Start With a Good Story To begin with, in a nutshell, filmmaking is broken down into three parts: Pre-production, Production, and Post-production. Distribution is the last part, way down on the timeline and doesn’t come into play until everything is in the can. However, if you are ever going to get to ...
Start With a Good Story
To begin with, in a nutshell, filmmaking is broken down into three parts: Pre-production,
Production, and Post-production. Distribution is the last part, way down on the timeline
and doesn’t come into play until everything is in the can. However, if you are ever going
to get to distribution you will need to spend a great deal of time in the Pre-production
phase. There are times when you don’t have that luxury, especially if you are shooting
on the fly, but more often than not a film can take years to make. This can keep it in the
Pre-production process much longer.
If I was to write about filmmaking, and I am (wink), I guess I would have to start with the
script, story, or concept. Screenwriting is usually split into three different styles. They
are: narrative (linear), non-linear, and documentary. Narrative stories follow a timeline
taking the story from beginning and moving chronologically to the end.
Non-linear is the opposite of chronological. An example of a non-linear is the movie
“Momento” or “Pulp Fiction”. These directors chopped up time and used time
sequencing to throw the viewer off balance. While non-linear has gained popularity, it
seems that the narrative film is the more enduring style. It is much more difficult for
folks to figure out what is going on in the non-linear format, that may be one of the
reasons it is used.
The third format would simply be, documentary. This is a real-time reality presentation
letting the facts present themselves with little or no direction or editing. Documentary is
different from Narrative in that the director works to keep from manipulating the
production as little as possible. Narrative film is all about the director manipulating a
scene to illicit certain reactions from the viewer, therein lies the difference between the
Depending on the story you are telling, you will choose the best format to use. While the
narrative and linear may have traditional scripting, you may have to refer to an interview
script in the documentary format. This may simply be a list of questions to be asked,
usually by an off camera interviewer, allowing the subject/talent to drive the dialog.
Many times there is no real dialog to script except for the questions an interviewer will
ask. Much of documentary film is done by showing up and filming things as they are
happening with some narration to explain to the viewer what they are watching.
There was a type of documentary films referred to Cinema Veritέ. This means “cinema
truth” in French and of course was made popular by the French in the 1950’s. This was
done as an effort to remove artifice from film to allow a more truthful depiction of a
In Veritέ the camera is to be merely set up and turned on. Additionally there is to be as
little editing as possible. The theory being that even the act of editing a film is
manipulating the true representation of what is really (truthfully) happening. Hey, these
guys would have loved Reality TV, but at the time (1950’s) Veritέ was considered cutting
So now you need an idea, a concept, an inspiration. If you want to make film you have to
have a story or two in you, so if you don’t already have a story itching to get out, then
you need to brainstorm. The word brainstorm means that your brain puts out, literally, a
storm of energy with all the ideas pouring out like swollen rain gutters.
This will happen somewhere after your first cup of coffee on a Sunday morning or in the
shower, maybe even on a street corner. You got into the idea of filmmaking because to
some extent you must be a creative person. So, I recommend lots of caffeine and your
favorite conditions for daydreaming.
Your most comfortable chair, and a good computer are always good, but inspiration can
come at inconvenient times when you are away from the comfort of your own computer
and desk. Always have something to write with and a piece of paper handy in case of the
“writing rapture” or sudden inspiration.
Another way to handle this is to have a small tape recorder or a voice recognition
software. There are several inexpensive MP3 players that play/store music as well as
letting you record. These will have a small microphone already in the device. Use this to
get your ideas down.
When you are in the grocery store or just crossing the street it is a good idea to be able to
get it (your inspired ideas) down before it leaks back out of your ear. I swear from the
crosswalk to the car I can forget an idea, that is how scattered my brain is. If however, all
you are left to write down your ideas with is a purple crayon and an old piece of paper,