The next in our ‘How to produce your own online series’
By award winning Film Maker/ Director/ Writer/Actor Cam Faull
Taking the next step: From Script to Pre-Production
If you took the time to sit down with last month’s exercise, you may be looking at a shiny new script.
Congratulations are in order.
You stare down at your finished work and then it occurs to you…”Now what?!”. The sound of crickets returns once again.
Perhaps a tumbleweed from out of nowhere rolls across the office floor.
Ok…you get the point.
As with any project, the script is only the beginning. Even though pulling one from your imagination may have been an arduous task, the real work is yet to come.
While we are on the subject of your script, there is one important point to meditate on. Is this your final draft?
A wise man who has read countless scripts across his career once said to me, “Never put a first draft in my hands”. I always remember that.
Frequently, as creatives, it’s easy to get the feeling that your script is fine just the way it is. Particularly because it is such hard work to get a first draft completed.
The next step is to seek feedback from respected peers or professionals who are willing to donate their time and expertise to reading over the content. They deliver ideally unbiased and constructive feedback.
A word of caution.
Receiving feedback for your writing, is on equal footing with receiving feedback on your performance.
You have to be objective about it and remove the habit of being over-sensitive. It pays to look at things with a technical eye over your work. Your characters and concept may be good, but your structure or pacing might be needing some adjusting. Or perhaps the dialogue doesn’t flow. There may be parts that are clear to you, but not to the reader.
Be open to new ideas or constructive suggestions on how to make your work stronger.
A table read with some fellow actors is always a great way to see how your script is interpreted by others and also another great source of feedback.
This process will inspire at least one other draft or several to really make it pop.
Once you have this newly formed final draft, it’s time to shift into “pre-production” mode.
As actors, we usually have a rough idea of what “pre-production” is.
However, it’s safe to say that if we are still in the infancy of our careers, we really only get exposed to the “production” phase. We are booked as a one-liner guest role, featured TVC or supporting student film where we are thrust into the action and we often miss just how much effort, skill and preparation is invested into pre-production. Believe me, it’s a LOT of work and you WILL need help along the way.
It is employing this help that will be key to generating the specific planning and thereby successful execution of your shoot.
It can often be a very left-brained activity involving spreadsheets, budgets, availabilities and scheduling.
Did that list of terms just make you slightly nauseous? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And this is why you need people who get a rush of excitement when
they open a spreadsheet for a new production. There are ways to go about finding these people if you don’t have anyone in your immediate sphere. And once you know-how, you can get the ball rolling to start wrangling your team.
From the outset, things will all depend on what quality you’re looking for which will ultimately factor into how much you are willing to spend.
As mentioned previously, if you want to do it all yourself with a smartphone, a mic, some basic lights and accessible locations, go for it. This is a cost-effective way to do it.
However, even though we are in a new golden age of the auteur and content creator, it’s not so easy to do it alone.
It really does take a village to deliver the goods. We may have skills in different areas outside of acting, but borrowing brains will take your content to the next level. As will investing a little money into the project.
When Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were grinding it out in Hollywood, far from being household names, they joined a bank account together.
Any money they put into it would help them with their careers.
It was a smart move in helping them not only survive the business but invest in themselves. And we all know what this disciplined approach rewarded them with.
I’m not suggesting you pool finances with a friend or colleague necessarily, but putting some coin aside for projects like this soon-to-be masterpiece of indy filmmaking is a worthwhile venture.
It will be the best schooling your money can buy in terms of experience. You can always try a crowdfunding platform if you believe strongly in your project too.
Whatever approach you decide on for this project will be completely unique to you.
And there are many factors to unpack. The aim here is to have you start putting serious thought into how you will get this project off the ground and into action.
It is important to start taking the next steps, as the industry is littered with people who have finished their scripts, perhaps even a masterpiece buried in their hard drives, slowly gathering digital dust.
Tragically, this is where many of them will stay. Steven Pressfield in his excellent book “The War of Art” frequently references the reason that many creative ventures fail to launch.
The term he uses is “Resistance”.
This term basically boils down to fear.
Our industry is a minefield of resistance and fear. What will people think? Is this any good? Am I able to do this? Just to name a few mind-viruses that can cripple you before you start.
However, if we give into Resistance…what happens?!
We certainly wouldn’t have Pheobe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag”, Vince Gilligan’s “Breaking Bad”, Laurie Nunn’s “Sex Education” or Michala Cole’s “I May Destroy You”…just to name a few.
Bold creators create phenomenal content.
One of my most motivational quotes is from Joseph Campbell:
“The cave you fear to enter… holds the treasure you seek”.
I have certainly found this to ring true for me over my content creation journey.
As all of us in the arts have had to endure two years of truly challenging, crushing and heartbreaking circumstances to navigate. We now need new bold voices more than ever.
Content to entertain, enlighten, amuse or disrupt. So as we limp our way from the isolation shadows and step bravely into our key light, remember Carrie Fisher’s quote:
“Take your broken heart, turn it into art”
This blog was intended to spark further inspiration for your next step as an artist.
If taking the next step as a creator is something you would like to do, would you then be interested in a course that will provide you with the A-Z of writing and producing your own online content? Including tutorials and feedback?
Please let us know at TAT if this is something you would be interested in.
Email to: [email protected]