Producing

Mastering the 7 Stages of Film Production

A film is a living, breathing thing, and like all living things, from plants to humans, they start from something small before growing into its final form. If you’re struggling to figure out where to begin when making your movie, or what to do after that, or what to do after that, take a breath and look over this basic map of the 7 Stages of Film Production:

Development

The development period belongs to the project producer, who starts gathering the ideas of the film–rights from books, plays etc., if needed–until the final draft of the screenplay is completed. During this time, a first synopsis is done which will help the lead producer sell the idea and raise funds. Often storyboards other visual aids will be drafted to accompany the script and help the producer communicate the essence of the film.

Financing

Networking and making meetings, often in Los Angeles and to a lesser extent New York, is how many producers will meet with possible financiers. Additionally, a lot of producers travel to festivals, both domestic and international to show the project materials to possible investors.

Pre-production

With enough funding in hand, pre-production can begin, starting with the selection of the cast, crew, locations of the shoot, building of sets and props etc. Shot lists and put together and the producer starts working on a schedule for the entire shoot, starting broad and getting more specific as production begins to ramp up.

Production

The assistant director (AD) shines during production as the actual footage is filmed by coordinating all the different teams at once. Actors, possibly after days or weeks of rehearsing, finally shoot their scenes as the production crew–grips, lighting, sound, camera, etc. work hard to make every second count and shot look as great as possible. Writers and producers may be on set but it’s the director who is calling all the shots creatively–with their AD making sure they’re sticking to the schedule and getting the footage they need before it’s time to move on.

Post-production

This where the editor comes into play, and if the budget is big enough, visual effects teams.

In collaboration with the director, editors begin to assemble takes and shots and create a linear film based out hours of footage. For bigger productions, teasers can be done during this time in order to start marketing. A music composer comes in to orchestrate the score of the movie as final cut begins to loom. Sound design and color direction are important elements during this time as well, and culminate in picture lock–the final edit of the film.

Marketing

In the case of a major production company, teasers are already out to promote the release date of the film. In other scenarios, promotional posters, festivals screenings, and social media are best to help generate buzz for the film. If the production is small, the creatives involved with the film may have to wear this hat whether they like it or not, though it’s possible for producers to outsource to small marketing companies that do this for a living.

Cannes Red Carpet


Distribution

Theatrical distribution is typically divided between domestic and international and involves agreements with production companies to pay for the film to screen at physical theatres. Previously, producers would also concentrate their efforts on how the films would be made into physical copies of VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray and make deals with video rental chains, but nowadays streaming is king. While smaller filmmakers may try to get on as many platforms as possible–Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix, etc.–getting an exclusive deal with a single platform may be more lucrative, especially if it comes with promotion on the platform’s end. Hand in hand with marketing, promotion for the film during its release is also key, including press interviews, red carpet premieres, and other launch parties.

After all of this, it’s time to get started on your next film!

2019 Academy Awards: The Best Picture Nominees

2019 Best Picture nominees
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards, to be given out during ABC’s televised ceremony on Sunday, February 24. The Oscars will cap off a months-long awards season featuring industry veterans, newcomers, and as always, endless debates about who deserves to go home with the golden statue.

The final award of the night, Best Motion Picture of the Year, is handed out to the eligible producers of the film. Since 2009, the number of nominations has increased from five to a maximum of ten, based on a more complicated voting system that uses a modified preferential ranking process.

New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a closer look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture:

Black Panther

Black Panther is the first superhero film to receive a Best Picture nomination and is notable for its themes of race and diverse cast and role models for children of color used to typically seeing white male heroes in Hollywood blockbusters. It was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, while the sole producer eligible for the Best Picture Oscar is Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and mastermind of the groundbreaking Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther is up for seven Academy Awards total.

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is the latest film from Spike Lee and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Directing. Based on true events, the film tells the story of an African American detective who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Lee is also one of the five producers eligible for the Best Picture Oscar, including Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, and Jordan Peele, who won a Best Screenplay Oscar last year for 2018 Best Picture nominee Get Out. BlacKkKlansman is up for six Academy Awards total.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody is the latest Hollywood musical biopic to gain a groundswell of awards season buzz, focusing on legendary rock group Queen, with Rami Malek giving an Oscar-nominated turn as iconic frontman Freddie Mercury. The sole producer eligible for Best Picture is Graham King, who previously won the award for Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film, The Departed, and was nominated in the category for two additional Scorsese films, Hugo and The Aviator. Bohemian Rhapsody is up for five Academy Awards total.

The Favourite

The Favourite is the latest critically-acclaimed art house film from Greek writer and director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer). The period dramedy depicts the rivalry between two cousins vying for the favor of 18th century British Queen Anne. Lanthimos is one of four producers eligible for the Academy Award, along with Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, and Lee Magiday. This is the first Oscar nomination for Dempsey and Magiday, while Guiney was previously nominated in the category for Room in 2015. The Favourite is up for ten Academy Awards total.

Green Book

Green Book is a dramedy set in the 1950s Deep South, based on a real life concert tour of African American pianist Don Shirley and his white driver and bodyguard, Tony Vallelonga. Five producers are eligible in the category, including director and co-writer Peter Farrelly, who made a name with his brother for slapstick comedies like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. He shares the nomination with Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Hayes Currie, and Vallelonga’s son, Nick Vallelonga, who is also co-nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Green Book is up for five Academy Awards total.

Roma

Roma is a deeply personal, semi-autobiographical film by Alfonso Cuarón set in Mexico City in the early 1970s and shot beautifully in black-and-white. In addition to sharing the Best Picture nomination with Gabriela Rodriguez, Cuarón also wrote, shot, and directed the film, for which he received additional Oscar nods. This is the first nomination for Rodriguez, and the first nomination in the category ever for a Latinx woman. Along with the The Favourite, Roma has the most Academy Award nominations this year, with a total of ten.

A Star is Born

A Star is Born is the third remake of the original 1937 film, updated by director and star Bradley Cooper after years of development hell with several filmmakers attached. Cooper shares the Best Picture nod with Bill Gerber and Lynette Howell Taylor. This is Cooper’s second nomination in the category (the first was for American Sniper) and seventh overall; it’s the first nomination for both Gerber and Taylor. A Star is Born is up for eight Academy Awards total.

Vice

Vice is a dramedy biopic of former Vice President Dick Cheney, starring Christian Bale in heavy, lifelike prosthetics. The film is writer and director Adam McKay’s follow-up to The Big Short, which similarly took a quasi-comedic look at the lead-up to the 2008 Great Recession, and which earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. McKay is eligible for Best Picture along with Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Kevin J. Messick. Gardner has been nominated for Best Picture six times in the last seven years, winning twice, for 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight; Kleiner has been nominated five times, sharing both Oscars with Gardner. This is the first nomination for Messick. Vice is up for eight Academy Awards total.

Check out the New York Film Academy Blog after this year’s ceremony for a full list of the 2019 Oscar winners and losers!

How Does a Producer Get Paid?

The film industry is brimming with roles that contribute to the creation of fun, unforgettable experiences. While a typical moviegoer is well aware of what writers, actors, and directors do, if there’s one position that often gets overlooked, it’s that of producer.

Producers are there from start to finish, overseeing the film’s production while usually filling a number of roles. From budgets and schedules to helping to cast the right actors, they are expected to make big decisions during every stage of filmmaking. Producers are also one of the main creative forces in production, often seeing their own vision and ideas come to life on the big screen for many to view.

But with a complex role comes a variety of compensation options that aren’t always as straightforward or risk-free as other jobs in the industry:

Development Fee


A development fee is what a producer might get paid for their pitch and thoughts during the time that the studio is filling other key roles, such as screenwriters, and figuring out if the project is worth greenlighting at all. As mentioned, many
project pitches are abandoned by studios before they can move from development to production, which means producers will need to take their project elsewhere.

Development fees are up to the studio and vary. Where one producer is getting $15,000 for their input during development, another may receive up to $60,000 or more. At the end of the day, the amount of cash a producer makes across an entire film production — starting with this development fee — relies heavily on both the producer’s participation and previous experience.

Production Fee

If a studio does decide to move forward with a film, producers can expect to receive a guaranteed fee. This payment is also up to the studio and thus can also range widely — a normal estimate is somewhere between $100,000 and $400,000. The power a producer has when it comes to negotiating their production fee relies on a number of factors, but perhaps the most important is how impressive their resume is.

The more box office hits and critically acclaimed films a producer has been a part of, the more leverage she or he has for getting a good deal. Also important is how involved the producer plans to be during productions — performing more services means you should get more money. This payment is also not usually given all at once and is instead divided throughout a film’s production. For example, a producer may receive 20% of the total production fee before principal photography, 50% during photography, and then the rest after.

Film Profits

Most producers are also promised a cut of the film’s profits. Again, how high of a percent you get usually depends on your reputation and level of success. The truth is, the average producer doesn’t expect to make a lot of money from profits considering how much of it gets divided up among other players who were involved in the process.

For example, movie theaters usually get to keep about fifty percent of gross revenues. What’s left is often used to repay the costs of making the film in the first place, including added interest since the money was likely borrowed years ago. In short, producers may obtain back-end points (i.e. percentage on profits) on net profits, at the most. However, some post-release profits to look forward to — if the producer has a share in the copyright of the film —  are things like DVD and rights to streaming services like Netflix.

Bridge Between Art & Business

A common misconception in the film industry is seeing producers as these high-stakes gamblers who often bet all their chips on ideas, either earning nothing or become millionaires. The truth is, being a producer is all about using your knowledge and experience to minimize risk and maximize opportunity. As the bridge that connects the artistic vision with the business goals of the film, it’s on you to help foster creativity and build relationships while making sure the project stays on a promising financial course.

If you want a role that requires both imagination and strategic thinking while letting you work closely with people trying to impact audience’s lives with memorable films, look no further. It also doesn’t hurt that you’ll likely make very good money if you know what you’re doing.

Interested in taking classes at the producing school at New York Film Academy? Check out more information here.

5 Ways to Write a Convincing Crowdfunding Pitch for Your Film

By NYFA Guest Contributor Grace Carter

Crowdfunding is a competitive arena; there are a lot of people out there trying to get their film funded by online backers. To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to believe in your talent and ability to make the project happen — and prove to people that you’re worth their investment.

Here are five tips to help you write a convincing crowdfunding pitch for your film.

Pick the Right Platform

Before you get writing that crowdfunding pitch, you need to decide what platform is best for your campaign. Established sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo will give you the benefit of high visibility, but will charge you higher fees than a smaller site. If you choose Kickstarter, keep in mind that their campaigns are an all-or-nothing deal; if you don’t reach your goal, you will not get any of the funding you raised. Indiegogo allows you to choose between the all-or-nothing deal or a situation where you receive your funds regardless of whether your goal was met.

Write a Compelling Story

This is your pitch: your chance to convince would-be backers why your film is worthy of their money. Answer the important questions of who, what, when, where, and why. People often forget to answer the why question, but don’t make that mistake. Talk about yourself and your story, and why you’re making this film. What is your film about, what is its message? What’s your timeframe for filming, and when do you expect to have it completed and ready for viewing? How will be people be able to view it? It’s great to show some passion, just make sure you can deliver on the expectations you create with that passion. 

Build up some credibility by talking about past filmmaking success and any relevant experience you have. Don’t forget to include your call to action, by directing people in how they can support your work. You’ll get better results if you use words like “receive” and “offer” instead of “help” and “support.” 

You may also want to go the extra mile to make sure your pitch is well written by using professional grammar, proofreading, and editing services. Be sure to check your pitch’s grammar with sites like ViaWriting or Simplegrad.

Use Lots of Visuals

Since you’re trying to fund a film, you’ll want to include as many visuals as you can. If you’ve started filming, consider including a short clip so people can see what you’re doing. Don’t worry if you’re still in pre-production, you can film a short video in which you explain what you’re doing and what your vision is for your film. You can put together a very clever and low-budget video pitch, like the one made by the makers of I am I.

Ideally, your video should only be a few minutes long, and the first 10 seconds are critical. If you don’t grab your viewer’s attention in those first 10 seconds, they’ll lose interest and click away before you can even get into your pitch. The last 10 seconds are just as critical, and it’s important to leave your viewers with a clear takeaway and call to action.

“Be sure to rehearse your script quite a bit before you get on camera, so you don’t look like an amateur. A few awkward pauses or stuttering are all it takes for a would-be backer to lose faith. Spend some time crafting your pitch script and practice, practice, practice,” advises Roland Ainsworth, writer at State of Writing.

Include Some Nice Perks

Backer rewards are bonuses you hand out to people who support your campaign, usually on a scale depending on the level of funding. Some perk ideas for a film crowdfunding campaign include a thank you shoutout on the film website; access to an online production diary; access to an inspirational playlist used and curated by the director; a download of the film pre-release; and a DVD and thank you in film credits.

It’s important not to overcommit. Put some thought into how much you can actually deliver on should you receive a lot of support. It would be a shame to ruin your credibility and anger your backers by being unable to deliver on your backer perk promises.

Promotion

Once you’ve got a solid pitch and some nice rewards planned, it’s time to get the world watching.

“Start by letting your friends and family know. It’s a good strategy to try and get 30 percent of your funding with a soft launch targeted at people your group knows, before going ahead with the hard launch on a platform,” recommends Doris Crawford, editor at UKWritings.

Make sure you put together your mailing list and send private emails and phone calls at least a month prior to launching the crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t raise at least 5-10 percent of your target goal, it is probably best to postpone the launch.

Post regular updates on your film’s social media accounts to remind your community of how things are progressing. You might want to build up some hype before you launch your campaign, just don’t overdo it and turn people off. Reach out to friends of friends, bloggers, and influencers. Over time you’ll get people tweeting and organically promoting your campaign. Email might seem old fashioned, but a targeted email campaign can still be very effective.

Conclusion

Writing a convincing crowdfunding pitch can be tough. You’re competing with a lot of other people and a lot of other films. You need to make yours stand out and is backed by a solid plan. Write a compelling story, for what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Use lots of visuals, giving your backers a taste of your filmmaking talent. Follow these five ways to write a convincing crowdfunding pitch for your film.

Ready to learn more about film and media production? Check out our Producing School programs at the New York Film Academy.

Grace Carter is a writer and storyteller at Essayroo and Boom Essays service. She edits, proofreads, writes various types of papers, and helps the content marketing team. Also, Grace is a tutor at Academized educational website. 

4 Online Organizational Tools Every Producer Needs

As wonderful as it is to watch a masterful film play out in the theatre or comfort of your home, rarely do audiences consider the weeks, months, and years of elaborate work it takes to produce. Usually, in the lengthy timeline of a film’s cycle from the final screenplay draft to the big screens, the person with the longest-running responsibility is the producer. It’s a widely known fact that producers play a vital role in bringing screenplays to fruition, but that’s not all; even after a film’s release, producers must keep on top of contract negotiations, revenue, and residuals, among other things. With so many responsibilities, it’s imperative for producers to stay organized, as they are essentially the highest-ranking project manager on a film. To support that all-important project management aspect of producing, here is a list of the best online organizational tools every producer needs:

StudioBinder

Cost: Scheduler – $19/month, Indie – $29/month, Professional – $49/month, Studio – $85/month

This software was made for the 21st century producer and filmmaker. It allows you to streamline your production management with an array of clever features, including contact management, stripboards, call sheet builder and monitoring, shooting schedules, and cloud storage. As well as providing interactive access for any team member to contribute — which is vital given that each film has so many contributors, many who are likely to be scattered around the world at different times — StudioBinder provides a modern, user-friendly interface that every beginner can navigate through with ease.

Yamdu

Cost: Development – $5/month, Academic – $9/month, Advanced – $49/month

A direct competitor of StudioBinder, this software has also tailored its features to suit the producer and filmmaker, also offers a financing and deliverables feature. Having the dedicated role of working out a budget and getting the film financed, every producer will need a budgeting and financing program at one point or another. Usually done on Excel spreadsheets, having an integrated program within Yamdu for your budget will make your life a whole lot easier.

Evernote

Cost: Basic – Free, Plus – $24.99/year, Premium – $49.99/year

Unlike the previous programs, Evernote isn’t targeted specifically to producers and filmmakers, but still offers some fantastic organizational tools. Some of its features include brainstorming whiteboards, checklists, meeting notes, reminders, and project-tracking timelines, to name a few. There’s more, too. Say you’ve just had a lunch meeting with the director — a creative, visually-driven individual, who likes to jot or draw things down on a napkin. With its multi-device syncing ability, Evernote allows you to take a photo of any notes or doodles and upload them right away on your smartphone. You can also record and upload audio and video for those great ideas that pop up at obscure moments.

Trello

Cost: Basic – Free, Business Class – $8.33/month/user, Enterprise – $20.83/year/user

This software is made for those who prefer visualizing the progress of a project. It uses a card-based layout for every idea, to which you can then make any changes or adjustments as you go, like adding notes or attaching files, categorizing, color-coding, or creating a task list. The simple, left-to-right format of the cards allows for a visual timeline to track the production process whilst also giving you the ability to sync other platforms like Google Drive into the app. It’s also collaborative and can sync to any device.

Learn more about film, television, and media production at the New York Film Academy.

How to Network in the Film Production World

In reference to leaving his day job and surrounding himself with other filmmakers to perfect his craft, the great Tarantino once said, “if you run the hundred-yard dash with people much faster than you, yeah you might come last, but your time will be better than winning against slower competition.” Producing a film is far from a solitary feat and the ability to learn from others is a basic, albeit critical, part of improvement. So, what better way to increase your chances of success in an industry that practically invented the saying “it’s all about who you know”, than networking?

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

Social Media

Just as instinctive as it may be to utilize a dance studio to learn how to dance, one should similarly consider social networking sites for – as the name suggests – networking. When even the most introverted of all introverts is merely a click, swipe, and/or double-tap away from deep-diving into the biggest room full of people: otherwise known as the Internet, ‘tis indeed a great time to be alive.

Sites like LinkedIn are a sure-fire way to get connected to those who share your professional interests, but there are some other lesser-known networking sites specifically catered to professionals in film and media. Sites like Shooting People share similarities with LinkedIn, whereby users’ profiles are more like extensive portfolios; but unlike the latter, they have a strong emphasis on collaboration and allow users to work on one another’s projects. Similarly, Movidiam and Mandy.com cater specifically to those in film and media and also provide a great platform for finding work.

That said, don’t underestimate the connective power of mainstream sites like Facebook. Joining industry-specific groups is key. Not only will these groups give you access to a supportive community of fellow producers and filmmakers to learn from, but once you turn your event notifications on, it’s on!

Events

Social media might allow for reach and immediacy, but there’s a real gravitas in the connection between human beings in the flesh that cannot possibly be translated or outweighed by virtual alternatives. However, using social media to get you these face-to-face meetings is crucial. Once you’re following key industry people and are part of several online communities, invitations to industry events are going to be commonplace. Use this! Do as successful producer Jane Applegate does and “…attend as many mixers and workshops as possible” – something she swears by when prompted on the value of networking.

Intern, Volunteer, and Gain Experience

Find production companies, film festivals, and film shoots that will accept interns or volunteers. Do what you can — run errands, grab coffee, anything. Exposing yourself to every bit of the filmmaking process in live action will only increase your knowledge on producing films in the real world; whilst offering valuable industry connections and great career prospects.

Make Friends

Networking differs from the act of making friends in that its main purpose is to increase your arsenal for career advancement. The act of making friends, however, has a genuine intention behind it and something rarely synonymous with the entertainment industry – longevity. Authentic connections between likeminded people can stand the test of time and be of great benefit to all parties involved. Take advantage of being a student at NYFA where you’re constantly surrounded by others who share your passion for film and reach out to classmates. You never know, the friends you make in class may just be the same ones standing beside you on the stage as you give your Oscars speech.

Listen. Be Humble. Be Kind.

None of the aforementioned strategies will ever be of use to you without practicing these throughout:

Listen – people are most susceptible to giving their best if they feel they’re being heard. Listening to others will only ever open your mind up to more opportunities.

Be humble – as Socrates says, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Everyone can teach you something if you’re open to it.

Be kind – positivity breeds positivity and people react accordingly. The best way to create an atmosphere you can prosper in is to give what you wish to receive. Plus, it just feels good to be kind!

So, go forth with these in mind and you’re bound for success. Happy networking!

8 Tips for Getting 1K Instagram Followers in One Month

From ambitious models and actors to small businesses across the globe, everyone is discovering Instagram’s tremendous usefulness in today’s competitive world. The popular social media platform boasts millions of active monthly users and has numerous features that benefit marketers, including the ability to show off your brand and talk to your audience.

There are tried-and-true tips all over the net that can help you find more success on Instagram. If your goal is to earn at least 1,000 more followers in a month, give this a try:

  1. Follow and study the competition.

There’s nothing wrong with checking out other accounts in your industry to see what they’re doing. This includes looking at how often they post, the hashtags they use, what kind of content they post, etc. The goal isn’t to completely copy their strategy, but to jot down what’s working for them and apply the best of it to your own plans.

  1. Become a hashtag master.

A great way to catch people’s attention is by being fun and creative with your hashtag use. You’ll also get more people to see you if you join in on trending hashtags that are receiving tons of attention at the time.

But most important of all, make sure you use hashtags that apply to you and what you’re about. If musical theater is your thing, make sure videos of you singing have hashtags that will draw others interested in the same things.

  1. Network, Instagram style.

Although things like college degrees and experience are important, a lot of people believe there’s nothing like a good connection to land a job. In a way, this idea can also apply when going for more Instagram followers quickly.

The trick is to frequently interact with the most popular influencers in your industry in hopes that you become one of their favorite followers. Make sure to activate your “Turn On Post Notifications” feature so you’re always among the first to post.

  1. Cross-promote on other platforms.

From Facebook and Pinterest to Twitter and YouTube, perhaps there’s a chance you already have another social media account with a few or more follows. Drive traffic from those accounts to your Instagram by frequently sharing your best posts in order to catch their attention. Chances are the people who follow you on other platforms also have an Instagram account as well.

  1. Go viral via Instagram Stories.

The Explore page on Instagram is an awesome feature that can earn you an unexpected level of likes and follows. This is because your stories have the possibility of being show on other accounts based on what kinds of posts and accounts you like/follow. For this to happen you have to create fun, engaging Stories that usually target a specific space.

  1. Make your profile stand out.

Recognition is all about infusing your Instagram with your own personality and visual style. Your profile theme and bio should be unique enough to stand out from the crowd while also doing a good job of representing who you are and what kind of content you like sharing. Although short, your bio will give readers a clear impression of what you’re about and hopefully convince them to follow you.

  1. Run contests and giveaways.

If there’s one thing everyone looks to get, it’s free goodies. Running a giveaway that lasts a few days and requires interacting with your account is a solid way to gain exposure and earn more followers.

A popular strategy is to run a contest in partnership with another influencer, setting up the rules so that people need to follow both accounts in order to be entered to win. It also helps if the gifts are related to your industry, such as giving away a free game or Gamestop gift card if you’re trying to create hype for your own upcoming title.

  1. Don’t skip out on videos.

Photo posts are a powerful tool when it comes to growing your Instagram following — actors should definitely post new headshots or production photos often, and with the right hashtags.

However, it’s hard to argue with all the stats out there pointing to videos as being the best type of content for earning more followers. This makes sense considering that a static image will rarely be as attention-grabbing as moving video with sound and voice, so make sure to mix up your images with videos.

What’s your best advice for growing your Instagram followers? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about the visual and performing arts at the New York Film Academy.

7 Awesome Women in Film You Should Be Following Now

From directing to cinematography, writing to producing, women in Hollywood are working hard to have an equal voice and share of power in the movies being made … but we have a long way to go. According to the Annual Celluloid Ceiling Report, “In 2017, women comprised 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.”

Here, we present seven women who defy those numbers and stand as role models for generations of women to come. We couldn’t possibly decide which one of these women was more awesome than the next, so we put them in alphabetical order.

Ava DuVernay

  1. Ava DuVernay was the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance Film Festival for Middle of Nowhere, and the first to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Selma. Recently, she became the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million — a staggering sum for any director — for Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time.

Nina Jacobson

  1. Nina Jacobson is a producer who, in her time heading up Disney, brought such films as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sixth Sense, and the Pirates of the Caribbean to life. After being fired from Disney, she created her own production company, Color Force, which produced the wildly successful Hunger Games movies. She is also openly gay, and has helped to create a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood by creating Out There with fellow producer Bruce Cohen.

Patty Jenkins

  1. Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman, the third highest grossing film of 2017. It gave her the biggest domestic opening for any female director. Before that, Jenkins wrote and directed Monster, another, darker, woman-centric film that garnered critical acclaim and the academy award for its star, Charlize Theron, whom we will meet below…

Kathleen Kennedy

  1. Kathleen Kennedy started out her career as Spielberg’s secretary and, as we mentioned in this article celebrating women film producers, rose to become one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. She heads up Lucasfilm, and is hence responsible for the Star Wars franchise and the highest grossing movies of the past few years, including The Last Jedi.

Reed Morano

  1. Reed Morano is a cinematographer, known for Frozen River, Kill Your Darlings” and The Skeleton Twins. More recently, she picked up critical acclaim for directing the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale. In 2013, she became the youngest member of the American Society of Cinematographers, and, according to Wikipedia, is one of only 14 women in this prestigious organization of approximately 345 active members.

Mina Shum

  1. Mina Shum is a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker who prefers to be known simply as an independent filmmaker. Her feature films, Double Happiness and Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity, premiered at Sundance. Her most recent film, Meditation Park, starring Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh, will hit theaters March 2018.

Charlize Theron

  1. Charlize Theron is a South African-American who has established her career beyond her acting talent and beauty by founding her own production company, Denver and Delilah, named for her two dogs. Its first production was Monster, and its latest was Atomic Blonde.

For more on the usefulness of turning actor cred into producer cred, check out this article on why so many actors turn to producing, where you’ll find more awesome women like Viola Davis, Salma Hayek and Drew Barrymore, who all started production companies of their own.

 

 

 

9 Stages of Pre-Production

The first day of shooting on a movie set is never the first day that film is being produced. Days, and sometimes weeks, months, years, or—in the case of James Cameron’s “Avatar” or Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”—decades can go by from the beginning of a film’s inception to when cameras just start rolling. The production and subsequent post-production processes of a movie can be shorter, longer, or about the same, but neither can exist without pre-production—the work that goes into a film before any images are recorded.

Pre-production, like the filmmaking as a process as a whole, is complicated and can be daunting for independent filmmakers. Here are nine stages—each with their own subdivisions of tasks and labor—that should be included in your pre-production process if you want to ensure a steady, fruitful film shoot from day one.

Finalize a Shooting Script

While movies are magical, they don’t come out of thin air. Even before the pre-production process starts, you need an idea, and often a fairly polished screenplay to work off of. But when it’s crunch time, you need to finalize that screenplay and convert it to a shooting script—one that reads for the director, cinematographer, and camera crew as well as it does for the actors. Tweaks and whole scenes may be edited, added, or deleted at anytime (sometimes even in post-production!) but for the most part your shooting script should be ready to shoot by the time the director first calls action.

Storyboards & Shot Lists

Storyboards & shot lists go hand-in-hand with shooting scripts—creating a visual interpretation of the screenplay for the director and cinematographer to reference and prepare for. While some directors know exactly what they want in their hand and can draw it themselves, usually storyboard artists are hired to bring the story to life. Once a film is seen—even in black-and-white sketches—it comes alive in a way that the entire crew can see and gives them a concrete vision to strive for.

Find the Right Crew

While some crew positions might already be attached or recommended for a project, and other positions, like your writer and storyboard artist, could be hired very early in the process—you should work to get the entire team rounded out before pre-production gets too involved. After all, these are the women & men who will be carrying out a lot of these tasks, and the sooner they are involved in the creative process, the more valuable their input will be. All of filmmaking is a collaboration—not just the shooting!

Location Scouting

You may need to tailor your storyboards to your location or vice-versa, so finding them early is key. Many hands-on producers & directors may want to do this themselves, but often the smartest thing to do is hire a professional location scout who already has locales in mind or knows how to find original ones perfect for your script. If you’re shooting in a studio or soundstage, you’ll want to find the right one early and make sure it’s not booked before you can lock it in—treat them as you would reception halls for your own wedding! Finding real world locations early is just as important because you’ll want enough time to process the necessary permits & paperwork.

Create a Proper Budget (and Stick to It!)

By now you should be finalizing your budget, to make sure you can find the gear and afford the locations you want to use. Sometimes this is the professional thing to do; sometimes it’s the necessary thing to do because you’re not working with any credit or financial backers willing to give any more than they already promised. This is never the most fun part of pre-production, but very often it’s the most important.

Choose Your Gear

Are you shooting digitally or going old school with some 16mm film? Or are you saving money and shooting the entire film on your iPhone? Once you have the answers to these questions you can acquire your gear—often from a rental house. After your first film you may establish a relationship with a particular rental house and can negotiate discounts and figure out just exactly what your budget will allow when it comes to peripheral equipment. Maybe you can afford that ultracool fog machine after all!

Clear That Red Tape

Once you know what gear and locations you want, you’re going have to get into the paperwork—namely, permits and insurance. Permits are required from municipal governments to shoot on public property and location agreements are typically needed for use of private homes—especially if you’ll need to move furniture or equipment around or repaint the walls after the shoot, etc. You’ll also need insurance to protect yourself in the event you or one of your crew members accidentally do damage to the location or your rented film equipment. Finally you may need to cover your crew and cast as well—better safe than sorry!

Find the Right Cast

With your dominos falling in place you’re going to need to finally decide on your cast—this could feel impossible, no matter how many actors your audition. You might be frustrated you can’t find the perfect person for the role you envisioned in your head, or maybe you found two equally brilliant performers and you’re pulling your hair out trying to decide between the two. Either way, auditioning early and often and even employing a casting agent to find even more performers, possibly from outside your locality, will go a long way towards giving your movie the perfect cast.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Sometimes finding the perfect cast could make a filmmaker overconfident, leading them to put too much responsibility on their cast to be self-sufficient. Actors need their director just as much as the crew does, and working with them both one-on-one and as an ensemble is a vital part of the pre-production process. Holding table reads and rehearsals weeks before shooting will ensure that when the camera is ready to the roll, your cast will be giving the performance your movie truly needs. This extra time before the shoot also allows the cast to develop a genuine chemistry that will not go unnoticed by your audience.

These are just nine simplified stages of a complex, multifaceted pre-production process. Often these steps will be done simultaneously and in any variety of orders. Just remember that if you’re confident and prepared you can get through any hurdle and tell the story you’ve always wanted to tell. New York Film Academy offers courses in production and filmmaking with the overall philosophy of learning by doing—so the best way to get through pre-production is to learn the skills first and then master them with experience and resolve.

The Impact of a Good Producer on Your Student Film

People often think that a producer simply puts up the money for a film and walks away. Though raising funds is certainly part of what a producer — especially an executive producer — does, they also do a lot more.

As this NYFA article demonstrates, there are a lot of disparate skills, artistic and entrepreneurial, that go into being a good producer. From spotting good material and  overseeing script development and bringing on directors, to overseeing casting and editing, producers are often in the unique position of being with a project from inception to distribution.

Too small for a producer?

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“All very interesting,” you say, “but I’m just making a student film on a micro/nonexistent budget! Why do I need a producer?”

The answer is that, even for the smallest films, production can easily get complicated and overwhelming.

For small films, producers may be tasked with day-to-day duties — typically the duties of a line producer on bigger films — such as setting up daily schedules and making sure cast, crew and extras know where to be and when, securing locations and clearing them, and organizing craft services. As we mentioned in this article, you might not be able to pay the people that are making your film dreams come true, but you should at least try to feed them!

There is also the matter of securing rights for any music you might want to use as discussed in this article, which is rarely easy or cheap. And don’t forget dealing with the inevitable paperwork: NDAs, contracts, invoices, W-9s, etc.

If you’re starting to think that maybe there’s more to this filmmaking thing than screenplays and storyboards, then you might start realizing just how important a producer is on even the tiniest of projects.

Pushing your film to the next level.

If you love your student film and want to expand it into something bigger and better, or if you want to get it into shape to enter into festivals, or pitch to studios as a feature or television series, or any of the many other ways a student film can turn into a career-starter, then having a producer already invested in the project will be an immense help for your cause.

With their skills in pitching, business, and human resources, as well as their big picture view of your overall concept, and an ability to work from pre-production to distribution, a producer will serve your project well as it grows and gains an audience. Having a producer onboard will also allow you as a director to move onto your next project without leaving the last one to molder in a hard drive or at the bottom of the YouTube dustbin.

Ready to learn more about film and TV production? Study producing at the New York Film Academy.

 

Film Producing: How to Cast the Right Actors in Your Film

Being a producer can have its ups and downs–after all, producers play a part in every creative, technical, and financial aspect of a film or television show. Often they help oversee the hiring of writers and the development of the script, as well as supervise the casting, hiring of the crew, and location scouting of a project.

The New York Film Academy teaches students what it truly means to be a producer–simply put, a project doesn’t exist without one. Producers are the most involved, following a project from pre- to post-production and beyond.

A major part of film producing includes having to cast the right actors for your project. But how do you know when you are casting the right people for the part? Here’s some advice for students and aspiring producers to help you pick the perfect cast!

Don’t wear out the material.

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Don’t overuse the script during the audition process. Do you really want to hear 50 people read the same lines over and over again? You may love the scene at the beginning of the audition process, but there’s a good chance you’ll hate it by the end.

Instead, you may consider choosing material from a different project that is spiritually similar and use that during the audition process. You won’t end up tired of your own script, plus you can save the real material for people you are serious about during callbacks.

The chemistry.

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It’s understandable to want an actor who is specifically right for the part, but it’s also important they have chemistry between your leads, as well as chemistry with the director and the cast. Chemistry between actors is often what makes a film successful, because it’s so exciting to watch.

Be specific.

As a producer, it is imperative to have a clear picture of your needs and priorities. It’s important to know what characteristics you want in the actors for your project. Be specific when working with casting directors and you’ll find being upfront about what you want will help them plan and be more strategic in the casting process.

In Film Independent’s article, “’We’re A Family’: Casting Directors on Putting the Right Actor in the Role,” Julie Hutchinson, former 20th Century Fox’s vice president of Feature Casting and senior vice president of Casting at Universal Pictures, said, “We’re a family. We’re all in it together.”

Don’t rush.

Don’t make the rookie producing mistake of rushing through the casting process. It’s not just another part of pre-production you should just check off of your to-do list. Of course the casting process can be frustrating and tedious. Remember, there is almost never a perfect fit for your role. The person auditioning for the part may have the talent, but not the look you want. Or, they may have the look you want, but not the right aura.

It can be a bad idea to bring in an absurdly large group of people for auditions, especially if you haven’t had the time to look at all of their headshots and resumes. Instead, take the time to read over some submissions, select a few actors, and bring them in for auditions. Being selective early on in the process will increase your chances of finding suitable talent for your project.

Remember: don’t settle for actors you’re not happy with, because this could lead to some major issues on set later on down the road when it will be too late (and too expensive) to recast.

Do you have any tips on how to select the right actor for a role? Let us know below!

 

How to Craft the Perfect Movie Pitch

A moving, persuasive pitch can be the difference between seeing your story idea come to life on the big screen or leaving it in your mind to be forgotten. There are few industries as competitive as film, which means your movie pitch needs to impact the listener and stand out from the thousands of others. The following are a number of ways you can bring that pitch of yours as close to perfection as possible.

1. Use the power of emotion.

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Just like every novel ever written or song ever recorded, the purpose of a film is to elicit emotion. People want to play games, watch movies, and read books that will make them feel something that they can’t or normally don’t feel as powerfully in their own lives. Similarly, a successful story pitch is one where you give the listener a positive emotional experience by convincing them that your idea will either be a hit or something they’d enjoy watching. Instead of saying that you’re passionate about the project, let it show in the way you describe your story.

2. Show your personal connection with the film.

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Sometimes even the best ideas can fall flat if those at the helm of the project are driven only by money or fame. Film is arguably one of the most powerful storytelling mediums out there, and some of the most iconic films of all time were made by people with tremendous passion toward the idea or emotion they wanted to share. In other words, a movie pitch is the perfect time to show your personal connection to the story and its themes. Make it clear why this story needs to be told and why you’re the filmmaker destined to help tell it.

3. Make it clear why your film is unique yet bound for success

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While agents and offices do look out for film ideas that are creative and special, it’s not always enough. You have to make sure your unique pitch is also something that will most likely attract diverse groups of people and thus, be a success. A good exercise to prepare you for this is to write down why your film is unique along with a second list of reasons why your film would be a hit in today’s market.

4. Comparisons are OK, but don’t over do it.

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A lot of people are afraid to compare their film idea to similar existing films for fear of sounding unoriginal. However, comparisons can be a powerful way of giving your listener a clearer image of what your movie is all about. The trick is to not overdo it or confuse your listener by saying your film is a mix of “The Fellowship of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” without explaining how or why.

5. Avoid telling your whole story.

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When pitching your idea to an office or agent, you’ll rarely get more than a few minutes of time. A common mistake is to waste most of your time by trying to tell your entire story as quickly as possible from start to finish. For one, trying to do so only leaves you with less time to convey why the idea is good. But more importantly, if your story can actually be told in as little as five minutes then it’s probably not a great story. Do your best to give the important plot points and details without boring the listener while misusing your time.

6. When you think your pitch is done, forget it and come back later.

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A movie pitch isn’t something you prepare in one night. Just like Stephen King would put away a rough draft for weeks before rereading and improving it, you should step away from your pitch for a while to get it out of your head. Coming back to it with a fresh mind will help you trim off the unnecessary while improving the stronger points. There’s nothing wrong with rinsing and repeating this process until you feel satisfied.

7. Happy with your latest pitch? Now record and practice it.

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Recording your own pitch and listening to it is one of the best ways of figuring out what needs to go and what can be said better. It may seem awkward listening to yourself but doing so will give you a good idea of how you’re presenting your idea. Do video recording if you’ll be pitching in person to make sure you have the right expressions and look when convincing the listener to consider your project.

A Quick Guide to Movie Production Incentives

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Sometimes movie producers are encouraged to film their projects in specific areas for reasons that go beyond the gorgeous scenery. To help stimulate economies and create jobs, many places across the globe tempt producers by offering them financial incentives to shoot within their respective territory. The Irish Film Commission, for example, offers a 32% tax credit on local Irish expenditures as long as the production company shoots there.

These incentives can make all the difference for a film with few resources. In fact, offering tax benefits to film producers here in the United States all started in the 1990s when many movie productions began moving their projects to Canada to reduce costs. In an effort to keep film and television production in the U.S., each state began implementing their own incentives to entice and attract productions.

Types of Movie Production Incentives (MPIs) in America

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The following are the five main types of MPIs offered by states here in America. Please note that each state differs in terms of the requirements needed to qualify for the incentives:

Tax Credits

If a production company meets the minimum spending requirements, they are eligible for a tax credit for a portion of the income taxes they owe the state. This is similar to a cash rebate except the production company has to file a state tax return in order to obtain the funds. Companies can do more with less by earning back some of the money they used on local expenditures such as wages and production costs.

Cash Rebates

Many states bring in production companies by offering a cash rebate. The money received is usually a percentage of the company’s qualified expenses. The more the company spends on productions costs, labor, and other services, the more they get back.

Grants

Although uncommon, there are a few states that offer grants to production companies just for filming there. In 2016, the state of Montana provided $500,000 in grants to support the production of 11 films.

Sales Tax and Lodging Exemption

Not having to pay any sales tax on production costs is a huge plus for many production companies, which is why certain states offer sales tax exemptions. A number of of states also allow companies to not have to pay lodging taxes for all their guests— usually the requirement is that they stay for more than 30 days.

No Fee Locations

A small but valuable incentive some states offer is letting production companies film on state-owned property for free.

Proponents and Opposers of MPIs

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Although offering MPIs sounds great, some argue that they actually have no (or a negative) effect on the state’s economy and are, thus, a waste of money. Below are the main arguments for those in favor of production incentives in the film industry and those who oppose them.

Pros: MPIs have a positive impact on local economies.

Since the filmmaking process can require a lot of laborers, services, and resources, having a big-budget movie produced in a certain area can have a positive effect on the local economy. This includes the creation of jobs, infrastructure, and small businesses along with the generation of tax revenue. States also enjoy the increased tourism that comes from people wanting to see where their favorite movies and TV shows were filmed.

To get an idea, consider that the average studio feature takes with them around 100 crew members and then employs another 100 locally. This means the company will spend millions of dollars on wages but also expenditures such as food, lodging, everyday sundry, etc. Local employees are also left with hands-on training by the traveling production crew, increasing the chance of local film production.

Cons: MPIs don’t actually improve the state’s economy in any way.

Some argue that film production incentives don’t actually help create jobs since they’re only temporary. Unless a state has a steady stream of productions, the jobs created by the film and television industry are short-term thus, leave specialized employees with no work once the production wraps.

People who oppose MPIs also point out that many states are overeager to offer incentives based on tailored reports of success from other states. In other words, states rely too much on perceived success in other states failing to properly assess how a major film production will affect their own economies.

 

4 Things Students Should Know About the Movie Production Industry

1. Successful people never make it alone.

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How many times have we heard ad nauseam that it’s all about who you know? Those who are at the top now, likely didn’t get there working in a vacuum. They rose through the ranks with others they trusted to collaborate with in reaching their goals. They have a team.

Start by engaging with others not just at school but at workshops, festivals, and seminars. Like-minded people will gravitate towards each other. Folks in the industry often work together and respect one another enough to keep building a professional relationship for their mutual benefit. If you are a writer, find a producer who is willing to work hard with you, and the same goes for directors and actors. Build your team, knowing that these people will fill the critical roles needed to make your films a success.

2. You are the director of your career.

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You’ve heard that opportunity strikes when luck meets preparation. This increasingly digital industry, where we now have access to a plethora of media platforms for storytelling, is primed for you to create your own content.

Gone are the days where filmmakers could rely on studios to greenlight their projects and get the whole team on board. In the age of social media and reality television, an artist often has to have a certain level of presence to even be considered. Create a strong body of work so you can attract an audience and position yourself to be able to make better career making decisions. Become a content creator, and you can become the director of your own career.  

3. Learn the secrets of outsourcing.

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A common misconception of a director or showrunner is that they are the “boss,” when in reality there should always be 4 or 5 trusted people who provide critique or are better skilled in one area or another. Whatever your position, know when to seek the expertise of others who will only make your project better. You’ll always have a blind spot, and your own talent and skill will have a chance to serve the project best when you are successfully collaborating with the talents and skills of the others on your team. Outsourcing for different aspects of your filmmaking process, whether it is for budgeting, animation, or coaching your actors, is one of the tried and true secrets to successful production.  Mentors, film networks, and other resources can fill in these gaps for you.

4. Know the basics of storytelling.

While we can all agree that the fundamentals of storytelling are important to being a filmmaker, just as critical is knowing where you fit in the story that is actually taking place on set. Oftentimes, graduating from film school will leave you chomping at the bit to be hired as producer, director, or any other position of leadership. The truth is, your professional journey has only just begun. You are more than likely going to take on a PA role before doing anything else. How you handle what may feel like a lowly position is training ground for your future. Whatever your role is on set, it’s a critical one — or you wouldn’t be there. Every step of the way, you are paying dues—and all of it is a part of your story. Exhaust all of your opportunities to do what is expected, do it well, and always go the extra mile. Create your own track record, and be the hero in your story, where the only way to go is up.

Learn more about producing for film, television, and new media at the New York Film Academy.

What Does a TV Producer Do?

Do you have excellent organizational skills and a head for numbers? Are you also creative and able to see projects through from the planning stages to the very end? Well, you might have the makings of a television producer.

Television producers coordinate and supervise all aspects of a production, from the creative to the administrative. Producers also make the financial decisions and handle contracts, talent and bargaining agreements, and other administrative details. While producers get to be in on the fun of planning and executing a production, they also deal with troubles during production and keep everything within budget.

Some of the producer’s duties include:

  • Fundraising and networking
  • Working with financial backers
  • Seeking scripts and project ideas
  • Assessing proposed projects
  • Securing rights to books or other creative works
  • Commissioning writers

  • For news and sitcoms, producers are often part of the writing team
  • Hiring a director, crew, and actors
  • Organizing shooting and production schedules
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations during production
  • Supervising the entire project from beginning to post-production
  • Holding regular meetings with director to discuss progress
  • Ensuring the project is done on time and within the budget

There are several different types of producers and each one has different levels of responsibility on a production. The Producers Guild of America has a good overview of the different producer titles and responsibilities on their website.

Producers handle the business side of a production from finances to contracts and do a lot of trouble-shooting every day, so the job can be stressful. The fast-pace and working with other creative people can also be very rewarding. In an interview with Produced By, Marta Kauffman (“Friends,” “Grace and Frankie”) describes her typical day and how working on a series for Netflix is different from a network TV series.

Breaking into the field can be tough, but getting experience as a runner or a production assistant is often the first step. New York Film Academy’s Cheryl Bedford describes her career path and offers encouraging advice to students in this interview.

Ready to learn more about producing for film, television, and new media? Learn the trade at the New York Film Academy.

 

 

 

How to Produce a Super Soundtrack for Your Low-Budget Film

The soundtrack sets the tone of your film, and connects with your viewers on an emotional, if often unconscious, level. But if getting the rights to use a hit song by a major recording artist is beyond your budget — and let’s face it, most independent films don’t have the kind of money necessary to do that — then these tips for creating a super soundtrack for a low-budget film are for you.

Using Covers to Your Advantage

Gaining rights to music has two associated licenses: The Synchronization (sync) License (held by the songwriter or publisher, who may be contacted through the performing rights societies ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) and the Master License (the entity that owns the recording, typically the record company or the (unsigned) artist or production company).

In order to mitigate the high cost associated with master licenses by major recording artists, consider finding a cover of the song recorded by a lessor (or unknown) band. You might also call upon your buddy with a uke to record it.

Find a Rising Star With a Hit in the Making

SoundCloud is an invaluable resource for up-and-coming bands and musicians, and a goldmine for filmmakers with limited budgets. If you are willing to take the time to search and trust your musical judgement, you can use SoundCloud to put you in touch with some talented unsigned musicians with whom you might be able to negotiate directly.

Finding and Licensing the Sound You Want

Sites such as The Orchard, Jingle Punks, and Pump Audio (Getty Image’s music division) exist to connect musicians with filmmakers. As this helpful IFP article suggests, the loose rule of thumb is to allot 10-15 percent of your overall budget for music, and suggests making sure you have a professional on your side. Music licensing is complicated and you don’t want to be hit with a lawsuit just when your film is taking off.

Do It Yourself

If you have some musical talent and/or ideas for a minimal sound, you should consider creating your own soundtrack. As this article points out, it’s easier than ever for those willing to spend a little time learning the software to create professional-sounding musical scores:

Apple’s $199 Logic Pro X is a great value considering what you get: over 10G of MIDI sounds, samples and loops (all free and clear), as well as the ability to record your own music using an audio interface, or sample and manipulate any sound you want. Plus, you can score your film from within the program, watching the picture as you work.”  

Get Scrappy

As with all aspects of low-budget filmmaking, creative thinking and adaptability are necessary to do things without breaking your film’s piggy bank on the one hand or feeling disappointed and giving up on the other. Look at the artists around you and reach out. You might find you have a lifelong artistic relationship waiting to happen!

Ready to learn more about film production? Check out the New York Film Academy’s producing programs to get started.

4 Lessons to Learn from Major Film Producers

A producer is the person most involved in any given project, all the way from pre-production to post-production, whether it’s a film, new media, or television show. The duties of the producer range from the development of the material to hiring writers, and locating buyers and financiers. They oversee the development of the script, they’re involved with the hiring of the cast and crew for the project, and they even look at locations for the project.

Producers are involved with every creative, technical, and financial aspect of each project. In short, the producer commands the show.

At the New York Film Academy, you will begin your first day of class as a producer, not as a student. You will be treated as a professional and right out of the gate, you will learn how to manage multiple productions while learning the ins and outs of the industry. NYFA offers BFA, MFA and AFA degree programs, a one-year intensive certificate program, and in-depth four- and 12-week producing workshops.

While we give our students the opportunity for hands-on experiences as producers, there are always more lessons to be learned and more inspiration to be drawn from real-world examples. Check out our lessons learned below from major film producers.

Simon Kinberg

Simon Kinberg, a London native, was the writer and producer for “X-Men: Apocalypse,” part of FOX’s mutant-minded franchise. The latest movie in the series was not well received by critics when it was released last year. In an interview with IGN, Kinberg stated that “Apocalypse” was supposed to be about “a family splitting apart and coming back together.” Kinberg also said somewhere in the process of creating “Apocalypse,” the message ended up getting buried and the message on the surface focused on a guy trying to destroy the world.

The end result of the movie was that “Apocalypse” was about global stakes. Kinberg said that he learned “that human and personal stakes always trump global stakes.” According to Kinberg, Brian Singer’s “X-Men,” the first movie in the franchise, was a good example because it was balanced: Magento had world-sized ambitions but the movie was really about saving Rogue.

Lesson: “Human and personal stakes always trump global stakes.”

Sarah Winshall

Sarah Winshall produced “Affections,” a film that premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and was directed by Bridey Elliott. In an article with Filmmaker Magazine, Winshall discussed her prior experience as an assistant to producers and she outlined some of the things that she learned while she was producing “Affections.” One of Winshall’s tips involved creating a comprehensive script breakdown — or a spreadsheet outlining everything that will be needed for each scene.

Winshall admitted during the interview that the comprehensive script breakdown allowed her to really wrap her head around the scope of the project. After that, it became easier because everything was right there on the page in front of her — production costs, special effects, costumes, locations, and crew members.

Lesson: Be organized! Try Winshall’s method of creating a spreadsheet that comprehensively outlines everything that will be needed for each scene in production.

Adam Leipzig

Adam Leipzig is not new to the Hollywood scene: He supervised films such as “Dead Poets Society” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” and produced “Titus” and “The Way Back.” He is also the CEO of Entertainment Media Partners and is the publisher of the online arts magazine Cultural Weekly.

In a blog post published on CEO.com, Leipzig analyzes the importance of producers and how they are expected to lead. Leipzig wrote that through previous experience, he learned that producers may not have a lot of power but they lead in any project — no matter how big or small.

One of the biggest things he’s learned over the years? Toss the ego out of the window. “Replace the word ‘I’ with ‘we.’ As a corollary, don’t get worried when other people claim credit for your successes. That’s immaterial,” Leipzig wrote. If you remove your ego off the table, other people will too and it will make collaboration so much easier.

Lesson: Be a leader. Remove your ego.

Nina Jacobson

Everyone knows the line, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Producer Nina Jacobson bought the three-book series “The Hunger Games” to the silver screen and gave author Suzanne Collins a promise of staying true to the war scenes in the book. Jacobson was able to deliver a franchise that made Collins and “The Hunger Games” fan base proud of the film adaptations. She was also able to show Hollywood that money can be made on female leads.

Jacobson landed four blockbuster films with release dates spanning four years. In an interview with SyfyWire, Jacobson talked about the importance of the actors you select during casting playing a critical part in accomplishing tight deadlines. Part of achieving success lies in the people you select, because they are a huge part of the project.

“It was greatly affirmed to make the decision to pay attention to who these people are as human beings and to know it would make an enormous difference in getting through something like this,” Jacobson said during the interview.

Jacobson also admitted that it was at times difficult to juggle projects — making movies while others were in post-production was sometimes stressful. The process of it all proved to have its challenges. But according to Jacobson, Collins was a great monitor and guide, and she made a huge difference being involved with the films.

Lesson: The people involved in a project can make all the difference. Choose your team wisely.

As a producer, what are some lessons that you have learned? Sound off below! And, if you want to learn more about production, check out our producing programs at New York Film Academy.

Pilot Season 2017 Part 2: Here’s What’s Coming Your Way

Pilot season is a secret peek into TV’s future, when broadcast network execs decide which pilots go to series and which get scrapped. That trend may be changing with Amazon asking viewers to vote on their choices. Four Amazon shows already have the green light, but for the others, we’ll have to wait and see.

What follows are some trends in pilot season and some examples of shows that may be coming your way in the 2017-2018 season.

Enter Pilot Season Politics

Family dramas, comedies and police procedurals are joined this year by what the Hollywood Reporter calls the broadcast networks’ “efforts to appeal to Trump America.” NBC’s offering is a military hero drama ”For God and Country,” and CBS picked up a Navy SEALs drama, which, according to Variety’s Development Scorecard, “Follows the lives of the elite Navy SEALs as they train, plan, and execute the most dangerous, high stakes missions our country can ask.”

On the other hand, ABC’s “Red Blooded,” starring Reba McEntire as a “Red State” sheriff, will have her views challenged by a Muslim FBI agent. Speaking of ripped-from-the-headlines dramas, CBS has “Perfect Citizen,” about an Edward Snowden-like character. If you prefer your politics wrapped in allegory, ABC”s “The Crossing,” where the ill-fated refugees are Americans, is for you.

Seeking Out New Stories in New Frontiers

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Another trend moves us off this troubled planet with CBS’s astronaut drama called “Mission Control,” and NBC’s comedy “Spaced Out.”

Netflix and Amazon are also in the space-race, with the reboot of beloved ’60s sci-fi classic “Lost in Space” and futuristic “Oasis,” which Rolling Stone calls a “space-madness headscratcher.”

FOX has Orville, a comedy drama set 300 years in the future, as well as the apocalyptic “Passage,” based on Justin Cronin’s best-selling mixed-genre trilogy.

Marvel Comics teamed up with FOX to create the latest from the X-Men universe. The logline for “Gifted” runs: “After discovering their children possess mutant powers, two ordinary parents and their kids are forced to go on the run from a hostile government, eventually joining up with an underground network of mutants.”

Under the Influence

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CBS picked up the idea for “Living Biblically,” about a middle-aged man who decides to follow the Bible to the letter with hilarious results, from a book by AJ Jacobs.

Fox has loosely based its office comedy “Type A” on “*ssholes: A Theory” by Aaron James.

In Netflix’s “Disjointed,” Kathy Bates heads up a ragtag and mostly stoned bunch in the legal cannabis business.

Amazon is also into the pot game with “Budding Prospects,” a show about marijuana farmers in 1980s California. That show, along with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” about a perfect wife turned queen of comedy in 1950s New York, were given the green light to go to series by Amazon viewers.

What new shows are you watching this season? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’re ready to learn more about film and television production, check out our producing programs at New York Film Academy!

10 Great Pieces of Advice for Beginner Producers from Filmmaking Veterans

Low budget to blockbuster, getting a film produced is a huge endeavor. As PTA says, “It’s a miracle every time a film gets made.” Whether you are a self producer or are looking to produce the work of others, NYFA has pulled together these 10 great pieces of advice that can help you to become the best producer you can be.

1. Paul Thomas Anderson advises you to beware of fear.

In this great interview, Anderson speaks to the difficulties of getting started with great fear that the opinions of others, especially those in positions of power, are right or worth more than yours. He concludes, “There just should be no fear.”

2. Martin Scorsese tells you to “make your own industry.”

3. Disappointment can fuel you.

And, while addressing a graduating class at his alma mater, Scorsese reflected on two big disappointments early in his career that might have crushed him, but instead made him better and more resilient. “There’s a way that the force of disappointment can be alchemized into something that can paradoxically renew you.”

4. The market is global, you should be too.

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As we discussed in this NYFA article, there are experiences that can only be gained by studying abroad. We mentioned the importance of growing your network internationally, and this piece of Filmmaker Magazine advice, culled from a panel discussion at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, concurs: “Form an international collective.”

5. Producing is a group effort.

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The same Filmmaker Magazine article also offers this very important and basic piece of advice for producers: “Learn how to collaborate.”

Werner Herzog has at least 24 pieces of filmmaking (and life) advice. Here are a couple of our favorites:

6. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.

7. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.

8. Read broadly. Be culturally well-informed.

The below video, featuring advice from filmmakers from Quentin Tarantino to Fellini, makes it clear that in order to make great films that are not simply imitations of what you admire, it is important to read, listen to, and look at great works from the past as well as the present. As Herzog puts it, “Read! Read! Read…”

9. Passion is all you need.

As Tarantino puts it in the above video, “If you truly love cinema, with all your heart, and with enough passion, you can’t help but make a good movie.” Similar advice comes from “Dallas Buyers Club” producer Rachel Winter at the 2014 Producers Guild Awards: “Follow your passion. You can’t make anything and you can’t sell anything if you’re not fully, fully committed. If you give it all, other people will give it their all and follow your example.”

10. Just do it!

Though this advice from director Stephanie Joalland is from an Indiewire article about women filmmakers, it works for everyone just starting out: “Don’t listen to the naysayers who say you’re a woman you can’t do it, I think there is a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy. I hear so many women saying ‘I couldn’t make it because I’m a woman,’ There is no excuse, get a RED camera, get a 5G, and make a movie, find actors. Just do it.”

“Just do it” is perhaps the overarching message from famous and successful producers: Don’t talk about being a filmmaker or producer, just get out there and involve yourself in as many projects as possible. This alone will make you better in your own eyes and prove yourself to others.

NYFA offers hands-on classes in filmmaking and producing to get you started.

A Q&A With NYC- based Independent Producer Jane Applegate

There’s more than one way to break into the film industry. We’re curious about how other people are making it work, and eager to gain insight and inspiration from interesting success stories. We sat down with independent producer Jane Applegate. Jane Applegate is the founder of The Applegate Group, creators of The Applegate Network. Here, she sheds some light on her own career trajectory and what it’s like to work as an independent producer on her own terms.

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Photo provided by Jane Applegate.

NYFA: Hi, Jane, thanks for sharing some of your story with our student community! Can you tell us how long have you been an independent producer?  

Jane Applegate: I made a transition from writing and producing business news shows and cable documentaries to working on independent films in 2004. In 2006, I produced a short documentary about a theater program in Bosnia run by a professor at Dartmouth College. That project, “Much Ado About Mostar,” launched my independent film career.

NYFA What did you do prior to starting your own company? For how long?

JA: I started my career as a journalist, writing for the San Diego State University Aztec, an alternative weekly newspaper called the Reader, and then several newspapers and magazines in San Diego — including the San Diego Union. I joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times in 1983 as an investigative reporter specializing in white-collar crime. It was a challenging and rewarding job, but after a few years and winning some major awards, I decided I didn’t want to glorify criminals. I was offered a chance to revive a weekly small business column in the late ‘80s, when millions of people had lost their jobs and were trying to start their own businesses. My “Succeeding in Small Business” column was a big hit and went into syndication. The popularity of my practical, how-to column lead me to writing books, hosting a radio show for CBS, and speaking all over the world. I quit my job to start The Applegate Group Inc. in 1991.

NYFA: Can you talk about your transition from working for a corporation to working independently?

JA: I loved working in the newsroom and feeling the excitement of covering the news, but I wasn’t a very good employee. I questioned my bosses and was considered a bit of a troublemaker. I decided to start my own multimedia communications company because the LA Times wouldn’t let business reporters accept speaking fees and I needed to make more money.

Our company was the first to produce multimedia content about small business owners for bigger news outlets. We started a streaming video website — Small Business TV — with help from CNN, and produced web, video, print and live events for big corporations including Sprint, American Express, Wells Fargo, Verizon, Cox and Bloomberg. The biggest challenge was leaving behind my well-paying corporate clients and a job as a vice president of production for a big company to break into the indie world. I had to start out as a producer’s assistant for $100 a week. Starting at the bottom was the only way to break into the independent film world when I didn’t have the money to produce my own films. I was passing out carrots at craft services and handing out meal money — very humbling — on my first film, but I learned that my production skills were totally transferrable from TV to film.

NYFA: Do you think there is a unique experience to being a woman producer?

JA: I think women must work harder and be smarter than men to get ahead in the entertainment business. People in the TV and film world tend to hire their friends, their college buddies and people they know socially. Women have a tougher time getting jobs, but once they get a foot in the door things are easier and you can move up the ladder.

NYFA: What types of projects do you produce? Are there criteria that you use to decide which projects you’ll take on?

JA: I’ve produced a variety of projects from music videos to short films to independent features. I’m now producing a TV pilot for a Caribbean cable network. The writer-director, Mariette Monpierre, won a pitch contest and needed to attach a New York City-based producer with experience to secure the funding for a pilot. We’re deep into pre-production and will be shooting “Caribbean Girl NYC” in May for Flow, which is based in Barbados. I’m at a point in my career where I can be very picky and only work with creative, lovely people who I respect and admire.

NYFA: In your opinion, what makes a good producer? Is there a certain skill set that you think up-and-coming producers should focus on developing in order become successful?

JA: Producers must be able to multitask — kind of like a plate spinner at the circus. There are always plates falling and crashing, so you also need to have steady nerves and a great sense of humor. When things are going wrong on set, I always remind people that we are not curing cancer — we are making a film or show, and it is supposed to be fun. Good communication skills are also important. Being a careful listener is critical. Just letting people vent when they are upset or angry can diffuse most combustible situations. I always have a clip board or a notebook to take notes during a shoot. Leaving a notebook on the craft services table is also a good idea for producers. Encourage people to write down their problems and then review and prioritize what needs to be done at the end of the day.  Knowing how to use production software programs is also a good hard skill. I’m learning how to use Movie Magic Scheduling very late in my career.

NYFA: How can students make the best of their NYFA film school experience? How would you suggest they go about building their producing career?

JA: I didn’t go to film school, but my daughter, who is now an accomplished film editor, did. I think school teaches you how to work on a team and how to delegate responsibilities. Production is a team sport. Studying film theory is great, but it won’t help you get a job. I think everyone in school should get as much real world experience as possible. Volunteer to work on set with directors you admire. Work on as many films as you can, especially short films, which are quicker to produce. If you are not in film school, work on as many different projects as you can. I recommend setting up a profile and using Staffmeup.com to find production work. You can make it through one day and move on.

NYFA: How valuable is networking and can you offer any tips to students?

JA: Most of my jobs and opportunities have come through networking. I’m a member of the Producers Guild of America and New York Women in Film and Television. I attend as many mixers and workshops as possible. I also teach workshops on creative financing, marketing and best production practices. My network of business friends is growing all the time. People know that I’m always open to making introductions and connections. When you connect two people and something great comes of it, they both remember and are usually happy help you connect with someone you need to meet.

NYFA: Is your career progressing as you had hoped it would?

JA: I have been very fortunate to work on a variety of wonderful projects from music videos to live corporate events. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to take big creative and financial risks. Some have paid off, others not, but it’s been a wonderful ride.

NYFA: And lastly, what are some of your hopes for the future?

JA: I would love our Caribbean pilot to be a hit and lead to a full series. Future episodes would take us to shoot on the four islands where the principal characters are from and I’d love to visit more Caribbean islands. I’m also working with friends on two feature projects, one based on a best-seller by a Greek author and the other about Sylvia Beach, the American bookseller who published James Joyce’s controversial and banned book “Ulysses.”

Many thanks to Jane for sharing a bit about her producing career with the NYFA community! To learn more about Jane and to follow her work, visit her websites www.theapplegatenetwork.com and www.theapplegategroup.com. Ready to launch your own journey into the world of film producing? Check out NYFA’s Producing School.