InFocus Film School Blog

 

Running your own film production company is an appealing prospect: being your own boss, hand-picking projects and being intimately involved in all aspects of production. Whether you are striving to make a living, or creating a launching pad for passion projects, here are a few factors to consider.

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image of broad city stars ilana glazer and abbi jacobson

With networks like Comedy Central, HBO and truTV now picking up webseries as full length shows, the race to produce marketable content is on. Here are four tv shows that got their start online:

Drunk History
On August 6th, 2007 Mark Gagliardi drank a bottle of Scotch…and then discussed a famous historical event.

True to its name, the premise of Drunk History is based on an inebriated narrator attempting to retell an historic event in American history, with dramatic recreations shot to illustrate the story. The webseries was launched by Funny or Die in 2007 and featured an impressive rotating cast of comedic talent.

In 2010 the episode titled Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln, starring Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and took home the award for Best American Short.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay came onto the series as executive producers, and Comedy Central picked it up for a series, which premiered in 2013. The show is currently in its third season.

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By Kryshan Randel

 

Most of these romantic comedies are not typical additions to the genre. They all feature romance and comedy as central plot points, but beyond that, anything is fair game. The best love stories are the most unexpected ones!

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Vancouver is home to a large and bustling film industry, but there is a community beyond set life and the grind of production. There are an extensive number of local festivals and events dedicated to honouring films and the people involved, from all avenues of local and international stages.

Within these events is a community of people that deeply appreciate film. There’s always an excited buzz in the air at film festivals as crew members and audiences mingle, and a glowing pride at local award ceremonies that recognize talent in the community.

The best way to get involved and immerse yourself into the industry is to submit to your passion of filmmaking. Get excited and get out there, attend festivals and networking events or enter your work into local contests. See below for a list of Vancouver’s top recommended film festivals and events for 2017.

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It is famously difficult to break into the film industry as a screenwriter, especially if you don’t have a network of connections to point you in the right direction. Luckily there is an alternative to peddling your unproduced scripts around town: entering (and winning!) screenwriting contests is an excellent way to gain the attention of agents, managers, and film industry influencers.

There are hundreds of screenwriting contests from around the world to choose from, but if you are serious about securing an agent or getting your work produced, here are three you have to check out:

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How To Fund Your Short Film in Canada

Canada has a wealth of film funding opportunities for emerging and established filmmakers. On a national level there are five major agencies that are the go-to for creators who are working to greenlight their next short dramatic or documentary project.

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arrival film

arrival film

By Kryshan Randel

2016 was a very strong year for science fiction, thriller/horror – and musicals! Never thought I would love three musicals in one year, as they are a rare breed these days, especially exceptional ones. Considering how dark the real life 2016 got, some joyous song-driven relief was a welcome addition to the movie mix.

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Still from Beasts of the Southern Wild

Still from Beasts of the Southern Wild

By Freddie Kim

 

Cinematography in indie filmmaking is a constant negotiation between financial reality and creative vision. With that in mind, should indie cinematographers consider Super 16mm more seriously? There are some sound arguments for it.

 

Financially, film may not be as expensive of a choice as most would think. Arri CSC still rents out Arri 416 and Arri SR3 packages to students, and indie filmmakers. Rental houses will often work to make packages that are appropriate for their budget and the project. If you opt for Arri SR2, the option becomes even cheaper.

 

In the Vancouver area, for example, Cineworks offers SR2 packages for $400 a week. With the trend moving towards digital, the cost of rentals for film cameras is expected to go down even further.

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The versatility of the DSLR camera has made it a favourite among independent filmmakers. With a compact design that is highly compatible with small crews and Guerilla style shoots, the large sensor and wide selection of lenses have the potential to produce footage cinematically akin to 35mm film. The major downfall to the lightweight body of these cameras is the difficulty of handheld operation: even the slightest motion can be noticeable while filming. Luckily there is a stabilization solution, no matter what your budget.  

If you are producing a film and have NO BUDGET for a stabilizer, you may think that there isn’t much you can do to improve the quality of your handheld shots. However, there are a number of tried-and-true industry tricks that can make a huge difference in your footage.  

  • It’s generally better to use a wide angle lens, or the wide end of the zoom whenever possible. This is because camera shake is much more noticeable the closer the subject is to the camera.  
  • The way you stand can make a huge difference when it comes to stabilization. Find a stable object to prop your elbows up on and to help keep your arms steady. If you’re going for a lower angle, take a knee and balance your camera on top of your kneecap for additional support.
  • If you have access to a tripod you can quickly transform it into an improvisational stabilizer. Mount your camera to the tripod, spread the legs and minimize the height. Hold onto the base with one hand and lift in the air to use as a makeshift stabilizer.

dslr-infocus

Approaching stabilization with a MICRO BUDGET gives you a little more flexibility when it comes to purchasing entry level stabilizers and shoulder mounts. If you’re particularly crafty you can also try your hand at building your own contraption, with numerous DIYs online.

  • No Film School’s $70 DIY Shoulder Rig may seem like a steep investment for something you have to assemble yourself, but the results are quite impressive (and it’s an excellent conversation starter on set!).
  • LifeHacker has a cheaper and marginally sketchier rig: $15 DIY “The Silver Flyer” Stabilizer. This homemade dupe of the Steadicam mount, is made up of parts easily purchased at Home Depot.  
  • The $85 Opteka X-GRIP EX PRO is a 2.83lbs handheld handle the secures your DSLR inside of a sturdy aluminum frame. It’s not intended specifically for stabilization, but the frame does reduce camera shake while simultaneously providing space to mount lights, microphones and other accessories.
  • The $140 Revo SR-1000 Shoulder Support Rig is a 2.25lb shoulder mount that is designed specifically for run-and-gun filmmaking. Between Amazon US and B&H this mount has over one-hundred reviews, scoring high across the board.

Stabilizing a DSLR camera on a budget is no easy task. If you want to forgo a tripod for a more mobile cinematography style, but still retain the quality of a professional production you still have many options.

There’s a saying that is frustratingly accurate when it comes to finding work in the film industry: “You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.”

Whether you are fresh out of film school, or coming into the industry with a completely blank slate, here are some tips to securing a job on set.

  1. Start With Your Address Book

If you have film industry contacts: contact them and ask if they have any leads, or if they’re working on a production that might need some more hands. Be polite but persistent, and ask them to keep you in mind for future work if nothing is currently available.  

If you don’t know a single person in the film industry: ask your friends, your parents, or friends of the family if they know anyone who currently works in film. Sometimes a referral is all you need to get a chance at your first entry level position. Vancouver is booming right now, and you likely know someone – or someone who knows someone – that works on set.

  1. Take a Workshop

The Motion Picture Industry Orientation* course was developed in partnership between Creative BC, MPPIA and industry labour organizations. The two-day course is a mandatory entry requirement for most BC-based film unions, and is absolutely vital to stand out from the crowd when you apply for an entry level position.

*InFocus Film School offers this course – find more information here.

film-studio

 

  1.  Research Current Productions

Creative BC provides a comprehensive and up-to-date list of all the productions currently shooting in British Columbia, along with contact e-mails for each. Put together a resume that provides any relevant job experience, workshops and education and pair it with a concise cover letter. It always helps to have an insider contact, but it’s not necessary to get hired for an entry level position. All you need is a good attitude and a little luck.

You can find the list here.

  1. Learn How to Self-Promote

One of the best ways to attract attention as a film industry professional is to establish a web presence. A website can feature your demo reel, describe your services and show testimonials from past clients. Creating videos on Vimeo or Youtube is another great idea, because you can cultivate a body of work to serve as your portfolio. Face-to-face networking always has it’s benefits, and there are a number of companies online where you can order inexpensive business cards.

artful-mind-slate

  1.  Create Your Own Work

If you’re committed to your craft and prefer being your own boss, freelancing might be the ideal gig for you. There are several jobs in the film industry that are built for freelancing – video editing, camera work, audio engineering, and more. This option requires considerably more effort as you’re building your clientele, but it can be a very rewarding career move. Choose to specialize in one particular skill, and work to make a name for yourself.

There are many paths that lead to working in the film industry, as any established professional will tell you. The one thing they all have in common is dedication. Flexibility is an added bonus – sometimes accepting a position that’s outside your skill set can be a challenging and advantageous decision.