Case Study of a Short Film: “The Man With The Spying Glass”
- Finally, after all this pre-production work it is time for the production.
- The first big problem for us occurred a week before the production. The camera operator got another job, and we had to start shooting a day before we had scheduled to do it. Luckily everyone was available.
- The call time for the first shooting day was 7 am. We scheduled to start shooting at 10 am. Of course, we didn’t. We started shooting at midday.
- Try to stick with the shooting schedule even if it’s close to impossible. Otherwise, it creates problems for the whole crew and cast. If you start shooting late, you will finish late, keep that in mind. On the first day we finished shooting at 10.pm so not that bad but… on the second day, we ended at 2.00 am.
- We only had the studio booked for shooting for two days so we had to finish all the interior scenes within those two days. Unfortunately, we made a mistake of dropping half of a scene from the first day to the second day. Try not to do it for it does cause problems.
- During the pre-production stage, we somehow planned to have only three scenes to shoot daily. But in fact, we had six scenes to shoot daily. For some cosmic reason, we all forgot that we had to shoot each scene twice, for both, Placit and his cynical self.
- While hiring the studio (because it was very difficult to find one available and acceptable (also financially) for us) I didn’t recognize that the sound coming from the outside was so loud. And it appeared to be, believe me. When planning your shooting, always make sure that a studio is soundproof. Otherwise, it causes major problems for the sound editor in post-production.
- Another mistake was not recording the whole dialogue once again. Just the sound. It’s easier when you have additional material for post-production.
- Make sure that actor/s keeps everything simple and don’t overdo the scene. Once you go into post-production, you may realise that this is not what you had in mind. Remember, in most cases the simple the better.
- DOP was complaining a lot (luckily mostly after the production) that there weren’t enough runners who knew what they were supposed to be doing so the whole thing wasn’t going as smoothly as it could.
- I didn’t have the 1st assistant so that might be one of the reasons we constantly went over time. It’s essential to have one, so they can keep track of time and crew.
- My DOP is a very talented man. However, he is often terribly hectic. That is why it’s good to have a storyboard and stick to it. This way you will cover all the most critical shots which will make your life much more comfortable in post-production.
- Don’t forget to feed your crew well. A well-fed cast & crew is more creative and willing to work. Remember though not to feed them with something heavy like pizza for they may be sleepy afterwards.
- Try not to work for too long. It often creates problems between crewmembers if you spend more than 12 hours on the set.
- At the end of the production, we threw a little party for the cast and crew. It’s always good to appreciate people and tighten the bonds. Especially when your cooperation was excellent, throwing a small party may bear fruits in the future.
- Because I was on the clock with all important festival’s deadlines, I needed to have The Man with the Spying Glass completed by the end of August 2010. (We shot the film at the beginning of July 2010). So having not much time we went straight to editing.
- My editor who was also my DOP forThe Man with the Spying Glass logged in the whole footage.
- One of the problems the editor encountered was to connect the right video tracks with the proper soundtracks. For the first time in my life and also the last one I didn’t use a clapboard, which was a huge mistake because it made our job twice as long and completely unnecessary.
- While editing, we discovered that the sound was even worse than we had expected. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, we didn’t record the whole dialogue. I wanted to do it later on but the actor who played Placit was ill and his face paralyzed. Conclusion: whatever you can do during the production, do it. Don’t save it for post-production.
- Since we couldn’t find anyone reasonable to do sound post-production in Poland, Jan Broberg Carter, the music composer, suggested that we should have tried to do the post-production in the USA in The Studio Portland, Maine.
- Because I couldn’t go to the USA (visa thing), Jan and Steve Drown, the sound engineer, did a fantastic job together working only from my notes. It was a right decision ‘cos Jan was able to participate in the final mix and could adjust all the music levels just the way she felt was appropriate.
- The editor lives in the different city to me, so about a week after the production ended I arrived at his studio ready for another intensive week of work.
- During the editing, it turned out that there were many shots we didn’t have and we should have had. It also turned out that because we didn’t care for the continuity enough the actor hardly ever repeated the same moves. Make sure that someone looks after this for you. Otherwise, it creates loads of problems in editing
- When we had the rough cut ready, we decided to part with the film for few days.
- For next few weeks, we worked online. I just gave my notes to the editor, and he worked from them.
- Once we had final cut, we sent the film together with my notes and the time code to The Studio in Portland, Maine where Jan and Steve worked on both, editing the sound and music.
- While Jan and Steve were working on the sound mix, a colour grading specialist started doing colour correction as well as opening and end credits.
- When all of the pieces were finished my editor put it all together to make for us a nice DVD.
Money issues (don’t know if we are going to do this)
- 1. It’s harder to find money for short films than it is for feature films for there is hardly any chance to get that money back. That is why we always invest our own money.
- Unlike some filmmakers, my producer and I pay people for their work. It creates utterly different dynamic on the set if everyone is paid for what they do.
- If your budget is very stretched (and it almost always is), negotiate with your cast and crew to give you the best deal possible. Tell people the truth, that this is an independent self-financed production. It does work, more than you can imagine. Most of these people really love making films so they often agree.
- People on the crew kept telling me that the script was really good and that it was my best script ever. A lot of people helped out either adding money to the production or working for free or giving us a fantastic price because they liked the script.
- I made a deal with my DOP/editor, and we got ourselves a barter deal. I did some work for him for which I didn’t charge him, and in exchange, he worked on “The Man with the Spying Glass” free of charge as well.
- Oh, and last but not least. You don’t make a film just to have it in your drawer. Put some money aside for promotional materials and film festival submission fees.
Promotion & marketing
- I started writing about The Man with the Spying Glass on my websites and on my FB profile before the production began. I kept my friends and viewers updated on the progress of the pre-production. This way I created knowledge both online and amongst my friends and viewers about the film.
- Don’t forget to have loads of stills taken during the production. Later on, you can use them as promotional stills. I was lucky enough to have a professional photographer on the set throughout the whole shooting.
- It’s nice to have “ the making of…” done as well, especially with feature films.
- After the production was completed, I kept putting information on my FB about the production and stages of post-production. With each post, I added a different production still.
- A friend of mine did all the artwork for short such as posters of various sizes, CD/DVD cover page, CD/DVD cover print. This is important for the visual aspects of your work.
- This whole artwork comes in handy when you submit your film to various film festivals. This is the time to think about promotional materials. Try to have the promotional materials connected with your film somehow. Give yourself enough time to come up with great ideas and to find good deals money wise.
- Don’t forget to cut a trailer for your film which you have to upload to your website and other networking sites. At the end of the trailer put the film site or your website so whoever encounters your trailer online, will know where to find more information about you and your films.
- If your film gets accepted to a film festival, don’t forget to write about this fantastic news on every site you can. You should also include this information in your submission letter, press kit, in your film before the opening credits, begin, on your posters etc. Of course, do the same when you and your film win something.
- I created film festival submission kit before we even started shooting and I worked on it throughout the post-production.
- I wrote a submission letter which is required by most festivals.
- Don’t go randomly looking for festivals. I made the list of the festival before we even started shooting.
- Before “The Man with the Spying Glass” was finished I also added the short to withoutabox.com, just in case I was going to submit my film via withoutabox.
- Keep track of your submission. Make a list of festivals you’ve submitted to and ones your film was accepted to.
- Submit your film to as many festivals as possible so you will have more chances of being accepted.
- If your film is accepted to a film festival, don’t forget to say THANK YOU to the programmer.
- If you get a chance, go to the festival and do some networking for yourself and your film. It always helps.
- Film festivals for “The Man with the Spying Glass” are still in progress.
- To find out more about festival circus read our short guide covering this subject.
I guess, these are the most important and vital issues. For me at least but then again this is my list of what is the best possible way to make and promote an independent film.
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