Topic: First time director

So it looks like I've secured funding to film a trailer for Kickstarter for my screenplay, Hunger (found footage zombie horror).  After I finish having my heart attack, I realize I'm going to have to actually make this thing, so I have a number of questions for those of you who've gone through this process.  Really, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I guess the thing I'm most nervous about is directing.  I have a vision for the movie in my head of course, but I know nothing about cameras or lenses.  Am I in completely over my head?  I figure I did a lot of the directing in the script because it is found footage.  I had to keep track of where the camera is and what it sees throughout.

Kickstarter.  Any advice for having a successful campaign?  I think I've heard all the standard advice, have a cool trailer, publicity beforehand, etc.  What are the dirty tricks?

Finally, someone please just tell me it's all going to be okay.

Re: First time director

Kickstarter and Indie GoGo are very difficult arenas to raise money. I honestly think there is a "who you know" thing going on. The trick is to get your project on the main page of the site. Well how do you do that? Who you know. I've been involved in several crowdsourcing campaigns and have never reached goal. And I do films that have legs, have a reputation and get distribution, and we still can't raise $10K. So I wouldn't rely on crowdsourcing. Unless you know someone that can get you on the main page!

As to directing, I work very closely with the director as the DP on films. I've got two main areas of advise to you.

1... be extremely organized. The whole production is waiting on you. If you don't know what you are doing, nobody will.  You are driving the bus. Organization is key. Don't waste time.

2... know what you want. Indecision will effect cast and crew. Be open to suggestions, but in the end know what you want.
Good luck!

Last edited by getken (2013-07-22 12:24:41)

Re: First time director

Getken, that's disheartening about crowd funding, but I might have the inside track there. A friend of mine is close friends with the kickstarter folks. He said he'd put me in touch with them in the hopes of getting a spotlight. I didn't realize just how important it would be. But like you said, it's who you know, and I'm glad I know somebody.

Out of curiosity, did you do any publicity for your campaigns before and during?

And thanks for your directing advice. I plan on being both super organized and decisive, plan being the keyword. I guess my biggest fear is making rookie mistakes and losing the confidence of the cast and crew.

Re: First time director

Alright, new question:  What are the best indie zombie horrors I should see before filming my movie?  I'm pretty sure I've got all the mainstream ones covered.

Re: First time director

Dead Outside one of my all time favorite. English one.

As for campaining, don't forget that there's also Twitter and Facebook. The more you'll Tweet or share your Facebook and your Kickstarter page the more peeps will put money. I know nothing about it all but seems logic.

Re: First time director

Sheesh Punk... wish it was that easy. I had my films all over Facebook as did all our cast and crew etc. Those that know us well contributed but it stopped there. It's very difficult to get strangers to donate... and as we know here, spamming sites fishing for backers on most sites are frowned upon unless you are a contributor to the site, and even then the contributions are minimal. The director I work with uses special screenings of his past films as one way to raise capital. But it is very hard to raise the kind of money a serious production needs.

Re: First time director

Yeah, I kinda knew but it's still those that know you. Better than nothing.
I know it's hard. You need very good ways that I'm foreign to...

Re: First time director

MikeSouder wrote:

I have a vision for the movie in my head of course, but I know nothing about cameras or lenses.  Am I in completely over my head?  I figure I did a lot of the directing in the script because it is found footage.  I had to keep track of where the camera is and what it sees throughout.

Hi, Mike. I'm currently working on my first film as a producer, after ten years working as an editor. I'll share with you what I've learnt so far.

The trick with

Re: First time director

Wow, do I have some updates.

First, for some reason, it stopped emailing me when people make new posts here.  What did I do to turn it off and how do I turn it back on?

Second, getken did you only use facebook for advertising, or did you try to get press releases out to the indie, horror, and indie-horror sites?  I was thinking of hiring a publicist to get the word out well in advance of the campaign.  I might have a lot of friends and family on facebook, but not near enough to pony up the amount I need ($50k).

Third, I hope that was an accidental cut off coltrane and not a cruel, cruel joke.  I need all the tricks I can get!

Re: First time director

MikeSouder wrote:

Third, I hope that was an accidental cut off coltrane and not a cruel, cruel joke.  I need all the tricks I can get!

I have no advice whatsoever, but had to say your line there made me laugh.  Guess it is kinda funny that the post got cut off that way, like there was some great advice about to be given.  I was actually thinking it was you, with two different accounts just to drum up some attention to this Thread.  No offense, we've seen that type of thing before.

Anyway, good luck.  smile

Re: First time director

Not me, though I did get an email about your post, so I guess I'm subscribed again.  Things are looking up.

Re: First time director

MikeSouder wrote:

did you try to get press releases out to the indie, horror, and indie-horror sites?  I was thinking of hiring a publicist to get the word out well in advance of the campaign.  I might have a lot of friends and family on facebook, but not near enough to pony up the amount I need ($50k).

$50K is asking a lot. We're currently running a campaign and are hoping to get $8K. The film will cost about $20K in the end and we'll find other ways to fill in the gaps. The director is pretty well established in the horror genre and gets pretty good press on a lot of the sites. So yes, we have had exposure beyond the FB/Twitter realm but still find raising the funds difficult. You would think having a good track record, films that actually make it into distribution, a somewhat established fanbase and mostly, entertaining and well done very low budget films, that there would be a little more action on the donations board. But hey, tough times. We do what we can do.

Right now we have a campaign running that I posted about here...
http://www.horror-movies.ca/Forum/viewt … p?id=31690

Check it out. What would you do differently to attract attention?

Re: First time director

Good idea for a flick, getken.  It's not much, but I sent you ten bucks.

My current plan for attracting attention is first to hire a publicist to work on the campaign before we shoot the trailer.  My hope is to bring folks from prominent blogs and sites on set (if they live in the Bay Area).  They'll hopefully get super excited about the project and write a million articles about the movie.  To find a publicist, I actually emailed a guy who worked on Blair Witch and Paranormal activity.  He's interested in helping, we just have to figure out how to make it work.

The other difference from your campaign is that we are planning to film a full trailer for the movie instead of going with a teaser.  It seems like these are more successful on Kickstarter, but, of course, they cost more money up front.

One question for you, why'd you choose Indiegogo over Kickstarter?  Just that you get all money donated versus having to hit the goal?  Or is the crowd over at Indiegogo more generous?

Re: First time director

You could actually shoot the trailer first and use it as a calling card to secure funds for the film you'll be expanding it to.  That's how Jaimie Banks got started, along with many others.

Re: First time director

I'm assuming the director chose Indie GoGo for the flexibility of being able to collect the funds donated whether you reach the goal or not. If you do not reach the goal they take a higher percentage. But he makes the decision regarding that. I think he's used both Kickstarter and Indie GoGo in the past. I think EXHUMED raised funding via Kickstarter.

And thank you very much for the contribution. As you know, every little bit helps. It will be a cool film. It has a good script and the cast is very good. Locations are coming together nicely.

Loudlon... I believe in the past the director has used a trailer for fundraising, but I also understand the hesitation to do that, as it really won't be much like the actual film where so much time is spent on each scene. Throwing together a quick trailer I think if not up to the standard of what the film will be can hurt the outcome. I may be wrong.

In the end it just really sucks to be begging for money to make our art. But that has been the way of the artist from day 1 I suppose!

Re: First time director

MikeSouder wrote:

I guess the thing I'm most nervous about is directing.  I... know nothing about cameras or lenses.  Am I in completely over my head? 

Finally, someone please just tell me it's all going to be okay.

I assume you're NOT going to be working with a cinematographer (unless I missed it in skimming the replies above) in which case, a little bit of basic research will reap big dividends.  This can all be found conveniently online. 

You do need to know at least about the camera you'll be using.  Since it will probably be of variable focal length (i.e., "zoom") you won't need to know that much about lenses.  You should, however, become acquainted with the rudiments of composition - and IN PARTICULAR, how shots do and DO NOT cut together in editing.

And now for something that may surprise you:  First-time filmmakers tend to obsess about picture.  Well, I'm here to tell you: Fully HALF your movie is about SOUND.  An audience will grant some leeway to a low budget production that has iffy visuals, but if the sound is bad, YOU'VE LOST YOUR AUDIENCE.  Use a good mic and pay as much attention to sound as you do to picture.

That's the biggest advice I'll give you as a first-timer.

As for telling you it will be okay...

...it will be okay.  Why?  Because even if the final product sucks, even if nobody ends up watching, even if you feel you have failed...

...you haven't.

Just by making a movie, any movie, you are already light-years ahead of all those who talk about it but never do it.

You will have accomplished something.

You will have learned something.

Good luck,

Todd

Re: First time director

Todd, we are trying to get a good DP who is willing to work with a newbie.  My plan is to surround myself with people who know what they are doing and hoping they can wade through my ignorance to get my vision made.

I totally agree with you about sound.  For me, bad, amateurish sound is a deal breaker.  It is immediately obvious that someone didn't know what they were doing and it biases me against the entire film, now matter how beautiful.  It is something I am keeping well in mind, especially because this film is found footage.  Do I mic everyone up so you can hear everyone well, or would it seem more real to have crappy sound as though it was all recorded on the handheld?  I've watched a lot of found footage flicks and in the director commentary they always say "We had to buy a crappy camera so the footage would look... crappier, more real."  I don't think any of them monkeyed around with the sound.  Given how it instantly makes me hate a film, I probably won't either.

Also, thanks for the words of encouragement.

Now for some crazy updates.  I was trying to hire a lawyer to form an LLC and get the production started when I get a buy offer in an email from a Canadian producer.  I'd actually done a rewrite of the script for this guy (he wanted more expensive... first time I've heard that from a producer) and didn't hear anything for months.  When I'm literally two emails away from starting this on my own, he wants to buy it.  Well long story short, our deal fell through because he won't have time to work on it for at least a year and I'm tired of waiting.  So if this all blows up in my face, maybe he'll still buy it.

Then a day after I got the Canadian producers email, one of the lawyers I was trying to hire says he knows people who might want to fund something like this.  He read the script and liked it, but didn't mention if his investors would.  Still waiting to hear back, but I'm going to assume that is a no-go also.

Re: First time director

^^
Stuff happens in odd ways...

Re: First time director

Well, it's going to happen.  I've officially formed a production company and hired a PR firm to help spread the word.

My plan is to film the trailer in early Oct. so we can launch the Kickstarter campaign on Halloween.  Now I just need some cast and crew...

Oh and I should probably give an update from my last post.  Hollywood lawyer contacts fell through also because I wasn't able to hire him to work the trailer.  There is still a small chance his contacts will kick in a ton of money if the Kickstarter campaign goes well, but at that point I might not need it enough to justify the cost of control of the project.

Last edited by MikeSouder (2013-09-11 19:12:05)

Re: First time director

Well, that's great news. But yeah weird stuff happened but you kept going, BRAVO!!! smile

Re: First time director

MikeSouder wrote:

So it looks like I've secured funding to film a trailer for Kickstarter for my screenplay, Hunger (found footage zombie horror).  After I finish having my heart attack, I realize I'm going to have to actually make this thing, so I have a number of questions for those of you who've gone through this process.  Really, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I guess the thing I'm most nervous about is directing.  I have a vision for the movie in my head of course, but I know nothing about cameras or lenses.  Am I in completely over my head?  I figure I did a lot of the directing in the script because it is found footage.  I had to keep track of where the camera is and what it sees throughout.

Kickstarter.  Any advice for having a successful campaign?  I think I've heard all the standard advice, have a cool trailer, publicity beforehand, etc.  What are the dirty tricks?

Finally, someone please just tell me it's all going to be okay.

Get your as out there and start filming.


No really, take a breath and relax. Plan your shots. Make sure you are working with people who have discipline and know that you're in charge. Have a shot list of what you want to see. If you don't like the way your last shot looks, shoot it again. Be good to your actors/crew, but don't take any shit from them. It's your film.

Make sure you have a good editor and make sure they understand that if you say to change something, they change it, it's your vision.

If you have any questions, I'll be sitting in the corner mumbling to myself. Seriously though, pm me and I'll be happy to help. I have written/produced/directed 2 features and a short film. I'll be writing another script this winter.

Re: First time director

Ace is right! You just have to commit and go for it. Put the best crew together you can afford/find and work with your actors so thet they know what you want and are completely prepared when it's time to roll the camera.

Like Ace, I'm happy to help in any way I can. I have experience filming three features and many shorts. And I make my living doing this stuff (not movies but docs, tv shows, commercials etc). We're here for you.

Re: First time director

Thanks guys, I really appreciate the support.

Things are moving pretty quickly over here movie wise.  Over 200 people applied for the 3 roles we have in the trailer.  I have to narrow them down this week to have auditions on Sat.  We just got a quote from a makeup artist that is only 30% of our entire budget.  And the DP is booked solid for every weekend in Oct, so we either have to move the shoot to mid-week or push off into November. 

I'm no longer mystified by the work producers do... it's dealing with crap like this all the time, it never ends, and it's no fun.

But anyway, just got this website a couple of days ago.  www.hunger-movie.com  A friend of mine is putting together a logo for the movie that should be done sometime next week.

Re: First time director

It's actually happening.  Oct. 14th we shoot!

This is after my producer got another job and took a more advisory role.  That's right, I'm now writer/director/producer.  But I've hired everybody and we are all set.

The one big thing left to do is web design.  Can anyone here point me to someone who would want to design something pretty simple on the extreme cheap?

Last edited by MikeSouder (2013-10-03 22:05:37)

Re: First time director

^^^
I can do this.
And extremely cheaper than free I don't think you can find. lol

Just tell me what you want and PM or post the images and you'll be on your way. smile

Last edited by kXnPunk (2013-10-03 22:14:18)