Monday, May 2, 2011

How to Make a Movie: An Overview

Besides writing novels and screenplays (my three indie films have gone to 29 films festivals and won 13 awards), I also teach a couple of classes on Basic Movie-Making.

Much of what I do is in lecture format. However, I do give out a few handouts at the start of the semester.

Recently, I've been catching up with author Karen McQuestion, an extremely kind indie author who has been putting her self-publishing lecture notes up on her blog.

I thought this was VERY cool of her, so I've decided to put a few of my handouts up here.

This is the handout I give out on the first day. If you have questions (or comments) feel free to post them in the comments section, and I'll do my best to answer:

A List of Useful Web Sites and Books

Due to the fact that we’ll be cramming about three year’s worth of movie-making information into one short semester, here are a few places you can go to learn more about the art and science of putting images on film (or tape).

Free Music for Movies:

Both of these sites have free music for use in your films. In the event that you put music in your movies, you are much, much better off getting music that doesn’t have any cost or rights attached to it, especially if you plan on showing the movies at film festivals or trying to sell them.

Free Screenplays:

Much like all other forms of writing, the more screenplays you read, the more you’ll understand the format and how to explain action and write good dialogue.

Free Screenwriting Software: - Works with MS Word

Though there’s nothing wrong with making up your own screenplay format when you’re working on a small scale, the standard screenplay format has been the same for almost 100 years. It’s easy to understand, easy to use, and these programs make it very easy to write in this format.


Rebel Without a Crew – Robert Rodriguez

Rodriguez underwent a month of medical testing to make a $7000 film, which he sold to Columbia Pictures, launching his career. The book also contains his “10 Minute Film School,” which claims to tell you everything you need to know about making movies.

The Unkindest Cut – Joe Queenan

The flip side of Rodriguez’s book. Joe tries to make a film for $7000, ends up spending a LOT more than that, and eventually has to make up his own film festival in order to get it shown anywhere.

Girl Director – Andrea Richards

Though the book is written for teenage girls, pretty much everything in it applies to any young filmmaker.

On Directing Film – David Mamet

Essentially a series of questions and answers about directing written on paper, Mamet talks a classroom through how to direct a scene, one shot at a time.

$30 Film School – Michael W. Dean

Michael W. Dean is a little too obsessed with his Do-It-Yourself ideas, but he still lays out some very basic practical information about making movies.

Fast, Cheap, and Written That Way – John Gaspard

While the book is aimed at writers, it’s well worth a read to learn how people turned very small amounts of money into films that were eventually released.

How Not to Make a Short Film – Roberta Marie Munroe

Favorite chapter title: How to Avoid Kicking Your Producer in the Throat. Details the pitfalls of the short film, from boring stories to bad sound.

No comments:

Post a Comment