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Director's Notes - Directly from the "From Script to Screen" seminar (check out "Tom's Blog" page for more notes)
First, do it right.
Making a film - any film - will require a lot of patience, a lot of perserverance and a lot of attention to detail.
The best advice I can give first time filmmakers is to do it right first. Taking "shortcuts" often results in much more work down the road. For example, hiring or engaging a script supervisor in the short run might increase your total budget a bit right from the start but will save you tons of time as you move from the shooting to the editing process. Try not to cut corners to save a nickel and end up spending many times that nickle in the long run. You'll thank yourself at the end of the process.
No Pay But Credit and Copy.
A lot of first films are made as a “no-pay, IMDB credit and copy” experience. There is nothing wrong with this. We all have to start somewhere. However, it’s really important for the no-pay filmmaker to follow the “rules” of filmmaking. There is a common misconception that a no-budget film allows you to get away with a lot of shortcuts. You really shouldn’t. Even with a low or no-budget indie film, the extent of your preparation will be reflected in how smoothly your days go and how well you stay on schedule.
Sometimes the more money there is available for a film, the more waste there is. Conversely, the less money, the less waste as long as you, as the producer, are very well organized and ready to go. Follow all the steps just like you were making a bigger, financed film.
For most people agreeing to work on a no-pay film, it’s going to be a learning experience more than anything. Show your cast and crew that you respect them by taking the time to figure out how to make the film correctly and ensure that the learning experience is valuable for everyone on the set.