The Five and Ten Finger Pitch Idea

DEVELOPMENT

 

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'  

Screenwriting

The films story or idea, and thought processes to get there

Script Layout

Why do all scripts look a certain way?

Script Development

What to do with your story to get it turned into a moving image

Budgeting

The funding of your film and planning the cost of making it

Producing

The role(s) of managing the day to day runnings of the filmmaking process

 

SCREENWRITING

 

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

5 finger pitch hand.png
10 finger pitch hand.png

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey (credit: Joseph Campbell) states that most stories tend to take a set path...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=199&v=xxrEdH1Evik

 

Joseph Campbell breaks down the writing technique into many steps that can be interpreted but that most films follow. 

 

  1. The Ordinary World - where the person is most comfortable

  2. The call to adventure - introduction or special world and quest

  3. Cross the first threshold - the point of no return. 

  4. Trials, friends, and foes - some people help, some think they are helping by hindering, some will try to thwart your attempts

  5. Magical or supernatural mentor - a wise leader appears early when the person is ready for them

  6. Dragon’s lair - the harsh threshold demanding physical and psychological risks

  7. Moment of despair - trapped or confronted with no escape, all seems bleak but the slight hope remains

  8. 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

  9. Homeward bound - unresolved issues and more enemies still remain as the hero travels home

  10. 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

The Heros Journey.png
IDEA DEVELOPMENT
From initial ideas to approaching the right people... films start with an idea, then you have to sell that idea 
 
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SCRIPT DEVELOPMENT

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

 
 
SCRIPT LAYOUT
 
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:
https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/10-great-websites-download-movie-scripts/
 

BUDGETING

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:

https://partnerhelp.netflixstudios.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000579527-Cameras-and-Image-Capture

Start by reading the script!

Tips:

  • 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!

Costs

Pre-Production

  • office space

  • print and paper

  • internet

  • recce and preparation costs

  • rehearsal days

  • prop locating and buying

Production

  • crew

  • cast

  • CGI involves heavy costs

  • insurance

  • equipment hire

  • location hire

  • costume

  • production design

  • hair and makeup

  • transport

  • accommodation

  • catering

Post-Production

  • editor 

  • editing equipment hire

  • assistants - foley artist, colour grader, visual effects

  • hard drives and storage

  • musicians, composers, music copyrights, sound design

Distribution

  • film festivals

  • going to festivals

  • hiring a cinema

  • holding screenings

  • encoding

  • foreign dubbing and subtitles

  • duplication e.g. DVD copies

Preparation

  • 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:

 

https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/feature-film-budgets-compared/

The Numbers has a list of film budgets on their database here:

https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/budgets/all


 

Before you start: Read and go through the script. 

 

Use colour codes and highlighters to mark out what is needed, for example:

Costume

Makeup

Set dressing

Special Equipment

Props

Special Effects

Music

Sound

Security

Additional labour

Cast

Extras

Vehicles

Catering

You can then group together costs and research prices.

 

The costs

 

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:

https://www.desktop-documentaries.com/gear-kit-for-a-one-man-documentary-film-crew.html

 

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:

https://stephenfollows.com/how-many-people-work-on-a-hollywood-film/


 

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp3BRbdArxw

 


Crowdfunding

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).

https://www.kickstarter.com/

https://www.indiegogo.com/

 

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 

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/crowdfunding--what-you-need-to-know

Film Festivals

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: 

PRODUCTION BUDGET BREAKDOWN.jpg
 

PRODUCING

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

  • gains funding

  • 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

  • builds schedules

  • 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.

http://templatelab.com/film-budget-templates/

Many forms used by producers in filmmaking can be found on the Download page here

GREEN FILMMAKING

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.

https://www.flipsnack.com/greenfilmmaking/green-filmmaking-nfs.html

For for information about sustainability while working in film and TV Albert have some great information:

 

http://wearealbert.org/

As do the Producers Guild of America:

https://www.greenproductionguide.com/

© Danielle Millea 2019