All posts filed under: Filmmaking

Reflections on “Emerson”

It’s my last week of classes at USC before I graduate, which basically means it’s my final week of school ever since I definitely don’t plan on getting my PhD! WOOT. I’m feeling a mix of emotions, but I’m mainly excited. Graduate school has made me a better, smarter person, but I’m certainly ready for the next, non-academic chapter in my life. I never really was a procrastinator before grad school, but these past two years I’ve spent plenty of late nights getting work done at the very last-minute. As someone with a fine arts degree, I think it’s because writing non-stop scholarly work is too strenuous for me. I need to take breaks and make stuff, beyond shaping flowery words into poignant statements on cinema, TV, and culture. I don’t consider myself an artist by any means, but I like working with my hands – putting pictures into thrifted frames, moving furniture, making photo collages – and research and academic writing, as much as I enjoy it, doesn’t satisfy those needs. But making short films does, and I …

Revisiting My Undergraduate Thesis Film

As I enter my last year of graduate school, I’ve found myself reflecting on my undergraduate years, almost longing for that simpler time. I’m only 25, yet I’ve been feeling far older, like my age is a scary number that keeps getting larger and larger and more overwhelming. But that’s a different story – one that I may return to in a separate post. This sentimental reflection on my past has led me to revisit some of my older work, such as my senior thesis film, Fruition. So much has changed since I started making Fruition in 2012, and although I haven’t made a notable short film since, I know that my perspective as a creator has evolved significantly. On the one hand, I’m not as naive and am instead somewhat disillusioned and overwhelmed by how little I understand about life itself. On the other hand, I feel more empowered and able to embrace who I am and my unique perspective. I know that I’m somewhat smarter and more equipped to understand others and the world around me. That being …

What Film School Taught Me as a BFA

Though it’s been a little over three years since I completed my undergraduate program at The University of Arizona, I’ve decided to revisit those years in a post about what film school taught me as a production student. Now that I’m in graduate school at USC, I’ve decided to shift my academic focus to film studies for a variety of reasons, but production is still at the heart of what I hope to accomplish in the future. A few notes about this list: while I didn’t go to a prestigious undergraduate production program at NYU, USC, UCLA, or UT Austin, I think many of the lessons I learned are somewhat universal at all institutions. Also, this is a slightly snarky, but thoroughly honest list. Long story short, take what you will from it… You can’t be unreliable. No one will want to work with you if they can’t rely on you to show up when you’re needed and put in the work. Hearing “we’ll fix it in post” is common for a reason. Yeah, you might be able …

Tips on Marketing Your Short Film or Web Series

How To Market Your Short Film or Web Series [ and spread the word about your fundraising campaign ] 1. First things first – consider your audience. Is your short film or web series a comedy? Horror? A horror comedy? Know who would genuinely enjoy your project and who wouldn’t. Make your intended audience as defined as possible. The tendency will be to say that anyone of any age will be interested in your project, but that’s simply not the case. Be honest with yourself. 2. After you’ve pinpointed your audience, create a marketing timeline that coincides with production. For example, during pre-production you will want to start developing a fan base through social media, and by the end of your film you may be looking for distributors and sharing your press kit. Have a marketing strategy for every point of production and beyond. 3. If you are fundraising for your film or web series, be sure to build hype before you launch your campaign. Know that you will essentially be marketing for two entirely …

8 Social Media Tips for Indie Filmmakers

I think I have a fairly strong grasp on marketing, specifically social media marketing, and how to expand the reach of a creative work or business. Why? In college I took courses on film and television promotion, worked as a student brand manager for Red Bull (one of the most well-known and promoted brands in the world; read more here), and during my senior year I marketed an Indiegogo campaign that funded my entire thesis project. Now, I use social media to expand the reach of this blog and am developing a formidable readership. Here are a few of my social media tips for indie filmmakers, but these suggestions can also be used toward any creative or business endeavor: 1. Keep your personal social media accounts professional and always include links to your creative work. 2. Know your audience. 3. Utilize platforms that align with your audience. If you are doing an experimental coming-of-age film, consider using Tumblr and Vimeo for your social media marketing campaign. On the other hand, if you’re working on a social justice documentary, maybe Twitter and YouTube …

Watch “The Wolfpack” – A Mesmerizing Documentary That’s Available on Netflix

Directed by Crystal Moselle, The Wolfpack journey’s into the secluded lives of six brothers who had non-traditional upbringings, characterized by a severe lack of connection to the outside world. In order to escape the confines of their Lower East Side Manhattan apartment (which some years, they didn’t leave at all), the brothers watched and recreated their favorite movies. The Wolfpack is an exceptional documentary about extraordinary young filmmakers who harnessed their oppression as a means of creative power. They maybe grew up sheltered, but their intelligence and appetite for creation seems to outshine the effects of their seclusion. To see the world through their eyes – at times lost, sometimes disillusioned, but above all, hopeful – is a gift unto itself. The Wolfpack, which is available on Netflix, is an absolute must-see film. It embodies so much of what I love about documentaries; not only are the viewers allowed a glimpse into the peculiar lives of “The Wolfpack” and their family, but we are given, if briefly, a chance to rediscover the outside world and bask in its infinite possibilities. After you watch The Wolfpack, be sure to check out their short …

Crowdfunding Tips for Filmmakers

For many, crowdfunding is an excellent way to fundraise for a short film or web series. For those who are trying it out for the first time, here are just a few tips to make your experience more enjoyable and successful. 1. Determine what site you want to fundraise on. I recommend Indiegogo, but there are other options such as Seed&Spark or Kickstarter. In general, I don’t recommend using Kickstarter because if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get funded. 2. Have a realistic budget in mind. If you’re asking for too much you may scare away potential donors or not reach your goal. Ask for too little, and extra expenses will be coming out of your pocket instead. 3. Develop a detailed outline of your expenses and share it with your campaign. 4. Determine how long you want your campaign to last. At the very least, make sure you have a month to fund raise. If you are asking for a significant amount of money ($10,000+) add more time to your campaign. No matter what the goal is, I believe 15 weeks should be the maximum amount of time …

LA Film Fest: ‘Inside Out’ with Pete Docter

Although the Los Angeles Film Fest officially opens today, last night I was able to attend a pre-festival screening of Pixar’s Inside Out, which was preceded by a Q & A session with the film’s director, Academy Award winner Pete Docter. Docter, who also directed Up and Monsters, Inc., gave spectacular insight into his process as an animator, storyteller, and director. What I found most interesting was his belief that an audience is better able to relate to animated characters because of the way they portray emotion. He said that in many ways, one can feel that they know an animated character better than their own friend; a statement that upon further examination, I must say I agree with. It seems that through the physicality of animated characters, you can know much about them with just a single glance. Docter and moderator Elvis Mitchell discussed how the physical representation of a character, and their introduction to the story-world, work to immediately give you an idea of who they are. One example they used was the shape of the characters in Up: Carl is a block …

Suggested Reading: ‘How Hollywood Keeps Women Out’

This week’s Suggested Reading comes from L.A. Weekly’s Jessica P. Ogilvie. In her article, How Hollywood Keeps Women Out, Ogilvie discusses Hollywood’s palpable gender bias and how it fits into an industry that is dominated by charitable liberals and Democrats. It’s an eye-opener for both men and women alike, and as a young woman hoping to find a career in the film industry, what I read put a lot of things into perspective. “The repercussions for women and girls across the world, who are seeing primarily the stories of men on-screen, are profound.” “If you don’t see yourself or people like you represented, what kind of an impression are you going to get?”

Recommended Reading: Ava DuVernay On How to Stay in Control

From Indiewire’s Shipra Harbola Gupta → Tribeca: Ava DuVernay’s 8 Tips to Filmmakers On How to Stay in Control. Ava DuVernay is quickly becoming one of my favorite people to listen to give advice on just about anything – but in particular, filmmaking and living a creative and fulfilling life. Her SXSW Keynote Speech was beautiful and truly informative, and her talk with Q-Tip at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival was no different. It’s so refreshing to read about a woman who is a filmmaker, is making things she believes in, and is doing things her way. Shapira Harbola Gupta breaks down DuVernay’s talk with Q-Tip into 8 tips for filmmakers on staying in control of your work. Check it out here.