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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When to use Crowd Funding

friend request film crowd funding

The time is getting nearer to thinking about crowd funding a portion of Friend Request. We have a good portion of the budget but a bit extra will mean we can lift our ambitions with regards to locations and cast. Crowd funding can tricky. For every film with extra cash there is a case of $100 pledged and looking lonely. What I have learnt (and what I see others not doing) is getting the timing exactly right.

Too many film makers try to almost seed fund a film or kick start it. Not a surprise, after all they are probably using Kickstarter so the name makes you jump to this conclusion. But where I see the crowd funding really work is later in the process. This is where you let people come in early on the film but late in development and pre-production. This seems to be the funding sweet spot.

It is easy to see why. Potential funders are still getting in at the ground floor where they can follow developments and get involved. But they also can see and feel the quality so far and know the damn thing will actually happen. This can be during the scary final run up to the shoot so I see why people don't like to do it.

Of course, there will be exceptions to everything I say - but I am trying here to outline trends rather than one-offs.

So, expect to see more on my adventures in this landscape (when ready!) and in the meantime bits and bobs are leaking up on the Friend Request facebook page. Give it a thumbs up.

Summary on Friend Request: 
1 - a fresh approach to the road movie genre - a great story, female lead, set in world of aerial images. Nerdy in a good way.
2 - shot entirely from the main characters point of view - bold storytelling technique to make an impact and stand out in fests.
3 - uses specially designed and built camera equipment - sharing lessons learnt as we go
4 - great people involved, award winning etc, everyone experienced but up for new challenges - with more to come on board
5 - all UK, keeping it local

Monday, May 21, 2012

Finding filming locations

My local compadre Andy - from Nocturne Films - asked me to tag along on his location scouting trip. What a find. Out near Sopley and run via the guys at BH24 Productions it is an old RAF base that is falling into ruin in parts, while other parts are being done up.

Even as a writer I think finding cool places and looking around is a great inspiration. For three main reasons.

  1. It gets your mind out of the modern domestic environment.
  2. It makes you more comfortable to write scenes that may seem out of reach for a low budget.
  3. Best of all, it just gives you ideas by being there - in a storydust manner.
Certainly it gave myself and Andy an idea for a new web series even though I was partly thinking about Friend Request locations and Andy was looking for music video locations. He has done one there already. Check it below.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How a writer becomes a director.

At the most recent Southern Script Fest myself and Danny Stack talked about  the journey that some writers take - that of becoming a director.

It is a common path, and perhaps not the best path. Personally I feel there are two better areas to grow into. One is becoming a producer, which gives you more power - you can fire the director. Secondly, if you are looking for a skill set that is nearer to a writer I could say it would be to become an editor.

If you were there on the day of the talk then here is the Prezi we used which you may find a useful refresher.
If you weren't, then have a zoom around the Prezi by all means. But the summary is this...

One: You already have a "director's vision". You have it as you write. Don't be scared of this term or think it means something special that you don't have.
Two: Watch out for the "writers disease" - that is directing too closely to the script, pointing the camera at the dialogue all the time. Filming the speech isn't the best way. Hear the speech, see something else.
Three: Know the stages of production - now you have to see the film all the way through.
Four: Get ready for collaboration. You don't need to know everything technically, but you do need to know how to listen to people who know their stuff.
Five: Just do it. You can't learn this second hand. Like writing, you have to give it a go and take it from there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Free downloads for writers

Every now and again I look at my blog stats to see which posts people like the most. It wasn't really a surprise I suppose to find that it was the free downloads. These are tools, which you can download and use at no cost. Cool! The top ones are:

1 - Free storyboard template, in a word doc format.
This has been the most popular - I think because it seems like such a simple thing to create, but making one that is simple and clear takes a little time. And why bother when you should be drawing your storyboard and telling stories instead? Go to the original post here.
Free download storyboard in word format doc and docx

2 - Free word template to help you with your film treatment.
This blog post contained two examples of simple, but effective, layouts for your treatments. Now, of course, the most effective kind of treatment is a well written treatment. This is where 99% of your effort should go, on the words and the unfolding of the story. But, hey, if it looks good too, all the better. You can download the two examples from the original blog post.
film treatment example layout

This handout / poster collects together the cards of Alexander Mackendrick. These are the ones he used during his many years of teaching after making films such as The Ladykillers. There are a range of ways to download it via the original blog post.
the best scriptwriting advice ever

4 - The screenwriting podcast.
Myself and Danny Stack offer a totally free podcast where we discuss classic writing questions; how do you find work as a writer? How can you make you script better? What does a good script look like? How do successful writers create their scripts? And so on. Our most listened to episode of late was when James Moran joined us. You can find more and listen at the Facebook page or via iTunes.
free scriptwriting podcast

5 - How to be a successful writer - the Scriptwriter's Life diagram.
Still very popular after several years is the free download of the Scriptwriter's Life diagram. This was my effort to put all of the key skills that writers need into one place. Find out more at or just download the pdf here.
scriptwriting secrets

For more cool stuff check out my blog buddy Danny Stack who has a ton more free pdf downloads on scriptwriting lessons and techniques.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Setting up the POVCam

We are getting used to setting up the POVCam quickly these days - thanks to some practise sessions. So long set up times has been removed as a barrier to filming in this way. Check it out.