I'm So Newark recently hosted the 2nd official Newark Short Film Contest. The contest screening consisted of finalist films that were screened and judged by a panel of judges. (Tony Clomax, Nichole Michelle, Jillian Rock.)
The screening took place at Express Newark, a center created for the sole purpose of allowing artist and creatives a space to express themselves through their art.
Our guest, filmmaker, writer, director Tony Clomax discussed the do's and don'ts of creating a successful Web-series. His notes can be found below.
Here are the Winners of the I'm So Newark Short Film Contest.
1st Place, Tarana Peaches (Teachers Problems) Tarana walked away with "Check" and her personal swag bag. Also, a VIP pass to the Newark International Film Festival.
2nd Place, Spencer Frohwirth (Newark In Tune- Small Town Big City). Spencer also walked away with swag and a VIP pass.
3rd Place, All the way from Germany Iván Sáinz-Pardo (Save) Special Thanks to our supporters and partners, Express Newark and Newark IFF .Iván won a VIP pass to the Newark International Film Festival.
Notes from guest, writer / director Tony Clomax
- Research by watching web series and tv and find an underrepresented audience, as well as story not being told.
- Write something original, then rewrite...rewrite...rewrite.
- Have a table read with good actors who will give honest feedback, then rewrite again. That script must be Tight.
- Do a production rewrite with time and funding in mind. Don’t over stretch yourself financially. Maintain a realistic budget without compromising your story.
- Do a thorough production schedule breakdown that includes a polished budget.
- Seek initial funding on the strength of the writing, concept and you as a filmmaker. Find partners that can benefit financially by giving you money and you in return can give them something realistic. They can offer resources and product that will build their brand. Think outside the box.
- Decide if your production will be a SAG or non-SAG production. You can have a SAG project where SAG actors defer payment. Your leads can be SAG that you pay the minimum to and the rest of cast non-SAG. Always get the strongest actors.
- How do you want to capture your project. Think camera, format and look. This will help you when it’s time to hire crew, especially DP. If this series only lives on the web, it doesn’t necessarily have to be shot with a Red Camera in 5K. The camera doesn’t make it great. It’s who’s using the camera and the story being told.
- Secure a DP, AD/Producer, Sound Person, Gaffer and Editor. The experience of these people will strengthen the project and attract serious & talented actors, as well as financing. If you can only pay 2 people on set, then make sure it’s the DP who owns their equipment and a Sound Person with at least 3 Lavs, Boom mic/pole and a sound mixer. Have them record each actor on separate tracks, as well as a stereo mix. This will come in handy in post.
- Discuss the production and post production workflow. Establish the most efficient but creative way to tell the story. Having your editor involved early will safe you time and money down the line. Also discuss if your project is a single or 2-Camera type production.
- Cast Project.
- Revisit Funding. You have your production team and Cast. See who wants to get involved as Executive Producers. Don’t promise what you can give.
- Set rehearsal and shooting schedule. Film your rehearsal with you cell to start thinking about blocking. Camera framing and movement helps with the story.
- If you’ve hired SAG actors, contact SAG and complete your paperwork, even if pay is deferred. This needs to be completed 6-8 weeks prior to filming.
- Identify shooting locations that have lots of production value but is either free or cheap. One location could serve as 3-4 locations if planned strategically.
- Director creates an initial storyboard of how you want your story told. You don’t have to be the best artist. This will force you to visualize your project.
- If you can afford a stylist who has some juice to pull clothes from places, then Great. If not, you still have to give attention to the look of your characters and you can’t just rely of an actor to wear their own clothes. Having a budget to buy things and take them back is key. Don’t overlook this important aspect of telling your story.
- The Director and DP create the shot-list. Color code your shot-list into 3 categories. A - shots you must have to tell the story. B - artistic/signature shots that will enhance your story. C - dream shots that will have people talking about. Time is of the essence when shooting a web series. You must make your day, but you want to spread your artistic wings. Get all your A shots and half of your B shots. If you get ahead of schedule, get a C shot. Remember coverage and continuity or critical.
- You should have at least 2 brand new 3-4 Terabyte drives to dump on. A main one and a back up one. Your DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) must organize everything on those drives. Folders in Days and by Scenes, with the Video clips info matching the Audio clips info. If you’re smart, higher your Editor as your DIT. He/She will make sure everything is organized as it’s being dumped.
- Feed your cast and crew well. Get family members, significant others, whomever to cook food. Find restaurants that are willing to donate food for a free plug. See what restaurants will let you Film there as well. Don’t feed your cast and crew with cheap pizza. You will be talked about and they will avoid your production. If you can’t feed them properly then you can’t Film.
- You can get free music from YouTube. Find young artists looking to showcase their music. Find a composer who is entering the film industry. They can help you develop an original sound for your series.
- Color Grading and Sound Mixing are the 2 things that will separate projects from amateur and professional. Do not submit or distribute your series without a professional sound mix and a color grade. You don’t work this hard to put your baby out there with no clothes on.
- Fundraising for Film Festivals. Have a screening of episode 1 and charge people, as well as have raffles, giveaways, etc (all donated of course) to raise money for festival submissions. Be strategic. Festivals that celebrate web series and tv pilots should be targeted. Do early bird so it’s cheap.
- Pitch your completed project before immediately distributing on YouTube or Vimeo. You may find a distributor who will give you a deal. Don’t freely give your content away. This is a business and you want to make money.
By Tony Clomax