TIPS FOR NEWBIES
Have you always wanted to make a film, but haven’t had the time, the money or the courage? Never knew where to start or what to make your film about?
Well, here none of this matters. It will cost you no more than a weekend and hardly any money at all (what you will spend is entirely up to you - it is possible to do all this without spending a cent). If you find it hard coming up with a story or you think you can’t write, well, you’ll find that under pressure to deliver… you will deliver. And it will be fun.
See the 48h filmmaking challenge as an opportunity to jump-start the filmmaker inside of you!
PUTTING TOGETHER A TEAM
The bare minimum you need is someone who records image and sound, an actor and someone to edit your footage. Now that can all be you, just one person, but it will probably be easier and a lot more fun to share the work in a team.
How many people you take into your team is completely up to you. If you want to shoot The Battle of the Bulge over the weekend, you’re more than welcome to do so (your films do not need to be minimal, if you want to be ambitious that’s great).
Ideally, your team would consist of: a director, a writer, an assistant director, a camera person, a sound-recordist, several actors, an editor, a musician. Some of these positions can be combined (for instance you could all write together, the sound could be recorded through the camera and you could use pre-recorded music) or many positions could be added (you think you need a make-up artist? Sure, go for it). Teams are flexible, there is no written rule on how many people are needed to make a film.
If you’ve never made a film before and don’t know who to ask, start by looking around you. Do you know anyone who knows how to shoot video? Maybe a friend who makes his own youtube videos? Or an uncle who loves editing his family holiday footage...? We all know someone who owns a camera - ask that person! Same with all the other positions.
Oh, and what about the director, you ask?
No prior experience whatsoever is needed for that position. That person’s basically just there to help everyone else make their jobs as best they can. The art of course is in the nuance, but if you have some sense of what a film should look like and think you have good judgment, then you should be fine.
The secret ingredient to making the director’s job fun: find an assistant director - an AD. To get this straight right from the start: the AD is not the one you order around to get you coffee. S/he's not your personal assistant, s/he's an organizer. It’s the person who is actually running the set. S/he is the one who keeps track of time, thinks ahead in terms of planning and logistics so that the director can concentrate on the creative part of filmmaking. Our advice is to find a well organized, savvy, quick-thinking person and give that person the responsibility of your schedule.
We’re all actors in our daily life. You’re acting when you’re lying. You’re acting when you’re trying to make a good impression in a business meeting - or talking to a policeman in a traffic stop. The point we’re trying to make is that you possibly have enough acting talent around you in your friends and acquaintances to recruit all the actors you need .
That being said, many professional actors are open to collaboration, even on unpaid or low-paying projects. A good resource to start is the Luxembourg actor’s association actors.lu. You’ll find many direct contacts on their site, it’s always worth giving that a shot.
If you are an actor or are interested in acting in a LOST WEEKEND project, but don’t yet have a team to join, we suggest you post a picture and a short introduction in our forum.
You might think of film as an image-based medium, but the truth is that it’s the sound that distinguishes a technically well-made film from a mediocre one. It is possible to get passable sound from a video camera, but if you want to improve the quality of your film, you might want to consider finding a person with sound equipment to record your sound separately. That will also give you an excuse to use a clapper board, as the primary use of the clap is to sync sound and image.
This can be the trickiest position to fill and again, it is not a strict necessity, but you might want to give it a try.
LOCATIONS, PROPS, COSTUMES
You will not know what theme, line of dialogue, prop and genre will be announced at our kick-off event, but for everything else you’d be well advised to plan ahead not just your team, but also costumes, other props and locations.
Does your team have any particular, interesting locations at their disposal? A friend or family member who owns a shop or bar you can shoot in? Do you have access to any interesting vehicles? Some interesting period costumes maybe?
Make use of what you have at your disposal. Getting a permit to shoot in a bakery over a weekend can be complicated, not so much if your aunt owns one!
We’re operating in an extremely limited timeframe here, so plan well!
Ideally, you will write on Friday night, shoot on Saturday, edit (and record your music if you’re ambitious) and finish your film on Sunday before 6pm, giving you enough time to make it back to our headquarters at the Cercle Cité to hand in your film before 8pm.
As we mentioned earlier, an assistant director specifically in charge of timing will be of invaluable help. Make sure to always keep an eye on time and always know where you’re at with the material that you need to shoot.
Making a film has never been as easy and affordable as it is today. If you have nothing other than a smartphone camera at your disposal - use that! If you don’t or want to shoot with something better, ask around or post your request in our forum.
Alternatively, you might also want to rent some camera or sound equipment for the weekend. Depending on how you organize yourself you might only need it for Saturday. It’s not as expensive as you might think.
A computer with editing software is essential - unless you want to edit in-camera, as you shoot, which, frankly, is not much fun. Thankfully most computers come with such software or they can easily be found online and downloaded for free.
Take time to get acquainted with the software beforehand, or find someone with at least rudimentary experience in editing video footage, as that will greatly save you time.
We strongly advise against using copyrighted music for your film. Not because we think it is stealing, it isn’t, if you don’t sell it as your own creation. Unfortunately, it will limit the possibilities of getting your film seen. You won’t be able to send it to festivals and you won’t be allowed to upload it on youtube or vimeo. But don’t despair. There’s plenty of copyright-free music on the web and better yet, there are plenty of local musicians you can contact directly, either to ask them to join your team or to ask for permission to use their pre-recorded music for your film. You’ll be surprised how many will happily agree.
Easier yet: do you play an instrument or know your way around Garage Band? Why not create your own soundtrack? John Carpenter has been writing his own soundtracks on his keyboard since his earliest films (that harrowing Halloween theme? Beginner level on the piano!).
You shouldn’t go into this with the burden of having to deliver a game-changing piece of cinema art. In fact, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that even game-changing cinema art is often a byproduct of people having fun playing around. So: don’t think about what the critics will say. Make this one for the pure pleasure of making films. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Play!
Once you finished and delivered your finished film it’s time to lie back and relax. The film festival will be in full swing all around us, why not jump right in and savor some of the best and most inspiring films to come out this year? You’ll have the opportunity to see the latest in Luxembourg’s short film productions, premieres of Luxembourgish and international feature films and documentaries, many in the presence of fellow filmmakers.
Make sure to see what’s playing as the schedule is gradually made available on the film festival’s webpage.