Story Generation and the Creative Process

January 11, 2012 by · Comments Off on Story Generation and the Creative Process 

 Post:  Driving in the Outback can be inspiring.

Praying for Inspiration

Valeska and I took off for about ten days and went to outback NSW and rambled from town to town, going with the flow and only moving when we felt like it. We did not see a drop of rain and loved  the constant blue skies. Before you ask, "How can you go to a part of the world that has temperatures hitting the 40C mark (105 F)", please let me explain. Well I did have a mission. I wanted to come up with a great story outline and treatment for our next screenplay.  I love the great open spaces of the outback and country New South Wales. Very inspiring. No tourists are crazy enough to go out here in the heat of summer and that is exactly why I love it. It feels like the real deal,  like a road movie. Our goal was to create an awesome story outline  and utilize the passing scenery and all the quirky cooky and very friendly characters we met on the way.

Ok our bomb does not look the best but it got us around

Idea after idea flowed and nothing seemed to gel. We would come up with one story outline after another and then trash them.  We could only find enough for B Grade film.  Story after story idea was tossed around and then trashed. Even  at Lightning Ridge where black opals are mined, we could not get a story outline that was a winner.  All the story ideas, we came up with in the first eight days of traveling just seemed to be a cliche and stale.  From Coonabarabran to Gundegai to  Lightening Ridge to Bourke to St George , we created only garbage. Our characters seemed to be just flat. Exasperated, I was about to give up on Day 8 and just enjoy the rest of our road trip, when it happened. We were approaching Moree when something on the radio sparked me off. Suddenly an amazing idea floated into my head. I got out my IPhone recorder and started flowing with a story that would prove to be so cool and original and dare I say it "Fresh"

Road going to the West

Valeska and I then started talking about the story and more flowed. Out of that amazing creative dimension called creativity,  scenes spouted out at a faster rate than we could record them. There was an excitement about this idea that was missing from all previous ideas. We were suddenly on fire. The next day we went back to the story and it still seemed like a really fresh story.  More ideas and more scenes appeared to us and we felt that sense of flow that happens when you hit oil. I reflected on inspiration and what happens when a story truly appears. Here are some of my thoughts:  I believe that finding a great story is like searching for gold. You have to shift a lot of dirt to get to gold but when it happens it's priceless. Then it's like striking oil. Ideas and scenes spew out at an alarming rate faster than you can process them.  To get to this point I believe  that you need to trash bad story outlines as soon as you know it. This saves you so much time and stress later.

A Beer always helps

Today I am knocking out a 20  page treatment of the story that will encapsulate the whole film from beginning to end. Then the story is submitted to my 3 week test. In other words, will the story be as strong at  the end of Janaury as it is now. If so, I will fully comit and move on to producing and developing the story as a  film. What is the movie called ,   "Hot Streak".   30% of the film takes place in California and the other 70% in Australian outback towns. Our lead character is American and most of the supports are Australian. Anyone interested in investing, get in early. If you are interested in creating a really cool story, look at our 4 month Film School in Sydney . The first two weeks is all about developing a story and writing a screenplay or please look at our Weekend Film Schools in Adelaide and Melbourne    Till next time, have a great one.   Colm O'Murchu

Making a living from Independent Film Production

August 4, 2011 by · Comments Off on Making a living from Independent Film Production 

Its very warm in Sydney today. It is supposed to be mid winter but the temperature is currently 25C.(75F). I am writing this post sitting on the beach at Dee Why and it's just beautiful. Next week I am off to Qatar, Paris, Dublin and  London where I present my Weekend Film School for the first time. I will get back for my Charity Premier Screening of Dealing with Destiny   on Monday August 29th and just in time for the Cinema release on September 1st .  Firstly, Here is some clips and an interview with me for "Dealing with Destiny"

Out two Stars Catherine Jermanus and Luke Arnold from Dealing with Destiny

On the last post, I itemized the different ways to make a living from film and the film world. Just  a reminder.
  1. Independent Film Production Micro Budget – Low Budget Feature Films (100k – 5 Million Dollar Budgets)
  2. Freelance DOP and Editor Work on other peoples short films and feature films
  3. Music Videos Corporates and Commercial Film Making
  4. Crew Work on mainstream Film Shoots for TV & Feature FIlm
  5. Working for Film Distributors and Government Industry.
  6. Mega Directing, Screenwriting or Producing on the big budget Hollywood films.
Today I would like to look at Number 1 & 2  in detail.  They are both intertwined.
Making a living from independent film production is a challenge. There is a long build up period to the time when you make your first feature film.  But how do you get started? The entry point tends to beFilm School or Film Courses like ours. The best film school is one that shows you how to make a film by actually making a film. As you make more and more films and provided you put everything you have into each film, the better a Film Director you will become. When you leave film school, you will then want to work as an independent film maker. Most people will try to do Number 4 on our list above. Find Crew Work on mainstream Film Shoots for TV and Feature Film. We will cover that area in a later post. Some people will invest in Film Equipment buying Cameras, Lights, Sound Equipment, Grips Gear and a Post Production Suite. You may have to take out a loan and invest  $30 - 50k initially in Film Equipment.  This will get you most of the equipment that you need. I know when I first invested in my own equipment, I advertised my services for Free. Needless to say, there was a flood of interest and I had non stop film jobs where I became an expert at using all of my equipment. Eventually, I felt confident to start charging and moved quickly to a $500 per day or $2000 per week rate.  I was still flat out working and my problem was too many jobs and feeling overworked.

Pool Scene from "Dealing with Destiny"

And this is the point: It is very important to diversify. When I ask people on my film courses what they would like to do in the Film Business,  they nearly all want to be a Film Director. And that is great as long as there is plenty of Directing jobs out there. But if you diversify and learn how to DOP (shoot) films and edit films, there is plenty of  extra work to fill in the lean times between Directing gigs. In fact on our Weekend Film Schools , we show you the agencies to join, so that you get plenty of work. We also show you how to get your brand out there so that you are getting many people offering you gigs. Now this is all well and good. But what if you want to be a Film Director making your own award winning feature films that get sold all over the  world. Well that is the second part of it. At Film School you will learn how to make films and hopefully if it is a Film Course like ours, you will get to make a film of your very own. When you leave the Film School, you will continue making short films till such time as you win or get regular entry in to major film festivals. Now it is important to monetize your short film and we show you that process on our film courses. We show you the sites where your film can make money. As soon as you have an award winning short film, then you move on to a low budget feature film that you make on the weekends. A Feature Film can be shot on 1o weekends on very little money. How do I know this because I produced and directed and edited a zero budget Feature Film "The Makeover".   I would like to announce that you can now buy  The Makeover on our Website and you can now download the film and watch it today. It is a great example of a film that was made on a micro cash budget. The Makeover won Best Comedy Drama at the New York City Film Festival and has sold Pay TV in Europe and in the US. When you make successful low budget films, usually bigger films attract themselves to you. While I was making The Makeover I was offered the job directing Dealing with Destiny  which is on limited release in Australia on September 1st. When you keep making independent films,  you will eventually find the budgets and the success of your films grow.

Another Scene from my film "Dealing with Destiny"

So your plan should look like this
  • Do a really cool Film Course like ours  and keep doing courses as you develop your film skills. You need to learn.
  • Make short films till you win A or B list Film Festivals and can monetize your films online.
  • Then, make a low budget feature film on the weekends
  • Apply for funding and the producers offset from the government for another one of your feature films that has a budget of $1 million - $5million. This is a long process and can take years. That is why you need to make your own micro budget films on the side.
  • Network and get to know the people who matter in our film industry
  • Keep your  eagle eyes open and pounce on opportunity
  • Allow ten years to make it as a fully established Film Director.   If you have the persistence, you will succeed.
If you need help, please remember that we are here with our Film Schools and our Film Services 
Many of you have asked me can I make films on the weekend and keep my day job. Absolutely. In Australia, many of the top film producers have other businesses or jobs which they do in-between film productions.   Till next post, have a great one   Colm O'Murchu  _ Director

Make a living in the Film Industry – 5 Different Ways

July 21, 2011 by · Comments Off on Make a living in the Film Industry – 5 Different Ways 

As someone who has made his sole source of income from the Film World since 1997, I would like to outline the different ways to make a living from Film Making over the next few weeks. Film Making is very much a lifestyle choice. Most people work in Film because they love it. I can tell you that is the same for me. Today I pick my jobs and I do only well paid directing gigs such as "Dealing with Destiny" . I also like to DOP on other peoples films and often do consultancies for projects and of course I make my own passion films. I love the travel to different countries and film making has given me the opportunity to travel with my job. Next month, I am off to Qatar, France, Ireland and London where I will present our first weekend film seminar in the UK. In November, I am off to Los Angeles and Mexico. LA beckons every November as I always attend the wonderful American Film Market in Santa Monica. Since 1997, I have worked in crew roles on other peoples film sets. I have worked shooting behind the scenes footage for many different movies. I use to shoot corporates and I still shoot Music videos as I love them. My golden rule is that I never do jobs that I do not want to do, heart and soul.
Shooting on one of our Film Productions Dealing with Destiny
Since 1997, film has been my absolute source of income. Some years have been big earners and others have been quiet. The best year turnover has been close on $400,000 when films have sold well and the worst has been $80,000 when I first started. I know I have not become rich financially, however the lifestyle has made up for the lack of money. Doing what you love and been around exciting creative people who love their job certainly keeps you young. Also it is certainly more money than most people earn in jobs, they do not like. I see the future as very exciting in the film world with the Internet now converging with Television. Many star film makers will have their own channel where they actually build wealth directly in the future. Even YouTube is now moving into movie areas. Building your audience slowly over many years is a tremendous investment in your future. If you start now, over a ten year period you could build up an audience of close to 50,000 subscribers. How do I know this? Well knowning nothing and learning how to do it over the last two years, I have built a subscriber list of 3500 people and that is only in Australia. With our expansion overseas and the start of our online film school, we are expecting to attract many more subscribers. Now that we know how to attract an audience, we expect to build about 10,000 new subscribers per year. Twitter now also allows you to get your message to hundreds of thousands and not to mention fan pages on Facebook. Yes it is a very exciting new world for the up and coming film maker and the earlier you start to build an audience, the better. If you have 50,000 subscribers and 10,000 buy a copy of your film at $15, that equates to $150,000 before you even make money from your film release and the Film Market. You can learn more about this area on our 2011 Film Courses or by visiting our prime website International Film Base For the next few weeks I would like to go through the best ways and clarify the paths that earn money and how you could go about breaking into them. For this week I would like to list them off and in next weeks post go into more detail about each area
  1. Independent Film Production Micro Budget - Low Budget Feature Films (100k - 5 Million Dollar Budgets)
  2. Freelance DOP and Editor Work on other peoples short films and feature films
  3. Music Videos Corporates and Commercial Film Making
  4. Crew Work on mainstream Film Shoots for TV & Feature FIlm
  5. Working for Film Distributors and Government Industry.
  6. Mega Directing, Screenwriting or Producing on the big budget Hollywood films.
Colm O'Murchu
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6 Tips for Attracting the Best Crew

April 29, 2011 by · Comments Off on 6 Tips for Attracting the Best Crew 

Before I get into the tips, it is important  to differentiate between two different types of crews.
  • Big Budget Crew
  • Micro Budget Crew
When you read the credits after a big budget film, often the scroll will last fifteen minutes. There are a vast myriad of different people who do many different crew roles on the set. Recently I was invited by  Director Michael Apted on to his $140 million film "The  Chronicles of Narnia The Adventures of the Dawn Treader."*. The Film was shot at the Gold Coast Warner Brothers Studio in Australia. The crowd on set resembled the entrance to a football stadium on Match Day. One could hardly move. The set was packed. So many crew were doing different jobs. One lady I spoke to was the Dialogue Coach for specifically one of the  young actresses. She probaly did ten minutes work all day. The rest of the time she was on call and doing nothing more than spectator. That is the big end of town The other end is the Micro Budget Film Crew which is all about efficiency and effectivness. Everything is about working smart and hard.  Many crew roles are double ups and one crew member could well be doing three different roles. Here are my top five tips. 1 Keep the Crew lean mean and keen. What I mean by this, is keep the crew to the bare minimum to effectively shoot. An effective crew is about 10 - 15 members. However some crews are smaller. There were days on The Makeover where we had only seven working crew members and that included me as the Director Producer and DOP. On my Online Film School and Weekend Film School, I outline the Crew needed and where to find them. I also show you how I have designed my Crew Contract. This Contract motivates and inspires crews to work smarter and more focused. In fact many of my crew treated "The Makeover" as if it was their  film. 2 Keep your shoots to five days per week  and no longer than 12 hours per day. Twelve hour days are  from arrival on set to conclusion. This is so important. Every crew member is keen to be working on the film and no one wants to be seen to be tired or a whinger. Give your crew two days off per week. When you do the above you will have a happy crew and not a bickering crew.   As a Producer or/and Director, please do not take advantage of your crews enthusiasm. Do not flog your crew. Just as an aside, time on set goes so fast. There are many times the First AD calls lunch and I will say to him" Why are you calling lunch at 9am"  He will reply. "Look at your watch. Its 1pm" Time accelerates and goes so fast on set. The reason for this is that as a Director, you are fully in the moment and a 100% focused. 3  Treat the crew with respect and love. Feed the Crew exceptionally well  Good healthy food that nourishes the crew is like filling up your car with grade A Petrol (Gasoline).  Your crew will work so much better and they will appreciate your efforts. This ultimately results in a better film. Do not  welsh on this area.  Be generous and if you are smart you can feed a crew really well for about $200 per day. You can learn all the tricks on our Online Film School or Weekend Film School 4 Ever Crew member must have a  written contract or agreement and agree willingly to the terms set in the contract. This is so important. The crew feels secure knowing that you will pay what is owed when the film is successful. Also it will protect the producer from unwarranted claims when the film is a big hit. Everyone will know what they are owed. I always add in a clause that our bookkeeper will update crew on Sales for the film. This is very important at the micro budget end of the market. 5  Always keep the crew informed about the progress of your film in film festivals and sales.  Most micro budget crews are paid in shares and a small cash payment. They work on your film for fun and career advancement. Many times, they are seeking experience and credits so that they can get the next job. Long after wrap, they will wonder what ever happened to the film. Keep them informed of the progress via regular email updates. 6 Throw the best parties mid-shoot and on the final day at wrap and at the Cast and Crew Screening. This is important because it can be a time to promote the film and celebrate the amazing achievement of shooting your film. If you want to set up a career as a regular film crew person, work your way up via working on the micro budget films. Over time  you will find yourself on the bigger budget film crews where you will be paid exceptionally well. Work begets work, so always accept the lower budget jobs when starting out. If you want the best start that money can buy please look at our practical film courses on or at our Online Film School on This way you will effectively attract work on micro budget films or/and create your very own film production. Till next week have a great one. Colm O'Murchu Director International Film Base.
Author Details: Colm O'Murchu is the owner of International Film Base in Sydney Australia. He has currently written directed and produced The Makeover Feature Film. The Film screened at the recent Cannes Independent Film Festival in France and won Best Film at the New York City Film Festival. The Film is currently on release in Australia and has sold to Pay TV in Europe. Colm has created the Online Film School that helps emerging film makers produce their own films with no budget. For more about Colm O'Murchu please go to International Film * "The  Chronicles of Narnia The Adventures of the Dawn Treader" was the 12th highest-grossing film of 2010 with over $415 million and received a nomination at the 68th Golden Globe Awards. The film was released by 20th Century Fox

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