WHAT ABOUT THE STORY?

S L O W S H U T T E R

| A weekly indy film blog on the BSFF website |   

As mentioned earlier on the "slowshutter" blog entries, getting great images from modern gear is a boon for filmmakers.  Strangely, it's can also be a burden.  Beginner filmmakers have a tendency to concentrate intently on the technical aspects.  But, ultimately, nothing is going to make a film more viable and successful than a good bit of considered pre-production story planning.  And most of that stuff has nothing to do with lenses or cameras.  Also, it's free! 

Arguably, you could shoot your whole movie on an old VHS camcorder and if the story was solid, people will watch it.  Heck, I'd argue that the low-fi image quality of such would be compelling for certain films.  It's certainly held up well enough for lots of auteurs through the years.

 "24 Hour Party People" shot on standard definition video tape.

"24 Hour Party People" shot on standard definition video tape.

Certainly, good IQ is great for a film, but it can be over-emphasized by indy filmmakers.  The truth is any camera is more than good enough in capable hands.

Story is the foundation of everything.  Those considerations should really be the start and end of the process.

For example, the most solid advice I can offer for the eager indy filmmaker is to definitely do a storyboard.  If you're ambitious, also do a real time edit with a dialog comp/music track.  This can be fun if you have willing and eager players involved to do their character's voices (it's even a sort of rehearsal), and it'll also illustrate any shooting "holes" you might have...before you're on set.  Again, think about the story before camera.

 The tragedy/musical "Dancer in the Dark"  shot on video.

The tragedy/musical "Dancer in the Dark"  shot on video.

Recently I made an experimental short film wherein I attempted to film actors on-locations in a documentary style.  While successful on certain levels (I thought it looked well shot for not doing any organized set-ups, for instance), ultimately it didn't hold together as too many shots where absent, the production went way too long, and the actors floundered too much.  (that actor was me, by the way)  A director with more tenacity and skill probably could have tied things together better and artistically, but I definitely ended up stretched beyond my capabilities.

 "Il vento fa il suo giro"  Yup, shot on crusty old video.

"Il vento fa il suo giro"  Yup, shot on crusty old video.

And those factors matter to us here at the BSFF.  We're always looking for great stories.  Sure, we're impressed with the technical side of the craft, but the art of the story is what moves us.

How about you?  What films have you seen where the visual technique might not have been top notch, but the story was impressive?  Let us know!