Visitor number

Friday, April 29, 2011


Don't forget to watch the completed MM posted in following blog:

After having discussed about the budget let’s get to the crucial part of a movie, the script.
Writing the script for the MM has been very interesting part of making the MM. Before I discuss the details of writing a script for a movie I want to highlight the reason for selecting and writing the AEPA script.
Script is the soul of a movie without which no matter how grandeur the movie looks the movie wouldn’t appease the audience.  I started writing small stories which eventually lead me to write movie scripts. I have written some stories(specs) which I feel can be made as a commercial movie but the problem is I couldn’t get these scripts to the people who could take this forward. I tried taking my scripts to a few film makers but even before I could narrate the story I was asked about my experience in movie making or was asked to come back again only because the person I wanted to meet was busy or not in. This hunt for someone who could read my script and give me their feedback or select/reject went on. Finally I couldn’t pursue this hunt  because I was so busy with my work(software) that I couldn’t knock every producer/directors door to read my script and I couldn’t take it anymore(the waiting and being sent back). The funniest and frustrating part is that not even a single film maker bothered to read my scripts only because I don’t have any experience in filmmaking.(Anyone out there who has tried to get their script into a movie will very much understand what I am writing here)
Being in such a situation and not wanting to give up I thought of converting the script to movie by myself but the script I had written needed a seasoned director/producer/financier/cinematographer to execute it and I knew that I will not be able to do it. But I didn’t want to stop, so I thought of writing a story which I can make into a movie. I wanted to learn from something which has already been done so of all choices I had the AEPA was the right one for me. This is how it all started for me.
A script is written by following kinds of people:
  1. A well known writer (or a professional) writes the script for a production house based on the business need or for many other reasons.
  2. A novel/real life event converted into a screenplay by a production house (a professional writer is hired).
  3. An enthusiastic writer who feels that he/she has the inclination for writing (most of the script writer fall in this list. If possible watch the documentary “Dream of the spec”  which shows the desire of writers to convert their script into a movie and the effort they have to go through).
  4. An independent film maker who knows his budget and limitations and writes a scripts which suits his needs (here is where I am now).

    An indie film maker or writer can decide from the above list where they can fit into. I realized that I fall in the fourth category and so started my journey to write the script for my experimental movie and the outcome is AEPA.
    Please note a movie maker need not have to write a script by himself we can always hire a writer or select a script which has already been written and is waiting to be converted into a movie.
    Now that I have spoken about why I selected this script let me give a little information on the software I used to write the script.
    For writing scripts initially people used the typewriter or write them manually which was a laborious process but wow we have the technology advanced to a stage where we can get this done easier and faster. (Technology is the major factor which motivated me to try this movie, right from camera, mic, softwares which are so handy these days anyone who is serious about making a movie can make it.).
    I used the software celtx to write the story/script/screenplay. Here is an introduction which I have taken from Celtx , An introduction.
    “Celtx is the world's first fully integrated software for Pre-Production and collaboration of film, theatre, radio, AV and comics. It has all the tools media creators need to bring their stories to life while combining intelligent writing and planning tools, storyboarding, and scheduling with internet-friendly technologies. Celtx is available as a free download from our website. This open source client software is augmented by Celtx Studios, a set of integrated web services delivered by the Celtx server. Together they make Celtx the most complete media pre-production software program.”
    Using Celtx you can create a storyboard, write a story/script, you can schedule your project and many more things. You will have to try it; it’s amazing software available for free in the internet.
    I will briefly discuss few points which I felt are very important for a script writer(Please NOTE I will be covering major points only which I feel are important and provide pointers to rest which are already available on the internet.)
    Before starting to write a script read scripts which have already been made into movies. You can find them in the internet and here are a few websites:
    Reading scripts which have already been made into a movie helps you to visualize the scenes given in the script, this is a very good place to start your interest in direction/writing. Here is a simple snapshot of how a script generally looks:

    Here are few points/terminologies you need to keep in mind while writing/reading a script (Please note that the rules given below though is followed by most of them might not necessarily be followed everywhere). For people who want to submit their script to production house they need to make sure that the script is submitted in the correct format, else the people in film industry will SIMPLY ignore it because they are so institutionalized that they don’t care about the content until it follows the standard.
    Please Note: some information given below is picked from Elliot Grove’s “Script Format and Style Guide”.
      This is very important as this gives details about the location, timing etc.
      For eg: whether the location is interior (INT.) or exterior (EXT.) etc.
      For eg: Shawshank Redemption, by Frank Darabont
      INT -- ANDY'S CELL -- NIGHT (1949)
      Andy lies in his bunk after lights out,

      This is placed below the scene heading and is always double spaced from the scene heading. The scene description gives the details about important things in the scene. Any Extras which needs should be noticed by the script reader is highlighted here.
      For eg: Shawshank Redemption, by Frank Darabont
      Brooks leads Andy into the bleakest back room of all. Rough plank shelves are lined with books. Brooks' private domain.

      Scene endings are given at far right tab with a colon. Fade out is used to end the act or the entire script.

    4. CUT TO:
      After a scene description use “CUT TO” to show the transition from one scene to another.

    5. FADE OUT:
      Used to end all scripts.
      For eg: Shawshank Redemption, by Frank Darabont
                      I'm known to locate certain things from time to time.
      Red shrugs off his jacket and picks up a sander. Together,they start sanding the hull as we
                                                                                                                                           FADE OUT

    6. Please don’t include camera direction in the script. If your script needs to describe something which is very specific to the angle of camera then give a visual description of the scene rather than camera placement.
      For eg: Shawshank Redemption, by Frank Darabont
      He opens the glove compartment, pulls out an object wrapped in a rag. He lays it in his lap and unwraps it carefully --
      -- revealing a .38 revolver. Oily, black, evil.
      He grabs a box of bullets. Spills them everywhere, all over the seats and floor. Clumsy. He picks bullets off his lap, loading them into the gun, one by one, methodical and grim.
      Six in the chamber. His gaze goes back to the bungalow.

    7. Don’t break scenes into shots and don’t number your scenes.
    8. If you are planning to submit your script to any production house then make sure that you have used an A4 white sheet with 3 holes to fix it to the file.
      When characters are first introduced in the script their names needs to be in capital and further description of the character is followed.
      When sound cues are used the first word in the cue needs to be capitalized so that the sound technician can be prepared for his/her action.
      Character cues discussed below are also capitalized.
      this is the name given to the character who speaks the line of dialogue that follows.
      VOICE OVER(V.O) and OFF SCREEN(O.S) are used with character cues to denote two different things:
      V.O:  is used when dialogue is put over screen when the actor is narrating, thinking etc.
      O.S : is used when the character is heard but not seen, for eg: when the character is in different room.
    11. Celtx formats the script into the desired industry format. For a sample reference to the format please refer to this sample script.
    Conclusion: The above points apparently do not cover everything about script writing; I have listed points which I feel are important to be known since they are often neglected.

    Finally Remember that script is never written, it is always rewritten so if you are worried that the script you write will look bad then stop worrying and start writing because it will definitely look bad. Only after you reread and rewrite the script, it will look good.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    More Mockumentaries and digital cinema in Indian Film industry:

    I am taking a little detour from the topics I am currently discussing, reason being I’m very excited to see that Indian cinema(Bollywood, Tollywood) are espousing to Digital and Mockumentary based Film making more keenly.
    LSD(Love Sex aur Dhoka) was the first Indian path-breaking Mockumentary(MM) directed by Dibakar Banerjee and has created a sensation in the film industry. This MM was shot digitally at a relatively less budget and was a profitable venture.

    Kudos to producer Ekta Kapoor for believing and venturing into such a project and to add on she has made another MM titled Ragini MMS . Ragini MMS uses the concept of cameras being fit at many places in a house and what happens next is the content of movie.
    Ram Gopal Varma the revolutionary filmmaker has made a Digital commercial Telugu film,Dhongala Mutha,  with a meager budget(6 Lakhs) and 5 crew members in 5 days . I would like to thank RGV for taking up this challenge and proving that it is possible to make a low budget movie if desired. His action is a motivation for independent film makers like us. You can find more details about this movie here.

    Looking at the growth in Digital film making and the growth of concepts like MM instills more confidence in independent film makers who are trying to challenge the conventions adopted in the movie making industry.
    Don’t be shocked if you see more such movies coming to theatres very soon.
     If someone out there still feels that a movie can’t be made by independent film makers then stop dreaming about being a film maker.
    Whereas if you believe that we can make a movie then join me in the wonderful journey ahead.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Budget Part 2

    Every film maker should first decide the purpose of making movie. Though movies are made for entertainment and profit the Indie film makers make movie for learning and kick starting their career as a film maker. An indie film maker expecting to make a blockbuster in the initial stage by spending huge amount of money will land in deep trouble (99% probability).
    I made this mockumentary for learning purpose only (you will get more clarity on this when you see the budget for my movie below). Since I wanted to learn different facets of movie making I selected the concept of mockumentary which doesn’t necessitate budget/time/expertise which a regular commercial movie requires.
    After understanding that starting from bottom is the right thing an independent film maker should do, let’s concentrate on the budget for making a low budget digital feature.
    Budgeting in film industry can become as complicated as it can get with respect to the magnitude of the movie being made. Here is a sample budget form for a regular commercial movie. Try going through all rows and comprehend it. If you finished going through the list and assimilating it in one glance then please accept my appreciation.

    If you felt that the contents were huge and scary then continue reading since I will make it simple for you.
    The budget for any movie can be divided into following parts:
    1. Above the line: Basically an imaginary line separates those who have influence in the creative direction of a film from others who perform duties related to the movie’s physical production. People like Producer, director, Actors, writers who are involved in the creative process of the movie are listed in the top portion of the budget list and an imaginary line is drawn under them, the money spent for these people is termed as above the line budget. For more info check this link
    2. Below the line: For People/equipments who are involved in executing the physical production of the film the money spent is termed as below the line budget. For eg: All Technicians, Equipments, Wardrobe, publicity, food and so on. Refer to following link for more information.
    3. Editing: The money spent after the production for editing/processing in lab is considered as editing cost.
    Different film industries use different format to list the budget and there is no hard and fast rule to follow. As long as the producer/financier/you have a clear idea about where his/her money is going there is no problem. Be very careful while planning your budget, trust me if you make any serious mistakes here you might end up not making your movie at all.

    Here is the breakdown for the money I spent on making the movie.
    1. Producer: 0 Rs(I paid myself nothing)
    2. Writer: 0 Rs (I paid myself nothing)
    3. Director: 0 Rs(I paid myself nothing)
    4. Actors: 10,000 Rs(Thanks to my Actors because this amount was very negligible when compared to their efforts)
      Above the Line -----------------------------------------------------
    5. Film stock: 0 (Benefit of going Digital)
    6. Camera: 30,000 Rs (Bought a HDR camera, more on this later)
    7. Cinematographer: 0 Rs (Definitely not required for this project so I was the one)
    8. Lens: 5000 Rs (Needed wide angle lens for the kind of shot)
    9. Lights/Grip: 2000 Rs(I purchased Halogen Lights)
    10. Dolly:0 Rs
    11. Sound Equipment:8000 Rs( I bought a condenser mic with sound editing software)
    12. Sound Technician: 0 Rs(I took care of the sound)
    13. Crew: 0 Rs(My Friends, Family members and I)
    14. Art: 0 Rs(No room for Art in this movie)
    15. Wardrobe: 4000 Rs(Actors go their costumes. I had buy/rent some which weren’t available with them)
    16. Expendables: 3000 Rs
    17. Extras: 3000 Rs
    18. Locations: 0 Rs (Everything was shot at my home)
    19. Office: 0 Rs(I used a extra room in my house as office)
    20. Food: 5000 Rs(Most of the time food cooked at home was consumed)
    21. Publicity: 0 Rs(This movie not intended for commercial release or for any profit)
    22. Festival: 0 Rs(Didn’t plan or thought of going here, I need to make a better movie to take it here.)
    23. Insurance: 0 Rs(didn’t need one)
    24. Film Lab: 0 Rs (I edited from my PC instead)
    25. Sound Edit:0 Rs (I edited from my PC instead)
    26. Video Edit: 0 Rs (I edited from my PC instead)
    27. Music/Score:0 Rs (I didn’t need any because of the subject chosen)
    28. Mix/Re-recording:0 Rs

      Total= 66,000 Rs( approx. 1500 dollars)
    This budget might not fit every indie film maker’s requirement; one might want to shoot at external location or one might need very good sound tracks or CGI etc which might increase the budget. But the idea here is to get the budget framework simplified and gain confidence to go ahead with what ever money you are ready to spend.
    As I am writing this blog, one of the revolutionary filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma has made a commercial Telugu film with a meager budget(6 Lakhs) Dongala Murtha . Kudos to RGV.

    You can find more tips in following links which I found in my IR.
    Tips for indie film makers : 10 Tips