Showing posts with label development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label development. Show all posts

PRODUCTION JOURNAL: When you form a production company, FOCUS on what matters!




A decade or so ago, two of my filmmaker friends and I formed a production company.

The goal of the company was to produce two feature films back-to-back; one written and directed by one of my two friends, and one written and directed by me. The third friend had a line on $10,000 seed money and wanted to produce his first feature, after producing several short films and being involved in the Sundance community for several years.

We kept it simple, at first. We met at a Denny’s and set up an office in my 2-bedroom Los Feliz apartment with the main goal of getting name talent attached to our two scripts.

We decided to work on two films at once to put us ahead of the game in two key ways:

1) If we were known to be setting up a slate of films and a production company, rather than just setting up a single film, we'd be able to differentiate our company and our films from the scores of other filmmakers out there hoofing it to raise money for their single film.

and 2) two films would allow us to manage risk of loss and leverage our positions with potential cast and investors. That is, if we were trying to get two films going, and if name talent jumped aboard at least one of them, we'd be automatically in a good position to make the second one, as we would have gained significant "heat" by attaching a name actor to one of our films.

But despite our grand strategy, and despite being able to ultimately attach several smaller name actors to one of our films, we wasted a lot of time and energy doing a lot of pointless, business-y things that we thought were important at the time, but turned out not only to be not important, but incredibly wasteful of our precious time and scant financial and human resources.

A typical day at the Los Feliz office was:  We'd meet, agree on what we were pursuing for the day, as far as a single "action item," such as "Contact Steve Zahn's manager and see if you can get the script to him," then I would track down Steve Zahn's contact information, and then our lead phone guy, Roger, would be the guy who picked up the phone and called him.

That's pretty simplified, but you get the idea.

But another key ingredient in the mix:  we committed to the idea that if we didn't get name actors and raise the budgets within 3 months, we'd shoot both the films ourselves with skeleton crews and cheaper gear, splitting the rental costs and other costs between
the two films, getting the most bang for our buck.

And by giving ourselves that ultimatum, we had to pair the name-talent outreach campaign with a simultaneous "we're shooting in X months" preproduction campaign.  Which meant we had to start finding locations, securing rental deals for cameras and gear, casting actors, and everything else that goes into preproduction on a film. Two films, actually.

And this is where it began to go wrong.

Because we were overloaded, we brought in a couple of interns to help us with that day-to-day grunt work.

And it wasn't apparent at first, but because we'd brought in those two interns, who weren't exactly strangers, but weren't exactly close pals, we all felt like we had to "step up" and act more like a real business—a real production company.

Which meant whenever there was any downtime, we had to come up with busy work.

And soon, that busy work became the end-all-be-all of what we were doing.

We started having meetings to keep us on track and set goals, and because we wanted to make the interns feel like part of the team, we brought them into the meetings.

But even worse, in those meetings, we started talking about things like business card design and who should run the video camera at auditions.

As we descended into this busy-work death spiral, we said to ourselves "This is too much for just us three producers. We need to bring in someone to help with this stuff."

So we added a fourth producer to our production company.

Despite it all, this fourth producer was a valuable asset to have on the team.  He had a knack for quickly building his social circle, so we knew he'd be able to help bring aboard people that could help.  But the only problem was that, now, the topic had shifted even further away from the "get a name actor on our film" to "getting our production company name out there" and "designing our logo."

And then it got worse.

Because then we dived down a two-month rabbit hole as we planned a big launch party for our production company, deciding it was time to make a splash and let the film industry know we meant business.

Facepalm.

Instead of calling actors and preparing for the possibility of shooting the 2 films with a microbudget, we were now worried about arbitrary things like:

-       How can we merge our personal emails lists onto one main Brooklyn Reptyle email list so we can invite everybody to the Launch Party? Should we use Excel? Will our internet provider allow us to send all these emails at once?

-       What should go on each of our business cards? ("Should I be 'Creative Director' or does that sound too pompous?" "How about I'm 'Executive VP In Charge of Production' and you're 'Executive VP In Charge of Finance'?")

-       What's the MP3 playlist for the party? Should it be contemporary? Classic? A mixture?

-       Should the party be invite-only?  Or open to friends of invitees?

The net result:  By July, we had ended up being miles away from that three-person "name-talent strike force" we started out as in February.

And because we had so many sundry mindless little "busywork" things to focus on, nobody was able to focus on anything.

And as a result, morale plummeted.

And when morale plummeted, the interns left. 

And when the interns left, we were overwhelmed with so much busy work left undone, we panicked and brought in a paid office assistant, despite the fact that none of us had any money.

She lasted a month and had to quit.

And it was at this point we lost Roger, our producer who was the main liaison to the name-talent we were pursuing, when he took on a film festival job.

So the name talent campaign was effectively over, and our two-film production slate was teetering on the edge of failure.  It was at that point we hit rock bottom, and had to "sober up," so to speak.

After a few weeks of reorganization and refocusing, we got back on the horse, deciding to make one of the films, Boppin' At The Glue Factory, come hell or high water, and name talent be damned.

We stuck to the basics and scrounged up a microbudget, threw together a cast and crew, and started rolling cameras within a few months.  Three basic business actions we took that led to success:

1) We divided up the work.  Put simply, everybody's jobs were overlapping.  As a result, a team member would do a lot of work (e.g. getting a printer script to a certain manager, or pricing out a location).  Once we divided up the work, we could assign specific tasks to each other, and the list of tasks would keep us on track and accountable to our teammates.

2) We stopped having daily meetings and moved to a weekly meeting.  In addition, the structure of the weekly meeting became tighter and more focused.  We set an agenda for each time we got together, and attacked each bullet point individually, minimizing chat and distraction, and stayed focused on end results.  We checked to see if each teammate achieved the tasks assigned to them on their task list. We brainstormed new ideas and new tasks within a set period of time, and if we went over, that was it.  We called the meetings "Tactical Strike Meetings," instead of the long, drawn-out "campaign" meetings we'd grown accustomed to, and the new urgency really helped. 

In one meeting, for example, we did a timed "angel investor brainstorm," where we each had two minutes to throw out the names of as many connected, or wealthy, or otherwise viable potential angel investors as we could, and the person who threw out the least amount of names had to buy lunch.

As a result of that meeting, we stumbled upon one name that we hadn't thought of before. That person ended up becoming our first angel investor, and "made it safe" for other investors to come aboard later, because they perceived our film as a viable, project due to that first investor.  It was now more than just a script and an idea. It was a moving train.

3) We got real about our chances of landing name talent, and refocused on actors that weren't necessarily on the "A List," but had large enough names to get people interested in the film, and to set our film apart from others. This refocusing let us see our casting in a new light, which opened the door for our first few great actors, such as Rance Howard, Conrad Roberts, and Mews Small, who not only fit the parts, but actually caused us to realize how small our thinking was when it came to each of the characters they played, as each of them brought in a whole new dimension of life and magic to their parts, which expanded our film's potential and entertainment value in a huge way. 

That film, Boppin' At The Glue Factory, is actually still making money on Amazon right now.

And, thankfully, our business cards are lost to history.





IMDB page of Boppin at the Glue Factory http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382579/


SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Fusion's Open Call For TV Projects is a Push for Diverse Voices


Originally published in Deadline

Cable network Fusion, a division of Fusion Media Group (FMG) that focuses on programming for diverse youth, has issued an open call for scripted and unscripted television projects. The emphasis is on generating new opportunities for young storytellers of different ethnic backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, genders, religions and other under-represented areas of creative talent with or without agency connections.

Selected projects from the open call will receive funded development deals with the network, which promises at least one project selected for greenlight next year. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis and should center around stories that “speak to the interests and issues that matter to America’s diverse youth—reflecting their curiosity, sharpness, and passion,” according to Fusion. Selected submissions will receive funded development deals with the network. Interested writers, filmmakers, and producers can submit pitches on the company web site at Fusion.net/submissions.

For the rest of the article go to Deadline at http://deadline.com/2017/10/fusion-media-group-open-call-for-new-diverse-tv-projects-1202195872/

SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury RoadGeorge Miller | 2015 | Australia, USA | Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema (also 3-D version)  | 120 min


Mad Max is essentially one long chase scene. But what a complicated and thrilling chase scene it is. It surprises me none to find out that George Miller, the director, created a storyboard comic book to map out the shooting of the film from logistics to aesthetics. Storyboards and concept art are important tools for filmmakers but even moreso for filmmakers making action movies.


Below is a compendium of links to articles on the making of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read, watch, enjoy but don't forget to take notes.

The making of Mad Max: Fury Road (according to Wikipedia)

Development

Plans for a fourth film in the Mad Max series hit financial difficulties and the project spent several years in "development hell".[17] The idea for a fourth installment occurred to Miller in August 1998 when he was walking in an intersection in Los Angeles.[18] About a year later, while travelling from Los Angeles to Australia, the idea coalesced. Miller conceived of a story where "violent marauders were fighting, not for oil or for material goods, but for human beings."[18] The film was set to shoot in 2001 through 20th Century Fox, but was postponed because of the September 11 attacks that same year.[19] "The American dollar collapsed against the Australian dollar, and our budget ballooned," Miller said that he "had to move on to Happy Feet, because there was a small window when that was ready." Mel Gibson, who starred in the original three previous films, was also set to reprise his role as the lead character. Miller ended up re-casting the role because of controversies surrounding Gibson and because he wanted Max to remain at a younger age, as the "same contemporary warrior".[18] Miller announced in 2003 that a script had been written for a fourth film, and that pre-production was in the early stages.[20] Although the project was given the green light for a US$100 million budget to begin filming in Australia in May 2003, Mad Max 4 entered hiatus because of security concerns related to trying to film in Namibia because the United States and many other countries had tightened travel and shipping restrictions.[21] With the outbreak of the Iraq WarMad Max 4 was abandoned as it was considered a potentially politically sensitive film. Although Gibson had been cast to return as Max, he lost interest after production was cancelled.[21]

Director George Miller announced in 2003 that a script had been written for a fourth film, and that pre-production was in the early stages.
In November 2006, Miller stated that he intended to make Fury Road, and considered doing the film without Gibson: "There's a real hope. The last thing I wanted to do is another Mad Max, but this script came along, and I'm completely carried away with it."[22][23] The film's screenplay was co-written with cult British comic creator Brendan McCarthy, who also designed many of the new characters and vehicles.[24] Miller again confirmed his intention to make another Mad Max at the 2007 Aurora film maker initiative. However, he stated that he thought Gibson would not be interested in the film because of his age.[25][26] Heath Ledgerwas reportedly considered for the lead before he died from combined drug intoxication in 2008.[18] On 5 March 2009, it was announced that an R-rated 3D animated feature film was in pre-production and would be taking much of the plot from Fury Road,[27] although Gibson would not be in the film and Miller was looking for a "different route", a "renaissance" of the franchise.[27] Miller cited the film Akira as an inspiration for what he wanted to do with the franchise. Miller was also developing an action-adventure tie-in video game based on the fourth film, along with God of War II video game designer Cory Barlog. Both projects were expected to take two to two-and-a-half years, according to Miller, with a release date of either 2011 or 2012. Fury Road was going to be produced at Dr. D Studios, a digital art studios founded in 2008 by Miller and Doug Mitchell.[27]
On 18 May 2009, it was reported that location scouting was underway for Mad Max 4.[28] After exploring the possibility of an animated 3D film, Miller decided instead to shoot a 3D live action film.[28] By this time, production had moved to Warner Bros.[19]
In October 2009, Miller announced that principal photography on Fury Road would commence at Broken Hill, New South Wales in early 2011, ending years of speculation.[29] This announcement attracted widespread media attention in Australia, with speculation on whether Gibson would return as Max.[30] That same month, British actor Tom Hardy was in negotiations to take the lead role of Max, while it was also announced that Charlize Theron would play a major role in the film.[31] In June 2010, Hardy (who was just six weeks old when the originalMad Max began shooting) announced on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross that he would play the title role.[18][32] In July 2010, Miller announced plans to shoot twoMad Max films back-to-back, entitled Mad Max: Fury Road and Mad Max: Furiosa.[33] In November 2011, filming was moved from Broken Hill to Namibia, after unexpected heavy rains turned the desert there into a lush landscape of wildflowers, inappropriate for the look of the movie.[34]
In a July 2014 interview at San Diego Comic-Con International, Miller said he designed the film in storyboard form before writing the screenplay, working with five storyboard artists. It came out as about 3,500 panels, almost the same number of shots as in the finished film. He wanted the film to be almost a continuous chase, with relatively little dialogue, and to have the visuals come first.[35] Paraphrasing Alfred Hitchcock, Miller said that he wanted the film to be understood in Japan without the use of subtitles.[36]

Filming

Principal photography began in July 2012 in Namibia.[37] Filming also took place at Potts Hill and Penrith Lakes in Western Sydney.[38] In October 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Warner Bros. sent an executive to keep the production on track.[39] The filming wrapped on 17 December 2012[40] and lasted for 120 days.[19] In February 2013, a leaked draft from the Namibian Coast Conservation and Management group accused the producers of damaging parts of theNamib Desert, endangering a number of plant and animal species.[41][42] However, the Namibia Film Commission said it had "no reservations" after visiting the set during production. It disputed claims reported in the media, calling the accusations "unjust rhetoric".[43] In September 2013, it was announced that the film would undergo reshoots in November 2013.[44]
Cinematographer John Seale, who came out of retirement to shoot Fury Road,[45] outfitted his camera crew with six Arri Alexa Pluses and four Alexa Ms, as well as a number of Canon EOS 5Ds and Olympus PEN E-P5s that were used as crash cams for the action sequences.[46][47]
In July 2014, director George Miller described the film as "a very simple allegory, almost a western on wheels".[48] Miller said that 90% of the effects werepractical.[49] Second unit director and supervising stunt coordinator Guy Norris was in charge of over 150 stunt performers, which included Cirque du Soleilperformers and Olympic athletes.[45][50] Miller invited playwright Eve Ensler to act as an on-set adviser. Impressed with the script's depth and what she saw as feminist themes, she spent a week in Namibia, where she spoke to the actors about issues of violence against women.[51]

Post-production

The lead visual effects company for Mad Max: Fury Road was Iloura, who delivered more than 1,500 effects shots for the film.[52] Additional visual effects studios that worked on the film include Method Studios, Stereo D, 4DMax, BlackGinger, The Third Floor, and Dr. D Studios.[53][54] The film contains about 2,700 cuts of its entire running length, which is equivalent to 22.5 cuts per minute compared The Road Warrior's 1,200 cuts of its 90-minute running time equivalent to 13.33 cuts per minute.[55] The frame rate was also manipulated. "Something like 50 or 60 percent of the film is not running at 24 frames a second, which is the traditional frame rate," said Seale. "It'll be running below 24 frames because George, if he couldn't understand what was happening in the shot, he slowed it down until you could. Or if it was too well understood, he'd shorten it or he'd speed it up back towards 24. His manipulation of every shot in that movie is intense."[56]
The extensive effects work included altering lighting and time of day, weather effects, terrain replacement, and plate composition.[57] Night scenes were filmed in bright daylight, deliberately overexposed, and color-manipulated. In many shots, the sky was digitally replaced with more detailed or interesting skies. Charlize Theron wore a green cover over her left arm to aid effects artists in digitally removing her arm from her scenes.
Weta Digital was originally involved with the film when it was scheduled for a 2012 release.[58] The company was to be handling visual effects, conceptual designs, specialty make-up effects, and costume designs until production was postponed from its November 2010 start date.[59]

Music

The musical score for Mad Max: Fury Road was written by the Dutch composer Junkie XL.[60] Prior to Junkie XL's involvement, John Powell and Marco Beltramiwere attached at separate times to score the film.[61][62] After hearing Junkie XL's score for 300: Rise of an Empire,[63] Miller met with the composer in Sydney. "I got very inspired and started writing pieces of music for scenes," said Junkie XL. "The initial main themes were written in the four weeks after that first meeting and those themes never changed."[64] A soundtrack album was released by WaterTower Music on 12 May 2015.[65]

Mad Max: Fury Road: Behind the Scenes and George Miller interview








WIRED: What It Takes To Make The Most Intense Movie Ever

Despite the advances in CG, you shot Fury Road as much as possible in-camera with practical effects. Why?
It’s not a fantasy film. It doesn’t have dragons and spaceships. It’s a film very rooted to Earth. A kind of crazy demented quality to everyone’s behavior arises out of this extreme, elemental, post­apocalyptic world. We needed to make it feel as real as possible.

A Look At Mad Max: Fury Road Storyboards


Mad Max: Fury Road Concept Art







Mad Max: Fury Road Set Photos

The Editing of MAD MAX: Fury Road

One of the many reasons MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is so successful as an action film is the editing style. By using “Eye Trace” and “Crosshair Framing” techniques during the shooting, the editor could keep the important visual information vital in one spot…the Center of the Frame. Because almost every shot was center framed, comprehending the action requires no hunting of each new shot for the point of interest. The viewer doesn’t need 3 or 4 frames to figure out where to look. It’s like watching an old hand-drawn flip book whiz by. The focus is always in the same spot!


Mad Max: Center Framed from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.


“Eye Trace” is another editing technique that posits that you can guide the viewers eye and make them look where you want. By using motion in frame and/or positioning critical points of focus in successive shots to fall on a natural or comfortable area of the screen. An arrow shot from a bow flying left to right on screen of one shot…will seamlessly cut with a whip pan into the next shot that has a target and an arrow already stuck into it still quivering from the impact. Your eye is tracking the arrow left to right and your brain expects it to hit somewhere on the right side of the screen in the next shot. The viewer never sees the arrow make contact and doesn’t need to. A properly placed sound effect will convey the energy and impact. Apply this same technique to the punches, gunshots, spears, car crashes or any other shot in MAD MAX:Fury Road and you can see how much easier it makes the action to follow. 

'Mad Max: Fury Road' - Stop the Presses! A Woman Edits an Action Film

MAD MAX:Fury Road VFX

Meet The Colourist Eric Whipp

Making of Mad Max: Fury Road from ACS Victoria with John Seale ACS ASC and David Burr ACS

Crafting Mad Max: Fury Road’s more than 2,000 visual effects shots (saved one of the best articles for last - Danny Indio)

Original plate filmed in Namibia.
Final shot by Iloura.


The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist A 40-point checklist from development to post-production   by Danny Jiminian www.djimlaw.com...