Five keys to cinematic success

Every budding creative artist is dreaming of breaking into the foray of highly regarded filmakers. A star on Hollywood's Boulevard, an Academy award or to be known for creating powerful cinematic projects remain a mirage for most filmakers. While the elite group of filmakers and studios around the world, play a game of "whack a mole", the generic filmaker struggles to break into this "clique". Fortunately, there is a route which is broken down into 5 keys which are foundational to any filmaker's cinematic success:

KEY ONE (The Story): Beyond the special effects, glossy actors and all the ground-breaking soundtracks, every filmaker must realize that every movie is a story, and must be told in a way which people can understand. My golden rule for story telling goes like this: “if you can tell your story in one minute, then it’s worth telling it in 2 hours”. Telling your story to yourself, then to your family and friends and then to your co-workers will enable you to observe whether the world is ready for your story. If you get this first key right, you are ready to move on to the other keys.

KEY TWO (Team): The majority of filmakers know that a great team is a well-oiled machinery. Think of the collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon, Wes Anderson and Bill Murray, David Fincher and Brad Pitt, The Coen Brothers and Frances McDormand, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson. This goes for both actors, technical crew and the entire cinema production process. Choose your team carefully, otherwise they will come back to haunt you. It is a long term relationship.

KEY THREE (Production)
A lot more filmakers get this key right but often they miss the right balance between hiring top class equipment to buying and owning their own equipment. This balance can be easily realized when and if a filmaker thoroughly analyses what he aims to achieve with his/her film. Not all movie projects should be shot with a 4K HDR camera. A VHS handheld camera is enough to capture a “blair witch” type project whilst a SCI-FI movie may indeed require an 8K or 70mm origination. It is very important to discuss these important decisions with your cinematographer or DOP before shelling out thousands of dollars for a camera; and then skip on a 65mm prime lens because of costs. Furthermore, why shoot on 4K when aiming for a “direct to video” output?

KEY FOUR (Money)
Having the resources to make a motion picture is very important. It is important because money allows every filmaker the scope to choose and use the best for his/her production. The one thing studio films excel in, is their ability to pay well and on time. A filmaker’s reputation precedes his/her ability to fulfill this great feat. Having a well thought-out budget which allows you to confidently hire Alfonso Lincoln Ribeiro instead of debt and sleepless nights because you owe Brad Pitt a balance of twenty-million, is the right thing to do.

KEY FIVE (Social)
After all the hard work, you will need to tell people about it and no amount of money can get you the most effective advertisement possible - word of mouth. Luckily, social media, in the right and correct format will get people talking about your movie; most importantly - they will know: where it’s showing, how much a ticket costs, the language, format of the movie and a small snippet. Having a great marketing team will enable your film go places. Viva! Cinema!

About the author: Sal Souza is an International Designer (Cinema, Graphic, Visual, Multimedia, Broadcast Media, Industrial, User Interaction, User Experience) and IT Consultant with expertise in New Media, Web 3.0, IPTV, DTV, Media Production, Product Prototyping, Desktop Software, Interactivity, Mobile Applications, Traditional Knowledge, Geographical Indications and Cultural Goods. He lives and works in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Follow me on @sldsouza

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