InFocus Film School Blog

 

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

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image of broad city stars ilana glazer and abbi jacobson

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

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

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

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

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

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By Kryshan Randel

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Fund Your Short Film in Canada

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

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arrival film

By Kryshan Randel

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

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Still from Beasts of the Southern Wild

Still from Beasts of the Southern Wild

By Freddie Kim

 

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

 

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

 

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

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A well constructed demo reel might be the key to your dream job.

Follow these tips to make sure yours stands out!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a demo reel is worth a million. An expertly crafted demo reel can quite literally kickstart your career if your resume is less than prolific. On the flip side, all it takes is a few seconds of poorly assembled footage for a producer to make a snap judgement and move on to other applicants. So what does it take to make a demo reel that will sell your skill?

PICK A SKILL TO FEATURE

You may be a jack-of-all-trades on set, but when it comes to your demo reel you should choose only one or two skills to focus on. Consider what sort of gigs you are hoping to gain with your reel, and what kind of footage you have on hand.

IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
Take some time to really think about what kind of jobs you want to apply for. If you are trying to get hired as a extreme sports cinematographer, a reel that is composed entirely of subdued dramatic scenes may not be the best choice. That said, it doesn’t hurt to show versatility, so if you want to keep your options open, put together a sample platter of the different genres that you have worked in.

CONSIDER YOUR CONTENT

If you find yourself with more ambition than useable footage, then it may be time to get out there and get working. It might seem counterproductive to ask friends if you can volunteer on their indie projects when you’re trying to get paid work, but the truth is that you need good content to populate your reel. Another option is to make your own material, specifically for the reel. Good footage is good footage, and the most important thing is that you created it yourself.

InFocus Film School alumni Marina Caviglia’s reel. 

KEEP IT TIGHT

When you have enough material to start your editing process, it can be very difficult to choose exactly what you should use and what you should cut. If you find yourself with a seven minute mega-reel it may be a smart move to get someone else to edit for you. The truth is that many producers may only make it fifteen seconds into your reel before they decide to consider you for a job. With that in mind, a minute to a minute and a half is a great length for your reel.

ASSEMBLE A FOCUS GROUP

Once you’ve got the initial cut of your reel together then it’s time to assemble your most honest friends and family members, and get them to give you some feedback. Ask them to specifically note which parts jumped out at them, and which they could have done without. Compare their notes, watch your reel again and re-edit. Repeat the process with some new participants, and then go tweak it a little more. Sit back at your computer and take a moment to celebrate your killer demo reel.

This process can seem a little daunting at first, but in order for you to establish yourself as a professional you have to make some pretty big strides. The film industry is extremely competitive, but if you’re willing to put in the extra effort to make your demo reel shine, then you are already on the right track to having a long and prosperous career.  

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

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

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

dslr-infocus

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

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

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