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SamBorowski's Blog

June 30th, 2012 Comments



From L to R, Producer/Actor Bill Sorvino consults with Award-Winning Writer-Director/Producer Sam Borowski and Writer/Producer Lisa Buffington (R) as they check out the RED EPIC camera while setting up on the set of the film, POLLINATION *. No doubt, the use of this camera, the tight script or the actors Sorvino and Federico Castelluccio, were all the result of wonderful pre-production planning, as any movie needs.


OK SO, the title of my latest BLOG does not refer to the latest contest on ForTalent for filmmakers, although, I do believe a lot of filmmakers sadly lost out on the opportunity for some wonderful publicity. No, this title refers to the correct amount of prep you have to do in pre-production.

Let me give you a great example: Recently, I was approached by a Christian filmmaker, who wanted to make a film about a hot-button topic that was close to his heart. So, he came to me to consult, and I was - and am - happy to do it. As we were working out an arrangement, he picked my brain on everything from directing to casting to location scouting to script to film festival and distribution possibilities.

I told him, what I tell you all right now: "Do the BEST JOB you can right now, because you will never have this chance again (for this particular movie)! You will never get this time back on this film!"

"Yea, but Sam, what does that mean? What ARE YOU talking about?"

I am talking about the fact that you don't just throw a picture together. There is so much PREP WORK that goes into correct pre-production from the locking of the script to the ever-important casting of the film. And, for those of you that don't think you need names in your film, you are putting yourself behind the 8-Ball every time you do this.

Every distributor, wants some names. They also want a nice soundtrack, be it covers of well-known songs - or the well-known songs by the artists themselves - great original music and a serious score.

It's in pre-production that you get these names - and in pre-production when SOME directors begin thinking about music. Some wait until post, but others think about music from the script-stage. (I am one of those filmmakers.)

You'd also better decide what camera you shoot on - and for me, I enjoy working with the RED EPIC, and my regular DP Bill Schweikert has a few of these at his disposal. ;)

You have to schedule out all of the actors, and chances are, you will be working around the schedules of your BIGGEST stars and juggling other actors and their schedules. Oh, and after you get your stars, your known character actors, you had better make sure the unknowns you cast don't ruin your film! There are plenty of wonderful undiscovered actors out there - some of them are even SAG! But, pick the right ones.

All part of the pre-pro process.

Pick the key members of your crew that you feel will accentuate your talents and mesh well with your team. That's because crewing up is no different than building a Super Bowl team in preseason: you want to pick all the right pieces to the puzzle for a championship season.

Obviously, you will be working within a budget - and if you are making an Indie film, chances are you may have to stretch that budget - so, you have to get the MOST for the LEAST.

Where are you filming? Can you find some free locations? Are there tax incentives there? Can you film a lot of your movie in one-location? Are the locales exotic or breathtaking? And, like Robert Rodriguez always says, 'Use what you have at your disposal.'

In other words, if you have a turtle, a motorcycle and a guitar, than you should have a turtle, a motorcycle and a guitar in your movie - especially if you wrote the script yourself. You think this sounds outrageous? Then, rent EL MARIACHI - the movie that launched Rodriguez' career. He used things that he owned and had access to, including a turtle,a guitar and a motorcyle ...

THINK and MAKE SMART DECISIONS, because you will never have this chance again!

You will be setting the tone for principal photography, and you will deciding the fate of your film. But, whatever you do, do it with the best interest of the movie at heart.

Cast the film with possibile distributors in mind. Get the best names and most talented actors you can afford. Use the camera that will shoot the best film, and the DP that can translate your vision on to the BIG SCREEN.

Go through that script with a fine-tooth comb, and make sure you can actually film everything that's written. Remember, everything you write has a cost to it. And, in addition to cast - have a hook for your picture. One of my producing mentors, Samuel M. Sherman taught me that ...

Who would possibly want to buy this picture? Is it commerical? Who is the audience for it?

Know EXACTLY just WHO your audience is.

Cast popular actors, who play to that audience. Who fit the part, and who that particular audience, and distributors who put those types of movies out, will recognize.

These are some of the Rules of Engagement!

And, if you break these Rules, you can't blame the industry. So, when you are considering casting your cousin, and having your brother compose a score on an air-organ in his living room, when you want to shoot with a low-level video-camera, just remember, THIS is your ONE CHANCE to CHANGE THAT.

Do your very best to get the BEST CAST you can - the BIGGEST NAMES and the MOST TALENTED ACTORS! Get an idea for some slamming music - be it original or known or covers. Use the BEST camera you can. Can you get your hands on a RED EPIC?

Be Prepared! Work on storyboards and/or a shot list. Have a hook with your story, and know the audience. Save as much money as you can for Post-Production and have a plan for publicity. Consider all of the above.

And remember filmmakers, you will never have this chance again, once you embark on principal photography. So, make it count!



Tags: Sam Borowski Bill Sorvino Lisa Buffington Pre-Production film movie Independent Filmmaking Awards



Great blog to see all of the steps to make that great vision happen.


Quite an insightful way to begin a film. It's a great help, Sam.


By the way, folks, notice the badges we are wearing in the photo above - That's because we were shooting in an ACTUAL PRISON! Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, which has since closed! It was a hard-core correctional facility, and the use of it, again, the result of good pre-production planning. How much did it cost us to film there? Zero - The BIG GOOSE EGG! So, the next time you say you can't get something in Pre-Production, make sure you have a GREAT PRODUCER with a head for PLANNING and the DYNAMIC PERSONALITY to make sure that everything is done right! Also, our film did not star my brother and some buddies from around the block, it starred Federico Castelluccio (Furio from THE SOPRANOS), the talented Bill Sorvino, who also served as a Producer, talented and hard-working comedian Mary Dimino and Maria Rusolo, the It Girl of the Staten Island Indie Scene, as the Staten Island Advance touted her! ;)

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