Top 5 Picks for Video Editing

We’ve heard of men behind the scenes for years. Now women are becoming less afraid to try their hand editing. We are giving our top 5 resources for any stage you are in as an editor.

margaret_boothfilmeditor

Premiere Pro     Price Point 19.99/mo

(You can no longer purchase Premiere Pro outright; you must buy a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud)

All programs have timelines, media bins and a multitude of tools that enable you to perform advanced alterations, adjustments and outright transformations of raw video, audio and image files. If you are graduating from the consumer level there is no better professional editor to start on.

One of the new features in Premiere Pro synchronizes audio and video automatically creating a new unified media clip in your bin that has the audio and video aligned.

 

Final cut Pro       Price Point 299.99

*Only available for the most recent versions of Apple’s OS X operating system

This editing software is good for both new and veteran editors.

If you are working on a complex project like a music video or a feature, you’re going to have a lot of media elements to work with. Final Cut makes the process of organizing all of your media as easy as possible with what Apple calls smart collections.

This feature enables you to use custom keyword to automatically sort your footage.

filmeditor

Media Composer 8         Price Point $359.88

Media Composer is a complicated application that will stump the unskilled editor. This application is a beat both to understand and to operate correctly. It can take years of training and experience before any individual editor can realize the full potential of the program. If you are an amateur editor this isn’t your cup of tea.

However, if you want to train to be a professional video editor then this is the application to do it on.

 

Lightworks 11.5                Price Point 299.88

It is missing some features such as the ability to create closed captions. However it’s the only program professional video editing software that is available on all major operating systems. The application itself is quite light weight. A full installation only requires 200 MB of storage space. This is a small fraction of the storage requirements of the top tier applications. Meaning you can install and run this application on even the most inexpensive of laptops.

 

Cyber Link          Price Point 49.99

This program helps beginners learn the basics of video editing without sacrificing the needs of more advanced users. However, there is no Mac version of this software Apple users would be well served by having an alternative to iMovie.

This editing software offers three main ways to create your video projects. You can use the Full Feature Editor, which is the familiar timeline, or storyboard. But in case you’re not ready to handle all the responsibility on your own there’s also a simplified editor that automatically creates a video for you in just minutes. Additionally, you can use the Express Project module that allows you to fill in preprogrammed templates with your own content, which teaches you how to use the Full Feature Editor.

 

Shivawn Hill, is a writer, wander, and visual storyteller at heart. She’s currently in production with her short documentary film, Lifting Crowns. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people. Come and hang out with her on Instagram

 

 

The Women Filmmakers Who Crowd Fund & Win Big

crowdfundingwomen

 

The Women Filmmakers Who Crowd Fund & Win Big

JANUARY EDITION

Crowd funding is moving and shaking its way into the film world as a viable alternative to securing the money needed to either complete, launch, or make a film from start to finish all together.

It’s also scary as hell for filmmakers. We’re artists.

Asking for money feels uncomfortable for many of us.

And because of that fear or the anxiety around asking for money, far too many indie films are not being made or finished.

However, as an aspiring producer and published writer, I am interested in discovering the films created by women who have succeeded in the crowd funding world.

Therefore, this monthly segment in 2017 is aptly titled,

The Women Who Crowd Fund & Win

To start off the year I am highlighting four films by women who recently had successful crowd funding campaigns.

 

First Up:

wedowhatwecanfilm

We Do What We Can – Narrative drama feature

Location: London, UK

Woman Crew:

Kwaku, Writer/Director

Nathalie Pitters, Director of Photography

Cassandra Rutledge, Sound Engineer

Max Ross, Producer

GOAL: $2,500 RECEIVED: $4,373

HIT THEIR GOAL: IN 3 DAYS

Film Overview: Family drama about a young family’s struggle to survive.

SIGNS OF SUCCESS: (how they did it)

They shared a compelling personal story-

Kwaku, the Writer/Director shared how she had been wanting to make a film ever since she finished film school, which was ten years ago. She highlighted how life got in the way of pursuing her art and how she even went on to work in law and finance after film school.

They provided a spot on break down of what the money that they raise will be used for, from color grading, to sound, to festival submission fees.

They asked everyone on their donation page to at least share it on social media, even if they could not afford to donate.

Kickstarter selected them as a “PROJECT WE LOVE” pick on day 2 of their campaign, which more and likely contributed to their visibility within the Kickstarter ecosystem.

Second Up:

cyclefilmstill

Choice In RecoveryDocumentary short

Location: Denver, CO

Woman Crew:

Irina Bogomolova, Director/Producer

GOAL: $3,600 RECEIVED: $4,100

HIT THEIR GOAL: IN 20 DAYS

Film Overview: Touches on how those that suffer from substance abuse can explore diverse recovery options in Colorado.

SIGNS OF SUCCESS: (how they did it)

They presented their case for pulling back the layers on their subject matter very well. They informed readers on their campaign page about the issue with examples. They incorporated strong call-to-actions about the issue to inspire people to become emotionally motivated to support their film. In essence, they used a refreshing social responsibility angle to provoke support.

They shared several photo stills/frames from their panel discussions. This more and likely also played a part in capturing interest from viewers.

They were most successful at getting 114 people to donate $100 each. This was very impressive to me. I couldn’t discern if this was from sheer exposure within Kickstarter or if they were able to garner this support from personal connections within their network, but either way, it made their campaign feel in-demand and worth the investment.

Third In Line:

cyclefilmpic

CYCLE Narrative drama short

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Woman Crew:

Leah Bleich, Producer

Nicole Johal, Director

Olivia Lucero, Director of Photography

Quinnoly Benson, Screenwriter

GOAL: $6,000 RECEIVED: $6,182

HIT THEIR GOAL: IN 37 DAYS

Film Overview: The film follows the journey of a young woman that is found unconscious in the middle of the city by a man that can only speak Spanish who takes her to the local hospital on his bike and the challenges their endure along the way.

SIGNS OF SUCCESS: (how they did it)

They provided wonderful incentives for $50 donations. In total, they received 22 donations at this level, which was their highest count in their tiered donation categories. The perks at that level included; digital download of the film, a ticket to the premiere, a movie poster of the film, and a personalized shout out on all of their social media pages.

Another exciting perk in their campaign was that at the $200 donation level a donor would receive the title of Associate Producer and at the $400 donation level the donor would be given the title of Executive Producer. They received 6 donations at the $200 level and 1 donation at the $400 level.

Last but not least:

clarasclosetfilmpic

Clara’s Closet Documentary feature

Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut

Woman Crew:

Bridley Elliott, Writer/Director

Sarah Windshall, Producer

GOAL: $30K RECEIVED: $33,790

HIT THEIR GOAL: IN 31 DAYS

Film Overview: Elliot films her showbiz family and uncovers their dysfunction and off beat appeal.

SIGNS OF SUCCESS: (how they did it)

They used humor and quirkiness throughout their pledge page to engage page viewers and inspire them to donate.

They kept their donors in the loop with weekly updates and even shared other films worth donating to on Kickstarter. The use of paying it forward and altruism worked to their advantage ultimately.

THE TAKE-AWAYS…

Share your personal story as a filmmaker on your pledge page.

Be extremely transparent. Break down what raised funds will cover.

Use humor where you can in your pledge page.

Pay it forward. Share the work of others in film.

Update supporters and donors often on the crowd funding platform you use as well as on social media and in email marketing.

Create relevant perks and incentives.

THE IDEAS…

If you are a 1st time filmmaker, let viewers know. Allow your passion for your new career as a woman filmmaker to serve as a place of inspiration for potential donors.

Make your campaign funds be to primarily cover 1-2 core areas. Share WHY those areas need funding and the effect they will have on your film once there are funded. Think about showing RESULTS.

Find ways to be memorable such as sharing funny lines from the film and behind the scenes photos. People resonate with glimpses of real life and candid humor. Use that to your advantage in your crowd funding.

Share three films that are in the early stages of their campaign with your followers on social media.

Decide before going live with your campaign how often you will share fund raising updates with your supporters (weekly, daily, at milestones, etc.).

Overall, these four films succeeded for the most part because they were strategic and passionate about raising awareness for their film. Of course luck played a part to a degree but storytelling was at the heart of their campaigns.

I walked away feeling as if they were all confident that they would succeed. They did not use a passive voice when it came to explicitly sharing why they were fund raising and how much they needed.

Having a plan of action and infusing authenticity into your actual pledge page will take your crowd funding campaign a long way.

Remember: if they can do it, so can you!

fotor_148432643971353 CJ Childress is a business writer & aspiring film producer. She works with social ventures, non profits, and change agents to tell their stories RIGHT! Currently, she is learning as much as she can about producing films while writing books in her spare time. Cinematography fascinates her and she’s not a half bad photographer. You can say “What Up” to her on Instagram. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Guide To Loglines And Why Your Film Needs One

1472568698929

The logline.

 

It’s the one component of screenwriting that requires careful thought and continued practice to master.

 

Films come to life and get made due to the grit and strength of a logline.

 

It may be easy to begin writing scenes based on an idea or plot, but sustaining your film from start to finish will go much easier if you begin the creative process with an airtight logline.

 

As a writer trying to take your first crack at screenwriting this is what you need to know:

 

A LOGLINE is a succinct sentence that shows what your film is about.

 

It must be powerful, answer questions, and incite the desire to know how it all ends.

 

In essence, a solid logline reveals what your script will be about.

 

Now that, that’s covered, lets dive into why loglines are necessary to begin with:

 

Loglines are crucial to selling your script. It serves as an opportunity for you to generate interests from producers, directors, agents, and studios.

 

Think of loglines as your cover letter and your script the resume. One must follow the other.

 

Many argue that you can write your logline after you’ve completed the first draft of your script.

 

I believe the contrary. Loglines can serve as the blueprint for your film. It’s like having a mini outline for your entire film. They help tremendously in your film idea being fleshed out.

 

If you are lost on any part of your plot when brainstorming your film idea, then a logline will help you get grounded and achieve clarity.

 

In the spirit of brainstorming, loglines are ideal to craft during the brainstorming phase or right afterwards. Once again, before the actual scriptwriting takes place. That’s the sweet spot.

 

James Burbidge from film festival heavy weight, Raindance, offers that loglines must include; a protagonist, their goal, and the antagonist.

 

Just from examining those structural elements, they reinforce how fluent and tight a logline must be in order to serve its purpose successfully.

 

The logline examples below from Elements of Cinema hits on all of the must haves that Burbidge highlights:

 

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION – Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

 

THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS – A press agent, hungry to get ahead, is pushed by a ruthless columnist to do cruel and evil things, and is eventually caught in the web of lies that he has created.

 

BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY – An Iowa housewife, stuck in her routine, must choose between true romance and the needs of her family.

 

ROTHCHILD – A young, well-educated loner kills the members of his mother’s estranged family one-by-one in hopes that he will inherit the family’s vast fortune.

 

All four seamlessly tell the tale of a movie. As a reader, you find yourself wanting to know more.

 

When you achieve that with your logline, you are able to command the attention of influencers.

 

To exercise your logline muscles, try the free online service, Logline It. Hands down, it is the best destination on the web for being able to quickly share your logline and get feedback. There is a feeling of community there, and as writers, tribe building is a must.

 

Scripts are written everyday by talented screenwriters and unfortunately many of those scripts never see any action.

 

Breaking into this industry is tough. You have to use every weapon available and build an arsenal. Writing a logline for your script is one of those weapons.

 

It can give you an advantage amongst competition. It demonstrates to potential collaborators and gatekeepers that you have a clear vision for your film and that you mean business.

 

Now its time to turn the discussion back to you, have you ventured into the logline world?

If so, how did you feel about writing one?

Was it difficult, smooth sailing, time consuming?

 

We’d love to know. Share in comments and we will reply with any insight and tips we can.

 

#HappyWriting

 

CJ Childress is currently wrapping up her first paranormal novella and the script adaptation for it.

She is also lovingly knee deep in two major non-fiction book projects, one as a ghostwriter, and the other for aspiring authors. You can find her on twitter HERE.

 

 

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Working On A Film For Free

5 QUESTIONS

You’ve been really giving this filmmaking life much thought and figure that the best way to get your feet wet is by working on an indie film.

Finding an indie film crew to jump on is often the best and easiest way to start building your career as a filmmaker.

It’s a perfect endeavor no matter if you aspire to be a director, producer, screenwriter, editor, you name it, because of the invaluable skills you will gain on set. It will open your eyes to all of the ins and outs that goes beyond any book or article you could read. It gives you first hand knowledge of the film business, which is priceless.

However, in saying that, most indie films have a very limited budget or none at all. Therefore, if you decide to volunteer your time to working on one, there are several factors to consider on whether or not it is worth pursuing.

Can I literally afford to work for free?

This seems really obvious but it’s worth asking yourself. I’ve known newbies to practically quit their 9 to 5’s at the drop of a hat just because they were being offered an opportunity to work on a film “for experience.”

If you don’t have a flexible job, ample vacation time, or have income that’s on life support as a freelancer, then it may not be worth the risk to work on a film for free.

At the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself and your responsibilities.

Yes, you may get an IMBD credit on a film working as a gaffer or production assistant or 2nd camera, but if it comes at the expense of you losing your primary source of income, then keep your eyes peeled for another opportunity that will better fit in or around your current work load.

Will I be able to leverage this opportunity?

If you are not being compensated financially directly for your work on a film, then you need to consider other ways how you can maximize this opportunity.

One way that you can get mileage out of working on a film for free is by sharing your journey behind the scenes via social media and or your blog.

This builds social proof and clout for you. It lets the world know that you are gaining actual on set experience. It will also make it easier for you to generate industry connections for future projects.

Make sure you get clearance from the film’s producer or director on whether or not you can use images captured on set and make social media mentions about the film.

If it’s a green light from them, then take that opportunity and run with it.

Will I receive official film credit for my involvement?

Another way to justify working on a film for free is if you will be given proper acknowledgement in the film’s credits.

If you can get a guarantee from the producing team or director that you will be getting an IMBD credit then use that to build credibility for yourself as an aspiring filmmaker.

Is this film in a genre I want to build a career and portfolio in?

When you envision yourself in the film world and only documentaries or TV shows come to mind, then it may not be worth the time and energy to volunteer on a horror film or romantic comedy.

Not that you can’t learn an onslaught of tips and tricks by working on an indie horror film, but if you have to do it for free and as a genre is just not your cup of tea, then why make the sacrifice.

Having a portfolio you can be proud of and that reflects your aesthetic is something to keep in mind from day one. Save your volunteered time for films that fall in align with your goals.

Does the director and producing team appear competent, organized, financed, and capable of leading a team and creating a quality film?

This is a biggie. No matter how awesome the film sounds when you read about it on Craigslist or Stage 32, if you get a sneaking suspicion that the producing team or director is unorganized or incompetent, then do yourself a real favor and sit this one out.

In the end, you run the risk of wasting your time. And if you are going to work for free on a film, then time is the last thing you can afford to waste.

A well-run set is noticeable from day one. The director is sticking to the call-sheet, actors are in make-up timely, craft services is a priority, the crew knows their duty stations for opening scenes, and the remainder of the day’s activities move swiftly and efficiently.

If that is happening then you are apart of a solid grew and golden set.

You will be able to walk away from working on that film for free with invaluable gems that will empower you on the next film (that you should definitely get paid for).

No matter how bad you want to jumpstart your filmmaking career, sometimes the pay-offs are too small and not worth the risk.

But the good news is that with a little patience and a watchful eye, a solid opportunity will materialize that will be more than worth the wait.

What did we miss? Do you have any tips for working for free on a film?

 

CJ CHILDRESS is a photographer, cinematographer, and writer. She just had a blast pretending that she was the technical director at the Beyonce concert in Houston last weekend. At the moment, she is editing stock video footage for commercials. You can keep up with her on Instagram. 

 

10 Film Festivals That Support Women Filmmakers

5 Film Festuvals

 

10 Film Festivals That Support Women Filmmakers

ATHENA FILM FESTIVAL

Now in its seventh year, the Athena Film Festival — a celebration of women and leadership — is an engaging weekend of feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world.  The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors and talent and workshops for filmmakers, has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind.

LOCATION: NYC, NY

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

CITIZEN JANE FESTIVAL

This film festival has a deep commitment to fostering the growth of young women filmmakers. They even have a Camp Jane program for middle and high school girls who have an interest in film.

There call for women filmmakers on their website states:

Are you a female filmmaker? Then please submit to our 9th annual Citizen Jane Film Festival that will take place November 3-6, 2016. We screen films in all genres and short or feature length that are directed or co-directed by women. We program films made by filmmakers in all stages of their careers–from first time filmmakers to pioneers in the industry. If accepted, filmmakers are strongly encouraged to attend the festival in person to participate and collaborate with other female filmmakers throughout the weekend, and we work hard to help make this happen for you as much as possible!

LOCATION: COLUMBIA, MISSOURI

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

WOMEN’S FILM INSTITUTE FESTIVAL

“Amplifying the voices of women and girls” is the tagline and mission of the Women’s Film Institute.

The San Francisco Women’s Film Institute was conceived and founded in 2005 by filmmaker, media arts activist and community educator Scarlett Shepard. Shepard’s goal was to build upon the success of the San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival (founded in 2004) and it’s mission of supporting, promoting and celebrating films directed by women as art and education and expanding its programming year-round.

The institute supports its mission by presenting the annual San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival, Generation HERstory filmmaking training program for young women (ages 12-19), and a variety of film screenings and educational programs.

LOCATION: SAN FRANCISCO, CA

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

POW FEST

Stands for Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival.

It is a mighty regional festival and even has some exciting summer workshops for aspiring teen filmmakers already planned.

Their mission is simple:

In recognition of the power of women’s voices in film, the Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival (POW Fest) places a spotlight on women directors by showcasing their work and strengthening the community of women in film.

We feature the work of today’s top women directors, honoring the true pioneers while providing support and recognition for the next generation of leading women filmmakers.

LOCATION: PORTLAND, OREGON

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

UNDER WIRE FESTIVAL

If you are across the pond, or want to be, then check out this festival in the UK.

Underwire is the UK’s only film festival celebrating female filmmaking talent across the crafts. Founded in 2010 by Gabriella Apicella and Gemma Mitchell with the aim to change the face of the industry from the inside out, the festival has awarded training and mentoring opportunities to over 40 filmmakers, and has screened over 300 films.

The festival recognizes talent across Directing, Producing, Screenwriting, Editing, Cinematography, Sound Design, and Composing, and any short film that has a woman in one of those roles is eligible.

With women making up only 21.8%* of a typical feature film crew it is clear that these talents must be showcased early, to propel the women filmmakers of the future into their feature film careers.

LOCATION: LONDON, ENGLAND

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

CALIFORNIA WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL

This is a classic film festival that champions the voices of women in film.

They allow film submissions that range from features, shorts, documentaries, music videos, animation, and written screen plays.

Students can even enter this festival.

Here is an overview from their website:

The California Women’s Film Festival is deeply honored to celebrate women filmmakers, artists and writers by providing a showcase and networking forum in the heart of Hollywood.

The CWFF understands how important it is to hear and see the educated, entertaining and diverse stories of women from around the globe. We provide a platform so these voices can be heard and shared with audiences that want to be inspired.  The California Women’s Film Festival accepts all projects that has at least one woman in one of the key production positions:  (Producer, Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Lead Actress, Etc……). Projects that are produced and/or directed by men are accepted as long as there is a lead female protagonist and/or the story is based around women.

LOCATION: ENCINO, CALIFORNIA

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

FEMALE EYE FILM FESTIVAL

This film festival caters to more veteran women filmmakers but it is definitely worth attending to make industry connections if you are an aspiring or emerging filmmaker.

FeFF, an international film festival for women directors, bridges the gap between the written, visual, and media arts with an eclectic program of films, script readings, book signings, a photo exhibit, music nights, industry-initiative panels, and best-in-the-biz tributes. FeFF provides an exclusive showcase for Canadian and international independent women filmmakers. We present high-calibre short and feature films in drama, comedy, sci-fi, action, horror, documentary, animation, and experimental genres. The directors and their casts and crews participate in Q & As with audiences following their film screenings. In addition to the annual festival, FeFF also curates film programs throughout the year and produces community-outreach programs to raise awareness of issues that pertain to women.

LOCATION: TORONTO, CANADA

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

LES FEMMES UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL

If you made more of an experimental film then this festival might be up your alley.

They truly see being a filmmaker as being an artist.

The International Les Femmes Underground is a film festival centred on the subversive, unique, and innovative. LEFUFF, showcases artists from all walks of life creating work which redefines the manner in which women are represented in mainstream cinema. Making its debut in 2016, Les Femmes Underground is premiering in Los Angeles as the first ever traveling women’s underground film festival. Les Femmes Underground was created as a response to the decline of feminist icons and role models in the media. As feminists, we believe it is our responsibility to empower new generations of young women to generate work which breaks away from society’s gendered roles. Les Femmes Underground seeks to premier first time under-represented emerging feminist film-makers and artists.

LOCATION: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

FLO FILM FESTIVAL

“Reel Women Power” sums up the aim for the FLO Film Festival based in Mumbai, India.

The FLO Film Festival creates a platform to address the representation of women and girls on screen, and exploring – through cinema – the themes unique to this side of the gender spectrum. The Indian and international features, documentaries, animation and short films showcased at the Festival will highlight relevant content dealing with women’s issues, as well as inspiring stories of hope, courage and empowerment. The mission is to start a dialogue breaking down stereotypes, and to enable audiences to become discerning viewers and critically reflect on their media consumption and how it _influences them.

LOCATION: MUMBAI, INDIA

FESTIVAL WEBSITE

WOMEN’S VOICES NOW

WVN is really a community and collective of women filmmakers that are dedicated to pushing boundaries and opening more doors for women in the industry.

They have organization ambassadors, plan screenings, coordinate college tours, and even provide fiscal sponsorship (which ideal for documentary filmmakers).

A distinctive feature about WVN is that their film festival takes place solely online. This allows more flexibility and diversity for emerging filmmakers to participate.

Their mission statement is as follows:

Women’s Voices Now amplifies the voices of all women by promoting the free expression of women’s struggles for civil, economic, political, and gender rights worldwide. By providing free online platforms for film, art, writing, and social-media activism, we connect people and resources striving for global women’s rights.

Women’s Voices Now fills a critical gap in global efforts seeking to elevate the status of women, especially women who are underrepresented and women with little access to resources. Through the narrative of films, writing, and art featured by Women’s Voices Now, our work continually inspires and challenges women and men to overcome obstacles in the advancement of women.

Through our annual online short-film festival, hosting platforms of written and visual expression, and coordinating community engagement, we foster and enhance the international dialogue on women’s rights and encourage engagement from a worldwide audience.

LOCATION: ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, CA 

FESTIVAL WEBSITE 

What do you think about our list? Are there any that you’d like to add, let us know.

We hope that there are a few that have your film’s submission’s name on it!

CJ CHILDRESS is a photographer that keeps true to having a documentary style and an emerging filmmaker that follows that same aesthetic. She can’t wait to go to New Orleans this summer and pretend that she’s filming LEMONADE part II. You can follow her on instagram. 

5 Life Lessons I Learned Working On My First Feature Film

5 Lessons I LearnedWorking On My First Short Film

This past November I had the good fortune of working on my first feature film.

I snagged this mind-blowing gig after only being in Houston for three days. I served as the Script Supervisor and after two days on the film was asked to be the 1st Assistant Director.

As an emerging photographer, I had been dying to also become a filmmaker too, particularly a cinematographer.

I honestly had almost given up hope. I had left life get in the way. Allowed relationships to supersede my ambition.

Felt that I was too old.

But…

This film reignited my passion for filmmaking. I know that I can still do it.

After all I did originally major in media production in undergrad and pursue my MFA in Screenwriting. I am a total film nerd. I always study in OMG detail the cinematography of every web series/TVshow/movie I watch. Mother God has totally prepared me for this.

Giving myself permission to be a fledgling filmmaker was the first grateful lesson that I learned while working on this film.

And once that “aha” moment hit me, a slew of others did too.

But there were five pressing lessons that just SCREAMED share these that stand out to me.

So here goes:

Be Prepared for the Unprepared

One of the most critical elements of making a film is a concept called, continuity. In essence, it is the art and science of making sure that every scene has consistent prop placement.

Have you ever watched a movie and noticed that when the camera went in another angle, the coat that was on the couch seconds before from the last angle is no longer there but technically the film is still in the same scene?

Well, that means they had a continuity problem, no ummm major oversight, is more like it.

In life you have to stay consistent and prepared for the unprepared.

We almost had a major kerfuffle a few times when in one scene the day before we had lemons on the kitchen counter and the next day when we needed to film more scenes in the kitchen, our Production Assistant bought limes instead that morning (because the lemons had started to go bad).

This caused a major issue on set. We wasted time. Production was halted.

I had to go and buy lemons because our production assistant was not there that day. Even the size of the lemons was important. We had to get it right.

Continuity was not going to kick us in the derriere and embarrass the heck out of us. Film reviewers notice EVERYTHING.

Life is like that too.

Your haters AND fans notice EVERYTHING too.

So be prepared, to hush the naysayers and make your cheerleaders say “damn skippy” I think she’s dope because she’s got her sh** together.

Scheduling makes all the difference

Life doesn’t always flow. The sequence of events gets mixed up sometimes.

BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t schedule as tightly as possible, especially when you’re diving into a major “this is going to put me on the map of all maps” magnitude of a project.

While filming, a solid director will have a daily call sheet sent to cast and crew the night before that provides the crew/cast call times for the next day (often at the crack of dawn) and the scenes that will be filmed that day.

As time went on during filming the director got more and more detailed with providing me the details of the scenes that needed to be shot that day.

He even included key beats and shots that were needed for each scene to me separately as his script supervisor and 1st assistant director.

This helped tremendously in my opinion with getting things done.

Films are not shot/filmed in chronological order of the story line of how the movie was written and surely not what the audience sees in the finished product, and this movie was no exception.

When you are tackling tall orders and the flow is coming each and every way but straight, the best thing you can do is schedule the heck out of all possible tasks that need to be checked off your list.

That way you will still feel like you are being productive, even if it looks like chaos on the surface. At least it will be organized chaos.

Use Your Voice

On film sets: scenes are debated, actors want to get adequate camera coverage, dialogue is sometimes just not stacking up and the list goes on.

These moments are prime time to add your two cents.

Yes, you may be a green script supervisor that has only written 9 and a 1/2 film scripts and have only worked on a couple of music videos, that’s no reason for you not to still SPEAK UP when problems need to be solved.

About 68% of me is an introvert, so speaking up is something that I have struggled with in my 36 years.

Often times I zap up solutions in my head when problems arise, but I have had a long history of keeping them to myself.

And where was that getting me in many situations when I could have been the winning quarterback?

Nowhere.

This film really pushed me to at least add to the conversation.

You don’t have to be the long-streak winning champ, Ken Jennings from Jeopardy, providing all of the right answers but you do need to in certain situations share your ideas, solutions, anecdotes, and logic.

Don’t stand mute, keeping your brilliance to yourself. That’s selfish actually. It screams, not “team player hungry enough” in work situations.

So words to the wise, SPEAK UP. Do so and watch your confidence soar and your status as a valuable member on a film set shoot through the roof.

There Really Is A Difference Between Acting & Reality

Actors perform. And when you really think about it, everyone is an actor.

When we are on jobs and even in relationships, we are acting.

Putting our best selves forward. Trying to win the hearts and minds of bosses, CEO’s, girlfriends, fiancés, your rich Uncle.

We think that by acting our way into their good graces we will be awarded all kinds of goodies. Like five figure bank balances, an engagement ring from Jared’s, free yoga for a lifetime, a seat at the cool table, a BMW, higher self-satisfaction, righteous cockiness, an inflated Instagram following.

But in real, real life, that’s not reality. We spend so much time acting and avoiding our real selves. So much so that you can find yourself questioning that fine line between what’s/who’s real and what and who is not, yourself included.

Towards the tail end of filming, one of the co-stars was growing to be quite frustrated with the interruptions that were happening on set during his scene (door bells, phones not being silenced, shit like that) and he kind of had a “moment” when his frustration blurred the lines between acting and how he really was feeling while holding a knife in his hand (it was a prop in the scene) and telling us he wasn’t afraid to use it if things didn’t start ironing out, and quickly at that.

Before I knew it though, he seemingly snapped out of that funk and went right back into the scene. He did later apologize for the outburst.

It was that moment that got me thinking about just how much we “act out” in life and neglect to keep it real. Even though in this case, I think he was keeping it real, he’s just a classically trained actor so he knows how to get away with such antics with finesse.

The rest of us however, are acting our way through real life and often times not succeeding. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Take a closer look at your life. Imagine a life where you can totally be you, the aspiring filmmaker with an endless supply of good ideas and the work ethic to back it up. Remember her always and live the life you envision.

You Have To Keep Going Until You Get It Right

On our third to last day of filming there was one shot that took us all the way to U in the alphabet.

Films are filmed like this:

Scene: # (the chronological number from the script)

Shot: A (shots always starts with A and go to Z or AA if you go beyond Z and so forth)

Take: 1 (takes always starts with 1 for obvious reasons)

This particular shot began to require so many camera angles (every time you move the camera to film a scene you go up the alphabet) that before we knew it we were on U. That’s 21 shots, not including takes.

That’s a ton of angles folks. But, we refused to settle until there were enough strong camera angles in the can. Granted, we had some good ones peppered in, shot U was by far the most solid shot.

Life deals us decks of cards like that. You may be in the thick of something and really want to call it a wrap, but you just simply can’t that easily.

You push. You go beyond the level that just an average person will go.

You become determined to keep going until you get it RIGHT.

That means that you scrap your entire Wix website right before hitting publish and decide to go with WordPress because it finally dawns on you that doing so will make your life that much easier in the end.

Or you may rewrite the first sentence in your novel 316 times but you do so until you get it right because you know that a weak first sentence will make a reader put your book in between their Farmer’s almanac and their high school year book on their book shelf, never to be pulled out again.

Let life push you.

Keep going.

Get it right.

My foray into official filmmaking was not just a crash course in feature films, it was a needed crash course in living life on my terms right now.

What do you think of my five? Do any of them fire you up or serve as a much needed reminder to get cracking on a building a career as a filmmaker? 

 

CJ Childress is the proud co-founder of Creative Outsiders and is currently obsessing over the cinematography of the hit WGN show, Underground while mapping out her next photography project. You can follow her on Instagram.