A short helpful guide for filmmakers. 5 tips on how to apply to film festivals. You will learn about what type of film festivals there are, how to get your film into festivals and what film festivals to submit to.Read More
5 Easy and Simple ways to find Actors for your student and independent films. Learn how to cast and audition actors effectively. When starting out in your filmmaking career it is unlikely you will have the money to pay actors. Beginner and student actors are on the look out for film projects to work on.Read More
In this post we will be looking at how film distribution works in the 21st century. You will learn about the traditional process of Hollywood movies and how independent filmmakers can get their films distributed and exhibited.Read More
7 actionable steps for the one man film crew. In this post we will be looking at how to make a film on your own without a film crew (or even without actors). This will all be explained in 7 actionable steps, including story concept ideas, what equipment to use and planning tips.Read More
Tips for beginner Filmmakers – 10 lessons I learnt from working on film sets. Working on film sets gives you a the chance to see how others organise and navigate a film set and crew ( I tend to be the judgmental type so I learn more from observing mistakes than successes). Below are Ten tips to heed in mind if you are making your own films these can be applied to both student and professional film sets.
1. Don't go over 12 hours of work a day
12 hours should be the most anyone should have to work per day, creative work does not excuse this. Keep in mind that your job may be less physical than others, your film crew may have just come off from working on another film set. If you have to go over the set wrap time, let it be a one off, apologise and thank everyone for staying after hours to finish the film.
2. Provide good food
Like an army a film crew also marches on it stomach. I remember on one film set we were shooting outside in the winter snow, when lunch time came all we got was a cold sandwich that we had to eat standing up before carrying on with the next 6hr of work outside. You can see how in this scenario the crew where not too happy with the producers. Try to have warm food as an option, make sure there are snacks and healthy food. Make sure your crew have access to water at all times and stay hydrated. Good food and a Full stomach will make a film crew happy, and happy crew will work harder.
3. Filming on location is hard
Especially in England with our ever changing weather, but I am sure it is the same all over the world rain or shine. I have found myself standing in snowy fields for a few weeks. A night shoot in london destroyed my feet I only had leather boots on, snow boots and a very good waterproof coat was needed. Check the weather in advance get the right clothing for outdoor work. Working outside all day can be exhausting. Especially if it's indoor work you are used to, or cold blooded like me.
4. Health and safety matters
You might want to be like Werner Herzog running In the mountains, shooting carefree. But you do need to care about your crew's health and safety in the real world, you don't want someone to get injured on your own film set. I have heard many stories of guerilla filmmaking gone wrong. Take safety seriously the Key Grip and the 1st AD usually have a keen understanding of safety on set.
5. Film sets are social places and not always great for introverts
I had several reasons for leaving film set work, and this was one. I could not handle the social aspect of filmmaking. After a 12 hour plus working day it is typical to have end of night drinks with the crew, another hour or so social session before bedtime. I would be fine with this for a few nights, but I remember one night I choose to sit by myself in the hotel foyer and read a book to have some alone time. Only for the 1st AD of that set to inform me it was too weird to sit on my own and that I would have to join the rest of the crew that night.
The social aspect of film set work can be diluted with freelance or online work, when off set and of course you can always say no social gatherings. But I felt obliged to take part in far too much social interaction on film sets.
6. Listen to the script supervisor
A personal frustration of mine seeing as I was a Script supervisor for a few years. A Script Supervisor's job is to make sure that the footage cuts together in the editing room. There is no point for an actor to do different actions with every shot giving the editor nothing to cut back to, continuity is making sure the viewers attention is kept on the story and not distracted by mistakes. Actors hair tends to blow in different directions, a black eye appearing and disappearing throughout takes, film is made out of sequence, you don’t have to do everything a Script Supervisor says but listen and see that they are only trying to help makes things easier and not stifling your creativity.
7. There is a strong chain of command
On professional sets there will be a strong chain of command, everyone has a superior, as a camera assistant it's your job to listen to the DOP, you don’t talk to the director during filming hours, atleast not to give input to their job. Its hard at first to get into the flow of how a film's sets hierarchy works, only this can come with practice. Most film schools do not stress on this ladder to climb, but try to be humble.
8. The more prep, the easier and cheaper everything will be later.
Your pre production time should be the longest segment of the filmmaking process. Its cheaper to plan and requires less crew, the more you prep the easier things will be during the shoot. Your plan is to make the shoot go as smooth as possible. For example a year of work on a feature film would go as follows - 6 months of pre-production, 2 months production and 4 months post production.
9. You learn how to do your job on the job
No one knows exactly how to do their jobs during every task, every day is different the more experience you have the better you will be at planning ahead but every day is different. I feel this advice is more for assistants worrying that they dont know how to do their jobs you will learn how to do your on the job. You will only get better with practice. If you feel less confident in your job role work a few low budget sets at first.
10. The script is everything!
It doesn't matter how much money you have, what special visual effects and known actors appear in the film - the money hose can not turn a bad script into a good film. The script is everything to a film, It is difficult to work on a bad script and have your cast and crew know it won't be a good film, the moral will starts to sink half way through the film shoot. A good story is all you need.
Location scouting for film , tips on how to find locations for your films and what to keep in mind whilst sourcing them. This post also comes with a free location scouting checklist which you can download below.
I am guilty of limiting myself whilst writing film scripts, deliberately downplaying a scene as I write to make them easier to film later on. In many ways this is good practice for student productions, as tempting as it is to go full out, why not make it easier for yourself, shooting on location (especially exteriors) can be very hard. Location changes take up a lot of time, In my last short film one location change took 3hrs out of the shooting day, Which is why you should ideally shoot one location per day. It takes a lot of time to move people around, it takes time to re-set up equipment, even a short drive from A-B can easily cut hours out of your filming day.
Whether you choose to keep things simple, or be more daring there are still guidelines you should follow when location scouting for film. These guidelines are not there to stifle creativity but to help you make the most out of you pre-production time to make it easier to film later on.
You can download a helpful checklist below with ideas to keep in mind during the location scouting of your next production -
How to find your location
1. Needs vS Wishes
When searching for a location keep in mind your scenes needs. It is unlikely you will find the ‘ideal’ location you have in your minds eye (that is to say don’t shun a location just because the wall is painted the wrong colour you imagined it to be). Consider what is vital for the location to have for the scene to be carried out. Filmmaking especially when the budget is not there to build sets from scratch is about compromise.
2. Where to look
Your local film office might have advice and help for scouring locations, they may also have a list of locations you can use. Google maps is also a simple tool that makes things easier – you can check out your location with a 360 degree view straight from your home. I usually find a few locations online them check them out in person. I found these sites which could also be helpful Creative England Locations , Locations Hub
3. Permission for locations
It can be very expensive to acquire locations. High budgeted productions pay thousands to use locations (as these films are being made for guaranteed profit). For private property a fee may be agreed upon between the producer and owner. For low budgets sets we are lucky to even pay our crew let alone pay for locations. Public land such as streets, beaches, some parks are classed as public property and you will be able to film here for free. With persistence you may get permission - on one of my student short films I had access to the underground train stations in Liverpool – Thanks to my brilliant producer.
3.5 Shooting without permission
If you don’t get permission you will be shooting guerilla style, in which it is best to keep crew minimal. You may be asked to move even on public land (usually by the police, security or busy bodies) – at this point explain that the film is non profit, that no one is getting paid. Saying you are student can also help, claiming the film is a student production or personal project stresses the low budget nature of the film. Be friendly with anyone who challenges your right to film at your location, likely they are just curious. Filmmaking is more accepted in the world these days, people are not as intimidated by a camera as they once where. Its is good to have a friendly, chatty producer or AD with you to explain the situation.
4. Location Recce
The act of going to a location to see of it is suitable for filming is called a Location recce. The first recce may be done alone by the location manager, The next by the director and DOP. A group recce may also be done with all heads of department so that every dept can foresee any problems that may come up during filming. This will save you time, money and surprises during production.
5. Public Liability Insurance
'Public liability insurance protects you if clients or members of the public suffer personal injury or property damage because of your business. It can pay for the costs of subsequent legal expenses or compensation claims and is an integral cover for businesses that interact regularly with customers.' - I copied that straight from Google, having PLI can also give you peace of mind and it need not cost a lot of money for an business or individual. For the UK I recommend BECTU PLI
DURING YOUR RECCE
During Location scouting for film there are questions to keep in mind during recce -
- Is there power - Do you need power for your equipment and lights. Are there enough plug sockets for indoor locations will you need to hire out a generator.
- How is the ambient sound – Especially if there is dialogue in your scene, is there any distracting noises to be heard such as traffic. It is best to have a quiet location and place background sounds in later than have unclean dialogue.
- Is there a nearby bathroom – where will the cast and crew go to the bathroom. Is there a nearby, pub, hotel, restaurant, inform the owners - ask nicely if your crew can use the restrooms for the day. Return the favor by ordering food from them, or come up with a deal.
- How is the lighting – consider how the light changes throughout the day. Weather can be unpredictable, shadows can change throughout the day, check to see which way the sun is going down.
- Is there a car park – you need a space for the cars and vans to be parked, can you park close to set, do you need to pay for car parking
- Is there space for a Green room – Is there a quiet area for actors to wait and for costume and makeup to be carried out
- Safety – is the location a safe place to film within and what can be done to ensure that cast and crew are safe during the filming
During the location recce take many photographs to remind yourself of the location later. Also consider taking video footage of the scene.
Resources - How to become a Location Scout
If you have any advice for others on location scouting for film please let us all know below -
Tips for beginner filmmakers , what is the best camera to start filmmaking with? When I first started making films I used a handycam with DV tapes to record on, the slightest knock to the camera body and you would get interference on the screen. Digital grey squares would appear in and out of frames, internal sound recording meant you heard a constant mechanical hum throughout the footage.
It doesn’t matter what camera you use when you first start out. It really doesn’t, use whatever you can get your hands on. Most Mobile cell phones now have high quality cameras, technology is improving every year, HD is not hard to obtain. I have made a list of filmmaking equipment below to guide you if you wish to start spending money on filmmaking equipment.
This is a beginners guide! I am referring to high quality products and brands that do the job well but don’t cost a fortune. I am not techy minded, I figure there are other filmmakers out there which lack a technical care like I do, so I made this guide easy to understand. Feel free to add your own thoughts or reviews of products you have bought in the comments section below.
What is the best camera to start filmmaking with ? From the lowest price and easiest to get hold of a DSLR camera with video will give you a great start. The camera quality is high and you get full control of your focus (allowing you to make those blurry background shots).
Tips for beginner filmmakers Natural light can go a long way, remember you can use the lights you already have in the room to create atmosphere. Lamps, torches, the light glow from a TV can all be used as a cheap alternative to paid for lighting.
Accessories and packages
For your camera you will also need a tripod, the best company for this is Manfrotto which do a whole range of tripods, ideally you want one will a fluid head allowing you to move freely.
Filmmaker Package ONE - £500 / $640
Canon 550D, (comes with a 18-55mm lens), SD Cards X2 , Magnus tripod , Zoom recorder, light reflector,
Filmmaker Package TWO – £1000 / $1275
Canon 750D (comes with a 18-55mm lens), SD Cards X2, Magnus tripod, zoom h4n & lav microphone,
Filmmaker Package THREE - £1500 / $1900
Of course you could always do what I do and borrow equipment from others (all universities and colleges will likely have equipment you can borrow).
You don’t need to splash out money to make your first films, you can very much learn the basics for free, and create high quality content for a low cost. If you have any advice for first time filmmakers, or film equipment recommendations please let everyone know in the comments section below.
What is a Call sheet?
A Call Sheet is distributed to all crew members prior to each day of filming. It lets everyone on set know what time they must be on set or location each day. The call sheet is created by the 2nd Assistant Director and is handed out in printed copies at the end of each shooting day. These days it is also common for call sheets to be emailed to all cast and crew in digital format.
It is called the Call Sheet as it lets everyone know their call time – the time when individuals are expected to start work each day
At the top of the Call Sheet the Call time is written. The times for breakfast, lunch and expected wrap time is also placed.
What is a call sheet besides the call time
The Call sheet is packed full of information to help the shooting day go smoother.
At the top of a Call sheet the phone numbers of people you may need to contact are listed. This usually includes the Line producer, Production manager, production coordinator, the entire AD department and all of the location department. On a smaller film set the directors and the producer number may be included.
A weather report
A brief weather report is also included. As well as the sunrise and sunset times. This is important information for all departments. It lets the camera, lighting, art, make up and costume department daily prep. It also lets everyone dress appropriately for the days work.
Health and Safety information
The address of the nearest hospital. The contact details of the first aider on set, the locations of the first aid kit. Additional information if stunts are being shot.
The scenes to be shot
A list of scenes that are going to be shot for this day of filming. This will be formatted by listing the scene number, if the scene is INT (interior) or EXT (exterior), a brief one sentence outline of the action being shot, whether these are being shot in D/N (day or night), how many screenplay pages each scene covers (Traditional each page of a screenplay is split into 8ths), the Cast needed and any set/location notes.
The main casts call time
A list of all cast needed for the day’s shoot and what time they are expected to be on set. This will included – the actor's name, their character name, what time to arrive on set, what time to be in hair makeup and costume, what time to be ready for filming.
Supporting artists and stand ins
The time everyone is expected to report to hair and makeup, location and when to be ready for filming.
List of all crew
A list of all crew. This will include contact numbers, individual call times (if different) and any additional notes/requirements that departments may need to know of. An example of this may be a Steadicam op will be joining the camera dept. for the day or notes on a costume change. The caterer will also be listed and how many heads they will be feeding that day.
A list of locations, directions and maps (taken from google maps) may also be attached.
A list of scenes and locations expected to be shot for the next day may also be included.
What is a call sheet. The call sheet is there to help make the shooting day go smoother. Often the main content is all on one page, with an extra page for crew details and any extras such as maps attached. On bigger sets everyone is handed a call sheet at the end of each day, a new call sheet (that may have changes) at the start of each day and also be emailed over a copy in PDF format each night. On smaller shoots emailing over a copy of a premade call sheet each evening prior to filming will be good enough.
I hope this article explains what is a call sheet any questions ask below I have made a call sheet template that can be downloaded for use on indie or major shoots. Just edit and add what you need to it depending on your production. Download the Call Sheet template printable here –
This is something I learnt in my days of Script Supervision – how to line a film script.
It is a technique to show visually what coverage has been shot for each scene. One day you may find yourself on a film set and see someone drawing wiggly lines on a script, no need to be confused it’s a very simple system that has been used in filmmaking since screenwriting began.
To make things easier I have also made a video here
Why should I know how to line a film script?
Because it is easy! If you’re a Screenwriter, Script Supervisor, Director, Editor or Producer you should know this. Some directors like to line their script during filming so that they know what shots they have filmed in each scene (Ridley Scott does). You don’t need to use it as a director but some directors do like to line their scripts up during filming.
So what do these lines on film scripts mean?
A Straight Perpendicular line on a film script means that coverage for the action it crosses has been shot. That could mean either action or dialogue has been captured on screen. The line begins at the start of a shot and the line ends when the shot ends. In the script example below we see a conversation between Matt and John.
At the top of each line the slate number and the amount of takes are written down. The first line above is slate 23, there were 5 takes for this slate. It is a Close Up of John so the line goes straight through John’s dialogue.
What is the significance of a wiggly line?
Wiggly lines on film scripts indicate action that has been recorded off camera. So in the example above the first line has a wiggly line on Matt’s dialogue because it is a close up of John and only he appeared on camera. The second line is Matt’s close up and so there is a wiggly line through John’s dialogue. These days Lined scripts can also be carried out in digital format. See an example below of a digital lined film script. In this example the green lines are being used to indicate sound files to the editor. The sound files 080 and 009 are wildtracks of the location.
How do lined scripts help the director?
It is hard to remember during a long day on set what you have covered. I have had directors before stand up and announce to the crew that we have finished filming the scene. Only for the Script Supervisor to quickly prompt them that a piece of dialogue has no coverage on camera (we know this because only wiggly lines pass through that dialogue)
If a straight line is not covering a piece of dialogue then you have no coverage of this dialogue on camera. The lines on a script are just a visual way of letting you know what coverage you have per scene.
How do lined scripts help the editor?
The lined script is used by the film editor as a reference to what coverage was shot and to changes made to the script during production. Lined scripts give editors a quick view of all available coverage at a glance, so that he or she can make quick editing decisions without having to sort through all the footage repeatedly.
The Script Supervisor at the end of every day will pass on a Marked Up Script to the editor containing the lined script and any changes to dialogue or action. I have had editors shun the lined script, then beg to see it when a tough edit comes along, it is an easy visual way of getting your head around a scene and what shots are available for the cut.
Does that sum it up?
I hope this sums up the basis of lined screenplays and now you know how to line a film script. Any questions please ask below. There is hardly any writing on this online but I guarantee you will start to see people drawing wiggly lines on scripts now that you know this.
You draw your lines left to right in shooting order.
Red is the standard colour used for a lined script
Sometimes multiply colours are used to indicate different shots i.e. –blue ink for single shots, green ink for cutaways, wild tracks taken by sound etc
If a shot continues to another page an arrow is placed below the line and continues onto the next page.
Lined scripts are also called Marked Up Scripts or MUS.
If you are interested in learning more about film continuity I highly recommend the book Script Supervising and Film Continuity by Pat P. Miller - https://tinyurl.com/ybsgos9f
I have also written an E-book called ‘ Find Work In Film’ which shows you step by step details on how to work in the Film Industry - Find Here