Welcome to the wonderful world of filmmaking. Whether you love the escape of watching movies or the excitement, challenge, and magic of making a film yourself, this book is an informative, entertaining guide to help you realize your dream. For the beginning filmmaker, this book is your primer and reference guide to making a movie. For the seasoned professional, it’s a perfect refresher course (with many new ideas) before starting your next big flick.
This book is not only for the professional filmmaker, but for anyone interested in making a film, whether you’re an actor, a factory worker, or an office employee, and whether you’re unemployed, retired, or independently wealthy. This book will inspire you to reach for your filmmaking goals — and it will be a great adventure along the way! Filmmaking For Dummies, 2nd Edition, comes out of my filmmaking experiences — both my successes and my mistakes — and is bursting with helpful information and secret tips to assist you in making your own successful movie.
In 1987, I directed an episode of Tales from the Darkside entitled “The Bitterest Pill.” The show was about a crazy inventor who created a pill that gave him total recall. The premise of the episode was that knowledge is power. A little innocent-looking pill allowed you to remember everything you ever saw, ever heard — right back to the day the doctor pulled you from the womb and slapped you on the behind! With Filmmaking For Dummies,
2nd Edition, you gain the knowledge and thus the power to be a filmmaker. Whether you’re a great filmmaker depends on how you apply this knowledge. Like the pill in my Tales from the Darkside episode, this book gives you all the knowledge you need to get started (it’s up to you to recall it) and is your prescription for filmmaking — so read it and call your distributor in the morning!
How This Book Is Organized
This book is divided into six parts — from the screenplay, all the way to the distribution — and of course the ever popular Part of Tens. These six parts are each self-contained, so they help you understand the filmmaking experience regardless of what order you read them in. If you’re more interested in finding material or writing a screenplay, Part I will be of interest to you. If you want to know more about distribution before you decide to make a film, then you’ll want to look at Part V first.
Part I: Filmmaking and Storytelling
This part introduces you to the world of filmmaking and the excitement behind it. You see all the different genres to choose from to help you decide which one works best for your movie. This part also helps guide you to the right material, whether a short story, a news article, a true biographical story, or a completed screenplay.
Part II: Gearing Up to Make Your Film
This part shows you where to find financing for your film so that you can schedule and budget accurately. The preproduction process also includes finding the perfect location for the setting of your film, and finding the perfect crew. You audition actors and choose performers who will bring life to the characters in your screenplay. While you’re gearing up for the actual shoot, you’re also organizing your ideas for your shots on paper in the form of sketched images called storyboards.
Part III: Ready to Roll: Starting Production on Your Film
In this part, I introduce you to the magical box that captures your story on film stock, videotape, or digital files — it’s called the camera. In a non-technical style, I explain how the camera and lens work. You see how lighting is more a science than just pointing some lamps in a particular direction. Sound is an important element to your production, and after reading this part, you may notice your hearing has become more acute.
This part also helps you work with your actors to get the best and most believable performances in front of the camera. I also cover the multifaceted job of the director — from a technical and creative sense. Now with the new age of digital technology (including high definition), anyone with a camcorder can go out and make a modest movie (with virtually no budget).
Part IV: Finishing Your Film in Post
In this part, you discover the magic of non-linear editing and how you can even possibly salvage bad scenes and make them work in postproduction. With computer software and editing technology, you can turn your home computer into a powerful postproduction editing system — and affordably, too! In this part, you also begin working with a composer to set your film to music, enhancing the visuals with sound effects, and employing other postproduction sound techniques that make your movie sound great. Special visual effects don’t have to be expensive, and you see how you can do many effects with the camera without exploding your budget. This stage in production is also the time to thank everyone who worked on the production by giving them the appropriate recognition in the opening or ending credit roll of your film.
Part V: Finding a Distributor for Your Film
This part deals with one of the most important aspects of the filmmaking process because, without distribution, no one will ever see your masterpiece, and your investors will never make their investment back — or any chance of a profit. You may want to read this part first so that you’re aware of the commercial elements your film needs in order to get a distributor who can sell it successfully in the domestic markets (the U.S. and Canada), as well as the international territories. Along with finding the right distributor, you may also want to enter your film in film festivals to try to garner some award attention. (Film festivals can help attract a distributor if you haven’t found one at this point.)
Part VI: The Part of Tens
For Dummies books are famous for The Part of Tens. Here, I share ten great tips on how to find talent for your film, along with how to raise attention through proper publicizing after your movie is finished. I talk from experience about ten ways to save you time, trouble, and money — maybe even save your production. I also list the ten best magazines and periodicals to keep you informed on the entertainment industry and to help you find some great material for your film.
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