The Art of Storyboarding - Five Essential Tips
It's quite commonplace for filmmakers to fear the act of storyboarding moreso than writing the dreaded business plan. This is baffling, when you think about it - if someone can take a stack of paper and gleefully go through the mammoth task of turning it into a film, you'd think putting a series of doodles together would be no sweat.
Script Structure Analysis: Cabin in the Woods
"Cabin in the Woods" is getting raves from critics and moviegoers alike, but the most interesting thing about it isn’t the surprise “twist,” but the twists of the plot itself. What follows is a structural breakdown of the entire movie (SPOILER ALERT) and tips on how to keep your own complicated script under control.
Costume and Wardrobe
Two of the departments that get screwed over the most in indie film-land are wardrobe and costume design. But it doesn't have to be that way!
Vocab Lesson: MacGuffin
Vocab Lessons explains a common screenwriting or filmmaking technique so that screenwriters can better utilize them in their writing. This post will cover a macguffin, a sometimes insignificant object that drives the plot forward. Some spoilers ahead.
Protecting Yourself from Plagiarism
A comparison of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale, and advice on how screenwriters can deal with plagiarism and protect their work.
The Hunger Games and Plagiarism
Thoughts on the debate over whether Battle Royale was plagiarized to create The Hunger Games, and what screenwriters can learn from it.
Budgeting For Casting
The casting process on a low-budget independent film often gets short shrift. Don't make that mistake!
Vocab Lesson: Character Foils
Vocab Lessons explains a common screenwriting or filmmaking technique so that screenwriters can better utilize them in their writing. This post will cover a character foil, which is a character whose traits either mirrors or is opposite to the main character
Top Tips for Writing a Bio Pic
With the Oscars and other award shows consistently handing out trophies to actors and actresses in big name bio pics (ahem, Meryl Streep), it
6 Cheap Ways To Add Production Value
No budget? No problem! Here's a few small ways you can make your film look and sound a LOT better than the competition.
How (And Why) to Outline a Screenplay
As much as we all want to just sit down and write a screenplay, it
Scheduling Sex (Scenes)
You may have to do this in your personal life, but you definitely have to do this on set.
Info on Commercial Work
Commercials are a great way to get exposure and make money as an actor. Obviously, several commercials play during every television program. And now companies even shoot ads specifically for the internet. There are a lot of opportunities to audition for commercials. Here are a few things to know about them.
Your cousin says that you can shoot in his apartment for free. But it's a studio. With a cat. And loud neighbors.
Scripts that Work: Beauty and the Beast
With its recent re-release in theaters, and several directors, including Guillermo Del Toro, crafting adult versions, Beauty and the Beast is having a cultural reawakening. Though the 3D effects are stunning, the truly amazing element in animated Disney version is the script, which continues to resonate 20 years after the film was released. Read on to find out why.
Loss And Damage
Since Valentine's Day just came and went, I thought it would be a great idea to talk about budgeting for loss and damage.
Around this time every year, "Pilot Season" happens. Pilot season refers to the time when a number of new television pilots are being filmed for consideration. Numerous actors fly out to LA at this time compete for all the new principal roles on various comedies and dramas. Here's some information to keep in mind when thinking about trying out pilot season.
Top Tips for Writing Romance
With the promise of roses, chocolate, and frustrated singletons, Valentine
Climbing Out of the Scheduling Hole
What to do when your well-planned shooting schedule goes completely to hell.
When Approaching Agents
Congratulations! You've finally gotten a meeting with an agent. Agency meetings are an important first step to advance your career. You want to be confident and prepared. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you sit down with any possible representation.
The Basics on
"The Basics On" investigates one aspect of screenwriting in depth. This entry will focus on the ins and outs of building dynamic characters who drive action, and why a weak or underdeveloped character can led to a film
You Can't Have Enough Drives
Don't let these words make you shiver - "You backed up last night, right?"
Importance of Reels
There may be a situation where there is an audition you want to attend with a casting director that you
Having The Good Festival Experience
You made your film. You got into a festival. Great! Now get the most out of the experience.
Choosing An Audition Monologue
Every actor should have at least two contrasting monologues performance ready at all times. But it will behoove you to have more choices than that. You'll want pieces that are the best representation of your talent and that can be used for several different types of auditions. How should you go about finding what works best?
Vocab Lessons: the Montage
Vocab Lessons explains a common screenwriting or filmmaking technique so that screenwriters can better utilize them in their writing. This post will discuss the
Give The Art Department Some Love
When you're scheduling and budgeting your next film, try and give some love to the art department. They're worth it.
Advantages to Producing Your Acting Opportunities
As an actor, you can often feel like you are not in control of a production. The piece is already written, the locations chosen, and the casting done. With a film, even post-production is out of your hands; the editor chooses which take to use. With the tools available today, that doesn
What Screenwriters Will Never Tell You
Screenwriters LOVE to give advice, especially when an aspiring writer is asking for it. But there's one piece of advice that no one is ever going to give - and it could make or break your script.
Grip, Electric, Camera 101
On a super-low budget film, everyone wears more than one hat. But when you start working on larger projects, you have treat these departments separately. Here are some basic tips to help you sort them out.
Survival Jobs for Actors
Your ultimate goal as a performer should be to make a living being creative. The unfortunate truth is that many of us must maintain one job to pay the bills while we pursue our ambition in our free time. Finding a suitable
Script Notes On: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Script Notes is a series about current cinema and what writers can learn from great (and not-so-great) scripts. This entry is about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the international best-selling novel and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. There will definitely be spoilers in this entry!
Apple Doesn't Like Indie Filmmakers
Apple creates wonderful products for media consumers. But it doesn't care about you, the independent filmmaker - in some ways you're its enemy.
Become a Better Actor in 2012
Happy New Year! We all make resolutions and goals at the beginning of the New Year. So why not make improving your acting and your career one of them? Here are some New Year
The Basics On Setting
"The Basics On" investigate one aspect of screenwriting in depth. This entry is about the setting, or
Transportation - Your Biggest Headache
Transportation is the most difficult budget category to wrap your head around. But if you're not smart about it, you could wind up deep in the red - on something that no one in the audience will ever see.
Writing an Effective Cover Letter
Every submission to an agent or casting director or submissions for specific projects should always be accompanied by a cover letter. This is a method of introducing yourself and piquing the interest of the person on the other side. Cover letters shouldn
Choosing Your Screenwriting Software
Final Draft, Movie Magic, Celtx, and plain old Word
Big Don'ts When Financing Your Film
Finding the money to make your film is a real chore. Why make it harder on yourself?
Pros and Cons of Background Work in TV & Film
As actors, every opportunity must be weighed not just by financial gain but by creative or career gain. One of these opportunities is performing background or "extra" work. Background work consists of the actors who flesh out the background of scenes as restaurant patrons, office workers, or any other supporting crowd work. There are several pros and cons to taking on this kind of work.
Holiday Screenplay Cliques to Avoid
This time of year always makes me want to cozy up to a computer with a hot cup of cocoa and write something holiday related
Delivering Your Film (Part II)
Last week I hit you with the enormous number of deliverables you need to produce. This week you'll learn how to produce them.
Build Your Acting Community
An actor's pursuit can seem like a solitary venture. You self-submit for roles until you find representation. You audition on your own. You follow up about
Script Notes On: The Artist
Script Notes is a series about current cinema and what writers can learn from great (and not-so-great) scripts. This entry is about The Artist, a black-and-white silent film about a 20
Delivering Your Film (Part I)
You've finished your film. You've landed a distribution deal. Now here's the fun part. The distributor wants your deliverables before writing you a check. What?
Managing Your Acting Resume
Your resume represents what you have to offer a potential employer. It should be easy to read and have up-to-date information on it. While your resume is open to personalization, here are some general layout rules to get your started:
Tricks to Writing a Short Screenplay
Writing and producing a short screenplay has benefits over a full-length. They're less expensive to make, take less time to shoot, and because of youtube and internet streaming, they can now reach a bigger audience than ever before. But just because they're short doesn't mean they're easier to write. Effectively telling a full story in a short film can be a huge challenge. Check out the following tips to make your next short screenplay a success.
Things No One Tells You About the Film Business
Here are a few things that you should know as you start your film career, things that aren't discussed very much. I wish I'd known them when I was starting out.
Preparing Your Audition
You've landed an audition and want to nail it. They've given you sides but not the whole script. What can you do to prepare? To begin with, ask yourself a few questions:
Script Notes On: The Descendants
Script Notes is a series about current cinema and what writers can learn from great (and not-so-great) scripts. This week's entry focuses on The Descendants, a drama about a man (George Clooney) whose wife slips into a coma after a boating accident. Now he must try to reconnect with his distant daughters while struggling with the news that his wife was having an affair. Some (very minor) spoilers ahead.
Behind the Scenes: The Bohemian Book Project - Fundraising for an Art Project
"Behind the Scenes" is a monthly column where guest artists talk about their successful projects, and share ideas and experiences other artists can benefit from. This month Miriam Tobin tells us the story behind The Bohemian Book Project and how she raised $3,000 dollars in 30 days to fund it.
Production Assistant Survival Guide
Somewhere deep in their hearts, most film school graduates harbour a vision of the successful filmmaker's life. A life spent writing, taking meetings, calling 'action' on set, going to festivals and premieres, and enjoying life. Then they graduate, and they start PAing. Reality quickly overtakes fantasy.
An actor's website
An actor's website should be the go-to place for all information about that performer. Building and maintaining a website is not difficult. The longest part of the process is the initial design and setup. Once the site is up and running, it's becomes a simple matter of updating with every new project you complete.
Vocab Lesson: The Match Cut
"Vocab Lessons" explains a common screenwriting or filmmaking technique so that writers can better utilize them in their writings. This post discusses match cuts, the editing technique of "matching" something in one scene to the next to achieve continuity between the scenes and create metaphor.
Shooting in Bad Weather
Exteriors have many advantages over interiors. They can impart a bigger sense of scope and more production value. You can work with fewer lights (if you're shooting days). They often cost less to rent. But they have one significant disadvantage - you're at the mercy of the elements.
Know Your Type
Everyone has told you how funny you are so maybe you're a comedienne. They've also told you how sweet you are so maybe you're the girl next door. Knowing how you are perceived when people first meet you is helpful in figuring out what auditions you should submit for.
Script Notes On: Martha Marcy May Marlene
Script Notes is a series of posts about current cinema and what writers can learn from great (and not-so-great) scripts. This week's entry focuses on Martha Marcy May Marlene, a psychological thriller about a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) trying to regain a sense of normalcy after escaping a cult lead by the charismatic John Hawkes. This write-up contains SPOILERS so readers beware!
Scouting For Fun on Location
The director's looking at the beautiful archway. The DP is figuring out where the morning light comes in. The sound guy hears an ice cream truck nearby. What should you, the producer, be doing? Figuring out where everyone's going to pee.
Top Tips for Writing Horror
Though Halloween is over, horror is having a great afterlife. Scary movies are premiering year-round, and high-quality TV shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story are terrifying audiences and wowing execs with stellar production values and great acting (Jessica Lange, anyone?) In honor of terror, here are the top tips for writing a horror screenplay.
Shooting Effects On The Cheap
Independent filmmakers are wary of effects, not without reason. They can be time-consuming and expensive, require some expertise, and can distract you from telling your story. But they can also help you tell your story and raise your production value . If you just follow some simple steps, you can produce good effects on a tight budget. So don't be afraid. The force is with you.
The Basics On... Structure
"The Basics On..." investigate one aspect of screenwriting in depth. This entry is about structure, one of the most crucial elements of a screenplay and the key to crafting a commercially viable script.
Covering That Scene: A Fresh Take
The traditional way of shooting a scene: get a master, close-ups, two-shots, three-shots (if there's a multiple-character scene), and cutaways. These setups come from a shotlist and storyboards. It's a fine way to make a movie, but it's not the only one, and for low-budget filmmakers, it may not even be the best choice.
A look at online submissions
You've got your headshot, resume and reel. Now you've got to get the auditions. Where should you go? There are so many online resources and optimally you'd love to be on all of them but if that's not possible, here's a quick look at some of the more popular ones.
A Good Headshot Is a Great Investment
Headshots are one of the most important investments as an actor. They are your calling card; they are what casting directors first look at when casting; they are what agents get in the mail everyday. You want yours to stand apart from the bevy of photos. Getting a good shot is crucial. So how do you do that?
Top Five Screenwriting Tips for Actors
Actors create characters and emotion on screen- but what if they want to go further and create their own story? Though it seems daunting at first, many actors have the skills necessary to write a script, they just need a little guidance. Here are the top five tips for actors who want to try their hand at screenwriting.
Loving Your Location Manager
If a film crew is a rock band, then the location manager is the room service attendant who has to clean up after the band has trashed the hotel suite in an orgy of drugs and mayhem.
Keeping an Active Internet Presence
As creative professionals, we rely on our audience to help make our work profitable. We live in a world now where reaching an audience is easier than ever because of sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. However, that also means there are more people competing for the same audience. So how do you make yourself heard? Unfortunately there
Developing Character - Writing Exercises
When inspiration strikes, writers sometimes jump into scripting, and then discover halfway through that their characters lack depth. Though it may seem tedious, it
Working With Your Colorist
Most first-time producers know what a colorist is, but they don't know how to work with one, or what they can offer. You can get more out of the experience by understanding what they do and how you can help them do it.
Growing Importance Of Improv
Acting is like any other craft: new techniques keep it fresh and show that you are aware of what's trending. While improvisation has always been around, it has become more popular as of recent. With shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and movies like Bridesmaids being produced and commercial auditions looking for improvisers, having improvising skills in your back pocket can only help you.