A filmmaker's film maker

[Filmmaker Vic Alexander in Cannes]Who is a filmmaker?

A filmmaker is the creative force behind a motion picture film shot on celluloid. If a movie is not shot on film, the materials it is recorded on will disintegrate in time and everything recorded on tape or digital media will start disappearing within a few years, at best, as both the recording and playback technologies become obsolete.

A filmmaker makes sure that the picture negative and sound masters are well-protected and stored in a safe place. Films last for a hundred years and can be rejuvenated and re-mastered. Film is an artistic medium; it is not a mere recording tool. You actually have images on celluloid that you can hold in your hand and see with your naked eye. Digital video is a huge collection of magnetic signals recorded on tape; there is no image. The images that digital video cameras record are processed signals, which in turn must be processed each and every time the movie is shown. If there are any irregularities or glitches, your production is gone. That is why all the major movies that involve massive CGI are mastered to 35mm negative.

The process of filmmaking involves the mastery of story, direction, visualization and stylized craftsmanship. The art of filmmaking encompasses words, poetry, sound, music, dance, painting, movement, form, line and tempo. A filmmaker is an artist who oversees the entire process of filmmaking.

However, digital movie production is now the format of choice for many independent movie producers that came from a television background. Increasingly, the movie studios are putting feature films in the hands of actors who worked in episodic television. As a result theatrical feature films are now an extension of television. The art of filmmaking is dying a slow death, however, because the filmmakers that these television stars are imitating were also working in the film industry and there were still some practitioners of film art spending their last productive years working in television.

Digital movies are increasingly replacing films now, as Hollywood studios are converting to digital production, and soon even theatrical movies will be released all digitally, abandoning the 35mm film release format altogether. This trend has recently been accelerated because of dwindling box office revenues, except for a few blockbuster movies made for children. Movies are increasingly being made as PR and marketing tools for digital games.

Nov. 10, 2011

Film is still the greatest art form ever to be invented, but making movies is the hardest career of them all. It takes a lifetime to be considered good; a filmmaker must be prepared to work in the trenches for a long time before any sort of recognition is expected. Of course, there are all types of movies, some can be achieved without too much trouble. I don't speak of these here; I mean feature films that are screened in movie theaters or the cinema.

While digital technology allows for digital movie makers to produce and exhibit their movies on the Internet easily and quickly, the standard feature film takes from one to three years to complete and exhibit, on the average. The most cost effective way to make theatrical feature films is to shoot on 35mm. As for controlling the quality of a film, shooting in the classical Hollywood style is the only way to maintain the discipline of true filmmaking.

Please review some of the articles on this website and contact me for collaboration.

July 31, 2011

Making movies for the Internet is very exciting, because the audience for an indie filmmaker is in the billions all over the world. No longer can a few companies choke off the artists and the filmmaker who masters the technology to put his or her movies on the world wide web. The cost of doing movies is shrinking all the time, as film becomes cheaper to make and easier to distribute. Although there are thousands of ways to be misled nowadays, a good education in film and experience shall prevail for the hard working filmmakers. Email me regarding rawstock. I sell short ends and long ends. I can save you thousands.

June 2011

The efforts of a filmmaker in the digital age should be to preserve the classical style of shooting 35mm film that was developed in the 20th Century by such great filmmakers as D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, John Houston, Bob Fosse, and Federico Fellini. They nurtured the discipline of making films as a new artform not related to the old arts. Today's digital movie making is essentially an amateur form of communication that will eventually be superseded by newer technologies. Therefore, the goal of the true filmmaker is to make those films that will stand the test of time and survive the avalanche of amateurism prevalent today.

July 3, 2009

I love actors. I try to communicate that to them from the first interview. I treat them with respect from the get-go. Actors perform better when a director understands their concerns.

When I first started out as a filmmaker, after graduating from film school, I was brash; I didn't understand how actors felt. I was only concerned with the shot. I learned the hard way that it's hard to make a movie that way.

After working with actors on a few movies, I found out the human side of acting: why do actors want to act? For many it's that they enjoy playing someone else, some fantasy figure, and doing it well.

It's hard to get into a role and hard to get out of it, so it can be an emotional journey. As a filmmaker, I love working with actors who love acting.

Nov. 27, 2008

The art of filmmaking is fast disappearing as video cameras are being used exclusively for the production of even theatrical movies. The original art of cinema was developed along the lines of shooting with one camera, where the director knew how to break down a scene and direct actors from a single perspective. The rules of scene construction and directing the actors were based on a sophisticated language of cinematic storytelling. With video directors fielding multiple cameras and camera crews, the art of directing itself is disappearing. Multiple camera coverage is a fire hose style of moviemaking, where the editor puts the movie together; it's no longer the director's vision.

Nov. 20, 2008

One of the concepts you have to kill early in your career as an independent filmmaker is "collaboration." When directing a play, collaboration is the way to do it. The playwright, the actors and all the other craftsmen collaborate with the director to stage a play. The great majority of movies made in Hollywood and the rest of the world are photographed or recorded plays. They are not films even if they are photographed on film; they are photographed plays.

To be a real filmmaker, you have to shoot film and carry out your unique vision through to the finished product, which can then be rightfully called a film. If a movie is originated on film, even if exhibited digitally in theaters or on television screens, it's still a film.

Sept. 8, 2008

These are the five essentials of filmmaking: writing, directing, producing, shooting and editing.

To become a filmmaker, you need to master these skills and you must be able to assert your vision over all of them.

This is my advice to filmmakers: you have studied, you have sacrificed, you have paid your dues, now is time to forget about it and start making movies. Theory and planning go only so far, you have got to demonstrate a willingness for adventure. Filmmaking is a journey through uncharted territory. Every project has its own character, it is a unique organism that lives in its own world. You must feel your way around, explore the human soul, collaborate, and when lost, muddle through. The script is the instrument with which you chart your course. The stars lead you on your never-ending quest of exploration.

For my next movie I'm planning to shoot in the felliniesque style. I want to put all my experience as a filmmaker on the line and shoot a movie that uses all the potential of the performers, not just my own. I invite all actors who love to work in the style of Federico Fellini. Old Fellini hands welcome, or if you just love to work in a totally creative atmosphere, send me some information on yourself, perhaps a picture and resume.

There are a lot of independent films being shot in Hollywood and around the world these days. The competition is pushing filmmakers toward more innovative filmmaking. I think this is a good trend, as there are a lot more film festivals springing up in the US. But the film festivals are becoming a form of releasing independent films. This is good for the festival organizers who act as exhibitors. They are getting movies without incurring the cost of production or having to pay anything for screening them. The festivals themselves are not that expensive to enter; however, if you enter enough of them, the cost skyrockets. With few distributors paying advance money to filmmakers, the prospects for even recovering the money invested is rapidly approaching zero. Therefore, the budgets for independent movies have to shrink, and this forces many filmmakers to switch to digital tape. Festivals are now showing digital tape as digital features, and the film labs are disappearing. Soon, the cost of shooting film will become astronomical, because there will not be that many film labs offering year-long services. There is a narrow window of opportunity to make 35mm features in the next few years. It is an exciting time to be a filmmaker!

The Apostle

Guerilla Filmmaker

Filmmaking is a Journey

Film vs. Digital

Digital vs. Film

Shooting 35mm solo

Article on Film Stock

Buy 35mm Short Ends

Investing in Movies

Film bio video

Movie Library IPO

BUTTERFLIES IN THE WIND

THE RED QUEEN

Actorfest 2011 Backstage

Red Hill was shot on rawstock ordered from this website - see trailer of RED HILL by Patrick Hughes

NAM (Tiger Cage) trailer

Workshop

$25,000 movie

Co-Production

Auteur

Fellini

Internet Producer

21st Century Director

Independent Studio Production

Butterflies in the Wind

Finding a Distributor

Join

Directing BURT WARD (Robin in BATMAN) in STAR QUEST

NAM with STEPHEN OLIVER and WILLIAM SMITH

Language of Film

Producing Movies in the Internet Age

Production Proposals

Releasing Index Page

[Shooting camera in a snow blizzard]
Why Shoot film?

BUTTERFLIES IN THE WIND had its World Premiere at the Ava Gardner Film Festival in Smithfield, North Carolina, on Sept. 29th, 2007. BUTTERFLIES IN THE WIND is now available in DVD, VOD and download on Amazon.com (Updated Sept. 11, 2009.)

Oct. 14, 2007

Keep shooting, opportunities will come. Filmmaking is the best form of artistic expression.

June 13, 2006

I'm now in production of the THE PLAYERS, A FELLINIESQUE MOVIE (retitled The RED QUEEN). This film will be my first project for the High Definition - Hi Def or HD - market. I'm going to be using different formats and media to generate the footage.

May 8, 2006

Recently I completed the feature film THE WAY TO ONESELF (Renamed BUTTERFLIES IN THE WIND). I shot the movie in 35mm. I'm in the process of marketing the movie now.

Feb. 25, 2006

Now I'm in production of my felliniesque movie THE PLAYERS (retitled The Red Queen). I'm working in the style of Federico Fellini, the great Italian director who broke through and created the pure art of filmmaking. Some of my favorite Fellini movies are La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, And the Ship Sails On.

Mar. 5, 2006

As an independent filmmaker, I'm also looking for great actors, actors who are committed to their craft and loyal to the integrity of a movie project. It's a pleasure to work with such actors, even if they're not famous yet, because eventually such actors become well-known and respected. The same can be said for all the talented people that make up the film crew. It requires dedication and serious intent on the part of every member of a movie crew. I always enjoy hearing from people who love filmmaking. I think it's the greatest art form ever invented.

March 8, 2005

Competing with major studios is possible only on an artistic level. Technologically and financially, there's no way for an independent to compete with them. As a filmmaker, I'm looking for those scripts that are so refreshingly different or compelling that a movie's success can be guaranteed by word of mouth alone. That's a tall order, but a worthwhile challenge for screenplay writers. It takes discipline to write such stories, and sometimes it takes a great writer with tremendous experience.

Feb. 10, 2005

Testing the Auteur Theory

[Filmmaker in Malibu]
Vic Alexander behind the camera at Malibu. Lynn Holly Robertson and Elizabeth Byers from the movie BUTTERFLIES IN THE WIND.

Film QuestTM

My biggest dream is to make movies in exotic locations, working with creative actors and filmmakers. Advancing the state of the art means going the extra mile. As film artists we need to be willing to explore and experiment. Learning the techniques is wonderful, but filmmaking must go beyond technique. You can read about aesthetics in my film book FILMMAKING A TO Z.

[Filmmaker on the Cinemonta 35mm flatbed editor]

Get in production and stay in production

Let's make a movie! How many times you've said that? After 30 years of filmmaking, there's still that moment of excitement when everything comes together and you hold your first production meeting. There's really nothing in the world like it, being on a set of a movie, working with talented people, actors, actresses and crew members. Yet, like everything exciting in life, filmmaking is an expensive and demanding profession. Nothing must be left to chance. All the technical elements must be attended to and production must be planned and executed according to the highest standards of the industry. Finally, the marketing and the distribution of a movie must be arranged with great care. The money that's invested must be recovered, if one is to continue making movies on a long term basis.

Roll Camera!

When you're an independent filmmaker, the most important thing you can do to start making movies is buy your filmstock a little at a time and begin shooting. By working all the time, even if it's four hours a day or a few days a week, you'll notice that in a matter of a few weeks you've nearly completed principal photography on a feature film. You can edit what you have, shoot some pick-ups and tie up the loose ends, and soon enough you'll have completed another movie. The filmmaking process is the same regardless of your budget. When you're an independent filmmaker, don't make a big production out of it, just shoot your movie one day at a time. Don't wait for the millions to roll in or to get picked up by the majors. If you already know how to make a movie, give it a whirl, roll cameras!

Forming a distribution network for independent filmmakers

One of the best ways I know of succeeding in the business is to distribute independent-filmmaker movies co-operatively. I believe in good will among artists. Although it's hard to find people who'll risk everything on movies they believe in to make up a viable group, I'm optimistic that in time there'll be enough of us who'll get together and go to the international markets with movies we feel passionately about.

Enjoy your visit! Just pick one of the hyperlinks below and surf my filmmaker pages for everything you ever wanted to know about films, film production, studios, festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, markets, editing, labs, post production services, film production workshops, raw stock, production packages starting from $25,000, Internet technology-sharing and networking. I offer this page for independent filmmakers living the dream, it's one filmmaker's journey in pursuit of the fine art of filmmaking.

Living the Filmmaker's Dream

Living the filmmaker's dream requires keeping abreast of technological breakthroughs and seeing life in a new way. Some of the ideas that were impossible to realize a decade ago may be possible today, with the new equipment being introduced in motion picture trade shows and exhibits. More opportunities are now open to independents with limited budgets. The commercial film industry has moved toward computer generated imagery and the fantasy genre, leaving the window open for the independents to capitalize on the technology to tell ordinary stories in extraordinary ways. The background to a movie need not be some bizarre other-world. There are many exotic locations or historical settings that one could use with the same computer generated imaging (CGI) technology.

Production and post-production equipment

By maintaining a minimal production capacity, you'll be able to stay focused. Don't let yourself be bullied into projects that don't allow you to grow as an artist. It's not how many films you make that determines whether or not you're a true filmmaker, but what kind of films you make? It's not just a question of what makes money. It's nice to have a successful movie, but more importantly it's doing something that's never been done before, to stretch the envelope, to advance the state of the art. That's why I've remained an independent. So each time I start the same way, to make the most artistic movie that I can, keeping in mind the audience I'm targeting, and it's not been easy fighting off the entrenched commercial interests of the film industry. It's easy to throw in the towel and give the distributors what they want, but it depends on who's putting up the money. If it's my own money, I want to make the movie that I'm proud to put my name on.  I think after thirty years I've gotten better at it. Now I'm looking for that really great script that won't cost an arm and a leg to produce, but that I can sink my teeth into as an artist. In the final analysis, every filmmaker must write his own script, at least once.

Budgeting and financing movies

Remember, for you as a filmmaker, the best investments aren't real estate, stocks or whatever your financial advisor tells you; it's making movies, that's what your best investment is. Of course, you need a place to live ... a place to store your movies, so there's nothing wrong with buying an adequate living space for yourself and your family. It should be a proper environment for yourself as a creative artist, and a place to work on your scripts and personal projects.

While developing my own projects, I don't mind working on other people's pictures, especially friends. I believe in sharing my knowledge and expertise, because other independents taught me everything I know about filmmaking. And one of the best ways to get involved in the film business is being on a movie set. If you want to learn filmmaking from the inside out, I have a workshop program for you.

[Red Queen DVD art work]THE RED QUEEN is my quintessential felliniesque movie. It was an incredible experience for me to shoot it. You can buy a copy of the movie on DVD via PayPal, signed by the filmmaker, $25 (includes shipping.)

Short synopsis: A rock-n-roll musical that will take you on a journey of self-discovery and profound revelations in an incredible world of dance, music, and underground culture. Click here to read the Long Synopsis and watch the trailer.

[Filmmaking A to Z by Vic Alexander]

Now you can buy the book

signed by the filmmaker.

FILMMAKING A TO Z is the best how-to film on the Internet. It is written by true indie filmmaker Vic Alexander based on his experience of four decades in independent filmmaking worldwide. It covers five areas of filmmaking: script writing, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. It takes the potential filmmaker or student of film through all the details of filmmaking: the aesthetics, camera work, crew selection, casting, legal matters, business considerations, marketing, distribution and exhibition.

Site Index