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Writing a Script

pile-of-scripts

A script is the foundation of every movie. The importance of the script is something that is hard to grasp without having the experience of a few movies without a good script. When I started making films, I thought other elements in the filmmaking process could carry a bad script, for example amazing cinematography or great actors, but it soon became obvious that it’s a rule without exceptions – if your script is bad, your movie is bad.

At first glance a script looks very simple. They are made to look simple. But behind every word, every character and every plot there has to be a thought. I have found a lot of great tips on the internet and from books, that helps you develop a deeper understanding of writing a script. Try to read as much as possible and learn new things.

Finding your story
Every writer has at several points found himself completely empty of ideas, and the ideas you do find seem ridiculous after trying to develop them for a while. A quick way to spark your interest for a particular story is to perform this exercise:

- Make up three dialogue lines that has to be included in your script.
- Find three interesting objects in your house.
- Decide on three genres
- Imagine three famous actors
- Try to combine one of each element

Try not to associate anything, for example having a line being “I’m not scared of ghosts”, choosing an old scary-looking box as  your object, the genre horror and Jodie Foster as your actor.
I’ll give you an example:

- “I’ve never been able to imagine anything like it”
- A big old map of the world from 1886
- Science fiction
- Vince Vaughn

From these four, try to write a short story with all of them included. If the idea sparks your interest, you can go ahead and try to develop it further.
Interview your characters
I always find it hard to develop characters, more than anything else in the writing process. A good character has a problem, goes through an emotional change, engages the audience and is not afraid of making the moves that push your story forward.

A great way to find your character’s motives and problems is to interview him. You either ask a friend to interview you, while you imagine being your character, or simply write the interview with you being both the interviewer and the character.

Start off with the small questions like what his/her name is and how old he/she is. Then move on to the bigger questions like the character’s thoughts on world conflicts or how the technology changes our world (Thesea are just examples). Then try to interview your character about problems that might occur during the script, how they feel about things that happened before the script (i.e. things that lead to the events of your movie) and other questions that might be relevant for the story.
Find the absolute core
I’ve often made the mistake to include too much in my script, which often results in loose ends that confuse the people watching the movie. A good way to avoid this is to write the absolute core of your story in one sentence, for example:
“A guy tries get over the death of his best friend”

Always keep this sentence in mind when writing, and try to write every sentence and line so it will eventually lead to the character succeeding in his goals.
Be realistic
If you want your movie to be made, you have to be realistic. There is no point in writing a 10 million USD movie if you haven’t even made your first short film, unless it’s only for practice. Don’t include car chases if you know you won’t have the money for them, don’t choose New York as your location if you live far away and don’t have the funds to move a whole production team there and don’t write a character that will only work if Brad Pitt is playing the part.

Be honest to yourself and think about realistic transitions from script to screen. Chances are you will write a script that would cost 100 000 USD to produce, and know you’ll only have 1 000 USD to actually fund it. You will either not make the movie at all, or you will try to make it with the money you have, and not getting the results you want.

As I said before, writing scripts without limitations is good for practice, but if you REALLY want to make your movie, you have to be realistic.

 

Rewrite
Once you’re finished writing your first draft of the script you’ve only done half the job. A first draft is never good. Hand your script out to people
you trust and see what kind of feedback you receive. When writing you’re so deep down in your story, that you lose the sense of what’s good and what’s not.
What seems obvious to you might not even have occured to a person reading the script. Get some feedback, write it down and remember it when you rewrite
your script.

Also try to reimagine the story as much as possible, find things that can be improved, big and small. Sometimes you need to reimagine the whole plot, and
sometimes it might just be a few lines.

Removing and adding is also an important part of the rewriting process. If you find one of your characters is redundant, just remove him/her, even if it’s
a character you really like. If there are holes in your story that need to be filled, write a new scene, line or character that will fill it.
What you like about your story
Like I mentioned before, writers often find themselves in situations where they feel their story is boring and stupid. Therefore, when you’ve found an idea
you love, write down what makes you love it in short sentences. When you feel that you just want to hit the delete button and empty your bin, find that piece
of paper or document in your computer where you wrote down what made you love your idea in the first place and read it again.
Practice a lot
I don’t write nearly as much as I would like to, but the truth is that writing is like most aspects in filmmaking, you won’t get any better if you don’t practice.
Don’t sit and develop your one big script for years. Let it rest sometimes and write other scripts meanwhile. You’ll come back to the script you really love, better
than you were when you left it.
There is so much more to cover about scriptwriting. There are billions of pages on the internet and in books filled with ideas, rules and exercises that will help
you write better scripts. I might even write a few more articles about scriptwriting.

Good luck writing your next script!

/Jonathan

One Film to Watch Today – Everything is NOT Awesome

Today’s “One film to watch” goes to a film by Lego.

Even though I usually thinks these kinds of films are silly and hypocritical since we all need oil and even the ones who made this film are using oil on a daily basis and wouldn’t survive if we stopped drilling for oil, I couldn’t help getting fascinated by the cinematography and the editing skills in this beautiful film.

So if you’re going to watch one film today, make sure it’s this one. Great job!

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 22.03.21

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 22.03.02

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 22.03.07

 

DSLR Filmmaking Process

Today I would want to give you my opinion on a DSLR filmmaking process.

I made this chart to show you my thoughts of the best workflow in a simple way, of course there are some cases where you’ll have to customize your workflow differently but having this as a general structure is in my opinion the best way of doing it.

dslr_filmmaking

 

 

Analyzing movies you watch

Hi there! Everyone has a reason why they started making films. A lot of us, including myself, started out by watching movies and being inspired to go out and make our own. As you get caught up in your own projects, it’s easy to forget how much we can learn from just watching movies and being inspired. Watching a film is not just a way to entertain yourself, but it’s also a great way to improve your own filmmaking.

After watching a movie it’s good to think it through, and try to find what made you like the movie. Even finding things you disliked will help you achieve a greater understanding of film as an art form. Analyzing films is an art form in itself, and just like everything else it takes practice to become really good at it. Too often I bore myself trying to think about the movie I just saw, and therefore I found this video really helpful.

It’s an amazing breakdown of the film ‘Inception’.

Tons of people love this movie, but few have the will or power to de-puzzle it and analyze it. Even though his voice may put you to sleep, this guy from the vimeo channel ‘MUST SEE FILMS’ has a lot of good things to say. This short video helped me analyze movies in a detailed way.

/Jonathan

inception_39

RED Offline/Online workflow

Hello!

If you have ever worked with material shot on RED, you know it can be a hassle to work with it. The RED camera records uncompressed high resolution footage that results in huge files with a lot of information, but that doesn’t necessarily have to affect your editing process. Most people are familiar with offline/online editing, but there are many ways to do it. Therefore, I would like to share an easy workflow that will make it easier to edit RED footage even on slow computers. It will also make it easier to present edits of your draft to clients.

First of all, you need to have Redcine-X installed on your computer. It’s a free software that is built solely for handling RED footage. You can easily view your raw footage, see information regarding each individual clip, balance the color in your clips and most importantly for this article – create offline rushes.
The next thing you should is get rid of useless footage, i.e. footage you know you’re not going to use. A lot of filmmakers are taught that it’s better to have too much footage than too little, but as an editor it’s important to have an overview, and therefore it can be nice to filter out some material. It will also help your computer work faster.

Now it’s time to create a project in Redcine-X. This project should be easily accessible and preferably in the same folder structure as the rest of your project. The biggest lie you’re going to tell yourself is that you’ll remember where you saved your project files, so make sure you have a designated folder for projects in each software.

When you’re importing your clips to Redcine, and you want to create offline rushes, it’s a good idea to import a full folder instead of one clip at the time. This way you’ll be able to export all your clips at the same time. As these are just your reference material, I suggest you to not start tweaking your images in Redcine just yet.

The first dialogue window you’ll see is this one:

firstwindow

The only settings I change in this window is the file format. I set it to QuickTime. QuickTime is the only video file format in the dropdown menu. To the right you’ll see a button labeled “Setup…”. When you press it, this window appears.

secondwindow

You’ll want to set the compression type to H.264 as it will create nice and small clips for you. You set the FPS to the same as the FPS you’ve recorded your clips with. It’s a good idea, but not essential to divide your clips in folders depending on what FPS you have. For example, if you’ve shot some footage in 50 FPS and some in 25, you put them in two different folders inside Redcine. The data rate is up for you to decide. If you feel your system can handle heavier files without affecting its performance, you can just go crazy with the kbytes/sec. It will never affect your system nearly as much as the original RED file would. Myself I like to keep it low, and my clips rarely exceed 100 mb, unless they are very long clips.

The audio is just there for reference as well, so I usually just set it to a format that is compatible with QuickTime, in most cases AAC.

Right next to the format tab you have a tabe called “Burn In”. Clicking it will open this window:

thirdwindow

As an editor, I find it so much easier to work with clients and especially other people on the same project when your offline clips are labeled with the clip name and the timecode. To do this you just choose ‘clip name’ and ‘preferred timecode’ in one of the four drop down menus at the bottom. You also have the alternative to add two more, and it really depends on the project. If you’ve footage from two separate cameras, it’s a good idea to label the clip with the camera name (‘camera’). You have lots of other alternatives, such as FPS, frame number and reel ID.
It’s highly customizable, and you can change things like font, font color and location of your text.

Also, make sure you have checked the “Enabled” box, to enable clip labeling.

The next thing you want to do is simply clicking export, and choose your destination folder.

When you’re done, your offline rush should look something like this:

offlinerush

Compared to the original footage:

originalfile

You’ve now created offline rushes to make your editing with RED material a lot smoother!

/ Jonathan Duek

Russian mother taking exceptional photos of children and animals

Hi there,

Today I just wanted to share some inspirational photos by a talented woman from Russia.

Her name is Elena Shumilova and she takes extraordinary photos of children and animals using natural lightning and environments.

I’ll just stop here and let you watch the photos and get inspired.

I don’t have permission to share the photos on the blog so I’ll give you links to the best photos.

https://flic.kr/p/i73Za1

https://flic.kr/p/m4HZA5

https://flic.kr/p/kYMdHc

https://flic.kr/p/j6k4kS

https://flic.kr/p/fNnHEG

https://flic.kr/p/eogrcG

https://flic.kr/p/edmTWm

https://flic.kr/p/ebV1N7

 

NEW Tutorial: Gold Cinematic Film Look

Hey guys!

It’s Friday and sunny today and I got some energy to make a color grading tutorial for you guys on how to create a similar look to what you can see in A Very Long Engagement.

It’s a warm, golden look that gives a very luxury feeling and I thought it would be a good grade to teach you how to achieve.

Here are some screenshots on the look I will try to achive.
a very long engagement Very Long Engagement 047

The tutorial is all inside of Adobe Premiere Pro since that’s the software that most people seemed to choose when I asked this in a group last week.

Hope you’ll enjoy the tutorial and let me know your thoughts!

What’s your Title in Filmmaking? – Visual Designer

I got a pretty good question yesterday I wanted to share with you, it was about what title I refer myself as in filmmaking.

This was the question:
“Hey David, just wanted your opinion on how you title yourself as a filmmaker. I see that you go as colorist, but when you were doing stuff on your own where you directed, edited, color corrected, vfx… etc did you refer to yourself as just a filmmaker?”

A few months ago I would have called myself a filmmaker since that’s the general term, but nowadays I don’t think that’s as accurate anymore. I think filmmaker is a correct title if you’re the director of the film OR shot the film, maybe directed it as well, and finally edit and graded the whole film, but when you’ve just been touching the visuals like if you’ve been the colorist/visual effects artist/online artist/editor/ I don’t think it’s that correct to call you the filmmaker.  On the other side you’ve had much control over the design of the visuals the film in some way and that’s why I’ve now decided to call myself a Visual Designer.

This is a typical message I get when signing up for a new job:
“We want you to make this film look better, just do whatever you think would benefit the look, it can be changing the colors, adding particles, changing the sky etc. Well do your magic.”

This means I will jump around in a number of titles like colorist, visual effects artist (vfx), online artist and sometimes even screenwriter (!). I mention the title screenwriter because sometimes I will change the look of the film/scene so dramatically after doing some grading + visual effects & online stuff (sky replacements, retouching, particles) that it now looks completely different.

That’s why I think Visual Designer is really an accurate description of what I do and I both think and hope that title will become more common from now, ’cause it’s very common nowadays that you’ll get the task “make the scene/visuals look better” and then filmmaker is not the correct title and it’s not effective to mention all the different roles you have like:
“Well I was the colorist, added some particles to increase the cinematic feeling, added some clouds to make it less happy as well as some mist, added some grain as well to make it look better on the cinema screens etc.”
Not an effective way of expressing your profession/title…

If you say you was the Visual Designer I think you cover the fact that you’ve had control over the visuals of the film and that you’ve designed both the colors as well as some other vfx things to make it look good. The truth is that today it’s not common to just do the colors and stop there, it’s more about adding whatever optimizes the look of the visuals whether it’s about adding color, grain, removing grain, adding particles, adding objects, removing objects, yeah you get it. It’s more like being the colorist + visual effects artist + online artist + screenwriter, which I think we should from now on call = Visual Designer.

You don’t have to agree with me but I think this is a title that will ease things up and only benefit the industry.

Cheers!
/ Lindberg