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Last summer, I was in the middle of my second-to-last semester of a Screenwriting MFA program when I was laid off from my job. Fortunately I found a new position in less than a month, but my workload at my new position was so heavy, I had to drop out of grad school at the end of the semester.

I came to L.A. to be a writer. It's been over a dozen years now, and nothing's really panned out. I had a few false starts in the early days, but once I settled into a (relatively) stable career in marketing, I felt less and less motivated to crank out another script that nobody'd read. Going back to school was supposed to light a fire under me to get back to chasing my dream. And it did, just not how I'd anticipated.

During that semester last summer, I took a production class and realized what I should be doing: making my own projects. So I wrote a low-budget horror script. It's high-concept, commercial and most importantly franchise-able. If I can get it made, I can get it sold.

Now I don't have the capital to independently finance a 90-page script. For the past six months, I've spent my free time in pre-production on the first scene which I plan to shoot as a short film; it's a self-contained scene that sets up the world and the antagonist. I'll use the short to get investors and sell myself as the writer-producer-director of the project.

I know some of you are filmmakers, or aspiring filmmakers, or people who just think they know everything. What I'd like this thread to be is a resource for people like us to discuss the nuts and bolts of the independent filmmaking. Most of what I know is from the stacks of books on producing and directing that I've read over the past few months or the limited experience I've had as a P.A. years ago.

I'm going to ask a lot of dumb, eye-rolling questions because I'd rather look stupid in here than on set. That being said, let me start off by asking, What type of lighting gear should I rent for a night shoot? I'm shooting a campfire scene with three characters. I don't want the only light source to be the campfire. I'd like to approximate the sort of "moonlight" you see in horror movies.

You might want some detail on your backgrounds, so that your film won't look too cheap. Moonlight is reflected sunlight, you could try some K 5600 equipment, like daylight HMI lampheads. Campfire probably doesn't cast enough light on your actors, so you might need some additional light on their faces. I recall someone using LPG burners to light campfire scenes. They do create a moody and realistic light, but can cause severe burns on your actors if you're not careful. Though you are making a horror film, so that would significantly decrease your make-up budget.

Thanks, Virtanen. I'll add those to my list of things I have a list of!

Gave it some thought, and found out that entirely dark background doesn't look too bad. At least when shot by Dean Cundey.

And overdoing the background with HMI lights might make your horror film look like SURVIVOR or TEMPTATION ISLAND, I assume that's not what you're looking for? Does the scene have movement or action, or is it mostly people sitting and talking?

...or instead of playing 21 questions, could you PM your script to me? If it's less than 300 pages, I can try to think more suggestions.

AThe script for the short is six pages. There's some spooky storytelling then carnage. Oh, and farting. It's what I go to the movies for.

I'm still working away at this leviathan -- a short film project that's had a longer pre-production phase than 17 feature films put together.

But I've gotten a lot done. I've re-learned how to draw, which took like six friggin' months, so I've storyboarded the whole short. I've also knocked out a bunch of concept art, since the characters all have visually arresting attire.

Right now, I'm setting up an IndieGoGo campaign for crowd-sourcing the obscene amount of money I'll need to raise to shoot five minutes of grueling horror. Have any of you guys crowd-funded a creative project before? I'm drafting my pitch using my copywriting skills, but I don't want to come across as too sales-y. Any pro-tips?

I've never crowd-funded anything for something I've spearheaded myself, but I am actually in the process of editing a kickstarter video for a video game.  But in this case, the company is one with name recognition as well as a good track record of delivering on their projects.  But even with those advantages, they take their messaging very seriously.

Since I assume you won't have that kind of recognition, at the very LEAST you'd need to put together a robust pitch video that really whets prospective donors' appetites to see your film come to life.  THe video should be slick enough but not SO slick as to make someone wonder why you put so much effort and resources into making a crowdfunding video instead of just making your damned movie.

I would assume you've got the copywriting part of it down.  You already know that you should be clear and realistic about your goals.  Crowdfunding campaigns have been around long enough that people are now pretty cynical about these things ever coming to fruition, so probably best to not promise too much.

Other than being Bradito, does your short film have any other hook to really draw social media attention?

AIt's a horror film, so I'm going to try drumming up interest within the horror community on social media. They seem pretty supportive of similar projects.

Bradito, I shot a feature last October that had a campfire sort of scenario.  I had one 1k light to work with, lots of lighter fluid, a Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and one of my favorite lenses - Voigtlander 17mm .95

It opened wide enough, and then I changed the aperture to 360 degrees to give it another boost. Gives the footage a bit more blur, but it's totally useable footage.

Here's some screen caps.







I was also going for Dean Cundey "Halloween" lighting. We were lucky to have a porch above we could place the light high enough to to where it could very much look like moon-light over people's heads.

ACarnotaur, you're a wonderful human being!
AYou could probably find some random nerd with too much audio gear willing to do a soundtrack for shits and giggles and practice, if you're not too picky about style.
AI want synth! All of the synth!

Spandex.  All spandex!

ALet's not get ahead of ourselves.

There will be spandex in the feature-length version.
A[quote name="Bradito" url="/community/t/153678/filmmaking-tips-advice#post_3944089"]I want synth! All of the synth![/quote]
Aw yeah, gonna John Carpenter it all up in this bitch!

...that is how the kids on "the street" say it, right?
ASo when are all of you guys coming over to help me make this thing?


I can play the cool, smart, handsome character via Skype from Rhode Island.

AOh man, how long before Skype is the new trend with indier-than-thou freshman filmmakers? Like, whole short films where it's just people on webcams trying to act like they're interacting with any of the other characters on webcams?
A[quote name="Carnotaur3" url="/community/t/153678/filmmaking-tips-advice#post_3944147"]HOW MUCH YOU GOT, BOY?!

Well, so far I've raised $0 of my $15,000 goal. So how about some back-end points?
AIs that what the kids are calling it these days?

Bradito, as somebody who's been involved in a couple Kickstarters (one that succeeded and one that failed miserably), here's a few suggestions:

- Have a great promo video with good picture quality and gets the point across of what you hope to accomplish with the project

- Bios for each of the filmmakers and actors

- Some behind the scenes photos, sketches, pictures of the actors, creepy locations (this is a horror film, right?)

- Keep updating it every couple weeks with new videos. It's a good way to interact with those who are donating.

- Hold fundraisers at some local filmmaking studios or colleges. Even some really good flyers can create attention

- Talk to your doctors and dentists about donations. I know it sounds weird, but just try it!

Thanks, Ravi! I'm currently pulling together everything I'll need to launch my crowd-funding page, so your list is a big help. I've been knocking out tons of concept art. I'm not exactly Neil Blomkamp, but my mom seems to like most of my drawings. She said I made the cans on one of the female characters disproportionate to her frame. But what does my mom know about crowd-funding?

You should have one of the female characters have monster DNA, so that it'll add more dramatic conflict when her, the male hero and the bisexual nerdy girl have a threesome!

Anyway man, I forgot one other big thing to do when crowdfunding, but go all out on social media. I don't mean crazily spamming numerous FB film groups, but spend at least 30 min to an hour each day posting links to your Kickstarter and get your friends to share it too. It will get some good amount of buzz.

Bleeding Christ, I'm polishing up my pitch text for my Indiegogo campaign (3rd draft's looking pretty good), and I wrote: "The Perks of Being a Crowd-Funder." I'll probably never forgive myself.


I'm nothing...! Nothing!

ASo anyway, I think I'm ready to shoot my crowdfunding pitch video. I've been looking into putting together a DIY lighting package, so it won't look like some of the awkwardly-composed, naturally-lit videos I've seen of some schmendrick in front of a bookcase.

Does anyone have any good recommendations for what kind of camera I should rent? I'd like it to look good, so preferably something with 24p functionality. I want to be handsome.

Everything does 24p at this point. I'm biased, I love my Blackmagic Camera. But if you really want to spread that ISO latitude, the new Sony a7s is fucking ridiculous.

I've worked on countless shorts and commercials and if I can add one bit of advice (this is general advice, since I'm sure your production class already covered this) it's to make sure you don't skimp out on the sound. Shitty sound and dialogue recording is almost always the easiest way to identify a student project. Well that and when all the actors and background extras look like buddies of the director.

AOh, absolutely. I've made a couple short films with shitty audio, and it's so incredibly deflating.

My short's a horror fillum, so the sound design is going to be critical to its being good. I mean, there's gunfire, screaming, farting -- the true hallmarks of terror.

Bradito is making the world's first horror fillum!

AIn 2D!

Up here in the Bay Area, we have a filmmaking collective that supports and develops short projects. The talent pool is formidable, particularly behind the camera:

Anything like that in your neck of the woods?

ETA: According to their website, they do in fact have a presence in L.A. Check 'em out.

I'm prepping for my crowd funding campaign pitch video. I've got my script worked out. I'm cobbling together some equipment. I'll see if I can't get someone from grad school to help me film the thing.

As far as crowd-funding goes, what kind of rewards should I be reasonably expected to provide my backers? I'm making a short film that's already budgeted at an astronomical amount of money. I've been looking into t-shirts and posters and that sort of ephemera, but damn, they aren't cheap. Baking them into the cost of the budget just makes the budget go up.

I'm already pretty nervous about this campaign not hitting its goal. But I also want to do right by my donors. What do I do?!?

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