Film On a Budget: Things You Need To Know To Shoot Indie

Unlike films that are produced by huge production houses, indie films often have to be shot in many different places just to make up a sequence. Equipment used aren’t the latest and the fanciest; production crews have to improvise to make things work. The thing is, indie is fun that way.

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Location, location, location. In indie, the budget is limited, so is manpower. Location scouts are done to look for the best set with the cheapest price tag. Since resources aren’t in abundance, it would be wise to look for locations around the city to not have to spend for transportation fees for the whole team. Focus on finding the right location that would bring the vision to life.

Production designers are of great importance. If you don’t know how to bring your vision to life, hire professionals—they can help in cutting costs as they know exactly what they’re doing and they have ways to attain those without spending a lot. Recent graduates are included in the professionals clause, and there is a great chance you could be helping them gain experience.

Set and lighting need not be expensive. With the help of production designers, create your own production set and get the right color going with the lighting. While most of the correction happens during post-production, lighting alters the atmosphere of the set, helping your actors act their best in the most conducive set. Investing can be a great idea, but renting audio and lighting equipment at first can be the wisest move.

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Hello. My name is David Berkowitz. I’m a production designer for indie films. Detail-driven and gritty, I scope out film sets from behind the camera and in front of it. I am based in Los Angeles, California but originally from Chicago. For more about the film industry, visit my other blog.


Revisiting the success of ‘CSI’

The one that started it all, acclaimed TV series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” finished its celebrated run in late 2015. Its worldwide renown has led to spin-offs “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY,” and “CSI: Cyber.” But the original is still the bar by which gripping forensic science narratives are measured. Here are some of the reasons for its unprecedented success.

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Firstly, unlike some of its contemporary, similar-themed shows, “CSI” always abided by the “no red shirts” rule. In movie parlance, this means that new characters added to the show will always have an important role to play and not just cameo as non-playing characters or NPCs. The show prides itself on developing depth in characterization. For example, consider Greg Saunders (played by Eric Szmanda), who went from being a seemingly minor role as a lab tech to the full-fledged investigator.

Secondly, it started the so-called “CSI effect,” which helped casual viewers greatly appreciate and understand the inner workings of crime investigations. Things like the need to secure the crime scene, avoiding evidence tampering, being meticulous about fingerprints, and looking for gun residue suddenly became household concepts. More importantly, it drew younger fans into wanting to pursue forensics as a career.

Another great thing about the series is that we are never forced to invest so much in the personal dramas of the characters as in the plot itself. Though the actors’ roles are extremely fleshed-out, there are no ’80s-style “Dynasty” moments in this show. We relate to them yes, but mostly because of the work they do, not their love lives and petty quarrels, among other things. Solving crimes precede everything in “CSI.”

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Hi there, my name is David Berkowitz, your resident TV and movie fanatic from Chicago. For similar reads, drop by this blog.

The most important Wes Anderson movies to date

Wes Anderson is one of the quirkiest, most eccentric directors in recent memory. He has produced films of exquisite cinematic beauty peopled with imperfect, broken, and confused creatures. On the surface, the almost obsessive visual symmetry that his movies are known for and the distinct, unmistakably Andersonian palette seem to jar the senses when coupled with his incongruous characters. In the end, the marriage makes perfect sense. The imagination soars in Anderson’s world, and no one is prevented from reaching that realization. Here are some of the most important Wes Anderson films:

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

This movie is one of the finest examples of the consistency of Anderson’s cinematic vision, featuring a lot of his visual structure but also big on the emotional and psychological landscape of his filmic style. It might look it was just about a concierge trying to prove he wasn’t a murderer, but this comedy mystery is a poignant film about nostalgia, beauty, and loss.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two kids who ran away from home without accounting for the fact that they live on an island. The story presents so many layers that go beyond the fact that it is really a love story. The coming-of-age genre can be abused on so many levels, but this one is surely one of the best stories about children realizing the ways of the world.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

This stop-motion film is arguably the most human of all his works, and that says a lot because it is practically populated by anthropomorphic creatures. The excellent animation is, of course, just the outer layer of this brilliant exploration of acceptance and love.

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Hi! I’m David Berkowitz. I am a production designer for an independent film production company specializing in horror and light fantasy films. Growing up in Chicago, I’ve always been interested in knowing how the magic in the big screen is actually made in the studio. To learn more about the movies I love, follow me on Facebook.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its CGI powers

From the franchises of the MCU’s different protagonists, one can see that their CGI powers are amazing. Being owned by Disney, Marvel movies have access to the best and latest CGI technology available for filmmaking. From de-aging and making its heroes look like weaklings, the MCU has got some expensive tricks up its sleeves.

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The scene where Robert Downey Jr. or Tony Stark was made into a teenaged Tony was unbelievably great. The technique has been used by Marvel quite a few times already, as Hayley Atwell was made into an older version of Peggy in “Ant-Man” and “Winter Soldier” and the young version of Kurt Russell in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

Marvel gives great attention to detail, may it be in solo scenes of the characters or an ensemble like the Avengers. Fight scenes in different Marvel movies give you the chills as you see everything unfold before your eyes, especially the ones that have to do with another realm, like with “Thor” films and “Doctor Strange.” The “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise doesn’t even give you the slightest doubt that what you see is unreal, as its CGI looks extremely realistic.

Actors may look funny when their scenes are shot and seen without the CGI. But once everything is put together, fans can live in another world and enjoy the excitement Marvel has to offer. I can’t even remember the last time a person commented on MCU’s CGI. They may try to find things in these movies to criticize, but CGI won’t be one for sure.

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Hi there! David Berkowitz here, a production designer for indie films. I’ve always been interested in getting to know the magic that happens behind the big screen. Subscribe to my blog for more updates.