Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Making of a Tromadance Winner, by Frankie Frain Part IV

That's right folks, the time is finally here. You've been waiting almost a month to tie it all together and this is your chance. It's the last and final part of the Frankie Frain article, "The Making of a Tromadance Winner". Now, I want to make sure that you're all up to date on this, so if you missed parts I, II or III, here's links: part 1, part 2, part 3. And if you're too lazy to click on all that, don't worry. I'll post a link to the article in its entirety at some point over the next few days.

Anyhow, as this is the end of the article, I'd like to give a huge thanks to Frankie for writing it. Honestly, it's a great article with a lot of good advice... especially if you're just starting out. Now, do him a favor and go buy "I Need To Lose Ten Pounds" and/or "A-Bo The Humonkey". Click on either of those links to go to their respected homepages.

So, now... for your reading pleasure, here we are, the last few paragraphs of the article. Right in the heart of his advice to all new, up-and-coming filmmakers...

For the guys out there – get a girlfriend.

Because then you won’t give a fuck about making your shitty little movie.

But seriously, every successful project I’ve been a part of (including my own, obviously) has had a really cool, down to Earth, sociable, hard working and sturdy as a rock girlfriend attached to the director and piece, playing every role she can. I wish I could put my finger on exactly what this does for a production, but obviously a project’s success is based on the help and charity of those who love you, and who better than someone like this? Plus, an all-guy party scares location owners and actresses and everyone, especially if your film contains nudity or sexual situations involving females.

So get a chick to at least be there.

Keep shooting days short.

I have good friends who shoot very long days for successive weeks, and they’ve had complete success. But if your script contains the kind of locations, effects, and shot for shot scope that mine stupidly have, it’s the quantity of locations that will dictate your shooting schedule. So I could have, for instance, a very difficult location that’s only featured onscreen for a minute or so – but regardless, that becomes an entire shooting day, unless you can somehow group locations together (i.e., the all-male bath house buffet is coincidentally a block away from the hermaphrodites-only YMCA that appears later in the film, and both feature the same characters). But because my total shooting time tends to be several months (most people can only commit to weekend shoots since, unless you’re a rich bastard with nothing but rich bastard friends, everyone has jobs or class), I don’t like to tax everyone with dreadfully long shooting days. And there’s another upside to this – you don’t have to spend money on that most wasteful and pointless of commodities even the poorest of filmmakers seem to insist on providing: fuckin’ food. Do full stomachs appear on screen? No. Do they make people happier and turn in better performances? Debatable, but even if true, we low-budget fucks could only afford 4-for-3 medium pizza deals anyway, and pizza makes everyone just wanna hang out or go home and take a crap.

Short days – they’re easier to schedule, get people to commit to, and book locations for. It shouldn’t be too tall an order to keep the day short. I mean, you are shooting on DV aren’t you?

Don’t get snobby about aesthetics.

That’s probably pretty obvious, but I just want to remind you that good actors and a good script are the most important parts of your films, and they can and should be 100% free. But obtaining good aesthetics (and I don’t mean good camera work or competent lighting, a good DP should be able to capture these elements for free as well) is the quickest way to spend unnecessary money. Buying complex lighting kits, unnecessarily large-res camera, or god forbid, shooting on fuckin’ film.

Save yourself money. Focus on what really matters.

Don’t get caught up in “professionalism.”

I think this sorta sums up a lot of what I’ve been saying – only concern yourself with what’s actually going to appear on screen. Too many young filmmakers are too concerned about their perception as professional filmmakers. You know what dude? Do whatever it takes to make the movie. Don’t bring unnecessary equipment to look badass (you scoff, but I’ve seen it), don’t have precious, private moments doing bullshit exercises with the cast while alienating your bearded and autistic crew (you scoff, but I’ve seen it), and for the love of Christ, leave the walkie-talkies at home – you all have cell phones. I’ve just seen too much emphasis put on what “looks right” or how the pros do it and it makes me nauseous.

But I’m probably preaching to the choir – I’m talking to people who make movies with titles like Control-Alt-Die and Terror Dactyl. The only thing stopping you from making your movie right now is a couple of phone calls to some friends saying you shoot on Saturday the 19th. You’ve probably heard this advice more than anything else – just make the movie. Don’t worry about if it’s going to suck – it’s your first movie, it probably will anyway. And who knows? Maybe you can fix the suckiness in post by cutting most of it out (that’s what I did). Just get it out of your system.

Be too stupid to know that it’s impossible.

- Frankie Frain

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