Hi, I'm in the process of planning my first film. I was wondering if you had any words of advice?
The most useful book I have read for first time film-makers is "The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook", which is available from: www.livingspirit.com. You will also find a lot of information on the Raindance site: www.raindance.co.uk" and the First Film site www.firstfilm.co.uk
My words of advice: Plan everything as much as possible before you start shooting, including script, storyboards, full shot list, shooting schedules, budget, scout locations extensively and do test shots for anything complicated. Always have a 'plan B' to co-ordinate all the equipment crew and cast together in several locations, no matter how well you plan, people will very likely let you down, so always have a plan B up your sleeve and be ready to improvise. The more you plan in advance, the less likely this will happen. Communication is the most important component to film - hense the need for scripts, storyboards and schedules - make sure you are communicating well and clearly to everyone and encourage people to work as a team and communicate with each other. Things tend to go wrong when people don't talk to each other. "but I thought you were going to do that" is a bit late when you're on a shoot. Listen to the professionals around you, then make a decisive decision.
In pre-production concentrate on: Communication and Detailed Planning
In production concentrate on: Communication, Problem Solving and Flexibility.
In post-production concentrate on: Communication, making decisive decisions, resolving earlier mistakes and remembering them for your next shoot.
On completion: Use every opportunity to promote your work, however small. Have confidence in yourself and your work. Learn from your mistakes and listen to critique and take it to your next project. Don't get cocky or arrogant as no one will want to work with you.
Try to raise enough money to pay for people expenses and food and a low wage if you can afford it. Not only are they giving up their time, they are also giving up on potential paid work. It's very unlikely that defered payments will be paid, whatever the best intentions, so realise the value of the people that help you out in this way. They are showing dedication to your project.
Treat everybody with respect and don't try to cheat people. If you are a true film-maker, you will understand this and the affect this has on the film-making process... and besides it's a small industry and the person you take advantage of or cheat today may be someone you need tommorrow. Be as honest an upfront about your situation as possible.
If there's stuff you don't know, ask advice. Pretending you know something when you don't can have disastrous affects on your project and you will lose respect.
Read "Directing Feature Films: The Creative Collaboration between Directors, Writers and Actors" by Mark Travis (Published by Michael Wiese US, Focal Press UK) www.travis-johntz.com
I am having trouble finding a theatrical distributor, what can I do?
If you have no luck with getting a theatrical distributor, you could try entering festivals or think about self-distribution: Many independent film-makers set up websites to promote their film and show trailers, but there are now sites where you can screen your movie.
How can I raise the money to make a movie?
There is no easy answer to this, I'm afraid, but I have some links below which are very supportive and offer advice to the independent film-maker. I also list some links on my funding page.