Tag Archives: producing

Avoid post-production blues: Create a marketing strategy

A-rollercoaster-ride-001The wording in the title is a little deceptive; “post-production” doesn’t mean the problems one is faced with when they put too much faith in that old adage “we can fix it in post”, I mean the time you have to wait from wrapping on production and finally getting the film out to the masses. It can be a real roller coaster: you’re going to face some extremely high highs and sometime some devastating lows and if you lose energy for your film you could be heading for a really dark tunnel; however, if you power through you’ll get off your ride feeling exhilarated and queuing up to do it all again!

Let’s examine what happens to filmmakers after they wrap. See if the following sounds familiar… You had a stroke of genius when you first conceived your story, spent days, weeks, months maybe years on a script. Then, chomping at the bit to make your film you call in every favour, save and then spend every penny on preparing, casting, producing and filming your masterpiece and eventually you get to say those sweet, sweet words… “That’s a wrap”. And then…. nothing….

You’re tired, you’re emotionally, physically and mentally drained; you’re happy but you’re running on empty. Furthermore, your ego is high with accomplishment and adrenaline and who could fault you for that – not everyone gets to this stage, well done, be proud but for heavens sake take a break! I know it’s tempting to dive straight into the edit but please let your film breathe, step back so you can come at your edit with some objective creativity.

If you can’t take a break in the true sense of the word, here’s a few things I did for my latest horror film “Time Lapse” that will hopefully make you feel productive while at the same time relaxed.

Build a website for your film

It doesn’t have to be the best website in the word, just simple and straight to the point, easy to navigate around and interesting. There are lots of free ways to build a website (wordpress, blogger, blogspot) and loads of tutorials to help you.

Write articles about your film

And I mean EVERYTHING about your film. Use what you have, you’ve spent so much time planning and preparing and filming I am sure you could write about how you conceived the idea, how you approached writing dialogue, developed the characters, how you lit certain scenes, any tips and tricks, I could go on. My point is that you have a wealth of material at your fingertips AND it shows people just how serious you take your filmmaking.

Create promo material – ready for when your film is complete

If you find yourself frantically trying to cut a trailer and slap up a few posters in photoshop then you’re probably being reactive and not pro-active. Take your time and have all the promo material in place so when the film is ready, people can be wowed by everything you produce. If you expect that all that rushing will result in 500,000 fans over night then good luck with that!

Build a fan base

Now you’ve got interesting articles, a few good production images and possibly some behind the scenes footage, start directing people to your film. Think of the site as a platform for the people of the internet to explore and become interested fans. You can do this by asking friends to follow on facebook, start a fan page, pay for some promotional marketing (a couple of £ could get you infront of 1,000’s of people) and twitter, follow like-minded people on twitter and start talking to people – it can quickly snowball!

Research festivals

A common mistake: most filmmakers wait until after the film is completely finished before they start looking at festivals – usually because they’re caught up in making the film look right; but ask yourself, what’s the point in making a beautiful film if no one gets to see it? Start looking for the right festivals too, don’t just blindly submit your film into everything because you’ll waste your money. If your film is a horror film then submit to horror festivals – do the research and be selective!

Distribution: Ask the right questions!

NEWSFLASH: There’s a little more to this industry than

  • Enter a film into a festival
  • win
  • get approached to sell your rights
  • make a feature version
  • win an Oscar

Now I’m not saying that it’s impossible, it’s not. It’s just difficult. So do your homework. What rights do I need to protect? Which festivals will qualify me for an Oscar and BAFTA nomination? If I want to sell my film what would be a realistic price tag? Would selling to one distributor prevent me from selling to another? All of these questions answered will empower you – The BBC have a great blog around all this issues – click here for more!

 

The moral of this story has been to plan your marketing early; all of the above tips can be done during post-production and it can help channel your time and energy. When the time comes to send your film out into the world, you’ll be calm, focused and look professional. Additionally, people realise that months and months of marketing material takes time so you’ll give the impression  that you’re a passionate and serious filmmaker. Avoid the post-production blues, do yourself a favour and start your marketing today!

 

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7 Deadly Sins of Bad Filmmakers

meh, maybe it's not that bad, give it a watch yourself.
meh, maybe it’s not that bad, give it a watch yourself.

For those of you looking for tips on how to avoid eternal damnation then you’ll be disappointed.  The only Armageddon scenario I could paint would be of Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck flying off into space; In fact that would be a good way to simulate ‘eternal damnation’ – just watch Armageddon.

Yes watching bad films can be excruciatingly painful and even worse when they are our own. Some filmmakers continue to make the same mistakes and take no time to look internally. From personal experience, mistakes made, lessons learned and some unfortunate people I know here are the most 7 deadly sins a bad filmmaker makes on a regular basis.

ENVY

Do you know what I’d like to see more than your crappy homage to a Quentin Tarantino film? A Quentin Tarantino film. Envying your favourite filmmaking and films is easily done, it’s what inspires us, but don’t let it stunt your development. Don’t covet filmmakers so much that you forget you’re not actually Christopher Nolan or Scorsese or whoever. There may be no such thing as an original idea anymore but YOU certainly are original. What would you like to explore and what part of your personality are you going to inject into your film that Tarantino couldn’t? You’ll have much more success if you’re clever about how you introduce YOUR audience to YOUR inspiration, not ram it down their throats.

SLOTH

Laziness is a terrible thing and what’s worse it can hit you at any stage of the production! This is important, the buck stops with you. If you fail, look to the person who knew the most about the film- i’ll give you a clue, he or she lives in the mirror. You don’t have to be working all of the time but when you do, work in this order –

STEP 1 –

Things I can do right now – Could be anything from a ‘to-do list’ to calling your DOP for a chat. Usually things that fall into this category usually result in-

STEP 2 –

Information Acquisition & Distribution – Now this is a lot more simple than it sounds. Completing tasks usually gives you new info to work with and you should distribute that info into more tasks, the more tasks you complete, the closer you are to finishing your film.

STEP 3 – Repeat steps 1 & 2

LUST

I actually can’t think of anything for Lust, errr, don’t sleep with the cast and or crew.

GLUTTONY

When you’re starting out and even long after, don’t be greedy of people’s time, creativity and effort. If you’ve got a cast and crew working for the minimum you have to acknowledge the commitment they’ve made to YOU and YOUR film. They are your most valuable asset and you’ll only earn respect if you respect that they have lives outside the film. Scheduling is key to making sure you’re planning is proficient enough to keep your film moving forward.

AVARICE

Most damaging long term. I see this so many times, filmmakers wanting to be recognised for everything they’ve created “I’m the brains behind the operation” said Dummy. Humility goes a long way, don’t feign being humble, you did work very hard after all but give credit where it’s due. When you’re promoting your film you’re also promoting yourself. No one wants to work with a selfish, glory hogging, avarice director!

PRIDE

I want to specifically write about festivals and distribution. There’s always a buzz around finishing a film because it’s the culmination of months of hard work but don’t let your pride cloud your judgement. Pride is the reason why you don’t enter the right film festivals because your film is sooo good it’ll win them all. This is your time to speak to filmmakers for feedback, research how you can distribute it and which festivals will be welcoming to your masterpiece.

WRATH

Surprise surprise, after making 6 of the deadliest sins known to filmmakers you feel WRATH! “How could we have not won, those Raindance judges are idiots!” No, you are the idiot. Take the hits, the criticisms, it’s all adding to your arsenal,

‘Successful filmmakers build over their failures, they don’t replicate them’. Me, I said that.

Personally, I think it’s natural to make these mistakes, we’re all guilty of it every now and again. I’d like to think that if you’re mindful enough you can tackle just enough sinning so that your film and your career stay in tact – long enough for you to make a better film at any rate! So go forth, make mistakes, learn those hard lessons and I have no doubt that your next film will be heavenly!

God2-Sistine_Chapel

The Importance of Storyboarding

neil-buchananWARNING: This blog will not give you the ability to draw, Neil Buchanan-esq magic will not flow through your finger tips to your HB pencil after reading this – SORRY! Hopefully what this blog will do is to draw your attention (see what I did there) to the benefits of storyboarding, regardless of ability or confidence.

1. Storyboarding makes you concentrate on the visuals.

“But film is a predominately a visual medium so aren’t I doing that already?” I hear you ask. No, you may not, or at least, not as much as you think you are. It’s exactly because film relies so heavily on visuals that you should do all you can to focus your attention on it. Storyboarding shows you how a film flows from shot to shot.

TL - panel 36

2. It can help Cinematographer/Director relationships

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic DOPs but none of them (and I think they’d agree with me) are mind readers. Don’t assume your DOP will just pluck the shots out of your head. Remember that they are bringing a lot of creativity to the set too and they may see the scene and/or shot in a slightly different way to you; don’t make your jobs more difficult than it already is. Storyboards can make sure you’re on the same page and help start some stimulating discussions about how to shoot a scene.

3. Storyboards can give you confidence

The same goes for any amount of planning you put into your film. As soon as I was happy with the script, I started storyboarding my film Time Lapse. I did it because I wanted people to see what I saw when they thought about the film. It gave me confidence and more importantly, it showed people I had put the time in, I was willing to agonise over the visuals.

IMG_1455

It took me 3 months and over 100 panels but it was worth it, the whole thing was incredibly empowering. Storyboarding made me understand my film inside and out and I was confident. If you’re confident about you’re work, other people are willing to be confident about you, and that can get you a long way!

4. Storyboards highlight mistakes

As soon as I finished my 100 panels I was able to share my vision with the DOP, Make Up Artist, Costume Designer and with it there was a lot of discussion about which shots/scenes could be improved or altered. The ink had dried but the storyboards were forever changing; it was only from seeing it before shooting it I could save myself a MASSIVE headache and improve my film before we even picked up a camera. This brings me on to my final point.

5. Be prepared for change

You can imagine after 3 months of hand drawing each character, every background and photoshopping each panel, I was very precious over my work. I soon realised however that If I wasn’t adaptable, all of the hard work spent would be wasted because I’d be making the process about me and not about making a good film. Film is a very organic process; remember, you’re not the Messiah, you’re a very naughty boy (Monty Python). And by that I mean remember you’re constantly learning and your storyboard is just a step along the way, not the destination itself. Change your storyboard where possible because it will develop in some surprising ways if you keep your mind open…especially to criticism.

Time Lapse Wrapped

That’s it, 16 months of pre-production and filming and it’s in the can…or rather on the hard drive. In efforts to regain my sanity I took a break between the end of shooting and the start of post-production so I could create this website. I’ve been saving blogs, behind the scenes photos and videos so I can share my journey so please check out the site so you can see how we got to this point and how much further we need to go! I’d like to thank my family for their unshakable faith in me, my girlfriend for her tireless love and support. I’d like to thank all of the people who have helped shape my thoughts, beliefs and ideas throughout this process and thank The Rural Media Company for their generosity and support. Finally, I’d like to thank my crew, they’ve given me so much and I continue to learn from their insight and passion for filmmaking.