The Filmmaking Process:
How to create, produce and shoot a successful indie film.
Film is the expression of art and human life’s trials and tribulations. “Cinema has become a powerful vehicle for culture, education, leisure and propaganda.” Filmmaking plays an important role in society, the way we as humans view society and the world; is controlled by the films we see to a certain degree. Filmmakers share stories, experiences, and analysis of the world around us and it is important to give importance to filmmakers. This includes indie filmmakers and student filmmakers.
If a film is done right, it is as influential as a powerful TED Talk, yet we are entertained as an audience at the same time. If you have a story, an experience, or a lesson you would like to teach or show the world about why not become a filmmaker? This article is about the filmmaking process and how to create a successful short film. We will go in depth regarding specific film roles, what they do, and the pre-production, production, and post-production processes. We will then dip into the world of film marketing (for indie filmmaking, student filmmaking). This article will end with how Novie can assist your student film, or even indie film in becoming notorious and therefore more successful.
Filmmaking Process (Students & Indie)
Table of Contents
- Can you produce a film solo?
- How many crewmembers do you need?
- What are the key crew roles?
- A detailed description of each role.
- What happens in pre-production?
- Is it important?
- What is production?
- Is production hard?
- How to minimise everything going wrong.
- Who is involved in post-production?
- Can anyone edit?
- What to do after the film is complete?
- What if it doesn’t get traction?
- How to market the film
- How to get it “Out There”
- What can Novie do for you?
First Things First: Your Crew
Can you produce, direct, write, and film a short film on your own? The short answer is no. The long answer is nope. There are so many different roles you need to delve in as a filmmaker if you go solo. The film will not be as successful as you imagined it being if you do it on your own. You may write the film and then direct it, as many famous directors such as James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino do. Some even produce in addition to writing a film and directing it. Yet they don’t do more than that. You need grips, a location manager, a cinematographer and maybe a camera operator, an assistant director, art department, make up artists, an editor, and much more depending on the scale of your film! As a student get your fellow student filmmakers and work on each others student films! If you’re an indie filmmaker, get some assistance from student filmmakers, who will be privileged to get on set experience outside the university framework!
We are going to go through the roles, their responsibilities and importance in creating or producing a film. Whether feature or short, no matter what genre or even for documentaries!
This is the list in no order, as every role is vital to the production of a successful film! How many crew-members (not including cast) do you need (at a minimum) when creating a film? At least 8-13. Depending on the length of the film, and what the film requires.
- Work closely with Producer, Editor and DOP to make the film a success
- Creatively in charge of the film.
- Final say on crew, cast, and locations
- Works with the actors closely ensuring they fit their character well.
“In the making of a film, the director is a type of creative leader and mentor, not only to the actors or crew, but also to the story. He shapes it and directs its creativity.” The director is closely involved with the film from its inception until its release, overlooking the roles of all actors, the editor, and other crewmembers. The director is essentially in charge of the film. They work with the screenwriters in order to make the screenplay come to life, and they work with the producer closely to make the film a success.
- Working with every role to ensure the films success
- Hiring and paying Crewmembers
- Overall control over the film
- The big boss of the film
- Oversees all departments
Producers have overall control on every aspect of a film’s production. They bring together and approve the whole production team. Their key responsibility is to create an environment where the talents of the cast and crew can flourish. Producers are accountable for the success of the finished film. They steer the film from beginning to completion and beyond.
- Screenplay / Script
- Multiple Drafts
- Working in conjucntion with Director and Producer
A screenwriter is a writer of scripts or screenplays. They turn their thoughts, an experience into a story with creativity. A script is a document that outlines every aural, visual, behavioral, and lingual element required to tell a story.
“It is the common ground” for all crew to work on a film, this is why it is vital to the creation of a film.
It is seen as the blueprint of a film, containing all action and dialogue of the film. The screenplay still sets the way producers will look to schedule the filming procedure and budget.
- Turning the raw footage of the film into a professional sleek film.
- Final touches of the film. Colour correction, colour grading.
- Pace of the film is dictated
Their roles are key to the postproduction process and can determine the overall quality for the final product or film. The film editor has several responsibilities when editing, among them is putting together the different shots of the film in order to ensure that the story flows effortlessly to create the final product, removing flaws and sharpening performances through editing and putting together scenes.
- Work with the director to visualise the story into separate shots and camera movement and framing.
- Collaborate with Camera Operator, Gaffer and Grip to ensure shots go as smoothly as possible.
Directors of Photography (DoPs) are key Heads of Department on film productions and is one of the primary creative roles. They assist in providing a film with its unique visual identity, and style.
DoPs must discover the photographic heart of a screenplay, using a variety of source material.
They create the desired look using lighting, framing, and camera movement.
1st Assistant Director
- Assist the director with crowd control
- Push production forward
- Shooting schedule
First ADs’ main duties are assisting the Director, co-ordinating all production activity, and supervising the cast and crew. They are also in charge of a department of other Assistant Directors and Runners.
Overall, they provide the key link between the Director, cast and crew, whilst also liaising with the production office, and providing regular progress reports about the shoot.
- In charge of the Art Department: make up, props, costume, setting the location.
- Working across departments.
It is the Art Director’s job to realise the Production Designer’s creative vision for all the sets and locations that eventually give productions their unique visual identity.
The Art Director starts work when they receive the script and final schedule, detailing the precise shooting order of the scenes. They analyse the script to identify all props or special items that may require longer lead times.
- Preparing camera and all its equipment
- Assisting the DOP.
Working with the Director and Director of Photography to achieve the visual style of the film. Camera Operators carry out the Director of Photography’s (DoP) and Director’s instructions for shot composition and development. They are usually the first people to use the camera’s eyepiece to assess how all the elements of performance, art direction, lighting, composition and camera movement come together to create the cinematic experience.
Audio / Sound
- On set recording
- Good quality audio files for the editor
Involves the use of a boom pole and microphones. They are key to the film process as without audio or bad audio, there would have to be a re-shoot of the whole scene, or the film would not look as slick and realistic as the director, producer or editor would hope for.
Gaffer & Grip
- Gaffer: Lighting, setting it up, and controlling it
- Grip: Camera movements, setting up dolly’s and being th “muscle” on set
Gaffers oversee all practical and technical aspects of the electrics and lighting to get the right effects. They install the lighting equipment and arrange the power supply.
Grips work closely with the Director, Director of Photography (DoP) and the Camera Operator to make sure the position or movement of cameras is achievable.
- Continuity of the film depends on the Script supervisor
- pay attention to small details
- note down the best take of a scene
It is the Script Supervisor’s role to monitor whether it is possible for each filmed scene to be edited into a verbally and visually coherent sequence. Film and TV dramas are usually shot entirely out of script sequence. The Script Supervisor ensures that the finished product makes continuous verbal and visual sense. They work as part of the camera department.
- Script Breakdown
- Character Breakdown
- Storyboard & Moodboard
- Shot List
- Shooting Schedule
- Prop List
- Production Budget
- Production Schedule
- Lighting Plan
- Equipment List
- Cast List
- Costume Design
- On-site Audio Recorder
- Assistant Director
- Make-up Artist
- Follow Schedules
- Decorate Locations
- Script Supervisor
- Colour Grade
- Colour Correct
- Sync Audio
"I've Completed my Film, What Now?"
What are film festivals? Do you drop acid and party hard? Not quiet. Film festivals are platforms for independently made films or “art” films. Films that are not about the money or mainstream appeal.
They are events many film critics love as some of the best films in the modern day are viewed there, and hoping to be sold there. They don’t pay you for your film to be screened, they give you the audience you needed and in that audience is an investor. Looking to buy films for distribution. In addition to this, you can win awards, that can make you and your film more famous!
So should you submit into film festivals? Absolutely! You have nothing to lose! The main drawback is that you can’t really upload your film online until after the festival has screened it. What you can do is upload a trailer online, then after the festival happens upload the whole thing on YouTube or Vimeo if no investors or distributors are interested in your film for whatever reason.
Submit to as many film festivals as you can! Even the big ones (Toronto, Cannes, Sundance, etc…), you never know what might happen! Go for it, and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get in! Try again with an even better film the next year!
PS: Make sure to research the rules and regulations of film festivals, and how to act when dealing with them.
Youtube or Vimeo
Surely nobody is going to ask what is YouTube? Some may ask what Vimeo is, it’s essentially a more professional YouTube. If you don’t get into any film festivals, or for whatever reason don’t want to submit them. You should submit your films onto YouTube or Vimeo.
Both are great options with their own advantages. Novie supports the use of both of these platforms.
Feedback and Potential Views: Vimeo has much less users, yet they give more constructive and professional feedback. On YouTube you may not get feedback that is as beneficial, yet you can potentially get more views as it has a huge and growing audience.
Free vs. Paid: YouTube is free to use with Ads, and 10$ a month for no Ads. Vimeo has more options (Plus, Pro or Business) and is more strict on the free accounts, yet there are no advertisements.
Options: Both sites have privacy options, and are against online piracy. Both sites offer analytics.
In the end, it’s up to you! Whether you care more about the views or the feedback!
Marketing Your Film & How Novie can Help You!
10 Marketing Tips (Student and Indie)
- Use the internet, become familiar with online blogs such as reddit and others. Make your film known in niche websites with a community that loves film!
- Have your film with short titles and hashtags on social media. Create an organised social media account that will attract people to watch your film! Be personal, give something back (even if its just love).
- Create competitions and contests that will make people go into a frenzy over the film!
- Festival screenings are a good way of building an audience base.
- Personally contacting people to watch the film! Hard work but worth it.
- Having a solid and good trailer that encourages people to share it on social media, like it, and comment! Also excites people for the film.
- Giveaways and investor benefits assist heavily, it makes people feel important and special, they will return the love back to you.
- Create an IMDB page and Wikipedia Page.
- Have your film mean something, a great theme can move a film a long way!
- Street marketing, friends, and family.
Novie's Role for your film
Novie is a film streaming platform that shares your YouTube and Vimeo films or trailers! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or a professional. Indie or not you’re free to upload on Novie!
We target more views for our uploaders as we believe that indie and student filmmakers are the future of filmmaking. We give yearly awards as well, for most viewed and top rated films!
We have a section on the site for critical analysis and reviews, which allows you to receive the constructive feedback you deserve!
Novie will market the Novie website (www.noviemovies.com) and our Instagram page Novie. This will create traction for all the films on Novie. We will also post snippets and posters of the films on our Instagram page. Essentially we offer free marketing for films on our site.
Have a film in a film festival? Being paid for a film? No worries. You can upload trailers here on Novie and we will still market the film or trailer for you! Exciting stuff isn’t it.