Furry Film Festival - F3

F3 Film Shoot 1

Tips in assembling a filmmaking team and producing a great film

Now that F3 has officially opened for submissions, furs now have around 6 months to produce a short film for the festival. But what’s the best way of approaching this task? This article will share some great tips on how to prepare your ideas and bring them to life!

Coming up with an idea

Remember, our theme for this year is “The Future”. You don’t need to take this literally, and you are free to interpret it any way you like. Your short film idea should be something that you’re passionate about, and a story you want to tell. Any genre is accepted, even documentaries and animations. If you have an idea, feel free to brainstorm how you could bring it to life with others. Sometimes you can tell a great story with very little. Is your film going to be all visual? Perhaps it’s about the dialogue? Does it focus on one character or a group of characters? Does it have a narrator? Are you trying to make people laugh, or cry? If you can ask yourself these types of questions, you may find yourself on the right track.

Finding the right skills

The furry community is one of the most creatively diverse out there. Whether its artists, animators, designers, musicians, tech-minded gadget swingers, performers, it’s really amazing the sheer range of talent. Filmmaking borrows on all of these disciplines, because when you make a movie it’s not just the filming, it’s the script, the acting, the editing, the music, and so much more. It’s very rare that one lone wolf would be capable of all of this, so if you have an idea for an F3 submission, you may want to start assembling a team.

 

We actually have an official telegram chat for this purpose, where furs can network with others and source the talent they need to bring their idea to life. Let’s say you’re a fantastic camera operator, but not so savvy with the editing… you’re going to need a good editor to help you out!

 

Here’s the telegram group which is a good place to start: https://t.me/joinchat/FpHd60shJVX2upp4VDnd8w

 

But it may also be good to hit up your local furry communities, social groups, and telegram chats as well. Maybe even discuss this at your local furry events and outings? While many of these responsibilities can be done remotely (for example, your editor could be in a different country, and you simply send them to raw footage to work with), there’s a lot of these responsibilities that need local contributors.

 

To help you identify the types of roles you may need for your production, here’s a good list to start with:

 

Production:
  • Screenwriter (comes up with the story and writes the script)
  • Director (directs the actors, actions and the shoot)
  • Assistant director (provides assistance for the actors and helps with scheduling and planning)
  • Producer (this person is responsible for “making things happen”, and often communicates with all the relevant providers of props, equipment, locations, etc.)
  • Cinematographer/Director of Photography (also known as a DoP, who arranges the lighting, look and feel, and framing of the shots)
  • Sound recordist (if you’re not recording directly onto the camera itself or need a boom mic, you’ll need a dedicated recordist or boom operator)
  • Actors (naturally, to bring your story to life)
  • Assistants (a team of additional crew to help assist the film shoot, provide water and food, transportation, handle equipment, etc.)
Post Production:
  • Editor (cuts together the footage from the shoot)
  • Colorist or VFX artist (applies color grading to give your film the appropriate look, and/or adds in visual effects)
  • Animator (if your film is animated or has animated portions, 2D or 3D, you would need an animator or a team of animators)
  • Sound designer (to create the soundscape for your film, such as sound effects, atmospheric sound, dialogue or ADR, mixing, etc)
  • Music composer (to write or assemble music for your film)

Those are the basic roles. There is typically more roles for larger and more advanced shoots, but those are the basics. However, your shoot does not have to fill all of them. This is just a good place to start. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find folks to fill all of these responsibilities. It’s totally acceptable if somebody is willing and able to pull double-duty.

F3 Camera

Finding the right equipment and software

The good thing about modern technology is just how far things have come, and how much more accessible everything is. For example, your modern iPhone can capture 4K video (3840 x 2160 pixels of resolution). Add a relatively inexpensive clip-on wide angle lens, and perhaps a steadying gimble to hold it with and you have a fantastic camera solution. However, the more expensive you want to get with your gear the more options you will have for getting the shots you want.

 

This is where networking also comes into play. There are likely already a handful of furs out there who own or have access to fantastic filming equipment. From mid-level DSLR cameras capable of video, thru to high-end Red Cinema cameras capable of 8K. It all depends on accessibility, availability, and cost. Remember that you don’t have to buy this equipment, you can rent it out for a weekend. In fact, a nice Blackmagic cinema camera with a simple 35mm lens kit may only set you back $300 for the weekend. Sure, that’s a decent chunk of change… so you will have to ensure you are able to manage your budget for the production when taking these expenses into account. There are less advanced cameras (which are still better than a modern iPhone) for less money (maybe $100-200 for the weekend) you can use. Also, many modern DSLR cameras have fantastic video capabilities, so if you own a DSLR camera, odds are it can do video too.

 

The same goes for post-production equipment and software. One thing to keep in mind if you plan to rent out some of the more expensive and advanced cameras: these may also require a very robust editing setup. Take the Red cameras for example: if you shoot in the RedRAW format, the bandwidth required to simply ingest and edit this footage is insane! Granted, most editing software is capable of what is called “proxy editing”, where you edit with a low-res version of the footage, and then switch it back to the source quality upon export. But don’t expect to be able to handle this kind of workflow on your i3 netbook! Once again, network! There are a lot of furries in the community who are also gamers and content creators, and likely to have access to a powerful computer that could get the job done.

 

The software is also important to consider. While there are some entry-level editing suites available (sub $100) like Premiere Elements, iMovie, Hitfilm Express, etc. you may find these lower end suites limited, much like you would with lower end camera equipment. Entry level edit suites are great for basic editing, simple color grading, and titles, etc. But if you want to get more advanced to give yourself the capabilities to do more with your footage, you would be looking at a pro edit suite like Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Avid, Vegas, etc. All of these are quite expensive (100s to 1,000s of dollars), but many offer a subscription model to use them, so you only need to pay to use it for the month or two you are editing your film. Also, check with your friends to see if they may already have a copy of this software and could either edit the film for you or loan it to you.

Consider your formats

This is slightly more technical but very important: What format are you going to shoot and deliver your film in? Keep in mind, if you make it through to become one of the 10 finalists, your film may be on a HUGE screen. Some of the most common formats to shoot film and video with is HD (1920 x 1080 pixels – or “1080p”) or 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels – or “2160p”). In terms of framerate, the widely considered “cinematic” framerate is 24 frames per second. But you’re not limited to this… some folks may want to do 30fps or even 60fps. But be aware that due to the long-existing and widely accepted cinematic format of 24fps, anything above this could lose its “cinematic look”. Not that we agree with that… but considering 24fps has been the staple for Hollywood cinema for a very long time, anything different can look “weird” or what people would call “soap opera-ish”.

 

Animation is a different ball game altogether. Sometimes it’s more efficient to animate in a lower framerate, such as 10fps. In which case, you can work in whatever framerate and resolution you want. Just know that your content may be upscaled to HD or 4K if you’re a finalist and your film is shown on the big screen at the premiere.

 

F3 Audio Workstation

Music and sound plays a huge role

Many amateur filmmakers overlook the importance of sound design and music. But in reality, it can make up almost half (sometimes more) of the overall experience and atmosphere of the film. It can be very distracting when a film has such beautiful imagery, compelling performances, but terrible or muffled sound with a lot of background noise. Recording live dialogue is difficult and even worse if you have to consider the muffled voices talking from inside a fursuit head! If you’re going to record dialogue, perhaps you look into a Lavalier/Lapel Microphone. These small mics attach to the clothing of actors, and in this case, could probably sit inside a fursuit head and be completely invisible. They are capable of wirelessly transmitting sound to the receiver that you plug either directly into the camera or a sound recording device. They offer clear sound and are a great option. Another option is to use a Shotgun Microphone. A directional mic which has a very narrow pickup pattern so you can point it directly at the sources of dialogue and sound with less risk of it picking up interference from other sources. Both can be expensive to buy, so you could look into renting this equipment, or borrowing it from somebody.

 

Another option is what is called “ADR”. This means that you record dialogue on the day, but in post-production and editing, you replace the dialogue with the same lines recorded in a dedicated studio session. For example, your shooting environment may have been noisy and windy, so when doing the sound design you get your actors to re-record their lines directly into a microphone in a studio or an acoustically treated environment and replace your live audio. The only downside with this method is ensuring the same emotion and tone is replicated in the new ADR lines you are using. But, once again, if most of your dialogue is happening inside a fursuit, you won’t have lip-sync to worry about!

 

The same goes for sound effects and foley (the process of creating sounds during the sound design process, using tools on-hand in your studio environment). There are also many good sound effects libraries out there, including many free sources of sound effects online, even YouTube! So if you’re savvy with your edit suite or sound suite, assembling a soundtrack with these effects and dialogue will really improve the overall impact of your films’ sonic landscape.

 

As for music, it’s important to note that we will not accept any films that contain commercial music, or music that was sourced from other artists or performers without their permission. So if you intend on using music from another artist, be prepared to provide us with a signed release form showing us you got the appropriate permissions to use that music. There’s plenty of royalty-free stock audio sources available too. Simply Google “royalty-free music”, and you’ll find a huge collection of websites dedicated to providing stock music. For as little as $10 per track, you can buy the rights to use a piece of music in your film, and there’s a HUGE amount of tracks to choose from, including epic orchestral scores. Or, you could ask a fellow fur who happens to be a talented musician or composer to write music for you. That way: not only will your music be specifically catered to your film, but you won’t have to worry about the rights to use the music.

Conclusion

Overall, there are a lot of ways to become inspired, network to assemble a team and explore your ideas with a vast range of tools that cater to virtually any budget and experience levels. There’s literally no excuse for not giving it a try. So if you have an idea or a skill, but require some assistance: reach out! Odds are you will find more than enough resources, motivation and willing participants to bring a wonderful idea to life.

 

The only thing left to say is: See you at the festival!