film production

Your Film Production Checklist

We hope this inspires you rather than scares you. 

In the following film production checklist, we broke the filmmaking process down into 65 steps.

We hope this will make your life a little easier.

Kickstart your film production. Here we go. . .

1. Before you get started, make sure you read and study everything you can about the filmmaking process. A good place to start is obviously the Filmmaking Stuff website.

2. A screenplay is the blueprint to your movie. Write or acquire a screenplay you want to produce. Make it something exciting!

3. Complete an initial script breakdown. From there, schedule and budget the project. How much does it cost?

Note: If you’re unsure how to break down and schedule a movie, Peter Marshall has an awesome Movie Script Breakdown course. Also, some invaluable production management software can be found at LightSpeed Eps.

4. Write a business plan that details how your movie will be made, marketed and sold – and how much this will cost you.

5. Talk with a lawyer and other producers to figure out your best money strategy. Will you utilize equity funding, crowdfunding and tax incentives to fund your movie? A little bit of everything?

6. Following laws and regulations, go after the money. This will require strategy, persistence, honesty and enthusiasm.

7. Finding, meeting and closing prospective investors on the merits of your movie will be one of the tougher parts of the process. Every “no” gets you closer to “yes.”

8. Most people will want to know how the money is going to be spent, what they can expect in return and how will you eventually get their money back. Filmmaking is a risky business, full of unknowns and you should ALWAYS disclose this.

9. Have a plan for the movie when it is complete. Will you take the festival route? Will you market it to colleges and universities? Will you send it directly to sales agents and acquisition pros?

Note: While it’s great to imagine that a movie distributor will hand you a million dollar check, this rarely happens. In fact, most movies end up in popular marketplaces like Amazon and iTunes, and others. You must plan for this.

10. After following these steps, you have been networking with prospective investors. The question is, were you able to get the money? If not, here are some (but not all) of your options.

A. Choose a new movie project.

B. Alter the screenplay to cut costs.

11. Get more favors and freebies. Seriously, write out a list of everything you can get for free, or at a discount. This includes props, wardrobe, locations, transportation and craft services!

12. Assuming you did get the money, pick a date for production. (And if you don’t get the money, go back and repeat step one.)

13. Hire a lawyer to help you with contracts and releases. If you’re short on cash, do a web search for lawyers for the arts in your area. These folks will usually help with minor legal stuff.

14. Before you have the money, many people will work for little to no money. Expect a lot of “nos” before you find the people who can help you.

15. You can make your life easier if you work with people who have production experience. If you are in a small market, reach out to people who spend their days producing corporate video.

16. Finalize your script. Get it to a point where you are no longer going to keep changing things. This is a locked script.

17. Number your scenes. Then once again, break down your script. This involves grabbing each element, location and character. From this information, create a final schedule.

18. From your schedule and breakdown, create a final budget. You probably know how much money you have to work with. If you find you don’t have enough you have two choices:

A. Get More Money!

B. Modify the script and schedule.

19. Get your crew. Work with a seasoned Physical Producer AKA Line Producer AKA Unit Production Manager to help you get organized. These pros will look at your schedule and tweak it.

20. Additionally, if you’re going to direct and product, having these pros around to help out will open the door to relationships with 1st Ads and crew. These folks will help you hire the right people. They will know a good payroll company. And many know a thing or two about tax credits in your state.

21. I know. Money is tight. So if you cannot hire a location scout, you may have to scout and procure locations yourself. This means you will knock on doors, introduce yourself, your project and your goals. The goal here is to appear reasonable and sane.

22. What can go wrong with a location probably will. So you will want to have a 2nd and 3rd location added to the mix. This way, should something happen, you will have a fall-back plan.

23. Assuming you’re directing your own movie, you will want to find a director of photography who shares your sensibilities and has equal enthusiasm for the project.

24. Your DP will help you find an asthetic for your movie. Given your cost constraints, you will most likely shoot in HD.

25. Marketing: Create a website specific to your movie. Make sure you have a way to get site visitors on your mailing list.

26. Later as you get into production, you will be able to add a movie trailer. (The goal: increase your mailing list subscribers and create a website you can later modify into a sales funnel.)

27. If you’ve raised money, you can hire talented actors interested in your project. But in the event your budget is tight, try to cast people with large social media followings.

28. Once you have all of your actors, you will want to find a location for a table read. Go through the script. If you wrote it, now is a time to take some notes for a final tweak.

Note: Anything you change in the script also changes the budget and the schedule. Seriously.

29. DO NOT skimp on food. You will want someone in charge of Craft Services. They should be good at going out and getting deals on food and catering. If you can not find anyone to do this for you, you’ll have to do it yourself. Allow me to repeat. . .

30. Make sure you have adequate food. If you are doing a union shoot, there are guidelines and rules you must follow. If you are doing a non-union indie, then some advice is: GET QUALITY!

31. Do you have all of your permits, releases and agreements? Do you have production insurance? There are so many different types of insurance, it will make your head spin. Make sure you talk with some experienced insurance professionals to make sure you have adequate insurance for your movie!

32. Meet with your Camera Department and find out how much memory you’ll need (assuming you’re shooting in HD). If you’re shooting film, which might be costly for your first feature – you will want to have an idea of these needs too.

33. Try to take as many naps as you can. This is a fun, but stressful time. So sleep. Eat. And take time to exercise.

34. Once you have all the above stuff checked off the list, you will want to meet with your department heads and make sure everyone’s needs are met. Assuming you’ve maintained limited locations, with a limited cast and crew, you will probably still be baffled by the amount of questions that come flying at you.

35. Seriously, you would think you’re making a gazillion dollar movie. But this is indication people care about their work. They care about the movie. And they want to make it a success!

36. This goes without saying, but don’t be a jerk. Seriously, never forget you are making a movie. Enjoy the experience.

37. Did I mention you need plenty of sleep? I am serious here. Making a movie is going to demand a TON of energy. You need to keep up with the physical and mental demands.

38. Commence production. Defer to your 1st AD and Line Producer to keep everything running on time and under budget. Keep your cool and always remember to have fun!

39. During production, try to constantly get press to profile your movie. It would be great to create buzz, get people to your website and get them to opt into your newsletter mailing list.

40. After the WRAP, have a wrap party. Don’t sleep with your cast and crew, get overly drunk or make a fool of yourself! You are a professional. Act like one.

41. After you recover from your hangover (I just warned you), you will probably start editing the movie. I suggest sharing the edit suite with another set of eyes. And do be nice to your editor. Those professionals can offer valuable feedback. Listen to it!

42. Your first cut will be rough. Screen it with a group of people who have never seen the movie. Get feedback.

43. Take the feedback and refine your edit. After that, take a week off – Do not look at the movie or mess around with it. This way, when you come back to the suite, refine and refine again.

44. Have another small screening with people who have not seen the movie. Take notes. Take those notes back to your edit suite.

45. Add some sound FX to your movie. Clean up actor dialogue and rough areas. Sound is more important than visual.

46. Screen the movie again. This time, have the screening with a new, small set of people. Take notes. Go back and refine.

47. When you have a cut you’re happy with, then you can begin to plan your next strategy. Find out how to sell your movie.

48. There are opportunities for traditional distribution. With some qualified professionals, analyze each deal. Find out if the deal will fit your business objectives. If not, PASS.

49. What if there are no traditional deals? If you planned accordingly, you will have a strong mailing list, a marketable hook and a plan for reaching your target audience.

50. When you are ready to start selling, refine your website into a sales funnel. Upload your movie to one of the many popular VOD platforms. Refine your movie poster and artwork to fit.

51. Upload your trailer to YouTube and all the other video sites on the internet. I prefer to stream from YouTube because I don’t have to pay for streaming and I can monitor viewer comments.

52. Write press releases related to the release of your movie. Have a blog component that details your movie and allows other people to comment.

53. Play around with your key words and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If those terms are new to you, find someone in your network who understands the importance of the web.

54. Marketing is all about telling memorable stories and getting into the conversations. Adding your thoughts on website forums is one way to get the word out about your movie. But if you totally disregard the conversation – that’s bad form.

55. Create both a Facebook and Twitter handle for your movie. The purpose of this page is to lead people back to your site.

56. Have adequate social share buttons on your website so people can easily tell their friends about your movie.

57. If you have the budget, purchase some offline advertising in publications related to your movie. (This assumes you’ve taken time to define your target audience and ways to reach them!)

58. Wait. . . You don’t have a website yet? Stop what you’re doing and head to Bluehost and grab a domain name and website hosting for your movie website. (I prefer utilizing WordPress for all movie sites.)

59. All of these methods are intended to get people back to your website. The purpose of your site is to get people to watch your movie trailer and click the BUY NOW button. Anything that distracts these visitors must go! Install Google Analytics.

60. If your website visitors fail BUY NOW, then at least try to get them to opt into your mailing list. Do you need a mailing list?

61. Out of all the people who click the BUY NOW button, some will actually buy. If you have access to the contact information, reach out and personally thank your customer.

62. Assuming you are generating revenue, consider using that money to purchase more advertising and repeat the process. In internet marketing, they call this scaling a business. The name of the game is: “Conversion Rates.” Read this marketing article.

63. Sooner or later, you will figure out how to jump-start your next project. And you will realize that making movies and making money making movies is possible.

64. The thing to remember is long term perspective. On average it takes seven meetings to make a relationship! Most people quit long before they get to meeting number seven. Not you!

65. As a final thought, I would ask you to consider the following questions: Given the film production resources that you have right now, what is the movie that you will make this year?

What do brands actually stand for.

The first order of business working on a project is to write down the truest thing you can say about your product or brand. You need to find the central truth about your brand and about the whole category – the central human truth.

It’s unlikely the truest thing will be mentioned on the client brief. But you can hear it being talked about on blogs or read it in the customer reviews on Amazon. Sometimes the truest thing is what the client wants to say; more often, it’s not. Products are the clients’ children and it’s no surprise they want to talk about its amazing grades and how it’s captain of the football team.

Bringing truth into the picture, however, is the single best thing an ad agency can do for a brand. The agency can bring an objective assessment of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses and if it’s a good agency, they’ll discover a brand’s most relevant truth and then bring that alive for people.

This is not a science and we all see different truths in a brand, but more often than not, we’ll agree when someone hits on a real truth. Here are four brands and my personal perspective on the truest things about each one.

• Krystal burgers: I’m not sure it’s food, but I want 24 of them.

• Crocs: The client will say “comfortable.” Correct answer is “ugly.”

• eHarmony: “If anyone finds out we met online, we will both just DIE .”

• Canadian Club: Isn’t that the old school rotgut that dads drink in the basement while watching hockey?

Here’s the weird part. Clients will spend massive amounts of time and money to uncover these brand truths and then – frightened by the results – proceed to cover them all back up with B.S. (“Let’s put some lipstick on this pig.”) But marketing sleights-of-hand are kinda like the garage mechanic coming out to tell you, “Well, I couldn’t fix the brakes so I made your horn louder.”

Clients will often deny these truths and cling tenaciously to what they want you to believe about their brand. The problem is they don’t own the brand and they don’t own the truth: customers do. So it isn’t surprising what happened, for example, when Las Vegas tried to rebrand itself as a “family-friendly” destination in the mid ‘90s – huge fail. Fortunately, R&R Partners came along and helped the client tell the truth: the city is One Big Bad-Ass Party. And “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” came to life.

There are ads to be written all around the edges of any product. But we’ll be talking about getting to the ideas written right from the essence of the thing. In Hoopla, Alex Bogusky was quoted, “We try to find that long-neglected truth in a product and give it a hug.” Notice he said they find this truth, they do not invent it. Because nobody can’t invent truth. The best ideas are truth brought to light in fresh, new ways.

Remember, we’re talking about truth here, not what a client or a creative director wants you to say. Amir Kassaei, CCO of DDB Worldwide, put it this way:

Our [industry’s] only reason for existence is to find or create a relevant truth – and, to be honest, not only to the people we’re talking to and want to sell something to, but to ourselves. Great ideas that change behaviour happen only when they’re based on a relevant truth. That’s when they make an impact on societies and cultures and add value to people’s lives. But as people get more connected and live a more advanced lifestyle, they’ll be more critical of bullshit. People know more than ever, faster than ever. And that is a great thing because it will force us to be more critical of bullshit. As an industry, we have to stop falling into the trap of phoney ideas, of superficial gloss that looks great in an awards jury room but does not matter in the real world.

So there you go: that is one of the smartest things I ever learned about advertising. Interestingly, getting to the truest thing is essential in any kind of creative enterprise, whether you’re making a painting, an ad, or a music video. But I digress.

Thanks,

Mark Fenske, Veteran Copywriter

The creative migration

The Times are a-Changin’… and have been for a while.

Read on to hear the thoughts of renowned marketing genius, Luke Sullivan, on how creatives are moving away from the AD agency and into the clients and production company’s offices.

In the hangar-like building, recruiters from 151 blue-chip corporations awaited the students’ arrival, in booths set up to attract the next generation of copywriters, art directors, animators, designers and coders. Hundreds of tables were spread out like a Turkish bazaar of free pencils, thumb drives, and branded schwag, defended by only a thin line of recruiters who, when the doors burst open at 10am, were quickly overrun by the unemployed hordes.

There they were: 151 real companies, from Nickelodeon to Amazon to Abercrombie & Fitch, all bearing tickets to real jobs that paid real money. (I thought about inquiring if “Fitch” was in attendance, but the line was too long.)

The thing is, fairs like this – and schools like SCAD – simply didn’t exist when I went to college. Me? I graduated with a nearly useless liberal arts degree. Well, I suppose it is possible I would’ve been snapped up, had there been any companies looking for skinny chain-smokers to write term papers on 17th-century Russian poetry. But these kids? They came armed with real skills. With the ability not only to think creatively, but to make stuff; to actually do stuff.

Companies still want people with ideas, yes, but the days of “I’m just an Idea Guy” (two finger guns pointing) are gone. Making your idea get up and walk around the room, that’s the ticket. And it’s a ticket that’s getting kids into more and more places these days, and not just the usual line-up of ad agencies.

“We’re no longer competing just with other advertising agencies,” says Bob Jeffrey, of J. Walter Thompson. “Now there’s also Facebook, Google, Vice, Maker Studios and a whole bunch of other content players we compete with.” Amy Hoover, president of recruitment company Talent Zoo, says almost half the creative jobs out there today are not at agencies. They’re at big Silicon Valley powerhouses and cool little start-ups. They’re also at in-house agencies at the big-box companies; your Home Depots, your Targets, your Staples. Their money’s just as green as any agency’s and people have long, happy, wonderful careers in the in-house industry.

I know it for a fact. Recently I gave a day-long seminar at Lowe’s in-house agency up in Mooresville, North Carolina. My host was ECD, Brad Stephens, who left an agency career (Mullen, most recently) to oversee a huge team of creatives in a little town on the shore of Lake Norman. Yeah, the town’s small, but Brad’s job description on his LinkedIn isn’t.

Currently, I’m managing multiple creative teams and several agencies as we create and manage the various aspects of the Lowe’s brand. Recent accomplishments include relaunch of Lowe’s private decor brand, allen + roth, and a successful storewide wayfinding & communication signage redesign. Key responsibilities include oversight of national consumer, store associate, public relations and recruitment communications, as well as development of retail seasonal campaigns.

A huge brand in a small town. In fact, I could hear birdsong at lunch in the company’s outdoor cafeteria.

Adam’s Outdoor Advertising is another good example of great places to work outside the usual list of agencies. Todd Turner, their corporate CD, in from Charleston, South Carolina, was recruiting for several open positions. “Our teams are small, so my hires have to do it all – production, writing, design, art direction. And not a day goes by there isn’t at least one meaty conceptual project to work on.”

Manning the booth with Todd was Jon Riley, a SCAD ad graduate who showed me some recent work from Adams. One was this OBIE award winner for a divorce attorney. Nice.

Bottom line is this. The job market isn’t just ad agencies anymore. For kids who know how to think creatively, and who know how to make stuff, it’s much much bigger.

 

Super Bowl 50 Commercial Break

Super Bowl 2016: It's Not About The Game

Every year on the first Sunday of February America stays home for the biggest event in sports: the Super Bowl. It’s almost like a National Holiday. This year was no difference. And whether you were rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers, most people watch the Super Bowl for on thing only: the commercials. Most people expect them to be funny and this year we’ve seen some pretty funny ones. But there is one other thing that we at Southern Wild noticed about the ads. A lot of them are focussed on celebrities. Here are a few good examples:

 

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What do you think? Could they go without the celebrities in them?  We are not blown away by the stories most of the ads tell or the concepts the are driven by. They’re simply too focused on the power of celebrity endorsement.

But there is one ad that comes close to what we at Southern Wild believe to be great and honest storytelling. Jeep does a pretty good job at touching your heart with their story of the one thing that truly makes America great: YOU. Yes, it does have a few celebrities, but used in a subtle way and they at least shared a real moment with Jeep. Watch the ad below and see for yourself:

 

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So what do you think? Are you okay with celebrities driving a commercial, or do you care more about a great story and concept? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

P.S.- Watch them all here. Or just the best ones that made it to Ad Meter’s Top 5.

 

Brad Jakeman, President of PepsiCo's Global Beverages Group

Ad Agency Models Are Breaking

Is the news PepsiCo executive Brad Jakeman told the world at the most recent Association of National Advertiser’s conference Masters of Marketing. The advertising industry lacks diversity. Pre-rolls are useless. Measurement models are outdated. He also suggests to stop using the word “advertising”, which, in his words, stands for “polluting content”. What Mr. Jakeman says, sounds like music to our ears here at Southern Wild!

If this sounds like music to your ears too, then we suggest you read the full article.

24 Kitchen Aan Tafel Logo

Wastewatchers Asked Our Help

Help a friend in need, especially during the holidays, they say. Therefore last week we helped Dutch YouTuber Thomas Luthikhold from Wastewatchers produce one of his famous Wasteless Wednesday tips. The tip was featured on Dutch cooking channel 24 Kitchen! Watch his tip on regrowing vegetables here and save a penny. And follow his channel on YouTube if you like to save more.

Canada Goose Keeps You Warm

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Christmas is over and winter is slowly arriving in Europe, so it seems. Time to get cozy around the fireplace and keep the cold outside. But if you do have to go out, Canada Goos is there to keep you warm. Watch their chilling new short film, while sipping a hot cocoa. And if you happen to be looking for some new year’s resolutions, read the inspiring true stories the film is based on.

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays from us at Southern Wild! It’s the time of year to spend with your loved ones. And even when you’re alone, there will always be someone thinking of you…

This is real honesty

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This is real honesty. What if we all act and think this way? If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

These Brands Got It Right On YouTube This Year (2015)

“Game maker Supercell is the big winner on Adweek and Google’s year-end YouTube Ads Leaderboard list for 2015, ranking the most-viewed commercials posted to the video site. But the top 10 list is hardly all mindless diversion.”

Read on.