Short Film Script Done!

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but the script for my first short film is finished.

I’m now beginning pre-production and hope to be done with it by April. From there, I plan to move into production in early June and have it edited by the end of the summer.

But of course, nothing ever goes according to plan! ;)

That’s it for this post. Let me know if there is anything you would like to know as I move through the process of making my first film. I hope that I can be a source of information for many of you! Updates on the project will be posted here as I move along.

Thanks for reading!

-Dan

Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Initial Impressions

My new Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 finally came in today! I must give a big thank you to my parents, who bought me the lens as a reward for school achievements.

This lens will be replacing my old Canon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6. That lens has been my primary lens for the past two years, as long as I’ve had my T3i! It’s nice to finally get a sharper piece of glass that is in that zoom range (somewhat) as well as an excellent low light lens. The constant f1.8 aperture is really great, and I think it will be a very useful feature in the future. With an aperture like that, and the sharpness of this lens all the way through the range, this lens could essentially fulfill my need for a good wide angle zoom lens and four primes (18mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm)! It’s just fantastic.

I’ve played with the lens for a few hours, getting various shots in all types of situations, from low-lit indoor shots to well lit areas; I have developed a few pros and cons to the lens. I didn’t shoot outside; I’m waiting for the 72mm variable ND filter I ordered to arrive before I do any of that.

PROS
-f1.8 aperture makes this lens extremely flexible to shoot in most situations
-Can serve as multiple primes in one lens
-Build quality is top notch
-Image is tack sharp
-Focus ring is buttery smooth
-Parfocal
-Nice weight

CONS
-The range can be limiting at some times
-No IS

Overall, for me, the pros outweigh the cons. If I need a more narrow field of view, then I can just pop on my Canon 50mm f1.8. Sure, it’s not as convienient as having 50mm built into the zoom range, but I’ll take a faster aperture over more range anyday. As far as IS goes, it’s not really a big deal when shooting at 24mm (and even 28mm) or wider. Once you hit 35mm, you may see some shake. However, with stablization built into most high end video editing software, you can just fix it in post. I shoot a lot of tripod work, so it’s not a huge issue for me.

These are just initial impressions. I plan on doing a full shoot with the lens very soon. Once I’ve done some actual work with it, I’ll put together a full review. I hope this has helped you out in some way! Thank you for reading!

FCPX Version 10.1 Initial Impressions

The new version of Final Cut Pro X has been out for about a week now, so I thought it would be nice to give my initial impressions of the new features. This is not really a review (although it will be under the ‘reviews’ category), it’s more like my initial impressions.

I’ve been using Final Cut Pro X for over a year now to edit all of my videos. I love it. For most, yes it was lacking in some features when it first came out. However, I am by no means a true proffesional and, for the price, Final Cut Pro offered exactly what I was looking for: an easy transition from iMovie into a higher end video editor. Now, one year later, Final Cut has grown. Most of the features that were missing for pros have been intergrated into the software via updates, 10.1 being the most major update. What you are left with now is a truly proffesional piece of software that should suite the needs of most video editors just fine, for only $300.

Yes, I realize saying ‘only $300′ seems like an odd statement, after all $300 is a lot of money for most of us. However, video production is an expensive thing to get into, and $300 is a good deal for a piece of pro editiong software, especially when compared to the $600 per year price of Adobe CC. Not to say you don’t get a good bang for your buck with that either, because you do. But most of us who are teenagers getting into video don’t have $600 to shell out every year for editing software.

But I digress. Moving right along into my impressions, I need to first let you know of all of the updates in this new version of FCPX. Apple includes a list of new features on Final Cut’s page in the Mac App Store:

-Optimized playback and rendering using dual GPUs in the new Mac Pro
-Video monitoring up to 4K via Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI on select Mac computers
-4K content including titles, transitions, and generators
-Libraries allow you to gather multiple events and projects within a single bundle
-Easily open and close individual libraries to load just the material you need
-Option to import media to locations inside or outside a library
-Automatically back up libraries to a user-specified drive or network location
-Project Snapshots let you quickly capture the project state for fast versioning
-Audio fade handles on individual audio channels in the timeline
-Add precise retime speeds by entering them numerically in the timeline
-Non-rippling retime option
-One-step Replace and Retime
-Custom project frame sizes
-Through edits displayed on all clip types
-Join Through Edit command removes bladed cuts to clips in the timeline
-Detach audio from Multicam Clips in the timeline to manipulate audio and video separately
-Make video or audio-only edits into the timeline with Multicam Clips as sources
-Blade and move audio in J- and L-cuts
-Roll audio with J- and L-cut splits open
-Option to hide the Browser to gain more screen space for viewing
-Native support for .MTS and .MT2S files from AVCHD cameras
-Used media indicators on source clips
-Improved performance with large projects
-Improved performance when modifying or adding keywords to many clips at once
-Easily move, copy, and paste multiple keyframes
-Option for linear animation with Ken Burns effect
-Improved image stabilization with InertiaCam and Tripod mode
-Import photos from iOS devices
-Proxy and playback quality controls accessible in Viewer menu
-Support for portrait/landscape metadata in still images
-Effects parameters, fonts, and text size included in XML metadata
-Improved support for growing media and edit while ingest
-FxPlug 3 with custom plug-in interfaces and dual-GPU support
-API for custom Share operations using third-party software
-Share directly to YouTube at 4K resolution
-Share directly to Chinese video sites Youku and Tudou
-Spanish language localization
As you can see, there are TONS of new features. I’m only going to talk about the three that I’ve highlighted in bold text, which to me are the three biggest ones.

The biggest change, by far, to FCPX is the new media management system. Instead of having events and projects completely seperate like you did before, you have them all organized together in Libraries. This is a really nice feature, and one that I’ve loved in the new version so far. It’s now easier than ever to access my projects and footage from one shoot or another. If I shoot a short promo over the course of a few days, then I don’t have to have one large, cluttered event with each day’s footage; nor multiple seperate events for each day’s footage. I can now have all of the events from each day’s shoot together and organized. The same goes for projects. I am often doing multiple cuts for the same promo; meaning I’ll have a long version, the original version, and then multiple short versions to offer alongside it. All of my cuts can now be organized together and easily accessible. In short, I’m *loving* libraries.

The next feature, while it may not seem that major, is actually huge for someone like me. I do all of my editing on a laptop (2011 13 inch Macbook Pro). As expected, screen realistate gets scarce quite often. In the past, I had become frustrated when my window would get so crowded between the browser, the viwer, and the inspector; on top of any of the color correction tools I was using, ex. the histogram. Now, by being able to remove the browser, I can have much more room to do accurate color correction with the offered tools and use the inspector, while also having plenty of space to view my footage as I edit. The way I’ve begun working is with just the browser and viewer open to do cuts, then doing any adjustments with just the inspector and the viewer open, plus any of the color correction tools. In a way, it’s kind of like a lite approach to Adobe’s workspaces in Premiere, but not near as flexible. Nonetheless, it’s a greatly welcomed addition to FCPX and I am glad Apple has finally added it (it only took them 2 years to add such a little thing, COME ON APPLE!!!!! )

Finally, while it doesn’t effect me much now, the ability to import AVCHD files directly into FCPX is going to be HUGE for tons of teen video producers out there. AVCHD, for those of you who don’t know, is a video compression used in most consumer camcorders and prosumer level camcorders. It’s not used in DLSRs (which is what I use), but it is suprisingly used in some of the higher end large sensor camcorders, like the Canon C100 and the Sony FS700. While most of us are probably not using either of those cameras, many are using consumer level camcorders, like the Canon VIXIA series; and prosumer camcorders like the Canon XA20 (I’m not bias to Canon, I just know their camera line the best ;) ). To my knowledge, it was really tricky to get any AVCHD footage into FCPX; the only way you could do it was via very speicific video conversion programs. So, to you all who use cameras with AVCHD compression, enjoy nativly importing and editing your footage! :D

Overall, I love the new features that Apple has added into this new version of FCPX. It’s definately the biggest update we’ve had since the original launch. I’ll try to post a full review of it soon, after I’ve had more time to truly work with it.

Also, sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been busy with school (tests and exams) for the entire month of December. Now that that is all over until May, I hope to get more content posted on this blog. Hopefully, you all find it helpful!

Thanks for reading!

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Smaller Is Better….For Now

If you are a teen filmmaker, or really just any filmmaker starting off, then in all honesty you should live by the phrase “smaller is better.” Now what exactly does that mean? Basically, the smaller the project the is, the better. Why you may ask? Is our goal not to make feature films in Hollywood? Why not work on big projects?

Yes, we do want to work on bigger projects AS WE GO ON. When we are just starting out, we don’t need to be making thirty minute or hour long films that require a big budget. For example, my first short film that I plan on making is called “TEXTING” (working title). It’s a simple story about a father and son sending text messages back and forth during a football game as they sit inside different homes (and of course, there’s a twist at the end to make things more interesting :) ).  That film is at most going to be around three minutes long, including credits. The script is short and the dialogue is minimum. It’s something that I can easily make with what I have and no budget. Instead of paying to shoot at a location, I can just shoot in my own house and maybe a neighbor’s house. Also, I don’t need a large cast of people. I need a little boy, a man, and a woman. Simple enough, I can just go find people from my church who are into acting. And no RED cameras or Arri Alexa’s for this project. I’m just shooting on my T3i with a nifty fifty and a Zoom H1. Get my cell phone and one of my parent’s cell phones and BOOM, we have a short film.

What I’m saying is: do well with what you have before going any further. Just this morning, I saw a Youtube video of a 15 year old unboxing a Red Scarlet! 15 years old and buying a RED camera?! I’m 15 and I have no idea where he got that money from, unless he had been saving for like ten years! But, guess what, when he got the camera up and running, he had a nifty fifty mounted onto it. Now, there’s no real problem with that; it’s a perfectly fine lens. However, investing in a ten to sixteen THOUSAND dollar camera is just stupid if you are just going to slap a cheap $100 plastic lens on it! He spent all that money on a camera and basically nothing on a lens, making the camera purchase almost pointless! That’s a result of trying to go to far to soon; you end up looking like an idiot putting a $100 lens on a RED camera!

The only thing that I can say is absolutely worth investing in EARLY is a audio. Audio is such a major part of your productions that you can really pass with any sort of clear picture with good audio. I would recommend you get a Zoom H1 and use that for a little while. It’s only $100 and it’s a very versatile mic; great for dialogue, sound effects, and much more. And I’m not just saying that because it’s one of the microphones I personally own ;).  Audio and lighting, the only two things that are worth investing in early.

Also, don’t try to do a project early that requires locations (which cost money) and tons of actors (especially pros, which cost money most of the time). Do projects that you can shoot at your house or a friend’s house with just you and some people you know. Don’t worry, you WILL get to work on bigger projects with a big budget and fancy cameras. FOR NOW, though, just stick to trying to tell a good story with what you have. If your story is truly great, it won’t matter what it was shot with.

 

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Writing Stories: Software

Ok, you’ve got your story all planned out. Now, it’s time to get to the good stuff. It’s time to sit down and write your script.

First of all, you really need some screenwriting software. Nowadays, it’s extremely easy to get a great piece of writing software, either paid or free. In this post, I plan on covering the three primary pieces of software that I have used. If I miss some (which I’m sure I will) then let me know down in the comments! I would love to learn about more platforms!

Adobe offers Adobe Story, both a free version and paid subscription version with the Creative Cloud. That software is nice, but it requires internet, and sometimes that can be a major drawback. Plus, there is no tablet app to go along with it and the phone app can’t be used to write, only to read. Those things seem minor, but trust me it’s a big deal when you consider that a.) all of the other major screenwriting programs have great phone and tablet apps for writing and viewing and b.) all of the other programs can be used offline. There are some redeeming qualities to Adobe Story. While it can’t be used offline, it’s a powerhouse when you are online. It’s collaboration tools are great (although they cost money). Another feature of Adobe Story that I LOVE is that when you are writing, it can automatically calculate an estimated length of a scene. This is great if you are making a short film and want to know how much time everything is going to take. It can’t do all of that for an entire project at once, only scene by scene; but still, it’s an awesome feature to have and one that I do not think the other big names have. Another great feature is that Adobe Story fits perfectly into the “Adobe Workflow”; meaning that it works great with the other Adobe applications (ex. Adobe Prelude) to make pre-production, production, and post production go smoother than it does with any other platform.  Overall, though, Adobe Story just doesn’t seems as good to me because there is no way to get started on a script when you have instant inspiration; you need to wait until you are at your computer (or mobile browser, which is a pain in the butt to get to) and also wait until you have a wi-fi connection (or use up your data trying to get started writing on your mobile browser, but again it’s a pain in the butt if you ask me). However, if you don’t feel you need to be mobile with your writing, and perhaps you only write in places with wi-fi, and you use the Adobe Suite (CS6 or CC) then Adobe Story is for sure the way to go. Actually, if you use the Adobe Suite I would say it’s totally worth it to lose mobility. I don’t use the Adobe apps because I can’t afford them, so there’s not much appeal to use Adobe Story in my eyes.

Moving on from Adobe, there is also Final Draft. This is great software; it is the industry standard. Final Draft has been used on big-name Hollywood writers like JJ Abrams, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, and Oliver Stone. You can basically do anything you can imagine with Final Draft. On top of that, it CAN be used offline and it DOES HAVE mobile apps for both phones and tablets, ones that you can actually use to write (well, only the tablet app allows you to write but I mean that’s the only mobile device people would actually write on). The big downside is, the price is HIGH. Final Draft 8, the latest version, is now $250 on their website to download or order. That is extremely high for most of us, and that is why I don’t use Final Draft. There is a free demo version, which I have used, but as you probably can figure out it’s extremely limited in it’s abilities compared to the full version. While Final Draft is great, I can’t recommend it to any teen filmmaker or low budget filmmaker because of the price (unless you are rich, in which case go nuts). 

Finally, there is the writing software that I use, called Celtx. The full Celtx desktop application is completely free, and there are other desktop versions of the software in the Mac App that cost around $20 or so. I recommend going to their website and getting the free desktop app, since it is free and you are not losing any features (in fact, you’re gaining some features). There are mobile apps for tablets and phones, both which allow you to write. They also have a shot planning software called Celtx Shots (that I have not used) that allows you to plan out your shots without being a storyboard artist. It also cloud functionality like the Final Draft and Adobe Story, although their collaboration tools are only available with a separate paid service (which sucks).  While most pros say it is not as good as Final Draft and other programs, you will not notice the difference if you are just starting out. It has planning tools (which are not as good as the tools in the two other programs), and organization tools that are good as well. This is the software that I have used for a while and is the software that I can 100% recommend (they aren’t a sponsor, I promise). I just love this software; it’s great (again, not a sponsor).

Those are the three programs that I have used. There are also two websites that I am going to refer you to below, WriterDuet.com and Scripped.com. These are not programs, but websites. WriterDuet is a free collaborative writing website that allows you and multiple others to work together on scripts, FOR FREE! Scripped is an online script sharing website that is good for feedback and networking. Both are good.

I hope this post helped you out. Remember, I did not mention all of the software that is available, only the ones that I have used and have some experience with. These are just some of the best and most popular programs and websites on the market right now. 

Again, I hope this helped, and thank you for reading!

 

Here are the links to those programs and websites:

-Adobe Story (paid of free)- https://story.adobe.com/en-us/index.html

-Final Draft- http://www.finaldraft.com/

-Celtx- https://www.celtx.com/index.html

-Scripped- http://scripped.com/

-WriterDuet- https://www.writerduet.com/

 

Now go write something great!

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Writing Stories: Outlines

In my last “Writing Stories” post, I mentioned that there is another method to planning out your story besides writing a synopsis. This other method is called an outline. Many of you have probably taken notes using outlines in class, and this is basically the same thing. Now, I could go all in depth in a post on “how to write an outline”, however I found it would be easier and more beneficial to offer a template to you.  Just enter your title, and other information, and then go one by one through the chapters of your story. Treat each “scene” like a chapter in a book. Happy writing :D

Outline Template (Google Drive): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1i_m6Zfw9IexLw-jjHVmmP-oAuaPGiW-bXaca9Mo7p0A/edit?usp=sharing

****YOU WILL NEED TO COPY AND PASTE THE TEMPLATE INTO A NEW DOCUMENT OR INTO YOUR WORD PROCESSOR***********

The New iMovie

The other day, Tuesday to be exact, Apple released an update to their OSX operating system. Alongside it, they updated all of their iWork and iLife applications. In this post, I want to talk about the new version of iMovie.

Now, I personally upgraded from iMovie to Final Cut Pro X last year. However, I do think iMovie is a great piece of software; and there are some nice features that have been added to iMovie that easily make it the best piece of starter video editing software out there (as it has been for a while).

First of all, there is a new layout to iMovie. Personally I am not a fan of it. It’s one of my few gripes with the new version of the software. iMovie for the Mac used to look a lot more like a nice piece of desktop editing software, with good media organization and good tools all put together nicely. Now, iMovie for the Mac looks a lot like iMovie for IOS. Whether or not that is a bad thing is yet to be seen. Anyone who uses the IOS version of iMovie can probably start using the new Mac version with no real problems. My gripe with this is that it looks like it was designed for a touchscreen device, not for a computer. To me, the layout just doesn’t make much sense on a desktop/laptop. For a mom who’s looking to make home movies and swap easily between her computer and her iPad, it’s nice. However, for a person who’s looking to go into filmmaking and take editing seriously it’s not that great.

My second gripe with the new iMovie is the new color tools. They SUCK. Exposure cannot be done properly like it used to, because when you slide one part of it (ex. the shadows) everything else slides with it. So if I adjust my mid-tones, my shadows automatically get adjusted as well.  I searched in the “HELP” bar to see if there was a place where you could change a setting and make it all independent, but there wasn’t a single result. Another thing, there are no individual level tools. If you don’t know what that is, it is basically getting full control of the levels of reds, blues, and greens in a shot. In more professional grade pieces of software, like Premiere Pro and Final Cut X, you get much more color options. In the old version of iMovie, they had those three that I mentioned above and it worked fine. Why they took it out, I do not know. It was a great feature to have that allowed people to achieve better color correction and looks.  On top of that, there is absolutely no way to be remotely exact with your color correction. They had the ability to type in specific numbers for your amount of saturation, levels, etc. in the old version. Now, it’s all sliders. So, what you are left with is only the ability to slide the bars back and forth until you find the look you want. Having a way to be exact is much better. Again, why they took that feature out is a mystery to me.  They did keep the “auto enhance” feature (which now has a very large button up at the top beside “adjust”), but honestly that isn’t totally useful. If you hate doing color correction yourself, I guess it’s ok. However, any person that wants to color correct their own footage and make it look how they want it to look should not use this tool. Really, anyone who wants to do their own color correction may not want to upgrade/purchase the new version of iMovie at all. It’s just a real shame that Apple has done away with the great color correction tools they had before. It was one my favorite features of the old version of iMovie, and a feature that really made the software a nice bang for your buck.

Now, onto the things that I do like about iMovie.

All of the same sound tools are there, and they are great for anyone who is just starting out. Again, it is all slider based, so there is no way to be exact, but all of the main tools are still there and should satisfy any beginning filmmaker.

Also, the stabilize tool is still there and functions great. It’s not as good as Warp Stabilizer, which is found in the Adobe apps, but it’s great considering it’s in a piece of free software.

Another feature I like is the Theatre. This is a nice feature Apple has implemented for viewing your movies and creating your new projects with themes.

Trailers are still in iMovie and remain one of my favorite features. They aren’t overly useful for making actual trailers for a short film or anything like that, but they are fun to play around with for family/friend videos.

A major feature that I absolutely LOVE is the new iCloud integration. Basically, if you export a project to iCloud, it is automatically on all of your Apple devices for viewing, even the Apple TV. This is a great feature, and one that I would love to see with Final Cut Pro X (perhaps with a viewing app for IOS and Apple TV or something like that). Whether or not this allows you to edit the same project on different devices I do not know for sure. However, I doubt it does simply because all of the effects, transitions, etc. that are on the Mac version of iMovie are not in the IOS version of iMovie.

All of your standard text tools and effects have remained the same as well, except now they are on the left side of the window under your events instead of the right side under the viewer.

 

So, just to recap:

Pros:

1.) Sound Tools

2.) Stabilize Tool

3.) Theatre

4.) iCloud Integration

 

Cons:

1.) New Layout

2.) Color Tools

 

In conclusion, the new version of iMovie is nice, but it is a step in a new direction. iMovie doesn’t really feel like a piece of beginner video software anymore. It feels like a basic, fun extra added into Apple’s products to make them more attractive to parents. The main use it is intended for is home movies, for sure.

Despite this, though, the software remains as one of the best pieces of beginner software on the market in my opinion. I have not used Premiere Elements, but I hear it’s nice as well. If iMovie doesn’t do it for you, you might take a look at that.

Overall, I think that if you are just starting out as a filmmaker, this is a great piece of software to have. If you own a Mac, give it a look. That is, unless you have iMovie 11. If you still have that, I would personally not recommend upgrading because that has the better color correction tools and allows you to be more exact. Also, the layout and workflow better prepares you for more professional pieces of software, if you plan to upgrade in the future.

So, if you have iMovie 11 and have some editing knowledge and experience, DO NOT upgrade unless the things I mentioned don’t matter to you (they are all MY OPINION and you may not agree, and that’s fine). If you are about to buy a new Mac, or have no video editing experience at all, then go ahead and try using the new iMovie. It’s nice and simple and allows you to learn the basics.

Is it as good as before? No, not in my opinion. However, that’s just MY OPINION.

If you are just starting out and have no editing experience, then you will not even notice or care about the cons I mentioned.

It’s a great bang for your buck for beginners.

 
Check it out on Apple’s website: http://www.apple.com/mac/imovie/

 

 

 

 

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Writing Stories: Writing A Synopsis

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. My apologies, but I’ve been busy with football and school lately. But don’t worry, I’m back with another post on how to write good stories.

In this post, I want to talk about writing a synopsis. Now you may be asking, “What is a synopsis?” A synopsis is basically a brief summary of your story. This is really a necessary step to writing any story, even if you aren’t writing a script. It helps you piece together the story and reveals conflicts to you. This makes things a whole lot easier when writing the full story.

Of course you can always do a tradition plan (which I will post about later), but I find these to not be as good because you aren’t really seeing the “cause and effect” aspects of your story; but that’s just me personally.

Try to keep your length around two or three pages. I read online that a studio generally accepts a synopsis of a film that is two pages and double spaced. But of course, I doubt any of you are thinking about submitting any of your work to a studio any time soon. ;)

Just be brief and tell the story from beginning to end. Once you’ve done back, read through it and make sure everything lines up and makes sense. Also look out for conflicts and themes for your story.

Happy Brainstorming! :D

Writing Stories: Creating A Basic Plot

Ok, you’ve got your idea. Now it’s time to take your inspiration and turn it into a story. There a few key things you need to know before doing this, and then there are various ways to plan out your story from there.

To get a basic plot, you need to figure out three things.

1.) Who is the main character?

2.) What is the conflict?

3.) How it will it all end?

Once you have these three things, you can create a basic plot and expand upon it.

Creating A Character

At the center of every good story is a great character. The main thing you need to make sure you do is make your character likable. If the audience hates your character, then it’s hard for them to like the story. The easiest way that I’ve found to make a character likable is to make them relatable. You can do this by facing them with situations and decisions that most people can relate to. Even if you’re story is science fiction or horror, you can make your character relatable through symbolism. If your telling a realistic story, I would advise putting your character in a common situation that all people can relate to. Do this early, in the character introduction, or the beginning.

Also, before you write the first word of your story, you need to know every detail about your character. Know everything about them, even if it’s irrelevant to the plot, so that you can have them do in the story what THEY would do, not what you want them to do. This makes your story easier to write and more realistic.

The Conflict

This is the problem, or situation, in your story.  Now, the best stories have multiple conflicts, both internal and external. However, today we are just covering the basics. This is the conflict that is most evident and drives your story. An example may be something like, “Jane likes a boy, but can’t talk to him,” then the entire story being centered around Jane learning to talk to the boy. Make sure the conflict is interesting and engaging, otherwise the audience will get bored. I can’t give many tips for this, simply because it varies from story to story. However, take your character, whom you should already know, and put them in that situation. If you truly know them, then the story will begin to unfold as you write it.

Ending

You should know the ending to your story before you start writing. This is so that you know where to take the story and how to best expand upon the situation. Going back to the example I used earlier, if I know that Jane talks to the boy in the end, then I can know how to best take her up through the story. I can have her seek advice, get help from friends, and other stuff like that. Basically, this part can write your story for you, because certain things need to happen in a story to get from the beginning to the end. Also, make it interesting. No one likes a boring ending. I will be doing a post on this later in the series.

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Writing Stories: Inspiration

After a full week of school work and football practice, I finally have time to write part one of my short series on writing stories. In this post, I’m going to be giving brief tips on getting inspired based on how I’ve been inspired in the past. Keep in mind that the creative process is different for everyone, and these tips may not work for you; I hope they do though!

1.) What Is A Message You Want To Tell?

The short film I am working on now is based upon a simple message that I want to communicate. It’s a message aimed at modern society and myself. What is something that, if you could stand up and say in front of crowd, you would say? What is something you struggle with that you want to try to shed light on? What is something you feel society needs to learn? Questions like these come together to form a theme, and upon a theme you can build a story. If you’re making a short film like me, then sometimes the theme can determine how good your final cut ends up being.

2.) Get Out

There are so many ideas I’ve gotten just from being out in public and seeing things. For example, I could go to a restaurant and see a man working diligently at his computer and not speaking to anyone, not even his waiter/waitress. With that,  a story can be made out of what he is doing. Could he be a spy working on cracking an important code while in the field? Could he be a businessman who has just received an e-mail notifying him that his business’s partnership with a distributor, which was his only hope at saving his company, has just been broken? Who knows? Anything could happen. That’s what I mean. Go out and see the world, because stories are inspired by the real world. Now, don’t hop in your car and go looking for a story in public, because they may not work. Rather, just step away from your blank document and go grab a bite to eat or catch a movie with some friends. Chances are, you’ll get inspired easier and quicker that way.

3.) Watch and Read

There is no rule saying that you can’t make a film with a story that has the same idea as another movie. If I see a movie about a police officer tracking down drug dealers who have kidnapped his daughter for ransom, and I like it; I can make a film with that same base idea. However, I don’t use the same characters and I try to change the events of the story rather than using similar events from that movie. How many superheroes do you think were not loosely based off of popular superheroes like Batman and Superman? A ton were. Look at Hawkeye and Green Arrow, two characters with the same base idea (they shoot bow and arrows) and yet they are two different characters. There are tons of zombie movies out there that were inspired by other zombie movies! It’s done all the time and there is nothing wrong with doing it. In fact, a film I want to make has the same base idea as a movie I saw when I was in second grade and loved. However, I’m using a completely different storyline with different characters and events. And you don’t even have to make it completely different. Two words: fan fiction. (Although I personally don’t see myself doing fan fiction, I like to be somewhat original). And this isn’t just applicable with movies; read good books also! It’s good for our brains to read instead of watch every now and again, and most times books may hold better stories!

4.) Think

Sometimes, for me, I get good ideas just my laying down in silence and thinking to myself about my story and what I could do to make it better. If you feel stressed out or tired and need to relax, this is a great way to do so without loosing creative time. One time, I even got an idea from a dream I had that I luckily remembered when I woke up! It’s become one of the highest films on my “want to make one day” list.

5.) Completely Random

Many times, when I get an idea that I like, it is just a random thought that enters my brain. No outside influence from my surroundings or my situation, just a random thought. Some of the best stories to tell can be completely random, so try to remember and write down your next completely random idea (because we all get them).

 

 

I hope this post has been helpful to you. Thanks for taking the time to read it! In my next post, I plan to write about planning out a story and different ways you can do it! Remember, though, writing is different for everyone. The best way to do it is to make like Nike, and just do it. ;)

 

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