows about them!

Go for the smaller amounts of funding that are less sought

after. You can still put them together to create a large
amount if you approach this method wisely. There are also
organizations that offer sponsorships specifically for films
and documentaries, so there might be less competition with
these: International Documentary Association (IDA),
Independent Film Project (IFP), Film/Video Arts, Film Arts
Foundation, IMAGE Film and Video Center, Women Make Movies,
Film Forum, and Documentary Educational Resources.

Gaining funding for your filmmaking can be a tedious and

daunting task. But, thanks to the social networking and new
social integration brought about with Web 2.0 on the
internet, the task is getting a little easier each day!

Ryan Vinson is the founder of VersusMedia, a marketplace
that links independent filmmakers with musicians with the
common goal of obtaining music for films. The company has a
strong following in the independent film industry, and has
assisted over 900 films to date. For more information, visit

7. FEATURE ARTICLE - A Conversation with Cynthia Wade

"A Conversation with Cynthia Wade" by Stephanie Riggs

With her short documentary film "Freeheld" winning the 2008

Academy Award for Documentary Short, Cynthia Wade has
brought the hot-button topic of same-sex marriage equality
into everyday households. The film chronicles Detective
Lieutenant Laurel Hester's struggle to transfer her earned
pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, after
spending her own life protecting the rights of victims and
putting her life on the line. Via email, Cynthia shares her
experiences directing "Freeheld" as well as her insights as
a documentary filmmaker.

Q: How did you begin to get involved with the history of

Laurel and Stacie?

I read a newspaper article about Laurel Hester's situation.

When I read that Hester's domestic partner Stacie Andree, an
auto mechanic, could potentially lose their house without
Hester's pension, I understood immediately the great risk
that they faced. I decided to attend a community meeting
where local activists were confronting the county officials,
who are called Freeholders. I brought two cameras, two
assistants and release forms. I didn't know what would
happen. The dramatic meeting that unfolded in front of my
eyes was a staggering experience.

Q: Why did you decide to shoot this documentary?

As a filmmaker, I am attracted to tough stories about

controversial issues. The stories are usually told through
the eyes of strong female characters. Laurel Hester's story
was compelling to me on many levels: she was a female police
detective in a male-dominated world; she had helped solve
many cases such as a double homicide; she was dying of
cancer; she was in love with Stacie and just wanted to pass
her pension to her. Time was running out. There was a
sense of urgency and purpose to the story.

Q: What steps did you take for financial backing?

Laurel’s health was declining so rapidly that there was no

time for fundraising while she was alive. I needed to be
with her as much as possible. I met Laurel on December 7,
2005 and she died on February 18, 2006, so I only had ten
weeks with her. This was a film that had to be pursued
without a clear funding path and no guarantee for release.

Q: What are the challenges and benefits of being a director

who is also the cinematographer?

The main benefit of being a cinematographer is that I don't

have to raise immediate money to hire someone to shoot my
films – I can start shooting right away. This has
definitely allowed me to pursue stories and capture scenes
that otherwise I would have lost if I had needed to rely on
a crew. The main challenge to being both a director and a
cinematographer, however, is that it can be exhausting to
light, shoot, set up sound and direct simultaneously, and
also try to raise the money for additional crew members.

Q: What cameras did you use to shoot "Freeheld"?

I shot on a large-format DVCAM camera (Sony DSR 450, which

is a newer, more flexible version of the Sony DSR 570 – it
shoots true 16:9 and 24p as well as 4x3, 60i). Our back-up
cameras were the Sony DSR 300, the Panasonic 100A, and for
additional cutaways in the community meetings, the Sony PD
150. Because of the mix of formats, I decided to stick with
conventional 4x3. I gave Laurel and Stacie my favorite
littlest camera – a Sony PC 1, which is a little palmcorder
and easy to shoot video diary footage. I often give my
documentary subjects a small camera so that they can shoot
some of the film themselves; in this way, it becomes a

Q: You lived with them for eight weeks. How was that

Intense. Heartbreaking. Extremely moving. Upsetting.

Inspiring. I felt an enormous responsibility in telling Laurel's story.

Q: What was your post-production process like for this film?

After Laurel died, I continued filming and began to look for

an editor. It took seven months to edit "Freeheld". In
total, production was 13 months, which is very short for a
documentary. I worked with one main editor, David Teague,
but relied on additional editors for perspective and
feedback. Towards the end of post-production, I hired a
supervising editor (David Mehlman, who edited the 2006
Oscar-winning short film "The Moon and the Son"). It was
easy to lose perspective when working with the material, and
we struggled between how much this would be a personal love
story versus a political battle, so we needed many opinions.
There were lots of vigorous discussions in the editing room.

I also kept coming back to what Laurel would have wanted.

She died in February 2006, and we started editing in April
2006, so I was constantly asking myself, "Would Laurel be
happy with this?" That helped me as a guide.

Q: How was the majority of the $350,000 cost for this film spent?

The majority was for editing costs. It really takes a long

time to make a story feel natural. In the end, with a good
film, the editing appears so simple, like "of course it
would be cut that way." But for months there are false
starts and bad edits, and it feels awkward and clumsy. It's
the time needed to edit that I find can be the most
expensive. My other major post-production costs were the
musical score, the musicians, our sound mix, an animated
map, the color correct, and later, I made three 35mm prints.

Q: What system did you edit "Freeheld" on?

We edited on Final Cut Pro to create a locked DVCAM master,

which we upconverted to HD at a post house. Later, we made
three 35mm prints from the HD master.

Q: Tell us about being accepted to Sundance.

It was a bit crazy – When the rough cut was accepted into
Sundance, which hadn't happened before for me, I had no
money to finish it or get on a plane. I owed my editor and
sound mixers a lot of money. We decided that the best hope
for funds was to get the film out into the world and share
Laurel's story with people. I got the commitment for my
first two major grants just weeks before the Sundance
premiere. At the 8:30am screening in Park City, there was a
funder in the audience and 48 hours later I got a text with
a significant commitment. From then on, I was able to raise
additional funds, pay back the production debt and then
raise the money for our Oscar qualifying run. So the gamble paid off.

Q: How did Oscar qualification limit, if at all, your

distribution options with the film?

The rules for qualifying the film for Oscar consideration

held us back from making traditional television deals in
2007. We needed to have a legitimate theatrical release
first, which we did by choosing cities where LGBT equality
is at stake so that we could use the screenings as a
teaching tool. We screened the film theatrically in eight
cities where there is an ongoing struggle for equality.

Q: How do you think Laurel would feel about the film being
nominated for the Academy Award for the best short documentary?

Making a feature length documentary would have been

difficult because I only had ten weeks with Laurel when she
was alive. I thought we could craft a strong short but then
I wondered what kind of impact it would have since short
documentaries traditionally don't get wide release. So
qualifying Oscar consideration in the short documentary
category was a tactic in giving Laurel's story -- and the
plight of so many gay and lesbian couples in the U.S. who
are being denied their civil rights – a platform leading up
to a national election year. The Oscar run couldn't be the
end goal – the outreach and impact needed to be the end
Q: What does winning an Academy Award mean for your future
as a filmmaker?

It was an incredible experience to go to the Academy Awards.

It was a bit like going to the moon – surreal and dreamlike
and also a little terrifying. It's still a little too
early to tell how the Oscar will affect my future, but I
hope it will give me more freedom and access to make the
next independent film. I am actively researching topics now
and also directing commissioned projects.

Q: Do you have any advice on how to be successful reaching a

wider audience for other filmmakers with similar goals for
their issue-based films?

I think before you are even in production you need to think

about your target audience. Where do you want your film to
go? To whom do you want to speak? With "Freeheld", I felt
that Laurel & Stacie's relationship could potentially open
the hearts and minds of men and women who have never
considered the issue of Gay & Lesbian Equality. Laurel says
it best at the end of the film: "People like Stacie and I
are just average people. We're just average people that have
a home and a couple of dogs and pay our taxes. And we just
wanted everything to be equal."

I am always thinking about the release pattern for my films

from an early stage. Is the film best as a television
special? Is it a theatrical experience? Is it an
educational piece? Once that is determined, then many other
answers fall into place – the length of the film, where to
seek funding, the shooting and editing styles, and what kind
of shooting format to use.

Q: What do you find to be the most difficult part of being a

documentary filmmaker? The most exciting?

The most difficult part is the not knowing where things will
lead – not knowing where the story will take you, not
knowing how you will find the money, not knowing the
outcome. However, it's the most exciting part as well. All
of it is like a treasure hunt. There’s something so
exciting about making something out of nothing. Yes, the
hunt for money can be demoralizing, and yes, it can take
years. But, to me, trying all these doors is like in Alice
in Wonderland. Eventually, one of those doors opens and you
slide down the rabbit hole. That's really exciting to me —
I love that part. When a new film takes you by the
shoulders, looks you straight in eye and starts demanding
"You have to make me!" – Well, when that happens, you have
no choice. You are off and running!

"Freeheld" will be broadcast on Cinemax on June 4th, 2008 with

several re-broadcasts in the months leading to the
elections. The expanded DVD will be available Summer 2008.
More information about "Freeheld", including local
screenings listings, is available at

Stephanie Riggs has directed and produced theatre and film
productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and
New York. Her producing credits range from television pilots
and independent films to the critically-acclaimed live
comedy show "The Ian Bagg Show", which attracted guests such
as Chris Rock and Jim Gaffigan. As a director, Stephanie's
theatre work has ranged from developing the work of emerging
playwrights at the Playwrights Center of San Francisco to
directing World Premieres of Academy-Award winning writers
Off-Off Broadway. The independent films she has directed,
including the sensational feature documentary "Some Assembly
Required" and narrative short "Bystander", have won awards
and screened all over the world. As a freelance
entertainment consultant, she has developed content for
Disney Creative Entertainment, HBO, and Louie Anderson's 33
Productions. Stephanie continues to consult multi-million
dollar entertainment ventures while directing a
feature-length documentary on an Arizona

7. FEATURE ARTICLE - It's Not a Song Without the Music


"It's Not a Song Without the Music" by Anthony Abeson.

Can you imagine going to a concert and having the band only
recite the lyrics of the songs while playing none of the
music? Wouldn't you feel ripped off? You'd demand your money
back, and rightly so, because without the music it wasn't a
concert, it was only a lot of talk. Far-fetched as this
example is, it's analogous to what I'm encountering more and
more, both directly and anecdotally, in my work with
actors. Rewrite that first sentence to read: "Can you imagine
watching a play/film/TV show and having the actors only
recite the lines of their parts while playing with none of
the life?" and the parallel is exact (except for the "demand
your money back" part, since audiences seem more and more
willing to accept lifeless recitation as a substitute for
acting as long as the actors are hot.)

Allow me to share some examples that have led me to this

inflammatory conclusion. A short while ago a student of mine
went on an audition and was given a monologue to prepare.
After he did it the first time, he was given this direction:
"Now I want you to do it again, but this time create a
situation. I don't care what the situation is. Just create
one. You can do whatever you want." My student, I'm happy to
say, did exactly that, after which the director said: "Wow.
I don't know if I should tell you this, but I'm gonna tell
you anyway," and he went on to say that he had seen close to
a hundred people and had given them all the same monologue
and same direction, and that every single one of them did
the monologue in basically the same way with only a change
of accent or inflection.

This is an example of how crippled we're becoming by our

slavery to the words, and how the industry really sits up
and takes notice when you bring something to the table
that’s not just more or different talk. And it is shocking
to me how we are treating our work as literary, when it's
meant to be living. Our actors' birthright, which is encoded
in our DNA, is the tendency to create life, not words; even
when we were kids, what we played we made exciting not by
our talk but by our actions. How'd it come to this?

More examples. Again and again I have seen improvs, which

are meant to discover the life of the scene, reduced to
exercises in clever remarks while nothing is lived or
experienced. My student E went to an audition where the
actors were divided into groups of 4 and given the situation
that they were on a doomed plane. Immediately the other
three began screaming – not doing anything, just yelling and
screaming. E took out her cell phone and called her mother,
to say goodbye. Who do you think got the callback?
This tendency to let talk take the place of action, of
doing, is apparent in many of the actors who audition for me
and something we struggle with in my classes. It's deeply
ingrained, producing a kind of "from the neck up" acting
which can't engage us totally because the actor is divided.
It was for this reason Stanislavski coined the term "the
muscles of the tongue" – the words, whether on the page or
in the memory exert a pressure on the actor to "Say me! Say
me!" He likened it to the pressure to put the needle down on
a spinning record. We can trace the roots of this problem
back through Meyerhold, who reminded us that "the words are
woven on the fabric of the action," and Artaud, who urged us
"to break through language in order to touch life," all the
way to Shakespeare, who wisely cautioned us to "Suit the
action to the word and the word to the action." Clearly this
has been with us for a long while, and yet, from my
perspective, it's growing worse, to the point where we don't
even notice when our lines take a wild jump to something
apparently random; we just keep on babbling.

For example, in one scene two people are flirting, during

war time, and after the man sketches the wonderful date
they'll have after the war, including "making love in the
soft, New Orleans night air," she replies: "All on our first
date, huh?" He says "And it won't be the last." And then,
seemingly out of nowhere, she says: "Do you really think
we'll live to see it?" She goes, in one line, from
flirtation to the fear of death, and yet so many actresses,
carried along in a rush of words by the muscles of the
tongue, don't even notice that huge shift, and just keep
flirting when clearly the "music" of the scene has changed.
(He then reminds her that the Lieutenant said "everybody
gets out alive" to which she replies "Would you hold me, please?")

In real life we are constantly aware of non-sequiturs,

instantly reacting with phrases whose familiarity attests to
the frequency of this phenomenon, like "Where did that come
from?" and "That was random." But as Stanislavski said:
"Real life crumbles on the stage." Clearly a choice has to
be made by the actress that will shift her that suddenly;
she could experience something that brings her back to the
reality of the war they're in. But first she'd have to stop
those muscles of the tongue, and notice the shift that's
required. In a new twist on "Can't get a word in edgewise,"
we now have actors who can't get a choice in edgewise
between the words. This deprives the scene of a change in
mood, and the actress of the opportunity to reflect another
characteristic they're looking for.

How has it come to pass that we now have many actors who are
intently focused on how they look, clear about what they're
saying, and clueless about what they’re doing? While I'm
sure many factors have contributed to this, my suspicion
falls most heavily on the role of technology. Not so long
ago there were many forms of entertainment that required the
active participation of the audience's imagination, for
example reading and radio dramas. Now they're losing ground
to film and television where nothing is left to the
imagination and all the sex and gore is vividly thrust at us
in high def and Dolby. As a result, people's imaginations,
that used to actively augment the words with images, have
atrophied, rendering their relation to material passive.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the toll it has taken
on actors. Where once they would picture the life embedded
in a line, now they're content to memorize and recite it.

In addition, we're increasingly dependent on our ability to

read screens, not eyes ("the windows to the soul") or voices
("the organ of the soul" according to Longfellow.) This
results in an antiseptic form of communication whose
soullessness is revealed in the terms used to describe it:
"texting," "IM-ing," "e-mailing," and so on. And this, in
turn, has resulted in a generation of actors who are more
attuned to reading screens than reacting to humans.

What to do? Let's take inspiration from the professional

athletes who hold thousands riveted without uttering a word,
through the sheer excitement of their actions which, we're
told, "speak louder than words." What if we adopted a
different way of looking at text: sight-reading like
musicians who see black and white notes on the page and hear
music? Why not have actors see black and white words on the
page and picture behavior, actions, life? Somehow we must
cut the loop of "in through the eyes, out through the mouth"
that served us well "reading aloud" in third grade, but
which now prevents us from making the invisible visible.

Let's remember to ask ourselves "What do I want and what am

I doing with these lines to get it?" And then we have to go
ahead and do it, even if we have to stay in the chair, the
frame, or on the mark. If your answer's purely verbal
("I’m saying this" or "telling him that") your work is
going to have that "blah blah blah" 2-dimensional, talking-
head quality that doesn't pop, no matter how hot you are,
because talk is, indeed, cheap. Just as you can't get blood
from a stone, you can't squeeze life from a line. Lift up
the stone and behold the life teeming just beneath the surface.

Isn't it "Lights. Camera. Action?"

St. James said it best. "Beloved, be doers of the word."

Anthony Abeson, who has conducted group acting classes and
private coaching for actors for over 25 years, was a
breakthrough coach to such now famous actors as Jennifer
Aniston, Esai Morales (NYPD Blue and Jericho), Ellen Pompeo
(Grey's Anatomy), Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Lisa Vidal
(Numb3rs), Cedric Sanders (The Ten) and many others. Mr.
Abeson, who teaches in Manhattan, studied with all the
greats, including Peter Brook at the Centre International du
Recherche Theatrale, Paris; Jerzy Grotowski at the Instytut
Aktora, Wroclaw and Brzezinka, Poland and the Centre
Dramatique National du Sud-Est, Aix-en-Provence, France; Lee
Strasberg and Harold Clurman as a member of the Directors
Unit of the Actors Studio and Stella Adler at the Stella
Adler Conservatory, New York.

Mr. Abeson's website is at:

7. FEATURE ARTICLE - 50 Things to Know About Film Production


This article is based on articles created by Tisch School of

the Arts (NYU) Professor Maureen Ryan, Chelsea Blacker and Wikiversity.
Anyone can learn to be a filmmaker. Everything about
filmmaking is extremely easy to learn. Anyone can do it if
they wish. The challenge is that filmmaking requires
learning a huge number of skills. Each skill is easy to
learn but the number of things you must learn is huge.

If you want to be an independent filmmaker, you must learn

the equivalent of 20 different careers. Even if you are a
fast learner, it can take you years to learn everything.

In a dramatic motion picture, the story is told by many

people. The cinematographer tells the story with the camera.
The lighting person tells the story with lighting.

The film composer tells the story with music. The actors
tell the story with action and dialog. The editor tells the
story with editing. The sound designer tells the story with sound.

And as an independent filmmaker, you have to learn to all of

these skills. If you fail to learn even one of these skills,
people will notice and be turned off by your movie. You must
learn everything!!!!

Here are 50 Things to Know About Film Production.

1. Feed your crew every 6 hours.

2. Never assume anything.

3. Always hire the best crew you can afford.

4. Everyone wants to be a part of something. This is often

more important than money to the right person.

5. Leave the Attitude at home.

6. If you don't know something, ask.

7. There are only so many hours of daylight in a given day.

Plan accordingly.

8. Delegate to competent people.

9. Work hard on set. Work harder off the set to create a
balanced life.

10. When everyone is doing their job and working towards the
same goal, anything is possible.

11. Love what you do, it's too hard otherwise.

12. Explaining what you have planned to all the crew

members. They'll buy into it at the beginning of the day and
everything will be easier, better, smoother.

13. Be curious. You can't know everything, so ask for


14. Treat your crews well and they'll recommend you for jobs.

15. Talk to your crew if you might have to delay lunch, or

else face meal penalties.

16. Gaffer's tape can repair anything. (cars, appliances,

rental equipment, but not a broken heart)

17. Negotiation is a conversation. Everyone needs to keep

their self-respect and feel they are being considered.

18. Always record 60 seconds of Room Tone before moving to

the next set.

19. Pre-production is everything.

20. No yelling! Ever!

21. Mutual respect is the only way.

22. Decency trumps talent every time.

23. Return phone calls within 24 hours.

24. Email whenever possible or you don't need an answer immediately.

25. No animals or children on set - if at all possible.

26. It always takes longer than you think. Schedule accordingly.

27. Craft service is the last bastion of civility.

28. Every action has a consequence that affects so many others.

29. The Golden Rule rules!

30. If you get behind in the schedule, figure out what you
can lose, or find more money for overtime.

31. Figure out the director's "through line" - it will make

your life a lot easier.

32. Pad your budget.

33. Never say "no" to the director or a crew person. Always

say "let's see"; this way, they know they've been heard and
never feel shut down.

34. Listen AND look.

35. Build it all up. Wait for it to fall apart. Then build
it all up again.

36. Do what's best for the project, not your ego or some
other agenda. It keeps it all simple and "clean".

37. Don't put the chocolate out on the craft service table
until after lunch.

38. Hang out at the back of the Grip Truck if you want to
know what really is happening on set.

39. Casting is 90% of the work.

40. Change your shoes after lunch. Your feet will thank you.

41. Figure out your own strengths and weaknesses and then
hire others to fill out your areas of weakness.

42. Always watch and listen to audio playback a few takes

into the shoot.

43. If there is one bad apple, get rid of it.

44. There are no problems, only solutions.

45. Always actualize the budget after it's complete. It

gives you a wealth of information.

46. Pay all outstanding invoices in less than 30 days.

47. Don't always go with the lower price - there's more than
just money to consider.

48. Get a good caterer. it makes for a happy and productive crew.

49. Inspire others to join the cause by your own example.

50. You can only have 2 out of the 3, pick which ones you
need: FAST, CHEAP, or GOOD.

50 Things to Know About Film Production

5. FEATURE ARTICLE - Sam Heer: A Producer's Perspective



An Interview by Paula M. Kalamaras and Paul T. Kraly of

Scribes Unlimited, LLC

We had the opportunity to meet Ms. Sam Heer of 123 Film

Group recently and interview her about her new podcast
instructional lectures for filmmakers. Sam, although
originally from London, is a Los Angeles, California
filmmaker who over the past 15 years has risen from such
humble beginnings as a production assistant, and upwards to
producer and acquisition executive. She has worked in all
aspects of production and is currently offering a series of
podcast lectures for serious filmmakers to learn the details
of their chosen craft. Sam has written, produced, and
directed many of her own projects and has been a consultant
on others both in Los Angeles and all over the world. Sam is
also the founder and President of the International
Producer’s Alliance – an organization that brings filmmakers
from around the world together to network their projects
into fruition. One of the most important aspects of this
organization is that 100% of all proceeds after expenses are
donated to children’s charities around the globe.

We wanted to know about Sam’s experience and what advice she

was offering to newbie filmmakers.

P&P: Hi Sam. We wanted to take a few moments of your

time and explore your views on the Hollywood filmmaking experience.

Sam: Hi Paul, Hi Paula. Thanks for taking the time to

talk with me. I think we have an exciting time ahead of us
in Hollywood and the world when it comes to filmmaking.
There are a lot of clever independent and studio filmmakers
out there and sometimes I think that if they got some
guidance and clear no nonsense advice, they would have an
easier time trying to “break-in”.

P&P: What prompted you to become part of this production

group? How long have you been at this business?

Sam: I have been working in Hollywood for well over a

decade. I have seen the same thing over and over and it
really makes me sad to think that with the right kind of
direction and mind set things could go much more smoothly
for new filmmakers trying to get a toehold in the business.

P&P: What do you mean?

Sam: Young filmmakers come to Hollywood to make their

dreams come true. Many have attended some of the really
great film schools and think that their diplomas will
immediately open doors and that once they have arrived it
will be easy -- that they won’t have to get their hands
dirty or start at the bottom and work their way up. Sadly,
the reality is that like any other business, it takes time,
effort and a learning curve. There is no such thing as an
overnight success. Most assistants working in Hollywood for
a production company are college grads. Some work as
interns or mail room clerks and others end up pulling cables
for other filmmakers. This is a really competitive business.
I see more and more filmmakers becoming disillusioned and
leaving Hollywood because it isn’t as easy as it seemed in
the safety of film school. They don’t compromise what they
want and in the end don’t get anything. I always tell the
ones who ask, you know, Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have Final
Cut or Final Draft software. What you do need to have is an
imagination, stamina and a will to succeed.

P&P: Do you need to be in Hollywood to make a good film?

Sam: I strongly encourage young filmmakers to stay put and

learn. Shoot a few features before heading out to
Hollywood. Create a great reel for yourself and learn the
craft. Hollywood is expensive and a hard place to crack.
You have to understand that no one is going to put you in
charge of a multi-million dollar project until you have
proven yourself. So bring some work with you. Show what you
can do and then make your move. Hollywood, like any other
business or community, is a place of supply and demand. You
supply a great film and the public will demand it. No one
can predict what films will hit and which will miss – if we
did know that, we would all be superstar directors and producers.

P&P: Speaking of producers – could you explain a bit to us

what the producer actually does?

Sam: Producers are by and large the hardest working people

in Hollywood. Why would I say that? Well, you have to
understand that producers are like generals. First they
have to believe in their film more than anyone else and then
they have to strategize how to get the film made when
hundreds of others are thinking the same way about getting
their film made! Producers have to be really great at
networking and working a room. Pitching a film is a key
function. A producer has to be able to synopsize a film in
such a way that a studio and/or funder will open the wallet
and pay to have the project funded. Producers need to be
able to spot talent, and bring together all the disparate
people to work a project and make it successful. A typical
day in the life of a producer normally starts off with
reading the trades – this helps determine the trends and
informs him or her what is happening throughout the film
community. Then a lot of time is spent returning phone
calls, answering questions, taking meetings and doing
whatever it takes to get a film made.
P&P: Sounds quite diverse and really busy.

Sam: What most filmmakers forget and what they learn in a

hurry when they get to Hollywood, is that most films take
quite a few years to come together. That is the reality, so
you have to be in for the long haul. The producer of a film
is the person who keeps the momentum going. Even if you
have an A-list talent attached and the best director and
writers on board, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have
a hit on your hands. No one can predict the future – which
is why there are so many remakes in Hollywood. I personally
think it is time for a change and the introduction of new
talent and material to shake up the status quo.

P&P: Do they need an agent to help with all of this?

Sam: I get asked this question a few times a week and the
answer is simply this. The agents only make 10%, so unless
you are someone who has a hit, and that they can introduce
around town, they will be spending more of their time with
their money-making clients. I strongly suggest that at least
for the first few years or until you get a major
opportunity, be your own agent. It’s a great way to learn
about selling and pitching your film and you will make
valuable contacts. Another great place to network is your
local film festival and film events. Go and introduce
yourself and start building your Rolodex. I get into this
in one of the lectures. I personally have over 5,000
contacts and my list is still growing. Like I said, this
is a business first and foremost and you have to treat this
seriously – and no one will ever be able to sell you as well
as you can sell yourself.

P&P: What are you seeking in a script? What makes you want
to produce a film?

Sam: The first thing I look for is story. Is it original?

Can this be made on a fairly decent budget? Can I see the
big picture? One of the lessons I teach is that you should
look at the end result before you write a word. Of course
everyone has his or her own ideas for this. But at the end
of the day, the hardest thing to do is to find distribution
for your picture. You have to ask yourself “Will this be
for film festivals? Am I going to sell this outright?” I
also need to point out that in today’s digital age and with
the proliferation of outlets for distribution, I say go for
it. Anyone with an imagination can make a film. What we
can’t say is that it will be a great film. No one can teach
talent and your own strengths – all we can do is offer
guidance and techniques.

P&P: What are some of the traits of successful filmmakers?

Sam: First and foremost is passion. Filmmaking is hard

work and entails very long hours. You have to want to
succeed more than anyone on the planet does. You really must
understand the history of film. I suggest that since it is
barely 100 years old, go, do research and learn and
understand film. Watch movies. Examine them. Feel them. You
have to really know and love the medium to succeed in it.
Another thing I tell young filmmakers – learn how the whole
process works. It doesn’t matter if you are a director,
producer, screenwriter – take some time and work a few films
in different departments. This will teach you to appreciate
the entire process and understand how it all holds together.
One other thing I want to point out – All filmmakers must
understand STORY and where words come from. Read the Greek
tragedies and comedies, Shakespeare, other great playwrights
– and understand the subtext. If you need help – get the
cliff notes, but learn what is beneath the surface. We get
into this in the screenwriting lecture. Bottom line though –
without tenacity and passion it simply will not happen, and
that is a reality.

P&P: We know you are planning a series of classes --

podcasts actually – that will delve further into the whole
filmmaking arena. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Sam: My pleasure. We decided to offer these lectures since

we realize that there are a lot of talented filmmakers out
there who, for whatever reason, cannot go to film school.
They may not be able to afford it, or are a bit older and
have life commitments such as jobs or families, but they
have the drive, the tenacity and the passion to become
filmmakers -- just not the means or the opportunity – until
now. We are offering an internet, and telephone-based
program that will give the aspiring auteur out there the
chance to lean some valuable lessons. That is the wonder of
technology. We have a series of 8 lectures followed by
lesson plan assignments. We give you e-mail support and a
consultation at the completion of the course. We have
essentially broken down each subject area to its core
essence and given you a clear and concise foundation from
which to build your filmmaking career. We also throw in a
couple of bonus topics as well to help you on your way. We
cover screenwriting, company setup and legal issues,
producer and director roles, working with actors, shooting,
editing, post-production, and marketing. We also offer two
insightful lessons on pitching your film, and the ins and
outs of Hollywood. We also guarantee that everyone who
follows the lectures and completes the lessons will have a
completed film. Just so everyone knows, 100% of all
profits after expenses are donated to children's charities
around the world on behalf of the International Producer's Alliance.

P&P : Wow, that sounds exciting! Thank you for your time
today, Sam, and we hope that everyone takes you up on your
filmmaking lecture series offer.

Sam: Thanks, Paul and Paula. Hope to see you in Hollywood!

Sam Heer can be contacted via email at