Making Your First Feature Film

Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

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SKU: 9781476670348 Categories: ,

About the Book

 The tools for independent filmmaking are more accessible today than ever. Yet there is much more to successfully creating a film than access to equipment and software. Chronicling the making of his debut feature film, A Convenient Truth (2015), the author describes the practical preproduction steps needed to take a project from early concept to the first day of photography—details most filmmaking guides don’t include. A scene-by-scene breakdown describes the transferrable lessons learned during the production and postproduction phases. Filmmakers’ options for what to do after completing their first feature are also covered.

About the Author(s)

Dominick Bagnato is a screenwriter and director in New York City.

Bibliographic Details

Dominick Bagnato
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 196 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7034-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2949-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Part One: ­Pre-Production

Deciding to Make an Independent Film 4

Set a Date for Your Shoot 5

Build Your Film Crew 6

Three Indie Film Casting Considerations 8

Casting 9

Script Breakdown 14

Scheduling/Stripboarding 16

Budgeting 18

Pre-Production ­Wrap-Up 20

Part Two: Production

A Convenient Truth—Scene 1 22

Stock Footage Can Be Your Friend—Scene 2 24

Film Locations Equal Production Value—Scene 3 26

Using Green Screen—Scene 4 27

Acting While Directing—Scene 5 29

Give Your Actor a Beat—Scene 6 30

Man-on-the-Street Interviews—Scene 7 32

Actors Who Write—Scenes 8 and 9 33

A Good Film Editor Will Save Your Ass—Scene 10 35

Talking Head Interviews—Scene 11 37

Directing Flexibly—Scenes 12 and 13 39

Improv—Scene 14 41

Camera Movement—Scene 15 43

Pre-Reveal in Film—Scene 16 44

The Reveal—Scenes 17–20 46

The Reaction—Scenes 21 and 22 49

Script Departure—Scenes 23–27 52

Use Your Actor’s Face—Scene 28 56

Character Introduction—Scene 29 57

Direct First, Produce Second—Scene 30 60

Inserts and Reaction Shots—Scene 31 61

Free and Easy ­Pre-Visualization—Scene 32 63

Pre-laps and ­L-Cuts—Scene 33 66

Picking Your Shot (and Why Windmills Are Unpatriotic)—Scene 34 68

Four Considerations for a Joke in Your Film—Scene 35 70

Locations: Just Ask, and When to Bend Your Own Rules—Scene 36 71

Framing and Visual Match Transitions—Scenes 37 and 38 73

Conflict in Comedy—Scene 39 76

Structure in Your Film—Scene 40 78

Evergreen Satire—Scene 41 80

Static vs. ­Non-Static Frames—Scene 42 82

Directing Is Listening—Scenes 43 and 44 85

Jump Cut (for My Love)—Scene 45 87

“Cheating” Multiple Locations—Scene 46 89

Transition Scenes and Your Film’s Spine—Scene 47 91

Burleson Labs Advertisement #1—Scene 48 93

Free Color Correction—Scene 49 95

Building Sequences—Scenes 50–53 97

Creative Character Introduction—Scenes 54–56 100

Shoot the Script and Then Check Your Gut—Scene 57 103

Long Takes—Scene 58 105

How to Know When You’re Done Editing—Scenes 59–61 108

Creating a Stylistic Look—Scene 62 112

Film Arcs—Scenes 63 and 64 114

Tempo and Sequences—Scenes 65–67 116

Serendipity in Filmmaking—Scene 68 119

Rule of Threes—Scene 69 121

Acting Is Reacting—Scenes 70 and 71 123

Four Lessons from a Montage—Scene 72 125

Resourceful Filmmaking—Scenes 73 and 74 127

Offensive Satire—Scene 75 129

A Scene in Three Shots—Scene 76 130

Planning a Scene—Scene 77 132

Get an Impossible Shot … with Two Shots—Scene 78 135

Language Sequence—Scenes 79–88 138

Mining Film Locations—Scene 89 144

Slapstick Comedy—Scene 90 147

Pacing: The ­One-Hour Mark—Scenes 91–93 149

Offensive Satire, Revisited—Scenes 94–96 152

Five Ways We Fixed a Dull Scene—Scene 97 155

Editing Choices—Scene 98 167

Staging the Casual—Scenes 99 and 100 169

Context Changes Everything—Scene 101 172

Your Time Is Limited—Scene 102 174

Saying No to My Entire Film Crew—Scene 103 175

Changes from Script to Screen—Scene 104 178

Additional Production Writing—Scene 105 180

Scheduling Can Breed Creativity—Scene 106 182

Seven Images, Seven Lessons—Scene 107 184

Serendipity in Editing—Scene 108 188

Beginning of the End—Scene 109 191

Final Scene: Make It Count—Scene 110 193

Part Three: Post ­Post-Production

So You’ve Made a Feature Film 198

Independent Distribution 201

Eleven Kickstarter Campaign Lessons 203

The ­Four-Wall Experience 206

Digital Distribution of Your Independent Film 209

Plan for ­Self-Distribution from Day One 217

What’s Next? 218

A Note About ­Post-Film Recordkeeping 220

Podcasts to Keep You Going 221

Don’t Quit (or Apologize for) Your Day Job 223

References 225

Index 227