The Film Editor – The Star Crew Member

March 2, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Film Editor – The Star Crew Member 

POST: The Film Editor is the true star of any Film Production

Today, I want to focus on The Film Editor.

Learning all about the Tools of the Trade

This morning I read all about the Oscars.  Kirk Baxter, an Australian, has just won back to back Oscars. Kirk won last night for the film " The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. *  Yet it hardly makes the papers.  For many people, film  editors are these nerdy characters who spend way too much time in small rooms. Yet in reality they are the true stars of any Film Production. Tropfest was one of the big film events in February.  Tropfest is the worlds largest film festival which takes place at the Domain in Sydney. On the Saturday I attended Tropfest Roughcut with about 150 other film makers.     Speaking at the event were non other than Geoffrey Rush, Actor (The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Caribbean) Kieran Darcy-Smith, Director (Wish You Were Here), Actor (Animal Kingdom) Jason Ballantine, Editor (The Great Gatsby, Wolf Creek, Wish You Were Here) Jason Ballantine is certainly one of the most talented Film Editors with a raft of great film credits all ready attached to his name. Yet he is very humble.  Yet, he is one of the most important  creative people working on Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio I always find it amazing that Film Editors never get the credit that they are due. I am going to be controversial and say this the Film Editor is the single most important crew member after the Film Director. Many outsiders do not realize the following fact.   The Film Director will spend most of his or her life in post production. The Shoot might be only 6 - 10 weeks while post production will often consume about 9 months after the film is finished. Peter Jackson spent just over  a year shooting the Lord of the Rings trilogy and then spent three years in Post Production. It is the attention to detail in Post Production that pays off. If time is spent on post production, this will dramatically make the difference between a  really good film and an average film. Let me clarify Post Production. Post Production includes the Picture Edit (today's subject) Colouring and Grading Visual Effects Titles Music Sound Postproduction Conforming formats such as DCP. The Film Director is involved with all of the above.

Booming and getting the very best location sound

On the film set, the film director only gathers the building blocks of  the film and of course it is very important to get the very best building blocks. However the edit and full post production is where the film is made. There is a gulf of difference between a really good edit and an average edit. In the former,  the film is dynamic and engaging. In the latter the film stinks and is considered a Turkey. However the edit is one area that is neglected in the short film arena. Many emerging film makers believe that the film is complete, once the shoot is over. The mindset is this .....  "Oh yes there is still a bit of editing and music to do but the film is now shot and it will only be a short time till the film is complete." The emerging film maker  then confronts reality. Post Production can suddenly feel like a never ending process. Picture Editing  is an art form that  only came into existence when  motion picture was invented back in the late 19th Century.  Before 1896, there were many fine actors who acted in theater  and there were many stories been told in different mediums. Photography had been around for a long time. Music had been around since the dawn of man. Motion Picture editing only started once we could shoot motion picture.  Therefore it is the purest season of film making. It exists totally out of the need to cut motion picture and create the illusion of a story. Editing up to the early 1990s was a cumbersome process. I remember my first films back in the late 80s. We used to edit on Steenbacks. We would literally chop the film with a small guillotine and splice it back together with splicing tape. Any visual effects would be chalked on the film print and sent off to an Optical House where the effects would be created. How times have changed for the better.  We now edit in the computer and anyone can do it from anywhere. I often edit on the airplane when I am on long flights. You will only know the difference great editing makes once  you start to make your own films. One of the areas we focus on in our film courses is Post Production. A large part of the course is dedicated to post production with 5 sessions spent finishing the film. Many emerging film makers find the shoot so exciting and fun. The adrenalin is running and once the film is shot, they then are

Course Production Filming on Set

confronted with post production which is insular and slow.  Suddenly there is only two people.  The Director and the Editor sitting in front of a computer actually making a film. Not so exciting for many people. To me personally, editing is one of the best parts of film making.  When one sits down to create magic and a memorable engaging story, the hours fly by.  I believe that if you want to be a Film Director it is important to love this season of film making. You have a choice as a Film Director.
  1. Learn editing and become an expert at editing and cutting your own short films and anyone else you can volunteer for. I  personally think that if you can learn to edit, it will pay off in the  long run.
  2. Find an experienced or up and coming editor and work closely with them on your films
How do you do this?  The first step is to enroll on a really good film course   Till next time , have a great one. Colm O’Murchu      Director * If you have not seen the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, please see it. It is a wonderful film that engages you from the beginning to the end. David Fincher  is at his best in this very engaging thriller set in Sweden

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

Postcard from LA and the ACT OF VALOR, a movie you must see.

November 5, 2011 by · Comments Off on Postcard from LA and the ACT OF VALOR, a movie you must see. 

Yes I am in LA. I am attending two different events over the next week. The New Media Convention and  The American Film Market. You know you are in LA when you try to find the LA Convention Centre and you get lost.  I walked around the a street corner and right into the Conrad Murray Michael Jackson Trial. Today the jury is deliberating over the verdict. The media circus is huge and camped right outside the courthouse. There is the parade of people who support Conrad Black and the people who think he is guilty as hell.  It is quite a buzz as the verdict is only hours away. From there, I eventually found what I was looking for , The LA Convention Centre. And then it happened.  I was blown away by an amazing film  called Act of Valor.  This is a ground breaking film and I managed to see a sneak 20 minute preview.  What I saw was incredible and ground-breaking. It is the very first big budget Authenthic Action film where everything exactly like in a war situation. Watch the Trailer. The Film uses real Navy Seals who play themselves in a full on action film. This action film has a major difference. Its real. The Film looks like a big Hollywood extravaganza except that the actors (Real Navy Seals) use real weapons and explosions and shoot real bullets. The film is inspired and exceptionally well shot and has generated a new genre. Authenthic Action. What this means is the good guys get killed and what happens is exactly like in a real war situation. Every last detail is cross checked and validated.  That means the way they use the weapons, the way the soldiers talk, the way they fight battles and what they think about when the  battles are over. ACT OF VALOR will be released in the United States on February 17th 2012 on 3000 screens and when it reaches a screen near you, I highly recommend that you see it. I asked the Director ........ a few difference questions at the end of the 20 minute screening. Q How did they  find working with non actors. A Well it was easy when we were shooting the action scenes as they were so well drilled in how to fight a war. But when it came to scene that had dialogue or emotion, it was a challenging and could take up to 15 takes to get a take that the director was happy with. Q How long did it take you to make the film A It took four years to make and in that time the director met , got engaged and married  his wife.  He also had two kids and has had two kids. How on earth did he manage that. This is a passion film at the highest order and is made with integriity The film is financed privately giving the Director and Producers creative control.  Relativity films is distributing the film. What an inspiring achievement. Let me know what  you think. Due to other comittments I am presenting my last weekend film school in Sydney in early December. Please book in if you want to find out how to produce your own short or feature film or documentary. It is an amazing two days. Also after six months of teaching the One Week Film Scool I will be passing it on to a New Teacher in 2012. So if you would like to attend the One Week Practical Film School in the Gold Coast, please enroll soon. We only take 10 bookings and we all ready have 7 bookings. so get in fast if you want the full practical film school where we shoot and edit a film in one week using all the professional techniques needed to produce a film. Till next week have a great one.   Colm O'Murchu Director International Film Base

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
  camera black red background banner

Five reasons to enroll on a high quality Film Courses.

June 30, 2011 by · Comments Off on Five reasons to enroll on a high quality Film Courses. 

Here are five reasons to enroll on a high quality Film Courses.

1 You learn how to make films professionally. Many people try to do it all on their own and they end up making the same amateur mistakes. These mistakes tend to make their film efforts look amateur. I see it time and time again. Film Makers who make film after film and wonder why they are never getting into A List film festivals or getting a great reaction from their audience. Without the correct instruction, this film maker can end up permanently grounded. The main problem areas are
  • Sound
  • Poor Acting
  • Shot narrative
  • Post Production
2  The second reason to enroll on a Film Course is the networking. You meet like minded people and
Filming on set

Filming on set

this will accelerate your progress dramatically. There is nothing like meeting people with a similar passion. Many people on our courses end up collaborating on film projects after the course. One person ends up as the producer while the other is the Director and another person ends up writing the film. These people create a core film production entity. There is so much power in these combinations. I remember when I was in Film School years ago, three of us got together and in record time we had a $25,000 budget and  a 20 minute short film produced. Back then,  it was hard to raise the budgets needed to make films. You had to shoot on Super 16 mm film stock and edit on steenbacks using film print. You had to hire a negative matcher who cut your negative using your edit decisions from your work print. All in all it was an expensive process back in 1992. Somehow within six months we had made a film with a very big cast. There was a Grip and Gaffer Crew and as a young film maker, I thought all my Christmases had come at once. We had Cranes and Tracks and basically all the frills of a big budget film shoot. and this was all as a result of two other people I met on a Film Course. Today,  the Camera Lights and Sound and Grips Equipment has come very inexpensive.  Today everything has changed. 3  Knowlege of what Film Equipment you need. This is the third reason you need to attend a Film Course. You need to know what equipment to use. You need to know what the best lowest priced equipment you need for your film shoots after the Film Course ends. This part saves you thousands of dollars. You need to know what the best Camera is to use on your shoot. You need to know the best sound equipment to obtain. You need to know the best lighting combinations.  There is a lot to learn but it can be learned very quickly on a high quality film course. When you attend a course like ours, you learn all about the best equipment to use and whether you should buy or rent after the Film Course. 4 Training This is one of the most important reasons to attend a film course. You learn how to make a film using our FIlm Equipment. You learn how to
  • operate a Film Camera
  • create a Shot list
  • how to direct actors
  • how to get the best location sound
  • how to light a set effectively.
  • and much more
On a really good film course like ours, you learn how to make a film by actually shooting a real film. You get to do all the crew roles and get some experience in all the areas. This ultimately makes you a better producer or director or writer. 5 The Accelerator. A really good film school accelerates your film career dramatically. You learn how to make a film ten times faster meaning that over a six month period  you gain years on the competition and put yourself years ahead of the people who are trying to do it all on their own. 6 Great Times I always remember my Film School years fondly. When you were learning how to make films, you are finally living with your passion and moving towards your dreams. Many times we hear from our film students about how profoundly their year has changed. They tell me how many times their lives are transformed by doing something worthwhile and how it is wonderful to live life actively involved in their passion. 7 Mentorship. When you get involved with professional film makers, many times they will help you and act as a mentor. If you are a talented emerging film maker, your talent will shine and the organizers of the film course will take notice and want to help you. 8 The In Club and Work When you have successfully completed our film courses, you will be invited to join our In Film Club. Here you will hear of job opportunities and film projects. Here you will also hear of DOPs and other crew and actors that you will need to make your film happen. So for these 8 reasons, it is a really a great idea to enroll on our top quality Film Course Once again check the list of Film Courses we have at Australian  Film Base at the moment. Till next week have a great one Colm O'Murchu Director International Film Base