New years resolutions are usually about fixing the things that did not go right the year before. Most of the time they involve losing weight or getting that better job or even finally writing the great American novel, but for a select few, it means finally getting that first movie done. This is the time to forget about all the forces that are against you and lay to rest all the reasons, especially from others, why you can't do it. Now is the time to take positive action. No matter how true the statement, "Just do it.
" is far easier to say than actually making film. To that end, here's 5 steps to get your movie done in 2007. 1. Be in the right mindset. What this means is that if you don't have millions of dollars to play with or major studio backing, you are not going to make a "Lord of the Rings" level epic your first time out. I've read forum posts from many accomplished animators who are convinced their movie must compete with the works of Pixar or not be made at all.
Some people tell me about their dream project and it is so big that it has to have millions of dollars behind it to get off the ground, and they conclude because of this that they can't make a film. My question is, why can't that be their third or even fourth film? Don't kill your project before it even begins with this type of thinking. I am not saying don't have big dreams. I am saying work your way up to big dreams.
Some of the biggest names in Hollywood started out with a cheesy horror film. Be in the mindset that your first film is just that, your first and not your last film. 2.
Start with what you have. If you're sitting in your room and all you have available is a laptop, a DV camera and some decent editing software, it's not time to make Star Wars. Robert Rodriguez had a guitar case, a turtle, a bus and some areas in Mexico he could shoot in, and around this he crafted "El Mariachi". It should also be noted that he made this and other small movies before his epic "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". The same goes for animators who think they must use software like Maya or work the Pixar way.
If you cannot afford the expensive tools, give serious consideration to free, open source animation software like Blender, or low cost tools like Poser. Some friends of mine recently bought a video game called "The Movies". Once you play your way through the game, building up a virtual studio, you unlock features that give you a plethora of sets, characters and costumes.
You're given complete camera controls and simple editing tools that allow you to record soundtracks, add music and finish a virtual movie in just about any genre. This would be classified as the digital film making technique called Machinima. If Machinima is all that is available to you right now, do that! You can still tell your story and show your skill as a film maker even in an entirely virtual world. 3.
Create a real schedule. Many film makers have the tools and the talent. Some even create bits of their project here and there, but failing to craft a real schedule, the project never gets done.
Before long, they move on to some "better" idea. What could be better than getting it done? If you have a day job, make a commitment to work on your film at least one hour per night and full time on weekends. If you have other commitments, such as family, karate class or anything else, build a schedule around them, but build a schedule and stick to it. Chris Nolan, known today for "Batman Begins" made his first film, "Following", on weekends. He and his friends who acted in the film had day jobs, but they went out every weekend and got a little bit more of the film done.
Create milestones and set out to reach them. Decide from the start how much of the film should be done in three months, in six months, in nine months and work to reach these milestones. Create smaller monthly milestones to reach and check them off so that you can be inspired by seeing progress.
4. Be prepared to compromise. If you're not contracting SAG actors and paying big money, you can't have the control of the major studio.
If you're using your friends as actors, they have lives and commitments too. People are going to change hairstyles, gain weight, grow beards and even get sick and you are going to have to work with it. If you are doing digital film making or animation, technology can change right out from under you. I don't recommend upgrading computers and software in the middle of a project, but computers do die. It happens all the time. The next computer you get may not run your favorite software properly.
You will have to work around such things. Never get stuck in the idea that it has to be one way or not at all. This is a surefire setup for failure. Be open to input from all quarters.
Your actors have ideas too, and if they're not being paid, they also want to get something out of the project. Let them try their ideas and have a voice. 5. Edit your vision. Chances are your first independent film isn't going to be what you saw in your head.
Even the big guys who have millions of dollars rarely get there. When your vision gets in the way of getting it done, it's time to make some cuts. You may have to lose some scenes or ideas you really love when it comes down to really completing your project. If you can't afford to realize what is in your mind on screen, and do it properly, it is better to find a work around. You may think you shot something masterful on the day, but in editing realize it just doesn't work.
Let it go if you have to. If your vision sees you shooting in a particular location and it turns out you can't get it, you don't stop the film, you change the vision. Many big directors who can do anything often lament that they were at their most creative when they had nothing. It may be frustrating on the day, but changing your vision can still result in magic. Many independent film makers will tell you that, starting out, the most important thing is not story or character development, it's getting it done. Odd as it may seem, it is better to get it done, even if it is horribly bad, than to fail trying to get it done right.
How can this be, you say? Well, it is far better to have a film you can fix than to have nothing to work with at all. In fact, you should get your first pass on the film done as quickly as possible. You may not be finished, but you got it done. Now you can watch it as a movie and start to really work on making it great. You can plan a re-shoot or two, make a new scene here or there, fix some digital FX. You can do anything because it's small by comparison to starting from scratch.
You already got it done. Now you're just perfecting it. Make sure to stick to your deadlines though. After all, they often say movies never get finished, they just get released.
Terrence Walker is an independent film maker, animator and online entrepreneur who helps other creatives realize their vision of getting their projects done. To find out more information, visit: http://www.studioartfx.com