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Digital Video & Digital Film Production

Digital Filmmaking Ė An Introduction
Back to the Digital Video Production Guide

Welcome to the CD-writer.com filmmakers home page. Here you will find all the basic tips and tricks for getting your movie off the ground: Where to focus your ideas, the equipment you will need, and the principles to follow.



The Digital Filmmaking Pre-production Process

Step 1: Film Concept
Step 2: Writing your script
Step 3: Drawing your storyboards
Step 4: Film Funding
Step 5: Cast & Crew
Step 6: Location, Location, Location
Step 7: Shooting Script
Step 8: Scheduling
Step 9: Call Sheets
Step 10: Equipment

Where to start

Step 1: Film Concept/ Idea


This is the foundation on which to start building your script. An idea or principle/belief you can use as the focus of your script, around which to tell a story.

Canít think of a film concept: Click here

DO carry a pen and paper with you everywhere you go. You canít predict when that winning idea will pop into your head. If you donít write it down, you are likely to forget later in the day. Write any ideas down immediately!

DONíT write down just one idea and expect that to be the basis for your entire film. It may well be a great idea, but the greater the variety of ideas you have to choose from, the more flexible you can be with story/characters and plot when writing your script.

TOP TIP
If you have trouble thinking of ideas during the day, keep a pen and a piece of paper next to your bed. You can come up with some truly bizarre concepts in your sleep, so not writing down anything you remember from a dream can be a true waste. Write in as much detail as you can recall, and include absolutely everything no matter how silly or inconsequential it may seem. Sometimes these little ideas/concepts can be a valuable resource.

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Step 2: Writing Your Script


Script: A general term for a written work detailing story, setting, and dialogue.

For information about how to convert your ideas into a working script, visit:
www.scriptfactory.co.uk or;
www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom


DO keep writing down any new ideas, just because youíve started your script doesnít mean any new ideas you have a worthless. Also do not worry if you still have Ďholesí in your story when you come to writing your script. The more you write, the more the story develops. Eventually you will find the Ďholesí will have filled themselves.

DO try and be organised. The initial stages of converting your ideas into the basis for a script can seem a little daunting. This is complicated further when you keep getting new ideas as you are half-way through writing about a first one. Donít panic. Keep a separate document handy and the moment you get a new idea write it down as quickly and as concisely as you can before turning you attention back to your original. Once that is finished, look back to your new idea and consider developing it further.

DONíT try and develop too many ideas at once. Sometimes itís better to wait a while before going back to an idea to develop it further. Donít work yourself too hard; tackle any new ideas with a fresh attitude. Further your ideas because you want too, not because you feel you need too.

TOP TIP
Share your script revisions with people you trust to give you an honest opinion. Be able to take criticism, but also use that to help better your script. Sharing your script in this way can often help you get a fresh perspective and help you get around an obstacle you may have hit.

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Step 3: Drawing Storyboards for your film


A sequence of rough sketches, created by an illustrator to communicate major changes of action or plot in a scene.

Donít worry if you canít draw too well: The point of storyboarding is to communicate your vision of the film to a crew who will be working under your direction. For them to understand what youíre trying to achieve is imperative. This saves a lot of communication problems when you eventually come to film on set, making your life as director a lot easier.


TOP TIPS

The drawings need not be large, you can comfortably fit 4-6 on a page of A4 paper. Leave space under each drawing box to write down details of the shot, for example details of location, and a brief description of the action that is occurring.

REMEMBER:

Your storyboards are draw sequentially. They are a rough guide to how the film should look after you complete post-production.

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Step 4: Funding for your Film

Once youíve finished your script and storyboards, you may want to send them off to certain companies to try and get financing for you film, allowing you to hire professional equipment or people.
Presentation is very important. If you can, get an illustrator to draw some of your key storyboards.

For more information about places to send you script with a view to getting funding, visit:

www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/funding or;
www.shootingpeople.org/funding

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Step 5: How to find Cast & Crew for your film


Cast & crew are obviously vital if you are to make your film successfully. There are a number of resources available to find the people you need.

For Crew, Visit:
www.shootingpeople.org

For Cast, Visit:
www.castingnetwork.co.uk or
www.spotlightcd.com

TOP TIPS:
Finding the right person for your film is tricky. You must devote a lot of time towards finding the right actor for your role. Donít just hire the first person you meet (unless of course you have auditioned everyone else and they are most suited to the role).
Ask for details of work they have done. Have an auditioning day. Do a few screen tests.

For vital crew members (ie DOP, or Producer), ask them for a breakdown of work they have done. Some will have a show-reel to let you view, but donít rely on this. Most professionals are freelance, working regularly on different shoots so have very little time or means to make a show-reel.

NOTE:
Some crew members may have their own equipment. Ask them. If they are willing to use it, it will help you. See Step 10 for details on Equipment

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Step 6: Scouting for Locations


Location:
Filming which occurs at a place not constructed specifically for the production is said to be 'on location'. This is usually outdoors, at a well-known location, or a real place which suffices.

TOP TIPS
Donít just go to one location; travel around to as many as possible. Keep in mind these key aspects:

ē Filming in any location will require plenty of space for cast & crew, as well as moderately easy accessibility for all the camera/sound & lighting equipment.

ē Unless you have a petrol generator, you will want to limit outdoor filming as much as possible. If you are running the camera off batteries you only have a certain amount of power to get the shots you need. This often leads to shots being rushed or not finished properly, which brings down the overall quality of the work.

ē When scouting for locations, take a digital camera with you, such as the Kodak EasyShare LS743. Take as many pictures as you can and log the photos for each location. To save time, this can be done simply by writing the place name on a piece of paper and having it in the first shot of that location.

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Step 7: Preparing a Shooting Script

Shooting Script:


The script from which a movie is made. Contains scenes placed in order of filming. Usually contains technical notes and/or drawings. A shooting script is essentially a script that breaks the film into scenes, placed in sequence as they are to be filmed on set/location.
These can include any sketches or photographs of locations, include ideas you may wish to film in as well as scene breakdowns, types of shot (ie. A tracking shot) and technical drawings.

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Step 8: Organising a Schedule


Your schedule is to accompany your shooting script.
A schedule gives you control over the day-to-day shooting of the film. You can allocate how much time you feel is needed for each shot, by looking at your storyboards and shooting script simultaneously.

Scheduling will certainly test your patience. You will need to make countless calls and send countless E-mails to make sure all your cast and crew are available on the days you want to shoot. If one person canít make it, then you will need to re-organise the whole day again.

TOP TIP
It is worth while over-estimating for your first shoot until you get to grips with how long different tasks take (ie setting up lighting, moving cameras etc)
Give yourself more time than you need.

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Step 9: Writing and Distributing Call Sheets


A call sheet is a listing of which cast members should arrive for make-up, what time actors/crew are due on set, what scenes they are in and what special requirements (if any) are needed. It is essentially a daily breakdown of the shoot. You should also include pick-up times and locations if you have arranged transport.

TOP TIP On the call sheet include the actorís name as well as the characterís name.

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Step 10: Equipment for filming


The range of digital video equipment varies greatly.
Depending on your budget, you have different options available to you.

Entry level equipment, such as the JVC GR-D33 MiniDV Digital Camcorder is ideal for films on a low budget. The convenience of having your own camera also stops any potential restrictions you may have by renting one.

For those with a slightly larger budget, we reccomend the Sony HDR-HC1E or the Sony HDR-FX1 .

TOP TIPS
When buying a camera it is worthwhile getting additional extras;
Buying an extra battery is incredibly useful for outdoor filming, and having camera equipment such as tripods or monopods available to you help with the filming process.

Lighting:
For indoor filming, you are going to need lighting. Do not underestimate the importance of lighting. It can make all the difference to a shot being the best youíve filmed, or ending up on the cutting room floor.

Cutting Room Floor:
Term applied to a piece of footage that does not appear in the final cut of the film. Scenes or shots are usually dropped because of time constraints, or an error in the filming process.

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Get information on the JVC GR-D33 MiniDV Digital Camcorder, the Kodak EasyShare LS743 Digital Camera or
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