I’ll be back!

In the words of Schwarzenegger, "I'll be back!"

I’ve not done a blog post for a while, as you can tell. Things are going on in my life which tares me away from Habitual Films currently. However, since my love of filmmaking is still strong, I will be returning to the blog at a later date, preferably with more tips, more opinions and a whole load more analysis (possibly with more features to boot, as well as the possibility of a blog cast).

In the mean time, please feel free to shoot me an email if you want a specific topic covered or simply to say “hey dude, when is the next post coming?”.


What to look for while casting – 10 tips

Hugh Laurie cast for the role of House over the internet. It can be a wonderful tool if you've got the budget for it

Casting isn’t always necessary when it comes to filmmaking. If you’ve already got someone to fill a position, you can often skip over this step in the filmmaking process. On the other hand, if you’ve got a character and no actor, casting can become quite a nightmare – especially if you’re not used to deciding on which people should fill which role.

So I’ve developed a list of 10 tips for you to get to grips with to help out in this important step in the pre-production phase.

Read the rest of this entry »

Not feeling creative?

Often you might come across writer’s block, or lethargy in general when you need/want to be creative. But what happens when this goes on for too long? It can be really problematic. Now I’ve done 10 tips for generating creativity before (which can be found here [click me]) Here, I’ll discuss 5 things that can help you get into the creative mood:

1. Exercise. Exercise can be a major factor in mood. If you’ve been down lately, been apathetic, depressed, etc.. Do some exercise. Go for a walk, or run. Go for a bike ride. Heck, even do some weights. Because exercise releases endorphins which can give a major uplift for your mood. This in turn helps you to get back to normal and get creative again. You don’t need full on equipment, just go out for a jog. Use in conjunction with this next tip.

Exercise to release endorphins - endorphins are your friends!

2. Listen to music. As an art form, music is designed to evoke emotions. Whether good or bad, emotions can drive us. Emotions can inspire us. You can heighten your sense of creativity by closing your eyes (obviously not suitable if used in conjunction with the tip above) – allowing the music to generate imagery which you can build upon. The music can be anything, although do remember that music can effect your general mood – having a varied playlist may cause uneven work.

3. Tiredness. In my experience, coffee is not a substitute for sleep – no matter what anyone says. If you’re tired, all coffee may do is make you stay up longer and be more cranky – but not more imaginative. The best and only thing to do is sleep. Sleep, even for only half an hour – just to refresh yourself. I just did, and am feeling far more refreshed. Sleeping is also a marvellous way of dealing with stress. There are a few more ways of dealing with stress, but I won’t go into those.

No amount of coffee can replace actual sleep

4. Change location. Cabin fever can be a very bad thing for creativity. Being in the same location day in-day out prevents you from thinking outside of the box. The best way to combat this is to get outside. Head off into town, the park, etc.. Unfamiliar settings and even familiar ones that you haven’t been to in a while can really help. Look around at the decor, look around at the people, try a story exercise. For example, imagine there’s a killer in the room. Now, which person is most likely to be it? Which person is likely to be the victim? Create back stories for the people there (obviously, it doesn’t matter how true they are, the aim is to get the imagination going). What would the killer use in the room in order to achieve the murder? This can be adapted to suit whatever genre you’re writing.

5. Practice makes perfect. The overall best way of getting in the creative mood is to make it a habit. Any small time you’re waiting and have nothing to do, chip away at that idea. Carry a notebook with you, just to jot these down. Even while brushing your teeth, or going to the bathroom there’s a few moments where you can work or rework an idea. If you do this, it’ll become second nature to be able to sit down and focus, especially when you have an idea that you get excited about, this excitement can keep you going. Just remember though, keep the momentum going. There’s nothing worse than having a great idea and getting stuck on technicalities. If you’re having trouble solving a problem in the story, skip the problem for a while. You may end up coming up with a solution anyway.

This led to the creation of lolcats...

So, there you go. Go forth, and think!

Youtube Saturday: finishing of the editing week

Yep, it's THAT time of the week again!

Since this is editing week at Habitual Films, I have decided to offer a few videos on editing in various programs. Have a gander…

IndyMogul’s editing tips for Final Cut Pro, though most of the advice is applicable to many (if not all) advanced NLE systems. Now, we all remember what NLE stands for? Afterall, I have been using the term all week! 😛

This time, it’s Adobe’s Premiere Pro that gets the love. Although a little slow to start, and fairly basic instructions, it does set out some important points covered in some of this weeks tips, including using title tools, project settings and utilising the timeline.

A fairly basic tutorial on Sony Vegas, detailing how to import and export, some basic cutting functions and marking.

AVID Media Composer is next up, quite an in-depth detail on the various options on how to use the software, ideal for getting things done as quickly as possible, while still being able to do what you need to.

And finally, a good video of tips on how to choose the right video editing software. Not a bad little video, but if you’re looking at something a bit better to do filmmaking and such on, I would stay away from software like Power Director or Magix Movie Edit. Though it will obviously cost more…

Tips for directing – Part 1

The Directors chair: simultaneously the bossiest as well as possibly the least physically demanding job. Aside from the clapperboard guy...

Following on from my most successful blog post so far (10 tips for generating creativity – Parts 1 and 2), I’ve decided to lay down some tips to help potential future directors.

1. You’re the top dog. Remember this. You (and possibly the producer) have final say on things. Actors want to improvise some dialogue? It’s up to you. Lighting technician thinks a different kind of light would be better? It’s up to you. You make the calls, people look to you for leadership.

2. Assembly required. Assemble your crew – editor, lighting people, music and sound people, etc… You work as a team, and you’re in charge, top dog and you need to make sure that the team work to their best abilities, so you’ll need people that are easy to get on with for group unity. Any friction and it’s up to you to sort out. Anybody not being professional and not pulling their weight should also be dealt with. Saying that, the opposite is also true, your positive energy can inspire your crew. Don’t forget that.

Peter Jackson with a RED camera. His dedication to film inspires his cast and crew. It would be an amazing experience to work with him onset

3. It’s never good enough. One of my failings on previous work has been the attitude of “it’ll do”. Don’t give in to it. The scene will never live up to it’s full potential, because as a perfectionist (as all people who work in an art should consider themselves), there’s always something you can do to enhance your work. But, and this is a very big but, you have to let go eventually. Basically, make a great effort, but know when enough is enough. After all, a sage bit of advice that has been bestowed upon me from my darling Emily King: “done is better than perfect” – Don’t waste your time perfecting one bit if it means sacrificing time on the rest.

4. Fewer takes are better. This is a golden rule. If a shoot goes well, you don’t need to do it again. You should be practising the script enough so that it should go right the first time. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t always work, but it’s better for everyone all round if you do as few takes as possible – especially for the editor. Choosing a single good take is quicker and better than having to choose between 5 perfectly good takes.

5. Planning is key. Feeding into the idea of practising, everything should be as planned out as possible. Everyone should know what to do and when to do it. If somebody doesn’t, it’s your failing for not filling them in enough, or making your vision clear enough, and you’ll waste time, energy and money.

The next 5 tips are here.

10 tips for generating creativity part 1

You may end up with many of these before you get what you want. Just keep at it!

Writers block can be hard to overcome. Getting a film into production relies on the depth of pre-production, but sometimes finding the will to create in pre-production can be hard. Here’s 10 tips (in no particular order) which I think can really help that:

1. Throw away the guilt. That is something that gets me a lot. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to create. Simple as that. I’ve got a vast number of DVDs and games to watch and play. Don’t feel guilty for watching those instead. They can help generate ideas. If you feel guilty, you generally stay away from them, but you inevitably end up doing something you want to do even less – like checking emails or going on facebook. Then you feel even more guilt about not doing what you want. I know it sound weird, but it’s better for you to storm through that thing you wanted to do before writing. Otherwise, the writing suffers. Just get out of your system!

2. Build up expectations. If you’re trying to write something, the best thing is to provide external expectations. Tell people the story that you’re writing. That way, when they meet up with you next, they’ll ask how it’s going and provide that little extra umph for you to knuckle down – if only to say something other than, “I haven’t really done much”. Besides, the more people you tell, the more excitement there will be of your creation, and more energy you can draw from that.

3. Distractions. Other than those DVD’s on the shelf you really want to watch, you have to figure out what distracts you. I personally found that TV’s and music really distracts me. The Missus is the exact opposite, she can’t work without background noise, or even just music. It’s best to isolate what is distracting – facebook distracting you? Disconnect from the internet. I personally have found that since getting my mobile phone, I’m not at my computer just staring at the screen, waiting for an email or facebook post to arrive. I can get it on the move, and that actually frees me.

Facebook - a great source of distraction

4. Location. Locations can be essential for creativity. You’re more likely to come up with unusual, novel or original ideas when you’re not in your regular place. If you work a lot at home, go out into town. If you’re always in town, get out to the countryside, to the beach, the a museum. Just get out of that comfort zone – it’s not a nurturing environment for mystery. It’s a breeding ground for complacency and the mundane – because you know all there is to know about the places you go regularly.

5. Feedback. When you’ve written something, you need to be strong. Your first instinct is to think of it either too highly, or too lowly. Your work, much like everybody else’s can be better, but it’s never absolute rubbish. Take constructive criticism. Is there something somebody doesn’t understand? It needs to be clearer then. Somebody saw a plot twist coming a mile off? Tone down the foreshadowing. Always remember though, your work is in progress. Even as a video editor, I still have to let go from the tinkering. Eventually, you just have to say enough is enough, and let it go, before you over-engineer your work.

In the next blog post, I will continue 6 to 10. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until monday…