The Five and Ten Finger Pitch Idea
In filmmaking this area focuses on the foundations of the film project, the writing process, budgeting, funding, casting talent, location recces, anything that can help sell the film idea to get it 'green lit'
There are a few ways to approach screenwriting. Below are a few methods:
5 and 10 Finger Pitch
The Screenwriting process can be simplified into smaller bullet points with this unique template (credit: Michael Lengsfield, UEA - University of East Anglia).
Using the hand design this limits the process to a simple template design, great to start the sometimes daunting task of writing a screenplay
From this a conversation can begin about the padding around each point. The story can be further broken down into the 10 finger pitch process as shown below
The Hero's Journey
The Hero's Journey (credit: Joseph Campbell) states that most stories tend to take a set path...
Joseph Campbell breaks down the writing technique into many steps that can be interpreted but that most films follow.
The Ordinary World - where the person is most comfortable
The call to adventure - introduction or special world and quest
Cross the first threshold - the point of no return.
Trials, friends, and foes - some people help, some think they are helping by hindering, some will try to thwart your attempts
Magical or supernatural mentor - a wise leader appears early when the person is ready for them
Dragon’s lair - the harsh threshold demanding physical and psychological risks
Moment of despair - trapped or confronted with no escape, all seems bleak but the slight hope remains
Ultimate treasure - the task is completed, the enemy is slain, a reward given and this changes the hero, usually a different prize then he sought
Homeward bound - unresolved issues and more enemies still remain as the hero travels home
Rebirth and champion’s return - another challenge may await, but afterwards the hero has changes and can live in both worlds with more knowledge than before, having evolved through the journey
From initial ideas to approaching the right people... films start with an idea, then you have to sell that idea
Here is an example of an MA Filmmaking student script, which under development went by the working title of 'Mort'. Included is the first draft followed by the final draft. It shows the development between the two that came with work and feedback.
Click below for a large interactive flipbook of the merged first and final drafts of the script
Here you can watch the finished film, titled In the Shadow of a Mountain or A l'ombra de la muntanya, made by MA filmmakers at the Northern Film School, Leeds Beckett University:
Mort first draft
Mort final draft
Film scripts follow a set design, as shown in this video. For example, the font used in every script is 12 point Courier font. This is because each A4 page then equates to 1 minute of screen time.
For scripts to read, the New York Film Academy have put together this great list:
All films, no matter what their size, need a budget. The producing team will have to create a budget plan, so it is wise to decide what sort of film you are making, for example some platforms require that certain cameras are used. Here is a guide from Netflix on their requirements:
Start by reading the script!
a feature film aims to shoot one page of script per day, most productions average 5 pages per day
not all scenes are to be budgeted for equally. A scene with stunts will take longer to film than a scene with dialogue
group your scenes by location so that they are shot together. This may not flow in the order of the script but will save money
group shots by actors, so they can shoot scenes together
swap night for day, this lessens lighting costs
factor in a few prep days and pickup days. If the scenes are dance-heavy for example the cast will need to rehearse more
a working day can be 12 hours long, account for that in crew and cast payment
prepare to be flexible!
print and paper
recce and preparation costs
prop locating and buying
CGI involves heavy costs
hair and makeup
editing equipment hire
assistants - foley artist, colour grader, visual effects
hard drives and storage
musicians, composers, music copyrights, sound design
going to festivals
hiring a cinema
foreign dubbing and subtitles
duplication e.g. DVD copies
create a business plan so that you can approach investors
put together your sales estimates
build a great synopsis and collect high-quality photos
write press releases
look at film markets
research film festivals for your genre
learn how sales agents work
set out your legal contracts for cast and crew
look at tax and tax relief
PremiumBeat compare film budgets $10K vs 100K vs 500K here:
The Numbers has a list of film budgets on their database here:
Before you start: Read and go through the script.
Use colour codes and highlighters to mark out what is needed, for example:
You can then group together costs and research prices.
You can create a rough budget by getting an idea of what things cost well in advance. Hire cost for vehicles, animal trainers if animals are involved, numbers for catering etc
Contacting the right people
It is never too early to enquire about film elements. Gain quotes by talking to people. Use your negotiation skills to try and gain better deals, rad up on the locality to enhance your local knowledge to help with negotiations.
The flow of money
The budget needs to go to different departments, and this is a fine balance between who needs it the most and who can do without. This is where the managing side of being a producer comes in, the one pot of money needs to be sent wisely where needed, budgets for each department need to be tweaked more often than not, which means some gain and some loss sadly, but the main goal from that one pot always remains the same. Don’t forget to budget for post production! As it is the process near the end it can be forgotten about, especially colour grading, music and sound, but along with other parts of the filmmaking process it needs funds like the rest.
Anything is possible
You may not have a lot to spend, but if it is in the story and you need it, there will be ways to do a version of it to keep the story flowing. It may lack in quality but if it gives the idea then go with it.
Compromise and create a balance
Every person on the film crew is important and every department is equal, without one element the film does not get made. Everyone helps each other, it is a balance that requires compromise.
Size of film crew
A film crew can have one person or hundreds of people. Some examples;
One man crew Bob Kirst:
Iron Man 3 had 3,310 members.
The average crew number is 558.
More data can be found from Stephen Follows as he breaks down crew numbers into departments:
Film Producer Jason Blum talks to Code Media about how his Blumhouse Productions make blockbusters from low budget and low risk films like Paranormal Activities:
Use Crowdfunding to sell your film proposal and gain an idea of its popularity.
Show an idea of your film, make it interesting, sell your idea, and crowdfund for help.
Here are the main two avenues that are explored Kickstarter and Indigogo (note that these platforms take a share).
The top film to be crowdfunded on Kickstarter was The Veronica Mars Movie Project (2013) which gained $5.7 million through funding, with Storm Troopers 2 getting $4.6 million from fan funding on Indiegogo.
This guide from the Money Service Advice is all things crowdfunding; including types, risks and tax
Budget for film festivals so that you can apply for at least 30 entry fees. Split them into 3 tiers; upper (international), middle (national) and lower (regional). The lower tiers are great for reviews, make friends with programmers who will push your work on social media and travel to them and get tips from filmmakers. Budget more for festival travel and accommodation.
Involve your crew more
Offer the option for your crew to buy in or have some shares on the final product, most definitely if they are working for free. This also makes them more vested in the project's success.
Create good contracts so that the friendships that will inevitably be tested in the stressful shooting environment are not further tested. Have someone check these over or get someone to make these for you. As you will no doubt call upon a lot of friends and family for help (catering, extras for example) you need to look after them!
Push your creativity
“Creativity can only exist when limitations abound”
- Jack White of The White Stripes ‘Under The Great Northern Lights’ (2009 documentary)
Don’t see limitations; see hurdles to get over creatively.
Number of shoot days
For a feature in one location, 17 production days is a good number to plan for. Don’t try and undercut this as pickups cost time and money. A script under 100 pages will result in 4-6 pages per day.
Have your 1st AD plan the shooting schedule around your shot list.
Here is the budget breakdown form available to fill in and save online or download to print off from the Download menu:
A producer makes a film happen. The are the ones who find a story, organise, co-ordinate, manage and sell the idea and product.
A producer (amongst other things):
chooses the script
secures film rights
hires and manages the main crew like the director, writers, talent, department heads
creates the budget
oversees the project throughout production and then afterwards to see it stays in budget
oversees the editing and sound design
markets the film
So pretty much all the work of filmmaking and delegating to others. Nowadays instead of a reams of paper, producers use all-in-one production software or even Google Drive to organise the host of staff throughout a film's production.
There are many forms and contracts to complete during the filmmaking process. Templatelab.com break this down with some templates.
Many forms used by producers in filmmaking can be found on the Download page here
Nowadays more emphasis is on green and sustainable workflows. These can also bring your film budget costs down, a double bonus.
This guide shows how you can pre-plan your film shoot to be as sustainable as possible and keep your filmmaking footprint small.
Guide by Film Producer Laura Tourenbeek at Leeds Beckett University Northern Film School.
For for information about sustainability while working in film and TV Albert have some great information:
As do the Producers Guild of America:
© Danielle Millea 2019