Tag Archives: experience

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Filmmaking Sucks!

Let’s be honest here, being a filmmaker sucks. I mean, really, it sucks. Nope, I’m not messing around, it downright sucks. Why on earth would anyone want to be a filmmaker?

I can hear you now:

“O’Ryan, what the crap are you talking about? I thought you wanted to be a filmmaker?”

I do. But I won’t lie to you, being a filmmaker sucks.

“OK, OK I get it, it sucks. You can stop saying it now and tell me why it sucks so much.”

Well, if you insist.

INT. Night: Small bedroom

We see a gaunt figure hunched over a keyboard, silhouetted by the glow of a computer monitor. Through the light smoky haze we notice several crumpled papers and empty Starbucks cups strewn across the desk and spilling onto the floor. An ashtray overflowing with spent cigarettes, still smoldering.

Suddenly, the pile of discarded story bits begins to glow and tremble. The air is filled with Taylor Swift’s “Love Song”.

Is this some sort of magic!?

Reaching into the pile, the man pulls out an iPhone.

He stands.

MAN

(deep breath)

Hello?

(beat)

What do mean this draft is worse?! You haven’t even had time to read it all yet!

The Story
You have worked for days, months, maybe even years on this story idea. You finally get it to a place where you think it’s good enough to share with someone, and they don’t get it. So you go back and rewrite it. It’s better than ever, so you share it again, and they say they liked the first version better…

Being Indie
You’re crushed, it sucks. But you believe in your story. So you collect your ego and you push forward. You start saving money to buy the gear you think you need. But what do you really need? It’s all so expensive, and there are so many new and better things coming out everyday… You can’t possibly afford to turn this story into a movie. Where do you even start?

“Who cares about money, I’m an Indie Filmmaker!” you say with your head held high.

Even though you’re forced to make sucky compromises, you decide you will make this movie anyway.

Casting begins.
You’re looking high and low for the perfect 5′ 11.5″ tall Prince Charming to whisk your audience away like the sleepy lost princess they are, but he is nowhere to be found.

“Well, there’s always that weird naked guy from Craigslist with the tattoo on his back that keeps sending me pictures… maybe he could…”

You instantly realize that a few of your friends might be willing to act in your movie. Not awesome, but better than Naked-Back-Tattoo-Guy.

Unless, of course, that’s what you were looking for…

You’re finally on set.
This is it! You are actually making this thing happen! You’ve got your cast & crew, all your fancy new equipment, and you even thought ahead and got food for everyone.

Then, everything falls apart. It’s hotter/colder/rainier than you expected. The crew is complaining because that cost-effective equipment you were so proud of wasn’t intended to operate under these conditions for very long. Your actors are complaining because they don’t feel like their part is exploring the character enough. You’re frustrated and tired. So you decide to take a break. Eat lunch. Regroup.

Everyone is sick of hot dogs…

Editing
So you made it through filming. So what, you made a few compromises, you finished (almost) on time. You got some really good shots. That is, until you start putting it all together.

You realize that you forgot to grab a few inserts, or that follow-through shot. Some of these shots break the 180 Degree rule. Or half the great shots that you really have are out of focus.

You’ve made it this far; you can’t just give up now. Besides, you’re an “Indie Filmmaker”. It’s okay if most of the film is out of focus…right?

Effects?
You’ll pretty much have to re-render this out about 5 times, either because you forgot to turn that one thing back on, misspelled something, or exported it in the wrong format.

note: Long renders followed by continuous face-palming is to be expected.

Uploading
Yeah, that’s going to take a little while. Oh, and once you get it up there…you’ll probably realize at least one more thing you forgot in the render. So be prepared to upload at least twice.

Oh, what’s that…you got your first YouTube comments!? Hooray!

In conclusion
Filmmaking sucks, and you’re probably going to suck at it for a while, which will just make it suck more.

I can still hear your earlier question ringing in my head.

“I thought you wanted to be a filmmaker?”

I do, I very much desperately do.
See, even though filmmaking can suck, hiding underneath all that suck if you look hard enough is something amazingly unexpected: Camaraderie, Creativity, Expression, Sadness, Happiness, Joy, Heartache, Ecstasy, and ultimately, Satisfaction. The experience as a whole is what makes this art form so worth it.

Here’s the thing, many of us start into filmmaking thinking it’s going to be all fun and games and that we have it all figured out. Then, when the suck starts flying and it’s not at all what we expected, some of us bail out. The fact that you can say you “made a movie” afterward isn’t what makes filmmaking truly amazing, it’s the blood, sweat, and tears that go into producing the final result. It’s not easy, but if filmmaking is really your life’s passion, it will be so worth every moment of suck that you’ve paid. In fact, you may even come to cherish some of the suckiest moments because of the friends and memories you made with those who endured it with you.

So, if filmmaking is really, truly the career path you want to follow, endure it, and revel in the experience, because once you see it up on that big screen, it will all be
worth it.

over_the_edge

Just Run Into It Naked

So, how about some honesty, guys? I, just like many of you, really know about a dime’s worth of actual knowledge pertaining to filmmaking. I’d like to believe I know what I’m talking about, but I’d be lying to you if you asked me how to best capture a shot, the proper way to light it, and what lens would work best.

There’s so much to it—so much that I don’t understand yet. Lighting techniques are a science all their own that can be a bit daunting to confront if you’re a rookie . . . don’t even get me started on the finer points of proper white balance, all I know is, it’s important. Camera operation, even navigating through all the menus, sub-menus, and numerous formatting options (which are all abbreviated just to make things easier for beginners—not! And who likes to read manuals apart from Lego diagrams, huh?) All this is the equivalent of a massive brain freeze, especially for someone like me who is so used to the highly advanced point-and-shoot technique. Tools and hardware, gear and lenses, and editing software—like Adobe CS-whatever . . . essential, but golly gee—a world I can’t even begin to understand. At this point, you’re probably wondering, well, that’s funny that Andy should start a site dedicated to the art of filmmaking, when he is so inept at it. That’s why I’m considered aspiring, but I digress.

I might be a real novice when it comes to computers, but there’s another part of filmmaking that I am not so unfamiliar with, and that’s storytelling. And if filmmaking is not the pinnacle of story evolution, I don’t know what is.

My real “expertise,” if it can even be called that, lies in words, in creating stories that revolve around interesting, relatable, varying, organic characters. That’s a full-time job in and of itself. So I wouldn’t say I’m lacking the prerequisites to take to this field. I’ve taken thousands of pictures during my short life, and I’ve acted in numerous productions since high school and even on into my college years. In fact, for the longest time, I wanted to move to L.A. and get into acting, before I realized that my real love all these years has been the overall movie making process, or what else was my passion for writing good for? Surely not being just a scriptwriter or only an actor, because both interest me, but I didn’t want to be limited to one or the other—I wanted to do it all.

The Great Unknown
It’s true, trying to tackle the technicalities of editing, video compositing, and post-production is terrifying and unknown to me, but I will say this: I am thrilled to learn it.

For a while now, I’ve been focusing on honing in my skills as a writer, but I’ve come to the point where I am comfortable with the stories I’m creating, and now I want to give them life beyond that of the silent words on a page. I want to see the colors that make up my worlds, see my characters’ faces, and hear the themes that drive them—that describe them and their actions. I want something more tangible. And why not? There is no reason. I just want to do it, and I’m willing to accept the risks because . . .

Logic: Hold up, sir! Be realistic, you can’t just pick up a camera and record Oscar winners. You do need the skills to produce good visual work.”

Me: So, what do I do, then? I can’t afford more school. Well, Frodo, looks like this pipe dream has come to an end.

Well, I can assure you that is not the case. There are ways to level up without a degree. In this day and age, with wonderful tools like the Internet, information is free and easily disseminated to the laymen . . . that is, if you know where to look. It’s true what they say: “It’s right at your fingertips,” figuratively and literally.

Most of the stuff O’Ryan knows, he learned by himself, through practice, and reading (lots of reading), and from web tutorials. Now, he’s no expert, but if you talk to him or ask him a question, you might think otherwise. He really does know his stuff, and his knowledge base is steadily growing, as is mine (just a little slower). It’s amazing to think of how much I’ve learned in the past couple years of really diving in. I have every confidence that I can learn what he knows, if I’m diligent and have the patience to try and try again. It won’t be easy, but it will be easier than you’d think. And there will be many mistakes, no doubt, and many trials, but I invite them. In the wise words of Jake Sidwell:

“I’d rather die trying, than live with paralytic creativity.”

The Fire
We learn more about ourselves, our craft becomes more sincere when it’s passed through the refining fire, and so do we. I can’t be scared, and I can’t shy away from putting myself out there and asking for help when I need it. I can never think, “Oh well, it’s good enough,” because, quite frankly, that’s a piss-poor attitude. If this is your passion as much as it is mine, then you should expend all your energy into it, invest all your time (including the extra hour it takes to re-render something out because you discovered a typo in the beginning credits), and you should devote your heart to it and its betterment, fearlessly and fiercely.

I hope this has served as an encouragement to some of you . . . quack, quack, quack, QUACK! Go DUCKS!

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some ways that you can get practice at telling a better story visually and verbally, which is one of the purposes of our Weekend Challenges. Also, be sure to follow the links below to some great tutorial sites. We’ve used them before, and we shall continue to do so (I know I’ll be living on these sites in the coming months).

Resources:

Film Riot is a how-to trip through filmmaking from the hyper-active mind of Ryan Connolly. From how to make great effects to following Triune Films through production, Film Riot explores the art of filmmaking in a way you’ve never seen.

 

 

Greyscalegorilla is an active community and resource for training and tools for creative types. [They] want to make learning more accessible and effective by creating easy-to-follow tutorials and training that show you way more than just what buttons to push.

 

 

Video Copilot is a collaborative resource for training, design tools and artists. [Their] goal is to show you what is possible and how effects can be created so that you can apply these techniques on your own creative adventures.