How to shoot a film for free - Mastering Media Blog

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

How to shoot a film for free

For a blog whose blurb claims to be about a "Mastering engineer and DVD Author" there's been very little about DVD and films here! Here's a post to redress that balance slightly.

One of my favourite DVD projects of recent years is Greg Hall's magnificent cult triumph "The Plague". SRT created a new 5.1 upmix and re-master of the original stereo soundtrack, plus a new upscaled master tape for the film's digital cinema debut in Covent Garden, and later the authoring of the DVD, all under the watchful eye of Tom Swanston from WYSIWYG Films.

Originally shot on mini-DV for only £3500 (!!!), "The Plague" is a fantastic mix of black humour, social commentary and improvised drama, and has won awards and garnered praise from all corners, not least none other than Mike Leigh, who said

"It's anarchic, crazy, kind of rough-edged and raw, but it's got an amazing energy, and it embraces white kids, black kids, Asian kids, kids up to no good, boys and girls out on the street. It's a full length film, made low budget, so it's absolutely a gang of people getting together with great imagination and wit, and a bunch of talented actors. It pulsates with energy."

We were all proud to be involved with it (and had a great time at the premier!)  Meanwhile Greg went on to direct "Kapital" for the Man
chester International Film Festival, a bold collaboration with composer Steve Martland, and is currently working on "Bash The Rich", an autobiography of Ian Bone, as well as numerous smaller projects. I highly recommend his blog, Broke But Making Films as a great, inspiring read for any would-be indie film producer, but his latest venture will be particularly exciting to follow, I think.

After his "naive" success making the Plague for such a tiny budget, Greg has decided to make his third feature film for no money at all. No, I don't know how this is supposed to work, either! As he says it's a "slightly mad" idea, but if anyone can do it, Greg can - he has "the equipment, the crew, the actors, the determination and the mad glare in my eyes to be able to do this" - and my bet is that the results will be inspirational.

Best of all, he will be blogging it for our education and enjoyment. As he says in his latest post:

I will blog and keep a video diary of the whole journey. We will show the improvisation period that is often kept secretive, the madness of shooting on no money, the turbulent editing process and the possible festival circuit and uk cinematic release of the film. Everything you need to know on how to - or possibly how not to - make a no-budget feature film.

As anyone who has checked out the fantastic extras on the DVD of The Plague will know, coming from Greg this is no idle claim. I for one will be keeping a sharp eye on his RSS feed in the coming weeks and months, I hope you will too.

And you could do worse than rent or buy a copy of "The Plague", while you're at it, too!


Gonçalo Brito said...

Hi Ian, I've got a question for you which answer may also help some of your readers.

I've done some music for a TV commercial and sent the audio file with 0 db. As it turns out the audio for my commercial is significantly lower then the average loudness of TV channels. I've heard you have to send the audio with +10db, which sounds awfully distorted in regular speakers but somehow play well on TV.

What's your take on this?

ianshepherd said...

Hi Goncalo,

There are several issues here:

It is standard practice for audio masters to peak no higher than -10dBFS. So if your audio is supplied peaking higher than this, it may well be limited or clipped before being used for broadcast.

However this shouldn't reduce the perceived level (much), so you probably need to compress and limit your audio harder before submitting it - turned down by 10 dB, if that's what the station want - check with them first. Bear in mind that adverts particularly tend to have a higher level than the programme itself.

What is the RMS level of your material ?


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