December 18, 2016 at 10:26PM


Horror Stories from your first film?

I've made a few short films and hopefully soon I'd like to dive in to making a low-budget feature. Just wanted to hear any good horror stories from making your own work and what you learned from it?

Essentially wants some advice on making a feature versus making a short.


I managed to dodge most bullets (except for weather and scheduling conflicts). My biggest horror story from my own horror film (and I mean film, not video) is rain during an outdoor shoot in near freezing temps (helped the mood but sucked for us) and a B-cam not running properly. I'll share the biggest issues I've seen with colleagues though:
1, Good equipment helps, but good personnel are what make good movies.
2, Don't try to do too much yourself. Get a good, reliable crew that knows their duties and have an extra utility person on-hand, even if it's just a PA. I've seen many cases where a free hand to grab a piece of equipment, hold a blanket or buy an adapter saved the day. I once saw a 2nd 2nd AD get thrown into a dress and makeup because somebody no-showed. I don't even like doing shorts with less than a four-man crew. I'd say the minimum for a feature is eight. Included in that is a dedicated editor to start the assembly while shooting continues.
3, Back up your video at the end of every day, no matter how long that day was. The only media I trust without having safety copies are film and analogue audio tape.
4, Never say "good enough". Work at it till it's "great".
5, Is like 4, don't rely on or expect post-fixes, get it right on the set.
6, Carry spare equipment and adapters. Something can and WILL fail.
7, Always have food, water and at least a couple of towels on-hand.
8, Don't rely on your viewfinder to judge exposure/color, it's for framing only. Even if it's well-calibrated, it's only calibrated for certain conditions. That's one reason why so many indie out-door shots look terrible.
9, Don't get tunnel vision. Some get so caught up in the look of the movie that they forget about the acting or the sound. I did audio for a movie where the director concentrated so hard on the star that a supporting actor kept getting further and further out of touch, ultimately ruining otherwise good takes.
10, Do everything you can to light optimally for the camera/lens. Opening the iris too much can reduce your resolution below standard def and gain destroys detail while adding ugly noise.
11, This is all too-often overlooked today, KEEP A CAMERA REPORT! Editing is so much faster and smoother when you keep track of what takes you want during the shoot.

December 19, 2016 at 6:11AM, Edited December 19, 6:15AM


Thanks! This all looks like pretty sound advice.

December 19, 2016 at 10:24AM

Ryan McCurdy
Commercial Video Producer/ Filmmaker

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