directing Work smarter, not harder

indietalk

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Staff member
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There's a lot to be said about this mantra. Especially on a film set. And I'm sure you've learned plenty along the way.
  • Time management
  • Delegation of power
  • Guerrilla filmmaking
  • DIY
  • Productivity skills
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • What not to do
  • Willingness to learn!
  • ____________ Tell us!
Let's hear your best Work Smarter, Not Harder tip!
 

IvonV

Member
STAGING. Upon arrival at a new location, before anything, pick where you are staging your gear.

If you're on a larger production you likely have an AD or production staff that will plan for staging, but if you are a one-man show or small operation, you might not have someone thinking about this. Before you start unloading gear, walk the location, figure where your shots will be and put your gear in an accessible place that won't be in a shot. You might be in a hurry, but think of the time you'll save if you don't have to move your gear when you get to that next set up and see it's all in the shot.
 
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indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
That's a great one. It's kind of like difference between general admission, and picking your seat for a concert.
 

mlesemann

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Know when enough takes are enough.

It may not be when you got EXACTLY what you want, but when it's good enough and it's time to move on.

I say this wearing my producer's hat rather than my screenwriter's hat, and I'm not a director.
But time is money - sometimes a lot of it - and there are times when you need to say "moving on" even if you'd
rather keep trying.
 
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Preproduction!
Preproduction!!
Preproduction!!!

"Prior planning prevents poor performance"

"Nobody plans to fail, they fail to plan"

Neophyte filmmakers are much too eager to get to shooting, which is the fun part. But if you don't thoroughly prepare your shoot quickly degenerates into time wasting problems, meaning you don't get the shots you need or the performances you want. This, in turn, means that your post becomes a frustrating rescue mission rather than a creative process.

And, of course, as one of the resident sound folks, I must put in my obligatory:

Your project will only look as good as it sounds, because
"Sound is half of the experience"


If your film looks terrible but has great sound, people might just think it's your aesthetic.
If your film looks great and has bad sound, people will think you're an amateur.

Sound is the first indicator to the industry that you know what you're doing.

Sound is the easiest (technical) thing to get wrong and one of the hardest to get right. You only get to influence two (2) of the five (5) senses; great filmmaking is about using both sound and visuals to best advantage.
 
Get to know the laws of filmming in your city. I've heard (from people on this forum) that Los Angeles can be quite unfriendly to us tiny-budget filmmakers (not just the laws but the general behavior of your neighbors). My home city of Seattle, by contrast, is very friendly. For example, if your cast/crew is five people or less, you need no permit to film on public streets and sidewalks. Also, if you're shooting DSLR and using lavs, most people just assume you're taking photos and you can totally pass for a tourist.

Get to know copyright laws. For example, everyone thinks you have to get permission to show the logo of a product like, Idunno, Coca-Cola. Not true. The danger is if you misrepresent their product in any way then you're opening yourself up to the possibility of lawsuit for libel and or slander. But if you just show someone enjoying an ice-cold Coca-Cola, there's no law against that and they'd have no reason to sue you.

That being said, it's surprisingly easy to get permission for product placement. It's much easier to just ask for permission than to worry about showing a logo in the wrong way.

Expect the unexpected and relish it. There's three versions of every film ever made - the one that's written, the one that's shot and the one that's edited, and each of them is different. My favorite part of production is being surprised.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
A long time ago I met a DP who told me "Do something for your film every day. Even if it's something small, force yourself to do it, and you will reach your goal a lot faster."

That's paraphrased, but it's especially great for any ahem procrastinators out there. The do it tomorrow types.

Well this little bit of self discipline works. It's like brushing your teeth. You may hate it but you do it every day, right? (I hope!). Because you are trained to, almost like an instinct. So do this for yourself and your film. At least one thing a day. Even if it's buying a prop at Lowe's, spellchecking your screenplay, or calling the DP... whatever! Do something, and you will see... your film will shine on the silver screen as bright as your pearly whites!
 

onebaldman

Member
"Your film might suck, but make it anyway."

This is what I tell myself everyday working on these projects. I work for the trashcan. I think this is the best thing an ARTIST can do when starting out. Perfection mindset is the destroyer of early artists.
 

indietalk

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Staff member
Admin
"Your film might suck, but make it anyway."

This is what I tell myself everyday working on these projects. I work for the trashcan. I think this is the best thing an ARTIST can do when starting out. Perfection mindset is the destroyer of early artists.
I think this is a good mentality if you are telling this to yourself stay busy and improve. So if you make a few shorts a year, sure. But if you are budgeting a "real" film and it's 1-2 years away, and you think it sucks, don't do it. :lol:
 

onebaldman

Member
I think this is a good mentality if you are telling this to yourself stay busy and improve. So if you make a few shorts a year, sure. But if you are budgeting a "real" film and it's 1-2 years away, and you think it sucks, don't do it. :lol:
I guess, but I always remember what Ridley Scott said... Bladerunner did horribly at the box office in his opinion, but now it is a cult hit. There are plenty of films that are just ahead of their time, but not well received initially.

Good reviews aren't always reflective of things that stand the test of time. Especially these days, when a review score of 6 or 7 makes people think "it's terrible". Too many 10's being thrown around.
 

onebaldman

Member
Yeah but doing horribly is different than going into something thinking it actually sucks!
Oh I see what you are saying. You are talking about mentality. I agree, you should love your film concept and what you are making. But I'm specifically talking about what prevents most people from starting. The mindset all of us starting out should have.

No one is going to hit a home run their first time up to bat. And if you do, it will be pure luck, and that is stressful to follow up later.
If you are totally in love with your vision, it can sometimes make you blind to realities like budget and other restrictions.
 
There are plenty of films that are just ahead of their time, but not well received initially.
The ubiquitous Christmas classic "It's A Wonderful Life" was not well received when it was released just after WWII.

No one is going to hit a home run their first time up to bat.
Although the opposite mentality is out there also; there are plenty of newbs who are convinced that they are the next __________ (Spielberg or whomever), not comprehending how long and hard those folks worked before becoming successful. Then they realize their "greatest film ever made" is a turd that isn't even worth polishing and give up because they find out filmmaking is HARD WORK.

As a musician I learned the lesson that endless hours of practice and multiple conversations with working professionals prepares you for performing. Once you get on stage, if you're properly prepared, it's lots and lots of fun. The same applies to my audio post work; I spend the hours of "boring" time doing my cue sheets, working through the script, etc. and then embark on the actual fun of creating an entire sonic world.

"An amateur/hobbyist learns from his mistakes; a professional learns from the mistakes of others."
 

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