How To’s

How to Use Crowdfunding Sites Like Kickstarter & Indiegogo to Fund Your Film

Nothing speaks to the independent filmmaking spirit quite like crowdfunding. Not only can you get your project made without relying on traditional top-down sources, but also a successful campaign demonstrates your film’s marketability to potential distributors. Not all crowdfunding campaigns have the built-in fan base of the wildly successful “The Veronica Mars Film Project,” so we’ve gathered some tips and resources to help you make sure your crowdfunding campaign reaches, or even surpasses, its goal.

Do Your Homework

16059766625_9c905b52d3_b

As we mentioned in this article comparing crowdfunding sites, you need to know the particulars of the platform and choose accordingly. Kickstarter and Indiegogo both have track records of funding successful filmmaking projects, and looking at their film and video specific project pages makes clear that trending projects include feature films, documentaries and shorts. GoFundMe, on the other hand, has gone in another direction with the majority of its campaigns being personal rather than creative. Also, keep in mind that Indiegogo allows users to collect and keep funds as the campaign proceeds, while Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing game, where you must choose a deadline and a minimum goal that you must meet in order to collect funds.

Hit the Ground Running

pen-calendar-to-do-checklist

Do your research and have everything in place before your campaign starts. Whatever platform you choose, spend some time perusing projects, especially those that seem similar to your own. Both the successes and failures can help you.

Also, try to line up PR before launching. Doing the work before the campaign clock starts ticking will give you a better chance of success. According to this article at CrowdCrux.com, gaining the interest of strangers is most likely to occur within the first three days of launching: “At this stage, you will be in the recently launched tab and if you hustle and get supporters early, you can become a trending project.” After that window, it gets much harder.  

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Story

pexels-photo-127968

Setting up your project page with a clear, concise, and compelling story including visuals and a realistic budget is vital. According to Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook, “there are some basic questions you should answer including: ‘Who are you? What are you planning to make? Where did this project come from? What’s your plan, and what’s your schedule?’” In other words, you want to transmit your passion and excitement to potential backers, while assuring them that you are qualified and capable of bringing the idea to life.

Attract the Low Rollers

pexels-photo-259165

Remember that the beauty of crowdfunding is that many backers with shallow pockets can take the place of one or two execs with deep pockets — but, they will also want return on their investment. According to this Entrepreneur.com article, the most popular pledge amount at Kickstarter is $25, so you want to make sure “the affordable perks don’t run out too fast, or you risk losing potential backers who can’t afford steeper offerings.”

Filmmakers are lucky to have built-in social media minions in the way of cast and crew. However, don’t rely on them to come up with their own mini-campaigns. Give them shareable items that they can customize for their own network. Most Kickstarter campaigns don’t go viral, but that doesn’t mean they don’t succeed. Don’t be shy to reach out to friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances and everybody you can think of that might be interested.

Have you managed a successful crowdfunding campaign? Tell us your experience in the comments below. And learn more about filmmaking and producing with a variety of short- and long-term programs at the New York Film Academy.

What You Can Learn From Great Movie Openings

All movies aim to grab the viewer right from the start and keep their attention for the next couple of hours, but great title sequences can be the secret weapon to help a filmmaker achieve that goal. Great title sequences help set the scene, give insight into the main character, or set up the emotional tone for the film. The title sequences below are just a handful of the innovative openings great designers have created for films in a variety of genres.

392px-The_Man_with_the_Golden_Arm_poster

Saul Bass brought his graphic designer’s touch to the opening sequence of Otto Preminger’s “The Man with The Golden Arm” (1955) and helped change title sequences from a simple list of credits to another part of the storytelling. His philosophy was that films should engage the audience from the first frame and “create a climate for the story that was about to unfold.”

Catch Me if You Can” (2002) uses a fantastic animated sequence to visually sum up the film’s main character and theme. The bold color block animation by Oliver Kuntzel and Florence Deygas is a loving nod to the work of  Saul Bass, who designed sequences for Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese, among others.

The beautifully choreographed opening to “Raging Bull” (1980) features the lone figure of Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro) warming up in the ring as flashbulbs pierce the haze of cigar smoke. The viewer has a ringside view and the ropes of the boxing ring give us the sense that LaMotta is a caged animal and we are lucky to be on the opposite side of the ropes from him. Title designer Dan Perri came up with the idea of mashing the two words of the film’s title together on screen to emphasize LaMotta’s driven, angry character.

Iginio Larandi designed the title sequence for “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (1966), using stills from the film, a Western-style font, high contrast colors, and an animated horse and rider galloping along to Ennio Morricone’s theme that conjures up the sounds of the Wild West.

Disney’s 1991 “Beauty and the Beast” uses a cleverly animated series of stained glass windows and a traditional narrator to explain the curse and open the storybook  world of magic, curses, and princes who need to find the meaning of love.

Pink_Panther.svg

Hawley Pratt’s opening to Blake Edwards’ “Pink Panther” (1964) was so popular, the cartoon panther was used in theatrical shorts, comic books, and a cartoon series. Henry Mancini’s theme song became instantly tied to the Pink Panther character.

And of course, no discussion of title sequences would be complete without mentioning the iconic James Bond openings. From Maurice Binder and Trevor Bond’s sequence for “Dr. No” (1962) to “Spectre” (2015), the franchise has always combined striking graphics, visual effects, and music that set the tone for the film and immediately engages the audience.

Want to know more about graphic design? Check out NYFA’s article Five Famous Graphic Designers Who Changed the Industry Forever. To learn more about filmmaking, visit New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking School.

What Does A Production Designer Do?

The_Great_Hall,_Hogwarts

Production designers may not be as well-known outside the film industry as directors, writers, and producers, but aspiring filmmakers learn very quickly that movies can never go from idea to the big screen without a talented production designer. If you’re a creative person with sharp visual awareness and great design skills, this career path might be perfect for you. To help you explore this option, here we’ll answer the first important question when considering production design: What exactly does a production designer do?

There On Day One

487389419_1280x720

As the head of the art department, the production designer is in charge of making sure each shooting location is perfect, prepared, and on point with the vision of the film. Film is a language of visual storytelling, and so the visuals captured by the camera matter immensely. Your locations, sets, costumes, lights, etc. all work together to create a world on screen, and this world is a crucial part of telling your film’s story. Having an incredible script and cast of actors onboard won’t be enough if what the audience will be looking at doesn’t tell a cohesive story. This is why the production designer’s job starts during pre-production alongside the director and producer of the project. The production designer takes the writer’s work, the director’s vision, and the producer’s plan, and synthesizes it into a visual story.

Together, the pre-production team formulate ideas and plan for the visual context that will be used to tell a captivating story. This includes deciding on colors, themes, compositions, and other visual elements that work best to evoke the emotions, themes, and actions of each scene and the project as a whole. With their strong knowledge of art and design, including color theory, lighting, and more, the production designer will have a significant influence on the final look of the movie — and, indeed, on how the audience experiences the story.

Doing the Homework

art-supplies-1324034_960_720

Once the desired look and feel of the movie has been decided, it is up to the production designer to make it happen. This begins with research. Production designers help identify which places and assets will be needed to create the right atmosphere for each scene. Whether it’s a sci-fi adventure set in the year 3000 or a story about the conquest of England by Vikings a thousand years ago, the product designer makes sure every detail is considered when crafting a believable set.

Another big responsibility left in the hands of the product designer is the budget. They play a big hand in calculating the cost of materials and resources needed, including any CGI elements required for the movie. More often than not, the production designer is responsible for helping to steer a production around the common pitfall of a misallocated budget. Many film projects fail to bring a story to life in an enthralling way simply because money was spent unwisely, leaving certain departments with little to work with. Production designers must keep the whole film and the whole budget in mind at all times.

Making the Story Come Alive

5476654623_8f03d3f94b_b

After countless design sketches and discussions with art directors, the art team is finally ready to turn all those drawings and ideas into reality. Since the art department is usually the largest on any film set, the product manager must have good management skills to make sure everything is being made with the same creative vision. This includes working with set designers, illustrators, graphic artists, wardrobe supervisors, set decorators, propmasters, makeup artists, special effects supervisors, and more.

Like any creative project, things don’t always go as planned. A product designer is often called upon to come up with quick, effective solutions on set, all while making sure the whole team stays motivated, creative, and productive. The best product designers have enough patience to lead their team amidst script changes or unexpected issues so that each milestone is reached no matter what.

Is Production Designer The Role For You?

As you can see, product designers hold a position of unique and important responsibility within a film. As a production designer, you’ll be expected to be fully present and fully engaged from start to finish, working long hours every step of the way in order to make sure the movie looks as intended. Without the production designer’s organization, creativity, and knowledge, every area of the art department would have trouble staying focused and on the same page. And without a cohesive design, the look of a film may not be strong enough to tell its story.

If you’re confident in your artistic abilities and boast a great amount of imagination, then the career path of production design may be just right for you. Even though it’s a demanding and exhausting job, few gigs in the industry offer more creative expression, fulfillment, and control than that of product designer.

What appeals to you most about working as a production designer? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about film production at the New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking School.

To Film Fest or Not to Film Fest: Creative Approaches to Distribution in the Digital Age

Film festivals used to be the only way for indie filmmakers to find exposure and, if lucky, a distributer. But with the explosion of video on demand (VOD), filmmakers have real choices to make: Should you premiere your project in a film fest? Should you release your film online in tandem with your film fest premiere? Or do you skip the film fest and concentrate your efforts on marketing your VOD release?

Here we offer insights into several alternatives to help you make the right choice for your project.

Option 1: Submitting to the Film Fest

Dubai-Filmfestival-2010

The film fest is the time-tested route for indie filmmakers to garner accolades and maybe even grab a distributer. NYFA maintains a comprehensive list of film festivals here. However, if you’re spending a huge chunk of time and money applying to festivals and not getting in, or not winning the awards, you may need to switch up your strategy.

Option 2: Getting Noticed Online

antler-1868902_960_720

It can no longer be assumed that film fests will deny entrance based on a film’s online status. In fact, this Raindance article suggests some film fests actively look to places like Vimeo to source films for their lineup.

Vimeo (as opposed to YouTube) is the professional choice for filmmakers. Even if a particular festival does not consider previously released videos, many more accept submissions as password-protected Vimeo links. Withoutabox streamlines the process of submitting online.

Option 3: Simultaneous Release

sundance18118961764_538d97bd81_b

Ok, so you got into a film fest, now how can you make the most of it? Take a cue from Sundance, who premieres select films on demand and at the festival simultaneously. This ensures a wider audience and a longer life for your film while taking advantage of the festival’s promotion.

Option 4: Straight to VOD

office-583839_960_720

Amazon Video Demand and Quiver Digital (which bundles on demand across several platforms including iTunes) offer obvious alternatives to the film fest. And, as Beyond the Film Festival demonstrates for the Pacific Northwest, there are also regional outlets that can get your film in front of eyeballs.

Option 5: Distribution DIY

hollywood-1246529_960_720

In the current VOD world, a filmmaker can take distribution into his or her own hands. As howtosellyourmovie.com puts it: “The films that get distribution packages don’t need distribution packages.” In other words, distributors don’t tend to take chances, and will gladly vie for projects that demonstrate their marketability.

A Cannes winner will not have much trouble finding a distributors, but these days, it’s not clear if it needs one. The big festival winners can have almost instantaneous worldwide distribution and fame via VOD. For example, Amazon creates “Demand Stars” by offering a million dollars shared profits (on top of the chosen revenue package) to its most popular television shows and films.

Secret Option 6 – Infinity?

infinity-1737624_960_720

No matter what route you choose, it’s important to make your product appealing. A distributor is not the magic bullet any more than is uploading your film to Amazon. The difference these days is that you, as filmmaker, can take a lot more control of your film’s destiny and profits. And you have more options.

Do you have creative distribution stories to tell? Let us know your experiences in the comments below. And learn more at New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking School.

How to Hone Your Individual Style as a Filmmaker

Film_team_(155085339)

In a time when everyone wants to be the next great filmmaker, the task of standing out can seem daunting. The following are a few things every aspiring filmmaker should consider in order to develop their own style and make a name for themselves in the film industry.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Ethnographer_filming_Józef_Rucki,_craftsman_making_kierpce_shoes

It’s a silly thing to try discovering your own voice as a filmmaker when you’re not even actively making films. It’s like trying to decide what kind of painter you want to be before creating enough works to know your strengths and weaknesses along with what you like. In other words, honing your individual style takes time and practice.

These days, there’s no excuse not to get behind the camera and see what you’re capable of doing. With today’s technology, you can grab a digital camera or even your smartphone and start learning how you want to one day convey your stories to your future audience. This goes beyond only doing film assignments in school and messing around with personal projects of your own.

Find Out What Tools and Techniques You Prefer

3028138080_bebeb64ac7_b

It’s impossible to sharpen your individual style without understanding which techniques work best with your ideas. In fact, some of the most prominent and iconic filmmakers in our industry can be defined in part by the type of lenses they use. A film made by Stanley Kubrick, one of the most influential directors in cinematic history, will almost always employ wide-angle lenses, which arguably help his numerous long tracking shots evoke more emotion.

The more you play with different tools and techniques, the sooner you’ll nail down the combination of things that will make your films unique. You might find that the stories you want to share can make use of extra long takes, also like Kubrick. We also recommend learning what kind of lenses work best for particular types of movies.

Think About The Ideas You Want To Convey

Alfred_Hitchcock's_The_Wrong_Man_trailer_02

Honing your own style goes beyond the technical elements of filmmaking. Once you’ve mastered all the popular camera shots every filmmaker should know, you need to decide why you’re using them in the first place. Almost all of the biggest names in Hollywood showed a trend in terms of ideas and themes they preferred having in their stories, and so should you.

By studying Alfred Hitchcock’s films you’ll notice many recurring plot devices and themes he used throughout his career. These elements, along with his incredible talent as a director and producer, are what helped make him take the movie industry by storm. Film is arguably one of the most powerful storytelling mediums we have today — take advantage of this by injecting some of yourself into your work.

Become Effective At Communicating Your Vision To Your Team

The_Prop_Store_of_London_-_LA_-_Rutger_Hauer_and_Harrison_Ford_chairs_from_Blade_Runner_(6300929083)

As an aspiring filmmaker, it’s important for you to realize that making movies is a team effort. Where some TV and cartoons portrayals might give the false impression that a director simply sits in a tall chair and yells action, a real-life director is responsible for many, many things — including making sure that everyone on the team understands the vision, the goals, and the strategy to be achieved. A good director is able to get the cinematographers, actors, and the rest of the crew on the same page so the script comes to life as intended.

There’s nothing worse than having an amazing idea in mind that doesn’t come through in the final cut solely because you failed to communicate it to your team. Getting good at communicating your ideals will help you hone your individual style by seeing it come to fruition time and time again. This is vital whether it’s your first film project or you already have a few under your belt.

What have you discovered about your individual style and voice as a filmmaker? Interested in learning more about New York Film Academy’s filmmaking programs? Let us know in the comments below!

Technical Tips for First-Time Filmmakers

night-television-tv-theme-machines

Every person dreaming of becoming a professional filmmaker had that same special moment: You were watching perhaps one of your favorite films of all time when suddenly you thought, “I want to make movies too.”

Of course, not everyone who has this moment actually ends up following through with their goal. This is because anyone can see a great movie and think they can make something just as good, if not better. But the reality is that filmmaking requires dedication, hard work, and a great deal of problem-solving. First-time filmmakers must grapple with this reality, and not let the challenges of filmmaking overcome its rewards.

To help first-time filmmakers through their challenges and joys on the set of their first movie, we’ve rounded up some helpful advice on some of the more important elements of filmmaking. We hope this helps first-time filmmakers keep their vision clear and their chins up as they make their dreams of movie magic a (sometimes hard-won) reality.

Framing and Camera Work

pexels-photo-60287

When actually filming your scenes, you have a wide variety of choices for framing your shots. Here we cover only 12 of the many camera shots that everyone involved in filmmaking should know . While there are exceptions, using the same type of shots throughout your scenes will result in a dull experience.

Instead, study the different types and purposes of the repertoire of shots you can use. By becoming familiar with different shots and incorporating them into your work, you’ll learn how to establish the rhythm of a scene along with the point of view. Tracking shots, pans, and zoom-ins are are also very powerful tools when used correctly.

Casting and Acting

pexels-photo-70292-large

Many young filmmakers, when casting, put too much emphasis on the physical appearance of the actor. They often make the mistake of casting someone who “looks” the part, rather than the better actor. “The Graduate is a good example. The main character of Benjamin Braddock, was described in the book as looking like Robert Redford and not at all like Dustin Hoffman. But Mike Nichols had the courage to cast Dustin and, as a result, the movie is a classic.

Many young directors are seem to be fearful of casting actors more experienced than they are. They fear that the actor will see that they don’t know what they’re doing and embarrass them. But this is the furthest thing from the truth. If an experienced actor takes a role in your film, it is because they share your desire to make the picture better.

Directing

pexels-photo-94889-large
Directing a picture can be a challenging experience, even for professionals. However, when you’re inexperienced and not only directing but also producing, catering, being your own assistant director and even being the transportation captain, it can be downright overwhelming. As a result, inexperienced directors often make the mistake of letting their minds wander while the camera is rolling. As soon as they call “ACTION,” they start to think to themselves, o kay, I have this shot, so after this I’ll move over there to get that shot and I have to remember to get that prop ready and don’t forget to call t he location about the schedule change tomorrow and… “CUT!” Then they find themselves in the editing room wondering, “where was I when that was happening because that is not what I wanted in the shot.” The New York Film Academy encourages our students to be in the moment, clear their minds while the camera is rolling. Because no matter how much they’ve prepared, if it’s not happening while the camera is rolling, you didn’t get it.

Editing

pexels-photo

Here’s a little trick NYFA New York City’s Chair of Filmmaking, Claude Kervin, recommends for those times when you get stale from watching a scene over and over and over: Flip the image left to right. Copy the scene and have the software create a mirror image. Part of the reason we feel stale is that we are anticipating every rhythm and movement in the scene. Flipping it left to right adds just enough new information to make our brains feel that we’re watching the scene anew!

Sound & Music

play-display-music-sound-74769-large

A good movie requires the perfect combination of images and sound. In fact, sound is often your most powerful tool for conveying emotion to the audience and making sure they feel what you want them to feel. Without sound, it’s much more difficult nowadays to create a mood for your scenes.

While sound effects and dialogue are important, music also plays a vital role in delivering a captivating film experience. Music is also used to create an emotion, and different music works better for specific moods. Our advice: Watch a few movies from different genres and pay attention to the sounds and music they chose. Sound and music are infinitely adaptable to tone, style, and genre, and you’ll find that what worked great for “The Lord of the Rings” wouldn’t be very effective in a horror or romantic comedy.

Do you have any solid advice you’d like to offer first-time filmmakers? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Filmmaking Lessons from Animals with GoPros

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.47.17 PM

Animals with GoPros may not have gone to film school or won any Oscar awards, but they may have something to teach us about filmmaking.

Filmmakers strive to create visual experiences that are both relatable and impacting. Usually, the this is accomplished by weaving a story told through the eyes of different people. But what about seeing the world through the eyes of an animal?

With the help of technology, scientists are now able to attach cameras onto wild animals in order to learn more about them. For the first time, we can see how animals behave and survive while completely free of human influence.

The following are a few lessons aspiring filmmakers might be able to learn from watching footage recorded by animals with GoPro cameras:

1. The Perfect Location Is Out There

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.48.13 PM

It’s one thing to envision the perfect location in your mind, and quite another to actually find it. The fact is, one of the biggest (and most enjoyable) challenges in filmmaking is finding a location that not only serves the needs of your story but can also accommodate your production. Many filmmaker are forced to alter their scripts when the perfect location eludes them.

But sometimes, the answer may be to not give up too soon. When the National Geographic Society attached their Crittercams to a wild animal, they obtained more than just information on the animal itself; they collected environmental data and were continually astounded by the gorgeous locales these animals find. If you fail to find the perfect spot for a particular scene, don’t let it be because you cut your search short.

2. Perspective Is Important

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.49.12 PM

Imagine walking through a field where there’s only waist-high wheat as far as the eye can see. The golden colors contrast with the bright blue sky and white clouds, creating a gorgeous view. Now imagine that same field as a small animal, or even a child. The tall, seemingly-endless fields of wheat may evoke a sense of claustrophobia or fear of never finding your way out — or worse, the fear of running into a predator.

The lesson is simple: there’s power in perspective. Every future filmmaker should work to understand why each of the common camera shot types are important and how to best utilize them to tell their story. The best filmmakers know which shots work best to instill a specific emotion into their audience. Read our camera shots piece to learn more about popular camera shots and why they are useful.

3. Understand Social Interaction

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.53.40 PM

If there’s one thing you’ll discover by watching GoPro animal footage, it’s how social most species of animals are. From whales and penguins to wolves and gorillas, animals all over the planet interact with one another to the point where they even form their own societies! Vampire bats, for example, have colonizes ranging in the thousands that still manage to maintain a basic social structure and hierarchy.

The lesson to learn from animals? How people interact matters. Social context matters. The story beyond an individual character matters. This is why most movies receive a negative reception usually also have a cast of actors who are terrible at displaying genuine emotion. In other words, they fail to convince because you can tell they’re pretending. It’s when actors interact with one another and their world in a moving and believable way that you have viewers completely entranced by the characters. To achieve that as a filmmaker, it’s important to root your story in an environment and social context that audiences can understand.

Have a favorite animal movie or life lesson? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Plan an Effective Shooting Schedule

How to Plan an Effective Shooting Schedule

Given that it can quite literally make or break a production, the value of a good shooting schedule cannot be understated.

“But I’m not working on a multi-million dollar shoot,” many students of filmmaking cry. Or they protest, “I don’t have time to plan everything in advance.”

Herein lies the rub: whether you’re working on a summer blockbuster or a $500 short with a couple of friends, planning a shooting schedule will not only save you a lot more time than you put into it, but it’ll also make the experience a whole lot easier (and, ergo, more enjoyable).

You probably don’t have the luxury of a three-month shooting window. If anything, the more pressed for time you are, the more you need a shooting schedule.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.30.42 PM

Don’t make the mistake of heading out to set determined to work it out as you go. A good shooting schedule will reflect in the quality of your finished production, so here’s a helpful guide on how to implement one.

Tips on Planning a Production Schedule

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to go ahead and assume you’re scheduling for a short or feature film (though much of the advice applies to TV scheduling too).

Get Everyone on the Same Page

You’re busy. Your assistant director is busy. The sound guy is busy. The cast are all off on other jobs.

We understand it. You’re busy.

All the more reason why it’s imperative to try and get as many of the pre-production staff as possible into an initial meeting, where you can discuss scheduling. And yes, this meeting in itself can be a feat of scheduling!

The aim here is to cut down on the amount of information you’ll have to relay to people not present for the initial meeting. There’s nothing worse than setting a preliminary schedule only to have to start from scratch when you later find out the cinematographer is unavailable for your proposed shooting week.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.31.42 PM

Thankfully, in this day and age it’s easier to keep people in the loop…

There’s an App For That

Alongside the staples like Skype and Google Docs (if you’re not using cloud sharing in pre-production, start!) you’ll want to invest in a few killer scheduling apps. The main ones to check out are:

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.32.32 PM

ShotPro ($40) – more for pre-visualization than scheduling, but this will help you tie together your workflow ahead of the shoot.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.33.30 PM

Shot Lister ($20) – available on iPad and iPhone, the Shot Lister app has long been a go-to for even professional filmmakers who want to compile a schedule for an entire crew (with the ability to edit in real-time.)

Read more: NYFA’s essential iOS & Android Apps for Filmmakers

Along with your favorite storyboarding and screenwriting suites, those two apps alone will take the sting out of the scheduling tail. With these downloaded, let’s move on…

The Fun Begins

With as much of the pre-production crew in one place and a blank calendar in front of you, it’s time to start … but where?

From the bottom up. Start by “lining” the script. Go through every single line of the screenplay and mark down every actor, extra, prop, costume, vehicle and special effect you’ll need, then compile that information into one long list.

From here, the next logical step is to transcribe your list onto breakdown sheets. These are key items in the planning process, giving you an at-a-glance look of what is needed for each individual scene.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.34.19 PM

Breakdown sheets are fairly self-explanatory and easy to fill out. And as luck would have it, we’ve got a breakdown sheet template you can download!

Filling the Calendar

With a breakdown sheet for every scene, you can begin organizing the shoot itself. Start by grouping together scenes that can most easily be shot back to back, in one location. Disregard the chronology of the script; very few productions film in order from the beginning of the screenplay to the end. It’s all about efficiency.

Another golden tip is to aim to do all of your exterior scenes, as well as anything involving extensive special effects or crowd work, at the start of the shoot. If the weather conspires against you or anything else goes awry, you’ll be able to reschedule for later on. Leaving exteriors to the end of your shoot schedule is a sure way to tempt fate.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.35.02 PM

Be prepared to cut shots, too. While you should try and shoot scenes from multiple angles wherever possible to give you extra options in the editing suite, don’t be under the illusion that you’ll have time to shoot everything on your storyboard. Always be on the lookout for things that can be sacrificed.

And lastly…

Add 10%

It’s a rule that has served many a filmmaker over the years: whatever time you think you need, add 10 percent.

That applies to the number of days on the schedule and to the length of each individual day, because there’ll always be something that crops up: setting up or breaking down the set taking longer than expected, a sudden rain cloud halting production for half an hour, an actor wanting to experiment, or simply forgetting to budget time for lunch and breaks!

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.35.47 PM

Scheduling a film shoot can seem like a herculean task, but tackling it one little bit at a time will help you conquer the dragon with as little headache as possible.

Best of luck, and don’t forget to offer your own advice learned along the way in the comments below!

Writing a Film Business Plan: What Should I Include?

Picture of calculator, glasses, and papers

 

Film business plans. Whether you’ve learned how to make one in film school or not, it’s likely that it’s an essential aspect of your production that you could be overlooking at your own risk.

Those involved in making movies tend to be creative folk and view spending hours pouring over figures on a spreadsheet as anathema to the craft. Even some of the pros dread this unavoidable task… and don’t think that you’re not “pro” enough to get away without doing one.

Even if you’re operating on a micro-budget, it’s still a good idea to get to grips with the best practices of compiling a solid film business plan. It’ll help keep you right on path, it’s good practice for your future career, and it might just help you see the bigger picture and drive you to finish the project.

Today, we’re going to take the sting out of the tail by offering some guidance on how to get started.

You’ll also be pleased to hear that it’s nowhere near as arduous a task as it may seem, which brings us onto our first business plan tip:

However You Start, Make Sure You Start

As is often experienced in screenwriting, putting pen to paper in the first place is usually the hard part. Once you get going, you find your brain kicking into high gear (sometimes to the extent that it’s hard to stop typing!)

The same is true of film business plans. Initially, you might feel like the proverbial rabbit in headlights with no idea how you can possibly account for what you might be spending in the future. However, by starting with the very basic and known figures you do have, you’ll slowly begin to break the back of the spreadsheet and the rest should follow naturally.

And remember, you can always go back and revise things, so don’t be afraid to start jotting down random numbers with the intent to refine them at a later date.

Consider Your Audience

Not the movie’s audience; we’re talking about the people who are most interested in your film business plan.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 11.45.07 AM

Don’t make the classic mistake of assuming investors and potential production collaborators want to see every dime and nickel accounted for, because they really don’t.

What they want you to answer as concisely (and accurately) as possible is this: How are you going to sell the movie, and what will be the return on investment?

And that’s it. Everything else is secondary.

Of course, you’ll probably want to keep a more detailed plan for your own reference and that can be produced if requested, but strip out extraneous details that won’t be of interest to an investor (they don’t want to know the hourly rates of every show runner working on set; they just want to know how much it’ll all cost.)

There are a few more sub-sets of this question that you’ll probably tackle along the way, including:

  • How are you spending the cash?
  • Why is this film sellable right now?
  • What is your sales/marketing strategy?
  • What share of the proceeds will you receive?
  • What share of the proceeds will investors get?
  • Are there any perks to investing in this film?

Thinking about these questions will get you ready to pitch your movie efficiently at the drop of a hat, and will help shape your business plan as you put it together. There are a number of other questions over on the Raindance website which you can expect investors to ask, so do check those out.

Calculator and pen

And on the topic of how to go about answering a potential investor’s concerns…

What Should I Include?

The following is by no means exhaustive (and not all of it may be necessary for your particular business plan), but here’s the meat and potatoes that most filmmakers use to convey their pitch:

Outline: A very brief summary of the screenplayideally just your loglineand some key figures regarding financial requirements. Bullet points regarding your previous work (or any notable team members) may be of benefit but only if they really are selling points, otherwise, brevity is preferred.

Shooting Schedule: A detailed plan outlining every expected cost behind each scene of the screenplay, including any props needed, cost of travel to locations, and compensation to crew members. A highly important part of the business plan which you may want to work on with the rest of the team, this will be the foundation of an accurate budget projection.

Production Budget: The shooting schedule total, plus the overall production expenditure of the movie.

Marketing Plan: The movie’s target demographics, how you’re going to get it in front of them, and how much that advertizing will cost, as well as conversion rates between how many people you’re expecting to reach and how many of those will go see the movie/buy the DVD.

Distribution Plan: The costs, profits, and expected reach of physical media sales (and the same for online streaming.) If you have details regarding the profits you’re hoping to make from rights sales, this is the place to add them.

Revenue/Profit Projections: Based on extensive market research (rather than guesswork or comparing your film to something similar that was released back in 1992), here you’ll get the chance to really hook the investor by outlaying expected profits and how much of those they’ll receive.

Letters of Intent: A hugely valued part of the business plan which can really pull an investor. Don’t just stop at crew members; letters of intent from other investors really inspire confidence, and don’t forget to also hit up relevant insurance companies covering the production.

31-365 (Year 8) Accounts

You’ll want to close the package off with your executive summary—one or two pages delving more extensively into why the screenplay is a winner, the talent working on the movie and why the investor would be a fool to miss out (although not in those words, obviously!)

In Conclusion…

Rather than seeing your film business plan as an unavoidable headache, instead see it for what it is, i.e the tool you need to attract funding. Sounds a lot more alluring that way, doesn’t it?

Stay focused and get your film business plan nailed down as a matter of priority. The sooner you do, the sooner you can focus on the task at hand: getting to work on your big idea.

Best of luck!

Learn more about the Film School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Find A (Good) Film Producer

Or, more importantly, how do you find the right producer for your film?

It’s a daunting prospect for any filmmaker, let alone for independent filmmakers who may not have a huge collection of previous box office successes with which to market themselves. And in this scenario, finding a good producer is even more importantwhile just about any producer may be able to get a production financed, will they be able to go the extra mile and market it successfully to the right audience?

Getting the movie made is only half the job, and getting it seen is arguably the more important half.

And of course, this is a two-way street. Simply finding a producer who you feel would be perfect for the project is no guarantee that they’ll want to get on board; as writer and director Ryan Koo puts it, “Finding a producer is like dating: you need to spend some time getting to know the other person, and you’re not going to like everyone you meet. Nor is everyone going to like you back.”

Assuming you’ve already crawled through IMDB and the like to construct a longlist of possible matches, here’s the NYFA guide to:

Finding the Right Film Producer

Super producer Kathleen Kennedy.

Super producer Kathleen Kennedy might not be the right producer for your microbudget feature.

The operative word here is ‘right’, and ultimately, only you can decide on who qualifies for that distinction but the following tips will at least help you begin whittling down the list in search for ‘the one.’

Avoid Pigeonholing

If you’re looking to craft a movie which centers around the theme of, say, addiction and substance abuse, don’t discard any and all producers who have never tackled the topic before since it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to undertake it.

Also consider that just because a producer has worked on a number of titles similar to your own doesn’t mean they’ll want to retread the same ground againin fact, the converse is usually true.

Finding a Kindred Spirit

Given all of the above, it’s often wise to ignore producers who have worked in similar genres or themes and instead focus on those who share the same essence (for what of a better word.) Do they draw from the same influences? Approach storytelling in a similar manner? Do the kind of work you admire as an independent filmmaker? If their previous work makes it clear that they share the same sensibilities as you when it comes to making movies, you’ve potentially got a match.

Do Your Homework

This will come naturally in the process of finding out if they appear to be on the same page as you creatively, but you’ll also want to dig a little deeper and find out where they are in their career. It’s not uncommon for new filmmakers to make the mistake of trying to contact those who have retired from the industry, and it’s also a poor use of time to reach out to someone now working on multi-million dollar productions expecting them to drop everything to work on a micro-budget movie. The same goes for most producers who are working full time for a particular studio.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry’s Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios offers opportunities for filmmakers from the area.

Location, to a lesser extent, is also a factor for considerationwhile the producer being based on the other side of the planet isn’t necessarily a locked door, it makes sense to focus your search (at least initially) to your local area.

Word of Mouth

Tying into the idea of casting your net locally, never forget the power of a personal recommendation. Proportionately speaking, most matches between directors, screenwriters, and producers are forged thanks to personal introduction and very few arise from random emails fired into the aether.

Attend Film Festivals

Don’t feel like you’ve got any contacts to hit up? Get yourself to as many film festivals and screening events as you possibly can, and that’ll soon be rectified. You’ll be surprised at how many golden opportunities arise in extremely strange ways…casually mentioning you’ve got a killer screenplay about the civil war to a key grip at an after party who then goes on to mention it to an agent who just so happens to have a client looking for a writer who’s got a killer screenplay about the civil war, et cetera.

Producers Reception 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

A group of producers at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival’s Producers Reception.

These million-to-one occurances happen nine times out of ten in an industry as close-knit as filmmaking, so get out there and start making ripples (while being courteous to everyone you meet, given that you don’t know who may be the catalyst to turn one of those ripples into a wave.)

And most importantly of all…

Be Courteous to the Producer

As a screenwriter or director, you’ll no doubt be familiar with that dreaded line: “Oh, that’s neat! I’m something of a writer myself…will you read my screenplay?”

Effectively this is what a producer gets on a daily basis, ad nauseum. And while it is his or her job to read and select screenplays, it doesn’t negate the fact that when you email a producer you’re asking them to give their time for free.

You may have already figured out that they’re a good match for you, but you should strive to make it as easy as possible for them to do the same. A full script is industry standard, but becoming increasingly popular is the idea of a “presentation package.” This typically includes a director’s statement, mood reel, any stills or promo shots available (compiled into a ‘cookbook’), and all related contact info and social media links…and definitely make sure you’ve got a strong logline!

This generally only applies to outreach that has been previously welcomed; with unsolicited inquiries, a simple two-paragraph email explaining the movie and why you’re contacting that particular producer is preferable. No need to send the full screenplay until it’s invited.

Above all, keep your initial contact brief, to the point and free from any kind of gimmickry. Even if things fall through, if your professionalism leaves a lasting impact it may earn you a coveted recommendation.

With a bit of luck and perseverance, you’ll hopefully find a perfect match with your producer-to-be. Best of luck!

PS: Before you write a single email, be sure to get intimately familiar with what a producer actually does! Our previous guide on the topic is a great place to start your research.

Learn more about the School of Producing at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Market Your Film On Social Media: 8 Rules To Live By

Social media marketing.

Few words strike quite as much dread in a filmmaker’s heart than these, save for perhaps “film business plan,” but today we’re going to cut through the noise and help you get to grips with this essential task (even if you’re fresh out of filmmaking school.)

Each different social media platform comes with its own best practices and foibles, but here are eight surefire tips that work across the board when it comes to marketing your film using social media.

pastels with Facebook logo

1. Be Personal

Unless you’ve been entrusted with running the official Twitter feed for Sony Pictures, you don’t need to adopt an ultra-formal tone.

People are more likely to respond positively to other people rather than corporate entities. For that reason, it’s even preferential to write in first person on social media (unless it’s a large group project), but at the very least make sure people know there’s a real person behind the account, and who that person is via the bio.

2. Give Something Back

You don’t want to lose the followers you’ve fought hard to attract, and you want to attract as many as possible.

To facilitate this, make sure you give something back to those who do take the time out to follow you—either physically via giveaways, or with exclusives to behind-the-scenes footage, cast interviews, desktop wallpapers and movie poster downloads… anything really, as long as your feed isn’t full of requests asking fans to do things for you (or repeated pleas for more followers.) That’s not likely to get the casual browser to hit that “follow” button.

3. Cast Takeovers

This idea works particularly on Twitter, in which you have one of the cast members take control of the movie’s official account to host a Q&A with followers. It may sound daunting, but trolls are few and far between (and there’s a mute button for that reason.) 99% of the time it’s a really fun experience for everyone involved, generates a lot of buzz, and lets fans know you’re keen to connect with them on a personal level.

4. Share Smart Content

Obviously sharing thing that will inflame the imaginations of your followers is social media 101, but how best to find said content in the first place?

Don’t overlook Google News; set up a few notifications for topics related to your movie, and you can be among the first to share it the second something intriguing lands in your inbox.

And an even better tactic is to share content you’ve created yourself—if that blog post, infographic, quiz, movie poster, or other piece of interesting content is hosted on your movie’s official website, you’re sending people in the right direction by sharing it!

5. Consider Outsourcing

If the thought of juggling myriad social media accounts and put into practice all of the above sounds daunting—or you simply don’t have the time—then don’t throw out the idea of hiring an expert if you’ve got the budget for it. After all, your time probably is better spent doing what you do best. That said…

6. Ask Questions

Before you let anyone near your social media accounts, draw up a long and detailed list of questions that they should be able to answer in full, especially when it comes to which films they’ve worked on before (they could be the best social media managers on the planet, but if they don’t know a lick about movie marketing, they won’t be much good to you.) Even once you’ve found someone you can trust implicitly with representing you and your movie online, do check in from time to time and make sure everything is going in the right direction.

7. Plan Your Budget

You may be thinking that you can skip budget planning if you’re going DIY with your social media management, but you’ll still be selling yourself short not to allocate some funding in your business plan for exposure.

You can get very far without spending a dime as long as you’re willing to pour a lot of time into it, but eventually it’s a case of diminishing returns. Consider throwing just a little money behind paid ads and sponsored posts (particularly on Facebook, through which it’s becoming increasingly tricky to reach even your own followers.)

8.  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Marketing your film on social media might sound like a mammoth task, and if you look at it on a macro scale, it can be.

But don’t let hesitation keep you from getting your hands dirty. Unless you’re explicitly going out to spam and harass people (don’t), there’s not a lot of harm you can do by getting out there and experimenting. Conversely, you’re hamstringing yourself if you never actually start…

… so fire up the social machine, treat people like fellow human beings, have fun and good luck!

Learn more about the Film School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How NOT To Make A Movie: 5 Tips Every Amateur Ignores

Over the past year, we’ve shared a lot of great tips for those who are just getting started with filmmaking as a hobbyist, along with more advanced advice aimed at those who have already graduated from filmmaking school.

However, there are some fundamental nuggets of wisdom that frequently go ignored by newcomers (for reasons that nobody can quite figure out), setting back their progress by a considerable amount. Here are five of the most useful filmmaking tips that should never be overlooked, no matter your current level of experience.

1. Don’t Scrimp on Audio…

Spending the lion’s share of your budget to shoot on high quality (and really expensive) film stock will probably go unnoticed and unappreciated by 99% of the people watching the finished product. Shoddy audio quality, on the other hand, will ruin the watching experience for the same 99%.

audio mixing tips

Even if the audio sounds okay-ish in your studio cans while you’re in the editing suite, it doesn’t guarantee the same audio track won’t sound dreadful through massive speakers during a public screening, or even just a mid-grade TV.

Certain audio problems can be a real nightmare (if not impossible) to fix in post production, so don’t hamstring yourself from the get go—invest in good audio equipment before shooting, or hire a sound engineer who has their own and knows how to get the best out of it. A great sound editor who can make the final mix balance beautifully will also pay dividends in the long run.

2. …and Definitely Don’t Scrimp on Acting Talent

From the start, we need to state two things: filmmaking should be deeply enjoyable, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t become friends with those who you work with.

While keeping this in mind, however, you should also exercise extreme caution if you limit your casting choices to solely your close circle of friends. You’ll end up giving them unnecessary passes for their less-than-impressive work, unless your friends happen to be professional actors in the first place (in which case, capitalize on your good fortune!).

hire an actor

Sure, hiring people who are trained in the field may cost you a bit, but again you won’t regret investing in real talent. A really good way to keep overheads low, without sacrificing on quality, is to buddy up with some acting school graduates—chances are they won’t charge an arm and a leg, are actively interested in expanding their body of work, and have a lot of talent ready and raring to go.

3. Listen to Outside Perspective

Okay, it’s admittedly paradoxical to list advice about taking advice on an article discussing advice newbies don’t actually listen to. However, not taking on board constructive criticism is one of the most common pitfalls a headstrong filmmaker fall afoul of.

Film_Director_and_Crew

Don’t let this be you. If your DP, or lead actress, or any other professional you’ve hired has an idea on how a particular aspect of the production under their remit should be handled, take it on board. Same goes for any feedback you get from test screenings.

4. Don’t Just Make it Up As You Go Along

On a movie with a huge budget and in a world where time costs money, everything is planned to the Nth degree ahead of the shoot. Meetings with the director of photography are held ahead of time, extensive rehearsals with the actors are conducted, locations are scouted, the script is all but finalized, shot lists planned, and storyboards drawn up.

Why should your production be any different?

storyboarding

Good planning costs nothing, so don’t just turn up on set and expect to get good results by muddling through the day. This often-ignored fundamental of filmmaking feeds into our final piece of advice…

5. Take Yourself Seriously

Again, filmmaking should be inherently fun (even if you’ll encounter moments in which you’ll want to tear your hair out!), but just because it’s fun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your own efforts with reverence.

It’s very common for new filmmakers to denigrate themselves, thinking that just because it’s their first short or that they’ve “only got a tiny budget,” their output doesn’t matter. It does, and you should treat your work the same as if you’d been commissioned by Hollywood to produce a multi-million dollar summer blockbuster.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 16.13.16

In short, don’t compare your chapter one with someone else’s chapter twenty. Put your heart and soul into it no matter what your limitations, and take pride in your achievements.

Best of luck!

 

7 Essential Books on Filmmaking and Directing

Even if you’re at the top of your game or currently getting hands-on at an intensive filmmaking school program, it can pay dividends to do some additional learning behind the scenes.

Thankfully, for those who live and breathe the craft, there are more than a few excellent books in which to immerse yourself and get even further ahead of the game…

… in fact, it could be argued that there are too many to choose from. With this in mind, join us as we separate the wheat from the chaff with:

7 Best Books on Filmmaking and Directing

The following is a summary of the best filmmaking books written by filmmakers, for filmmakers. Naturally, any list of this kind features a certain level of subjectivity, but all of the below are industry renowned titles and come highly recommended.

The Filmmaker’s Handbook

51IY7buC3sL

The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (2013 Edition) by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus

A staple of filmmaker’s bookshelves for well over a decade, the latest edition of The Filmmaker’s Handbook has revitalized all of the essential knowledge which it has become known for and brought it right up to date. If you don’t own this book already, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

On Directing Film

4137b+O+oyL

On Directing Film (1992) by David Mamet

David Mamet is heralded for both his on-stage work (for which he has won Pulitzer and Tony prizes) and also his work on the screen, having ratcheted up a couple of Oscar nominations. As such, Mamet has more than a few nuggets of wisdom to share throughout the pages of On Directing Film, making it a mandatory read for directors… or really, anyone working in film.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

518rj0P+NoL

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (1999) by Peter Biskind

While not a manual on filmmaking, Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders is essential reading in order to fully understand the foundations on which modern-day Hollywood was built. We could have chosen any title by this highly engaging cultural critic – Down and Dirty Pictures is also highly recommended – but Easy Riders is a great place to start.

Directing: Film Techniques & Aesthetics

51imQ+UNnbL

Directing: Film Techniques & Aesthetics (Fifth Edition, 2013) by Michael Rabinger and Mick Hurbis-Cherrier

Another must-read for either those at filmmaking school or looking to make a career hop over to the director’s seat. What isn’t covered on the profession in this book could probably fit on the back of a postage stamp. From start to finish, this truly is one of the most comprehensive books ever written – and frequently updated – on the art and science of directing.

How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000

51YnpWkaHQL

How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000 (And Not Go to Jail) by Bret Stern (2002)

Coupled with one of the more authoritative, traditional tomes on filmmaking listed here, Bret Stern’s very liberating approach to the topic will have you on the road to becoming an indie maverick in no time. How To Shoot a Feature Film For Under $10,000 is guaranteed to revolutionize your approach to problem solving (and hopefully make you a much better filmmaker in the process.)

On Film-Making

71lMG8LU7uL

On Film-making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director (2005) by Alexander Mackendrick, edited by Paul Cronin

Alexander Mackendrick’s seminal volume on the craft of filmmaking has long been an industry standard text, and one that has helped countless individuals find their own cinematographic eye and achieve success in directing. Following the great director and teacher’s death in 1993, the various handouts he would give to his students were collated by Paul Cronin and presented in this book (with a foreword from Martin Scorsese.)

In the Blink of an Eye

51KFHHJJAZL

In the Blink of an Eye (2nd Edition, 2001) by Walter Murch

As a thought-provoking treatise on the practicalities and aesthetics of cutting film, In the Blink of an Eye is a book everyone who works in editing should read. Don’t be put off – this isn’t a technical manual on the hows of editing, but more of a meditation on the whys.

Read any other excellent books on filmmaking that we should be checking out and including here? Don’t hesitate to drop your suggestion in the comments below, and let’s chat books! And check out NYFA’s filmmaking programs to learn more about movie making.

How To Become A Filmmaker: 5 Golden Rules

There’s no one ‘true’ path that can lead you to filmmaking success, but there are certainly a lot of best practices that can make the road a lot less bumpy.

If you’re at the beginning of what might feel like an impossible journey, don’t be daunted. Plenty of budding filmmakers have stood in the exact same place and gone on to great heights. Here’s five good rules of thumb that will get you on your way.

1. Don’t Go It Alone

There are more than a few hobbies you can take up solo, such as painting or writing.

Filmmaking is not one of them.

Technically speaking, it’s not impossible to handle all of the duties incorporated with making a film yourself, but you’re likely to find it a frustrating experience and not one that results in stellar work (which is why it’s hard to name any features which have a one-person film crew.)

How to become a filmmaker

A far more productive approach – even on ultra-indie, zero budget projects – is to find a few people who are as passionate as you. It doesn’t even matter if none of you have any experience; you’ll learn by doing a lot quicker with more people on board, and also have a great deal more fun doing so.

But what about taking things to the next level? For that, it’s important to recognize that:

2. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

While anyone can be a filmmaker simply by virtue of picking up a camera and shooting film, becoming a professional filmmaker is a different thing altogether.

In an ideal world, those born with natural talent would be noticed right from the get go and thrust into the limelight. Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, so it’s important to have your own long-term plan in place. That may mean spending a lot of time working low-end runner and camera jobs before being given more senior roles, although attending filmmaking school and gaining recognizable qualifications in the field can put you way ahead of the game.

filmschool tips

In short, lucky breaks will undoubtedly come your way but don’t hang your hat on the hopes that they’ll arrive any time soon. Focus on honing your talent and putting in the hours, and the opportunities will fall into place naturally.

With that in mind…

3. Revel In The Small Victories

It’s always easy to compare your Chapter 1 with someone else’s Chapter 20, but ultimately it’ll get you nowhere.

Your career in filmmaking will, hopefully, be a long one and filled with many ups and downs along the way. Be sure to not give yourself too hard a time when things go wrong, and remember to enjoy those blissful moments in which everything comes together… even if it’s something as simple as having a choice of filter pay off in the final cut.

4. Don’t Just Shoot. Read.

These days, even being extraordinarily talented at the art of filmmaking isn’t enough. To really succeed in the industry, you also need to keep on top of the industry itself, and that includes all of the goings on in terms of trends, business developments, and who all the movers and shakers are.

film industry blogs

Reading the trade publications – things like Variety, Hollywood Reporter or TV Week – are a great place to start, but they aren’t exactly cheap. However, you can always make your own RSS feed using an app like Feedly to create a morning reading list of free blogs that cover industry news.

5. Be Kind to Others

The last bit of advice – and one that anyone can live by – is a fairly easy one to put into practice.

It may feel like Hollywood is a gigantic behemoth of an industry, and in terms of the money it generates, it is. However, it’s a surprisingly small place when it comes to making a name for yourself; it’s a community of sorts, and one in which your reputation is your main calling card. Karma spreads wildly, both good and bad, so be sure to put your best foot forward going in.

More than anything, pay it forward. If someone drops your name and hooks you up with a sweet filmmaking gig, don’t forget to do similar favors to others.

filmmaking community

It’ll cost you nothing, and either way, the filmmaking community is a great one…

… let’s keep it that way.

The Best Sites for Green Screen Video Footage

Using green screen — or chroma keying — is a great way of reducing costs and making your film project fantastic, even if (or especially if) you’re on a budget. It can also make it possible to create footage and effects that wouldn’t normally be possible without an extensive amount of travel or costly set design.

best sites for green screen footage

We’ve previously covered the best practices of chroma keying as part of our broadcast journalism resources, but that leaves the question of where to actually get green screen footage from. Luckily, there are many companies out there that will provide you with whatever you need, from exotic locations to stock animal footage and beyond.

Some offer one off-sales while others run via a membership scheme, and there are even some sites which provide green screen footage free of charge. Introducing:

The Best Sites for Green Screen Video Footage

10. Shutterstock Video

With over 2 million royalty-free videos and one of the most popular names on this list, Shutterstock makes for a useful site to use when thinking about greenscreen. The company has a wide range of categories to chose from including aerial shots, celebrities and time-lapse footage.

best sites for green screen video footage

You can either chose to download a single video at a time or, if you want to use multiple clips, there is also the option to select a bundle:

Low definition starts from $79 for 5 videos, standard definition starts from $299 and HD videos starts from $369.

The site does offer 4k quality videos, but these are not currently included in a bundle and cost $299 per video.

9. Hollywood Camera Work

This site provides some free VFX Plates to download and test. It’s especially useful for film school students as there are some interesting shots which can be used to hone your skills, such as an embassy shoot out or an F15 fly over. It also has different effects like sunglasses reflections.

Hollywood camera works

There are some caveats for allowing you to use the clips like linking back to the website rather than the video page and not hosting the videos yourself, but other than that, they are free to use.

The videos have been uploaded in HD at 1080p and 720p and the aspect ratios are given as well. The site also confirms what ratio has been used so you can get your shot perfect first time.

8. Green Screen Films

free green screen footage

Green Screen Films offers an alternative if you are looking to use the footage for a commercial. It provides you with stock footage that can be used with the background of your choice, and there’s a range of options to filter through (including business, touch screen and animals.) There is even the option for the site to create a video of your choosing.

Prices range from $19 for web quality to $129 for HD Broadcast.

7. Video Blocks

Video Blocks offers backgrounds as well as allowing you to provide the background to the footage provided. The stock green screen footage ranges from live dancers to studio sets, with clips being 100% royalty-free (and there are no hidden fees.)

Green Screen royalty free

Users have unlimited downloads and the videos are regularly updated. In addition, there is long term contract so you can keep the downloaded content indefinitely.

6. Dissolve

This site is for the more professional outfit given that it provides high-quality footage that can be used in advertising, corporate videos and much more alongside green screen footage. The site also provides some great usage ideas to help you along.

stock footage

At $50 per clip, this site may not be for the budget filmmaker but the quality of the clips is outstanding.

5. iStock

iStock is a popular site now run by Getty Images, and with that provides the type of quality you would expect from the stock conglomerate. It allows first time users to download one video for free, but thereafter charges for each download.

istock green screen

You can either chose to purchase credits from $30 for 3 credits or you can subscribe for a monthly discount. While fairly pricey, the videos you purchase are provided royalty-free.

4. Pond 5

Pond 5 offers all sorts of stock photography and green screen footage. Like some of the entries above, it provides the video for you to add the background to. Look out for the Skeleton dancing to music.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 19.43.36

The downloads are all royalty-free and you can search for the video you want using filters to whittle down the options. Prices are on a video by video basis but at $69 per download, the downside is that Pond 5 is fairly expensive.  

3. Green Screen Animals

Green Screen Animals offers what it says on the tin – videos of animals that you can superimpose onto any background you wish. Whether it be a roaring lion or an American bullfrog, this site can provide you with all your exotic animal requirements.

green screen animal

Pricing varies quite a bit, but as an example the cost of using the bullfrog video for an advertisement is a fairly eye-watering $2,700 (which reflects the uniqueness of the footage which is hard to emulate by other means).

2. Dreamstime

This site provides a wide variety of professional SD and HD royalty free footage including 2 and 3d animation, travel and animal footage. The pricing is based on a credit system, with SD quality costing 15 credits and 4k resolution costing 90 credits.

green screen stock footage

Although this is a British site, you can buy credit packages through PayPal from as little as $15.73 for 11 credits.

1. Footage Island

Footage Island is a YouTube channel which provides totally free footage for various projects, both personal and professional – perfect for those creating projects at film school. The uploader provides a wide range of handy green screen essentials such as flag animation, logo animation, surveillance security camera overlays and things of that ilk.

youtube green screen

If you above sites are too expensive then you can always learn How To Create a Green Screen on a Budget. Know of any great sites for green screen video footage that we might have missed out? Help out the filmmaking community by letting us know in the comments below.

Interested in upping your game in the film industry? Check out New York Film Academy’s Film School to learn more about the world’s most hands-on, intensive film programs.

How To Make A Website For Your Film

How to create a website for your film

It’s no surprise that in an age where everything is accessible through the touch of a screen, your existence is basically void without a website. So when it comes to promoting a film, sure, posters do a great job and have been a quintessential part of the process, but unless you’re identifiable on the Web, your audience reach will seriously suffer. I mean, there are only so many public bathroom doors and telegraph poles you can physically get to with hard-copy ads. Even if you had the funds to go as big as billboards, having a website instantly multiplies your chances of international stardom.

But don’t be discouraged by the technicality that goes into creating a website, because lucky for you, many wonderful tech-whizzes who’ve come before you have taken care of the hard part. Building one from scratch can be done without any HTML coding knowledge or graphic design skills. Here are 4 simple steps on how to get started:

1. Find A Web Host

Put simply, web hosting is when a company provides a location for you to place your website and makes it available to the world. Web hosts generally require a small monthly payment (usually around $3-$4 per month) but most of them also provide a service to register your domain name and easily install popular Content Management Systems (CMS) (we’ll explain what these are in a minute). Choosing a good web hosting service really comes down to your budget and how extensive your website’s requirements are, but your options are endless so a little research will go a long way.

2. Get A Domain Name

Your domain name is basically your identity or address on the Web e.g. thisisyourwebsite.com. It should be as simple, short and straight-forward as possible. Domain names can only be used once so when you register yours, you may have to try a few combinations to get something that hasn’t already been taken. Useful Tip: adding the word “film” or “movie” at the end of your film title is quite common as it’s simple yet still unique e.g. avengersmovie.com.

3. Install WordPress

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), an application that allows you to build your website by essentially adding and managing content i.e. images, videos etc. The 3 platforms currently dominating the Web are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla but WordPress comes out at top as the most popular:

CMS Systems

And for good reason – it’s not only the easiest to use for non-tech-savvy individuals but it’s also free and offers tons of themes/layouts to choose from, along with great plugins that allow you to add all sorts of functionality (from search engine optimization to contact forms) without having to know any coding.

Almost all reliable web hosts have integrated a one-step WordPress installation option so just click away and you should be able to access your new WordPress site right away. The first thing to do after logging into WordPress is to choose a theme/layout to start building your site. WordPress usually has specific themes for specific website topics, including ‘movie website’ themes like so:

Avatar Website

Filmstar website

Twilight website

You can pay for themes that look fancier with greater functionality but don’t dismiss the free ones before checking them out – there are some killer free ones that still look high-grade and professional.

4. Add content & build pages

As complicated and high-tech as some big-budget Hollywood film websites may appear, they’re always short and simple when it comes to information and content pages. The standard things they’ll always include, however, are as follows:

  • A trailer
  • Release date information
  • Synopsis/storyline
  • Awards and nominations and/or critics’ ratings
  • Names of cast, crew members and all companies/studios involved
  • Images and videos of the main cast
  • Social media buttons and icons

Crash website

Boyhood website

Wolf of Wall Street website

Generally everything else is optional. It’s really up to you to add things like “About” pages or further information on the making of the film etc. Keep in mind, however, just as you would with a promotional poster, you don’t want to give too much away; focusing on powerful and artistic visuals is the key to instantly grabbing their attention and ultimately making them want to watch the film.

With that in mind, one thing you’ll most definitely want to get well-acquainted with is plugins. Plugins help you optimize the functionality of your site and make it look awesome whilst making life much easier for the user. Here’s a list of the Top 100 WordPress Plugins by Tom Ewer that should come in handy.

So there you have it! You’ll be well on your way to becoming a critically-acclaimed filmmaker in no time with your kick-ass website – with the added bonus of knowing you could always pursue graphic design or web development if that fails.

Best Websites for Promoting Your Film Online

So you’ve worked your way through film school, studied the craft from every angle and thrown everything you’ve learned at your debut film. Over the course of a few months, you see your creative vision come to life; the pieces slowly fall into place, and when they do, you have a polished film that you’re proud of and ready to show the world.

But that’s only half the battle. An arguably bigger challenge lies before you: actually showing it to the world.

best websites for promoting your film online

But don’t throw in the towel just yet. Scroll on and discover…

The Best Websites for Promoting Your Film Online

Filmmakers go to film school to study filmmaking – of course – and as a result are great at making films. On the other hand, the principles of marketing don’t always come second nature to creative types, but it’s an important side to the business filmmaking that can make or break a project.

Luckily, it’s now easier than ever to give your film the marketing push it needs thanks to these five great film promotion websites.

1. WithoutABox

WithoutABox is a widely renowned service that comes with a number of features, including avenues for self-distribution and a space to upload trailers and promo packages. But the biggest pull for filmmakers is that the site makes it exceptionally easy to submit to over 850 of the main film festivals around the globe, filterable by location, genre and entry fee (with prices ranging between no cost at all and $75.)

Film festival submission list

Signing up for the site itself is totally free, and it’s as useful for those who have finished screenwriting school as it is for filmmakers.

2. Short-Filmz.com

Made a short which you want to get out there? Head on over to Short-Filmz.com, fill out the two-minute submission form and you’ll be one step closer to finding your audience.

Film distribution resources
The site accepts submissions of every genre and displays them prominently on the homepage for prospective viewers, and singles out notable works for further promotion. It is also hosting a short film contest which is voted on by visitors. While the amount of traffic the site garners isn’t off the chart at present, it is noted for its curation quality by human editors and certainly worth the time it takes to list your short.

3. Sonnyboo’s TV Outlet List

Peter Ross, A.K.A Sonnyboo, has long been a champion of independent filmmaking, having been selflessly providing great resources to those out in the field since 1999. His TV Outlet page is a great example – a very comprehensive list of shows and networks that are actively seeking shorts, along with a concise description of what they’re looking for and how to submit.

4. IndieReign

As we’ve covered previously, Netflix is the golden bullet for an indie filmmaker trying to get their work seen, but it’s almost impossible to get listed and the rewards aren’t often as good as you might imagine. That’s where IndieReign comes in.

indie filmmaker promotion

A young start-up company designed to champion indie works and put power back into the hands of creators, IndieReign strikes a fine balance between sites like YouTube and Netflix by allowing indie filmmakers to upload their work directly. Aside from a 30% fee going to the site, all profits from sales and rentals go directly into the filmmaker’s PayPal account – given how intuitive and easy the platform is to work with, it makes for a great place which you can direct potential viewers to (assuming you’re not offering your film for free).

5. Distribber

Does the task of getting your movie listed on iTunes, Amazon, Hulu and all the other VOD services give you a headache? Distribber may be a savvy way to go, given that it does all of the hard work for you.

VOD distribution

Distribber is, in effect, an automated distribution manager which hits up all of the main streaming platforms and even some major television networks (as well as giving you detailed tracking information for reviewing downloads, views and sales). While placement isn’t guaranteed for any particular store, it’s pretty much the best chance you’ve got of gaining a serious following of your film unless you’ve got strong contacts in the industry already. The charges can be fairly steep, but it is refunded if your film gets declined for any reason and you do get to keep 100% of the sales revenue from successful uploads.

Know of any more killer websites for promoting your film online? Help out the community by leaving your hot tips in the comments below!

**For more tips on promoting your film check out our article on How to Make Movie Posters to Promote Your Film.

12 of the Most Popular Camera Shots all Actors Should Know

camera shots

When asked about the biggest piece of advice he could give to aspiring actors, Edward Norton once famously said, “The more you do your homework, the more you’re free to be intuitive; but you’ve got to put the work in.” That said, understanding the craft of filmmaking isn’t just a way to compliment your acting skills but to showcase your professionalism and adaptability as an actor – something directors (and all importantly casting agents) love.

If you’re looking to work in film and television, it’s no secret you’ll have to get familiar with the camera and knowing the basic shots and angles can be hugely propitious for your skills to shine. So here are 12 of the most popular camera shots all actors should know:

THE AERIAL SHOT

It’s all in the name – this shot is filmed from the air and is often used to establish a location (usually exotic and/or picturesque).

ICONIC EXAMPLE: The opening of The Sound Of Music (1965).

the ariel shot

THE ESTABLISHING SHOT

Again, it’s in the name – this shot is at the head of the scene and establishes the location the action is set on, whilst also setting the tone of the scene(s) to come. It usually follows directly after an aerial shot in the opening of films and is beloved by TV directors.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: The infamous New York City diner – Tom’s Restaurant in Seinfeld (1989-1998).

the establishing shot

THE CLOSE-UP (CU)

This is perhaps the most crucial component in cinematic storytelling and is arguably an actor’s most important moment on camera. This shot is usually framed from above the shoulders and keeps only the actor’s face in full frame, capturing even the smallest facial variations. As it eliminates any surrounding elements that may be relevant to the scene’s narrative, it’s really up to the actor’s skill and focus to shape the story.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: Opening scene of Alex DeLarge (Malcom McDowell) in A Clockwork Orange (1971).

the close up shot

THE EXTREME CLOSE-UP (XCU)

This shot is traditionally used in films and focuses on a small part of the actor’s face or body, like a twitching eye or the licking of lips in order to convey intense and intimate emotions. This unnaturally close view is used sparingly as the multiplication of the subtlest movements or details need to be justified in the dramatization and boldness of that particular scene.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) mouth as he utters the famous word “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane (1941).

the extreme close up

THE MEDIUM SHOT (MS)

Also referred to as a ‘semi-close shot’ or ‘mid-shot’, this generally shoots the actor(s) from the waist up and is typically used in dialogue scenes. It aims to capture subtle facial expressions combined with their body language or surrounding environment that may be necessary to provide context.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: When Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) converse in the bathroom in The Shining (1980).

the medium shot

THE DOLLY ZOOM

This shot sees the camera track forward from the actor whilst simultaneously zooming out, or vice-versa. So the foreground generally stays the same while the background increases or decreases across the frame. First invented by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo to create a dizzying, vertiginous effect, it’s become quite the filming technique among the industry’s top filmmakers. However, as it’s a tough shot to get right, actors really need to be on their A-game when filming and a little patience goes a long way.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: The moment Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) realizes his worst fears have come true when first seeing Jaws. Jaws (1975).

the dolly zoom

THE OVER-THE-SHOULDER SHOT

This is where the camera is positioned behind a subject’s shoulder and is usually used for filming conversations between two actors. This popular method helps the audience to really be drawn into the conversation and helps to focus in on one speaker at a time. Seeing as the non-speaking actor is seen only from behind, it’s common for major production sets to substitute actors with stand-ins or doubles for these shots.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: Conversation between Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) and John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) about calling up the help of his ancestors in Amistad (1997).

the over the shoulder shot

THE LOW ANGLE SHOT

This shot films from a lower point and shoots up at a character or subject, making them appear larger so as to convey them as heroic, dominant or intimidating. It’s also another way of making cities look empty.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: Basically every time a superhero (and villain) first appears in costume in every superhero film. But another noteworthy one I can’t pass up is the shot of Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth) during the trunk scene in Inglourious Basterds (2009).

the low angle shot

THE HIGH ANGLE SHOT

In contrast with the low angle shot, this one films from a higher point and looks down on the character or subject, often isolating them in the frame. Basically the direct opposite of the low angle, it aims to portray the subject as submissive, inferior or weak in some way.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: Matilda walking up to the librarian for the first time in Matilda (1996).

the high angle shot

THE TWO-SHOT

This is a medium shot that shows two characters within the frame. Pretty straight-forward but can be pivotal in establishing relationships between the characters.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) shooting Marvin in Pulp Fiction (1994). Yep, a two-shot of a two shots.

the two shot

THE WIDE (OR LONG) SHOT

This shot normally frames the subject from the top of their head to their feet whilst capturing their environment. It’s typically used to establish the setting of the particular scene – so similar to the establishing shot, but focused more on characters and actors and the contextual relationship with their surroundings.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: When Jim Stark (James Dean) and Plato (Sal Mineo) first meet in jail and Jim offers Plato his jacket (with Judy (Natalie Wood) strategically in the background). Rebel Without A Cause (1955).

the wide long shot

THE MASTER SHOT

Often confused with the establishing shot, this too, identifies key signifiers like who is in the shot and where it’s taking place. However, unlike the establishing shot that has a tendency to focus more on location, the master captures all actors in the scene and runs the entire length of the action taking place. This allows for other smaller shots like close-ups or mid-shots to then be interwoven into the master, showcasing different angles of the same scene. It’s usually the first scene to be filmed so by choosing a physical action that can be easily repeated throughout multiple takes can ensure the actor gets major brownie points from the director.

ICONIC EXAMPLE: When Travis Bickle joins his fellow taxi drivers Wizard (Peter Boyle), Doughboy (Harry Northup) and Charlie T (Norman Matlock) in the diner. Taxi Driver (1976).

the master shot

How To Make Movie Posters To Promote Your Film

how to make a movie poster

You’ve managed to give up every social occasion that’s come your way in God knows how long; sacrificed all that income and more sleep than should be allowed for someone trying to maintain their sanity… and it all comes down to this – the masterpiece your inner creative genius had envisioned all along. Your film is brilliant and the only thing left is to share your art with the world. That or you’ve been the lucky one assigned to create the introduction to so-called genius’ masterpiece. Either way, promotion is imperative so first things first – you must make a poster.

Films have been promoting themselves with posters since the age of dawn – well, since around 1900 when French magician Georges Méliès produced the first motion picture, to be precise. Point is, it’s a tradition that lives on for good reason. We’re a visual species we are and a poster can be the best way to captivate an audience and leave them wanting more.

“So how should I go about making one?” I hear you ask. Well, here are a few helpful tips to get you started:

  • If you haven’t already, create a mind-map of your target audience and the message you want to send out
  • With the above in mind, think of some layout designs i.e. fonts, images, colors etc. that make your poster really pop
  • Research, research, research! The Internet is a wonderful thing and can give you an endless amount of information on different color schemes, font sizes or image placement and what they connote in order to send the right message
  • If appropriate with the theme and concept, make sure to get some great photo images of the main actors to include in your poster – audiences like to know who they’ll be seeing on screen
  • Get inspired – social networking platforms like Pinterest are amazing for design inspiration.

Here are a few examples:

> Movie Posters

> Minimalist Movie Posters

> Best Movie Posters

> Classic Movie Posters

> Overly Dramatic Disney Movie Posters

  • Get acquainted with editing software like Adobe Photoshop. I cannot stress enough how useful this tool can be for any task related to design – not to mention the money you’ll save doing it yourself.
  • Useful Tip: Use 300dpi resolution and CMYK color format. Also, every country has a different specification for movie poster sizes but the standard U.S. size is 27 inches in width x 40 inches in height, commonly referred to as “the one sheet”.

Here are some helpful guides on using Photoshop to make your poster:

> 12 Beginner Tutorials For Getting Started With Photoshop

> How To Design A Movie Poster In Photoshop

> Creating A Composite Movie Poster: Photoshop Tutorial

> Movie Poster Style Color Grading – Photoshop Tutorial

And also some handy links to free movie poster templates compatible with Photoshop:

> Film Poster Template

> Movie Poster Template

> Curled Movie Poster Template

> Thriller Movie Poster Template

Whether you’re the all-encompassing filmmaker wanting to create your own movie poster or you’ve been assigned the job of creating one for someone else, these tips will ensure you get a good start in doing the film/masterpiece justice. And remember, keep it relevant – the poster is essentially the introduction to what the audience should expect from the movie so stick to a central theme. And lastly, be creative!

How to Pay For Film School: Student Financing Options

It would be disingenuous to pretend that attending film school – or any higher level education, for that matter – isn’t a costly endeavor. At the same time, it should be recognized that the costs associated with attending film school should be considered as a great investment rather than an unnecessary expense; graduating from film school can accelerate your whole career to follow and lead to better paying work, faster.

how to pay for film school

But the question of how to pay for film or acting school in the first place remains, and it’s one of the biggest concerns most prospective students have. Luckily, there are numerous ways to ease the financial burden. The main two for most students are loans and grants.

Student Loans for Film School

In the absence of a personal sponsor (i.e a family member willing to cover costs), most students rely on student loans to cover the bulk of the tuition fees and living expenses alongside part-time work in some cases. In fact, around 60% of the country’s 20 million college students rely on student loans to see them through.

The idea of taking on any kind of loan can be a daunting one, but bear in mind that a student loan can be one of the most affordable types of credit anyone is likely to be offered during their lifetime. Certain types of federal loans – given directly to the student by the government – are actually offered without any interest while attending school, these are known as ‘subsidized’ federal loans, so you won’t begin accruing interest on the loan until you begin repayment 6 months after you have completed or left the program. However, given that the government pays the interest for you in this scenario, subsidized loans are naturally more tricky to apply for as you’ll probably have to provide evidence that you’re really in need of the money. All applications for Federal student aid start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The Financial Aid staff is available to assist with this application and can be contacted by emailing: financialaid@nyfa.edu

Federal loans

Unsubsidized federal loans are made available to nearly every student who applies, and the interest rates are still remarkably low. And regardless of whether it’s a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, in most cases you won’t need to start paying it back until six months after you graduate.

How Much Will I Receive for my Student Loan?

There really isn’t a blanket answer to this question that wouldn’t run over multiple pages. This is mainly because the amount you’re eligible for varies on a wide number of factors, the main ones being:

  • Whether the loan is subsidized
  • If the US Department of Education determines you to be a dependent or independent student
  • To what level of education you’re studying (mainly under or post-graduate)
  • Your demonstration of financial need

In addition, the maximum limits for borrowing are set by Congress and are subject to change in any given year, but at the time of writing loan limits range between $5,500 to $12,500 depending on the factors listed above. Before borrowing, you should be clear on the total amount you will be required to re-pay and all repayment option available to you. The best course of action is to speak to one of our friendly Financial Aid experts who’ll be able to provide more personalized information and assist further.

Private Student Loans

While private loans offered specifically for studies come with attractive interest rates, they usually cost more in the long run than any kind of federal loan.

private vs federal loans

That said, if the maximum amount being lent by the government doesn’t quite cover your expected tuition fees and living expenses they can be the most affordable way to ‘top up’ your borrowing. Just be very aware of all the terms, rates and fine print before signing on the dotted line (as with any financial contract), and make doubly sure you understand the repayment terms and the implications of lapsing on these. More information on Private Loans can be found here.

Film School Grants and Scholarships

Who doesn’t like free money? That’s essentially what grants and scholarships are, but of course there are a few hoops you’ll need to jump through in order to find out if you’re able to get some. Once again, it largely depends on personal circumstance and the best thing to do is speak to the Financial Aid department. As an overview, the main distinction between grants and scholarships is that the former is usually awarded to those who are struggling financially, and demonstrate significant financial need, whereas scholarships are given to those who have displayed extreme academic prowess prior to applying.

Federal Pell Grants are offered to students that have completed a FAFSA and have been determined by the US Department of Education and the Financial Aid office at NYFA to be eligible for this grant program. Federal Pell Grant funds are gifts from the government and are not repaid. Grant awards vary per year and may range between $500 and $5730 per calendar year.

NYFA is a proud member of the Yellow Ribbon program, a voluntary grant program which supplements the educational benefits given to veterans under the Post 9/11 GI Bill – factoring in the combination of educational benefits and tuition discounts offered by NYFA, it’s often the case that all of the veteran’s tuition fees are covered. Similar tuition discounts are offered to those who are registered with a disability, and the New York Film Academy also offers tuition discounts to students demonstrating financial need.

film school scholarships and grants

All in all, there are plenty of options out there for those wondering how to pay for film or acting school. All that remains is to check out the various options based on your individual situation, decide which is best for you, then prepare to embark on the biggest turning point of your career in cinema.

Best of luck!