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Oh, what I wouldn’t give to go on location to a nice tropical place or anywhere that is beautiful and warm (and a little less smog filled than Los Angeles).

I just got off a shoot in Martha’s Vineyard – now I know what you’re thinking; “What an awesome place! Even the President stays there on vacation!” Yes, he does, but in the summer. We shot for two grueling weeks in the winter. We faced off with two blizzards, monsoon rain storms, flooding, roads made of pure ice, and every horrible weather condition that you can face in the middle of nowhere on an island in the winter.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I LOVE WHAT I DO. I think I’d just love it a little more if I were doing it in a nice warm (environment that doesn’t want to kill me) location. Maybe somewhere close by in California, like Del Mar. There are tons of possible locations in the city and in San Diego. And if you need to rent a Del Mar home for the crew and cast, the real estate isn’t that bad now a days for short term rentals.  Plus you’ll have dream weather. You can take a dip in the pool after a long day of shooting.

Now, I’d be down for some other locations also, how about Florida or Hawaii?  Florida you’ll have to face off with the random rain shower and it is a wet/sticky hot, unlike California’s dry heat. Hawaii is pretty perfect, Lost shot there. The new Pirates movie also shot on their islands. The big thing you’ll have to face with Hawaii is the long trip getting there and everything is a lot more expensive on the islands (don’t even get me started about the costs of gas – or milk!). The big thing is finding a place that is right for your script and is a nice area to be. A place that is friendly to your crew and will not having them running and hiding from the elements.

Posted on February 8th, 2011 by ThePit | Comments Off on Shoot on Location – It’s Good for You!
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daily filmmaking tips

When making a movie it is important for all of the various departments to have all of the right tools to get the job done. To make this happen you need to have a detailed line by line budget divided by department. This is for all sized films, whether you have a 5 thousand dollar budget for a short film, or ten million dollars for a feature.

If your hair department needs chi flat irons, a hair iron, and hair shears, then you have to know how much money you can give the department to buy these (if you know early enough, buying products online usually saves you money) and how it effects how much money is left for other departments. If one department goes over budget, than you have to find the money somewhere, from another department. (and trust me, you’ll want to get that chi flat iron for the hair department)

Posted on November 5th, 2010 by admin | Leave a Comment
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daily filmmaking tips

Okay, so I guess this is less of a general filmmaking tip and more of a suggestion. It doesn’t relate to production itself, but having the perfect office does effect your work. Big time.

For me, I need enough space to feel comfortable. While I prefer my own office, it isn’t necessary. I just need a huge desk along with a long table, plenty of wall space (and either a ton of tacks or double stick tape), and a two drawer filing cabinet.  Everything else is gravy.

For a production office (or a production company office), there are a few things that you need. You need enough space for everyone to have the room they need to get things done. Cubicles? Desks side by side? Individual offices? It doesn’t really matter. You just need a large enough space so you aren’t falling over each other or stepping on each others calls. You need a meeting room, for various vendors, crew member interviews, office meetings, and a general getaway place to talk. You need a kitchen with a refrigerator, toaster, microwave, water cooler, and of course, a COFFEE machine (I love the K-Cup ones, but you lose something when you don’t have coffee constantly brewing… I love that smell).  I keep on joking that I need an office with a grill and deep-fryer, and maybe for the next office I will.  You also need a copier/supply room. You can’t have the copier in the middle of the office or in someone’s personal office. It is way too distracting.

I’ve seen some office that do really different and unique things. This one really cool office had a classic feel and used all barnwood furniture. That is furniture that uses wood recycled from old barns that have been torn down.  Another office I was in had this really cool art that was created with old soda cans and beer bottles.  You never know what might inspire you to be more creative or get more work down. My personal favorite office is the Dreamworks office. It has an old fashion Hollywood vibe along with movie memorabilia from classic films in display cases throughout the halls and offices.

Posted on September 7th, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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So, you have an awesome script, talked to a few actors who are interested in bringing it to life, and you are ready to make your feature film directing debut? You’ll need money… a lot of money.

One thing that is important right off the bat, is to check your personal finances. Will you be able to support yourself for weeks or months while you’ll be making no money? Will you have to borrow money, live off your partner, or take out personal loans just to survive? Not many people know this, but raising funds and trying to get the budget for a feature film can be a full time job. You’ll have to go on meeting after meeting, put together a mega information packet on the project, a full proposal, a budget, and a timeline of how investors can expect to make back their money. This is no easy task. Which is why my first question is; are you able to work a full time job without getting paid?

Okay, so you cut down your monthly expenses and you’ll be working part time to make ends meet, or you’ve saved for 6 months out of the year and you’ve saved enough for the next six months, giving you plenty of time to look for big bunks to make your film. Good, that was the first thing to think about. Next, you’ll start thinking about how much you need. What is your film’s actual estimated budget?

Posted on August 2nd, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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Screen Writing Tips

In addition to our new Filmmaking 101 series, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at screenwriting and offer tips from both personal experiences, and to have discussions with other professionals in the film and television business and hear their thoughts on the process of screenwriting.

If you are sitting down to write your first screenplay, there is one key piece of advance that you’ll get across the board.

Write what you know.

It is as easy as that.  No matter what your age, or where you are in life, you have experiences to pull from.  Whether you are a Mechanic in Brooklyn, a High School Student in Des Moines, or a Property Manager in Columbus, use that to your advantage. Pull from your past, write characters that have aspects of people you know, write locations that you know.

You might have a cool concept for a down on his luck detective in 1950s Detroit, but that was a different world. You’ll have to spend days or even weeks (maybe months) researching the time, the people, the job. Detectives were very different in the 1950s than they are now. This is a lot of work to add to your first script, especially when you aren’t comfortable with the proper script format or structure.

So, write what you know. Brainstorm interesting ideas and twists on the normal. A High School Student finds a briefcase of money in his locker. What would you do with the money? What does he do? How do his friends react? A Mechanic falls in love with a woman who brings her car in. Does he take his time fixing her car so he can see her longer?  Find an interesting story with people and places that you understand. You’ll see, the words will flow a lot easier…

Posted on June 13th, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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It has been a while since we posted daily filmmaking tips and resources and I aim to change that. Here is a full frame storyboard template that I designed a long time ago.  It is a very basic template image that you can open and print in preview, word or any photo program.

Storyboard Template Full Frame

I like this particular format, because it allows for 8 smaller images per page, instead of wasting time on full size images. Personally, I go a bit overboard and like to storyboard all of my scenes (especially when I’m doing a short). Whether you like to go overboard like me, or just sketch out some of your action sets, I hope that you find this template useful!

You can save a high resolution version of the Full Frame Storyboard Template here.

Posted on December 1st, 2009 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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Synfig, 2d Animation Program

Synfig is a free open source tool for producing feature-film quality animation with fewer people and resources.  I have been wanting to learn how to do 2D animation, but I didn’t want to spend the money to buy the software.  I am definitely going to give this software a try.

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