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35mm vs. Digital video


Benson Marks
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Benson, if you're in this business to make money; get out now. When you eventually go to make a 90-120 minute film you will quickly understand the importance of having made shorts.

 

No No No No! I did not say filmmaking means being greedy and getting all the money. I said it was a business. In other words, making a movie involves money! And lots of it! If that still doesn't impress you, go to the "Mutiny on the bounty HD-DVD" forum to find out why it's a business.

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Not all movies involve lots of money ( El Mariachi, Blair Witch Project, etc). Point being, Making shorts is a way to gain experience on the processes of filmmaking without risking large amounts of money. . . I mean, you're going to screw up, I don't care who you are, or what you're doing, you're going to screw up your first few times out, do you think it would be better to screw up on a 20 minute film which might cost you $5000, or a 120 minute film which might cost you 50,000-500,000 (and those are low numbers).

Shorts don't sell, you're right; but they go to film festivals where you meet with people who may well be impressed by your film and be in a position to further your career. Shorts are often your proving grounds with the least amount of risk possible.

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Not all movies involve lots of money ( El Mariachi, Blair Witch Project, etc). Point being, Making shorts is a way to gain experience on the processes of filmmaking without risking large amounts of money. . . I mean, you're going to screw up, I don't care who you are, or what you're doing, you're going to screw up your first few times out, do you think it would be better to screw up on a 20 minute film which might cost you $5000, or a 120 minute film which might cost you 50,000-500,000 (and those are low numbers).

Shorts don't sell, you're right; but they go to film festivals where you meet with people who may well be impressed by your film and be in a position to further your career. Shorts are often your proving grounds with the least amount of risk possible.

 

Let me quote from my favorite source: Dov S.S. Simens book "From Reel to Deal," and see what you have to say about it:

 

"Ninety-five percent of all feature film budgets have been massively inflated; 300 to 700 percent when marketed to potential ticket buyers; the other 5 percent are grossly deflated 400 to 500 percent. This is due to the fact that publicity for these films boasts not about how expensive they were but rather how cheaply they were made.

 

The phrase distributors always use when referring to these films is, "It was shot for..."

 

She's Gotta Have It was shot for $60,000.

In the Company of Menwas shot for $25,000.

Clerks was shot for $22,000.

The Blair Witch Project was shot for $20,000.

El Mariachi was shot for $7,500

pi was shot for $60,000.

 

For instance, with El Mariachi Robert Rodriguez rented a camera for a week, purchased some film and tape, paid for gas, got his friend to act, went across the border, bought some tacos, and shot the movie - he shot it for $7,500. He didn't pay the lab. It wasn't edited. He had no music. It wasn't even 35mm. He didn't finish it. Likewise, Sanchez and Myrick shot The Blair Witch Project for $20,000, but the final, color-corrected, blown-up-to-35mm-print, with sound and proper music clearances, that you saw in a movie theater, cost at least $200,000-$300,000.

 

Decades ago, thanks to John Cassavetes (the godfather to independent filmmakers), it was discovered that it is possible to produce feature films for as little as $60,000. Now, if the distributor plays the inflate-the-budget game and increases the $60,000 feature by 700 percent, they'll market it as a film that cost $420,000. This is a marketing black hole. There's no uniqueness to a $420,000 feature. So the distributor, instead of inflating the budget, deflates it by 400-500 percent and claims the film was shot for $12,000-$15,000.

 

Now the film sounds like a little darling. Audiences will come to see what it looks like, and the micro-budget film (aka no-budget, ultra-low-budget, guerrilla film, mini-DV, or digital feature) is sometimes as marketable as the mega-budget film. Compare The Blair Witch Project revenues to those of Lucas's Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, and Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which were released almost at the same time."

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News flash for John: Filmmaking is a BUSINESS!!!!!

 

 

Newsflash for Benson : You're a wanna-be dreamer like 50 000 others who think they've got what it takes and have done NOTHING.

 

How can you have such attitude towards people on these boards who unlike you, have actually got experience.

 

How would you know you're better at 90 min ideas ?

 

How do you think you're going to convince anyone to give you money to make a film ?

 

How is your film really going to be better than the THOUSANDS of other films that get made by people just like you ?

 

You can't walk up to a 747 and take off because you've done a few hours in the flight simulator and didn't crash it once.

 

Think for a second and be humble.

 

Think for a second and show some respect for your craft and the people you're going to have to work with for the rest of your career.

 

Think for a second, that maybe you do have something to learn rather than telling everyone what to do and how you're going to be different and you're special.

 

jb

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Newsflash for Benson : You're a wanna-be dreamer like 50 000 others who think they've got what it takes and have done NOTHING.

 

How can you have such attitude towards people on these boards who unlike you, have actually got experience.

 

How would you know you're better at 90 min ideas ?

 

How do you think you're going to convince anyone to give you money to make a film ?

 

How is your film really going to be better than the THOUSANDS of other films that get made by people just like you ?

 

You can't walk up to a 747 and take off because you've done a few hours in the flight simulator and didn't crash it once.

 

Think for a second and be humble.

 

Think for a second and show some respect for your craft and the people you're going to have to work with for the rest of your career.

 

Think for a second, that maybe you do have something to learn rather than telling everyone what to do and how you're going to be different and you're special.

 

jb

 

Is this how you treat people who are still learning the process? Seriously, mocking me and calling me a wannabe dreamer is quite an insult to all those people too. I would never want to hire a cinematographer who looks down on people like me. Got that? If you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. If you want to be treated disrespectfully, keep being disrespectful. If you want some respect, act like a gentleman.

 

Why should I answer your questions anyway? I'm not going to answer them if this is what you are going to throw at me. I have said enough.

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Benson i really am out of things to say. i can quote books as well. on here we tend to quote our own life experiences in this industry. John makes an important point. The people on here as those who you will work with in the future in one way or the other. . . it is very important, very important, to have good relations with people in this industry. It is an industry built entirely upon relationships with your peers.

Try to make a film, any film and see what happens. You will be surprised how even the most basic film concepts and constructs must bend to a very complex world.

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Is this how you treat people who are still learning the process?

If you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut.

 

People who know me know how I treat people still learning the process.

 

Im still learning the process.

 

Benson the problem is that you are clearly are starting out, yet you have put off people with your know it-all-attitude.

 

These are people that have more experience than you. But you seem to want to show how you know better.

 

You just admitted you're starting out, but you've insulted more experienced members of this forum by saying that they are wrong and not just on this thread.

 

Now maybe you don't mean to, but you come across as a smart arse. A smart arse who's read a few books and done a few classes but doesn't have any real world experience.

 

Your disrespectful dismissal of shorts as a form assumes people only make short films for commercial gain. Of course you write of many of the directors who've started out learning their craft from shorts. The inference being that you're better than them.

 

You need to get rid of the grandstanding attitude because know one's going to respect you as a leader.

 

As for keeping your mouth shut if you don't have anything nice to say ? Well Benson, how about you practise what you preach.

 

JB

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Sure, Adrian, I'll agree with you on that. This industry is devoted to relationships and John may be making important points too. But that does not excuse the fact that he said some unkind things at me. Who in the world wants to be called a wannabe dreamer anyhow? Do I have to be judged because I have no experience? Seriously, these are insults to people like me who have a passion to do something they've been dreaming about being since they were 6 years old. All I want is at least some respect. I don't believe anybody should be judged simply by the fact that they don't have 20 years of experience. After all, these people have opinions too. Shouldn't they be given at least some respect?

 

Like you said, this industry should be about relationships. Mocking someone because they don't have experience feels like being accused because of race. I can't control my skin color and neither can you. It's just something you're stuck with. I'm stuck with being a wannabe for now because I'm just getting started. There's nothing I can do about that until I've been in the business for 20 years or so.

 

Again, Adrian, I acknowledge that it should be about relationships. But being unkind to others doesn't do anything but create strife. John needs to understand that and I want him to understand that. I wish John well and hope he chooses to behave.

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But Benson, true respect is not given (least of all in this field) it must be earned. I'm still earning mine. Being humble is very important too in this industry. When you're around people who have been doing it longer than you have, you really have to listen to them and reevaluate your own notions on your own and to yourself, modulated by your experiences.

My father was a lighting director for over 30 years before he passed last year. First thing he told me on a set, that I can remember, and I'll quote here and excuse the explicative (is that the right word?), was, "Dummy the **(obscenity removed)** up!" meaning, keep quiet and take it all in. It's what you have to do in the beginning (as well as work hard.) No one here is here to outright diss you, but when you're the new kid in town, you have to earn your respect and prove yourself in a lot of ways to the people who've been round the block a few times.

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But Benson, true respect is not given (least of all in this field) it must be earned. I'm still earning mine. Being humble is very important too in this industry. When you're around people who have been doing it longer than you have, you really have to listen to them and reevaluate your own notions on your own and to yourself, modulated by your experiences.

My father was a lighting director for over 30 years before he passed last year. First thing he told me on a set, that I can remember, and I'll quote here and excuse the explicative (is that the right word?), was, "Dummy the **(obscenity removed)** up!" meaning, keep quiet and take it all in. It's what you have to do in the beginning (as well as work hard.) No one here is here to outright diss you, but when you're the new kid in town, you have to earn your respect and prove yourself in a lot of ways to the people who've been round the block a few times.

 

Okay, Adrian, that is true as well. It looks like I need to hang in there, think about it a bit, and then try to say it respectfully (A bit of a challenge for me, obviously.). I'll try to be as respectful as I can by responding to John's post.

 

First, be careful what you're saying. If you're still learning the process, why try to disrespect people who are learning the process just like you are? Take it this way. We now have something in common. We're both still learning the process.

 

Also, that know-it-all attitude is my scorpion side of things. It's in my nature. I just feel like I have a lot of good advice. Can't help it. I certainly don't like to feel as if I'm a know-nothing. Nobody does (In fact, I'm fairly intelligent.). Now I know what you're thinking, I don't have any good advice, right? Look, I don't know you as well as everybody else on this forum does. As Adrian said, I'm the new guy. Just give me a chance to test myself. Okay, sure, I may be insulting other people who may be more experienced than I am, but I just want to question these people and what they're saying. Look, experts can be wrong too and need to have their answers corrected. Are the experts always right? Besides that, You're right. I wasn't trying to insult them in any way possible.

 

Next, which directors are you talking about? If I did mention directors who did shorts, I just simply didn't know.

 

Finally, only wannabes do shorts. I don't think they're trying to make shorts for commercial gain, but they don't realize they'll have a better chance of getting into the business if they make a really, really, great 90-minute movie. If the movie is just good, it will fail, but now with the internet, you can make a good movie and make a lot of money by self-distributing the film online. Just charge 42 cents for each viewing, 76 cents for archiving, and $7.95 to get the DVD. If 200,000 people view it, and half of those viewers want to see it in better quality and download it into their hard drive (archiving), and if half of those who want to archive the movie also want to order the DVD, you can make more than $500,000. Enough to make another (maybe even better) movie that could get you recognized... Even if you didn't make it into the film festival, and didn't get a distributor for your film either.

 

Brilliant? I think so.

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We all have our bad sides. You should see me in the morning before coffee...

 

This goes waaayy off topic, but you bring up an interesting idea of online marketing here. The problem, I have always found with online money-making is getting people to find it. With Cable there are only so many channels, with films, so many screens in so many cities and so many hours in which those operations are open. With the internet, however, there is limitless room and limitless time. The problem, is of course, finding something online. Basically, if it ain't on google, it essentially doesn't exist.

Now with films, you have a lot of infrastructure to work out to get people to the page, and then to get them to feel comfortable plugging in credit card information for something they may or may not want. Also there are the broadband issues and compatibility issues, a whole slew of things really which make me think that Pay Per View online won't work nearly as well as the model Hulu has put forward (hulu.com) Internet with commercial breaks; albeit short ones (15-30 seconds). I don't really have a direct though on this for right now, as it's nearly 1 am and my brains fried at the moment (NyQuil for a head cold), but it's something that came to mind when you mentioned it.

As for experts being wrong. Well, yes, that certainly does happen, but getting them to admit it... well that's another story! :lol:

It's hard to tell, always, online the tone someone is writing in. We go off of stupid things, emotioncons such as :D and ;) show when we're happy, giving an aside or :lol: laughing. WHEN WE TYPE IN CAPS WE ARE YELLING! (I actually was so annoyed once with a producer who kept texting me all in caps that I almost quit the film... funnily funding fell through first {it was a feature too} coincidence... maybe...). I think the problem with playing devils advocate here on the forums, or putting forward another point of view is it's hard to tell when you are giving it as fact as opposed to when you are mentioning it to expand or challenge the original post. Expanding, challenging, hell, that's what forums are for! (a big difference here though is that often our advice, if wrong, can cost thousands, and lives (why no one will tell you how to tap into a breaker box, for example) in the worst case scenarios, or blush our faces for our own stupidity in the most common case)

What I would recommend, and this is my friendly recommendation would just be adding in, point blank, that this is your opinion, something like, "I may be wrong here, but I feel . . . . " The use of "feel" language shows it's a viewpoint, always, and allows it to be taken for consideration as such (even if such viewpoint is incorporating fact). Something else to do is, "Hey, what about...... just to play devils advocate on it." such like that.

Of course, for your own viewpoints, which you hold dearly, you have to know when to defend them, and when to challenge them yourself. That's never an easy thing to do. Things we hold as our own personal truths we often blindly defend; a funny example of this from my own life, is my personal truth everything in film is subservient to the story. People can challenge that, and I'll defend it, staunchly, but I also try to reevaluate and redefine that all the time (like what do I mean by story, really? obviously a screenplay isn't really a story, and a movie has to be visual (i go on long tangents on art theory, the pleasure of dating an artist for a prolonged period of time).

I am rambling and I apologize for that, but I hope this has helped in some way.

Also, when/if the other forum members loose patience with you, remember, we're all just human after all and in the end, how important are these little bouts of ours? We're not fighting for the salvation of a life, they're films, and they're art. People will reinterpret them and the people who made them long after we're all dead.

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News flash for John: Filmmaking is a BUSINESS!!!!!

 

I don't have the time to explain why, but quite honestly, if nobody buys a short film, you're gonna have a hard time making it into the business because Hollywood only wants something that will sell. Shorts are too short and no studio is going to buy those. Besides, I'd be wasting money on 10-30 minute shorts nobodys going to see, which would mean I'd never make it into the business (and thus, ruining my dream too.). And besides, I'm better at 90-120 minute ideas than 20 minute ones. Another reason out of many I'm not doing shorts.

 

Benson, lets look at the response that John gave you that you found offensive. He was responding to the quote above. The phrase "News flash for John" could be interpreted as offensive. It implies that you have information that John does not have about filmmaking, that you understand the business aspect of filmmaking better than him. This is uncalled for when John has earned MUCH more years of experience than you. It would be like me, a person who has not published any major works, arguing with Shakespeare that his writing is too long and thus not as easy to sell "Newsflash William: Writing is a BUSINESS!!! It's called brevity. No one is gonna watch a play with all that talking."

 

It needed to be made clear that you are not in a position to be making such remarks.

 

I don't believe anybody should be judged simply by the fact that they don't have 20 years of experience. After all, these people have opinions too. Shouldn't they be given at least some respect?

 

It's just something you're stuck with. I'm stuck with being a wannabe for now because I'm just getting started. There's nothing I can do about that until I've been in the business for 20 years or so.

 

These twenty years of experience don't just happen. It doesn't just come with time. The people on this forum work their tails off to earn this type of experience. You have to be tough to make it in this business and people will have no sympathy for self victimization. You will be judged and you will have to deal with it as all of us do. It is a judgement of your abilities, not your character, so don't take it so personal. John gave you great advice. Learn from it. Don't tell me you are stuck and that there is nothing you can do about having no experience. It is not us who are holding you back. Get off of your behind and get some experience. You need practice. Make something.

 

You have to be humble and know your place. I will only post advice for stuff that I have some experience with. I am still only a few years into this business so I try to not write about what I don't know. People like John have been doing this way longer than me and I would never dream of talking to him the way you have. Please, show some respect to those who HAVE earned it.

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We all have our bad sides. You should see me in the morning before coffee...

 

This goes waaayy off topic, but you bring up an interesting idea of online marketing here. The problem, I have always found with online money-making is getting people to find it. With Cable there are only so many channels, with films, so many screens in so many cities and so many hours in which those operations are open. With the internet, however, there is limitless room and limitless time. The problem, is of course, finding something online. Basically, if it ain't on google, it essentially doesn't exist.

Now with films, you have a lot of infrastructure to work out to get people to the page, and then to get them to feel comfortable plugging in credit card information for something they may or may not want. Also there are the broadband issues and compatibility issues, a whole slew of things really which make me think that Pay Per View online won't work nearly as well as the model Hulu has put forward (hulu.com) Internet with commercial breaks; albeit short ones (15-30 seconds). I don't really have a direct though on this for right now, as it's nearly 1 am and my brains fried at the moment (NyQuil for a head cold), but it's something that came to mind when you mentioned it.

As for experts being wrong. Well, yes, that certainly does happen, but getting them to admit it... well that's another story! :lol:

It's hard to tell, always, online the tone someone is writing in. We go off of stupid things, emotioncons such as :D and ;) show when we're happy, giving an aside or :lol: laughing. WHEN WE TYPE IN CAPS WE ARE YELLING! (I actually was so annoyed once with a producer who kept texting me all in caps that I almost quit the film... funnily funding fell through first {it was a feature too} coincidence... maybe...). I think the problem with playing devils advocate here on the forums, or putting forward another point of view is it's hard to tell when you are giving it as fact as opposed to when you are mentioning it to expand or challenge the original post. Expanding, challenging, hell, that's what forums are for! (a big difference here though is that often our advice, if wrong, can cost thousands, and lives (why no one will tell you how to tap into a breaker box, for example) in the worst case scenarios, or blush our faces for our own stupidity in the most common case)

What I would recommend, and this is my friendly recommendation would just be adding in, point blank, that this is your opinion, something like, "I may be wrong here, but I feel . . . . " The use of "feel" language shows it's a viewpoint, always, and allows it to be taken for consideration as such (even if such viewpoint is incorporating fact). Something else to do is, "Hey, what about...... just to play devils advocate on it." such like that.

Of course, for your own viewpoints, which you hold dearly, you have to know when to defend them, and when to challenge them yourself. That's never an easy thing to do. Things we hold as our own personal truths we often blindly defend; a funny example of this from my own life, is my personal truth everything in film is subservient to the story. People can challenge that, and I'll defend it, staunchly, but I also try to reevaluate and redefine that all the time (like what do I mean by story, really? obviously a screenplay isn't really a story, and a movie has to be visual (i go on long tangents on art theory, the pleasure of dating an artist for a prolonged period of time).

I am rambling and I apologize for that, but I hope this has helped in some way.

Also, when/if the other forum members loose patience with you, remember, we're all just human after all and in the end, how important are these little bouts of ours? We're not fighting for the salvation of a life, they're films, and they're art. People will reinterpret them and the people who made them long after we're all dead.

 

Interesting points. I'll keep them in mind the next time I post something.

 

Oh, and to disagree with you, I thought the online movie distribution was valid. The reason being to defend myself from all the stuff on shorts. John also brought it up, and I decided to tell them why I felt that starting with movies would be better than starting with shorts. So yeah, we both disagree on something. Both with you and John.

 

Certainly, it is hard to get people to see your movie online, especially if you can't google it. But if you have a good marketing campaign, you never know how many people could see it. After all, if you only need to get thousands of people to see your film online and millions of people watch movies that have made it to the big screen, you never know what can happen.

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That is quite true, and the overhead is very low for online. I still dunno if it would work in the trust department, but crazier schemes have manifested (radiohead's in rainbows, for example; pay what you want!). Certailny the internet is a powerful medium, but i'd be hesitant before banking entirely on an online distribution model. For now I need to sleep, but I'd be interested to hear and discuss what others see in this (perhaps best for a new topic, though).

Anyway, g'night.

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Benson, lets look at the response that John gave you that you found offensive. He was responding to the quote above. The phrase "News flash for John" could be interpreted as offensive. It implies that you have information that John does not have about filmmaking, that you understand the business aspect of filmmaking better than him. This is uncalled for when John has earned MUCH more years of experience than you. It would be like me, a person who has not published any major works, arguing with Shakespeare that his writing is too long and thus not as easy to sell "Newsflash William: Writing is a BUSINESS!!! It's called brevity. No one is gonna watch a play with all that talking."

 

It needed to be made clear that you are not in a position to be making such remarks.

 

 

 

These twenty years of experience don't just happen. It doesn't just come with time. The people on this forum work their tails off to earn this type of experience. You have to be tough to make it in this business and people will have no sympathy for self victimization. You will be judged and you will have to deal with it as all of us do. It is a judgement of your abilities, not your character, so don't take it so personal. John gave you great advice. Learn from it. Don't tell me you are stuck and that there is nothing you can do about having no experience. It is not us who are holding you back. Get off of your behind and get some experience. You need practice. Make something.

 

You have to be humble and know your place. I will only post advice for stuff that I have some experience with. I am still only a few years into this business so I try to not write about what I don't know. People like John have been doing this way longer than me and I would never dream of talking to him the way you have. Please, show some respect to those who HAVE earned it.

 

I stand corrected.

 

Good analogy with Shakespeare. I'm sorry, I just keep forgetting I'm arguing with experts, not average joes.

 

As for the experience factor, I'm working on that. You do understand that I'm planning on being a writer and director, not a cinematographer. Right now, I'm working on my first script. It may be a first, but everybody's gotta take their first step, right? I'll take my working on my first script as just that, a first step.

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First, be careful what you're saying. If you're still learning the process, why try to disrespect people who are learning the process just like you are? Take it this way. We now have something in common. We're both still learning the process.

 

Benson the thing is, I was reacting to your tone. It is you that is disrespecting towards people who have experience, when you are coming from a perspective of none.

 

It's one thing to say "I think you're wrong" and quite another to say "you're wrong"

 

You come across as sounding like you're saying "you're wrong" ( i don't mean literally, just in tone).

 

It invites a put up or shut up response, because it's not about discussion anymore.

 

 

Also, that know-it-all attitude is my scorpion side of things. It's in my nature. I just feel like I have a lot of good advice. Can't help it. I certainly don't like to feel as if I'm a know-nothing. Nobody does (In fact, I'm fairly intelligent.).

 

Well Benson it's how you deliver your advice. You language use is dictatorial, not advisory. It's chastising not conversational or hypothetical.

 

Next, which directors are you talking about? If I did mention directors who did shorts, I just simply didn't know.

 

You didn't mention directors. I am saying that many directors learn their craft doing shorts. Not to practise selling their commercial bonafides, but to practise storytelling. If you can tell a good story, people will buy a ticket to your film. You dismissed this well worn path as unnecessary. Yet many very successful directors have trodden it.

 

Couldn't be bothered searching any further, but in 3 mins I found the following directors with early or first up shorts credits.

 

Kubrick, Spielburg, PT Anderson. Lars Von Trier. Gus Van Sant. Scorsesse...etc etc.

 

 

Finally, only wannabes do shorts. I don't think they're trying to make shorts for commercial gain, but they don't realize they'll have a better chance of getting into the business if they make a really, really, great 90-minute movie. If the movie is just good, it will fail, but now with the internet, you can make a good movie and make a lot of money by self-distributing the film online. Just charge 42 cents for each viewing, 76 cents for archiving, and $7.95 to get the DVD. .

 

You're not the first to try and find success this way. The fact is that few seem to have succeeded. And that's because you need a good film. Word of mouth is why films succeed. And for someone to speak well of your film, it has to be good.

 

And that my friend is the hardest thing in the world to do. Studios regularly spend 100 million+ dollars trying to do just that and fail. People, smart people and intelligent people, just like you, are making indie films 24/7 and failing to do this.

 

Do not underestimate how hard it is to make a mediocre film, let alone a good one.

 

I dare you to make a good short film.

 

 

jb

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I just feel like I have a lot of good advice. Can't help it. I certainly don't like to feel as if I'm a know-nothing. Nobody does (In fact, I'm fairly intelligent.). Now I know what you're thinking, I don't have any good advice, right? Look, I don't know you as well as everybody else on this forum does. As Adrian said, I'm the new guy. Just give me a chance to test myself.

 

 

I have been on this forum for over 4 years and have learned a tremendous amount from it. When I first joined I hardly ever posted. I just read as much as I could and only posted when I had a QUESTION about something that I was having trouble finding the answer to in school or through research. The reason I limited my posts was because I knew this was a professional forum and I was not yet a professional and I was in no position to give advice.

 

After I had been out of school for a couple of years, I started posting more responses, but I kept it limited to simple questions where I knew I could be of help. The more I learn, the more I try to be of help on here. Stuff that was appropriate to my experience level. I still consider myself fairly new to all this and would never dream of giving advice on something I don't know about, such as shooting with the Phantom HD or IMAX (Sorry, very random examples). I have read books and articles and talked to people about stuff I don't have firsthand experience with, but if I were to mention any of this on here I would make sure I mention where I heard it and not talk about it as if I know that this is the way to do it.

 

The point I am trying to make is not that I want to brag about being some model forum citizen (I have made plenty of mistakes and I apologize if this post sounds self aggrandizing). What I am trying to say is that it is important to know where fit on this forum. This is a PROFESSIONAL forum. Advice here needs to be based on some sort of experience. You have admitted yourself that you have ZERO experience. What position are you in to give advice on film making if you have not done it at all? That would be like having a doctor with no medical degree and training. Why would you pay thousands of dollars to get medical advice from this person?

 

I think it is great that you want to contribute to this forum. My advice to you is that since you are brand new to this business, your greatest contribution to this forum at this time would be to ask questions. And I don't mean any old questions. I mean the questions that haven't been asked over and over again. Other people may have these same questions and might benefit from the answers. I meet a lot of young filmmakers like myself. The one's who think they know a lot stick out like a sore thumb in this industry. They are not unique and they are not respected. When I see a young inexperienced director barking orders at me and the rest of the crew, I don't think to myself "wow, this guy really knows what he is doing." I am thinking "Wow, I am going to have to work really hard to prevent the director from plunging this movie into chaos and destruction." On the other hand, if a new director comes to set and is humble and not afraid to ask for help or advice, I haven't met a crewperson that would hold that against the director.

 

It is not a bad thing to be new. I think it is a rather exciting thing. I still remember the day I got my first roll of 16mm B&W reversal back from the lab and viewed it on a projector. I can't remember how exactly it turned out, but I'm sure it was horrendous. But it was just practice and you learn from your mistakes. When you make your first feature, it will not be an exercise. You will have everything riding on it. Clerks was shot for just $27000. That may be nothing for a studio, but for an individual charging it onto credit cards (That's how Smith said he paid for it) that is a huge amount of money. It will be like driving a car on the freeway without first learning how to operate the car. Making a short doesn't have to cost money. All you have to do is write a 3 page script with two characters and stick them in a simple location. you can shoot it on video. It's just a good way to practice setting up shots and working with actors. You could do this for as little as 100 dollars, maybe even less. Don't even think about where it will take you. Just try to make it well. If you say you don't want to even bother with something as simple as this because it won't make you money or recognition, then that just shows an unwillingness to learn and put in the necessary effort to learn the craft. But if you are as passionate as you say you are, I'm sure you are up for the challenge.

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Benson the thing is, I was reacting to your tone. It is you that is disrespecting towards people who have experience, when you are coming from a perspective of none.

 

It's one thing to say "I think you're wrong" and quite another to say "you're wrong"

 

You come across as sounding like you're saying "you're wrong" ( i don't mean literally, just in tone).

 

It invites a put up or shut up response, because it's not about discussion anymore.

 

 

 

 

Well Benson it's how you deliver your advice. You language use is dictatorial, not advisory. It's chastising not conversational or hypothetical.

 

 

 

You didn't mention directors. I am saying that many directors learn their craft doing shorts. Not to practise selling their commercial bonafides, but to practise storytelling. If you can tell a good story, people will buy a ticket to your film. You dismissed this well worn path as unnecessary. Yet many very successful directors have trodden it.

 

Couldn't be bothered searching any further, but in 3 mins I found the following directors with early or first up shorts credits.

 

Kubrick, Spielburg, PT Anderson. Lars Von Trier. Gus Van Sant. Scorsesse...etc etc.

 

 

 

 

You're not the first to try and find success this way. The fact is that few seem to have succeeded. And that's because you need a good film. Word of mouth is why films succeed. And for someone to speak well of your film, it has to be good.

 

And that my friend is the hardest thing in the world to do. Studios regularly spend 100 million+ dollars trying to do just that and fail. People, smart people and intelligent people, just like you, are making indie films 24/7 and failing to do this.

 

Do not underestimate how hard it is to make a mediocre film, let alone a good one.

 

I dare you to make a good short film.

 

 

jb

 

Thanks, John. I'll make sure I keep my tone down.

 

Anyway, I decided to read more from my most trusted source of knowledge: Dov S.S. Simens "From Reel To Deel," and came across this.

 

"Six months costing $2,000 to $3000 is all that's needed to become a professional. Why spend $70,000-$100,000 at a four-year film school when, at a fraction of the cost, you can get more practical know-how by creating your own hands-on film school.

 

To accomplish this, acquire some books and software at $200-$500, then secure some filmmaking basics with a workshop or two at $300-$1,000, next, spend $2,000 on a weekend short, and with the $67,500-$96,500 and three and a half years saved (by not attending a how-to-make-the-perfect-feature-film-when-everything-in-the-universe-is-available-to-you-whenever-you-want-it film school) you can make your first feature film like Clerks, Easy Rider, sex, lies & videotape, The Blair Witch Project, or Barbershop."

 

Wow, even my most trusted source is telling me to make a short! I think I should work on that.

 

As for Andrew, I think you have a good point that I should be asking questions. I'll put that into practice as well.

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Verisimilutude I think you mean? I think that "real-life feel" could be attained many different ways and through many formats. Sometimes the unreal images draw out emotion while the stark realistic shot can drive home the message better. I understand you are addressing one variable (35mm v. Video) and I am not very experienced at all - but I believe both formats could do equally good jobs with different approaches.

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Mike Rossi/Director > "Dancing In Iraq", "Holiday", "Illegal Alien"

 

We had to shoot with a JVC GY-HD250U High Defination camera because we have to shoot every

one of these films in seven weeks. With Firewire, we hook the camera in an Apple G4 or G5 or

MacBook or MacBook Pro and cut away. My girlfriend loves editing, so she can cut and act at

the same time. You cut out the film lab. But with "Dancin' In Iraq", we're going to shoot 65mm

for the titles and hand paint the film. Crest Labs are great for doing small jobs like that. And still

I have brochures on order from Arri for the 416 and 235. We might play with them, too.

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I have had a mountain of opinions on this debate ever since I started in production over 28 years ago. I've crossed the loyalty line between film and digital (remember when it was called "video"?) so many times I feel like I should be shot by both sides for treason.

 

My latest musing on the topic includes the power that association has on us. It's a basic brain capacity. It gives us the ability to make label connections rapidly. Without association we would have to mentally construct everything together and that can be inefficient. Association has both strengths and weaknesses just like every capacity within us. I think those strengths and weaknesses can apply to the merits of film. Here's how I've been connecting those dots:

 

I suspect that people can often detect things that they can't define and make automatic judgments on those rapidly detected things. I've read other posters observations, here, that they see how people can tell something is not good or good enough about digital images, especially video even if they can't say why. I've leaned in favor of this idea most of my production life. If I analyze the qualities of video and film, I can't make a clearly sufficient case for either. But, if I take into account the human's capacity for rapid and complete judgment based on association, then I pre-weight the decision immediately towards film as the clearly best medium. While that decision is just about eroded due to the latest advances in dig-acq, I still favor film. Here are some of the things I keep noticing:

 

The same level of acting plays better on film than video. For reasons I can't explain the inherent lie that acting is seems immediately more believable on film than it does on dig-acq, especially video.

 

The scene environments seem more credible on film than on dig-acq.

 

Lighting at all levels and of all kinds, even very bad lighting seems more belonging and passable in film than dig-acq.

 

Film goes down better. It's like a food based association. Film just seems easier to eat than does dig-acq. There's something about dig-acq that seems like sand in my food. It's ever-so-slightly uncomfortable going down.

 

FX smooths out and composites integrate way better on film than dig-acq.

 

Film has a liveliness, maybe in part, due to the screen crawl that comes with grain. dig-acq has a sterility that is uncomfortable to me. It's kind-of connected to the food idea. With dig-acg, I fell like I'm eating the plastic wrapper instead of the food.

 

Dig-acq still can't break that synthetic quality. Film still looks more like what my eye sees. I still have to wrestle with dig-acq images. I have to make myself ignore how plastic-e it looks. Film just goes right into my brain without effort.

 

Okay, I stuck my neck out and made a bunch of vague proclamations. Anyone else had these sensations or am I looney tunes?

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I think that neither of the two mediums are perfectly representative of what we see. Film has a better latitude, and more closely resembles what we see, but HD video is more accurate to the detail we see. I think we could debate this forever, but in the end it all depends on what YOU think and want.

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To accomplish this, acquire some books and software at $200-$500, then secure some filmmaking basics with a workshop or two at $300-$1,000, next, spend $2,000 on a weekend short, and with the $67,500-$96,500 and three and a half years saved (by not attending a how-to-make-the-perfect-feature-film-when-everything-in-the-universe-is-available-to-you-whenever-you-want-it film school) you can make your first feature film like Clerks, Easy Rider, sex, lies & videotape, The Blair Witch Project, or Barbershop."

 

 

You should check up on the backgrounds of these first time feature film directors, some attended film school, were Hollywood actors, freelance editors etc. "Blair Witch" started in development 3 to 4 years before they started shooting the film.

 

I suspect it might be a good idea to throw away your book as fantasy and look at how these films actually got made. You can learn film making basics quickly, but as they say the devil is in the detail, lots of mistakes and learning something new all the time.

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