"Machine Learning" a Scifi Horror Comedy Short Film - Preproduction thread

Hey everyone, I'm Cam. I like making these production threads as a fun way to share what's going on in my life and where I'm going with my projects.
I just recently finished a script for a short film, taking the lessons learned from my last scifi short "Infinitus". That film was a great experience, and a lot of fun to make.

You can find all that pre-pro stuff on its thread here: Infinitus Pre-Production Thread

I learned some great lessons with that, mainly that story and plot are king. The script for Infinitus was written around the focus of practical FX. I had an idea, but it wasn't a story. I made up a lot of plot devices as I got closer to filming.... Which in hindsight may have not been a good way to go.

With this new script, I decided I wanted to focus on the plot first, and then tack on the elements of scifi after. In the end, this story focuses more on the main character, Roy, and his interaction with the plot, rather than the machines and set pieces first. Don't get me wrong, I still love me some good set pieces!!! As you will see in the BTS.

.... All that out of the way.... Onto the "meat" of this thread!

I made a pitch deck for this film. Thought I would try it out, and get a taste for how it works. I'll just post that here to explain the film's inner workings:

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Creating this pitch deck was pretty fun! I used CANVA to do it, and they recently added a really great background remover that works like a charm, so it is really easy to do something like this on there. I'd highly recommend it for how easy it is to pick proper sizes and templates for your pitch decks. (not a sponsored message... lol)

I'll be posting more in the coming weeks leading up to the films release... probably some time in November. Hope you all follow along, get something out of these posts, and get those creative juices churning along with me.

Until the next post.
-Peace!
 

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BTS picture dump!!!

Here is a pic of us testing out flesh colored Jello for the edible protein pucks that come out of the survival device. It is made with peach flavored Jello that is combined with condensed milk to give it that fleshy pink tone.

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Here is the set built so far. We used coffee cup holders, and tacked them up onto foam boards supported by wooden L brackets. All that was really needed was some Gaff tape, and they didn't even need to be nailed into place! We strung up some red "fairy" led string lights behind some of them. It's a little dim, but fine for an accent light. Also painted and finalized the Egg Head prototype. Used a bicycle break light for the eye, and a Dremel to cut the slot. The egg head will also be worn on the monster at the end of the film.

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Getting closer to our first shooting day!!! Exciting stuff. Actor has memorized all the lines, set is pretty much completed, and equipment/crew have been informed.

Did some trial runs with the new camera rig, trying to nail the look of the lighting and style I'm going for. The only thing I'm really wondering is how I'm going to keep the robot "nanny" POV while also trying to incorporate cinematic shots. I can't afford to show a robot of any kind, so the only interaction robot has with the scenes is its little arm (decision made on purpose)... To give it some flair and character.

I want this film to be fast and free flowing camera, probably shoulder mounted... While also nailing the angles and cinematic structure. Its going to be a challenge, and a lot of moving around the actor.... But the ultimate goal is to give the actor room to play with the set and really create a feeling of organic/crazy moods and emotions. Almost like a Terrence Malick film.

Either way, one more practice round should nail the look I'm going for. Enough talking.... Here are some stills from the trial run. Along with a time-lapse of some of the set construction.



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Awesome! The drink holders are a fantastic texture for this application. I would love to see an itemized breakdown of the budget and shooting schedule once you've finished post.
 
Awesome! The drink holders are a fantastic texture for this application. I would love to see an itemized breakdown of the budget and shooting schedule once you've finished post.
So, after doing a quick calculation... (Since I don't have the receipt)...

  1. The walls themselves were pretty cheap overall. We used foamular board and cheap studs to build it. All the items, including paint, to make 8 walls was about $260.
  2. It was about $96 for all the LED string lights.
  3. About $50 for 300 cup holders.
So total to create the basic set was around $420.

For the shooting sched, I plan on knocking out half of the script (8 pages worth) on day 1, with a backup day in case I can't achieve that this weekend.

Then round 2 will happen based on how quickly we can create the monster suit/cocoon setup on the set. That's going to be fun! Then its just a matter of scheduling another day (with backup) and I am finito!

So 2 days of actual planned shooting, 4 days if things go south.

Here is the general flow of scene 1 that we are going to get day 1:
 

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That's excellent. I would still be interested in an after action report style breakdown after it's in the can on cost (time and money). That way, it can serve as a real-world example of production values and what is possible on this type of budget/time investment.
 
That's excellent. I would still be interested in an after action report style breakdown after it's in the can on cost (time and money). That way, it can serve as a real-world example of production values and what is possible on this type of budget/time investment.

I wouldn't think that is something normally shared, other than total cost of the budget itself?

At least from what I've seen. Never been asked to share a budget unless it was for a producer to fund future projects.
 
That's kinda what I'm thinking. I figure it would be a good resource for people looking for actual, solid, real-world numbers on dollars and hours spent to obtain a given production value. Obviously, you don't have to disclose those figures, if there is a reason you would rather not.
 
That's kinda what I'm thinking. I figure it would be a good resource for people looking for actual, solid, real-world numbers on dollars and hours spent to obtain a given production value. Obviously, you don't have to disclose those figures, if there is a reason you would rather not.
well, sure that could be helpful to particular individuals I suppose. But I'm hardly a financial expert, and really not that great at budgeting when it comes to these things. I don't know if sharing would actually help anyone, lol.

It would only show how desperate I am to create films that I think look and feel good.

The only real lesson I could give is that, where there is a will there is a way.... And adapting your script is the most important thing you could accomplish as a no budget filmmaker.

I take out huge chunks from my short films based on what I'm able and not able to buy/pull off/achieve with the money I throw at them.

BUT all that said, I always put the total film budget on IMDB, and make some pretty detailed BTS videos for people who want to see how the project came together.
 
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The project is complete! Pushing onto film festivals far and wide.

I've noticed since the shift to blog style, there is less traction on these kinds of posts. I don't think I will continue updating this thread beyond this point.

Thanks everyone who followed! Hope to have the final film uploaded and shared on the internet sometime in the next two months!

Cheers!
 
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