Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Little Blue Book for Filmmakers by Carl Gottlieb and Toni Attell

Carl Gottlieb and Tony Attell. The Little Black Book for Filmmakers: A Primer for Directors, Writers, Actors, and Producers. Milwaukee, WI.: Limelight Editions, 2012.

Directors like to control. Actors enjoy playing others. Writers like the control of creating stories.

A director needs a script, producer, legal counsel, camera, cast, editor, crew, time, and money to film a movie Afterwards, a director will need additional legal counsel, distribution of the film, a sales gent, marketing, publicist, and accounting.

Filmmaking involves collaboration. A director must decided whether to work with those who support the director’s vision or with those who provide differing perspectives from which the director can pick while rejecting others.

The authors recommend having something else to fall back on, especially if one self-finances a film. One should be confident, learn to network and self-promote, have a project, allow inspiration to occur, develop a project, involves others, know when to halt one project for another, and have faith.

Be friendly and develop on-set relations, the authors recommend.

A director, by the very position, has authority. Directors should win the respect of cast and crew to prevent apathy or conflict. Directors should properly acknowledge others. They should seek advice or let those most knowledgeable do their jobs. Directors should be prepared and arrive knowing what they wish to achieve each day. Direcots must respect others, consider how others feel and how others may react to decisions, know their own limits, and observe how others respond and recognize so they have personal lives and concerns.

The First Assistant Director (AD or Fist AD) is hired by, and represents and reports to the Producer or to the production team. THe AC usually decides budgeting and scheduling decisions.

Producers fund or find the funds and own the literary property of the film. They usually can hire and fire who they want.

The Line Producer (aka Production Manager) makes decisions on physical aspects, such as staffing, budget and payroll, locations, scheduling, travel, catering, etc.

Associate Producer is anyone associated with the Producer who is given this title. The Producer gives this title to anyone from people doing complicated production work to gophers.

The Director of Photography (DP or Cinematographer aka Cameraman) controls the filming. This job requires experience and knowledge of lighting, framing shots, special effects, etc. The Director and the DP should work closely together.

The Production Designer is an artist who works on the physical appearance of the film. This person reports to the Director and works with the DP.

The Costume Designer works with the Production Designer on all aspects of wardrobe, art, makeup, hair, and sometimes props.

The Art Director designs and oversees scene construction. This person reports to the Production Designer or to the Director and Cameraman if there is no Production Designer,

The Assistant Director is in charge of the crowd and oversees the Director’s decisions are done. A Second Assistant Director handles call times, call sheets, and background artists.

The Script Supervisor observes what is filmed and seeks conformity with the scripts and consistency with scenes from different shooting days.

The Editor works with the Director from the first shooting day to guarantee enough coverage is shot. The Editor seeks a proper pace and timing in the movie in how the shots will be cut and edited.

A Composer writers original music for the film.

The Music Coordinator finds existing songs that are appropriate for a film.

A Location Manager finds places for filming, gets permissions to shoot at locations, obtains needed permits, and handles insurance for location shots.

The Casting Director scouts for talent, may recommend actors for lead roles, and handles matters with agents and managers.

Craft Service handles set maintenance and snacks.

The Post Production Supervisor handles special effects, visual effects, sound editing, postproduction dialog, sound effects, voiceovers, graphics, and titles.

The Production Assistant is usually a nonunion, entry level person who often works the longest hours often for no pay.

Others positions are obvious from their titles, such as Makeup, Hair, Wardrobe, Transportation, Electric, Grip, and animal Wrangler.

A Director should pick people for jobs that are people who can work with the Director.

A Director should consider actions for unexpected but possible events.

It is important to Directors to appear enthusiastic and to encourage enthusiasm.

There are about 3,500 to 5,000 acting jobs for 120,000 union actors.

A Director should understand a project, give the project full attention for as long as needed, have and stick to a vision, coordinate with others, accept required changes, and should lead by example.

A Director should know what needs to be done and observe that it gets done.

A Director should not share incomplete outlines with others as they may be confuse them.

A screenplay is the film’s raw material. It is fine to change or edit it. A Director must make a script work on film.

A Director needs to be aware of a film’s budget for filming. An “iron” rule is half the costs cover 95% of filming. The other half of costs involved in just 5% of filming is what causes complications.

One cannot shoot fast, cheap, and good. At most only two of these objectives can be reached.

A good entertainment lawyer is needed for contracts. Much insider entertainment law is not taught in law school An expert entertainment lawyer will know  what is required, what swindles and scams exist, etc.

A screenplay is intellectual property protected by laws in the U.S. and Western Europe. This concept does not exist in Asia and East India where movies are traditionally pirated.

A Back End deal is a bonus payment It makes a difference if it is baed upon net of expenses (and which expenses), “after recoupment” of the “negative cost” in creating the movie, “participation from the first dollar gross”, etc.

The Gross differs to producers, distributors, etc.

THe Net is earnings after all costs and payments from gross are made.

Residual and Reuse payments are controlled by laws in the U.S. and Canada. Yet even these determinations often lead to disagreements that are arbitrated, litigated, or renegotiated.

Approval means only one must be consulted on a projected, The advice need not be taken.

In music videos, the musical artist controls the content.

Types of commercials include The Talking Head; the Character; the Product Driven Sport; the Celebrity Commercial; the Celebrity Voiceover;Voicing an Cartoon, Animal, or Inanimate Object; the Information; the Industrial training film; Real People, or Body Parts.

Directors should be aware of their personal health, diet, stress, avoid creating conflicts, handle, confirm, or deny gossip, know how to listen, ignore, or take actions as needed.

A Director needs to be prepared for serious problems, such as an actor dying, fire, severe weather events, earthquake, etc. The Director should know what is covered in the Errors and Omissions (E and O) insurance policy.

A Director must know how to handle actors. Some want to know their characters back stories and others do not.

Some actors used the Attell Method (of author Tom Attell) of hypnotic deep relaxation to calm fears and reduce ego. The Attell Method encourages actors to discover that influence their characters and to have actors know their characters’ life directions, past and future.

Directors want positive actors who act property and in as few takes as possible.

Actors convey feelings with their eyes and mouths.

Actors who follow Stanislavsky, Strasberg, and the Method internalize their characters, Actors usually will need a Directors overview and vision in portraying their characters.

Directors need to recognize when actors have problems reaching their characters. Directors need to help guide actors to what is required.

Some hints for actors are: do not begin crossing with a downstage leg, during a close-up look at the other person’s eye which is closest to the camera, don’t look downward to find marks, and be on time, be sober, and never leave without permission.

Directors need to handle the bad habits of actors There are both sensitive and aggressive solutions on handling these problems.

Directors must manage extra, Some delegate that authority, Directors should avoid the temptation to use wide shots that shows all the extras, Sound can make it seems there are more people present. A Director should plan to keep extras safe from equipment and other hazards.

A documentary should have a narrative threads and should not talk down intellectually to the audience.

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