YOUR FIRST FEATURE FILM (Filmmaker Secret… 1-, 2- or 3-Week Shoots… Pick One.)
by Dov S-S Simens on June 2, 2020
YOUR FIRST SCREENPLAY
It is said that 1-page of script, formatted properly (Final Draft, MovieMagic, Writer Duet, Celtx, etc) becomes 1-minute of running time when shot.
Now everyone knows how long a half-hour sitcom or a one-hour drama is in page count…. Answer is 25 Pages (+/-) and 50 Pages (+/-)
But how long is a movie script that you need if you yourself are going to produce or direct it independently?
How many pages?
(If you want to Direct… Start with a 90-Page, 1-Location script… )
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Answer is very simple but very few first-time writers pragmatically know it. Especially when writing their first magnum opus…
For the answer lies in how long (running-time) is a movie.
Is it 30-minutes? 50-minutes? 60-minutes? 70-minutes? 90-minutes? 100-minutes? 120-minutes?
Let’s use common sense.
Movie theaters are in the business of renting seats and selling candy… That’s how they make money… And the fascinating thing about movies is the price of admission for a movie no matter what the budget was… $50,000… $500,000… $5,000,000 or $50,000,000… is the same!
Plus, the price of admission has nothing to do with how long (running-time) the movie is.
Very interesting… So a Low-Budget, Micro-Budget or No-Budget film that becomes a movie is the same price of admission as a Mega-Budget movie.
And a 90-minute movie is the same price of admission of a 120-minute or a 180-minute movie. Also, very interesting.
Further a 90-minute movie is going to be 90-pages and 90-pages of details and problems to shoot… Whereas a 120-minute or 180-minute movie is going to be 120-180 pages of problems to shoot.
So logic states a 90-page script is easier to make than a 120-180 page script… Duh.
Finally, a 90-page script, a 90-minute movie can play in a theater and charge admission ($12-15) at 12:00, 1;30, 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30… or 8 times… Actually it will be 6 times when the theater allows time for the audience to leave, the theater to be cleaned and a new audience to enter with freshly bought popcorn…
Whereas a 120-180-minute movie can only screen 3-4 times in a day.
90-Page script…. make money 6 times in a day.
120-180-Page script… make money 3-4 times in a day.
Your 1st Feature Film Script logically states should be a 90-page (+/-) script….
(Coen Bros started with “Blood Simple” likely a 3-week shoot… Let’s see what you do with a 2-week shoot)
90-Page Script: 1, 2 or 3-Week Shoot?
OK. You have the great 90-Page, 1-Location script… Now what?
Being realistic if you are going to Direct it and launch your career… you are (A) not getting the money from Hollywood no matter how many seminars you attend or networking groups you join… you are (B) getting the money independent of Hollywood which means you will have very little money… and at the most enough to pay for a 1-week, 2-week or 3-week shoot with a non-union crew and two 4K digital cameras…
If a 3-week shoot (18-days) with a 90-page script you are a shooting schedule of 5 pages/day.
If a 2-week shoot (12-days) with a 90-page script you will execute a 7-8 page/day schedule… or 1-page in the can every 1.5 hours.
If a 1-week shoot (7-9 days) with a 90-page script you will shoot 10 pages/day or 1 page in the can every hour… which is totally doable.
THE FILM GURU’S OPINION
For a 1-week shoot you will need $30-50K.
For a 2-week shoot you will need $70-120K.
For a 3-week shoot you will need $200-300K.
I advise getting the great 90-page 1-location script (basically a stage play), partner with someone who has wealthy parents (not a joke) and get $70K+ (4-year Film School costs $250-$350 Thou) and execute a 2-week shoot, with a 3-week prep and a 6-week post.
You will have enough time to give the actors 2-3 takes and get Master, Medium & Closeups for coverage, with an excellent Camera Operator who wants to be a DP, with 2 4K cameras, and a superb professional, but non-union soundman.
Dov S-S Simens
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