3.8. Actual Scripted
For a steadily growing subset of camcorder
, this is the Big Kahuna, the
raison d' tre
, the Main Event: making a real movie, complete with dialog, actors, and a plot. Ever since
The Blair Witch Project
made $140 milliona movie made by recent film-school grads with a camcorder, no funding, and no Hollywood connectionsindependent films have become a
You can post your homemade movies on the Web sites listed in Chapter 14, where 200 million Internet
can watch them. The most popular ones get Hollywood-studio attention. There are even a growing number of film festivals dedicated to showing homemade (usually DV) films. In the sixties, Americans used to say that anyone could grow up to be president. Today, we say that
can make a Hollywood movie.
The world, and the library, is filled with books on making traditional movies. However, the process is much more difficult than making the kinds of movies described so far in this chapter. In addition to all of the technique and technical considerations you've read about so far, you now have to worry about plot, scripts, continuity, marketing, actors,
, costumes, props, sets, locationsand budget. You'll go through these phases of creation:
Writing the screenplay
. Most movies begin with a scriptor at the very least, a
(a 5- to 30-page
synopsis of the movie's story line that's usually designed to
interest from backers).
If you send your screenplay to Hollywood in hopes of getting it made into a movie, your competition is 250,000 other people every year who also send unsolicited scripts. Like them, you'll get yours back soon enough, too; to avoid being accused of stealing ideas, Hollywood
scripts. Even if you have a connection to someone who'll look at your screenplay, it won't be taken seriously unless it's prepared using extremely specific page formatting, which you can read about in any of dozens of
Fortunately, if you're going to make your own movie, it doesn't make one bit of difference how your screenplay is formatted. Format it however you like, just so your actors can read it.
. You'll have to figure out where you're going to shoot each sceneand get permission to shoot there. Does the restaurant owner know, for example, that you'll be bringing in lights and sound equipment?
Instead of traveling to a special location for shooting, you can often save money and hassle by turning your own backyard or living room into a set. Just a few key props and set dressings may be enough to suggest, for example, an office,
, or police stationespecially if it's preceded, in your movie, by an establishing shot showing your characters going
such a building.
. Before shooting, make "shopping lists." Go through the script and make lists of which actors are in which scenes, what clothes and props they'll need for those scenes, and so on.
, the planning phase, is where a production is set up to succeed or fail.
You should also make a written list of the shots that you want to get, so that when everyone arrives on the set and all hell breaks loose, you won't forget any critical shots. Lists prevent memory blocks.
. Who's going to star in your movie? You can get
to do it, of course. You can recruit people from acting classes, colleges, or theaters in your area. They'll probably be
to participate, in exchange for nothing but the experience, good treatment, and
. (You'd be surprised how important the food is.)
Or you can get professional actors, with the help of a talent agency. You choose them by holding an audition, and you pay for their participation.
. After you've shot the various scenes of your moviewhich, of course, you don't have to do in sequenceyou'll assemble the film in iMovie. This is where you decide how long each shot should take, which camera angle to use, which
to use (which of several versions of the scene you've shot), and so on.
In the real film world, this editing phase, called
, often takes longer than the actual
. Incredible magic takes place in the cutting room; the film editor alone can make or break the feeling, mood, and impact of the movie. You can read more about editing tricks in Chapter 10.
If you've never made an actual movie before, start small. Make a
(a brief movie), which, in the age of independent films, is becoming an increasingly popular format. (In March 2000, Woody Allen made a
movie to protest the construction of a skyscraper in a beloved area of Manhattan.) Starting with a short film is a great idea not just because it
you from biting off more than you can chew, but also because the average Mac's hard drive can't hold more than about 60 minutes of raw footage at a time.
Making a short is also
practice for reducing a movie down to its
essential elements, trimming out the superfluous shots and scenesa highly prized talent that will pay off when you graduate to full-length movies. As they say in the biz: "If it doesn't move the story forward, it holds it back." (More editing advice in Chapter 10.)