Many people who enrol on our film courses are very camera centric and focused on beautiful images. I know that this is an issue, because I once suffered from this ailment. Before film making, I used to make a living from photography and one of the motivations for moving into film was to make beautiful images that drew attention to themselves.
Beautiful images and cinematography is wonderful icing and adds production value to any film production. There are many sites dedicated to camera imagery as it is very popular niche. However if one focuses most of their energy on this area as a film maker, you will be falling behind the competition. For this reason, I want to focus on the three most critical areas of any film production.
Critical Area One: Story/Screenplay:
The story is the core of any film. It is what the audience engages with at the heart of the film. Many producers make terrible mistakes with the choice of the story and the development of the screenplay and end up with a film dud.
This is why screenplay classes are so important. The more one can learn about story and screenplay, the better it is for your future film. I was at a screenplay seminar in Los Angeles last year and there were many Hollywood screenwriters presenting at the seminar.
Most of them were asked how many screenplays they wrote before their first screenplay was produced into a hit film. In most cases, it was between ten and twelve screenplays. Of course they may have had many screenplays developed and produced into a film before this point However for their first hit film, it took over ten screenplays or more.
It takes time to learn the craft of storytelling. However, it is paramount for Directors, Actors and Producers to learn how to read and recognise a great screenplay. If you want to be a screenwriter it is very important to love the craft and write as many screenplays as possible.
What can you do right now to learn more about the art of screenplay and what constitutes a great story?
- Read original screenplays from experienced screenwriters. How do you do this? Go to a site like Script O Rama * where they have thousands of original screenplays. (Warning: they do have aggressive adds on their site. We have no affiliation with them)
- If you are writing screenplays, make sure you use a professional formatting software like Celtx or Final Draft.
- Read Robert Mckee’s famous book called “Story” will definitely help give you understand and recognise a great story.
- Also enrolling in our Four Month Film School will also show you many of the overall skills of film making.
Critical Area Two – Casting.
However if you do have a great screenplay, even without anyone reading it, the screenplay seems to act like a magnet. Tarantino wrote “Reservoir Dogs’ when he was breaking through. All the best actors like magic seemed to gravitate to the film. So it may be true to say that the best available cast and crew will gravitate to a film that has at its core a great screenplay and story.
Once you have raised the money for your film or even before finalising finance, the critical areas of casting is exceptionally important. On the current 4 Month Film School production, shooting this week, the script is exceptionally good.
When we set up the casting the applications for auditions came in at a record breaking 140. Out of the 140 we selected 45 people to attend the casting. On the casting night, the crew selected high caliber actors that have lifted the film to a higher quality production. The Film is called “Deceit”
If you have high caliber actors , this will lift the story/ screenplay into another level. Before many people have attended our 4 Month Film School, they have cast their friends, relatives , good looking people they have met. This generally produces dire results with a great screenplay reduced to mush.
What can you do to learn the art of casting. Attend a film course such as our Four Month Film School that teaches you the exceptionally important skill called casting.
Critical Area Number Three- Post Production.
This is another area where the inexperienced fall. Post Production is never as glamorous as the film shoot. The shoot lasts six – eight weeks on a feature film or a few days on a short film and Yes!- it is fun to be on a film set. Yes! – it is fun to be with your crew and cast, shooting your film day after day.
Then suddenly the shoot completes and it is time for post production. Many inexperienced people feel that the hard part is over and now a little bit of editing will see the film complete and most likely a hit.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I prefer to accept that the really hard work starts at Post Production. Many films will spend three times as long in post production than on set shooting.
- The Picture Edit
- Visual Effects – CGI
- Sound Editing
- ADR ( Automatic Dialogue Replacement)
- Atomos tracks
- Music score.
- Sound Mixing
Post production is where the film is made. Shooting is gathering the building blocks of the film.Many people say that Post Production is writing the final draft of the script and I have to agree with them. One has to be perfectionist when it comes to post production.
On the Four Month Film School, we show you the whole process by actually making a film and spending several sessions on Post Production.
The above Three Critical Areas are exceptionally important and are at the core of any film. I have seen many films that are beautifully shot with amazing locations and sometimes they even have a great script. However they have terrible wooden acting and awful post production with poor sound. The end result – a terrible film.
Every successful film is a mixture of the three critical areas. However your film will of course benefit form awesome
- Cinematography at the highest level.
- Spectacular Locations
- Beautiful production design
- Hard working crew working as a team
- And of course lets not forget the leader and the vision of a film production – The Director.
The other areas are important but the film will not be any good unless the three cornerstone critical areas of a film production are not at the highest possible level for your budget