What I learned about film making while shooting my Kickstarter video

I’m still in the process of putting together my Kickstarter video. What’s left is:

  • Finalize flash movie/animatic trailer
  • Finalize and shoot my pitch
  • Add more to the end of the initial video we shot.

That last part about adding more to the initial video we shot is what this post is about.

The idea was to shoot page one. In screenwriting, one page is roughly equivalent to one minute of screen time. Having never shot anything before, I seriously had no idea how long it would take to shoot that scene.

For starters the location we had, which was great, had an extremely small bathroom. After watching Brian, our cinematographer, start setting up lights it became immediately clear to me why they build sets and try not to use real world locations. It’s just harder; but fuck it, art through adversity right?

I started off with very well drawn storyboard and of course the initial idea of what that scene would look like. I think we came close, sorta. We didn’t have room to get all the angles, but more importantly we didn’t have time. We had three hours to use in a bar before they opened. Which I thought was about 90 minutes more than we needed; turns out we coulda used three more hours.

What we failed to get was the part where JOHN exits the bathroom, gun in hand, on a mission. He bursts through the door, makes his way to the front door – opens it, raises the gun as three silhouettes turn and we FADE TO WHITE and roll opening credits. Of course in this video we dont roll credits.

The great idea we had, while shooting and since we were running short on time was to have me interrupt the action. Basically I stood off to the side and said “why’d we stop, did we run out of money”?  It was clever and a cute idea but I really didn’t have my pitch ready as to what I wanted to say and it fell flat.

The plan now is to go back – probably to the same bar but its not necessary since we don’e need any more shots of the bathroom, but to go back, and shoot the scene of JOHN coming out of the bathroom. He then gets interrupted by me again, but this time just to inform him that the safety is on because, in what we filmed, the safety is on. It took my friend, a sniper in the army, to inform me of that. Once we finish showing page one, I’ll go into my pitch.

So this post is about what I learned from my first attempt at filming.

  1. Make sure you find a good cinematographer/camera man. I’m sure some new directors out there could manage this, or some good Final Cut Pro people could do really good color correction in post, but having someone who understands camera movement and lighting is ideal. This is brutally obvious, but it should be said.
  2. However long you think it will take, you can probably double it. This works for software development too.
  3. What you picture in your head, won’t always show up on screen. As writers, it’s in our heads long before anyone elses. It’s perfect with the perfect location, and perfect lighting and the perfect actor etc.. Nothing against the guys I worked with and used, they were great and while it will probably come close to the vision in my head when we shoot it for real, once we’re funded, I was really surprised at how different it came out than what I originally thought of when I wrote it.
  4. What you write might not always come across how you intend. I remember watching the action and thinking “I have no idea if this is lame or suspenseful.” I think it turned out more suspenseful, hopefully.
  5. I know nothing, and by admitting that, I know something, so I just created a paradox or something….GREAT SCOTT…

Tonight I pick out which voice actors will appear in the flash movie/trailer we’re creating. It’s really hard to listen to VOX actors as most of them do radio/TV commercials and they’re doing “pitch voice” when I need “dramatic voice”.

I can’t wait to see it though, It’s gonna be great.