InFocus Film School Blog


Hollywood Visits Film Students At InFocus

InFocus film students are acquiring the skills needed to work on a professional film set.

But what happens when a Hollywood production comes to a film school instead?

That’s precisely what happened when Warner Bros. was scouting locations for its television program Frequency and decided our brick-wall rooms would serve as an ideal backdrop for an episode, according to Program Director Steve Rosenberg.

Frequency TV Show PosterInFocus film students were accorded insider access to the production that saw the transformation of two adjoining classrooms into a New York-style apartment.

“About 12 years ago I had worked with the DOP, Kamal Derkaoui,” said Rosenberg. “He remembered me and was incredibly generous in allowing our students to shadow the production and ask questions.”

One of the students, Tom Barton, echoes the importance of first-hand experience on a large film set. “It was crazy how big the machine was, with 50 people running around. Kamal let us stand behind the director and script supervisor to watch them at work while he explained what everyone was doing.”

Barton was pleased to hear the pros use phrases like “shutter angle” and “ISO rating” that corresponded to the terminology he had learned in school. Additionally, Barton had a vague idea of what a script supervisor was, but through close quarters he was able to gain a deeper understanding of the job.

“The difference on a big set is that the crew is more specialized, whereas on our shoots we are more actively involved in all areas,” he added.

The experience has confirmed for Barton that he’d like to direct. A lasting impression is in how the episode’s director was a constant source of inspiration and joy to the team.

Another student, Robin Jung, is no stranger to union sets. An actor with appearances on the series Fringe and the feature Bloody Knuckles, Jung was already prepared for the scale of the Frequency production.

Still, there were discoveries not quite anticipated. “The production had a large crew present, with PAs waiting around for when they were needed and I thought, ‘Wow, this many people for a three-minute scene.’”

Jung was amazed at the length of time it took to reset between takes and how the director would speak between the actors’ lines to guide the Steadicam operator on where to move.

“As the director you’re the captain keeping the ship on course,” said Jung. “For this production the director was straightforward in asking for what he wanted. I learned the importance of being bold.”

The students will have further opportunities to observe and learn when Frequency returns to InFocus for planned reshoots.

Ready, Set, Pitch! Crazy 8s Is Gearing Up For Its 17th Year

Want to get your short film funded?

Paul Armstrong shares his keys to a great pitch

Since 1999 the 8 day filmmaking challenge, aptly named the Crazy8s, has provided funding for nearly one hundred emerging filmmakers. Each year over one-hundred teams apply to the competition and six are awarded $1,000 and a production package that includes everything they need to make their film.

Paul Armstrong is an award-winning Vancouver producer, founder and programmer of the The Celluloid Social Club and the Executive Director of the Crazy8 filmmaking challenge. He provided some valuable insight for hopeful Crazy8s applicants who are considering entering this year’s competition.  

What are the most compelling qualities you look for in a filmmaker’s pitch?

PA: The most compelling qualities I look for in a filmmaker’s pitch are four fold:

  1. How original is the story and how well is it told. Does it have a beginning, middle and end? Is it more than just a series of action and plot points? What does it all add up to? Why is this story worth telling?
  2. How passionate is the pitcher about the story in giving their pitch? Without enthusiasm on their part it’s hard to instil that excitement to get this film made in the judges.
  3. Do I have the confidence that the filmmaker can pull off this film with the resources they have to make the film. Have they thought about the practicalities of creating their film?
  4. Does the story speak to me on a personal level – do I connect with it. Film is a communication device and is that working here?

Are there any genres or subjects that get pitched far too often?

PA: With Crazy8s we welcome all genres and subjects – it’s up to the filmmaker to find whatever vehicle works to tell their story. The final six films are usually a mixture of dramas, comedies and genre such as science fiction or horror. That said each year there seems to be a common theme among many of the pitches and that can count against them as the judges would only want a certain number on a similar theme but we never know what that is until we get the pitches.

What is the best way for a filmmaker to stand out from the crowd?

PA: One of the best ways for a filmmaker to stand out from the crowd is to create a brilliant story that we can’t but help to say yes to. The other is to be yourself and to express that uniqueness in your film. Don’t presume what we are looking for in terms of what was made in the past or what is currently trendy.

Another way of doing it is to make your actual pitch original by including a taste of the tone of the film in the pitch rather than just a talking head pitch, which is fine too.

What are some of the worst mistakes people make while pitching?

PA: Some of the worst mistakes people make while pitching is to pitch an underdeveloped story where maybe the end isn’t complete or there isn’t a story arc. In other words they haven’t conveyed to us why this story is worth telling over another one. Another mistake is that the pitcher doesn’t show enthusiasm or passion and they get too complacent.

Another mistake is that they forget to talk about themselves. We need to know who the pitcher is to gain confidence they can make the film. In addition some pitches are sometimes not polished enough. So be sure to rehearse your pitch and to fix any technical problems with it.

Stills From Crazy 8s FilmsThe Crazy8s Registration Deadline is November 2nd, 2016.

To find out more click HERE.

Booms vs. Lavs

Boom Microphones vs. Lavaliers:

What’s the Best Recording Mic?

Sound is often the most overlooked aspect of production for unseasoned filmmakers. Compared to the excitement that goes hand-in-hand with selecting the camera, sound can be an afterthought: a single line on an already overwrought budget, packed with expenses that are much more immediately compelling than the eventual audio technician leaning over his mixing board.

The importance of clear, well recorded audio may not become apparent until after the shoot has been completed and the editor first sits downs, only to hear a cacophony of background chatter, overmodulation, and that car alarm that didn’t seem quite so loud when you were on location. Instead of planning to “fix it in post,” choose wisely when selecting your sound equipment for a sure-fire audio strategy.


These button-sized microphones are frequently seen in documentary productions, tucked into the lapel of an interview subject. Although they are fairly low profile they require a somewhat bulky transmitter, a black box the size of a pack of cards that can connect with or without a wire to the microphone, usually secured in the back pocket of the subject.


While filming a dramatic production an unfortunate glimpse of the sound equipment is something to be avoided. But when used correctly there are several excellent uses for lavs in film.

  1. Wide Shots: When the shot is simply too wide to facilitate a boom but you would prefer not to use ADR to record dialogue, a lav will come in handy. Distance is an excellent camouflage for these mics that may easily be spotted in a close up shot.  
  2. Tricky Shots: Locations can prove challenging when it comes to finding a place to hang the boom. In these cases lavs may provide a solution for the tightest of spaces. With some careful placement, lavs can be rendered largely undetectable in a shot.
  3. Backup Audio: Sometimes location sound cannot be avoided, be it the drone of a helicopter that is hovering above your set, or the ceaseless siren that is cutting into your schedule. If you are able to hide the lav discreetly on the actor it can be used as a secondary source of audio for the editor to work with in post.


The image of the pole-bearing boom operator is synonymous with film production. This method of capturing audio is made up of several working parts: a shotgun mic, the furry wind-shield cover (aptly nicknamed the ‘deadcat’) and the pole that these items are mounted on. The front of the mic is suspended above the subject just out of view of the camera, to capture dialogue.



Although shotgun mics must be carefully monitored to ensure that the direction is correct and that the boom hasn’t dipped into frame, they are an extremely versatile method of audio recording that is seen on virtually every film set. The benefits of using a boom include:

  1. Full Control: While a rogue lav mic is impossible to fix without stopping a scene, a boom operator doesn’t have to interrupt the action to modify the position of his microphone.
  2. Freedom of Costume: lav mics can pick up the rustle of clothing, a sound that can render a recording unusable. Booms are a reliable way to record and do not require the subject to take special care with their clothing.
  3. Natural Audio: The sound that the boom picks up is superior to the lav in terms of natural tones. The ability to point the shotgun mic at the subject’s sternum instead of their mouth produces a more natural quality of recording.

Like every other element of filmmaking, sound recording will require some thought and preparation. Select the method of audio recording that works best with your budget and production, and if you’re able to, consider employing the use of each for the appropriate scenes in your film.


How to Write Better Action Lines

Screenplays are a means to a finished film. Many industry people consider them blueprints. However, this comparison isn’t completely accurate. A well-written screenplay isn’t a sterile, skeletal, monochromatic set of action lines inserted between the dialogue.

screenplay_squareWord choices impact the sight and senses of the reader. In that regard, a screenplay has more in common with a short story. The experience of reading a screenplay should approximate what the viewing of the movie will be like. In fact, another term for action lines is screen directions.

Writers may be hesitant to “direct on the page” in the misguided belief they are treading on the director’s job. This results in action lines comprised mainly of master shots that severely limit the potential of a script to translate into a uniquely visual motion picture.

Students at our film school are encouraged to craft effective action lines so that all departments—production, cinematography, art, sound, costume, hair and makeup, locations, electrical, visual effects—are working toward the same movie.

But how can you write screen directions that direct without directing? Let’s illustrate with an example:

Paolo enters the living room. He notices Saskia standing by the fireplace and crosses to her.

Sometimes the above composition is perfectly fine, particularly if the characters are well established. But if this isn’t what we’re supposed to see, the action line isn’t doing its job, never mind the director’s.

Let’s compose this beat in order to create a filmic experience:

Example #1 –suspense-thriller version

Paolo strides into the living room. He stops cold.

His eyes dart nervously. His upper lip beads with sweat.

Draped across the fireplace mantel is Saskia. Seductive. Lethal.

Let’s analyze the difference. In terms of pure formatting, this rendition adheres to the Hollywood practice of vertical writing. Each line suggests a new angle or cut.

The first line is likely a medium shot. Paolo walks in confidently, but something makes him hesitate. We don’t know why.

The second line is an extreme close-up, since we see detailed views of his nervous eyes and beaded lip. Suspense is created because…we still don’t what has stymied Paolo.

The third line cuts to a new character. It begins with “Draped across the fireplace mantel is…” This could be a straight cut to a medium shot or it could suggest panning from the hand of a woman, along up her arm, until we arrive at Saskia’s face. Two words set up her character. We get the sense Saskia may be a black widow. 

This rendition tells us so much more than the original. It feels like a film.

Example #2 – comedy version

Paolo struts into the living room. He seizes up.

WHIP ACROSS to the other side of the room.

To Saskia. Shrink-wrapped in a sultry dress, teetering on stilettos, sickly grin.

The first line is essentially the same action, except the tone is different. Paolo is now overconfident, and his hesitation is comical.

The second line is directing, but without it, we don’t get a sense of the frenetic quality of the film.

The third line tells us immediately who the character is. She is dressed the same as the suspense-thriller Saskia, but the dress is too tight on her. She isn’t practiced on heels. Her face tries to be alluring but can’t pull it off.

Each example is a vast improvement over what I like to call “traffic cop directions,” so named because they’re so dry, plain, and uncinematic.

Look to your own action lines. Can the reader see your film?

By: Robert Chomiak

The Return Of The Mockumentary

This is Spinal Tap. Waiting for Guffman. A Hard Day’s Night. The second half of the 20th century saw the birth of an entirely new genre of film where fictional events were presented as truth: the mockumentary. From the very beginning it served as a self aware tongue-in-cheek device to critique modern culture, touching on everything from the music industry to foreign affairs to the supernatural.

Although this genre is most commonly associated with comedies, there are a number of more controversial dramatic incarnations that had audiences unsure if what they were seeing was fictional. A prime example of this is Peter Watkins’ 1965 film The War Game, an unnervingly realistic portrayal of a Soviet attack on Britain. BBC famously withdrew the film from airing, saying that “the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting…”

borat-wallpaper_1024x768_21674The 2000’s have seen a resurgence of this genre, as it continues to evolve in new and innovative ways. In the 2006 film Borat, Sascha Baron Cohen put a twist on the genre, unleashing his character on real-life Americans who believed they were appearing in an actual documentary. In 2010 the Casey Affleck film I’m Still Here briefly had the world convinced that Joaquin Phoenix had gone absolutely insane, all for this satirical look at celebrity culture. What We Do in the Shadows, the 2014 comedy directed and starring Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, took a look at the day to day life of vampires.

The appeal of mockumentaries to independent filmmakers extends beyond the conceit of the genre, as they can often be made on a shoestring budget, reducing the need for extensive lighting setups, and camera rigs. With found footage horror films being a notable and very successful subgenre of this, many of these films have used their minuscule budgets to enhance the believability of their subject matter.viff-page

At the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival, Canadian director Lawrence Côté-Collins is making her directorial debut with her mockumentary Split. Co-presented by InFocus Film School, the film follows Anick, a social worker-turned-documentary-filmmaker who moves in with a couple to document the life of a man’s social reintegration following a life lived in and out of prison. Exploring the boundaries and ethical choices of the documentary filmmaker, this compelling film raises questions about how a production can influence the livelihood and trajectory of its subjects.

Watch the trailer – and get your tickets here.

05 October 2016 8:15 PM VIFF at The Cinematheque

10 October 2016 4:30 PM VIFF at The Cinematheque


InFocus Film School Profile: Film Director and Producer Mary M. Frymire

40310Film Director and Producer Mary M. Frymire has fearlessly grabbed the reigns of both Film Director and Producer for over 30 years. Traversing across Europe, South America and Asia, Frymire has worked on projects such as Martinique; Runaway Bay, a documentary about kids changing the world, to directing a 16mm film in Paris exploring cemeteries and catacombs, and moving to Spain to focus on a film about Carmen Amaya and the roots of Flamenco, while also studying Flamenco.

InFocus wanted to know what it takes to be a successful Film Director and Producer as well as staying focused on projects that are personally important:

You have produced and directed some very interesting and successful T.V. series and films, including “For the Love of Elephants” and “Tribal Police Files.” What is your inspiration and what kind of stories do you like to pursue?

My inspiration is really life itself; people, places, social and cultural milieu. I have a great love of the natural world and also cultural, artistic, social issues and visionary projects. Currently I am wrapping up a series for APTN ‘Tribal Police Files’ an observational documentary series with cinematic recreations. Moving into screenwriting and directing improvised narratives.

Traditionally the role of Film Director and Producer have been quite different and even at odds with each other. How have you tackled this, as a filmmaker who embodies both?

Directing for me is a very focused, almost ethereal state of mind where I access deep levels of intense creativity.

Producing can be also very creative, but I have to access my logistical skills and budgetary savvy. When I do both jobs, they are still somewhat distinct and it’s always interesting when the two roles intersect. One can actually get very creative with a budget.

Having worked on over 400 hours of produced and directed projects, in somewhere around 75 countries working in 4 languages, the creative and logistical parts of my brain are well exercised and often integrated.

How do directors take on this role in a more proactive way? Why should they?

As a Film Director who also produces, it helps both roles to really understand the parameters of what each role entails. It makes one a much more effective director if you know about budgets, equipment and technical logistics.

As a Producer it is of such benefit to understand the incredible creative juice required to build and tell compelling and engaging stories. This mutual respect and support will make the production flow in the best of ways. There can be a symbiotic relationship between these roles and each can only serve to make the other one their very best.

What are the challenges of being a Film Director and a Producer?

It can be a challenge for me to move from my creative aspect into a more logistical framework. I have to always ask myself in each role “is what I am doing serving the story as a whole, or is it leaning towards favouring production or supporting directing?”

It’s a fine balancing act. I love to brainstorm, and collaborate. But when working independently and doing both roles, it can be isolating and insular. When I catch myself going down the rabbit hole, I will reach out and immerse in an industry event or network with colleagues. It is of course, also, a hell of a lot of work to fulfill both roles.

What are the benefits or being both a Film Director and Producer?

Well, one very obvious benefit is financial. As you are financed for both roles. Also, you have creative control of where your resources are best served as a Film Director and of course as a Producer. Often, a Film Director will not have input into the budget if they are not involved in some way in the producing of the project. The interdependence of both roles can serve a project in unique ways.

Mary M. Frymire and the Lowdown on Logistics:

What does it take to pitch an idea?

I love to pitch. I am good at it. I find funders are always looking for fresh ideas and willing to meet and discuss any and all ideas. It’s a tremendously fulfilling process for me and I will forever pitch to support my projects.

How do you create a budget?

Much research, planning, strategizing, outlining is done and the more detailed your planning and strategizing is before you tackle the budget, the more accurate and easy it will be to plan and form your budget. Strategizing facilitates ease with a budget. I use the Telefilm template and for smaller budget projects, the Telefilm micro budget template. These templates are very intuitive and are a tremendous resource for the independent producer.

What about funding?

Funding has to be pursued almost like a full time job in itself. The market is changing so rapidly; independent filmmakers must keep up with funding calls for applications and market trends. I find when I am working on a project, I become immersed and have to really work to stay on top of current calls for funding.

Mary M. Frymire is Director and Development Director at La Sirena Pictures Inc.

Specializing in character-driven, documentary-based subjects, she draws on her cross-cultural experience when developing and directing engaging, visually evocative projects that tell compelling stories. Mary is a Film and Television graduate of Capilano University, and furthered her craft at Simon Fraser University, The Banff Centre for the Arts, and the London Film and Television School, UK. Currently Mary is pursuing her MA in Film with Raindance and Staffordhire Universtiy. She is also an alumna of the Women in the Director’s Chair, Career Advancement Module in Vancouver for her feature film: ‘Epiphany.’

2 Crucial Writing Tips for Adapting Short Films into Features at Film School

By Robert Chomiak

Film Production School

One of your shorts would make an excellent feature. You’re convinced of it.

But the task of writing a full-length screenplay can be daunting—which is ironic, because as a screenwriting instructor at the InFocus Film School, I have encountered film school students with feature-sized ideas that needed paring down in order to make an effective short.

Now one must unlearn this skill of simplifying and instead expand one’s thinking to match a feature film’s vision and scope.

Adapting a short has launched several careers. David F. Sandberg with the horror film “Lights Out,” Neill Blomkamp with the sci-fi doc “Alive in Joburg” (District 9), and Wes Anderson with the crime comedy “Bottle Rocket.”

These three writer-directors came up with creative solutions that can serve as lessons for a filmmaker, like yourself, who wants to follow in their footsteps.

#1: Film School Teaches that An Entirely New Obstacle Must Often be Invented

“Bottle Rocket” had enough material to form most of Act 1 for the feature Bottle Rocket. Had Anderson and company stuck to the premise of small-time hoods pulling off jobs, though, the story would get old fast. So they introduced a new obstacle of a road trip in Act 2 that has the group going on the lam where they have a falling out. Even that wasn’t enough to sustain the rest of the film, so in Act 3 the friends reunite for a grand heist.

Blomkamp had a mere kernel of a story in “Alive in Joburg.” The world is fully fleshed out, but the style is in documentary format and the lead character, Wikus, is only seen briefly. For District 9, a new obstacle was created: Wikus is sprayed with a fluid and slowly turns into an alien. This provided the spine for the entire story.

“Lights Out” required even more invention. The incident in the short and its lead actress appear as part of a teaser in the feature version. An entirely new character was created—an older sister who tries to save her younger brother from their mentally unstable mom. The new obstacle had to do with uncovering the mystery of the shadowy killer.

#2: Film School Grads Know the Arc for the Lead Character Requires a Broader Trajectory

“Bottle Rocket” is a two-hander, but the feature version highlights Anthony more so than Dignan. In the short, Anthony is satisfied with his life of petty crime. But in Bottle Rocket, Anthony questions the criminal life while on the lam, which puts him in conflict with Dignan. Ultimately, Anthony rejects his lawlessness and embraces his recovery.

Wikus in District 9 is an uncaring bureaucrat who suppresses the slum-dwelling aliens. During his transformation into an alien, he undergoes the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. By the end, Wikus is helping a pair of aliens to escape Earth.

In Lights Out, the older sister only believes in saving her brother, but once she accepts the supernatural entity, her focus shifts to destroying it. She goes from hiding out from the world to tackling a problem bigger than herself.

Following these two tips—a new obstacle and broader character arc—will help you to expand your short film into a satisfying feature experience.

Want to put these tips to use and learn many more through film production training?

Contact us for information about attending film school in Vancouver!

4 Film Festivals to Check out While You Attend Film School in Vancouver

Vancouver hosts a wide range of great film festivals

Vancouver hosts a wide range of great film festivals

It’s every film buffs idea of heaven: days of endless new movies, appearances from famous directors, actors, and other film pros, and even workshops and networking opportunities. Attending a film festival could lead to you discovering your new favorite filmmaker, meeting your personal hero, or even catching your big break.

Fortunately for those considering film school in Vancouver, the city has no shortage of excellent events. With such a vibrant movie industry presence, the area is the ideal backdrop for a range of festivals both large and small, taking in a number of genres and styles and filling their own particular industry niches.

So where should you go first? Read on to find out more about just a few Vancouver’s best film fests.

1. Every Film School Student in Vancouver Should Attend VIFF

Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all. Now in its 35th year, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) isn’t just the biggest in the city, it’s also one of the five largest film festivals in North America, playing host to over 300 films, highly regarded international guests, and countless compelling workshops and lectures for industry insiders and aspiring filmmakers alike.

This year’s festival will take place from September 29 to October 14, but film school students might have a hard time fitting everything into just over two weeks, with new features including an interactive hub, a sustainable production forum and the return of their ‘Power to the Indie Program,’ a special workshop for budding indie filmmakers to explore strategies in direct distribution and audience engagement.

2. Students in Film Courses Can Get the Real Stories at DOXA

With the recent success of the likes of Making a Murderer and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, we’re very much in a golden age for documentaries, with filmmakers creating some of the most daring, provocative pieces ever produced in the genre.

Film school students can see provocative documentaries at DOXA

Film school students can see provocative documentaries at DOXA

With that in mind, why not check out the latest groundbreaking work for yourself at DOXA Documentary Film Festival? Held each May at various locations around the city, DOXA showcases both local and international films that tell real stories designed to educate and inform, and features appearances from some the leading filmmakers in the field.

3. Film Students Can Get Involved at the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival

Just a few short hours away, the Vancouver Island Film Festival is a veritable treasure trove of mini cinematic gems, with somewhere between 10 and 20 films with a running time of twelve minutes or less screened over two days in Nainamo.

Best of all, the judging panel accepts multiple submissions from filmmakers, with an entry fee of just $30 per film! There’s even a specific category for student work, making it an ideal avenue for students looking to get the work they complete during their film courses out there.

4. Vancouver International Women in Film Festival: A Fresh Perspective for Film School Students

A smaller festival, but one that’s definitely worth a look, the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, held every March, showcases the best work from women both at home and abroad. The festival screens around fifty films, taking in a number of genres and styles, and is run by Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV), a not-for-profit society that also offers professional development services for women in the industry throughout the year, including workshops, mentorships, and a monthly networking breakfast.

WIFTV provide a range of services for female filmmakers

WIFTV provide a range of services for female filmmakers

What else will you discover while you attend film school in Vancouver?

Contact InFocus Film School today for more information about our courses!

Cinematography Spotlight: 3 Lighting Tips for Film Production School Students

film production schoolLet’s talk about lighting! An often underestimated aspect of filmmaking and production, film/TV lighting has a major impact on the look and feel of every scene. Think Amelie’s warm tones, Citizen Kane’s dramatic high-contrasts, and Pulp Fiction’s vibrant neons. Thanks to stylistic lighting choices, these iconic films are anything but flat.

Setting up lighting on a film set takes practical savvy, creative flair, and even some time management skills. As industry pros can tell you, achieving the perfect lighting for every scene can be a time-consuming process of trial and error.

If you’re considering making your mark on the film production industry, these three tips can help make lighting a perfectly painless process.

1. Never Underestimate the Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique

A trusty standby you’re sure to encounter throughout your career in film production is the 3-point lighting technique, so-called because of its placement of light sources in—you guessed it—3 distinct spots.

3-point lighting involves a key light, fill light, and back light (often called a kick light). The key light is the main light illuminating the subject of the scene. The fill light does the important work of lighting up the rest: filling in the harsh shadows created by the key light on background objects/scenery. The back light is placed directly behind the subject of a scene, which might seem counterintuitive, but is completely necessary for separating the subject from the background in the eyes of your viewers.

Though this 3-point lighting method is far from the only way to effectively shoot a scene, it is a quick, basic, and accessible way to create crisp, clean shots on any film production set.

2. Experiment with Mixed Colour Temperatures When You Study Film Production

If you’re interested in the film industry, chances are you have an appreciation for the artistic side of the movie medium. At a film production school like InFocus, you’ll be encouraged to fine-tune your creativity by experimenting with a range of filming and lighting styles.

study film production

Tinted strobe lights add a vibrant dynamic to this dance club still

One way to step up your lighting game is to experiment with varying tones, shades, and colours. One great example of colour play is the steel mill scene in Terminator 2, wherein ‘The Governator’ is lit by a mix of blue and orange colour temperatures. James Cameron says this combo was inspired by “moonlight and molten steel,” adding a dramatic touch to his film’s climax.

Using colour to its full effect in lighting and film production requires the expertise in colour-matching, using chrome film and gels, and more industry-specific skills you can develop when you study film production. Though it can be trickier than your standard 3-point shoot, colourful choices can lead to more interesting and dynamic cinematography.

3. Shoot in the Order of Your Lighting Setups in Film Production School & Beyond

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: in the film industry, time is money. The time it takes to set up and test optional lighting for each shot is vitally important to the polish of the final product, but it should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In film production school and out on set, it’s best to practice shooting scenes in ways that minimize your need to take down, relocate, and reassemble lights. Wise directors, cinematographers, and film production crews often choose to shoot scenes and shots in the order of the lighting setups.

film production courses in BC

Indoors or out, lighting is a major factor impacting production schedules

It’s “lights, camera, action” in that order for a reason! With the right skills, you can ensure film casts and crews aren’t kept in the dark for longer than necessary, and help every shot look its best.

Are you interested in taking film production courses in BC?

Visit InFocus Film School to learn more about getting started!

3 Essential Skills Famous Directors Learned in Film School

film directing school

Filmmaking students benefit from training in all aspects of film

Acclaimed director and New York University Film Production graduate Ang Lee once said “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can never learn enough,”  and that’s especially true when it comes to film.

While internet tools and software have led to a rise in untrained and do-it-yourself (DIY) filmmaking in recent years, the benefits of a formal filmmaking education cannot be overstated, providing young directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and other aspiring artists with the guidance and practical training they need to truly master their craft.

Many successful filmmakers agree, and a number of the most well-known and successful directors have gotten started at film school, using their years in education as a platform to develop their own unique artistic style and voice.

Read on to find out more about just three of the famous directors who attended film school, and how their studies have influenced their work.

Film Directing School Helped Robert Zemeckis Learn the Art of Visual Storytelling

As the Oscar-winning director behind ‘Forrest Gump,’ as well the beloved ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy, the last thing you’d probably expect Robert Zemeckis to direct would be a black-and-white silent film. But that’s exactly what he did while attending film directing school at USC, where one of his first pieces was a dialogue-free short called The Lift, which depicted a man’s struggle with an elevator.

It’s no coincidence that, like Zemeckis, a silent short is one of the first projects that students undertake when they pursue their film director school diploma at InFocus—a project which helps them learn to think visually and tell their story through pictures. Zemeckis has continued to recognize the importance of visual storytelling, particularly when using special effects, with critic David Thompson once remarking that, “No other contemporary director has used special effects to more dramatic and narrative purpose.”

Brian DePalma Explored Different Styles of Cinema at Film Director School

While he may have found fame directing crime dramas such as ‘Carlito’s Way’ and ‘Scarface,’ there’s always been a lot more to Brian DePalma’s filmmaking than meets the eye.

The director’s diverse filmography includes several more daring works, such as the psychological thriller ‘Dressed to Kill’ and the supernatural horror ‘Carrie,’ while even his more commercial offerings feature a number of unexpected stylistic elements that borrow from niche styles such as nouvelle vague and film noir.

There can be little doubt that his time studying film at Sarah Lawrence College in the sixties had a huge influence on his work, allowing him to explore a range of different filmmaking and cinematography styles.

When you enroll at a film directing school such as InFocus, you too will have the opportunity to try your hand in a wide variety of styles and areas of film.

Martin Scorsese Used Film Directing School to Hone His Unique Editing Style

The legendary Martin Scorsese graduated as a film major from NYU in 1960, and has long been a fierce advocate of the benefits of a filmmaking education, stating in 2011 that “I find that the excitement of a young student or filmmaker can get me excited again. I like showing them things and seeing how their minds open up, seeing the way their response then gets expressed in their own work.”

Many of Scorsese’s film director school projects are still available online today, with shorts such as ‘What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?’ displaying a number of the stylistic elements that Scorsese would eventually make his own, most notably the staccato editing style he uses in films like ‘Raging Bull,’ as well as the frequent use of voiceover, which can be seen in Scorsese classics like ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Goodfellas.’

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