Archive for the ‘Pre-Production’ Category

Best Practices for “Green” Filmmaking

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

A new Code of Best Practices for Sustainable Filmmaking was just released by the American University School of Communication’s Center for Social Media and Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

…filmmakers create carbon debt with our work. However, as in other industry sectors, we can take action immediately to reduce consumption and waste in our profession; to educate peers, employees and interns; and to support policies that register the true environmental costs of production.” [from]

This initiative also includes tools such as Checklists (actions needed to create a sustainability plan), Carbon trackers (track production activities that use energy and produce carbon emission) and some relevant web resource links. Check out the “downloads” below:


Storybids Connects Content Creators with Advertisers

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Storybids is an interesting site that looks to give content creators a link to the product placement marketplace. Storybids provides an outlet for auctioning online content to advertisers to include their products in online video content. Their tool provides an option for filmmakers/content creators to off-set production costs and even make a profit on their creation. If this endeavor is successful, it will lay a foundation for independent filmmakers to bridge to monetization resources traditionally only available to big budget productions.

Now advertisers are turning to the Internet and shifting their budget to online videos, product placements and viral videos. By 2010, experts estimate online advertising will grow to an $11 billion business. Agencies just aren’t geared for these types of media – and there is a new generation of computer savvy film and video makers out there who have great ideas that need a distribution channel. That’s what is all about.” [from]


Create an Animated Film with Moviestorm (Free Software)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Moviestorm provides a complete animation movie-making package useful for the novice to the professional animator. It uses video-game-like Machinima 3-D animation technology first made famous by underground community of gamers. I see its minimal use for filmmakers as a free alternative to buying Frame Forge storyboarding software (retail costs: $100-400). You can create your scenes in a 3-D storyboard; save time & money in virtual test sets and get an idea if certain scenes will work on your actual shoot.

Moviestorm’s parent company is UK based Short Fuze – game design production consultancy house that produced the Machinima short demo film, titled, No Licence.  Here’s how they describe their movie-making tool:

Moviestorm is a fully integrated complete solution that takes the user all the way from initial concept to finished, distributed movies. Its ease of use makes it accessible for first time movie-makers, while its advanced features and compatibility with existing tools make it suitable for pro-am users. It allows individuals and groups to create many different types of movies; from comedies, music videos, video blogs, soaps, drama and documentaries, through to high-quality complex movies that traditionally have only been affordable to fully funded film-makers. Our goal is to make Moviestorm the ubiquitous platform of choice for animated movie production. ” [from Shortfuze]

They have basic tutorials to help you get started. The initial software suite is free and they constantly update their content packs – giving users new sets, characters and themes. More premium sets are also available for a fee.

Here’s a sample clip from one of its users:


DV Cameras Comparison Guides

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Are you trying to decide what DV camera to use/buy/rent on your next film? Check out these valuable sources which sort numerous options for you.

+ Slash Cam has 83 models in a database with sort able filters for you to compare different camera models. It has every conceivable category for you to choose from.

+ HD Cinema: HD and Digital Cinema Camera Blog has another CHART. This is a straight up list from cameraman, Ben Cain which includes some of the higher end DV cameras like the VariCams, The Red One and the Genesis. He also adds another list from Fletcher Camera (PDF file).

And last but not least… Zacuto, the Chicago based camera house has a great ‘comparison’ video (via Vimeo) that compares all of the new HD cameras on the market to each other in a same scene, same lighting set-up comparison test. Check it out (below):

+ “Zacuto’s Great Camera Shootout ’08”


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.

DETAILS Mag & NEHST Studios Want Your Film Pitch

Friday, October 31st, 2008

NEHST Studios and Details Magazine are collaborating on a project to produce a film with you. Yes you! NEHST, whose founder produced Sling Blade [imdb] and Details, a men’s lifestyle and fashion magazine want your film pitch.

Here’s the gist:

The DETAILS/NEHST Movie Project is a unique initiative that enables aspiring filmmakers the access to get their film made. Anyone who has a movie idea can “pitch” their idea via this website. DETAILS and NEHST will then review the submissions and if they find the right project, they’ll greenlight the idea. The DETAILS/NEHST collaboration allows those wanting to break into film—or those just toying with a movie idea—to bypass the red tape of Hollywood and have their ideas reviewed by real producers.” [from the official DETAILS/NEHST Movie Project site]

If you have a script, treatment or just an idea for a film – they are interested in hearing from you. Go to their official “how-to pitch page” and submit your idea. There’s a $10 submission/administration fee – but that will also get you a one year subscription to Details Magazine.

Celtx (Free Pre-Production Software) Releases 1.0 Version

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Celtx just released the 1.0 version of their pre-production software. I personally have not used Celtx since their 0.9.7 version and I was only utilizing the Screenwriting feature. This new release has so many new features that I think is worth checking out – and it’s still free! You can download it here.

Some of their new features include Storyboarding, and upgraded Project Scheduling tool that integrates with the script breakdown, and an iPhone tool that allows you to view your Celtx projects on your iPhone. There’s a lot more too. Every independent filmmaker on a budget would be wise to try this open platform tool that is – did I mention this – FREE!


Funding Your Film Through the Fan Based Social Marketplace

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

In a previous post, “Let the Public Finance Your Film,” I looked at several examples of filmmakers utilizing the social landscape of the internet for funding their film. Their approach was to reach out and create a fan base that would lend financial support for their project. Kevin Kelly [bio] recently commented on the financial power of a fan base in his article titled, “1,000 True Fans.” Kelly states that “anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.” The expansion of that idea has created other websites that provide a platform for project funding and promotion.

The latest example is IndieGoGo. This is the hottest endeavor to utilize the social market place in helping filmmakers find funding for their projects. It was just launched in January ’08 and Filmmaker Magazine reported that the site announced its first film to reach its funding goal (The Lilliput by filmmaker Minna Zielonka-Packer raised $10,000 through the site). IndieGoGo allows filmmakers to incorporate what they call a “DIWO – Do It With Others” approach. Here’s how they describe it:

IndieGoGo enables this “filmocracy” by providing filmmakers an open platform to pitch their projects to the world, and giving the fans a vehicle to experience and influence the once inaccessible world of filmmaking. Filmmakers get new resources to build and engage a loyal fan base to assist in making their projects happen. Filmmakers can raise money and awareness, find cast and crew, and gain credibility through the help of their number one resource: their fans.” [excerpt from IndieGoGo-About Us]


New MPAA Report Gives Filmmakers Good Stats for Business Plans

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has just released its 2007 U.S. Theatrical Market Statistics Report. It looks like the U.S. domestic box office receipts for 2007 hit a record $9.63 billion, up 5.4% above 2006. Internationally, the worldwide box office rose to an all-time high – $26.7 billion.

So why would an indie filmmaker care about this report? Well, beyond having a positive financial result from the medium that you work in – you can use those stats for your business plan. When pitching your project to potential financiers, it is always good to present a positive outlook in the industry that seeks investment. It’s arguably more difficult to convince someone to invest in your low budget film if the overall marketplace is on a decline.

Here’s the summary from the MPAA report (you can also view and download the PDF file here:


Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Institute Merges with Renew Media

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Robert De Niro and his producing partner, Jane Rosenthal have merged their nonprofit organization – Tribeca Film Institute (affiliated with the Tribeca Film Festival) with Renew Media. Renew Media (formerly known as National Video Resources) was founded by The Rockefeller Foundation in 1990 as a funding source for media artists. The Tribeca Film Institute was created after September 11th 2001 as an effort to stimulate the economic revitalization of New York City through arts based initiatives and to “educate, entertain, and inspire filmmakers and film lovers alike.”

The merger will take the name Tribeca Film Institute and will continue to expand its home in lower Manhattan as a cultural institution providing artists with funding, exhibition and work space.

We have been pursuing complementary avenues with respect to filmmakers and media artists for many years now,” said Jane Rosenthal. “By putting these two institutions together under one roof our impact is going to be greater than anything we could have achieved separately and we look forward to building an unprecedented arts organization.”

“This new organization enables us to carry out our mission and support artists and filmmakers throughout all stages of their careers,” said Robert De Niro. [excerpt from official announcement]

Together, the two organizations will combine their resources, staffs and programs that according to indieWIRE, will “rival established entities as the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, and the Independent Feature Project (IFP).”