Faux Pas Filmmaking
Mistakes happen. Mistakes happen every day to most of us--however; on a filmset where time is money--mistakes can become costly.
(As I just wrote that last line, I can't help but think of the opening of the 2008 film "Tropic Thunder:" where there is blockbuster film being made with a major special-effects pyro shot goes ablaze, torching the jungle--and the camera wasn't even rolling to catch the shot. I have luckily not been privy to a situation like that despite my similarity in hair styles to the director...)
Just like in the regular world, within the film world, mistakes and problems are inevitable. The biggest faux pas to filmmaking is an inability to problem solve.
During school or individual projects are great places to take risks--but very few people have broken ground by making a "safe choice." I have been on sets and seen many mistakes made--from the amateur spectrum of not charging the cameras/having batteries/the correct SD card/extension cords--to the uncontrollable elements of weather and the crazy things of life that only can be explained by living them--this is where I believe true film makers are made.
I was a part of a short film while I was in college where I was playing a dead body...literally...that was it...a dead body that the main character was going to move around in a comedic fashion a bit. Unfortunately, his co-star had to drop out of the project for personal reasons, leaving the film makers in quite a bind. Luckily, I resembled the gentlemen leaving the show and the farcical nature allowed for a quick re-write intercutting the two of us playing the same character with the main character never quite catching on...but hinting at acknowledging something was off...sounds crazy on paper, but the general reaction of the short was well received.
If there's a will, there's a way, right?
So that example didn't cost a lot of money per say, but sometimes the payment is deeper than that. I was recently working on a film set where a hard drive had to be formatted to be compatible with the camera's memory card at the cost of losing a summer long trip of documentary footage from personal exploration--and then a couple weeks later the hard drive was dropped rendering the entire film shoot a waste of energy.
"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."-Walt Disney
I believe that some of our greatest achievements can only be built on top of the mounds of failure beneath them. There is an extreme amount of problem solving that has to be done to even get a film off the ground when you look at it from beginning to end: writing-producing/budgeting-casting-crew-directing-editing/post production-distribution-marketing/advertisement and all the work in between.
But getting back to one of the initial things that sparked this post today--monetary cost--and in the independent film community some of these are either heightened or non-existent because of money.
In 2013, I had the opportunity to view a documentary made by James Toback and Alec Baldwin called "Seduced and Abandoned." This film shows the extreme difficultly that filmmakers encounter when trying to create a film, strictly from the producing perspective. (Granted, producers have to work hand in hand with all of the teams...they're the money figurehead.) I recently re-watched portions of it and came away with this inspiring quote:
"You have to fight very very very hard to do what you want because it always comes down to, the money."-Martin Scorsese
Are you willing to fight for what you want to create? The digital age has opened the door to many opportunities for film making that don't have to live within the realms of big blockbusters but can still have significant reach and impact--just look at viral videos on YouTube. There are many ways to try and raise money for projects from Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Go Fund Me, and RocketHub that many filmmakers have had success using--here is a brief article that compares the different websites strengths if you're looking to raise money:
Anyway, I realize this got a little rambly and without a real through line...but it's just what I was thinking about tonight. If you haven't noticed...there is always going to be some degree of rambling...because that's me.
You wanna go tell a story, make it happen with a team who will collaborate with you to achieve your common goal! Until next time.