InFocus Film School Blog

 

Write a Successful Romance in 5 Simple Steps

how to write romance romantic film titanic

by Johnny Papan

 

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. A time dedicated to all the lovers out there, making things special for “just us.” Moments are filled with candle-lit dinners, flowers, chocolate gifts, and, for the last few years, watching the newest installment of the Fifty Shades series, leading to a sales boost in adult shops across the country.

 

Watching a romantic film is one of the most popular choices among young couples for a Valentine’s Day date. They fulfill the fantasies we often can only dream of experiencing, which is why romance has become an integral part of cinema. Main focus or subplot, the element of love has found a place in almost every movie of any genre.

 

So what makes a romantic film? Is it merely a tale of two beings looking into each others eyes and falling into an embrace? If it’s not that easy in reality, it certainly can’t be that easy in film.

 

Most lovey-dovies follow similar structures that help us as an audience connect and fall into the journey of our heartfelt characters. In order for a romance film to work, we need a simple ingredient: characters that we want to be together in the end.

 

Here’s how you can write a romance that pulls on the heartstrings.

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How To Work With Child Actors On Set

stranger things child actor on set

by Julia Courtenay

 

Child actors deliver some of the most riveting and moving performances on screen, as we’ve seen from Harry Potter to Matilda. Currently, the young cast of Stranger Things has charmed millions of viewers with their performances on the hit show.

 

But movie sets are difficult, complex work environments even for adults. Because children are particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of, there are rules to protect children in TV and Film in BC. Producers must be aware of these rules when hiring child actors in BC.

 

The following covers most of the basic considerations but should not be taken as legal advice.

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The Invisible World of the Foley Artist

foley sound effects performance rowing boat on water

by Julia Courtenay

 

Foley—the addition of sound effects in post-production—is probably one of the most under-appreciated arts in film production.

 

The sound effects designed by Foley Artists are often as mundane as footsteps, keyboards, kettles etc. but they can stretch to the gory sounds of tearing flesh and crunching bones, to the sound of alien life forms and futuristic technology.

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My 30 Favourite Films of 2017

+ WORST FILM and MOST ANTICIPATED OF 2018

By Kryshan Randel

30 Favourite Films of 2017

 

For most of the year, no film came close to the best that television had to offer. Brilliantly conceived shows such as THE HANDMAID’S TALE, LEGION and parts of TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN outdid anything on the big screen, especially in the script department, and it seemed like television was the new cinema. But then fall arrived, along with the majority of this list, and great films made a swift comeback. As usual, my preferred taste for dark comedies and thrillers/horror films is apparent, but my documentary favourites (except for HONDROS) are safe for everyone. Here are my top films of 2017.

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Filming With Green Screen: Everything You Need To Know

superman green screen compositing David James. From the film “Superman Returns”. Courtesy of Warner Bros., 2006.

By Julia Courtenay

 

These days, we all know the fantastical backgrounds in big blockbuster movies look underwhelming on set. But with green screen (and major help from visual effects artists and compositors), filmmakers are creating worlds with an unbelievable sense of authenticity.

 

The technique behind green screen actually dates back to the early 1900s. Blue screen was more popular at first because it worked better with celluloid film. Green screen is more common and practical now with the rise of digital filmmaking. And you, dear filmmaker, can take advantage of its increasing accessibility.

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Tricks & Tips for Setting Background

The Deer Hunter background performers

By Julia Courtenay

 

Part of the job of the Assistant Directors is setting Background (the non-speaking performers who create the atmosphere, a.k.a. “extras”). Background is as essential to the scene as any other element. A badly set background can be distracting and suck the life out of the scene. Done well, the Background enriches and creates a sense of authenticity.

 

Last week, we talked about how to start working as a Background Performer. This time, let’s look at what Background means for ADs!

 

Setting Background is as much an art form as lighting or dressing a set. But you often only have a few minutes to put the Background in place, so you need to be prepared.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Working as an Extra

By Julia Courtenay

 

It’s been a blockbuster year for film in Vancouver, providing a slew of opportunities for Background Performers (a.k.a Extras) to be anything from zombies, to German officers, FBI agents, bikers, baristas or nuns—and get paid!

 

Want to get in on the action? Read on to find out how to work as a Background Performer on set.

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Script Supervisors: The Eyes and Ears of Continuity

Introduction to Script Supvervising Script Supervisors

By Johnny Papan

 

 

Continuity is a vast valley that requires precise attention to detail and spawns through many departments. To save time and money, films are often shot out of sequence and it is up to the script supervisor to make sure props, costumes, makeup and things of the like are exactly how they should be in order to look continuous on screen, despite being filmed separately.

 

A key part of being a script supervisor (commonly referred to as “scripty”) is paying attention to actors and their performance on set. It’s not uncommon for actors to go off-script, forget their lines and change movements between takes. Without proper attention, this can prove to be disastrous in post-production, as the editor may not have the right footage to cut things together seamlessly or cinematically. In essence, the supervisor serves as both the eyes and ears for the director and editor.

 

Debra Margolis is a mentor, teacher, and retired professional script supervisor who began her career 1987. She garnered her years of professional experience in this role on shows such as: Masters of Horror, Da Vinci’s Inquest, Dark Angel, So Weird, Cold Squad, and The Collector, to name a few.

 

“I’m always running back and forth from the set to the monitor,” Margolis states. “Sometimes the director will wanna be close to the actors and they’ll tell me to go make sure everything looks good on the monitor. Sometimes I have to be close to the actors because they forget their lines. If there’s any deviation, I’ll mention that to the director and they’ll make changes.”

 

Script supervising is an ideal role for proficient multitaskers. While keeping an eye on performances, set decoration, costumes, and things of the like, the “scripty” must meticulously jot notes on everything as well, including the length of each take as well as how long it took overall to setup and achieve the shot. This plethora of paperwork is known as the Script Supervisor’s Bible and will assist the script supervisor in making sure that everything is how it’s meant to be.

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5 Lessons Film Students Can Learn from Paranormal Activity

paranormal activity low-budget film

By Christopher McKittrick

 

Budget is always an issue for film students, so finding ways to stretch your limited funds on your student films is just as important of a skill as basic camera techniques. It’s not just about finding money to spend—it’s also about spending the money you do have wisely.

 

One way to learn how to effectively manage a low-budget film project is to take a look at how an amateur-turned-professional filmmaker put those skills into practice. Filmmaker Oren Peli may be the only person in film history who can claim that he shot a blockbuster movie—2007’s Paranormal Activity—entirely in his own house for a fraction of what a Hollywood production spends on catering.

 

The resulting film was so effectively made that, although DreamWorks initially hired Peli to remake the film with a larger budget, a successful test screening of the original version proved that remaking the film wasn’t necessary. The final release is largely Peli’s original film with some re-edits and a reshot ending.

 

When released in theatres in 2009, Paranormal Activity grossed nearly $200 million worldwide against a production budget of just $15,000, making it one of the most profitable movies ever released.

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Why the Buzz Around Wonderstruck?


by Ryan Uytdewilligen

 

Even if you don’t see Wonderstruck, you have to admit the film’s trailer alone just might be the most jarring piece of cinema we’ve seen all year.

 

With a blend of colour and black and white, we are immediately introduced to a boy searching for his father, then ZAP! A shaky blur that can only be explained as an electric shock leaves the boy deaf. What follows is the most haunting cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity—a choir of kids lead the way until Bowie himself takes over to lift the hairs on the back of our necks.

 

A lot of the accompanying images in the trailer cannot be explained but they are beautiful and certainly watchable as the years 1927 and 1977 blur together into some wild fantasy world. This is the latest film from acclaimed auteur director Todd Haynes and this year’s closing film at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

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