Editor's note: this film eventually became the Netflix feature AMATEUR. For more on the journey of getting it made, see our complete podcast series The First Feature.
My screenplay for Man-child (the project I'm currently trying to get funded with your help!) is one of twenty scripts that will be participating in IFP's Emerging Narrative program a month from now. Put simply, Emerging Narrative is a program for screenwriters looking for a producer -- a situation that many screenwriters and writer/directors find themselves in. Whether you're participating in a program like Emerging Narrative or not, one way of helping producers better understand your project is to bring additional materials to the table besides your script. These materials might include a sample of a previous work you directed, another writing sample, test footage, a spec trailer, or a lookbook. A lookbook is a collection of stills culled from a variety of sources (not necessarily images you shot yourself) that convey what you want your movie to look like. Instead of using still images as is typical, however, I decided to make a multimedia lookbook: a collage of film and TV clips that demonstrate the aesthetic of Man-child (sometimes also referred to as a mood reel, rip-o-matic, or sizzle reel).  I cut together clips from over a dozen films, and paired the visuals with a voiceover about some of the more technical aspects of Man-child -- including what camera I'd like to shoot the film on, and a particular kind of camera stabilizer I'm planning on utilizing:

I've since heard from a few producers that this clip helped them get a better idea of the aesthetic I'll be going for -- if the Kickstarter campaign is successful, that is -- so feel free to adapt this multimedia approach for your own projects...

Given many of No Film School's readers are shooters themselves, I've been asked a lot about what camera I'm planning on shooting Man-child with. First of all, I'm not entirely sure: we're several months to a year away from shooting, so who knows what new cameras will come out in that time? However, as I mention in the lookbook, there are a number of slow-motion sequences in the script. This is a first for me: I've never called for slow-motion in a script before, but it's organically appropriate to the project in this case. It's hard to beat a RED for slow-motion prowess, and so by default that makes it a top choice for this project. Additionally, because there is a lot of handheld camerawork, including in action scenes, the less we have to worry about rolling shutter, the better. Every CMOS sensor suffers from rolling shutter to a certain extent, but the RED's sensor readout is far faster than any DSLR I know of.

This is not to say that we won't employ HDSLRs in some ways -- certainly for the behind-the-scenes videos, and possibly as B-cameras as well. And who knows what new DSLRS will come out in the next several months? Ultimately you best tool you can afford (to rent, in the case of a RED).

Conan-and-nexus1-468x600As for the MK-V Camera Stabilizer, I discovered it at NAB this past year. It was my first time at the tradeshow, and I found myself conflicted between covering it as a blogger and covering it as a filmmaker. The MK-V was one discovery that made the trip worth it as a filmmaker, because it was so appropriate to my particular project and I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. Oh, and the MK-V pictured at left isn't the right model, but I thought it was pretty funny -- Conan walking around with a steadicam on screen would further ruin any chance of suspending disbelief in the box office disappointment.

Of course, all of these things are dependent on the budget -- it may be we end up running around with several DSLRs and a Steadicam Merlin. But I'm hoping for a RED and a MK-V!

If you recognize some of the clips above but couldn't quite place them, here is a list of films incorporated into the lookbook:

  • Ballast
  • Black Swan
  • Blue Chips
  • Boy A
  • Chop Shop
  • The Class (Entre Les Murs)
  • Fish Tank
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Half Nelson
  • He Got Game
  • Hoop Dreams
  • MK-V Camera Stabilizer demo
  • Raising Victor Vargas
  • Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault
  • Soul in the Hole
  • Sugar
  • The West Side
  • The White Shadow
  • The Wire

All copyrights are property of their respective owners; I'm not selling these clips or even using the sound, so I hope this video doesn't run afoul of anyone.

I've also added this video to the main Kickstarter page, as I think it gives a few more details about the project that I couldn't include in the pitch video itself. In general, when making a Kickstarter video, you want to keep it as short as possible. You want to make sure everyone makes it through the video, at the expense of leaving out details; if someone gets bored while watching it, they're going to click away and you've lost a potential backer. Plus, if you leave viewers wanting more, you can further describe the project with a few paragraphs on the page.

Do you think this multimedia lookbook was effective? What other materials would you think about bringing with you to a producer's meeting? Finally, have you thought about backing my Kickstarter project yet? We're reaching the slower middle timeframe of the campaign, so any help at this point is greatly appreciated!

[Basketball photo by The Tattered Coat]
[Music by Clams Casino]