Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

DIY Screenings & Distribution

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Some call it “four-walling,” others DIY distribution. Filmmakers now have direct access to their audience like never before and are forgoing the middlemen who used to control the route to theatrical distribution. By and large, artists are now able to gauge their audience’s demand/interest for their work and market it directly to them. CinemaTech’s Scott Kirsner highlighted this movement in his recent book, Fans, Friends And Followers: Building An Audience And A Creative Career In The Digital Age.

Filmmakers are building databases of their fans’ e-mails and zip codes and are utilizing that data to book their film in local theaters – on their own. I believe that the directors of Four Eyed Monsters, Susan Buice and Arin Crumley were the first to use this approach for their 2005 film. They provide a great tutorial on their site titled, “Hearts and love-o-meters” (they used heart-shaped markers that grew with the number of requests for their screening).

Here are some tools and sites that can help you create maps, book theaters and screen your film:

Box Office Widget – provides a tool for you to collect email addresses of people who are interested in seeing your film and charts them geographically.

“How To Make A Screenings Map With Google” – Self Reliant Film’s Paul Harrill shows you how – well, the title of the post says it all.

Theatrical Mapping Project – The Workbook Project ( – among many things – is building a collaborative database of theatrical venues that can show digital work.

Brave New Theaters – Provides the ability to utilize a community around your film. Think, MySpace/Facebook fan page with a purpose: fans screen your film at home, small theater, community center, etc.’s Demand service – empowers fans to influence where their favorite films appear by creating viral grass-roots campaigns to “demand” them in their town. Filmmakers are then able to use their service to make informed decisions about where to appear and can communicate with their fans via targeted email tools.

MobMov – a.k.a. Mobile Movie is reviving the great American drive-in. Powered by cars and video projectors, “mobmovs” are easy and affordable to set up. Check out their tutorial. If this interests you, check out Popular Mechanics – “How to Make Your Own Drive-In Movie Theater.”

How-To Notes On Producing A 1 Week Long Run Of A Feature, With Info. On Gear & Costs” – The quintessential “DIY Filmmaker” (who owns that moniker) – Sujewa Ekanayake – explains, in detail what it took to screen his film, Date Number One for a 7 day run in Kensington, MD.

Free Film School via the Vimeo Community

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Their moniker is “Vimeo: People connecting through video.” This includes many filmmakers who are sharing their knowledge – creative & technical. Within Vimeo’s 28,000+ channels, lives several micro groups dedicated to the filmmaking process.

Here are a few good ones:

  • ­SHOOT FOR THE EDITThis channel is for sharing editing and shooting techniques for beginning and advanced video producers.

  • ZACUTO USACreator of FilmFellas, a Webisodic series devoted to getting to the heart of the indie film movement.

  • FILMCAST Live! Channel A Channel Dedicated to the craft of Cinematography and Motion Picture Camera Operation.

I’m sure I missed some so check it out for yourself at

IndieClix: Affiliate Marketing for Indie Filmmakers

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

IndieClix is an affiliate marketing management platform that gives filmmakers a new way to sell and market their films. It utilizes other people’s websites and blogs as referral outlets that get compensated for every sale – same as and many other affiliate programs.

The program was originally created by Magic Rock Entertainment to support Neoflix clients (another e-commerce service created for filmmakers and distributors). Its functionalities worked so well that it allowed for a greater expansion into the IndieClix program.

An affiliate can be a website, blog, or anyone who provides a sales referral, and is then paid if that referral translates into a lead or a sale for the merchant. A group of affiliates is like the “outside sales” for an artist or distributor, and an effective affiliate marketing strategy gives the artist/distributor a worldwide sales force. Indieclix handles the affiliate sign-up, creation of affiliate marketing programs, tracking of the sales lead, and the compensation and reporting for both sides. Magic Rock serves as the neutral third-party that ensures affiliates and filmmakers/distributors are equally served.” [excerpt from Magic Rock’s explanation of the program]

Click below to see their tutorial video that explains the whole program:


Film Racing Coming to a City Near You

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Film Racing is a great creative concept that’s like “Mission Impossible” meets “The Amazing Race” in a marathon filmmaking competition.  Filmmakers form teams in each participating city and have 24 hours to complete an original short film (no longer than 4 minutes) based on an assigned theme and surprise element. Each team receives an e-mail on Friday night with a theme (like “revenge”) and a surprise element (like a prop – “toothbrush” or action – “slap”). The plot of your film will need to incorporate the assigned theme and element. The completed films are then due back at the film drop-off location by 10PM on Saturday night.

Since 2007, Film Racing has given out over $120,000 in cash and prizes to the winning filmmakers to aid them in their future projects. The winning films from each city compete for thousands of great prizes and one team will walk away with the “Best Film of 2009” title. [from official site]

Anyone can enter this “race” and each team is responsible for providing their own equipment and crew. See if your city is in the race by clicking here.

Documentary Filmmaking Tutorials from ‘FourDocs’

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

FourDocs is the online documentary channel from Britain’s – Channel 4. Fourdocs also offers a unique opportunity for filmmakers to get exposure making short docs for their “3Minute Wonder.” – which is “the only site that selects online films and puts them directly in a primetime terrestrial broadcast slot,” says Kate Vogel of 3MW. Because of this, they have a top notch documentary filmmaking tutorial guides on their site. It covers everything you need to know from start to finish:

+ Pre-Production – “Get Planning”

+ Production – “Get Shooting”

+ Post Production – “Get Editing”

And everything in between. Check ‘em all out here.

Special thanks to Make Better Media where I found this info.

Filmmaking Tricks – Using a Rubber Band for a Smooth Pan Shot

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Here’s another simple low-budget trick with a rubber band that stabilizes your tripod for a smooth panning effect. I found this (again) via brusspup’s Channel on Metacafé.

Check it out…

Filmmaking Tricks – Using Your Tripod for Crane-Like Shots

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Here’s a very cool low-budget maneuver you can try with your tripod. It’s a simple idea that can add production value to your shot.

Here are some other related vids on this subject:

DIY Filmmaking: Make Your Own Props & Special FX – Part 2 “GUTS” (metaphorically speaking)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

In Part 1 (DIY Filmmaking: Make Your Own Props & Special FX – “BLOOD”), I listed several great resources for making your own “blood” related props and special effects. Now in Part 2 – the “Guts” covers several more great links. I used “guts” as a metaphor to describe all the internal building blocks that go into making movie props and special effects.

To be honest, the word “guts” just works well for a two part series: “Blood” & “Guts.”

We’ll start with a good segue to the “blood” post:


A mixture of links from Halloween enthusiasts and filmmakers are comprised in this list.“Build a Dead Guy for Horror Films”“Making A Dead Guy 101”“Making A Corpse”

I“Charred Corpse”

And one of the signature DIY sites has its own contributions:“Making a Dead Guy 101,” “BFX: How to Make a Fake Brain,” “How to Make Fake Heads,“How to Make a Fake Hand”


Studio “…tips and tricks that go into making professional style costumes and props that are used in the Hollywood Movies”

DIY“Costumes”“Costume Resource Links”“The Costume Page (a lot of links)”“The Dyeing Guide,” “The Arming Coat,” “Dress Making Guide”


DIY Filmmaking: Make Your Own Props & Special FX – Part 1 “BLOOD”

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

In a previous “DIY Filmmaking” post, I highlighted several great websites like Indy Mogul and Both provide very useful tutorials for “diy” filmmaking equipment projects. I’ve included several more links from them in this post. They are a great resource for making your own props and special effects. I’ve also discovered several others that cover this topic. In fact, I found so many that I had to split this post into two parts.

For Part 1, my list of sites with DIY Props & Special Effects will cover “Blood” and all the filmmaking special effects that relates to it.


Almost every film uses some kind of blood effect. Be it a simple abrasion or nosebleed; an action flick with shoot ’em up gun-shot scenes or a full on horror slasher film. They all have to produce blood FX in some degree.

Gun Shot FX:

Indy Mogul has a good ‘diy’ gun-shot squib tutorial titled, “How To Make A Blood Shooter.” There is also a video demonstration which was their pilot episode (“Blood-squirting gunshot effect for just $15”) for their series, Backyard FX. has both parts combined.“Hollywood Gunshot Blood Effect!”“Blood & Bullets for No-Budget movies” (How to make compressed gas bullet hits); alt link via“How to Make Fake Blood Squibs for Film, Television and Stage Productions”

MicroFilmmaker“Create a Hollywood Style Gunshot Wound” and “Creating Bullet Hits with Paintball Shots”


Robert Rodriguez’s 10-Minute (DIY) Film School VIDEO

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

One of the most popular filmmaking articles online has been “Robert Rodriguez’s 10-Minute Film School” (courtesy of It’s a transcribed excerpt from a ‘guerrilla filmmaking’ seminar-lecture Rodriguez did several years go. A more detailed version of the lecture is also available in his book: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player. One of my most popular posts on this site, “DIY Film School – Learn from Websites with Filmmaking Tutorials” also includes a link to this article. Now, a video has surfaced on YouTube with Rodriguez narrating the making-of his legendary film, El Mariachi. He shares some of his “secrets” on how he shot his first film for $7k. One is that he shot the whole thing silent – without sound. He made it work.

Check out the 2 parts of the video by clicking below: