Want To Be A Professional Filmmaker? Avoid These 6 Things

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A production team (cast and crew – hired by the Production Company or producer) is composed of people from different backgrounds and talents who combine their expertise to tell one story. These people are responsible for overseeing the production process. Each one of them is assigned a part of the production process according to their expertise and talent. There are various factors that need observation by the team to make a production successful. Jenet Agbor, a born and bred Cameroonian filmmaker presents her views on the Dos and Don’ts in the film production process in  Africa by Africans, especially 237.

Dos and Don’ts, 237 Filmmakers.

Jenet’s View!

There is always a unique dream behind every film project, so does the production process. The recognition of the uniqueness in every project is important in making the project successful. However, in the few productions that I have been part of or witnessed among some born and bred African filmmakers; I have identified similar mistakes that they make. Whether they are aware of these mistakes or are just ignorant is a question well known to them. They tend to be blind to the fact that such practices take down the projects and lead to wastage of time, talent, and money.

Things TO AVOID during film production

The knowledge of filmmaking is mostly not gotten from the classroom but from the production process. Without this knowledge, talent is useless and creativity is disturbed. Some born and bred African filmmakers lack adequate knowledge on the production process and especially the responsibilities of each team member and ethics in the production process which calls for professionalism. With adequate knowledge, some of the common flaws in such an African film industry can be avoided. The following are some of the don’ts for these sets of African filmmakers.

1. Bringing personal issues and forming cliques on set

Avoid taking personal issues with someone on the team to the set. Onset is about the characters in the story not about the person you know. The production team is like a new family to that project, so it should be approached with a new vision that is different from our personal lives. During a project, everyone is playing their roles to tell a story that is different from who they are in real life, so bringing personal issues causes distraction and makes the cast lose focus.

2. Correcting Co-actors

As an actor, it is not your duty to jump in to correct the mistake of another actor on set, except when you are playing both roles. Otherwise, this is the job of the Directors. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute your idea, but any contribution needs to pass through the Director/Producer or D.O.P. Talking directly to your co-actors on set makes them feel bad and lowers their spirit which affects their performances. If you have to say something to your co-actor about their performance as an actor, tell them in private and during breaks not on set.

3. Asking or Explaining Things to the Wrong Person and Time

Each team member has their roles and job descriptions. Actors focus on their character and instructions on how to put themselves in the characters. Each crew member works with their job descriptions to see how to best present their character’s role to tell the story. The D.O.P doesn’t have to explain every single move of the camera to the actor on why they have taken a particular angle or shot. Fellow actors too don’t have to explain their moves to other actors as this is a waste of time and confuses the set. However, this doesn’t mean that team members cannot learn on set. But learning the wrong way at the wrong time is not learning at all. The production set is a school on its own. Thus, if an actor has a question to ask the D.O.P or fellow actor, they should do so off-set.

 

4. Diverting the Filmmaker’s Point of Focus

The Production team is there to make the dream of the Director/Producer come true. When you are called to participate in a project, you should fit into the vision of that project. Avoid trying to influence your own story at a time when you are supposed to be discussing how to achieve the goals of the present project. Diverting the filmmakers’ point of focus causes a waste of time and resources. This does not mean that discussing your project is bad, but doing it in the context of another project is wrong. The present team is hired by the producer for his or her project and that should remain so. When you are done with the present project, you can hire the production team again to focus on your project.

5. Mixing tradition/religious beliefs with the profession

Before signing a contract for a project, you should read and make sure that the project does not contradict your tradition or religious believes. Don’t take a character only to come on set and change the design because your tradition or religion doesn’t allow you to dress in a certain way, or engage in certain acts. For instance, if your religion doesn’t allow you as a woman to put on trousers don’t take the role of a police officer; if your tradition doesn’t allow you as a man to take instructions from a lady and the director of the project is a lady, turn down the project than signing it because of money and fail to take instructions from her.

6. Taking People’s Projects for Granted

Before a producer calls for a project, he or she has a dream. Don’t use someone’s project to practice on new software you have just learned online or to taste your new camera tricks. The producer has put in a lot of money for this. Get your own script or buy one from an upcoming writer to do your practice. That is one of the reasons we have student categories when we submit films to festivals. Don’t waste other producers/Directors’ money and time with untested skills.

Experience is a great school!

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