Author Topic: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?  (Read 4808 times)

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Reinhold

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Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« on: April 23, 2010, 06:28:26 AM »
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I'd like your opinions. I've got an idea for a film I like and some savings to spend on it if i decide that it's a good idea to make a film right now."savings," to me, means money left in my account after all of my bills are covered for two months. i've got until the end of May to decide if i'm serious about shooting this if i want to shoot it in August.

I'm an editor. I might like to direct commercials some day, I guess, but right now I'm not trying to make my career as a director or writer.  I've just written a short that I've been kicking around in my head for a couple of months, and I'm entertaining the idea of shooting it. (It needs a rewrite or two but the idea is down.) Unfortunately from a budget standpoint, it takes place in a luxury SUV and is intended to be shot in autumn daylight, and is heavily reliant on a toddler. I had been thinking that i could shoot it on two HDSLR's owned by friends pretty much just for the cost of lens rental and a few post production favors, plus the hard costs of making the film, ending up in the $7,000 range for what I'm picturing.

I showed the script to some startup producers tonight with whom i've worked recently... they said that if i can finance the film, they'd give me the services of their production company for free, that they can hook me up with a RED One and DP for $200/day plus primes rental (i know this DP... that's his friends-only rate), a jib for $150 for the weekend, and equally awesome deals on a casting studio, sound recordist/mics,  lights, set generator, etc. I've got friends to PA and RED Tech, and aside from the mix/color i expect do all of the post myself.  

as I mentioned had been thinking that this was unshootable under $7,000 before i talked to them, so I wasn't really considering it.  They put me at $4,000-$5,000 for a three-day shoot, which I have to say is low enough to seriously consider wiping out my meager savings and going for it. they think i shouldn't pay my actors but i think that's bullshit, so i'm looking at a hard $5k USD for the shoot and DI.

that's only $5,000 to shoot a 15-minute short on the new mysterium-X RED One. (The ability to shoot in 4.5k is very, very tempting because it leaves room for image stabilization while still finishing in 4k. getting waaaaay ahead of myself here, i might like to print it to 35mm in order to be eligible for some industry awards.)

assuming the script is worth shooting, do you guys think i should spend my savings on shooting a short? i can't afford any reasonably established actors, and though i think i'd be good at bringing this idea life-- I don't know until i put up and direct something. what i stand to gain is something for my reel/resume,  and of course the experience of having made a narrative i wrote.

i do love cinema, i do believe in myself... i just don't want to be another poor schmuck who had to move back to the sticks from NYC.  Keep in mind that i'm a 22 year old reluctant freelancer, and while dropping 5 grand wouldn't completely wipe me out, it would leave me with only enough cash to survive for a month or two before having to pawn shit if i can't find another post gig. the show i work for may go off the air in July (which isn't really a bad thing even though it'd cut off my pay check)

If i can save a couple grand by August and raise one or two grand in gifts from family/friends since shorts are definitely not "investments," i can do this without it really hurting too bad. i don't expect either one to fully materialize, though.

Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

Pas

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2010, 07:29:06 AM »
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Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

If no one replies, I advise you this trick : do a coin toss, heads I film it, tails I don't film it. I shouldn't tell you what happens then but you can probably guess.

The point is that in your conscience, you have no idea if this project will bring you doom or success. But somewhere deep down in your head, behind all the crap, you know what you WANT to do. You will never know if it will work or not: just that you want or don't want to try it. It's not a shame to not want, too.

Quick very recent life story you can skip if you want: When I bought my condo, I had good opportunity for a place I thought was worth more than was listed but had no money. Everybody was telling me: "oh it could've been a good idea but you have no money, just rent like us." but I felt in my heart I should go all-in on this one. I got in serious debt to buy it, I didn't even have the cashdown for it, I had to borrow everything. Two years later, I'm selling it with an overall (agent and debt paid) 40 000$ profit. In two years! Didn't put a penny on it, too. Pretty sweet. Could've gone either way of course, but I followed my gut so I had no one to blame/congratulate but me and that's the point isn't it.

Reinhold

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2010, 07:46:56 AM »
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Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

Yes, that is obviously what I'm up to. I would love nothing more than for you guys to make it perfectly clear to me that i should have already put a deposit on the equipment, and I hope it didn't appear that i was trying to hide that. don't be so sure you guys won't influence me if it really does seem irresponsible, though. some people here have dropped serious money on films, others have found ways to do it more cheaply, and i'm sure others wish they'd had the balls to do it. any reality check is welcome.


If no one replies, I advise you this trick : do a coin toss, heads I film it, tails I don't film it. I shouldn't tell you what happens then but you can probably guess.

The point is that in your conscience, you have no idea if this project will bring you doom or success. But somewhere deep down in your head, behind all the crap, you know what you WANT to do. You will never know if it will work or not: just that you want or don't want to try it. It's not a shame to not want, too.

see, i know i want to do it. i don't know how much i want to do it yet. my problem here is that my parents are broke but they encourage me in anything that isn't physically or psychologically destructive, my friends are either easily excited like me or artists who would follow any whim like it's scripture, the established filmmakers i know don't have any concept of what five grand is to me, and conventional wisdom says don't make a film unless you're COMPLETELY possessed to do it (but that's conventional wisdom predating the RED)... i don't know who other than other filmmakers to ask for perspective.

nice story, btw. congrats on the deal and thanks for what i read as encouragement.

[heads, shoot it, won the toss]
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

socketlevel

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2010, 10:53:37 AM »
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7 grand is worth it imo if you view the experience as educational and not a money maker. i made a short film for about that (accompanied by a few equipment grants) and won a couple awards though honestly it didn't get me any jobs. I think it's best to make the short so you can learn from your mistakes (assuming you've never made one before). i'm not trying to suggest you shouldn't shoot the moon, just do it without having to bankroll crazy to do so.

make a super tight script, scrutinize it thoroughly. i'm an editor as well, and having that background helps ten fold on script writing cuz you have a better idea what the fat is going into it.

so ya if 7 grand is something you don't mind parting with because you love the process and the piece then do it up.  but based on that why not just shoot it on the 7D and get volunteers and only spend 500 bucks feeding them. minimal lighting, solid acting, solid script, and all on location, you can do it pretty cheap. call in all the favors from your friends to help out. keep it short too, cuz basically my film was 24 mins shot on super 16 (this was slightly before the red came out) and that's where all the budget ended up going. another reason to keep it short is a festival will be more likely to accept it. i ran into the problem that basically why would a festival carry my film when they could carry 3-4 6min shorts.

if you want feedback on the script just send it my way, i'd love to help out and give any insight. gotta let that baby into the world and see what peeps think.

oh and shoot on 4k if you want but do you realistically see yourself projecting it? i'd go down to the 2k option on that camera (or just use a 7D like i said before) so you then have higher FPS counts that you might wanna utilize. 2k looks great and slow mo can be a great tool. also you're dealing with smaller files. cuz let's be honest, festivals youtube or dvds don't require 4k.  don't geek out on that cuz it's just excessive and not practical.
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Alexandro

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2010, 11:03:57 AM »
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in my experience the smartest thing you could do is getting most stuff for free with friends, people who want to do shit and own their equipment, etc...this is so you can use the money in completely unavoidable things. also, if it's as little as a mic or something, you should consider buying some equipment for yourself because later in the road it will save you money and make things easier for you in other productions.

get the best dp you can find who should be a guy you both deeply admire and respect and a guy you would be happy to have a lot of beers with. you don't have to pay the actors...well, you don't have to pay anyone. I tell you this as an actor and as a director and producer, i've done everything for free happy as hell and would do it again instantly (call me). You can pay, but know that you don't really have to, just feel the people and get the vibe if they will be along your side during the whole project and that will be enough.

I guess what I'm saying is do it. you are 22 man. don't even fucking worry. people in cinema, we all have to go through this tough times no money crap, and the sooner you just do it the better. 22 is a perfect age for poorness, that's one of the reasons your parents support you. also, your short film, done right or wrong, will earn you money at some point, either because it turns out great and win some awards or because  it starts getting you other gigs commercially, or because the people that work with you call you for something else. look, as I'm writing this I'm thinking there's not much to think about except how to take advantage of that money in the best possible way but WITHIN the project. The other thing, and you will know it. Once you do this there is no turning back. If you really like it you will LIVE from now on to find ways to make more short films and later a feature, so in terms of age that's a positive too, because the earlier you feel that in your soul the bigger the chances are you will grow rapidly and maybe in 8 years we will be talking about you as some sort of star young filmmaker. one thing that bothers me of what you are saying is that you are not trying to feed your director careers as of now, yet, YOU ARE. that is exactly what you are doing, so think it in those terms.

matt35mm

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2010, 11:53:37 PM »
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I've started writing this message several times and I keep erasing it because, truthfully, I'm trying to find the right way to say that I don't think it's a good idea.  And I really respect and like you, so I figured I should just straight up say it, so, I don't think it's a good idea.  But before I get into my reasoning, I'll also say that I agree with everyone else on the point that spending $5,000-$7,000 at age 22 isn't gonna kill you.  I spent about that much at age 17 to buy a bunch of equipment (it was my sole reason for having a job in high school, and all my money went to filmmaking).  So, I'll just say why I think it's not a good idea, and even if you decide to shoot it, I won't think you a fool.  And I hope none of this sounds like I'm talking down to you, because I could say all these things about myself right now.  You can interpret my thoughts below as why I wouldn't spend my life savings on my short film, if I were in your position.

It feels strange for me to say no, because I always say yes to the question, "Should I shoot this (short) film?"  But spending all your money now means it's going to take a while before you can shoot another, and I believe (and I'm pulling from my experiences here) that you need to use short filmmaking now as a mode of exploration.  You are exploring yourself and your abilities.  I have known many young filmmakers (I work at the university film department and see all their films), and there is, among the students who aren't incredibly incompetent and lazy (92% of them), a tendency to geek out and want the very best of the technical stuff before their abilities as filmmakers warrant the use of the best of the best equipment.

I took a pretty good course on directing actors earlier this year, and now I'm directing an hour-long play, which is where I'm doing the bulk of my learning.  We're rehearsing 12 hours a week for 7 weeks, which is a luxury I've never given myself as a filmmaker.  Through working with the actors over the past month, I've grown 20 times better as a director, and I have much more to learn.  I've decided to take what I've learned, and make a short film that I'm shooting this week.  The budget will be under $100 (I'm borrowing the equipment for free).

The point is, I am only JUST beginning to come into my own as a director and a writer, after actively writing and directing film for about 7 years now, and acting and now directing theater.  I'm in a place where I feel confident in my abilities, and yet, I still don't think I'll make a really great movie until 15 or 20 years from now.  But I do think that I will make that great film.  And when I do, I will do whatever I have to do for the best of the best.  And to get there, I need to spend a lot of time exploring, playing, learning, growing.  So I make short films for $100.  Animal Brains (which I showed you when I last saw you) didn't cost me anything except gas and food money.  I tried my best as a filmmaker and I like the film plenty, but spending more money wouldn't have made it any better.  What would have made it better are the abilities that I didn't have then.  I'd make it better today, and still better next year.  As it is, it's still a better film than a thousand other films made that month for much more money, and I learned A LOT making it.

I know our priorities may be different, but I feel like I need to be the best filmmaker I can be, and working with the best team of actors and crew that I can work with, before I'd feel like using the best equipment would make the film a better film.  Until then, it would only make it a more expensive film.

I'm not saying that I don't think your film would be good.  It could be really good.  But I do believe that if the $5,000 were spread over 3 films, the third film would be better than just the one $5,000 film, and you will have grown a lot more and be in a better position to demand that people take you seriously as whatever you want to be taken seriously as.  And if you HAD said that you want to pursue directing, I would have said that spending the money on acting classes and, through that, finding ways to direct plays would be a better use of the money, but since your interests are decidedly more grounded in the technical than for me... well, it's fine if what makes sense for me doesn't make sense for you.

I was also wondering how good this DP is, and whether she or he shooting on the RED is really any better than someone better shooting on, say, a 7D.  (Or, the camera I love love love: the Sony EX-1)  Yes, the price is a good deal... but maybe through the people who know people who know people + making several less expensive films that lead you to your soulmate DP, who can do things for you with the dinkiest camera that most people couldn't do with the RED, who really can capture an image better than you can imagine it.

I'm aware that the RED thing isn't the major expense here, but I think all the things you mentioned are not necessities at this point; you could make a film without any of those things.  If there's something in the content of the film that makes it truly impossible to shoot otherwise, then make other things.

My main point is just the matter of priorities.  It sounds to me like there is too much focus on the technical aspects.  It would have to be a really good script and a really good group of actors led by a really good director who can construct a technically and formally sophisticated film for me to think that he should spend all of his money on the film.  If anyone wants to say, "Why?  It's just a little short film that he wants to make," then I'll say, "Great!  So why not make it for $2,000?"

I think you're great, and I want to see you making films.  I just don't see any necessity for you to make one movie for this amount of money when I know you could make several beautiful movies for less.  I might be wrong about the whole thing, and maybe the one film will do more for you than the 3 less-expensive films ever could.  If you want to do it, then do it.  You won't die and you'll learn a ton, and that's worth the money.

Alexandro

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2010, 01:06:12 PM »
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I agree with matt in everything actually, and in part because yesterday after I posted it crossed my mind that you could actually make a short film with a lot less money than that. It is important also to try a couple of things before you just direct something important...maybe not another short film, but giving a try on acting lessons is going to be invaluable later in directing actors and in writing too.

Other thing  I was going to say is that, back in 2007 I decided to make a feature, having never made a short film as director myself, but with experience in everything else, I had been an actor and screenwriter in another feature, had directed a play, had acted in a bunch of plays, worked as codirector in commercials, worked as camera assistant and editor, and as researcher for a couple of big productions. so I had enough experience to feel confident. also I had a great funny script. and I had a lot of money, about as much as you have, that I knew had to be invested in something like this. yet I didn't spent all my money on that. I joined forces with two other friends, and each of us put up a certain amount of money for the film, including the purchase of a camera rig and a microphone that I still use and rent some times (which gives me money), and really the rest of all that money that I had, was spent just on surviving during shooting and the first phase of post, meaning that I was 100% busy with the movie and had no other income so I used my savings to live withut worrying about working, which is something you will want to consider also when working in films, short or otherwise.

Yesterday I was maybe too enthusiastic, but also since I'm in Mexico, maybe I was unsure of how money do you actually need to make a short film in the US. I know for a fact that if all you want is to do something, you can even make a feature film for 1500 dollars in mexico. of course those will be little seen films, obscure, probably never in a theatre, but they do go to festivals and find some sort of future for themselves, not to mention the directors. in any case my advise would still be to do it, but for less money because as matt says, maybe you can make three shorts with that amount and the sure thing will be that as we all say, the the next one will be better.

however about the technical shit, as much as I hate to admit it, it is important in the sense that there is a lot of people who can be attracted to the equipment, and having a film shot in the red camera or whatever sometimes means you enter a film festival instead of being rejected. the important thing as I said is that you really trust your dp to help you out, to be a kind of kindred spirit. a dp is TOO IMPORTANT to be decided upon because he has access to certain equipment or not. It doesn't mean that it can ruin your movie if you choose unwisely, but it will be harder and stressfull if you work with someone at the end of the day is not seeing as you are seeing.

so in short...do it for 2000 dollars or something, save the rest. it is best to buy some equipment for yourself so you can use it later ir lent it or rent it...and the mor eimportant thing, be reaaaaaally sure about that screenplay being at a stage where it will make your life easy and not the other way around.

socketlevel

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2010, 05:55:10 PM »
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i agree as well, but you're gunna scare the shit outta this guy matt. that read daunting more than it did sound advice. besides, for all we know he might be the next orson wells, and blow us three chumps outta the water. i doubt it cuz i'm the shit :P but you neva neva know. but don't muddle your brain up with the film making and what qualifications you have part of it, just go make it. the issue is capital in my mind, so...

get a fucking 7D and start shooting, spend your 2k on that. great investment imo, i have some friends shooting music videos on it, and i believe the next season of House is going to be entirely shot on it. fuck red cam for now, you don't need 4k, the shit's gunna end up on youtube.

bottom line is go for broke. put in everything you want and... fail, and fail, and fail. each time you'll fail a little less. then spend the 7k like alex said, and shit you already got the camera. remember to show people with each 5 min film (your max alloted time, or you're just being indulgent), see their reactions, don't listen to what they say cuz they'll fucking lie to you or want to look smart. actually look at their reactions (give yourself a vantage point during the screening). it's gunna sting but then go again and make another one.

but i agree don't geek out over equipment, if you got a rock solid story and rock solid acting you're gold. let someone pay you to get a hard on for stedicams later in life.

and for directing, just cast well (trust your gut). during the casting get them to do really silly shit, the ones that will do it means you can work with them. like give them a poem and ask them to say it while walking backwards in a circle. do stuff like that, throw them off their game, then suddenly ask them to read the lines. you'll know a good actor from a bad one in that very moment. while shooting, all you gotta do is tell the actors what they "want" in the scene. since you casted well, that's 95% of it. beyond that play the woody allen role and say "faster" or "slower".  grats, now you're a director.

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Reinhold

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2010, 06:54:01 PM »
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first of all, thank you guys very much for putting thought into your responses.  i really appreciate that. second, from the length of this post it may come off as defensive and that's not my intention in the least. you guys are great and this is just what's in my mind, not "you're wrong because..."


i still haven't decided that i want to make the movie, and i've put thought into writing something else that can be made more cheaply-- but at this moment i'd really like to shoot this, not just something.  who knows, though-- there just may be one original idea out there that won't require a toddler or 2011 luxury SUV :)... but i like this partially because it's a little more than i can chew, just like my first film was when i made that (i don't have director credit on that film, but it was mostly done in post, with 50/50 creative input.)

i crunched the numbers, cut some things from my budget and concluded that if i do make the film for a hard 4k and allowing up to 5k, and if my last paycheck is July 1st, i can allow at least two full months  with $0 coming in to find a job (maybe 3 full months if things go well before july), and then i'd be living paycheck to paycheck but not be in debt. so, mathematically and even approaching the lower limits of "responsibly," i think i can afford to make this film at a level of production value that could help me advance my career.

what do i mean by advance my career? aside from having Writer, EP, and Director credit and something new for my reel, it's a learning experience, an exciting challenge, and something new to talk about when i meet filmmakers. in addition to my post experience I have pre-production experience, time on set as a 2nd RED Tech, DP, and PA, and i would like to make something with my name on it. i've also spent most of the past year in a completely non-creative job, surrounded by creative people making other things i'd love to see. people like me and i definitely speak film/tech geek, so I bet that if i were patient i could land a job on a hollywood feature and then from there land a job in commercials or trailers, even without making this film. the issue with that patience strategy is the other guys who work nights on my show. they're in their late 20's or 30's and broken, miserable-- they went to film school and then never made films because they were afraid to about money, or they shot things in SD with a skeleton crew of amateurs and now they can't even stand to look at what they shot, much less show it to anybody and try to get work based on its merits.

i also want more dynamic work on my reel-- actors who aren't 21 years old, stuff shot with a jib and at very high resolution... a film that doesn't look like a student film, or if it does, one that at least looks like a Chapman thesis film or something along those lines. if i were to go ahead with it, i'd be viewing this project as starting point for moving my career toward cutting more polished work and making my contacts in that arena.

since these aesthetic qualities are important to me, i wrote this screenplay with the idea that that kind of polish would enhance the film's "this should be a commercial..." tension that I'm envisioning. RED super primes have a look i'm familiar with from commercial work and it's perfect for some hero shots of the car's features-- not just something that's cool. the RED cred for festival acceptance could also be great. but let's say for a minute that i took the RED out of the picture and decided to go with two or even just one HDSLR for the shoot. the camera(s) would be free but i'd have to let the owners of the cameras DP-- one is a very skilled post tech and the other is just a guy who liked that camera for the money. so, i'd have two non-DP's running cameras on my set and I'd be shooting at 1080p, h264 compressed and 4:2:2 on top of it. (meaning drastically reduced options for negating things like an inexpensive light kit or uneven makeup in post) i'd still have to rent glass, too, because these guys don't own IS lenses. there's also the rolling shutter to think about, in a film that involves a moving vehicle. so, i considered reaching out to my friend with an A-1, one friend with the decidedly "TV" HPX-500, or even friends with DVX's... no. no because there are going to be shots of a moving vehicle from a moving vehicle, a jib operated by me or somebody else who has never operated a jib, and a couple handheld POV shots of the toddler. All of these things will require image stabilization, which blows up and crops part of the image. if i shot 1080p, i'd have to finish in SD or 720p and still only have a 20% margin before i was under-res. it turns out the DP i want to work with won't be upgrading to the MX, as he's waiting for the Epic, so as it is i'd probably be shooting at 4k and finishing in 2k for film-out or 1080p for video. so for what ends up being a difference of $600 over another camera option, i get the lenses i'm visualizing in and more options in post.

sound, lights, a generator, transportation, a MUA with a kit, a mix engineer, and finish colorist won't happen for me for less than $1500 to $2000 on any 15 minute project I do. as for this project specifically, the camera, DP, and lenses tack on another $1,000, and the car, actors are another $800+.

i trimmed out money for a casting studio, some of the thank you money for the actors, RED tech, AC, PA's, and scripty, and decided to do the titles and rough grade myself. athough i'd prefer to buy virigin CF media for the shoot, i trimmed that too because i do have the option of using the DP's REDDrive instead.

finally, there's the issue of what i'd like to actually do with this film.  basically, i'd get through the DI phase of production and then if i were confident in the film I'd put festival submissions on credit cards and get this thing to every serious festival i can. who knows-- one festival prize could recoup the film's entire budget and then some. but going to the festivals as a competitor is also very intriguing personally and professionally. mostly, though, it would just be for me to show, to be proud of, and to have learned from.

less importantly, there's the issue of not only giving up my security blanket, but also nixing my plans to go to iceland this summer (maybe i'd take a little camping trip in canada on my way home from Pitchfork instead). a travel dream deferred again, and likely yet again if i'm trying to go to festivals. 


Quote from: matt
I was also wondering how good this DP is, and whether she or he shooting on the RED is really any better than someone better shooting on, say, a 7D.  (Or, the camera I love love love: the Sony EX-1)  Yes, the price is a good deal... but maybe through the people who know people who know people + making several less expensive films that lead you to your soulmate DP, who can do things for you with the dinkiest camera that most people couldn't do with the RED, who really can capture an image better than you can imagine it.

I'm aware that the RED thing isn't the major expense here, but I think all the things you mentioned are not necessities at this point; you could make a film without any of those things.  If there's something in the content of the film that makes it truly impossible to shoot otherwise, then make other things.

the DP is technically competent, but I haven't seen much of his work since he's trying to establish himself right now. that being said, as long as he has light and a good assistant so that he can focus on his work, i'm sure that this will look good. i'd be in charge of composition and we'd be shooting for 2.35:1 in 2.5:1 so, horizontally at least, there's a little room for error even before i consider the fact that i'm finishing around 2k. is he magic, though? no, not really-- probably not. but i don't know anybody who is, and if i did i probably couldn't afford both them and a camera.

Quote from: socket
but i agree don't geek out over equipment, if you got a rock solid story and rock solid acting you're gold. let someone pay you to get a hard on for stedicams later in life.

getting there with the rock solid story. i believe that with a couple rewrites this will be a story that i'd love to see.  as for rock solid acting-- please god let that be the case. we'll see.

Quote from: alexandro
a dp is TOO IMPORTANT to be decided upon because he has access to certain equipment or not. It doesn't mean that it can ruin your movie if you choose unwisely, but it will be harder and stressfull if you work with someone at the end of the day is not seeing as you are seeing. 

i wouldn't work with this guy if i thought he was incompetent. also keep in mind that he's doing me a huge favor by shooting a film for almost no money that was written and directed by a first time filmmaker, with no actors attached. he's a strictly no stress kind of guy, and i think all he needs to work well is a good assistant.

Quote from: alexandro
get the best dp you can find who should be a guy you both deeply admire and respect and a guy you would be happy to have a lot of beers with.

this guy, on a personal level, is wonderful. i mean, spectacular in a way that you just don't find in most people. he cares, he makes a point to say hello in the most urgent and brief of conversations, and he loves the process of cinema-- he bought his camera and takes time off from his extremely lucrative software engineering job specifically to put this kind of equipment within reach of emerging filmmakers that he likes. he also un-fucked me pretty significantly when i ran into tech problems on the last short i cut/colored.


edit: i just added food for production meetings, rehearsals, and shooting to my budget, and it could be as much as another grand.  that knocks almost a month off of my get-a-job comfort zone but that's still not too much of a big deal if things go well before july. and who knows, the show could stay on the air.

anyway, i think i've put enough thought into the money for now. i need to stop talking about shooting it until the script is ready to go, and then just commit to making it great if i'm going to do it at all.

thanks for your help, guys.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 04:23:02 AM by Reinhold »
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

pete

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2010, 12:27:08 PM »
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I don't think you need to shoot it in Red, whatever it is, unless you can get a better deal.

I'll do the opposite of Matt here and throw you some bullets:
  • whatever you learn from this will be invaluable to you as a filmmaker.
  • if the cost is such a huge factor, then find ways to cut down the cost.  there are so many ways.
  • don't hedge your bets, and treat this as just one of the many things you'll make.  don't expect it to do anything for you (though it might!) in terms of career.
  • if you want to have a wide variety for your reel, you're not gonna make just one film, no matter how many different sets there are.  if you wanna do that, then do a bunch of super-short spots instead.
  • and seriously, no one is telling you to shave off the cost?

it seems like you wanna shoot this and you can't learn Matt's lessons by his telling you.  he's learning his life lessons and you're learning yours and you won't really know what his or anyone else's words mean until you actually do it.  just figure out how to do it in the cheapest most efficient way possible first.
“Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”
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Ghostboy

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2010, 02:37:00 PM »
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" mostly, though, it would just be for me to show, to be proud of, and to have learned from. "

That's the right mindset.

I've been there and done that, and I'm still making films. My big expenditure of a short film (whose limited success was entirely xixax related) was not in that same monetary ballpark, and certainly didn't need to be. Or maybe it did, and I just wasn't ready to make that film yet. Either way, it was an expensive learning experience, and I'm glad I got it out of the way. I showed it and learned from it (and am not necessarily proud of it, but time does that to everything). So go ahead and knock this one out of the park, and just TRY to make it for about 1000 bucks less than you think you need to, because even if you can't, going into it with that mindset you'll be better off.

Also: the RED is awesome and all, but don't expect it to give you any festival cred, because it's won't.


Alexandro

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2010, 06:38:33 PM »
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yep. and once you find a way to cut 1k from your budget, kepp that 1k saved in some very safe place, because chances are you will end up needing it and spending it anyway on the film in some unforeseen circumstances.


Reinhold

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2010, 04:15:50 AM »
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Quote from: pete
I don't think you need to shoot it in Red, whatever it is, unless you can get a better deal.
you may not be aware of how good of a deal i was offered on the red. $900 is about 60% of the NYC day rate  for the camera, DP, and primes, and i'm getting all of that for 3 days, and tech support from RED, Apple, and the DP throughout post.  the DP also has a few lights he includes, which is cool.

maybe that's still too much money to you, but if i shot HDSLR i'd still end up spending a few hundred bucks and i'd have  fewer options for delivery. i'd also be stuck with the resolution i shot, with less latitude than RAW video would offer for color and light correction. tech support would probably be less of an issue, but still-- it's basically just the creative cow forums or whatever, not a dedicated troubleshooting department like RED offers.

Quote from: pete

I'll do the opposite of Matt here and throw you some bullets:

    * whatever you learn from this will be invaluable to you as a filmmaker.
    * if the cost is such a huge factor, then find ways to cut down the cost.  there are so many ways.
    * don't hedge your bets, and treat this as just one of the many things you'll make.  don't expect it to do anything for you (though it might!) in terms of career.
    * if you want to have a wide variety for your reel, you're not gonna make just one film, no matter how many different sets there are.  if you wanna do that, then do a bunch of super-short spots instead.
    * and seriously, no one is telling you to shave off the cost?


it seems like you wanna shoot this and you can't learn Matt's lessons by his telling you.  he's learning his life lessons and you're learning yours and you won't really know what his or anyone else's words mean until you actually do it.  just figure out how to do it in the cheapest most efficient way possible first.

*i'm getting a lot pound for pound out of this script... commercial type stuff in the opening, more narrative offline and online editing, motion graphics if i decide to do the titles, and vfx experience to putting car exhaust in the guy's face (maybe). if i decide not to do this project, i'm entertaining the notion of shooting two days with a few actors and make a few spec commercials or super-short films with a related group of characters... but that doesn't interest me nearly as much as making a statement with one short film where i really try to do the limit of what i'm capable of right now.
*i don't think this will be a ticket into a job or anything like that, but it's nice to have something like this to show when i try to talk to actors or directors or whoever in the future. also, i don't expect to sell it, really, but i feel like it's got potential to be very good.  
*a few people, mostly here, are telling me to shave off the cost, and i already shaved $2500 off of the 7000 mark that i thought was the minimum when i sketched this thing out, and i could cut another $500 off by not giving everybody who is going to work "for free" on this $50 thank you cards at the end of the screening party and a couple of beers at the end of the shooting day. i could try and dupe some actor into working for free, but let's see how many takes he wants to do for free with an SUV on his chest. i could knock $1100 off by not feeding anybody for rehearsals, production meetings, or on set, and by making my crew by their own cigarettes while shooting. so there's another 1600 off and i'd have a $3,000-3,400 RED short-- but i would be making the mistake of not keeping my crew happy, which is is a big contributing factor to a lot of films made for $1000 sucking. i'm asking my friends to take a day off of work and to shoot 3 consecutive 12-hour days in the middle of august, dealing with a toddler for half of the day and shooting in daylight. that's asking a lot of these people, and i feel like i should think more about them than the budget. at the very least i want to approach them about shooting this thing when i have a really impressive script to show them.  which brings me to my next point.

it's not ready yet. but here's a draft and i'm interested to see what you guys have to say about it: http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=11131.0



Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

pete

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2010, 12:18:20 AM »
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there really isn't a good reason to do DI, or to export at 4K.  most fests just want a digibeta copy.  also, 15 minutes is pretty long for a short film.  aside from the really big nominations (academy awards and cannes) I don't know too many festival program short films that are longer than 12 minutes.
and I'm not sure if you're being hostile either, if you don't want my opinion I can totally opt out.

there are ways to circumvent the daily costs of equipment and the like.  my favorite strategy is to pay a guy who already works at a rental house a few hundred bucks (more than what he makes on a shoot) to be your producer or technical adviser and have him bring in all the equipment.  that's how I did it, I'm sure there are other ways too - bartering your time as an editor for other filmmakers...etc.  there's nothing wrong with going about it in the conventional way and spending that money, I'm only suggesting because you're saying this is ALL OF YOUR SAVINGS and I'm saying to you (and I hope other people will say it to you too), that what you're proposing can cost less if you get pretty flexible or creative with it.
“Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”
- Buster Keaton

Reinhold

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Re: Short Film: Worth All of my Savings?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2010, 03:24:21 AM »
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no, pete! really and truly no hostility. i appreciate your insight and i'd be offended if you didn't hit me up for a beer next time you're in new york. i misinterpret, mishandle, or and improperly inflect everything on here, so i bet it looks like i'm being hostile way more often than i mean to.

what P just posted in the feedback thread, along with what matt you (pete) and alexandro  have been saying here i think has finally convinced me that this project isn't for me right now. the first draft of the script is bad which i knew, but the idea itself just isn't something i should try to tackle right now with my interests and priorities.
 
what i've concluded is that a short film could be worth my savings, but this one isn't, even with a finished script. maybe it will be when i've directed something else, can make it more cheaply, or can make it for the same price without missing the money. earlier today a friend asked me to cover his rent for a week while he's waiting for a paycheck and i did it without thinking twice. that also contributed-- i really don't want to give up the security i have right now to make one expensive and ambitious short. there are other ways to grow and cheaper ways to learn.
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

 

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