Hey Magic Folk! I have been getting a lot of calls and emails regarding production and filming shit, so I am writing this article answering common questions I receive. I specialize in web series, sketches, music videos, shorts and commercials so this is for actors who want to create their own sketch or web series, or for directors and producers who want to just fucking make something they have been thinking about FOR-EFFING-EVER!
Also, this is JUST WHAT I DO. You can take it or leave it, don’t be like religious people who take it so seriously. We don’t need any more murder over imaginary friends.
The stigma some producers put around ‘work’ and production does not have to be stressful, remember that this is FUN! So think, ‘How can I make this fun for me?’ Even if you are not considered a fun person and you are a weird nerd who loves puzzles featuring wild stallions, how can you make this fun for you specifically? This is your little secret. Play games with yourself in your mind because everything can be an adventure.
Get your mind right. I have produced an entire series on Adderall, not super fun. Anxiety and regret are the opposite of living in the present. Easier said than done, just remind yourself that “a winner don’t quit on themselves” as Beyoncé once said everyday in my living room.
Okay, for all you list-makers, you’re going to love this. I like to start every morning off with a routine. It feels so good to accomplish something right off the bat, it gives you confidence and releases glitter in your vagina. Here is mine:
- Wake up 8am
- Drink turmeric/almond milk (for my skin because I look like i smoke meth if I’m not obsessed with it)
- 20 min or more work out
- Meditate 10 min or more
- Free write for three pages
Your routine can be anything, just make sure it’s specific, make tangible goals so you know you have accomplished like a bad bitch.
Okay so now to actual production stuff. So, overall, there is no right way to create art. Depending on what the project is, obviously pre production is going to vary. The most important thing that I have learned creating my own content is to be confident in your artistic vision. A confident producer is a prepared producer, be specific with who plays what role so there is no confusion. I used to hire people who I know are brilliant and think I was enlightened by letting them do what they do best, giving artistic freedom. But we can get weird after we are so prepared that we are not scrambling to create a loose idea. And also, like duh you hire brilliant people, YOU are brilliant and only surround yourself with brilliant minds. So be the conductor who is open to more.
This varies greatly and is my favorite part, but the most important thing, for me, is having a very solid script. You can improv later.
-Set a series of tentative dates and find available crew. One date should be the most desired, and then of course have a couple back up days. As far as casting goes, try your best not to change the date to fit actors schedules if you already have your crew booked.
-Go through your script and write down any and all props. I use a whiteboard over Google docs because no one looks at that shit.
-Think about what will be best for the crew, and communicate with your DP or director. Do you need a specific lens or camera that will help with your aesthetic? What about sound? Do you need two lavs and a boom? Location Sound is my favorite place to rent sound equipment from.
-I tend to use many gags like breakaway glass, puppets and effects and I use CGI/Graphics as little as possible. Alfonzo’s Breakaway Glass is the best and only option; making effective breakaway glass your self is nearly impossible. But hey, prove me wrong.
-Casting actors. I get that we have friends who we want to put in our stuff, but SERIOUSLY consider actors who are fucking amazing. Mediocre actors can ruin your film. I know its harsh, I am an actor also, but having a great cast can take everything to the next level.
-Once you have a date, get your locations. You have more friends than you think. Some locations can be very expensive so understand that this can be tricky. Go to tons of parties and have your feelers out for awesome people who know other awesome people. Make yourself lucky. Also, write around locations that you know you have. A friend’s house, or maybe you are tight with an owner of a cool bar that you can get for 8 hours during the day. Ask everyone and have an open mind.
-Shot Lists and storyboards! For me, this is the fun part because you get to imagine your work come to life. Go through every single shot with your DP and make a dope storyboard! It doesn’t have to be perfect. I like to make concept art as well because it is difficult for me to express what I want verbally.
You can e-mail me with any questions about pre-production specifics, every project is different.
DAY BEFORE THE SHOOT DAY:
-The night before the shoot, make sure to get craft services. Unless your shoot is 4 hours or less (yeah right!), then you should def have crafty. This includes water, toilet paper, trash bags, cleaning supplies and first aid kit.
-Double check props and costumes.
-Drink some tea and get a good nights sleep.
-Have fun, be efficient, get there early, don’t be a dick.
- At the end of your day, help anyone and everyone pack and load gear. Clean! Make the location better than it was when you arrived, so you can possibly shoot there again.
- Make sure you talk to your DP about sending you the footage as soon as possible in a We Trasfer, private Vimeo link, or anything with a time code.
-Make a deadline for post. This is arguably the most difficult part of creating your own stuff. Shiri Appleby said that pre production is getting ingredients, shooting it is mixing it together and editing is baking it all.
-Make sure your editor has the same time codes that you have from your DP.
-Make sure your editor has the sound needed for the film.
-Go through the footage and take notes with time codes. No one wants to be in an editing room forever, unless you are going through a divorce and avoiding going home. You are already going to be there for 12 plus hours a day so be prepared.
-Be prepared to cut things that you are holding on to. Let it go, you probably don’t need it.
-Bring snacks for editing sessions; your editor will love to keep working with you.
-You can edit forever. There comes a certain point where the project is done so except it and be proud of yourself for finishing a project.
-If you are adding original score, finish the edit, score your film, and then send it to sound to mix.
-I always try to get editors who are also experienced in color correction and can mix the sound in to your project. If not, Send it to a sound mixer after the picture is completely locked.
–Do not pay anyone until his or her job is done and complete.
As far as releasing your film goes, there are literally endless options so e-mail me if you have specific questions about festivals, social media and on line networks. I will be as much help as I can.
I hope this helps people who are looking to make their own content easily and effectively!