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How To Make A Movie For YouTube (The Chronicle Of My Production)


Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
Before you ask, yes a mod signed off on this thread.

So this is a thread not about movies but about making movies. I’m a Television Broadcasting student at Algonquin College in Ontario, Canada, I’ll be graduating in April and I’ll be moving on to either a more film oriented school that will last 1-2 more years, depending on what I get accepted into. My main focus when it comes to television is single camera, live action, dramatic shooting. Or to put that more easily, cinematic works like what you see in film or one hour dramas. (Or a few sitcoms, Modern Family is a good example of a sitcom that uses this style) I’ve done my own class work, I’m currently shooting corporate video work for my school’s marketing department (Not something they normally employ students to do but I wowed them with a side project and landed the gig.) but my pain passion is to shoot drama stuff. Corporate video work though is a good way to bring in cash in an era when everyone wants everything to be media rich.

What I’m working on now and have in pre-production is an 8-12 min dramatic vignette derived from my idea for a Canadian police and medical procedural series which I call ‘The Frontline’. This thread is going to not only chronicle the production of this, from pre-production to post-production and release, but also allow for discussion on film making in this sort of area in general. So if you want to field any questions you have towards film making I’ll do my best to answer them.

To prove that while not Steven Spielberg or even not Freddie Wong (YET! >_>) I have a few YouTube links to demonstrate that we’re not complete crackpots at this either.

A cinematic commercial for my school’s firefighting program. (The school is in the process of buying this from me and it’s what landed me the corporate video shooting job with them)

A lighting recreation of the first scene from the pilot episode of ER (This was an assignment in LIGHTING, not acting; we didn’t even make any effort to memorize the lines before shooting.)

A 2min short video that was shot as part of my admission requirements for one of the film programs I applied for. It had to be 2mins and it had to be about ‘Orange’ with no other details than that.

So, script, first draft, and changes are already being made.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/dbe5b4mmght097i/The Frontline - ER Shootout Vignette.pdf?m

I’m going to show all the major script revisions because it shows how an idea evolves. Firstly, due to casting and creative decisions, there have been character changes. The female paramedic, Sandy, has been swapped for a yet to be named male, though the lines and character largely remain the same. The male cop, Eric, has instead been swapped for a female cop who’s named Sandy. This might sound weird, but ideas evolve a lot over time. I’ve had character ideas for this floating around for several years and things change over time. The Sandy Coyer character was ORIGINALLY a cop, then a paramedic, now she’s a cop again. This was both a casting decision and a creative decision, because I liked the idea of a woman as a cop, in the uniform, with the rifle, and she’s saving the day. (We specifically decided to not have her be the one who was shot and needed to be rescued)

We’re also extending the idea and we’ll be adding a few additional scenes to lead into the story instead of getting right into it. This is because it was originally to be shot on the side from our insane school work but we managed to get it to fit a project assignment, giving us more time to do it and more time to shoot scenes. The story will be effectively the same but the characters and scenario will be better introduced with scenes shot outdoors and in the ambulance instead of just the ER.

Another addition that will be done in editing and not in the script will be a ‘flash forward’ to the shootout that will occupy the first 30 seconds and then things will move to the start of the story. Why? Because it’s YouTube and if we don’t get you interested in the first 30 seconds, you’ll go back to watching Gangnam Style again.

Anyway, a more final script revision will be posted mid next week.

Want to make a movie? You need a camera. What should you use? Easy answer: Whatever you have available. I mean it, image composition matters a great deal more than the camera’s technical quality or the lenses. Here’s an example of something impressive shot entirely on a Samsung Galaxy cellphone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_QNBwvBV4Y

What should you use? Probably something better so that you can have more creative options when you’re shooting. Right now the go to ‘poor man’s cinema camera’ is the DSLR and I love these things. Photography and videography are closely tied and effectively the same when it comes to actually capturing images. So the interchangeable lenses with wide apertures allow you to get cinematic styling for a very low cost. All the videos that I created were shot using a Canon EOS Rebel T2i (Called the 550D in Europe and Asia) and the T4i (650D) with a couple of aftermarket lenses. These are cameras you can typically get for about $1000. In fact the T4i kit that I paid $999 for was on sale for $799 this Christmas.

One of the best things you can buy for a DSLR is a ‘fast’ 50mm ‘prime’ (It doesn’t zoom, has a 50mm focal length and this can’t be zoomed in or out) that allows for what’s called a ‘Shallow Depth Of Field’. You can Google ‘Lens Apertures’ and ‘Shallow Depth Of Field’ if you want to learn more, but to sum it up, the more you open the aperture in the lens (Which controls how much light gets in) the narrower the area in focus is, this makes the background go rapidly out of focus. For Canon DSLRs the Canon F/1.8 50mm II prime lens is about $100-$150 and Nikon makes one for about the same price. (F/1.8 indicates how wide the aperture gets, the lower the number, the wider it can go) It’s cheap, it’s made of plastic, but in terms of bang for your buck it’s awesome. The f/1.4 lens from Canon is $400, the F/1.2 lens is $1500. And these are just photographic lenses. True cinema lenses START at like $3000. :X So this lens is sort of awesome for $100-$150.

That’s how you get a shot that looks like this: http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh100/AshleyAshes2/MVI_7428MOVStill001_zpsdbe4b883.jpg

Filming Location:
Good news, I go to a school with a 13 bed simulation medical facility (Seen in my ER lighting recreation), two ambulances and an Chevy Impala Police Package and I’m really good at sucking up to borrow these resources at times. We can pretty much use the ER simulator any time after hours so long as we are respective to the very expensive equipment since the other programs and staff in the school really has no obligation to help us, but they’re just that awesome.

This is where things have gotten expensive. About $200 in paramedic uniforms and closer to $400 in police uniforms. We purchased items off the shelf from a uniform supplier and a supplier of body armor. In fact we are using external armor carriers from Pacific Safety Products which supplies equipment to many Canadian police forces including the Canadian ones we’re emulating.

So that’s about it for now, I’ll be posting a much more finished script midway through this upcoming week and we should be doing promotional photography on a green screen next weekend. As for moving from pre-production to production, shooting should start in about 4-6 weeks, depending on talent schedules.


Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
Back with updates but a little late. I have an extended second draft of the script, which is likely rife with spelling errors and minor corrections needed. That'll be sorted out when we do a table reading on Wednesday where we can then make revisions to the second draft.

This script also features character descriptions to help out talent and those reading the script.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lfoppbmx34r0d8f/The Frontline Code Silver Draft 2.pdf?m

The script would be more polished for a bigger production but we're under heavier time constraints due to our program expectations and schedules so we have scripting and pre-production running concurrently when one should follow the other.

We have a date set for filming the key shoot out scene, Feb 15th. In the script that makes for scenes 4 and 5. The other scenes will be shot outdoors or inside vehicles.

In addition to that, I’ve been wrangling more resources, namely vehicles. Scenes 1-3 are shot inside vehicles or have vehicles in the background. I’ve successfully weaseled in an Impala Police Package and working on getting an ambulance. Filming in a stationary ambulance is no big deal, but we also want to move it to another location where it’ll be used an exterior scene.



Yeah, the ambulance has seen better days, thankfully we expect to be shooting at night so the fact that it's in the process of decomposing won't be as noticable. Having the lightbars on at night should make them look pretty cool and really sell the scenes.


Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
Script revision 2D, really nothing but little things. https://www.dropbox.com/s/hvlveocgjawlimi/The%20Frontline%20Code%20Silver%20Draft%202D.pdf

Shooting starts in two days.

We spent today doing more table readings and working on costumes. It's all basically purchased off the shelf though without expensive kevlar, we filled the armor carriers with cardboard. So I spent an hour tracing the armor carrier segments and then cutting inserts out of cardboard. It actually makes for a suprisingly convincing filler for the carriers, though the photo for the following poster was taken before we made those.

I'm actually very pleased with the uniforms because they really sell the look and bring the production value up nicely.



Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
We can be heroes~ In just one day~

Screen shots from raw footage, no color correction or anything yet, has a bit of a green tint fromt he flourescents that I'll need to fix as well as doing stylization.





Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
Lessons learned so far? Filming action scenes in a large space with lots of characters is a big undertaking for students and we need to redo that entire thing. All in all, we've been setback timewise but we're making a schedule and working through it. The important thing is not that we messed up and that we're going to fix it, but we messed up, we can look at it, and we KNOW how to fix it.

Meanwhile, last night we shot scene 1 from the script and it looks great. This was mostly a green screen shoot so it's interesting to see how we set it up.

Behind the scenes, you see our ambulance... Yes, it's half snowbank. Welcome to Canadian film making. It looks absurd right? Snow covered ambulance, lights all over the place, how is this driving?


See that DSLR pointing in the window? That's our film camera and check out what it looks like once we shoot with it and put people in the ambulance:

Bam. :) It's amazing that this can be accomplished with a $700 DSLR, lighting, and a desktop PC.


Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
There's acting and story? You're already better than FreddieW lol
Oh come on, FreddieW is one of my biggest inspirations. He has tonnes more experience than me, works with better tools and has people in reach with better honed skills than me. I wouldn't say his works have bad acting, I'd say they're campy works by design. I wouldn't say the acting talent we have is stellar either but we're making due. :p