The Director’s Chair Issue #140 – March 18, 2013 (A Two-Man Band’s Filmmaking Checklist)
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
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March 18, 2013 Scene 14 – Take 3
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2. Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
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4. CineCoup Film Accelerator for Indie Filmmakers
5. FEATURE ARTICLE: A Two-Man Band’s Filmmaking Checklist
6. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
7. Filmmaking Links of Interest
8. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
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10. Copyright Information
Welcome to Issue #140 of The Director’s Chair, March 18, 2013
1. Feature Article – The feature article this month is called: “A
Two-Man Band’s Filmmaking Checklist” by Evan Marlowe. Sweet Home
Films, LLC, had a busy 2012. The company, co-owned by me and my
wife Kerry, produced two award-winning indie horror features
(Blood Rush and Horror House), a reality show pilot (Man School),
and many short films (Trippy, Romantic Hideaway, Smasheroo and
The Moment). And we achieved this all with a skeleton crew that
consisted almost exclusively of the two of us. (Read full article
2. Please send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice
2. Two Bonuses For Subscribing To The Director’s Chair
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3. Film Directing Coach – Peter D. Marshall
Actors, Singers and Athletes Have Private Coaches. So Why
Not Film and TV Directors?
Hilary Swank used an acting coach to prepare for her role in
Boys Don’t Cry. She won her first Academy Award.
Singer Renee Fleming has always used a vocal coach. She has
won several Grammy Awards.
Rafael Nadal’s coach urged him on from the sidelines during
his Wimbledon tennis tournament win in 2010.
Arnold Palmer improved his game with the help of a coach. Even
Tiger Woods has had several coaches.
As a matter of fact, winners in nearly every profession
(athletes, actors, singers, business executives) know that
without the right coach, they won’t perform at their peak.
They know that without the support of an experienced and
qualified coach, they would constantly struggle to achieve
So if these top professionals in their respective fields use
coaches, why not film directors?
So why hire me as your film directing coach?
Along with my international teaching experiences and my 39
years of professional filmmaking experience (as a TV Director
and Feature 1st AD), I feel I have the necessary
qualifications to help you achieve your dreams of being a
creative and successful independent film director.
With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to my Film
Directing Coaching services via Skype:
4. CineCoup Film Accelerator for Indie Filmmakers (A Pretty Life)
(This CineCoup pilot project was open only to Canadian filmmakers
this year – BUT it will be available to US filmmakers next year!)
The CineCoup Film Accelerator is a disruptive model for indie
filmmakers to develop, market and finance their feature films.
Filmmaking teams apply to CineCoup with a two-minute trailer then
advance through a gamified selection funnel that’s designed to
package their projects and build fan support on the CineCoup
social web platform. http://cinecoup.com/
All filmmakers who participate stand to gain valuable audience
feedback, social media savvy and a professional online pitch
package bolstered by fan support. The Top 10 projects will be
optioned for development. A jury of industry professionals and a
CineCoup Superfan will select one project for up to $1 million
(CDN) in production financing and guaranteed release in Cineplex
theatres in January 2014.
CineCoup has up to $1 million to finance a feature film and a
slate of projects to choose from. You have the power to help your
favourite ideas and indie filmmakers advance to the finals and
To find out more about CineCoup, please check out their FAQ page
If you want to participate as a fan in this new venture, just
sign up to CineCoup http://cinecoup.com/ and begin to watch,
promote and vote for your favorite film trailers.
“A Pretty Life”
A very good friend of mine, Jacquie Gould, has produced a trailer
for her film “A Pretty Life” which is about social media as told
through the lens of a 17 year. It’s about us and our role in
social media. We watch, don’t we? http://cinecoup.com/pretty-life
This is what Jacquie says about her film: “We began developing A
Pretty Life in February 2012. I was fascinated by the online
world of my son and his friends and how it defines their
generation. Social media has changed everything and the
complexity, immediacy and the permanence of the online world are
the backdrop to this film. The question is: How can we feel so
alone in a world so connected?”
You can help Jacquie and her team by watching A Pretty Life
trailer and, if you like the trailer, add it to your watch list.
This will help the film get votes so they can move on to the
next stage. http://cinecoup.com/pretty-life
You can also follow A Pretty Life on Facebook:
5. Feature Article: “A Two-Man Band’s Filmmaking Checklist”
“A Two-Man Band‚Äôs Filmmaking Checklist” by Evan Marlowe
Sweet Home Films, LLC, had a busy 2012. The company, co-owned by
me and my wife Kerry, produced two award-winning indie horror
features (Blood Rush and Horror House), a reality show pilot (Man
School), and many short films (Trippy, Romantic Hideaway,
Smasheroo and The Moment).
And we achieved this all with a skeleton crew that consisted
almost exclusively of the two of us. She handles production and
writing, and I take care of directing, editing and all the other
technical aspects. Now, this arrangement isn’t ideal, and will
surely cause many people to go insane, but it is possible if you
simply don’t have the luxury of bringing in a full crew.
In order to maintain this sort of intense, masochistic schedule,
we had to have in place a very efficient workflow. Here now is a
twelve-point checklist, a holistic overview of the process, from
pre to post:
1. Is the script ready? The cheapest, fastest and least
painful way to fix your film is in the script-writing/revising
process. Make sure all action and every scene is necessary.
Nothing in the script is written in stone. It’s a blueprint. If
there are concerns, resolve them with the writer in advance.
2. Have you planned the shoot thoroughly? Draw a storyboard,
even if it’s sloppy, and create a shot list. Send notes to your
actors and answer their questions about the characters; set up
table reads if possible, where you can evaluate wardrobe,
delivery and chemistry. Once you’ve planned well, you’ll find you
can shoot more and better footage.
3. Is the project legally above board? Have you got all your
location and talent releases signed? Are your shots “sterile”
(free of any logos, music, et cetera, to which you don’t control
or own the rights)? In the case of logos, it’s so much easier to
turn bottles around to hide labels and to pan to avoid
billboards, versus fixing it in post.
4. Are you capturing clean audio? You can fix bad audio in
post, to a degree, but you’ll thank yourself later if you get the
best quality sound in the first place. This means placing the mic
close to the source, and turning off extraneous sources of noise
like fridges and air conditioners. They say you’re supposed to
monitor audio at all times, but I never do; I do, however, make
sure the recorder is rolling and levels look good on the meter.
Great audio is invisible. This means that no matter how good your
film looks, lousy sound will absolutely kill your project; and
yet when the audio is right, nobody will notice.
5. Did you light properly? Are your light sources motivated?
If you don’t know what that means, look it up. Don’t let a boom
shadow fall onto the background or actor’s face. Many good versus
great shots are the result of how they were lit. So have some
tools at your disposal: a reliable key, a form of diffusion, a
way to bounce. Then enhance the lighting in post using tools such
as vignetting and contrast.
6. Is the shot composed well? Keep an eye on head space,
symmetry, background and foreground. Are edges perfectly
horizontal or vertical? If not, that should be fixed in post. You
can shoot a wider frame than you need and do a slight digital
zoom in post, but you can never expand a tight frame if you need
to see more. Check and recheck focus many times before a take.
7. Did you get enough coverage? Get wides, mediums, OTS’s and
close ups. Just do it, even if you didn’t story board it. You
will appreciate it during the edit when you find a solution to a
bad continuity error or performance.
8. And while on the topic, are you watching for continuity
errors? Not just inconsistencies in dialogue, but with hand and
body gestures, props and lighting. Even placing the mic
consistently from one shot to the next is a continuity issue.
Many editors, however, will tell you they select shots based on
emotion and not continuity, so don’t get too worked up over these
9. Are you meticulously logging audio and video files to refer
back to during the edit? Jotting all these numbers down on set
will make your life a breeze later. I use Pleuraleyes
(Singular/Red Giant) to synch tracks in post. The industry
standard is slating, but I personally feel this is antiquated so
long as you rigorously record file numbers as they correspond to
shot numbers. I know it’s considered blasphemy, but slating to me
disrupts performances, eats into the production time and isn’t
necessary at the editing bay. I‚Äôve slated one shot out of
10. Are you adding foley and sound effects? Subtle things like
the movement of fabric, a car passing outside and room tone make
the world you’re creating believable. Without these sounds, the
film will subconsciously seem less alive. Nothing says “amateur”
more than chunks of silence between lines of dialogue; fill those
gaps with room tone, and make sure to capture a minute or so of
it on set. If you absolutely can’t get rid of a hum or hiss
during the shoot, remove it in post with something like Audacity.
11. Are you correcting and enhancing colors in post? Shoot
flat to give yourself more options later, such as contrast and
12. And possibly most importantly – FEED YOUR CAST AND CREW.
In many parts of the world, people will work for free, for
credit, or for deferred payment. But nobody will cooperate if you
don’t feed them. We have been fortunate to work with many great
actors, always for free. We develop these relationships because
we not only feed them, but we give them IMDB credit, always
listen to their suggestions and concerns with respect, and
provide footage for their reels (particularly once sales or
distribution is secured).
I won’t lie. The above takes an enormous amount of sustained
concentration. That’s why in the real world of big budget
filmmaking, we delegate to other specialists. Having a large crew
is super, but the lack of one is certainly not a valid excuse NOT
to go shoot your movie.
Sweet Home Films, LLC, has just premiered an award-winning parody
of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at The Toscars. We start
production of our comedy web series, “Shazza,” this month.
Several other feature films and reality shows are currently in
6. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion (Free Advertising)
The Director’s Chair gives you an incredible opportunity to
get Free Advertising for your services and your films.
Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
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1) My name is Carol Brandt and I am a 3rd year film student at
UW-Milwaukee. I recently wrapped principal photography on my
first feature film and am now in the editing stages, hoping to
get everything polished by this summer for the festival circuit.
While on set, it was both a joy and a challenge to direct
different actors and make sure everything came together. Your
site helped me a lot when figuring out logistics and how to
ultimately become better at my craft. There is also a lot to be
said for going out into the world and learning through producing
your own works as well.
I will be directing another independent feature this summer about
2 brothers, a girl, and a dog on their way from Chicago to
California for a wedding. Here is the Facebook page to my current
feature if you’d like to check it out!
From there you will find links to trailers,
our ongoing blog, and a few more other fun things.
Thanks for reading!
Shaky Balloon Productions
2) What is it? “Ellipse” is a science fiction short crafted to
inspire interest in both science and the creative arts and is a
co-production between¬†SCI-FI-LONDON¬†and the¬†Royal Observatory
What’s it about? Leo criss-crosses galaxies planting seeds of
knowledge about whether we are alone in the universe. He tries
many times to point Earth toward the truth, but our technology
and attitudes prevent us from unlocking the secret, until he
finds an exceptionally bright girl called Ro. Compelled over
years to study astrophysics, her research eventually leads her to
identify a particular comet and send a lander to explore it.
Why is it special? Shot in historic Greenwich, a world heritage
site, Ellipse combines historical figures and fictional
characters, with data from¬†NASA’s Kepler mission¬†and the amazing
mobile app,¬†EXOPLANET, to tell this incredible story. A schools
educational pack produced to support the film was designed by
Hanno Rein, from the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton and
written by Dr Lewis Dartnell and Marek Kukula, the Public
Astronomer at the ROG.
How can you help? Despite our ambition we only have a small
budget. We‚Äôve shot on Red in 4K using the best crew available and
great actors because we know quality production will give us
wider reach. We‚Äôve cut as many corners as possible, but quality
costs money and we need your help to finish.
You can find out lots more about the story, the cast and crew,
the locations and the production by visiting
http://www.sponsume.com/project/ellipse where you can also donate
and help make it happen. Fabulous rewards are on offer, but
remember, if you cannot donate, please spread the word amongst
your friends, families and networks.
7. Filmmaking Links of Interest
1. 5 Great Directors From 5 Great Filmmaking Nations
2. 7 Filmmaking Tips from Danny Boyle
3.Werner Herzog on documentary filmmaking
4. Conversations in Film: Making Your Feature Film
5. Peter Fonda: Indie filmmaking takes all the heart you’ve got
6. 10 Lessons on Filmmaking from Benh Zeitlin
7. Filmmaking Tips From the Disney Masters!
8. Why smartphones are brilliant for short filmmaking
9. The Present And Future Of Visual Effects In Film
10. A recipe for documentary filmmaking on the cheap
8. Product Promotion And Film Workshops
From time to time, I will contact you to inform you of film
workshops, filmmaking products or Online courses that I feel
are beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you are
under no obligation to purchase anything – I only offer this
information as a service to subscribers of this free ezine.
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