Introduction to Film Ideas
The exciting moment has arrived when you have decided that your movie ideas are actually worth pursuing. Just letting your imagination run wild gets your creative juices flowing even more! While reaching this critical decision is certainly exhilarating, it is necessary to take a step back and accept the fact that the most arduous part of making a movie is still ahead of you. A combination of creative and technical considerations come into play, but most of all, you must remember that truly great movie ideas require a great amount of hard work.
Are you willing to focus and make your dream come true? I use the word “dream” because I believe that film ideas are dreams that are just waiting to be turned into reality and that you are the only one who is capable of transforming new movie ideas into living and breathing life forms. It may seem like a daunting task since this will only happen if YOU are willing to work hard, be smart about the process, and never give up!
If you have answered a resounding “Yes!” then it is time to begin with your meticulously clear movie idea. From there, write down all of the concepts into a story and then turn that into a script.
As your experienced cinematic instructor, I will take you through each step from casting actors and selecting locations to figuring out music and color schemes. Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime?
Discovering Perfect Movie Ideas
The first step requires you to brainstorm movie ideas to find the right concept that you want to become the next favorite for family movie night. What is the true essence of the storyline? Is it about your own life or about your own family stories? What interesting characters do you incorporate in the plot? Could you tell the story of a young boy or a young girl, how a man discovers love for a young woman, or an old man revealing a dark secret? Is it about a serial killer or an evil witch? Is it an animated film or several short films? Is it science fiction or about world events? Is it a true story for the next family movie night? Will the movie script pique the interest of the whole family? Furthermore, who is your intended audience and what are they most interested in?
As you capture film ideas, keep in mind that good movie ideas will engage your audience’s emotions, deliver a credible argument, and propose certain intriguing concepts. In order to work all of these factors into your plot, movie ideas should also reflect real-life events and have a great personal meaning for you so that you can easily envision the story and convey it to your audience regardless of the genre.
Writing a Story with New Ideas
When it all comes down to it, all movie ideas have to be written into interesting and emotionally charged stories with credible people who have realistic character flaws. Your main character, or the protagonist, is on a life-changing journey and their wants or needs must be compelling. Start writing your own script and draw inspiration from other movies, capturing ideas no matter what they may be. Think about the technical aspects of the pace, structure, and dialogue to transform the plot and give the audience a breath of fresh air as they view it on the big screen.
Converting Your Story to a Script
In movie making, truly compelling film ideas offer a start, but the story must always be written in the form of a script. It is divided into acts, scenes, and shots that include a multitude of crucial details about your story. If you run into writer’s block, it may be helpful to hire a professional screenwriter to assist with the length of the acts, the tenure and pacing of each action, and the overall emotional content to make the plot truly powerful. For our film titled “Trapped,” I hired an English school teacher to make sure my spelling and grammar were proper.
Casting the Right Actors
It is imperative that movies are cast by seasoned professionals and not just any new kid on the block. The actors should physically look and act like the characters you have envisioned, from each young girl or young woman to the undercover superheroes or bad guys. Consider the quality of each actor’s voice and their photographic expressions as well. Once you decide that each one is credible and true to your visualized character, then you have the right actor!
Scouting for Filming Locations
The filming locations must perfectly fit each story perfectly to make movies seem realistic and evoke emotions. When you receive a suggestion for a location, always go check it out for yourself. Spend time evaluating it according to your standards and in comparison to what you have envisioned and described within your movie script. Among the details that you evaluate, prioritize the lighting before committing to any location.
Determining the Proper Art Direction
Having the proper art direction is another very important part of your movie. Not only will it make sure that everything looks and feels right, but it will give you the consistency you need as you stay within the color pallet that you have chosen. Choosing the right art direction involves carefully and deliberately creating the visual elements that support your story, characters, and themes. Perhaps your movie tells how a woman discovers a dark secret. What colors match that storyline, her personality, and the suspenseful plot?
Having a good art director means that you have someone to bring professionalism to create an amazing world for the audience, complete with props, drawings, sketches, and models. When it all comes down to it, proper art direction can either make or break a story. A movie with great art direction will be believable, immersive, and visually stunning, but one with poor art direction will be distracting and ruin family movie night.
Creating the Perfect Wardrobe
A costume designer will help you create the perfect wardrobe for your experienced actors, offering fresh perspective by doing the necessary wardrobe research to match your vision with their ideas for designs that perfectly fit the characters, setting, and time period. Remember to also consider the cost of creating the wardrobe and how comfortable the actors are in incorporating their own ideas into each custom-made design.
Hiring an Experienced Lawyer
Having a lawyer for your production is absolutely necessary for your process. You will need your lawyer to draft contracts for your talent teams and make sure that your agreements with the distributors and sales companies are secure so you can conduct proper business. Another helpful tip is to find a lawyer who is experienced in handling movies under entertainment law, which is a specialized area that deals with the unique challenges of production. For example, your lawyer will help protect your intellectual property, including the script, characters, and all of the details that go along with your perfect movie idea, so that your hard work will not be stolen and credited to another.
Once all of the above details have been taken care of, it is time to start thinking about putting together a schedule for rehearsals. This is an absolutely imperative stage in making movies that allows you as the director to work closely with all of your actors to make sure that their performance includes all of the appropriate actions and emotions as reflected in the script so that they are properly conveyed during family movie night. Since wardrobe rehearsal is also a part of your own life right now, it also gives your actors better access to you so they understand what is required in each scene and helps them deliver a more correct portrayal of their character. Like the other critical parts we discussed, well-rehearsed scenes have the potential to make or break movie ideas.
Breaking Down the Script Shot by Shot
As you prepare to direct rehearsals, it is time to break down your script into manageable portions for each day’s work, being careful to keep certain technical considerations in mind. For instance, you will be working closely with the cinematographer and keeping an eye out for the lighting, action, and camera angles to ensure that everything is delivering the right look and includes the perfect emotional impact in every scene. When handled properly, the entire message with all of your good ideas will be evident.
Finding the Correct Color Pallet
While you are working on the individual shots, it is also important to keep an eye on the overall details. Having the correct color pallet for your film establishes a consistent tone and feeling. It is a subtle element of the production, but it carries a profound psychological message to the audience. Make sure that you are working closely with the production designer at this part of the process to determine that the coloring best suits and conveys emotional meaning to the viewer as described in the script.
Choosing the Right Music Tonality
If color is food for the eye, then music is food for the ear. Together, they work hand-in-hand to create personality. Music is an abstract commodity that we are unable to see or touch but is a fine art that resides here on planet Earth and can even ascend into heaven. Music can bring intense feelings to family movie night and emphasize, dramatize, and underscore the overall emotional and psychological impact. As you work very closely with a composer to create the music that is appropriate for each scene, your message will be continuously enhanced.
Estimating the Duration of Movies
If you want your first movie to progress with maximum efficiency, you will need to calculate the production time. It certainly takes practice to estimate an accurate duration for short film ideas and full-length movies, but there are many important factors that rely on this detail, such as having a production schedule that matches the time from the first rehearsal to the final release. Depending on if you have a short film or a longer movie idea, your budget and staff needs will have to fit into that. In addition, whether you are creating family movies or sci-fi, the duration impacts a movie’s ability to be distributed in front of certain audiences.
Beginning the Filming Process
At last, it is time for your perfect movie idea to become a new story to keep the whole family entertained! The efforts of the crew, the cinematographer, the actors, and countless other team players merge as the shooting process begins. It is particularly important for you as the director to emphasize the need for everyone to demonstrate mutual respect for one another and show complete cooperation as your movies are being born. Other helpful tips are to practice effective communication, remain flexible when weather or other factors change the schedule, stay as organized as possible throughout the filming process, and remain calm with a good attitude no matter what happens.
Conducting Post-Production Elements
After each scene has been successfully completed, your short film segments will move into the stage where we work on assessing, fine-tuning, and perfecting all of the technical aspects. Some of the most important elements in improving movies cover sound design and music, the interaction between dialogue and sound effects, the balance with color correction and color grading, and the different distribution strategies that are available. We will delve deeply into each step below, as I bring in key insights from my own movie-making experiences.
Working on Film Editing
Film editing, or movie cutting, is a very important process of the process in making movies. When done well, your film will be beautifully enhanced. When done poorly or entirely wrong, great film ideas and beautiful stories can be permanently destroyed with little effort. Therefore, it is a very good idea to have an experienced film editor who can be involved in the entire process from when the script is first locked into place. One extra fun fact is that the more that your editor knows about your vision and your story from the beginning of the process, the better that he or she will be able to present it to the audience.
Addressing Color Correction and Color Grading
The dual factors of color corrections and color grading have the power to richly enhance the visual aspects of your film. The work is done in a very subtle way to define the overall look and tone of the movie, which is particularly important because it influences the viewer to continue watching the film while often being completely unaware of how the color elements are shifting and changing throughout the story.
Color correction gives your film a sense of balance and visual consistency that the initial filming was unable to capture. Lights that are too bright and darks that appear too black can all be adjusted to their proper hues. When properly executed, the color will reflect an appropriate sense of balance that relates to the emotional tenure and the general overall mood of the short film.
To address color grading correctly, you will need to work with a color specialist who brings invaluable color knowledge to the table and will help you develop a beautiful color pallet that properly reflects the emotions and moods within your film. In addition, this expert can also assist you with enhancing the visual tones and deciding on which colors will dominate, be recessive, or not be included at all. As the gradation of color hues and values are determined, each of them will be used to directly increase the emotional tenure of your film. All in all, this color work is an extremely important part of the process because it often defines the film visually without any verbal interaction.
Preparing the Perfect Sound Design
Another important post-production process is to coordinate all of the sounds so that your film appears as realistic and as natural as possible. It is not an easy task to perfectly blend the interaction of foley, dialogue, and music, but this is what rehearsals are for so that all sound effects can be tested to see if they seem credible and real. It is particularly imperative that all dialogue is spoken clearly, musical interludes correctly add to the overall mood, and foley sounds are completely accurate.
Dialogue is an essential part of any film because it helps tell the story, develop characters, and create a sense of realism. In fact, dialogue is the primary way that films communicate with their audiences because it is here that the characters share information, reveal their motivations, and move the story forward. Dialogue also helps your movie match real life, drawing the viewer further into the story every time a character opens their mouth in a way that is natural and in a clear tone.
Music has been important for every film ever since they were first invented. Even during the silent movie era, there was always a piano playing in the background. As technology has advanced, you as the director can collaborate with a composer to bring in the best soundtrack to match your story.
The composer must comprehend the mood and emotion that you are seeking to portray, bringing their expertise to enhance the impact of certain scenes by using the drama and intensity of sound. Musical moments are especially powerful when preceding flashbacks, showing the duration of passing time, or bringing the viewer into the future. In whatever way you use music to strengthen your story, always bear in mind that the music must never be overpowering; otherwise, it could destroy the tone and meaning of the film.
One last note to make is that if you prefer not to work with a composer, you also have the option to rent or even lease existing soundtracks. You must be cautious if you take this route, however, and make sure to confer with your lawyer about all of the complex legal issues that are involved.
This term refers to the extemporaneous everyday sounds that are required in a film. For example, if we visually see kids running around at summer camp, we also expect to hear the pattern of many feet. In another scene with a plane crash, we will need the sound of an explosion. The inclusion of each of these sounds makes the film come across as real life.
As an art form, foley is complex and challenging to conduct properly, but it is absolutely essential to filmmaking. Foley artists use their creativity and skill to create sounds that help bring films to life. Ordinarily, it begins with going through the script and creating a sound breakdown to make sure that all credible sounds are included throughout the movie. When done properly, foley is genuine, complementary, and perfectly coordinated with the rest of the sounds occurring so that the audience is not even aware that it is happening.
Mixing the Right Sound Effects
While you are working hard to carefully include all of the different sound effects in your film, the audio must be properly mixed and balanced. For instance, music should not be too high or too low but should complement the dialogue and foley. Every element has its proper place in the movie and must be professionally blended together in a realistic and unnoticeable way.
To make sure that all of the sounds properly overlap, begin with the dialogue as the most important element in the film. Is it clear, audible, believable, and engaging? Once you have worked that out, move on to add your music and Foley to support the dialogue without overpowering it. Also, do not be shy about experimenting with different sound levels to see what mix works the best and gives you the most powerful impact for viewing enjoyment.
Rendering to Different Platforms
The next step is to render your movie so that it complies with different platforms. In other words, your movie must now be converted into a format that can be played back on different devices to best suit your different viewers whether they are using a smartphone, tablet, computer, or television set. When rendering your film, always be sure to use high-quality video editing software that includes a variety of presets for different devices.
Formats and Resolutions
Every platform has specific conditions and technical requirements that must all be properly addressed before the film can be offered in that format. In other words, each device has its own resolution or number of pixels that make up its screen. To ensure that your movie will look good on each device, it must be rendered in the correct resolution for that screen size.
Compression and Bitrates
Your film’s compression size will also need to be correctly calculated so that the file can be reduced without decreasing its quality. In addition, the bitrates will also need to be calculated to make sure that each platform allows for playback. While this seems like a very technical and difficult process to navigate, by having the right professional on your film team to assist, you can guarantee that your entire movie and its video and audio elements are all properly adjusted to fit the size of the device that it will be played on.
Another detail to be aware of is that each device has its own aspect ratio or the ratio of the width to the height of the screen. Because the ratio changes depending on which platform is used, your film will need to be adjusted for each device to make sure that the picture is not warped. For example, a widescreen uses a ratio of 16:9 while most social media platforms use 1:1. Once again, a professional editor using high-quality rendering software is an invaluable part of this process.
Subtitles and Closed Captions
Depending on the needs of your audience, it may be helpful to offer the option for your film to display subtitles and closed captions. These considerations can be calculated and conducted through reliable software.
Creating the Best Visual Effects
As I have mentioned many times before, choosing the right tools and having experienced people on your team is an incremental part of turning your perfect movie idea into a powerful film. Visual effects are an integral part of creating your story, so make sure to choose the right software that works for you and the professional individuals who will bring your vision to life.
Selecting the Right Sales Professional
A great sales professional is your final hire who will get your finished movie into the hands of those that you produced it for. Start by looking for an individual who possesses all of the skills and experience to handle your film, particularly someone who already has worked in the industry before, has a track record of success, and knows how to close deals. Another helpful characteristic is that the right sales professional will be passionate about selling for the big screen since someone who is excited about other movies can also create enthusiasm for your project and has a greater likelihood of successfully closing more deals.
Once you hire the right professional to run sales for you, it is time to sit down and make your expectations very clear. Do you want to sell your movie to one particular distributor or make it available to as many places as possible? What kind of budget do you have for sales and marketing? Equipping your sales manager with all of the information that they need to go out and sell your film means that both of you have a greater chance of being successful in the highly competitive movie market.
Finding the Right Distribution
The day has finally arrived for your movie to be distributed! Long gone are the days when many movies are contracted with Warner Brothers, so you have many options to consider about how your film will be directed to the proper audiences. Let’s explore those strategies below.
Today, the method of digital distribution has become the best way to promote movies and make them available for everyone, from a group of friends to the whole family. From streaming services to video-on-demand options, best friends and adults alike enjoy easy access to viewing new releases in the comfort of their own homes.
Other viewers prefer to purchase movies on DVD so that they can own the film and watch it whenever they would like. While this option has seen a decrease ever since the rise of digital distribution, it is an important option to consider based on your target audience.
This is an ideal way to give your film a chance to gain popularity, visibility, and buzz. Seek out the festivals that best relate to your movie’s genre and then check out less well-known festivals, since both options can be beneficial.
Theatrical releases were historically known to attract large audiences and have become much rarer today following the Covid 19 pandemic. Make sure to do your research and homework about the options in your area and whether it would be a worthwhile pursuit.
The international film scene often offers a host of worldwide contacts. To establish your movie in these arenas, you will need to connect with a large firm that can handle the distribution for you.
Working on Marketing and Promotion
As you continue to work on sales and marketing so that your film can be shared with many viewers, keep in mind the many other ways to generate interest. Promote your movie ideas through advertising, radio coverage, TV interviews, news headlines, social media platforms, special screenings, your own group of friends, and press releases—to name a few! Work with your sales manager to come up with new ideas and follow up with every single available venue to have your film promoted.
As we have learned in detail, making a film is an exciting and arduous challenge. The many aspects and details may truly seem endless! However, as we have carefully shown in this blog, every step is important and must be properly addressed to create a great work of art.
Let’s briefly refresh our memories and remind all of our fellow filmmakers about the many concerns that are involved in the process. It all begins with great movie ideas for a story, writing a detailed movie script, casting experienced actors, scouting ideal locations, carefully breaking down the script, rehearsing, and making a decision on the duration. Then comes the time to finally conduct the filming! After that, we work out the details of color, music, tone, sound, and foley. Once each of those steps is completed, we must make decisions for the marketing and distribution of the film.
In conclusion, successfully creating a film is a great undertaking with many different important details to manage. Best of all, always bear in mind one last powerful fact—with a film, you actually create a world that is only known to you as the movie maker, which is then transformed into a real experience for countless people to enjoy during their own family movie night!