InFocus Film School Blog


How to market your documentary on social media

How to market your documentary on social media

Social media marketing has revolutionized the way people market their business, and documentary filmmaking is no exception. It’s true that nothing can replace the buzz created by a festival screening, but using social media can effectively create awareness around your film. Perhaps even helping you land big opportunities like those all-­important festival screenings! Failure to take advantage of these platforms in your marketing strategy can be a serious misstep. Learning how to market your documentary on social media will help to further your film’s exposure and reach a wider audience. So, where do you start when you’re ready to consider marketing your documentary film?



1. Build A Marketing Strategy Into Your Project

Some documentary filmmakers cringe at the idea of building a marketing strategy for the film before they even start shooting. But, considering how you’ll market your film before you start filming doesn’t have to detract from relevant social issues.

how to market your documentary on social media

In fact, considering how you’ll market your documentary before you start shooting can actually help increase awareness of a particular issue. By capitalizing on the social issues highlighted in your documentary, you’ll be able to build a marketing strategy that can connect with other individuals, organizations and industry professionals. Better yet, you can reach an audience already informed on your topic and let them serve as a springboard to bring more attention to your film from more uninformed audiences.



2. Promotion via Social Media

Most of us are familiar with social media in some form or another. We’ve likely all come across marketing campaigns in our social feeds from a range of different companies. When it comes to promoting a documentary, finding success through social media lies in creating content that is authentic. 

Filmmakers who promote their work on social media and fail usually do so because their outreach lacks passion and authenticity. Simply repurposing a post in hopes that someone will engage with your content may not get you the results you’re looking for. Instead, opt for eye-catching, original content that peeks people’s interest and attention. 

Documentary filmmakers can particularly take advantage of social media as a marketing tactic. By incorporating the issue at hand into your film’s marketing strategy, you’ll not only bring awareness to a wider audience, you’ll also encourage them to take action and contribute to the cause. 


3. Sharing Work Through Social Media

Sharing clips and snippets of your documentary is integral to building visibility. Few people are willing to go out to a theatre and buy a ticket for a film they don’t know anything about. Give them something to snack on while they wait for the main course! Posting video teasers from your documentary will likely result in more engagements and it will leave interested viewers wanting to see more.

how to market your documentary

When you upload clips to social media platforms, it’s important that they be as sharp as possible. Present high­-quality snippets of finished material to generate interest on any social media platform. Make sure your film has it’s own dedicated page on each social network you want to use. Remember to ensure that the page isn’t cluttered with personal or off-topic posts.

Remember to clearly link between your film’s social media accounts. Most important above all is having a clear link to your film’s website.

Finally, when it comes to publishing larger clips, many film industry professionals turn to Vimeo for uploading high-definition videos. These uploads could be used for publicity, for submitting work to film festivals, or even getting the attention of producers and distributors.


GUEST BLOGGER: Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and accomplished online marketing professional in the Los Angeles area. Her writing covers everything from social media marketing, health, real estate and technology.



Related Articles:

How Do You Market a Film? A Guide For Each Stage of Production

InFocus Film School Launches Advanced Documentary Program

How to Conduct a Documentary Interview



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    why should new directors make horror movies

    New directors should make horror movies! Don’t believe us? Read the scary truth below!

    why should new directors make horror movies

    Written by Johnny Papan


    Horror isn’t a genre often associated with prestige. In fact, only 6 freaky films have ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. One of the most recent being Jordan Peele’s directorial debut: Get Out. Despite this, horror films have always been a launching pad for new directors. Renowned filmmakers like James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, Stephen Spielberg, and even Frances Ford Coppola have all honed their craft making horror films in their early career.

    Making horror movies is a great way to develop your career as a film director. You have the freedom to experiment, there’s lower financial risk and you can turn your film into a franchise with a dedicated fanbase. Here are our top 5 reasons why new directors should make horror movies.

    Read more

    What is mise-en-scène and how do you use it in your films? See how Psycho and Dune expertly use mise-en-scène to develop the overall look and feel of each film.

    what is mise-en-scène

    by Sophia Lin

    Have you been wanting to know what is mise-en-scène and how to utilize it? A commonly used film term, on the lips of filmmakers, critics, and audiences alike, is mise-en-scène. You’ve probably heard about how a film has fantastic mise-en-scène or seen the term mixed in with other popular buzzwords like visual storytelling. And if it all seems a little wishy-washy after a while, we’re with you! As it turns out, mise-en-scène is a complex concept with more than a few layers to dig into. In fact, it covers multiple elements of filmmaking.


    So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it all. It’s one thing to grasp the definition of mise-en-scène, but entirely another to use it in your work or build it into your film analysis stratagem. To help you further understand what is mise-en-scène, we’ve included an in-depth analyses of two very different films. See how the iconic Hitchcock film Psycho and the recent Oscar-winning film Dune have both made use of mise-en-scène in some of their most pivotal scenes. How does mise-en-scène foster symbolism? In what ways do directors use mise-en-scène? And exactly how did it work together with the cinematography?


    One of the greatest instruments in a filmmaker’s toolbox is mise-en-scène. We’re here to show you how to use it to its full potential!


    What is mise-en-scène?

    Getting a good handle on the core definition is always a must. To start, mise-en-scène is a French word, literally translated into “putting on stage”. Appropriately, its definition involves the arrangement of some kind in front of the film camera.


    Mise-en-scène is composed of the following four elements:

    1. Setting
    2. Staging
    3. Lighting
    4. Costumes

    Each contains a couple more sub-elements, so to speak. Staging, for instance, encompasses actors’ performances and blocking. But we’ll be breaking all that down soon enough. For now, these four neat terms will make it easy to remember.


    1. Setting

    The first element to analyze when it comes to understanding what is mise-en-scène is setting. A film’s setting is where the story is set. In the realm of mise-en-scène, it almost always refers to the setting of a specific scene. For example, we would consider the interior of a character’s bedroom in one scene, rather than a broad setting for an entire film, like the city of New York. The setting also always includes any props or set design visible on-screen.


    Settings can be used in a variety of symbolic and figurative ways. For one, they can act as an indication of a character’s personality. Or, if the setting undergoes changes as the film progresses, it can be an outward display of a character’s interior development. In more complex cases, settings can reflect a character’s psychology or motives. 


    How Is The Setting Used In Psycho?

    what is mise-en-scène

    Norman Bates from Psycho

    Mise-en-scène is used often in horror films. When we first meet the antagonist Norman Bates from the horror film Psycho, he invites Marion Crane, the female protagonist, into his parlour. At the time, he seems charming and innocent. But look closer — in this scene, Alfred Hitchcock cleverly uses the setting to reflect Norman’s eventual villainy.


    One key example is, whenever Norman appears on camera, several taxidermy birds appear behind him. But they aren’t just any birds — they are predatory birds, from owls to eagles, showing Norman’s true nature as a predator preying on innocent victims. On the other hand, Marion is shown on-screen surrounded by small birds, sparrows and such, which points to her fate as the prey of Norman.


    2. Staging

    As we’ve mentioned, staging refers to a couple extra sub-elements as well:


    The first is performance. At the end of the day, the actors are the star of the show. As a result, the specifics of their performance help to make up the mise-en-scène. How are they delivering lines? What is their body language? This goes as far as incorporating the style of the actors’ performances, such as whether it’s naturalistic or theatrical acting.


    Second comes blocking, a term that refers to where the actors are physically placed and how they move relative to the camera. For that reason, the camera placement is often considered part of the blocking as well. One intriguing example is that a character moving from left to right past the camera is seen as a symbol of change in a positive direction.


    How Is The Staging Used In Dune?

    what is mise-en-scène

    Helicopters from Dune

    One of the most visually stunning scenes in Dune is when the protagonist Paul Atreides sees Arrakis, his new home planet, for the first time in a helicopter. Arrakis is known for its precious Spice, and the overhead view of the desert planet serves as an unforgettable introduction. But that isn’t all it is.


    During this scene, the blocking is intentional and carefully considered. Paul sits behind the glass window of the chopper, with the camera placed on the other side. This creates the unique effect of the desert reflecting off that glass, making it look like the sand dunes are overlaying or overlapping Paul’s face.


    An actor’s face is also a clear symbol of identity. Director Denis Villeneuve uses the blocking to tell us that Arrakis will become a foundational part of Paul’s identity, perhaps even to the point of inseparability.


    3. Lighting

    A third element to understanding what is mise-en-scène is how the film is lit. Lighting is one of the many parts of filmmaking that we typically don’t notice. Gaffers, who are responsible for the lighting of a scene. You can use lighting to create realism, so the shots appear natural and never tip us off to the fact that it has been fabricated. But because it is fabricated, it leaves many options for how the lighting can be used to enrich a film’s message.


    There are two main types of lighting to get to know:


    One is low-key lighting, which means the contrast is high, with the dark parts of the shot being very dark and the bright parts very bright. To no surprise, this lighting is favoured in horror, thriller, and noir films for the harsh look it creates.


    Another is high-key lighting, which is low contrast with few shadows. There won’t be much of a difference between the darker and lighter parts of the shot. This creates a brighter look overall. In contrast, this lighting is often found in rom-coms and musicals.


    How Is The Lighting Used In Psycho?

    what is mise-en-scène

    Norman Bates from Psycho

    Remember the scene in the parlour with Norman? Well, turns out the setting isn’t the only noteworthy part. Filmmakers aim for each scene to contain multitudes of meaning, and Hitchcock is no exception. Lighting-wise, Norman is lit from the side in this scene. As a result, this creates shadows on one side of his face but not the other.


    This results in a curious two-face effect. With a split down the middle, this lighting technique suggests a light half and a dark half to Norman’s character. Or in other words, a sense of duality. As the film goes on, it becomes clear that Norman is not who he appears to be. (Spoiler alert!) As we come to find out, there are, in fact, two personalities within him. This whole scene also acts as a perfect illustration of how the various pieces of mise-en-scène can work together to send multiple messages within one idea. 


    4. Costumes

    The final piece to understanding what is mise-en-scène to the costuming of the film. This aspect of mise-en-scène refers to anything the actors are wearing, including hair and makeup. Costume designers will spend their time looking over the exact details of outfits, styles, shoes, and accessories that will be true to a character. This will also convey meaning on a second level. As we know, what you wear says a lot about who you are.


    Interestingly, costumes can be another way to track a character’s development and their relationship with those around them. The lending of a jacket, for instance, can reveal much about how two characters feel about one another. Beyond that, how costumes are worn is also considered. For example, a disciplined character may have ironed clothes and tied-up shoelaces, while an absent-minded one will wear a half-tucked shirt. 


    How Are Costumes Used In Dune?

    what is mise-en-scène

    Harkonnen tribe from Dune

    Rather than observing a specific scene, costume analysis is often more overarching. Throughout its entirety, Dune is filled with elaborate and ground-breaking sci-fi costuming in nearly every scene. Some costume choices reflect the climate of a particular planet, while others were chosen for reasons of practicality. An example of this is how the stillsuits had to be able to preserve moisture.


    A true prime example of costuming being used to the peak of its creative capabilities is the costumes worn by the opposing Harkonnen tribe. Their armour is hard-shell and darkly coloured, with repetitive textures and bands that resemble those of insects. In fact, the costume designer based it specifically on the look of beetles, ants, and spiders.


    Wait a second, beetles? If that sounds familiar in any way, it should be — Dune features a one-off scene of Paul simply watching a small black beetle crawl up the sand. Beetles are pests, invading and harming any environment they intrude upon. In this case, the Harkonnen costumes create a parallel, foreshadowing their tribe as the colonizing parasites that will invade Arrakis.



    As you’ve seen by now, understanding what is mise-en-scène isn’t a quick and easy task. It’s versatile, subtle, and leans towards the abstract. But once you’ve studied and practiced it, employing it in your film will become second nature. Many refer to it as a language in and of itself – mise-en-scène conveys hidden ideas on another level working together with the dialogue and plot events.


    And so, learning a visual language like this takes time, and close film analysis is a must for understanding what is mise-en-scène. With that in mind, there are some famous examples to dig into. Some that come to mind are the use of light in Parasite, the red jacket in Rebel Without A Cause, the blocking in The Shining’s climatic scene, and the googly eyes in Everything Everywhere All At Once.


    So get into it! Before you know it, you’ll be watching films in a whole new way, seeing more with every rewatch. And if you’re a filmmaker, you’ll find yourself sprinkling fresh ideas into the mise-en-scène of your own films, making the most of what the art of filmmaking has to offer.


    Related Articles:

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    Why Should New Directors Make Horror Films?

    The Art Of Production Design: Who, Why & How

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    7 Job Roles and Departments In Art Direction



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      vancouver international film festival

      Vancouver International Film Festival 2022 will be taking place from September 29th to October 9th. Check out some of these great films and events at VIFF 2022!

      vancouver international film festival 2022

      By: Kennedy Randall

      One of the most recognized film festivals in British Columbia is back again. Vancouver International Film Festival continues to bring the best films and engaging public programs to the city. This year VIFF 2022 will be presenting over 130 feature films and 100 short films. With this in mind, there will be no shortage of viewing material and something for everyone. 

      Vancouver International Film Festival’s public programming is fully stacked this year with an exciting lineup of VIFF Talks. From directors to costume designers, the many panels VIFF will be presenting will paint a full picture of the film industry. These great panels help to inspire fellow creators, filmmakers, and industry professionals.


      Listen in on Clement Virgo, one of Canada’s leading film directors, working on Empire, The Wire, The L Word and The Book of Negroes. Learn about his new film and insights on his experiences being a director and writer. Those keen on costume design can also peek into an exciting conversation with Deborah L. Scott. Deborah is best known for her work in Avatar and James Cameron’s blockbuster Titanic. She was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for her work in these films. Hear about her process designing costumes for action movies verses period pieces as well. Attendees will also learn about the creative teamwork needed to pull off the director’s vision. Check out all the VIFF Talks here.

      viff 2022

      Costume designer Deborah L. Scott

      VIFF will also be partnering with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for a special musical performance. From this partnership, attendees can enjoy a performance of two-time Emmy-nominated composer Michael Abel’s music at the Vancouver Playhouse. Abel is known for the unique scores that have filled the cinematic worlds of Jordan Peele’s films Get Out, Nope, and Us. 


      After two years of the pandemic, Vancouver cinemas have returned to full capacity. Every one of the official selections for VIFF 2022 will be screened in person as a result. The festival will open with a screening of Bones of Crows by Métis filmmaker Marie Clements which follows an epic account of Cree matriarch Aline Spears life. 

      viff 2022

      “Bones of Crows” by Marie Clements

      Other anticipated films include director Kore-eda’s Broker, an entertaining crime story set in South Korea following Song Kang-ho (Parasite; The Host) who heads a half-baked baby adoption scam. Kang-Ho also took home Best Actor this year at Cannes Film Festival.

      viff 2022

      “Broker” by Kore-eda

      For local Vancouver sports fans, The Grizzlie Truth will peak their attention. In this film, director Kathleen S. Jayme sets out to solve a true crime of a different nature: who robbed Vancouver of the Grizzlies? Jayme recounts the short-lived history of the Vancouver Grizzlies and also reconnects the audience with the Grizzlies heroes and villains.

      viff 2022

      “The Grizzlie Truth” by Kathleen S. Jayme

      This year’s VIFF will also include Soviet Bus Stops, directed by Kristoffer Hegnsvad. Soviet Bus Stops follows Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig who sets out to document a piece of urban architecture in former Soviet Republics that may be considered ordinary and benign – bus stops.

      With dozens more films on their program, head over to the VIFF 2022 film program to find your niche or to learn something new at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.


      Related Articles:

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      Coming up at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival is Soviet Bus Stops. Read more about VIFF and the film below.


      By: Kennedy Randall

      After much anticipation, the Vancouver International Film Festival is returning at the end of the month. In the past 41 years VIFF has become one of Vancouver’s most beloved film festivals will be running from September 29th to October 9th showcasing over 130 feature films and 100 short films.


      InFocus Film School has partnered with VIFF to showcase Soviet Bus Stops, one of many fantastic films screening this year. Directed by Kristoffer Hegnsvad, Soviet Bus Stops follows Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig. From Ukraine to Uzbekistan, Armenia to Far Eastern Siberia, Herwig sets out to document a piece of urban architecture in former Soviet Republics that may be considered ordinary and benign – bus stops. 

      InFocus Film School Film Program

      Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

      From the 1960s and 70s, the architecture of the Soviet Regime was largely utilitarian and mass-produced. What Herwig finds on his travels is profoundly different; bus stops that are creative and whimsical. Architecture within the Soviet period was highly monitored and totalitarian following a uniform style. However, bus stops are often a negligible part of the urban landscape, and these revolutionary structures ended up being overlooked. Therefore, these roadside fixtures artistically represent a place and time in history, built as quiet acts of creativity against overwhelming state control. 

      soviet bus stops

      Although, despite their radical nature and innovation, these bus stops are seen by many as strange or embarrassing. This is, unfortunately, leading many of them to be torn down. “These bus stops are disappearing so fast. If I come back a year from now, they could be gone, demolished, or rebuilt. These pictures may be all that’s left in the end. I want to give them some kind of immorality,” Herwig reflects.


      Shot over seven years, Soviet Bus Stops follows Herwig on his journey to capture these bus stops and memorialize them through film. He meets some of the humble and eccentric bus stop creators from various former Soviet Republics to hear their stories about how these unique structures came to exist.

      soviet bus stops

      Herwig’s photography books of the bus stops have become bestsellers around the world. Hegnsvad’s documentation of this process turns this unusual journey into an engaging film about human connectivity, photography, politics, and history. In so doing, Herwig and Hegnsvad both commemorate the stories of these bus stops through their chosen medium, sharing a relatively unknown subject with wider audiences.

      The stories of individuals who created small acts of resistance are embedded in the poetry and art of the remaining bus stops and become honoured, protected, and celebrated in these mediums.

      soviet bus stops

      InFocus Film School is proud to be the community partner for such an unforgettable film. Purchase your tickets for either screening on October 2nd at The Cinematheque or October 4th at International Village 8 here.

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      Are you curious about learning how to write screenplays for film and television? Keep reading for our tips on starting your journey as a screenwriter, and how to write your first screenplay.

      By: Sophia Lin

      You know you want to be a screenwriter, but how do you start? For many aspiring scribes, learning how to write screenplays can be a head-scratching task. There’s much to consider even before you put down your first scene heading or eke out a title. 


      Well, a finished screenplay marks the end of a journey, a winding road that begins as early as the brainstorming phase. And we’re here to demystify it all, with no less than a three-part introduction to screenwriting. From laying down a foundation to how to write a script, we’ll give you the nuts and bolts of the coveted craft. To top it off, we’ve included some extra writing advice — tips and tricks like accelerating your skills through screenwriting programs and sticking to a ‘less is more’ philosophy.

      InFocus Film School Writing Program

      Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Writing for Film and Television Program!

      How to Write Screenplays – Laying Down Your Base

      how to write screenplays

      1. Understand the Structure

      Screenplays are traditionally divided into three acts, relatively evenly-split throughout the story. In simple terms, they are respectively referred to as the set-up, confrontation, and resolution.


      The first act is responsible for establishing the situation: the exposition and the who, what, when, where, and why. It also poses the core dramatic question that the film will seek to answer.


      The second act develops the story further, bringing in hurdles, character motivations, and sometimes a B plot to accompany the main plot. This is also called the middle, involving various smaller beats of rising and falling action.


      The third act is where it all leads to, often constituting the lowest and highest points of the film. It is synonymous with the climax, representing a moment of major and irreversible change or development.


      It’s just as important to be aware that the three-act structure is a guide, but not a set of rules. Many great screenwriters have broken boundaries by putting a unique twist on this structure — but mastering it first is a must. Grasping its intricacies will enable you to understand the alterations you can make, if you wish, without compromising the integrity and appeal of a story. 


      2. Outline a Beat Sheet

      The preliminary step on how to write screenplays is planning and a beat sheet. But what is a beat? Simply put, it’s any one moment, no matter how big or small, that pushes the story forward. A beat is the smallest unit in screenwriting, and every scene will contain several beats. It can be a little confusing at first, so here are a few examples of what we’d call a beat:


      A secretary glances at her boss’ face, realizing that she’ll be fired.


      Prom takes place in the second act.


      A daughter’s biological mother is revealed to be the villain.


      In that vein, a beat sheet must identify all the important plot events that happen in every act of your screenplay. This extends to key emotional moments and changes in characters. This is best laid out in point form, and one tried and true strategy is to write each beat on an index card. Then, you can freely shuffle your cards around as you determine the best order to lay out your story.


      3. Write a Detailed Treatment

      A treatment is a more detailed outline of your screenplay, written in prose and read like a short story. In many ways, it’s the most important supporting document to have as you write. With that in mind, make sure to include every plot event, visual, and even the smallest story beat in your treatment. This paves the way for a well-formed and carefully plotted script.


      Weaving your beat sheet into a complete, flowing piece of writing is what lies at the root of a treatment — so don’t be intimidated! It’s simply fitting the puzzle pieces together. The following four foundational elements form a treatment:


      Title: Simply what you wish to title your film — a working title can stand in as well.


      Logline: A compact and intriguing one-sentence summary of the premise of your story. Not too many details are needed, and the ending is often left untouched so as to create suspense!


      Plot: The heart of your treatment, this is where you summarize story beats and events in the order you wish to present them, excluding most if not all of the dialogue. Be thorough yet concise, and think of it as a roadmap for the screenplay you intend to write.


      Main characters: Descriptions, on a character-by-character basis, of the core characters’ traits and developmental arcs throughout the story.

      Once you’ve wrapped up your treatment, form an elevator pitch — a 2 minute or so summary of your idea. Feel free to pitch this to peers, family, and even strangers, to get feedback in a quick and easy way.


      Sitting Down to Write!

      how to write screenplays

      1. Know Your Technical Terms

      In other words, do your due diligence! Just as the screenplay format should be second nature, you should likewise acquaint yourself with all the technical screenwriting terms. Below are just a few to get you started!


      Scene heading: Appears at the top of a scene in all caps, displaying information about the location (interior or exterior) and time of day.


      Action line: The next line below the scene heading, it describes anything occurring other than the dialogue — almost always actions.


      Parenthetical: An additional bit of info, enclosed in parentheticals, added before a character’s line to give details regarding the line delivery.


      Transition: This describes how one scene shifts to the next, editing-wise. The most common are ‘CUT TO:’ and ‘FADE TO:’, but numerous options can be chosen.


      Voice-over: When a character or narrator speaks but is not seen, always abbreviated as ‘V.O.’ in screenplay format.


      Extension: Written in all caps to the right of a character name, it indicates where a character is talking from. A voice-over is one type of an extension.


      In a similar vein, make it a mission to read from cover to cover a diverse assortment of screenplays that you admire. This way, you’ll find yourself exposed to a wide range of situations and conventions, opening your eyes to what’s possible, and importantly, the correct formatting to use in even the most unorthodox circumstances.

      2. Reimagine, Reconsider, Rewrite!

      As you learn how to write screenplays, you’ll also need to learn rewriting. The first idea you have won’t always be the best one — but with all the possibilities out there, how can you sift through them all?


      An effective exercise is to reimagine at least 10 possible ways something could have happened, such as how your two protagonists first meet. Then start to eliminate each option, reasoning why this location or that circumstance would be less than optimal. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can be certain your choice is purposeful, unique, and serves the story in the best way. 

      3. Pace Yourself & Know Your Flow

      A screenplay can be anywhere from a couple pages to 120 pages or more — a rather hefty project. Rather than thinking of it as a whole, it’s almost always more beneficial to tackle your script in parts. Set page number goals each week, and hone in on those story events for that segment.

      All Posts

      Getting to know yourself as a writer can speed this along too. Is there a mindless activity that makes your best ideas spring forth? A specific cafe that puts you in the zone? Knowing these and employing them at the right moment can be essential to staying on top of your game.


      Extra Writing Tips

      how to write screenplays


      1. Be Economical

      For anyone who wants to learn how to write screenplays, chances are, writing — especially writing a lot — can come pretty easily. But in scriptwriting, a good rule of thumb that many embrace is: “less is more”. For instance, lay back overly detailed descriptions, avoid heavy exposition, and cut scenes off earlier rather than later. This can be vital to maintaining suspense and keeping the audience engaged.


      Likewise, screenwriters make a point to rely on visual storytelling and motifs to do some of the heavy lifting. In particular, for conversations, aim to fully make use of the subtext: the underlying context, and what is unsaid rather than said.

      2. Watch & Read Related Works

      Some truth lies in the old adage of “you are what you watch”. While you’re working out the rough beats and first characters of your script, it’s instrumental to watch other films in the same genre, preferably with a similar tone. Notice how we didn’t say great films — knowing what to do is just as important as knowing what not to do, so study a variety of works across the spectrum.


      Not to mention, knowing what’s already out there gives you a key step up. It can be all too easy to accidentally fall into stereotypes and overdone tropes while writing, simply because it’s what we’ve seen the most of!

      3. Learn Fast Through Structured Courses

      Our one last takeaway when thinking about how to write screenplays, is to work smarter, not harder. To learn screenwriting and fully hone your craft takes time, and banging out scripts on your own can be an even more trying process. One sure-fire way to expedite your skills is to enroll in a screenwriting program, screenwriter courses, or a masterclass.


      Seek out classes or schools with industry-experienced professors, with a balanced experience in the classroom and out in the industry writing scripts to be produced. Importantly, these structured spaces offer one invaluable tool, and in mass amounts: feedback. By knowing exactly how to write screenplays and what you did well — and not so well — you’ll know with certainty your targeted areas of improvement, so each new script can be your best one yet.


      Related Articles:

      InFocus Screenwriting Program

      How to Become a Professional Screenwriter

      Six Screenwriters Who Went to Film School

      How to Pick the Best Screenwriting School

      vancouver chinese film festival

      Join the Vancouver Chinese Film Festival for their renowned film screening on August 9th!

      vancouver chinese film festival

      Taking place next month, the Vancouver Chinese Film Festival has set to screen various films relating to Chinese culture. By merging Canadian and Chinese audiences the festival allows Chinese culture to be seen by audiences at home and abroad. Their mission is to create a more inclusive Canada by promoting cross-cultural exchange. Below we have outlined five of the short films that will be screened at the Vancouver Chinese Film Festival on August 9th. 

      1. Brick

      Brick follows Wenxin, an architect who lives abroad. He returns to his hometown to bury his mother’s ashes. Upon arriving in his hometown, Wenxin finds himself at a classmate reunion. Here, he accepts the invitation of his classmate to act as a consultant for the renovation of the old district. It seems as if he has the ability to protect the nostalgic memories of the traditional district and the opportunity to enact his “dreams’ ‘ and “revenge.” Upon attempting to complete his dreams, he finds that he cannot achieve them. On the other hand, his revenge results in a new series of harm. Wenxin learns Yin and Yang, finding that life and death are a part of the natural law and the unity of men and nature is the true connotation of Feng Shui.

      vancouver chinese film festival

      2. Ideal Homeland

      The story takes place in the near future when AI (Artificial Intelligence) controls humans. In this future, the tables turn, and humans begin to work for AI. The hero of the story, Joe, is the carrier of AI’s sexual experience. He does the most mechanical task every day to obtain the credits on which we depend for survival in AI society. In such oppression of slavery, Joe desperately yearns for the freedom of independence.

      vancouver chinese film festival

      3. A Zebra-Riding Boy

      Based on the Impressionist-Southern author, Su Tong’s novels, Cavalryman and Paper, A Zebra-Riding Boy explores the combination of literature and commerce. Poor bow-legged teenager Zuo Lin has a dream to ride a horse in the most prosperous place of the city: the sad wooden horse cavalry, the happy zebra cavalry, the bleak and sad iron cavalry, and the brilliant paper cavalry all melt into one.

      vancouver chinese film festival


      4. Churi

      Churi is a short dramatic film about a young man who remembers his mother’s love through the act of making churi. The film weaves together the young man’s search for food and subsequent cooking with the memory of his mother cooking. The film artistically jumps between past and present. By doing so, it evokes the longing that pervades diasporic experience and explores how we carry memory and our roots in our bodies. 

      Created by Namit Kataria, this film was made during his time in the InFocus Film Production Program!

      5. Sisyphus the Turtle Chaser

      Years ago, teenagers, Will and Liang Zi grew up together in Northeast China. When they were young, Will was lively and naughty. He was known as the”king of gambling,” becoming a master of all kinds of gambling and trickery. Liang Zi was his faithful follower. One day, the pair ran away from home. Many years later, the two adults find each other face to face in Beijing. Liang Zi had a southern girl Molly, while Will became a taxi driver. Both adults must figure out how to face each other years later.

      vancouver chinese film festival


      Beyond screening films that promote Chinese culture, the VCFF aims to further develop China-Canada relations. Liu Fei, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver, saw the quality of cross cultural exchange in the Vancouver Chinese Film Festival. Fei vocalized his wish for more young individuals to contribute to cross-cultural exchange between the two continents. 


      This year, the Vancouver Chinese Film Festival will be held as a joint festival with the Vancouver International Youth Film Festival. Reserve tickets for film screening here.


      Other than the film screening, VCFF has many other events to check out. The Opening Ceremony will take place on August 8th at the Vancouver International Film Festival Theatre and the festival will conclude on August 13th at the Michael J Fox Theatre. 


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      Looking for film resume tips? Having trouble standing out against the crowd? No need to worry, we will teach you how to make your film industry resume stand out.

      five film industry tips - how to make your film industry resume stand out

      By: Sophia Lin

      How do you create a resume that dazzles at first glance? Research has shown that a recruiter will typically spend only 7 seconds reading a resume. It’s a not-so-fun fact that will make many prospective employees’ blood run cold. But don’t fear! Passing the so-called “7-second test” with your resume is simply a matter of learning key dos and don’ts.


      We’ve tailored this list of film resume tips specifically for film, TV, and media careers. Whether you’re in the midst of film school, freshly graduated, or an experienced professional in the field, these crucial ways to make your resume stand out won’t go unnoticed when you’re looking to secure your next job.


      Read on to find out how to create a stellar film industry resume!

      InFocus Film School Film Program

      Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

      1. Mix Creative and Technical Skills in Your Resume

      Interdisciplinary and multifaceted are buzzwords for a good reason. In today’s ever-growing and interconnected industry, a well-rounded set of skills is a major asset. With that in mind, having a solid balance of both creative and technical skills in your resume will get you far.


      For instance, a varied range of creative skills can look like having experience as a 2D and 3D animator as well as a visual effects artist. Important technical skills (including experience with industry software) can include script analysis, editing, cast and crew management, and location scouting. 

      five film industry resume tips

      2. Use Third-Party Recognition to Make Your Resume Credible

      Simply put, this means make a note of any time a third-party has recognized your achievement. From an educational perspective, this can mean a great film school that you graduated from, and with it, perhaps a high GPA or honours. Once you’re in the industry, this can mean film festival awards, fellowships, professional organizations, and grants.


      These hard-earned tokens of recognition show a recruiter that previous individuals or organizations have already attested to your strength and talent in your field — assuring them that you are indeed the right pick for the job!

      3. Use Strong Film Action Verbs

      Make sure to use action verbs in your film industry resume. It might be cliche advice at this point but it certainly does ring true! Strong action verbs, especially used in active voice, emphasize your skill set and highlight your proactivity.


      Below are some tried-and-true compelling action verbs to use for those in film:

      • Direct, Lead, Operate
      • Develop, Coordinate, Manage
      • Produce, Coproduce, Shoot
      • Scout, Cast, Edit

      how to make your film industry resume stand out

      4. Keep Your Film Industry Resume Short and Sweet

      This isn’t to say keep your entire resume short. What we mean is keep your writing succinct. Get to the point fast and make it clear and convincing. A resume with long sentences and meandering explanations will be overwhelming and difficult to read, while a resume that is too short won’t contain enough information to convince recruiters.


      An excellent strategy is to include a short film resume objective or summary right at the top. This is where you hit on your key skills and competencies, your focus, and your career goals. Make sure to tailor this to every job you apply for to give the recruiter the most relevant and important information right off the bat.

      5. Use Aesthetics to Make Your Resume Pop

      When it comes down to it, the look and feel of a resume is one last factor that you can use to create memorability — this is a point that recruiters at the media company NBCUniversal have even seconded.


      Even more so for those in the more visual-based sides of film, a beautifully formatted film industry resume with one-of-a-kind graphic design will make you stand out from the masses. Beyond that, it shows effort, professionalism, and your willingness to go beyond — all of which are instrumental assets that are more than likely to win your recruiter over.

      how to make a film industry resume


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      jordan peele's nope

      Learn more about the multi-talented filmmaker’s genius and the highly anticipated film, Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022).

      jordan peele's nope

      By: Sophia Lin

      There’s no doubt you’ve heard of the famous mind behind some of the best horror movies out there, from Get Out (2017) to Us (2019). Not to mention, one of the screenwriters for Candyman (2021) and the writer-director of the hugely anticipated horror film Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022). It goes without saying that Jordan Peele is a master of horror filmmaking… but the big question is, how does he do it?

      Few directors are able to churn out hit after hit, and even fewer are able to redefine a genre. Peele has certainly done both, and we’re here to let you in on how. We will look into his writing process, his directorial style, and what exactly separates him from the rest. We’ll dive deep into his impact on the horror genre and the social commentary he embeds in his work. Without further ado, let’s get into how exactly Jordan Peele has become one of the best horror directors!

      InFocus Film School Film Program

      Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

      How Jordan Peele Became Jordan Peele

      Let’s start from the beginning. What lead Jordan Peele to create some of the best horror films of our generation?

      Jordan Peele famously started in comedy. While attending Sarah Lawrence College, he dropped out to perform in stand-up and improv. After various stints for four years, he finally got his first big break as an actor in the comedy series MadTV. This led him to meet his future collaborator Keegan-Michael Key and from there, the comedy sketch series Key & Peele was born.

      As his work gathered acclaim and virality, including an Emmy nomination along the way, Peele broke into the directing world with his debut feature film Get Out. Both a critical and commercial success, Get Out launched Peele into international attention — and he hasn’t looked back since!

      jordan peele's nope 2022

      Jordan Peele’s Directorial Style

      Society as the Greatest Evil

      A trademark of a Jordan Peele horror movie is that it’s not really a horror movie. At least not in the traditional sense, in which a big bad must be overcome and destroyed. Peele has said that the antagonists in his films aren’t truly the source of evil, but rather, the system as a whole is evil.

      In Peele’s words, his work explores “the horror of society”, focusing on the depravity already contained within humanity. One of the best examples is the Armitage family in Get Out — a reflection of America and the fatal racial tensions that lurk in today’s society.

      jordan peele's nope 2022

      Comedy and Horror

      While it might not be surprising, Peele’s multifaceted experience in the industry factors into his unique voice as a horror director. More interestingly, it’s his work in comedy that informs his horror movies. One makes you laugh and one makes you scream, but as he says, there’s really a very thin line between the two realms.


      Both are based in realism and relatability: comedy and horror both work the most effectively when the world feels believable, with only one or two heightened changes. Another crucial similarity comes in the timing. Well-timed jump-scares are truly no different than well-placed jokes in a story. It’s a matter of creating tension in the audience and then releasing it at the perfect moment. From his comedian days, Peele learned how to manipulate this release of tension, applying it just when the suspense becomes unbearable.


      Contrast of Visuals and Sound

      A more subtle decision that permeates Peele’s filmography is the idea that visuals deceive, whereas sound or aural information contains the truth. A clever trick, it makes for excellent plot twists and forces audiences to look twice, so to speak. The (spoiler alert!) doppelgängers in Us and the teaspoon clinking in Get Out are perfect illustrations.


      Beyond that, it can act as a form of social commentary too. Harmful biases and judgments almost always come from visual determinations, and Peele’s horror films point out the fallacy at the root of this. Even with such understated devices, he sends a strong message: looks can — and are — deceiving.


      Jordan Peele’s Creative Process

      Getting Inspiration

      New Jordan Peele movies seem to come out every few years or so, yet writer’s block is one of the biggest struggles that artists face. How does Peele overcome this? His first step when looking for inspiration, he says, is to listen to himself and his emotions. He assesses what makes him scared and uses that as a jumping-off point.


      In that same vein, he sees autobiographical elements as an irreplaceable part of his brainstorming. He looks to bare his soul in some way — in fact, the key storyline in Us was inspired by his time growing up in New York City and staring at his own reflection while riding the subway. Peele’s own movie tastes come into it too: one of his mantras is to write his favourite film that he hasn’t seen yet.

      Developing Ideas

      With the initial conception spelled out, the tricky part is developing it into a full-fledged film. For Peele, he spends the bulk of his time planning the plot — Get Out’s plot took 4-5 years of planning. He then writes the actual screenplay in a matter of short months. He sometimes works out multiple endings and then eventually choosing one.


      As he’s picking and choosing, cutting and rewriting, he likes to have a “democratic” approach to art. In other words, he diligently considers audience appeal and whether his work is accessible to all. Stemming from his improv days, Peele has spoken about how he values getting to “everybody in the room” — while making sure to balance this with his own artistry.

      jordan peele's nope

      Building Creativity

      With so many overdone horror tropes, creativity is a rare find in the genre. One of the crucial ways Peele figures out how to work in brand new ideas is not making them brand new. He sees the future of horror in the past, closely studying classics like The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby.


      After getting to know the gambits of these classic horror movies , he employs them as the base, using them in a modern way For instance, Us takes after the historical horror element of shadow selves and the Other. In his Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022), he’s also incorporating early cinema, such as the iconic “Galloping Horse” shown in the trailer.


      Jordan Peele’s Impact on Horror

      What do recent horror hits like Fresh, The Black Phone, and Ma have in common? In one way or another, these films exhibit elements introduced into the horror genre by Jordan Peele. His impact on the genre has been massive despite his five short years as a horror director. We cannot wait to see what Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022) will add to the horror industry. Here are some of the indelible marks Peele has left on the industry:

      jordan peele's nope 2022

      Commentary on the Black Experience

      The biggest differentiator when it comes to Jordan Peele movies is the one prominent aspect that he always slips into his reinvented horror devices.


      Peele seeks to reimagine horror tropes from the perspective of a Black man in America, the most noteworthy being the white saviour trope. Commentary on the Black experience can be found in all his work, contained within countless concepts. Some significant examples include Us depicting the fear of the outsider and Get Out digging into white liberal racism.


      Horror as Social Allegory

      A commonly held notion is that studio and indie films simply cannot cross over. Peele’s work does what was previously considered impossible: the seamless melding of these two worlds. His redefinition of horror began with what he calls a “social thriller”, a genre film that pleases crowds while also taking a no-holds-barred look at hard-hitting issues of racism, classism, and political divisiveness. 


      While horror is well-known as a subconscious reflection of society’s fears, Peele brings the collective consciousness to the forefront. His films bring to light discussions around whose fears get reflected in horror and the real systems that create fear.


      Emphasis on Realism

      It used to be that the wildly supernatural and unbelievable were the popular go-to in the realm of horror. Filmmakers seemed to think that the crazier they could make it, the more it would shock and scare audiences. Peele turned this entirely on its head. 


      Instead, his films are rooted deeply in reality, sometimes even staying faithful to a certain era and location. Peele’s philosophy is, the more real something is, the more it’ll scare. So rather than feeling far-fetched, audiences connect more closely with the world he’s built. This means when the tables turn, it hits close to home, creating realistic fear.


      Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022) – What We Know

      The big talk of this summer is the upcoming horror film Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022). Not much is known about it yet, but Peele promises one of the biggest and most ambitious spectacles yet. Jordan Peele’s Nope takes place on an idyllic ranch and focuses on a sibling relationship as the duo comes into contact with an ominous force. The film will undoubtedly shed insightful light on the social issues Peele plans to explore further. Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022) looking to be another unforgettable entry in his horror filmography.


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      SIX GREAT lgbtq+ films

      Looking for some films to watch this weekend? Check out six of our favourite LGBTQ+ films. 

      SIX GREAT lgbtq+ films

      By: Kennedy Randall

      Though pride month should be every month, it offers us a chance to learn more about LGBTQ+ history and experience. A way that we can do this is by taking a look at some LGBTQ+ films that center queer narratives and characters. Representation matters and we do not mean the one-dimensional gay character who is pushed to the margins of the plot. These six films provide important and captivating stories of queer experience and love in our contemporary climate. 

      Six Great LGBTQ+ Films

      1. Moonlight (2016)

      Earning the Oscar for Best Picture, director Barry Jenkins explores masculinity and homosexual repression through his main character Chiron. Moonlight is the epitome of a coming-of-age story, where Chiron is played by three different actors at various stages of his life as he comes to terms with his sexual identity. He wishes to break free from his impoverished upbringing and find his own path in this tumultuous world.


      2. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

      Director Luca Guadagino portrays the landscape of 1980s Italy beautifully in Call Me By Your Name. Even more beautiful though is the relationships he builds on screen. Within the dreamy atmosphere, young Timothee Chalamet and older Armie Hammer fall into a deeply moving-tender relationship. This film has received a lot of attention in the media and we promise it is worth the hype!


      3. Pariah (2011)

      Queer filmmaker of colour Dee Rees’s debut film Pariah follows Alike, a teenager navigating her sexuality and adulthood in Brooklyn. Dee Rees expresses the often overlooked experience of queer Black women. Alike finds that the path to living one’s authentic self is not easy, but worth the fight. She navigates first loves, heartache, and her sexual identity framed by the disapproval of her family. An intimate film, Aderpero Odyue’s performance as Alike is beautifully layered in Pariah. 


      4. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

      One of the most well-known and mainstream queer films of our time, Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee brought a sensitive and beautiful gay love story onto our screens. Starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, the two men become intertwined for years to come.


      5. Carol (2015)

      Based on Patricia Highsmith’s cult novel, Todd Haynes brings a seductive love story between two women on screen. A young shopgirl, played by Rooney Mara, finds herself charmed by an alluring older woman played by Cate Blanchett. The two women form a passionate relationship that brings them joy, despite the other forces in their lives. 


      6. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

      Director Kimberly Peirce’s biographical film tells the tragic true story of Brandon Teena. He was an American trans man who attempts to find himself in Nebraska but falls victim to a brutal hate crime perpetrated by two males. When it was released in 1999, it was the first mainstream film to focus on a transgender man. The story is almost entirely shown through Teena (played by Hilary Swank) making it a groundbreaking film for its time. 


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