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A Night on Magnolia Avenue

I'm currently a film studies student and my latest class explored filmmaking by actually making a film to explore the technical aspects from the inside. It's been a nightmare with COVID and don't have access to the fancy lab equipment, so I ended up postponing this class for later. But, I continued my own self-study using the book from class as well as various online learning tools.

I asked the Scream Team to help me shoot a short at their fancy-spooky Victorian mansion. This worked out since Britta wanted a promo video for Halloween. In one week, Britta wrote the shooting script, we filmed it over 14 hours one Saturday, and then I edited it over the week. Just like that we had a silly spooky short, learn a lot, and had fun making it.

This was meant to be an educational experience and there was definitely a learning curve. I understand the need for a full crew as we all wore too many hats. I have a newfound respect for the industry and have seen first hand what it could be like "on set" with script problems, lack of equipment, working with passionate actors, and managing well-meaning producers. For my next amateur project, I will need to remember my biggest takeaways from this project:

  1. Polish the script before shooting and write in all possible actions, sounds, effects.

  2. Storyboard all action and plan your shots.

  3. Block & rehearse well ahead of shooting to let actors work out their process.

  4. Shoot over several days & don’t exhaust the talent.

  5. Sound is key – use a boom mic & hire person dedicated just to sound.

  6. Learn video editing software well and feel comfortable with the basics.

  7. Slow down and get it right – you cannot fix it in post!

Without further ado, here is my first short: A Night on Magnolia Avenue.

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