Words to live by

Stu Maschwitz of the ProLost blog recently posted a list of things to bear in mind when making a movie: [Link]

  • It’s better for a film to have good audio than shallow depth of field.
  • It’s better to have control over your camera than to shoot in HD.
  • It’s better to have good lighting than raw 4K.
  • It’s better to put time into color correction than visual effects.
  • It’s not HD if it’s not in focus.
  • There’s no such thing as a rough cut with no sound.
  • Your story is told using the images you create, not the ones you intended to create.
  • You’re not done editing until you’ve watched your film with an audience of people who don’t care about your feelings.
  • Your film is still too long.
  • Your next film will be better. How’s it coming?

I couldn’t agree more, especially with the last two. Here are a couple I’d add:

  • Story is more important than production value.
  • Handheld camera is sometimes OK.
  • Shooting coverage makes you lazy—avoid it when you can.
  • If you don’t understand it, don’t shoot it.
  • A good idea doesn’t necessarily make a good film.
  • If you don’t love your movie, nobody else will.

Thus have I spoken.

17 thoughts on “Words to live by

  1. I suppose you’re right. And as long as we’re speaking about this:

    Didn’t you say over the summer that you shot coverage. and that I shot coverage, and that shooting coverage wasn’t all that bad? Because you’re not allowed to change your mind on anything, Andrew.

  2. Vvinni, shooting coverage is something you do and it’s something I do. It’s perfectly natural and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s not something to be particularly proud of. Like pooping. Or watching Titanic.

    You shoot coverage when you don’t have time to do something better. When you say, “OK, we’ll get a master two-shot and then two close shots and an establishing wide,” essentially what you’re saying is, “OK, I don’t know how to do anything unique or interesting with this scene.” That’s not necessarily a problem in a case-by-case basis, but you can see how relying on coverage too often could be a dangerous precedent to set.

  3. It’s always funnier when it happens to a cat.

    And, I vaguely see what you’re saying. I see what you’re saying when it applies to a regular person who decides to not do anything too interesting with the two shot or master wide or what-not.

  4. It doesn’t matter how interesting you make your coverage. It doesn’t matter if you shoot it upside-down on a 20-foot jib. When you shoot coverage “for safety” you give yourself too many editing options and it’s a cop-out from trying to make a more well-considered, dynamic vision of the scene work, and because you’re pulling so many takes, you’re wasting time and money and the performances will suffer, and so will continuity.

    Better option: boards and/or a shooting script, and stick to your production plan. If a shot doesn’t work, take it again and do it until it does work, rather than giving up and shooting inserts or a master wide to cover up your mistakes.

  5. You know what’s awesome? Theatre people don’t have to deal with any of that crap.

    Haha! Suckers!

    P.S. My major is better than yours (and theatre) because I got credit for climbing and kayaking.


  6. I suppose this is something that’s learned when shooting on film, and since I’ve only done video and digital (which is much cheaper) I’ll never know until I do. So, until I soot on film I’m going to be lazy.

    And Greg: I could probably get credit for those things but I want to put my tuition dollars to better use. And Theatre people have to worry about getting not just one scene right, but the whole thing. And if you don’t get it right, chances are you’re screwed for the rest of your run and no one will like you.

  7. What you will learn very quickly, Vvinni, is that just because tape is cheap, that doesn’t mean shooting video is cheap. Whether you’re shooting film or video, time is what costs the big bucks, and calling too many takes is a MAJOR waste of time and, therefore, money.

    Hate to break it to you, but filmmaking is expensive, no matter how you do it, and laziness makes it more expensive, no matter how much you cut corners on picture quality.

  8. Vvinni: But would that credit go directly towards your major? No? Didn’t think so!

    … Really, I’m just trying to insert myself into the conversation. I don’t really have a point to make about any major being superior…

    I’m lonely.

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