Actor Blog – Peter Norgren of Blackout

My first experience as a character in a filmed role was more fun than anything.

I’ve known Doug for a while now.  We’ve been goofing around before he went to Florida to become a big name producer 😉 So you can imagine how the off screen time went.

Because we used to hang out, there was little pressure. We both knew what each other were looking for while writing and filming.  Re-takes were seen as something fun to do instead of an annoyance.  Most of the time was spent laughing.  It felt like we spent more time goofing around then actually filming.  It was creative every step to say the least.

More than anything, it was just like old times; playing around with a camera in our faces.

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Post Production Log – Blackout

I threw the basic edit together tonight and wrapped up around 4:30am.  I’m very proud of it since it was just a test. this shoot was full of surprises. I had no idea my friend Pete could actually act, I got to work with my long time film geek friend Shawn for the first time.  I really tried to put the camera and lenses to the test when shooting this and yet it still comes out better looking than any other camera i had used on my own projects. I did a lot of color correcting to give it a bit of a grunge look, but the original looked so good i felt like i was betraying the camera by doing this. for my audio I used Pro-scores from video Co-Pilot (amazing stuff!, but once you have heard it you’ll notice it everywhere else). The end song is from a Kansas city band i just shot a music video for. Black Ribbon Sky  – Pain love hate. A very cool band btw check them out.  I’m very busy so not sure when I will have time to master the audio, and finalize the color correcting. but the edit as far as I’m concerned is locked. I hope i finish it soon so everyone can see it and enjoy.

Production Log-Blackout

I have to say shooting with DSLR cameras make a world of difference. Especially when you have nice lenses. I ended up using a macro lens it’s a 100 mm macro and it opens up to a 2.8. i could seriously focus between eyelashes. I really tried to push the technology as far as I could, and the results blew me away. The camera complemented the shoot very well. it gave it a great gritty grungy look. the lens I used the most was the 50 mm prime that opens up to a 1.8/ I did this especially for the fight scene so i could crank the shutter. You can make out blades of grass flying off Pete and Jake throughout the entire thing.  and of course the 1.8 really came in hand when using two light bulbs in fixed positions to light the basement scenes. I may have been shooting with 3 first time actors, but they all did a great job. once it started getting late we started filling the cards pretty quick with outtakes, but we still got it. we shot the entire thing in around 5 hours.

Prepping your Product – overview

Pre-Production

When you make a film you need to start planning your end product, but you don’t have to lock yourself into this. Create a website, even if it’s a free one somewhere. Start posting video blogs about where you are at in the process. Even if the only thing you have made progress on is you locked down a location. Include footage of your location scout.  If you have a low budget and you can’t offer to pay your crew or actors, maybe including them in the process you can make them feel more attached to the project.  This is great because it also makes them more likely endure the hard times in low budget film making. It is important to get your friends and family, if you can’t get those close to you interested in your project then you might need to find someone else who can sell your project better than you to team up with.

When you create the website you create a headquarters for your project, a place to send your talent and crew for call sheets, sides, and maps to your locations. (you would make this a page not accessible to the public of course.) Add an RSS so people can subscribe to your website. Also start a newsletter sign up so you will have peoples email addresses and be able to send them a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter about your film.  Create character bios, Cast and crew bios. a synopsis and articles related to your film. By creating this site early on and letting everyone on the project know about it and keeping them going to the site looking for updates on what has also become their baby you are racking up hits. These hits are what will make your movie an easier sell. Everyone on your team tells everyone they know and it could go on and on from there. When you make your site sign up for Google Analytics. Once you sign up paste the HTML info the give you on every page you want to track. and at the end of production you will have plenty of data to use when you are negotiating your project.

Another thing to do is create a blog and describe your progress on the film, show them what a professional you are in your field. This will also drive other unique visitors to your site to read about you, your project, and you process for making movies. It may not be as revolutionary as Robert Rodriguez, but some people start out knowing nothing and can use your knowledge as a jumping point. You may find it to be an easy process (to understand) but some people don’t know the role of a DP or a Gaffer or why you need good audio.

Production

Once you begin production get someone to shoot behind the scenes footage and interview actors when they are in-between scenes. This will give people something to keep them interested in your project and keep them returning to your site for more information. The more content you can provide the more you will create a following that will help sell your film for you. The more buzz you can create the more a people may have heard of your film or your actors, or you as a director/producer/filmmaker.

Your film is a product and has to be able to sell. Keep your art, but find a way to sell it. In order to fund other projects that represent you, you need to make projects that reach a wide audience. So using all of the tools you have set up, web video, blogs, character bios, cast/crew bios, interviews. inform your audience about the history behind your film, the background behind the story, the characters, and you. during production make the film your priority, and make sure you have a dedicated person to all the extras. The great thing about this is you can use all of this material to use as Blue ray bonus material.

Post Production

In Post production of a low budget film you lack the approval process that studios have. This is amazing but also can backfire. Some of us dont like feedback and wont ask for it. this is bad for a film.  unless you are making a film for you and your parents to watch, you need audience feedback. Audience feedback from people who are in your films demographic. So to combat this I like to update everyone and give them SMALL snippets of my project to keep them as a apart of the process. Use their feedback. if you have a special effects sequence this is your test audience. They will be honest with you on the quality of it. (keep in mind it may be hard to be objective as a snippet, but surrounded by your story they will most likely be immersed in your film too much to be pulled back to reality by a special effects shot.) once again if they give you feedback they will feel like they had a part in making your film, and will tell others about it. Also the more you listen to their feedback the more they can trust you with their honest unfiltered responses. Post Production is when you need to take everything you have built and start making your big push to the festivals. Contact press and make them want to interview you about your film, build up as many press snippets as you can so you can include these in your press kit.

TIME TO SELL!

This is where you have some choices, some people jump straight into the festival path, some self distribute, some give it away. All of these are great options.

Festival

Withoutabox… this is your new best friend. they can get you on IMDB if you are not already. (IMDB is a huge selling point to cast and crew on a low-no pay shoot)  Withoutabox is where you register for all the film festivals, you can store everything about your film for free, including a minimal press kit. When doing festivals you need to spread the word and come up with a way to stand out. Blair witch project stood out because they didn’t hand out press kits and fliers on their film they handed out missing persons poster and made people believe that the filmmakers were actually missing, and that the footage was really found. People were afraid for the actor filmmakers.  find out press that will be there and talk to them. create a buzz, and use all of your tools you created early on.

Self distribute

Create space is a great site if you don’t have money but want to sell nicely packaged copies of your film. They also will sell it for you on sites like amazon giving you a cut. This is a good step to take if you did the festival route and got some nice reviews but no bites for distribution. Also if this isn’t doing it for you, there is always option 3.

Give it away

your probably thinking this is ridiculous. this will get you the most exposure. Everyone pirates movies now a days and it’s hard to avoid for even the big budget Hollywood films. so as a low-no budget filmmaker, make it download able on your site for free, put it on torrent.  embrace the huge market of illegal downloaders but give it to them for free and legal. They will download it and they will watch it and they will tell friends. you may not make money from it immediately or at all but you become known. If you go to wreck-a-movie.com the creators of that site got a lot of money for a second picture due to the free movie they released. It became the #1 downloaded film in Switzerland.  and now they are making decent budget films, making video games for their films, and now created wreck-a-movie.com a collaborative style of filmmaking.