I would like to take a moment to outline our Five Week Filmmaking course, at Sarah Lawrence College, and highlight what a student can expect when participating.
The program begins with an orientation meeting where students are informed about campus operations and overall policies of the school. Students participating in the course will be provided Student Photo Identification Cards that will provide them access to all Campus facilities including the Digital Editing Lab, Library, Dorms, and other facilities available over the summer months.
After General Orientation, a reception will be followed by a special orientation, provided by Resident Assistants (RAs), on the specifics of living on campus including information on special events and concerns specific to housing. The RAs will be available to students throughout the program to help with any questions or concerns that might arise over the weeks to follow.
It is important that students understand that we focus on the most important aspect of making movies. Storytelling is the backbone of our program. The Summer Filmmaking program revolved around the ability to properly translate the written page onto the screen. This is not to say that we do not cover the technical. Learning how to use camera, lights, and sound will all be part of the process. Without a solid foundation, you can shoot on the biggest and best camera in the world, and no one will sit and watch your movie. Let’s all make an extra special effort to tell a great story that will live beyond the five week experience and support your long-term goal of becoming a filmmaker.
We start the course with Screenwriting. Students will begin the program brainstorming and coming up with an idea that will be produced by the end of the course. Keep in mind every student will be producing their own project. To better prepare for this class you should start thinking about the kind of movie you would like to make. If nothing comes to mind don’t worry about it. That is what we are here to do.
One thing that needs to be clarified is how the curriculum works. Throughout the five weeks you will be participating in the following classes. Each class will have a different instructor:
Every Class is designed to build on the information from a previous session. That is to say, each day and session is integrated into each new lesson to build on the information designed to get to the next level. For instance, screenplays developed in the Screenwriting session are broken down and analyzed in the Directing Sessions. Once students have an understanding on how to breakdown a scene and compose shots, to convey the written page, they will then go into Camera and Lighting to learn how to use the tools that will bring their projects to life. This will then be followed by a working with Actors session, Producing overview, and finally a full Casting Session in the City where they will have the opportunity to cast professional actors into their films. Because of the way the curriculum is structured attendance and participation are very important to the success of your project.
The first two weeks of the program are filled with classes designed to prepare the student for making a film. Once the intensive “Cramming” of information is accomplished the pre-production phase of the program begins.
During Pre-Production students will work diligently to organize and piece together the elements that will make their final film. These elements include finding and locking down locations, gathering necessary props and wardrobe, scheduling, selecting production equipment, and ensuring you have everything necessary to produce the film. Students will not do this process alone.
Staff is available throughout the pre-production process to ensure they have as many things put together as possible to ensure a smooth shoot. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF OUR PROGRAM THAT SETS THE IFI APART FROM OTHER FILMMAKING PROGRAMS. The One-on-One support we provide each student is integral to the success of our program and the success of each and every film produced.
The Casting Session is the next phase of the process. As a group we take students into New York City where we conduct an all day Open Call Casting Session where actors audition for every project to be produced. This is a perfect opportunity to find the talent that will bring the project to life. Throughout the course of the full day event we get between 75-100 talented actors looking to work on our student productions. Once the casting session is over each student is to follow up if they see someone they are interested in working with.
Please note that students are responsible for providing transportation costs for their cast during the production time. On average this cost can be between $12-$40 depending on the number of days they will be using each cast member. In addition students will also need to provide meals to their talent and crew on the days of their shoot. I will clarify this further in the Production Segment.
In order to ensure that every student has enough time and support to produce their short film it is imperative that they attend the Final Scheduling Event prior to the production period. During this scheduling event students must bring all of their talent and crew schedules, Location limitations, and crew plans to the table. Every Production shoot will be scheduled into a production period at this time. In addition, each student will be scheduled along side a PRODUCTION STAFF MEMBER that will be on set at all times throughout the shoot to ensure everything is done according to the schedule and to ensure students complete their films. The Production Staff member will be available to help the Film Team make the film to the best of their ability. The Production Staff is not there to make the film for the student. It is very important that students take on full responsibility for their project and do their best to make it happen. The Production staff will be on hand to correct technical and Crew complications in addition to providing guidance on proper set etiquette and ensuring each project being shot has enough coverage to edit in the post process.
PRODUCTION BUDGET AND EXPENSES
The IFI and SLC will provide each student with as many FREE resources as possible to limit the expenses to make a final film. Equipment, On Campus locations, Available Props and Wardrobe are all included in the program tuition. What is not included in the program tuition are expenses that will be incurred by each final film produced by each student. Our faculty will work very hard to ensure students understand and work toward limiting the amount of money they will need to make their movie. That said, there are a few expenses that will be necessary to successfully complete a film. These expenses can include:
Talent Transportation – If students are working with talent from outside of the Sarah Lawrence Community they will need to provide transportation to and from campus or any location where the shooting will be taking place.
Meals Throughout the Shooting Period – Food is the heart and soul of a successful film shoot. Each student will be responsible to provide food throughout production. This is not as complicated as it sounds. Bagels and Coffee for breakfast, Pizza for lunch and, if it’s a long day, Chinese food for Dinner. This is a very big part of making movies and important to be included in their learning process. A happy film crew is a very productive film crew.
PROPS and WARDROBE – If there is a special prop or article of clothing that is needed for the shoot it needs to be purchased before the day of the production. If, for instance, a white shirt is needed and in a shot where the actor has to spill coffee on it, then several white shirts will be necessary for the shoot.
DRY CLEANING – For the most part Actors will be able to bring in wardrobe for their parts. If, for any reason, any article of clothing is soiled beyond what might be considered normal, it should be properly cleaned. Keep in mind that talent will be coming in to work with no compensation. We should do what we can to show our appreciation.
These are just a few examples of expenses that might arise as each film project comes together. On average we ask that students to not spend more than $250.00 on their final projects. Most of that expense should go toward transportation and Meals.
Once all the elements are in place the week of production will begin. Students should be aware that, in addition to their own film, they must collaborate and participate in the production of other projects. Each student should be working on, at the least, three other films in addition to their own project. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort. A film cannot be made alone. You must support others so they will in turn support you. It will be a very intense week. The more organized the production the better overall result. Understanding what you will need and working with your team to get it is crucial to a successful end product. Keep in mind that throughout this process a Production Staff member will be along side to make sure everything goes as planned. That being said there is always the possibility of something not going as planned. Actors get might get sick, locations become not available, camera malfunctions, etc. This is not the end of the world. We take a deep breath and push on through. Thinking on your feet and coming up with back up plans is part of the process. But, it is extremely important to always keep your cool and know that you are here to learn how to make a movie. Failure and complications are part of the learning process. Make mistakes, get corrected, adjust, and all will be great. Before you know it the shooting period will be over and you will be sitting in the editing room reviewing the footage from that incredibly crazy week of production.
During the editing process you will work on putting together the film you shot just days before. You will review the footage, check for missing elements and begin the editing process. As you piece together the scenes you will find out if there are elements missing that are integral to the telling of the story. If this happens, and time is still available, you will schedule a “Pick-UP” day to get the missing elements.
While in the Editing Room there will be an EDITING Monitor available to help you along the way. You will add music, sound effects, special effects, and titles to complete your film. Once completed you will export to DVD.
FINAL FILM DELIVERABLES
Once you are done with your film you need to do the following:
Make sure all of your media is located on your external hard drive. Nothing should ever be saved onto the Media Lab computers. They are wiped clean every night. Any media left on the computers will be erased.
Export a DVD Master that you will provide for the Final Screening.
Export a Quicktime File onto a DVD for our archive and upload on to our website. (This is with your permission only)
DVD copies to be made for all of your TALENT. This is very very important. You must provide a copy of your film to every actor that worked on your film.
We hope this provides a better understanding on the Five Week Program and what you can expect throughout the process. If you have any further questions or would like to speak to someone about the program please feel free to e.mail or call us. firstname.lastname@example.org - 718-796-4104