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Thread: Full-length movie with minimal gear

  1. #1
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    Default Full-length movie with minimal gear

    Hey guys- I've been making YouTube videos for awhile, and I've been a Partner for over a year. Lately I've been developing a script for a full-length movie, and I've cast the actors already (I will co-star in it). However, I have no budget available, and only have three Sony Handycam-sized digital camcorders to use to make the film. I'll be editing in Adobe After Effects CS4, and I'd like the best definition I can get- all the camcorders will be on the highest-quality setting, of course. I was wondering about video quality and sound quality- is what I'm trying to do even possible? And are there any low-budget video or audio options that I should invest in to make this a reality?

    Thanks a lot guys.
    Clinton V
    Last edited by ClintVanS; 04-13-2009 at 12:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    What you're doing is possible. Dozens of features are made like this every year. Unfortunately a lot of them are rubbish. This has nothing to do with the equipment (or lack of it) but everything to do with the mental attitude of the producer.

    The most important part of any moviemaking process is preparation. This is where most novice moviemakers stick their fingers in their ears and start singing "la la laa la laaa." Nobody wants to spend weeks preparing a movie, it's boring and hard work, so you will rush it and your movie will suffer. That is fact.
    You will not re-write the script again and again, you will not spend hours pondering over the dialogue, rehearsing with your actors. You will try to sort out any glitches during the shooting, instead of long before you start filming.

    You will read books called "Make a movie without effort" or "Guerilla Hollywood" written by people who have only made one crap movie which had no artistic or commercial success and didn't even get a distribution deal. They will tell you "just do it" and you will believe them because it's what you want to hear.

    You will not get all the technical side sorted, at least, not the boring stuff like sound. You won't fork out for a decent microphone (MKH60 or a Schoeps) nor a decent radio mic. Your sound recordist will probably rather be doing something else and you won't have anyone who will spend weeks in post-production sorting out the soundtrack. You will treat sound as a necessary evil and your production will suffer because of it.

    Your cameraman will not have the patience to visit the locations before the shoot, humping gear, testing shots and calculating sun angles. He/she will think that the "spontaneous" feel of recent action blockbusters is there becasue it was filmed "spontaneously". They will not want to hear that they have to spend days setting up a "spontaneous" shot. They will not demand retakes for minor technical glitches. They will not have spent days practicing the camera moves and focussing exercises.

    A lot of this is because you are treating it as a vehicle so that you can appear on screen.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClintVanS View Post
    ... I've cast the actors already (I will co-star in it).

    The feature will involve a lot of people putting in work, effort and money (even if it's just transport costs, eating, lost earnings etc) and the result will not be as good as it could be.

    How do I know this? Because you're going to co-star in it. A decent producer has no time to act in a movie, he/she is 100% committed to making a feature. All the effort goes into getting the right result on tape and there's no space for an ego trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClintVanS View Post
    ...are there any low-budget video or audio options that I should invest in to make this a reality?
    No. And here's why...

    http://www.videoforums.co.uk/sound-r...planation.html

    .
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 04-13-2009 at 10:29 AM.

  3. #3
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    You say you've been developing a script, is it still in development or is it nearly complete? I would wait until that script is finished and you are happy with it before moving onto do anything else. That script is your plan of attack, pretend you are invading another country, without a good plan, the whole thing is going down the pan. You have to get the script done first and be happy with it, some changes may have to be done, even right before filming starts as you cannot control everything.
    How many jobs are you doing? Don't spread yourself too thinly on the ground as that will show up in your finished movie, if you are going to be in the movie and work behind the camera (directing), leave it at that, but then again, who's looking after everything else? Not you, you already have two jobs.

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    You only need one camera - sell those three and get one better.
    ANd / or get a great mic - sound is far more important than video in a film.

    Spend at least a year on the script - and that is assuming you write everyday.

    Then lower your ambitions. Work within what is plausable.

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    And I would strongly advise against you appearing in your own film.

    I dont do much drama stuff over 4 mins but in my expirience it is a disaster to try and do more than one thing.

    As writer / director / operator you have enough to do really - concentrate on shouting at actors and storming off in a huff if a shot fails - that's what I do - lols.

  6. #6
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    First of all, thanks so much for the quick responses. You've already been a great help. And in response to your queries, I'm in kind of an awkward situation here. I'm in high school, and I've been accepted at USC to major in film next year. I already have a YouTube channel with Partner status, but I wanted to prove my worth as a screenwriter, too.

    The script, right now, is unfinished, I work on it daily. One of the reasons I have to star in this, however, is that I'm seeking work first as an actor, then as a director. Honestly, I will admit it is a bit of an ego trip. But for this first one, I kind of want it to be that way.

    I plan on purchasing After Effects CS4 for school, and, since I already have some experience working with high-level editing software, it should be a breeze.

    What kind of high-level camera and mic should I invest in?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClintVanS View Post
    The script, right now, is unfinished, I work on it daily. One of the reasons I have to star in this, however, is that I'm seeking work first as an actor, then as a director. Honestly, I will admit it is a bit of an ego trip. But for this first one, I kind of want it to be that way.
    That kind of "ego trip" will end in a road disaster. Slow down.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClintVanS View Post
    What kind of high-level camera and mic should I invest in?
    I personally would recommend a Panasonic HPX 2100E. For a microphone, you should go for the Schoeps CMIT 5U running though a Sound Devices 442 mixer.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 04-14-2009 at 08:43 AM.

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    I suggest doing shorter films.

    The quality of most non pro films is inversely proportional to the length.

    To shoot a full length film and pull off anything good is very unlikely. The best I have seen is Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning - Download the movie :: Streaming video or BitTorrent download

    And tbh it is pretty awful but rates a look cos of the fact they did pull it off - note there are many many people involved in this project.

    As for cameras - it's far far moe important you can use one well on the back of a good script.

    The one mentioned above is about 20,000 - you did say high end.

    My advice is forget feature length and start small - good one minute films.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClintVanS View Post
    One of the reasons I have to star in this, however, is that I'm seeking work first as an actor, then as a director.
    Consider two projects.

    Direct the one you're writing but don't act in it.
    Act in someone elses project.

    (Don't act in the one you're writing. You'll be too concerned with wha the directors doing to your wonderful script)

    On the days you're acting, you can concentrate solely on that and vice versa.

    And even thinking that way must reduce the pressure you're putting yourself under.
    Tim

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