Thursday, April 15, 2010

FILMMAKING: Getting a Start

It was only (already?) four years ago when I made the decision to start editing video. It's been a lifelong dream to make movies, but let's just say as a reality it wasn't an option until then, to cut to the chase.

So, where does one start to get into and learn this craft? I can tell you how I have done it, and now I am to the point of making my first short film to be entered into film festivals, and I have also been recruited as Director of Photography for someone else's project. I have no formal education in filmmaking or video editing.....or even computers for that matter. I learned everything by reading up on it and then just diving right in and playing with things. I've done most things in my life that way including building one of the cars that will be in my short.

Having a windows based computer it already had Microsoft Movie Maker on it. I figured I had this for free since it came with the operating system, and free is always good by me. The first video I made was just with still images in order to learn how the program worked and how to use functions like titles and transitions. I learned how to work with the program's timeline to place images for various durations and to time them with a music track. I learned what the program can and cannot do, and how to make it do some things that it is not specifically made to do, but if you can McGuyver some things together you can make it happen....or at least appear to happen, and with video being a visual medium, that is what matters.

After I made a couple videos with still images, music, and transitions I then looked around for a device to download analog video into my computer (it's what I've got) as well as a more featured editing program. A note about editing programs. Basically, there are some beginner programs ($50 - $125) and then there are pro programs (about $1,500 and up). I am only aware of one company that has bridged the gap and last year introduced a semi-pro version with a lot of professional features and that is Magix Video Pro X which runs $300. I will be getting this program to edit my short film and will give a review after the short film is done. As for Mac software, I have to plead ignorance, of course other than Final Cut Pro.

Anyway, I chose Pinnacle Studio 10 Plus (the latest version at the time) because it also came with a nifty interface to download my analog video to my computer, as well as a green screen and mic. I have to say I am pretty satisfied with the results. Rarely does it EVER drop a frame. I cannot remember when it did. I do get a little squiggle at the bottom of the video but that is covered with a Letterbox bar during editing. Yeah, my camera is still 4:3. Hey, I am still learning. I'm hoping to win a nice camera or the money to get one, or two, by entering my short in film festivals.

With this program I have made a couple of videos for contests that Doritos held to be aired during the Superbowl. Mine were not chosen but I am very happy with how they came out and I learned a lot while making them. This was also part of the plan when entering the contests.

Now I feel I have enough experience with editing, shooting video, and making things the way I envision them well enough to make my first short film. This goes to show you don't need a lot of money to learn the basics, learn editing, get experience, and get on your way. I highly recommend reading some books on the topic, finding some key websites about video editing, and of course watching a lot of videos and movies. I don't mean the stories in them, I mean the work. What kind of style does the Editor have? What makes it different? What makes it cool? What makes it suck? Let the others watch the movie, you're watching "the film."

- Steve Olander

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  1. GREAT read Steve!!! Looking forward to following your career as you push along. It's encouraging to see and read about others as they pursue their dream. So many people I meet talk about doing something - and then state the reasons why they don't - which usually comes down to money and time - and the only thing I say to them is this - if it's something you really want to do - you'll find a way. That's how I've done it. That's how you are doing it. Looking forward to your pics on the car and any info on the filming of the Max movies and how it influenced ya - you have a fascinating life - nice to be able to read about it here. Glad you're on board my filmmaker friend. I mean that.

  2. Oh - and you may next time put your name somewhere for people who don't know your name my friend lol ;-)

  3. Oh, I see it is absent here. On the original blog page it notes "Posted by Steve Olander." I didn't know that info would not be at the bottom of the whole post. Yes, Steve Olander. I wrestled at one point with going with "Steven", as in Spielberg (as my friends used to call me) but it kinda sounds like it runs into my last name when said altogether. Stevenolander; doesn't ring right.

    At age 13, after seeing Star Wars (1977), that was it. It's what I wanted to do. At 16 and 17 I was making silent Super 8 mm movies. We built miniatures and did kit bashing to come up with new spaceships and such. Ever since then I have always researched filmmaking, special effects (mechanical), and every other aspect of filmmaking. I've learned as much as I could through my life, on my own, honing my interest and getting prepared for when life allowed the time to indulge in this.

    I married at almost 21 and I am almost 46 (holy crap) now. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary next week as a matter of fact, rare in this day. We had kids right away too, so I was doing the responsible husband/father thing, working for a regular and steady income, as possible as that has been over this time.

    After 18 years of marriage we are finally able to get our toys; her a 1966 Mustang, me an Australian Ford XB Falcon to rebuild as a Mad Max Interceptor. After a couple years of owning the Aussie car I came up with a novel idea about the movie car, and if it had existed in real life. That got me writing a screenplay about that and thus the begining of my screenwriting. I did make contact with George Miller's company (one of the Mad Max creators) and was told they do not take unsolicited material nor are they looking to do a movie about the Interceptor car. I am still shopping it around and may end up making it myself if it is not picked up (in the years to come). I am also writing it as a novel.

    My love for cars has spawned another story. That one is in rewrite. When it is finished I will be looking for an Agent. By that time I will have the finished short and 2 screenplays available. That way when I get the question "What else have you got?" I will have something.

    That's another blog though. ;)


    1.Use this short film to get noticed.

    2. Sell first script, made into movie, to get my name out there.

    3. Sell second script off of success of first, made into movie, get legitamized.

    4. Sell third script and have enough money to make my own movies.

    Yeah, the pipe dream of many to be sure, but it's how one achieves things, to dream. The scripts to be sold aren't necessarily the ones I have written now. I have more stories already and each script is more well written than the last. I would love to see this second script made into a movie though. It hasn't been done before. Then again, neither has my first story.


  4. Ok, put my name at the end. I wanted to mention that because anyone else reading this now would say "Hey, but he did put his name on it....." ;-)


  5. Steve - just reading this inspires me! It just goes to show that if you really want something and are passionate about it - you aren't going to make excuses about why it can't be done - instead - you are going to get it done no matter what it takes! You are the type of person that is a dream to work with. Best of luck with making your short film - I look forward to seeing it, and I really hope you get into a film festival!

  6. Thanks a lot Nikki.

    Not having much money early on in life taught me how to maximize what I did have. McGuyver would be jealous.

    The Mad Max Interceptor was my dream car but I figured it was specially made for the movie from scratch and thus I would not be able to have one. Only 24 years later I learned it was built from a production car. Two months after that I put a deposit down for a company to find me one in Australia. That dream is now coming true. It's in my garage. Luckily I was getting a lot of overtime then. :P

    My filmmaking dreams will come true too, one way or another. You two are a big help in that just by being available and open. Thanks for that.

  7. Thanks Maria. Originally it was a 6 cylinder car. Other than the body, I completely rebuilt that car with an all new suspension, new chrome, replaced the rear axle with a prepped 8" axle, built the 331 stroker engine, designed and machined custom parts for the engine and billet aluminum speaker grills for the rear parcel shelf, installed the headliner, customized the engine compartment....basically everything. It goes as good as it looks, if not better.

    Wanna go to a cruise in the car? Here's a video taking the car to a cruise and bringing you along with us.

    If you don't want to go for the ride, or see all the great cars at the cruise and just want to see the Mustang, go to 3:48 minutes in the video and get the walk around. However, besides checking out other cars we also see people stopping by the Mustang to check out the engine compartment and comment. At the end of Part 2 is a priceless scene where a young woman likes the car and makes a "hubba hubba" kinda dance in front of it, then her boyfriend points out the camera that caught her act!

  8. Wow, thanks for that ride. Gives me some encouragement to get out and give my 71 some attention!!! Thanks! = )

  9. Glad you enjoyed it. I'd love to see pics of your 71.