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The Director’s Chair Issue #150 – February 4, 2014 (How I Made My First Feature For $7000)

Free Monthly Ezine for Independent Filmmakers

February 4, 2014                Scene 15 – Take 2

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Website: http://actioncutprint.com
Blog: http://filmdirectingtips.com


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Ezine Contents

1. Introduction
2. Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. My 2014 Film Workshop Schedule
4. Link to my Stage 32 On-Demand Filmmaking Webinar
5. FEATURE ARTICLE: How I Made My First Feature For $7000
6. Film Directing Coach Services
7. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
8. Filmmaking Links of Interest
9. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
10. Copyright Information

1. Introduction

Welcome to Issue #150 of The Director’s Chair, Feb. 4, 2014

1. The Feature Article this month is called: What the Hell Was I
Thinking? Or, How I Made My First Feature For 7k and What I
Learned by Paul Dale. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to make
movies. I think it all started when I was about three, when I
peed in the tape deck of my family’s video camera. At that moment
some Freudian psycho-sexual fascination with cinema was born.”
(Read full article below.)

2. Please send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice to:

2. Two Bonuses For Subscribing To The Director’s Chair

Thank you very much for subscribing to this ezine.

BONUS #1 – Here is the link to download Day One (41 pages) of
“The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar.”

BONUS #2 – Here is the link to download the first 30 pages of the
“Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Online Course.”

IMPORTANT: Once the pdf file has opened on your browser, go to
File, “Save Page As” and save the file to your desktop. All links
will now work in the pdf file.

3. My 2014 Film Workshop Schedule (February, March)

I have three 2-day filmmaking workshops booked in February and
March in Vancouver and Toronto. If you are interested in
participating in any of these workshops, please email the contact
person I have included with the workshop link below.

1. February 8 & 9 – Vancouver, Canada
“Chemistry Behind the Camera: The Director/DOP Relationship”
Raindance Vancouver
Contact: Karen Margolese

2. February 15 & 16 – Vancouver, Canada
“Directing Actors”
Shoreline Actor’s Lab
Contact: Tami Kersh

3. March 8 & 9 – Toronto, Canada
“Directing Actors”
Raindance Toronto
Contact: Jaimy Warner

4. Link to my Stage 32 On-Demand Filmmaking Webinar ============================================================

Here is the link to my Stage 32 On-Demand Webinar Preproduction: The Film Director’s Process of Discovery which yo can now purchase at

5. Feature Article: How I Made My First Feature For 7000

What the Hell Was I Thinking? Or, How I Made My First Feature For
7k and What I Learned. By Paul Dale

My name is Paul Dale, and, ever since I can remember, I wanted to
make movies. I think it all started when I was about three, when
I peed in the tape deck of my family’s video camera. At that
moment some Freudian psycho-sexual fascination with cinema was

But I digress.

The thing that most people don’t tell you about filmmaking is,
it’s hard. I mean, it’s really goddamn hard. There are days that
I wish I could give up film and get a job as a guy who gets
kicked in the balls all day long because that would be easier.
But I can’t.  I’m a filmmaker, and it’s etched into the very
fiber of my being. It isn’t a want; it’s a need, something I just
cannot survive without.

Anyway, I just made my first feature film, called Chosen. It’s a
black and White psychological thriller, which stars that guy from
Troll 2. You remember Troll 2? It was that really bad film, with
the Goblins, and no Trolls.

But again, I digress.

What follows is a diary of sorts about the process of making the
film, and what I learned along the way.

Part 1: Pre-Production

Day 1: I have a script, $2,500 and a dream.

What I learned: Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Day 2: We post an ad on Craigslist looking for actors, expecting
to get a handful of responses. Within 24 hours we have 500

What I learned: Actors are very trusting people.

Day 3: We wade through the sea of submissions, and pick out 200
to audition. We call up a local theater where we used to do
community plays, and they agreed to let us hold our auditions

What I learned: “Are you going to send me the sides?” one actor
asked. We had no clue what sides were, so we lied and said yes.
So, I learned that sides are pieces of the script that an actor
uses to audition. Who knew?

Day 4: We all dress up in suits, and sit behind a table. People
our parents’ age come in and call us “Sir.” We are in way over
our heads.

What I learned:
1) Dress like you’re important. People took us seriously because
we looked, and acted serious.
2) Some actors get really nervous, so it’s important to make them
feel comfortable.
3) Nobody looks like their headshot.
4) Let people you wouldn’t expect to be good in a role read for
that role. They may surprise you.

Day 5: “Rehearsal? Storyboards? A Plan?  We don’t need those.
This is a horror film.”

What I learned: While you don’t need them, they definitely make
life easier.

Part 2: Screw It, Let’s Shoot the Damn Thing (AKA: Production)

Day 1: Here I am, on set, ready to direct. This is what I’ve
always dreamed about. This is what I wanted out of life; and
then, a hurricane hits. Literally, a hurricane.

The first day, we’re shooting in a barn in the middle of nowhere,
and suddenly tornado spouts are touching down. Between takes the
cast and crew scream at me. They say things like, “We need to
stop filming,” “The film is not more important than everyone’s
life.” I respectfully disagree with them, and shooting continues.

What I learned: The film was the most important thing to me. I
wanted it more than I wanted to breathe. At the end of the day,
without the film, I was nothing. I needed to think like this
because, if I didn’t, the film wouldn’t have been made.

Day 2: Eighteen hours straight. No breaks. The crew gets three
hours of sleep, a box of glazed doughnuts, and eight more hours
of shooting. I couldn’t be happier.

What I learned: Making movies is fun. You’re surrounded by people
who are there to bring your vision to life. That’s awesome, and
who knows if you’ll ever do it again, so enjoy it.

Day 3: The entire crew commits mutiny. They said that if their
conditions didn’t improve, they would all quit.

What I learned: Don’t think that just because you can handle 3
days of no sleep, and nothing to eat but cigarettes and coffee,
that everyone can. You care about your film more than anyone else
does, so, treat your crew right. Give them breaks, feed them,

Day 6: I’m informed that one of my actresses is a vegetarian, and
therefore cannot eat our McDonald’s catered lunch.

What I learned: Find out about special dietary needs upfront.

Day 10: I need to shoot a classroom scene on my college campus. I
am told that even though I am a film student, I am not allowed to
make a film on the campus. (Side note: The woman who told me this
was a total bitch about it.) Now I am screwed, I have all these
extras scheduled, and no location.

What I learned: Sometimes, people suck.

Day 11:  I call up my old boss, whose video company shares a
building with a college, and he gets me a classroom.

What I learned: Sometimes, people don’t suck.

Day 13: One of the crew attempts to be the director. I am forced
to take action, and assert authority.

What I learned: Everyone wants to be the boss when things are
going well, and then, when the shit hits the fan, you’re the only
one left standing. In hindsight, it was my own fault. I should’ve
been a better leader.

Day 16: Filming is going great, we have a classroom full of
extras. Finally, the shots of the extras are done, and we send
them home. Ten minutes later, we mix up the memory cards, and
format the wrong card losing all the footage we shot.

What I learned:
1) Murphy was right, that son of a bitch.
2) Punching bathroom walls can really hurt your hands.

Day 20: We run out of money.

What I learned: You need to make a budget. It’s tough to make a
film for 2500 bucks.

Day 21: We launch a fantastic Kickstarter campaign, and raise an
additional 4,500 dollars.

What I learned: Crowd-funding is fantastic, but the only people
who will give you money are people that you know. That said, it
gives them a way to help you out, and that’s awesome.

Day 24: We have to re-shoot the classroom scenes; this time we
have two extras, and have to make it look like a full class. We
succeed, and it looks better than the original stuff.  That meme
about the success kid comes to mind.

What I learned: Sometimes, mistakes lead to better art. Also, if
you find yourself in this predicament, here’s what you do –
Step one: Re-arrange the desks; put them in lines, and spread
them out.
Step two: put your director in the scene.
Step Three: put the rest of your crew in the scene.
Step four: creatively hide the sound equipment
Step five: get creative with the camera.

Day 30: We shoot in a barn again—midsummer, 110 degree heat—and
we’re in a tin can with no bathroom or AC. One of the producers
shows up with beer, we all get drunk, and have the most
productive day of shooting ever.

What I learned: Don’t be afraid to have fun. When everyone has a
good time, everything comes out better.

Other things I learned along the way:

– Keep a clean chain of title. (AKA, get all of your paper work
upfront, get the actors to sign off up front, get the music
rights all upfront.)

– You will be able to get a better performance from your actors
the longer you have worked with them, so save the tough acting
stuff for last.

– Take time off from editing, and then go at it again. Otherwise
you get slap-happy, and make a mess of the film.

-If you put your film in black-and-white, many distributors will
tell you that they don’t buy black-and-white films unless there
is major star power.

-Don’t try to do everything yourself.

-Sound is EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!

-Sound is EVERYTHING!!!!!!!! Yes it is on here twice, don’t screw
it up.

Well, that’s what I learned. I hope this was helpful. Keep an eye
out for the film itself, Chosen. For those of you who can’t wait,
here is our BitTorrent bundle page where you can download the
first 10 minutes of the film, and a whole bunch of other
exclusive content:

Follow me:
Twitter: @pauldalefilms

6. Film Directing Coach – Peter D. Marshall

Actors, Singers and Athletes Have Private Coaches. So Why Not
Film and TV Directors? http://actioncutprint.com/filmdirectingcoach/

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:

7. 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
themselves, their company or their productions in this section.

So if you want over 6000 filmmakers around the world to know
about you and your films, please send me your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to 300 words. I reserve the right to
edit the promotion for length, spelling and formatting.


1. Blades Of Ennui is a psychological short thriller, set in
Ibadan, Nigeria produced by Taiwo Egunjobi and directed by Martin
Nwachukwu, both students at the University Of Ibadan.

Synopsis When a promising young man is butchered in cold blood,
all evidences lead to an unlikely suspect.

We are Seeking partnerships with other foreign filmmakers,
writers and agents Please send mail to taiwoegunjobi@gmail.com.
Like the Fb page : the blades of ennui: the movie also watch on
youtube: blades of ennui

Taiwo Egunjobi

8. Filmmaking Links of Interest

1. Standout Female Filmmakers Of 2013

2. Hollywood Producer Says It’s Still About Story in Digital
Filmmaking http://bit.ly/1jkFjtG

3. Retrospective: The Films Of Michael Mann

4. Martin Scorsese Predicts Future of Cinema to Be Bright in
Letter to Daughter http://bit.ly/1eWWMmO

5. Why Did the Most Promising New Filmmakers Fail Us in 2013?

6. Say goodbye to celluloid

7. Television’s Future Has a Social Soundtrack

8. Even now, nobody knows anything Business in Tinseltown is as
unpredictable as it was 30 years ago http://bit.ly/19TJF2z

9. 88 Cinematographers Share the Best Professional Advice They’ve
Ever Received http://bit.ly/1bC9fc7

10. 6 Filmmaking Tips from David O. Russell

9. 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.

10. Copyright Information

Copyright (c) 2000-2014
ActionCutPrint.com Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved