What you need to start your first film

While clicking around the interwebs recently we found this primer for novice filmmakers. And when we say “primer,” we mean “basic.”

And when we say “basic,” we mean “in a webiverse where we often assume visitors to sites like TVWriter™ know way more than they really do, this article is unexpectedly essential to all those who’ve never gone through any form of video-creation process before:”

 What-Do-You-Need-To-Start-Your-First-Filmby Bhushan Mahadani

If You want to start your first film what resources do you need? I am writing just random thoughts. Lets say next week you want to start your first film what will you need. Today you can start filming anytime you want. There are numerous opportunities for upcoming filmmakers and I wanted to discuss here and thats why I ask ,what do you need  Start Your First Film? The answer is very simple. Please also watch the following video.

1) A Story/ Idea

Its not at all necessary that you should have a screenplay ready for your first film. This is just an exercise and you are just testing waters. You can make a documentary or a music video where you don’t have to hire actors. Just go out there look what is interesting and related to your idea and shoot it.

2) A Camera

Most of you must be having a digital camera which have video recording capabilities. Other options are your cell phone /ipad cameras. Go out there and just shoot whatever you like. Just keep in mind don’t take every shot more than 15 seconds. There will be some shots which will be exceptions. Follow your gut.

3) A Computer For Editing

These days everybody has computer.So now you have shot your first film and you want to edit it, so transfer your footage to your computer and use Microsoft Movie Maker which comes inbuilt with your PC. For mac users VideoBlend  is fantastic option. Try to avoid dialogs or voice overs(for the first film). Follow the instructions of the softwares which are very easy. Hurray you have made your first film.

Read it all at Bhushan Madadani’s blog

Why We Miss Deadlines, and How to Stop

Sometimes it seems as though the only way to make a writing deadline is to not have one. But why, dammit? Why? Here’s one explanation:

If this line isn't dead, then what the hell is it?

If this line isn’t dead, then what the hell is it?

by Belle Cooper

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”- Douglas Adams

We’re obsessed with planning when we’ll get work done. But when we need to knuckle down and put our plans into action, we push tasks back further and further, up until the last minute—or worse, past the established deadline.

It happens to us all. But some of us struggle with deadlines more than others. It’s not completely our fault, though: Our brains hold a hidden bias that leads us into this trap.

Why we miss deadlines

The Sydney Opera House was supposed to be completed in 1963, for $7 million. I bet you know where this is going: A scaled-back version opened 10 years late, in 1973, with a final price tag of $102 million.

The developers fell victim to the planning fallacy—our built-in tendency to underestimate how long a task takes to complete. It tends to make us attribute failing to meet deadlines to external factors, rather than our inability to plan effectively.

When we initially plan our workload, the deadline is usually far enough away that it’s somewhat abstract, and the planning fallacy influences our thinking. As the deadline gets closer, it becomes more realistic and we actually start getting the work done.

Part of why we fall for the planning fallacy over and over is because we don’t plan for hiccups. When we estimate the time we need for a task or project, we imagine the best-case scenario for each step involved. Inevitably, we do hit snags, and the work swells to huge proportions, making it harder for us to meet our deadlines.

Why We Still Need Deadlines

Although the stress of working on a deadline can be frustrating, Melissa Dahl from Science of Us points out that deadlines are “often the only reason people ever get anything done.”

Historically, the word “deadline” had a more literal meaning. A “dead-line” was originally a line around a prison “over which no prisoner is allowed to go, day or night, under penalty of being shot.”

Now that deadlines are associated with the workplace, we’re more lax on the penalties. But the concept stands: deadlines can mean life or death for your productivity, project or job.

Parkinson’s law is an adage that says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Or, in other words, a task will take up as much time as you allow for it. This is why we’re sometimes amazed at how much we can get done in short periods of time. It’s also why we’re often found scrambling to complete something at the last minute, despite a lead time of days or weeks.

If you take Parkinson’s law into account, you can see how having no deadlines would mean hardly anything would get done. When you have infinite time to complete a task, it will take you infinite time to get done.

How to Overcome the Deadline Bias

So how can we overcome the planning fallacy and make deadlines work for us? It’s incredibly hard to beat a built-in cognitive bias, but building awareness about how deadlines change our behavior can help us be more productive—despite the drawbacks.

Read it all at Zapier

Cartoons: “How to Climb a Hill”

Because getting into showbiz – and then staying there – is a Sisyphean task:


See more Grant Snider genius at Incidental Comics

Dare To Do Nothing: Replenishing the Creative Well

We at TVWriter™ admit it – we’re suckers for a great title.

And for rebellion.

And good advice about creativity.

So when we found all three of our faves on the web together, well, we had to put it out there for ya, you know?

Doing Nothing picture IMG_0951by Meredith Allard

To say I had been having a busy time of it would be an understatement. Suddenly, I was a university student for the first time in 20 years, I was still a full time teacher, and I was working on the first draft of my new historical novel. I was looking forward to summer vacation from both work and school as a time to focus on my novel full time. I think this is why I’ve never been worried about having a day job—even with my day job I still get summers off to write full time. Then a funny thing happened—nothing.

The novel was stalled. Where my last three novels were written fairly quickly in less than a year (that’s quickly for me, mind you), my current novel was stubborn and not coming as easily as I would have liked. I didn’t understand the characters as well as I thought I did. I felt the plot was lacking, though I couldn’t tell you why. I wondered and worried myself crazy, and while I tried to work on the book I realized I was getting nowhere fast. That’s when I came up with the radical idea of putting my writing aside for a while and leaving it alone. Normally, I allow the story some baking time after the first draft, which I had done, but then when I went to write the second draft there wasn’t much more than there had been for the first draft. The second draft is a little better than the first, but it’s nothing to write home about, and it’s definitely not publishable. For my last three novels, once I made it past the “shitty first draft” stage and had a complete second draft I was, except for revising and editing, home free. This one not so much. I was getting so frustrated I was ready to throw in the towel and forget the novel altogether.

I hadn’t suffered from writer’s block in this form since I first began writing Her Dear & Loving Husband in 2009. What if I never have another good idea? What if being a doc student has sucked away all my brain power and I simply can’t write fiction until I’m finished with my degree? What if this is it and my creativity is gone, finished, kaput? You know how writers panic when the ideas aren’t flowing. Then I started thinking about how I’ve been writing novels constantly for the last six years without a break. Since 2009, I’ve published seven novels. And the scholarly writing I do for school is creative in its own way since it takes creativity to figure out how to take information from various sources and construct a well-organized, persuasive narrative. Maybe, I thought, just maybe my creativity isn’t kaput as much as just tired.

I’ve suffered, like many of you, from what they call the Do Something Syndrome at Farnam Street blog. Even on my days off I feel like I have to constantly be working at something—whether it’s writing, editing, schoolwork, marketing, social media, whatever. I started reading a lot about stillness and how doing nothing can help to fill your creative well. Here’s a great post from one of my favorite websites, Zen Habits, called The Number 1 Habit of Highly Creative People where the artists talk about stillness and doing nothing as a way to stay creative. There are a number of other articles out there on the same topic. Doing nothing? I wasn’t sure I could do that, but I was willing to try since my creative well definitely needed replenishing. This hiatus was going to be different from the baking time since baking time is where, though I’m not actively writing, I’m still working on the novel because I’m reading, researching, and finding other ways to immerse myself in the story. This time I was going to leave the story completely alone and give myself a rest from even thinking about the novel.

Read it all at Meredith Allard’s blog

Distinguish Between Goals and Fantasies When Planning Your Future

For all of TVWriter™’s ambitious dreamers (and isn’t that the very definition of TV writer?)

by Eric Ravenscraft

Everyone has something they want to do with their life in the future. Not everyone has specific, practical goals to get there. When you’re planning out your future, ask yourself if these are really goals, or just fantasies.

As business blog Entrepreneur points out, focusing too much on lofty dreams without a practical plan more often leads to disappointment than success. While we’re constantly bombarded with messages to reach for the stars, the fact is that unless you have a plan to get a job with SpaceX, the stars are just a fantasy:

Read it all at Lifehacker

Creating your own comedy competition

Cold Cut Logo - NUEA flag 2Cuz why not?

A little “cold marketing” never hurt anybody, right? Just ask TVWriter™ bud Jeff Burdick, an aspiring TV comedy writer who puts as much thought into  marketing himself as he does into his scripts. With his wife and adopted son, he moved last year from Chicago to Los Angeles. He soon landed a literary agent after renting theater space and staging a showcase of three of his original sitcom pilot scripts.

As he works to land his first staff gig, Burdick continues to write and raise his industry profile. This includes creating a unique new live comedy competition for original TV pilot scripts. Called “The Cold Cut,” the June 3rd event will stage the Cold Opens from nine original comedy pilots. Battle of the Bands-style, the audience will vote for their favorite. After intermission, the one that makes the “cut” wins an immediate staged reading of its full script and other prizes.

But enough from us. Let’s hear from Jeff:

How did you conceive The Cold Cut?

I’m fortunate my alma mater has a very active alumni base in LA. This includes an entertainment-focused alumni club, the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance (NUEA), which comprises hundreds of actors, writers, directors and producers. They regularly mount talent showcases, but had never geared one toward TV comedy writing. 

But where did the idea for a live pilot script competition come from?

All good TV scripts must grab a reader in the first few pages, so why not a rapid-fire staging of just the Cold Opening scenes from multiple comedy scripts, with all scripts available online afterward. For a more interactive live experience, I also opted for a Battle of the Bands-style audience vote over the standard judging panel.

What has been the response?

Pretty stunning. To our Reading Committee’s surprise, we received more than 40 scripts, from which we selected nine finalists. More than 40 alumni actors submitted for casting. The Black List came on as an event sponsor, and we were able to recruit a pretty impressive group of recent showrunners, staff writers, and active producers to provide expert script feedback to our writers.

How did you get The Black List and your industry readers?

It’s as simple as having a solid professional pitch, reaching out, and then finding some people interested in both your project and hutzpah. I have a journalism background so I’m used to reaching out to people not expecting my call. I know some say “cold-calling” doesn’t work in this town, but I’ve cold-called my way into a general at WME and a pitch meeting on the Fox lot Also my relationship with my current agent also began with a cold call. So in general, if you have a smart and unique angle, you can usually find some people willing to hear you out.

Have you received any industry feedback yet?

Yes, very positive feedback. Early on, I and my two co-producers – Liz Kenny and Michael Yawanis – solicited feedback on our concept from different industry pros. Some were alums; some not. These ranged from Key & Peele Executive Producer Ian Roberts to staff writers and studio executives to agents and managers. Everyone was terribly generous with their time and tips. Plus their uniform enthusiasm confirmed we had a winning format.

Yours is an alumni competition, but do you expect wider interest?

We hope so. Through our partnership with The Black List, the finalist scripts will be posted for review after the live June 3rd competition. We will be reaching out throughout the industry to publicize the event, the script loglines, and Black List links. We’ve also created a general interest Facebook “Cold Cut” page at which we post weekly links to great Cold Opens a week from classic and current TV shows. We hope this appeals to other writers.

I see your own script is a finalist. Since you created the competition, isn’t this a bit like a movie producer giving his girlfriend a plum role in his film?

Ha! Not in my case. All script judging was blind, and no judge could read a script with which they were already familiar. So I had no guarantee my script would make the cut. A couple of our judges also submitted scripts blind, but they did not make the cut.

What are your tips for other writers looking to uniquely market themselves?

I first recommend doing a self-audit of what makes you unique, what tools and resources are at your fingertips, and then how to leverage these to crack open more doors. I’m a big fan of re-using existing quality content in creative new ways, such as creating your own sizzle real or staging your own multi-work showcase. Also consider how to partner with others to create win-win opportunities and expose your talents to new networks.

For instance, I have friend who recently created a funny Web series about magicians. My suggestion for him was to approach some Hollywood magic shops to see if any would like to host a screening in their shop. The writer invites his circle and the magic shop promotes to its customer base. Then you also have a unique “happening” to reach out an invite potential agents, managers and producers.

What’s next for your own self-marketing?

Back to basics. Never forget the best marketing tool is always your next quality script. So I’m polishing my half-hour comedy pilot script that got me my agent and is in The Cold Cut competition. I am also doing final revisions to a new first hour-long dramedy pilot called “Assistants.” (Yes, it is about a group of 20-something college friends who are all different kinds of assistants trying to climb the Hollywood ladder.)

Contact Jeff Burdick through his writer’s Web site BurdickComm.com.