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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  00:57:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
at this point it's still a toss up between xl-h1a & xh-a1. But in the end i'll probably just end up going with the cheaper xh. unless someone tells me that it's crucial to have interchangeable lenses.
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certified instigator
Moderator

USA
3099 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  01:50:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have said that twice. It's the first thing I look for when buying a camera. It's very important.

To me anyway. Is having an interchangeable lens important to you?

So I got to thinking.

You say its a fact, not your opinion, but a fact that a producer
would save money by having 1 person do 5 jobs. On a low budget,
independent feature length film for DVD release I use a minimum
crew of 15. You would cut that down to 3. I can see that having
only 3 people on an 18 day shoot would save a lot of money.

What jobs would each of those 3 people do on your set?

Edited by - certified instigator on 03 Jan 2010 02:01:52
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  10:41:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's why I asked, I don't know if it's important to me. Id like to be able to shoot wide-angles but can you aquire the same "wide angle" shot with the stock lens, or do you need to have an actual wide-angle lens?

Well on the films I worked on, it was certainly a "Fact". & these films were not "weekend" shoots, they were month-long projects. I understand if the equipment is being rented then it's exspensive but I just don't agree with the ammount of crew they hire sometimes. For example, is it necessary to hire a make-up assistant??? Someone to assist the jackass who needs help putting make-up on the giant cast of TWO. If it's a small cast and doesnt require any special make-up effects, then have the actors do their own make-up. I watched a male make-up artist apply lip stick & foundation to an actress. Are You Effing Kidding Me? You want to try and convince me that she couldn't do that herself? It's little stuff like that that really bugs me, Especially when your an UNPAID PA.

I'm not an idiot, I know certain films require a certain ammount of people but I guarantee you I could eliminate a lot of un-necessary positions. But if you want to narrow the crew down. How bout a director to film/DP/operate the camera if he knows how. Sound guy to hold the boom mic if needed, or put the mic on a pole, because really? If you want to hire someone who specialises in lighting then go for it. I think the director could manage this assuming he went through film school. We all learn the same things. As for "prop" person, any shmuch can bring something to set. If your working with equipment that even requires an electrician, then get one. For anything else, there are thousands of students willing to work for free. And when it's all done, the director could edit, unless he needs help then he can bring in an editor. If I counted correctly then that makes a crew of about 5 not including pa's that will work for free.

You also mentioned catering. For a crew of hundreds, yeah it comes in handy, but with a a crew of 15, 20. Bring a damn bag lunch! It's just another expense that could be avoided. When I go to my daily job, I don't get a free lunch. For the films I worked on, it just seemed like another way for them to "appear" professional by throwing money at things like this. Catering, hiring unecessary crew etc...

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certified instigator
Moderator

USA
3099 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  11:42:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was a makeup artist for several years. The very best in the
business have been men - Ben Nye, Max Factor, Wally Westmore and his
sons. There is nothing at all wrong or strange about a male
putting lipstick and foundation on an actress. I have thoughts and
experience on the issues you mention, but I have clearly
antagonized you so Ill stop.

Im not trying to convince you of anything. My only intent is to
have a conversation. You have made up your mind and are sticking
by it.

I apologize for upsetting you. Wont happen again.

=============================================
The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.
Joseph Joubert, essayist (1754-1824)
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  11:54:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
no i'm not upset at all. maybe my post indicates that but im not trying to argue. Just a passionate discussion about a topic. and you misunderstood. It's not that the make-up artist is a male, its the fact that a grown woman most likely knows how to put on foundation and lipstick. I have great respect for special make-up effect artists. Rick Baker, Wayne Toth, Tom Savini. When the make-up actually requires skill.

Id much rather hear your opinion about the main point in my last post. about crew size. Don't worry, it's impossible for someone to upset me through these forums or blogs. It might have seemed like i was upset, but thats not towards you. It's probably just the way I talk and write, i'm the least "PC" person you'll ever speak to. I hate "formal" writing. Go ahead, throw a few swear words in your next post, it aint going to offend me.
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bjdzyak
Senior Member

USA
592 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  13:41:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

That's why I asked, I don't know if it's important to me. Id like to be able to shoot wide-angles but can you aquire the same "wide angle" shot with the stock lens, or do you need to have an actual wide-angle lens?

I answered this very question quite directly before. You can shoot "wide angles" with ANY lens as long as you have the real estate available to move the camera backward enough to get the frame you want to shoot. Having said that, knowing the "technical stuff" of camera work (that you don't find very interesting or important) will show you the pluses and minuses of using one focal length over another. You can certainly shoot an entire movie with just one lens (focal length) but that choice comes with ramifications that you can only understand when you choose to learn the "technical stuff" that surrounds the camera and lighting.

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

Well on the films I worked on, it was certainly a "Fact". & these films were not "weekend" shoots, they were month-long projects. I understand if the equipment is being rented then it's exspensive but I just don't agree with the ammount of crew they hire sometimes. For example, is it necessary to hire a make-up assistant??? Someone to assist the jackass who needs help putting make-up on the giant cast of TWO. If it's a small cast and doesnt require any special make-up effects, then have the actors do their own make-up. I watched a male make-up artist apply lip stick & foundation to an actress. Are You Effing Kidding Me? You want to try and convince me that she couldn't do that herself? It's little stuff like that that really bugs me, Especially when your an UNPAID PA.


I've met and worked with your "kind" before. Overworked, underpaid PAs who look at the set and only see a lot of "overpaid" "technicians" who don't seem to be doing half as much work as you are.

What you DON'T see is the years of struggle all of those professional skilled people put in with little or no money coming in just so they can do that job for a living. Movies cost A LOT of money and believe me, if a person wasn't needed, the studio/Producer/UPM wouldn't have a line-item in the budget for that position.

We can "argue" about specific jobs on a professional set all day long and whether they are "necessary," but underlying fact is that if they weren't needed, the costly system wouldn't have them in the first place.

You can certainly have just a few people doing all of the jobs that it takes to make a movie, but when you have individuals doubling or tripling up on tasks, that dilutes their attention from their primary task. Can an Actress apply her own makeup? Sure. But her JOB is to ACT, not worry about A) how good she looks (in a way appropriate for the story) and B) continuity of hair, wardrobe and makeup. The minute she has to put energy into that kind of minutia is the minute she isn't putting her full energy and attention into her performance on screen.

The same lesson goes for everyone else on set. Do you want the Focus Puller in the darkroom loading and reloading mags when he should be on set, working with the Camera Operator and Dolly Grip, taking focus marks and concerning himself with the actual shot to come? Do you want the Actor to apply his own prosthetic makeup or would you prefer a qualified Makeup Artist be there to do it? Do you want Actors to worry about which props they should have for every scene or should that be in the realm of the Props Department and the Script Supervisor? Do you want the DP running around set, on ladders putting up lights, instead of overseeing the entire setup, near the Director so that every shot maintains continuity throughout the weeks of production?

Again, yes, a single person COULD potentially create an entire movie by him/herself. But should he/her? What about two people? Or three? Or four? Or fifteen? You could play this game all day long, justifying the "whys" of how a single person "could" multitask just to save money upfront until you reach the optimal number of crew, which just happens to be, the "Hollywood" system where jobs are specialized.

Could you do it with less? Of course, but there are ramifications for those choices. And it ultimately is a math problem. Your movie likely "needs" a certain number of shots to create it. That breaks down into individual "setups" per day to make that happen. As soon as you destroy the efficiency of the "optimal" number of crew, you begin to compromise the A)quality of the shots you do shoot and B)number of shots you get during each day. Your small crew saves money upfront, but your movie will ultimately suffer as the setups you accomplish won't be as good as they could have been with a full crew. And you definitely won't get as many setups done per day, which ultimately affects your movie more than anything else. Setups = shots in your movie and if you've got fifteen people running around set doing the job that eighty people should be doing, you won't get all the setups you want which = less shots/less quality shots you want/need to make the movie you set out to make.



quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

I'm not an idiot, I know certain films require a certain ammount of people but I guarantee you I could eliminate a lot of un-necessary positions. But if you want to narrow the crew down. How bout a director to film/DP/operate the camera if he knows how.

Because, there is more to DPing and Operating a camera than simply illuminating the set enough to get exposure and the camera in the direction of the Actors. The DP position is technical, creative, and logistics. The Director position is about answering questions and DIRECTING an army all in the same direction so that everyone is making the same movie. Diluting the Director's attention by having him direct, light, manage THREE Departments (camera, grip, electric), while working with every other department on and off set including Producers and Editors is asking quite a lot of someone.

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

Sound guy to hold the boom mic if needed, or put the mic on a pole, because really?

If the "sound guy" is holding the boom pole, who's riding the mixer levels? What if there are TWO booms needed for a setup?



quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

If you want to hire someone who specialises in lighting then go for it. I think the director could manage this assuming he went through film school. We all learn the same things.

Hmm. Again, they are two distinct jobs. But you keep suggesting that the Director also be the DP/Lighting guy. Why not also have him hold the boom, deal with wardrobe, manage the props, create the special effects, be the script supervisor, etc.? Since your filmschool seems to have taught you every job imaginable on set so that you are an expert in everything necessary to make a movie, why not simply have the "Director" do it all? Think of all the money you'd save by not having all those other useless bodies around.

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

As for "prop" person, any shmuch can bring something to set.

True. But can that same schmuck also gather or create all of the appropriate props needed for the duration of the movie and manage them so that continuity is maintained? If that schmuck can't do that, then who will? The Director again since he clearly learned how to do everything equally well in this magic filmschool that teaches it all?

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

If your working with equipment that even requires an electrician, then get one.

At least you recognize the potential danger involved in this business. But electricity isn't the only potential hazard. Makeup can be a potential danger if incorrect materials are used. Ladders incorrectly used can create injuries. Exterior shots on or near roads can cause injury or death if proper precautions aren't taken. Long production days for weeks on end can AND DO cause fatigue which has killed overly tired crew who drive toward their homes, never to make it.

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

For anything else, there are thousands of students willing to work for free.

Yes, but what will the quality of the work be? And when one or ten of them can't afford to volunteer for YOUR movie (because they have to go get real jobs halfway through), how committed will the newcomers be to your project that will likely only benefit YOU? Free help is nice and necessary, especially when you're just beginning, but there is a reason that expensive film crews are expensive. They have the skills and experience to get you all of the shots you want on time and on budget in most cases. As we typically say, we don't get paid a lot for when things go right. Anyone can push the right buttons when things go right. On the contrary, we get paid "a lot" for when things go wrong. Because of our skill and experience we are able to keep things from going "wrong" in the first place, but when occasional technical or logistics "glitches" occur, who do you want sitting in that chair to solve the problem(s)? The eager student who has no experience or the experienced professional who has seen more production than most Directors will ever see in their lifetimes?

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09
And when it's all done, the director could edit, unless he needs help then he can bring in an editor.

Yes, the Director can edit. Typically, an Editor is working continuously throughout production so that within a week of production wrap, there is a cut of the film. This is done in case additional shots are needed or if story points don't seem to be working as planned. Then, the Director will sit down with a guy who knows the buttons better than he does so that the Director can concentrate on the STORY instead of worrying about the technical aspects of making the computer work or of data management (where all the shots are).


quote:
Originally posted by aburke09If I counted correctly then that makes a crew of about 5 not including pa's that will work for free.

Then by all means, go get your crew of five and prove 100 years of filmmaking wrong. :)



quote:
Originally posted by aburke09You also mentioned catering. For a crew of hundreds, yeah it comes in handy, but with a a crew of 15, 20. Bring a damn bag lunch! It's just another expense that could be avoided. When I go to my daily job, I don't get a free lunch. For the films I worked on, it just seemed like another way for them to "appear" professional by throwing money at things like this. Catering, hiring unecessary crew etc...

There is a reason for feeding a crew, not only at lunch, but having Craft Services all day long. The first, for a "free movie," is that you're already asking others to help YOU make YOUR movie. They get very little out of this and the least you can do is provide them lunch. Also, production days tend to be very long, so keeping a crew's energy up is necessary for YOU to get the movie you want made to be made.

Sure, you can tell five people to do the work of eighty and tell them that they can't eat unless they bring food and water of their own, but I promise you that you A) won't get very far in attracting cast and crew and B) your movie won't likely be very good. Certainly not worth the effort you'll put into it. There's an interesting thread about this very topic here: http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=41222&hl=feeding+the+crew




Brian Dzyak
Cameraman/Author
IATSE Local 600, SOC
http://www.whatireallywanttodo.com
http://www.realfilmcareer.com
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  14:52:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"Movies cost A LOT of money and believe me, if a person wasn't needed, the studio/Producer/UPM wouldn't have a line-item in the budget for that position."

see I just don't believe that. If your working on a film with millions of dollars behind it and producers not worried about saving money then they will certainly throw money around. Ive seen it done.

What if at the beginning of cinema history, movies never really turned a decent profit. What if it was an average way of making money, not millions, or billions. Would a film still require "hundreds" of positions? My point is that it's obviously a billion dollar industry and because of that, they throw money at their problems.

"If the "sound guy" is holding the boom pole, who's riding the mixer levels? What if there are TWO booms needed for a setup?"

like I said, rig the boom to a stationary pole. and have the sound guy mix. Ive also seen this done.

"Do you want the Actor to apply his own prosthetic makeup or would you prefer a qualified Makeup Artist be there to do it? Do you want Actors to worry about which props they should have for every scene or should that be in the realm of the Props Department and the Script Supervisor?"

I already said "special make-up effects" such as prosthetics would require someone with skills in that area. But if their are no effects, no prostethetic, then yes. I think the actors can manage their own make-up. I chalk that up to plain stupidity and laziness if they can't put on make-up and still have the mental capability to act.

"production days tend to be very long, so keeping a crew's energy up is necessary for YOU to get the movie you want made to be made."

Ive worked in Landscaping, and I have worked 15 hour days before. Thats back-breaking manual labor compared to making a film. and not once did I expect nor need a giant set-up of craft service to keep me going. and not once was someone hired to be an assistant that brings me things whenever i need them, i'm perfectly capable of getting it on my own. But gain, people throw millions of dollars at stuff just because they can.

I agree with where you are coming from because you sound like you've been around the business for a long time, and maybe i'm just the Hitler of Producers, but just because thats the norm of how things have been done for the past hundred years, doesnt make it right and doesn't mean it can't be improved.

"Sure, you can tell five people to do the work of eighty and tell them that they can't eat unless they bring food and water of their own, but I promise you that you A) won't get very far in attracting cast and crew and B) your movie won't likely be very good. Certainly not worth the effort you'll put into it."

Tell that to Kevin Smith! example: Clerks

"Then by all means, go get your crew of five and prove 100 years of filmmaking wrong. :"

Ok ;)




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bjdzyak
Senior Member

USA
592 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  16:53:33  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

"Movies cost A LOT of money and believe me, if a person wasn't needed, the studio/Producer/UPM wouldn't have a line-item in the budget for that position."

see I just don't believe that. If your working on a film with millions of dollars behind it and producers not worried about saving money then they will certainly throw money around. Ive seen it done.

Not to get into a contest with you, but I've got twenty years of production experience behind me plus a published book which was created by interviewing scores of other experienced cast and crew. Your arguments ring hollow in the shadow of the experience of so many others who make a living doing this. You can choose to believe or not believe whatever you want, but that won't change history and facts.

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09What if at the beginning of cinema history, movies never really turned a decent profit. What if it was an average way of making money, not millions, or billions. Would a film still require "hundreds" of positions? My point is that it's obviously a billion dollar industry and because of that, they throw money at their problems.

I'm not sure I see your point. You're playing a "what if" game with a situation that doesn't exist. The professional film industry IS successful (monetarily) so asking "what if it wasn't" has no relevance in the discussion about how many people it takes to actually create a movie.

The motion picture industry set records in 2009 for numbers of tickets sold and profit brought in, so suggesting that they're doing it wrong, somehow, doesn't make much sense. Of course, like any Corporation, the professional motion picture industry seeks to cut costs any way it can (see: www.realfilmcareer.com and click on the "film incentives" link on the right), but "it" has learned that it has to invest/spend a certain amount of money in order to make money. If Producers/Executives don't have to spend money, they don't. I promise you that.


quote:
Originally posted by aburke09"If the "sound guy" is holding the boom pole, who's riding the mixer levels? What if there are TWO booms needed for a setup?"

like I said, rig the boom to a stationary pole. and have the sound guy mix. Ive also seen this done.

Me too. For interviews. But when you're making a movie, and you put that boom pole/mic on a stand, what happens to your sound when the Actor moves across the room? Or how does it sound when you have TWO or THREE or FIVE Actors in the scene? How is your sound quality when your boom is stuck in one spot on the set and all the the Actors have walked away from it?

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09"Do you want the Actor to apply his own prosthetic makeup or would you prefer a qualified Makeup Artist be there to do it? Do you want Actors to worry about which props they should have for every scene or should that be in the realm of the Props Department and the Script Supervisor?"

I already said "special make-up effects" such as prosthetics would require someone with skills in that area. But if their are no effects, no prostethetic, then yes. I think the actors can manage their own make-up. I chalk that up to plain stupidity and laziness if they can't put on make-up and still have the mental capability to act.

Call it what you want, but the Makeup and Hair Artists are the Actor's mirrors while they are on set doing their job of acting. You'd be surprised at how "little" some top Actors are able to do while they are acting. Some are "themselves" until the Director says "Action!" while others insist on "being" the character all day long on and off camera. Actors are like that so it's YOUR job as a Director to recognize this and create an environment that allows them to "BE" the character that is in the script. You could have them multitask and take your chances that they'll put on the acting hat when the time comes, but this is YOUR movie that you're taking a chance on. Do you really want to risk the quality of your movie just to try to prove the point that Actors are just workers too and they should multitask and bring their own lunches as if they were mere assembly-line workers?

quote:
Originally posted by aburke09"production days tend to be very long, so keeping a crew's energy up is necessary for YOU to get the movie you want made to be made."

Ive worked in Landscaping, and I have worked 15 hour days before. Thats back-breaking manual labor compared to making a film. and not once did I expect nor need a giant set-up of craft service to keep me going. and not once was someone hired to be an assistant that brings me things whenever i need them, i'm perfectly capable of getting it on my own. But gain, people throw millions of dollars at stuff just because they can.

Filmmaking is a fairly unique working environment. Unlike digging holes and raking, the jobs on a movie set are incredibly specialized. Most of the jobs on and off a set have parallels in the "real world," but the working protocols of the professional film industry require different expectations and logistics as most everything done is very temporary. It might take months for a real house to be built, but it has to last upwards of a hundred years or more. A film "house," on the other hand will be put up by a Construction crew with the idea that it will be torn down (or blown up) in a few short weeks from then, lit by Electricians who are trained to work very quickly for the temporary nature of the set and shooting schedule, and the whole thing is just a small part of a greater whole created by INVESTORS who are looking to earn MILLIONS and BILLIONS (see Box Office Mojo re: Avatar) in profit.

Again, trust me, they are not spending money superfluously. Every department has a budget and they are continually squeezed to cut hard costs and overtime for crew. If OT or extra expenditures are approved (by the UPM, Producer, and/or Studio Execs), it is because they see the added cost as an investment in the PRODUCT they are creating. In your eyes, they are "throwing money" at problems. That's hardly the case. "Throwing money" means investing resources to help the project overall. If there is a perception that a "problem" can be just let go because it will have little to no impact on the final product, the money typically won't be spent.

But back to your statement. You say that when landscaping, you didn't need anyone to bring you things you needed to do your job. So, when you were off to the truck to get a tool, who was doing the job over on the lawn? Was that time spent having to get stuff worth the time lost when you weren't digging or raking or mowing? Maybe in a business like landscaping the cost loses from your leaving the job (to get stuff) is negligible. But in the film industry, time lost to "go get stuff" means that scores of other people are sitting around waiting for YOU to get your act together and that means less productivity overall, lost setups, and potentially lower quality of work. And all of that means that investors aren't as confident in the "company" that has been created to create the "product" that they're risking their money on. And when investors get nervous, they stop investing which means that YOU don't get to make the movie you want to make.




quote:
Originally posted by aburke09I agree with where you are coming from because you sound like you've been around the business for a long time, and maybe i'm just the Hitler of Producers, but just because thats the norm of how things have been done for the past hundred years, doesnt make it right and doesn't mean it can't be improved.

Have at it. :)

I'll say this though. I promise you that any qualified experienced crew you will hire will have years more experience than you'll ever hope to have and the minute they sense that they're being overworked or "screwed" in any way, is the minute they'll either leave or find ways to screw YOU to make your movie more expensive than it would have been had you just done it "right" the first time.

This isn't a "threat" by me or anyone else. I've just seen it happen time and time again. Your alternative is to NOT hire qualified experienced people to help YOU make YOUR movie, but their are ramifications for that decision too, mostly having to do with the quality of your final products.


quote:
Originally posted by aburke09"Sure, you can tell five people to do the work of eighty and tell them that they can't eat unless they bring food and water of their own, but I promise you that you A) won't get very far in attracting cast and crew and B) your movie won't likely be very good. Certainly not worth the effort you'll put into it."

Tell that to Kevin Smith! example: Clerks

"Then by all means, go get your crew of five and prove 100 years of filmmaking wrong. :"

Ok ;)


That's the kind of chutzpah that gets things done. :) But Kevin Smith isn't really making a lot of movies, is he? A movie like Clerks is one of the exceptions. My advice is meant to help those who aren't relying on the luck of "exception," but to those who choose to put their efforts into the path that has better odds of success. Luck happens to a few. VERY few. UnLuck happens to many many many more. Those who think they can buck the "system" and recreate the wheel tend to be those who wind up back in Iowa, bitter at the world because they have to say things like, "Hello, welcome to Walmart!" for a living.

Do it your way and rely on luck or listen to those who have come before. It's your choice and no one here or elsewhere will really bat an eye if you don't succeed. But it can't hurt to listen to what others more experienced have to say, can it? So, I have graciously collected lists of potentially valuable resources that aspiring filmmakers should look at before committing time and money into this pursuit. I invite you to visit http://www.realfilmcareer.com and enter the Forum section. Scroll to the lower end and you'll find the RESOURCES sections.



[/quote]

Brian Dzyak
Cameraman/Author
IATSE Local 600, SOC
http://www.whatireallywanttodo.com
http://www.realfilmcareer.com
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2010 :  21:16:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Filmmaking is a fairly unique working environment. Unlike digging holes and raking, the jobs on a movie set are incredibly specialized."

Landscaping isn't "digging holes & raking". that would be simple lawn care. Ive installed drive-ways, patio's, rock walls. Ive used a skid loader to stack 1,000 pound boulders with precision accuracy. Ive rigged low voltage lighting spread out over football field sized yards. I'm not going to go to deep on that topic. Comparing landscaping to filmmaking because the differences are laughable. and no, i absolutely do not need someone to run to the truck to get me something. it would take me about 2 minutes to do it myself. but then again i'm not lazy.

I'm sure your familiar with Roger Cormans. That guys movies suck taint. But he has a career, and a lot of movies under his belt. Most likely because he travels all over the world making movies for half the budget because he uses cheap labor in those countries. My point is that you can have a successful career even if the material is not great. and maybe you strike gold with 1 film out of 10.

and not to be picky but Kevin Smith works PLENTY. he's done 8 movie's since Clerks & that's not including writing, acting, and producing credits.

and I never would rely on luck and I don't ignore advice from people such as yourself, but somewhere i believe there COULD be a young kid with a camera who has more talent and imagination than the most experienced filmmaker in the world. and i'm not about to ignore his ideas because "it's not how things work in this business"
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  01:50:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Cases such as Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Ed Burns and others are very similar and are equivalent of hitting jackpot. Consequently, your logic is quite sensible; after all, every few weeks, someone hits a multi-million jackpot on PowerBall, MegaMillions or some other lottery. In other words, rather than getting a 9-5 job, one should buy lottery tickets and expect to win lottery and solve all financial problems in one's life. The likelihood of hitting lottery is just as great as successfully completing a feature film with a skeleton crew and getting a big break in the movie industry as a result.

If you were to carefully write a script (say, two characters in a prison, with an occasional appearance of a prison guard), you could make your movie with five people. If your movie is about ordinary people and ordinary life (and for someone with no experience in moviemaking, the only chance at success is by writing a movie from personal experience), it will likely include multiple locations, dynamic characters that move around in front of the camera, wearing different costumes and wardrobe in different scenes, eating, drinking, talking on the phone, etc. To make sure they wear the same stuff, eat the similar amount of food, drink consistent colour of beverage, etc., you'll need someone to supervise your continuity, among other things. Let's not mention a boom operator who knows how to position a microphone towards a moving target(s) in order to capture dialogue properly, then a cinematographer who will notice where the whites are blown outs because someone is wearing a white shirt while someone else has a black dress...

You can definitely make some kind of movie with five people. However, if you had same actors and the same director for that movie and, in addition to the five people you already have, another 10-15 to fill other necessary positions, that film would come out significantly better, because every single task would have been done more thoroughly. Even if you shot the movie in fewer days (presumably, since it would obviously be easier to re-set the scenes with more people doing it).
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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  03:10:41  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Can I throw a little anecdote in here?


I made a movie with five people, a short film. :) Well, five on the day of the shoot: we're not counting the correspondence I had with workers of our film association and rental house, location administrators, electronics distributors, and the many different venues of transportation acquired (things are complicated without a personal vehicle, let me tell you).

But four of my friends, plus myself. One was the sole actor, two were PA's and grips (whatever we needed at the time), one was my creative colleague and dedicated production partner (heck we got five hours of sleep before the shoot due to last-minute preparations) and then finally me. Everyone helped with set construction (not carpentry or anything, but the set up), rigging and holding lighting, setting up props, transporting said props, manning props, packing gear, handing me my notes when I needed them, everything. Me? I was the producer, the writer, the director, director of photography, camera op, gaffer, prop designer, location scout, and oh yeah, the editor.


It was a lot of work, and we only filmed in one day (under intense time restraints due to our location as well). Three things I am very aware of now because of this experience:


Firstly, I don't believe this would have been accomplished if the workers hadn't been good friends who appreciated and respected my artistic vision and myself.

Secondly, multiple full days shooting like that would have been suicide. Laziness? The human brain can only take so much man. Especially for me as an "auteur" in this case, I could completely see myself mentally imploding at some point without some other production support.

Thirdly, the reason there are many specialized positions is to make everyone's job easier. However, I suppose you could liken that to laziness. Let's change a few words then: the reason there are many specialized positions is to allow all involved to have a smaller focus, thereby allowing them greater ability to excel at their task(s).

quote:

i absolutely do not need someone to run to the truck to get me something. it would take me about 2 minutes to do it myself. but then again i'm not lazy.


I hear ya, and I tend to be in the same boat. But what our more experienced members here have been trying to say is that those 2 minutes waste everyone's time on a production. Time is money, and 2 minutes for nearly everyone else to idle and accomplish nothing is wasted money on a studio's part. Besides, if you're in, let's say, a directorial position, if you had a problem that involved taking two minutes to grab something from a car wouldn't you want someone else to take that responsibility so you can focus on the countless other issues on set?


The point is: the more efficient and the more focused workers are allowed to be, the better a production and therefore the product will be.



I also realize my personal anecdotes might not be of the same caliber that you're mostly debating, but I do believe I came to a solid and succinct point.

Edited by - Corax on 04 Jan 2010 03:14:03
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  09:44:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Corax,

Identical experience here. I shot a small (amateur) short with some seven people. We even had multiple locations (it was a 15 min comedy). There were three characters in the script. These were all my friends, everyone did it for the fun of it, they surely tried their best and the shoot took several weekends. In the end, friendships were severely strained (and subsequently repaired, luckily), the fun lasted for a while, but on the last weekend of the shoot, it was anything but fun, and it was clear to all that we needed more people to help out, at which point it was too late to bring new folks in.

Even if you only have one single character, there are still many tasks that need to be done before camera (and sound) can roll. These tasks can either be done simultaneously, or consecutively. If one person does them consecutively, chances are exponentially higher that he/she will forget or miss something, or not do the task to the best of their ability. Not to mention having others wait until the last person working is finished. If multiple people do them simultaneously, everyone focuses on what they're doing.

I don't think it can be stressed strongly enough: the difference between a same film shot with a 5-person crew and a 15-person crew will be SIGNIFICANT. Once you wrap your 5-person shoot, you'll know it yourself; you'll know exactly how much better your film would have been if you only had some extra hands on the set.

Edited by - Vasic on 04 Jan 2010 09:45:32
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  09:57:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
An example: I had one scene where two characters had some intense dialogue. Since I directed the thing, as well as operated the camera, I was so focused on getting the right performances from the talent, I kept watching the performance while shooting (as a director should do), neglecting to watch the PICTURE while shooting (as a DP would do). Later that evening, I realised I had very bad flare from a practical lamp in the background that totally screwed up one camera angle. There wasn't sufficient coverage for the scene from the other two angles and I had to use bad footage, which would have been noticed right away, had I only been a DP on the shoot. Obviously, I'm not an experienced director, otherwise I would have likely noticed the problem right away, even while focusing on actors. But I have no doubt, had I been working only as a DP on this shoot, I would have noticed it right away as well, since I wouldn't have been distracted so much by the performances.

As for feeding people, I don't get fed by my employer during my regular day job (but I DO get a one-our paid break for lunch). Most people don't get free food at work (unless they work at Google...). However, on a movie set, it is impossible to plan and schedule a one-hour lunch break in the middle of the shoot, so that everyone could get to eat. During a shoot, different departments are busy during different times, so whenever a person has long enough a break, they go and grab a bite. This is why a craft table is always set ups reasonably close to the set. When people volunteer on your film, it is ESSENTIAL you feed them; just like when your friends volunteer to help you paint your basement, you will ALWAYS buy lunch (usually pizza) for everyone. This is the most basic common courtesy. Regardless of whether your cast and crew are friends or strangers, volunteering, working for free (not the same as volunteering) or for a fee, you MUST give them that common courtesy. If you don't, you friends won't give their best, and strangers won't come back to work with you, regardless of your immense talent and the meaty part they have in the film.
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bjdzyak
Senior Member

USA
592 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  10:05:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'll pipe in again to say that I too have done the small shoot. I and two college friends put the money together to create a feature length film back in school. Apart from the five Actors, we had the help of an additional two friends who pitched in to help as Script Supervisor and Boom Operator (who also helped me light the setups).

A lot was learned in that month, mostly, that while we proved that we could get a movie made, we also learned that we shouldn't have done it that way. I significant amount of money was spent on a mediocre product.

Had I to do it all over again, I would have insisted on a different script that would have been easier to shoot from a technical perspective. We didn't have the benefit of 24P HD at the time and couldn't afford 16mm, so we shot Kodachrome 40 Super 8 which is very difficult to light correctly, for a newbie like I was at that time. So, I would also have put my own "pride" aside and looked for a more qualified Cameraman to take the helm. We didn't want anyone else telling us how to do things so it was easier to keep the project among ourselves....and the results show it.

As far as the number of crew goes, as I've said, yes, of course you can make a movie with any number of people you choose. One, three, fifteen, thirty...pick any number, but the minute a crew (or cast) member's attention is diluted by having to multitask is the minute that their quality of work will suffer and your schedule suffers. And when the schedule suffers, so does the number and quality of the setups and takes you get finished per day and of course that means that you'll have an incomplete movie that has mediocre takes.

There are always ramifications for cutting corners. Sometimes you have to do that just to get the thing done, but the question to ask is if it's worth creating a mediocre/poor project just for the sake of doing it? In other words, maybe you can do it, but should you, especially when a lot of money (relative to your own finances) is on the line?

Brian Dzyak
Cameraman/Author
IATSE Local 600, SOC
http://www.whatireallywanttodo.com
http://www.realfilmcareer.com
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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  13:46:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Vasic

Identical experience here. I shot a small (amateur) short with some seven people. We even had multiple locations (it was a 15 min comedy). There were three characters in the script. These were all my friends, everyone did it for the fun of it, they surely tried their best and the shoot took several weekends. In the end, friendships were severely strained (and subsequently repaired, luckily), the fun lasted for a while, but on the last weekend of the shoot, it was anything but fun, and it was clear to all that we needed more people to help out, at which point it was too late to bring new folks in.




Ah yes that was what I was trying to get to as well, that I could sense that eventually (relatively quickly really) shoots like that would be really strenuous on friendships. We only worked over one day, and I think I became stronger friends with everyone because of the experience, but a lot longer would have been pretty taxing.



Some really good things being said here in this thread.
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