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Shooting a Feature Film on the weekend – Making your dream feature film now.

October 16, 2013 by · Comments Off on Shooting a Feature Film on the weekend – Making your dream feature film now. 

Today, I would like to talk about the holy grail of Film Making, The Feature Film.

Cast an Director on The Makeover

Cast and Director on “The Makeover”

Some of you may feel like the Feature Film Production is an impossible task, only for the lucky determined few who can navigate the funding bodies and Distributors.  Today, I would like to talk about the possibility of making your feature film as soon as you can.

Of course, one should always learn film making via making short films first.  The reason for this is that it is an inexpensive way to learn from your mistakes and gain the valuable experience to make an idependent feature film when you have the experience of making successful short films.

Our Mini Jib used on  The Makeover

Our Mini Jib used on “The Makeover”

However, when you are ready to make a feature film, it can seem like an impossible task.  I would like to talk about the Weekend Feature Film. Many film makers have used this approach in the past.  The reason is that it is a very inexpensive way to make a long format film.

In 2007, we decided to take that approach and make a feature film on the weekend with no budget raised.  Instead, we cash flowed the film as we made it.  We made this a very enjoyable challenge.

Over 14 months, we shot our 95 minute feature film, “The Makeover”.  It took ten weekends with an average of three shooting days per shooting weekend.  Therefore, we shot on thirty days over 14 months which was the equivalent of 30 Shooting Days or a six week shoot on a normal feature film.  This shooting schedule is adequate to make a professional feature film.  We started at Easter, 2007, and completed it in May, 2008.

One of the few scenes that was cut from the completed film

One of the few scenes that was cut from the completed film

I did not complete post production till mid 2009 and then hit the festival circuit and promoted the film.  It was tremendous fun and in the end we had a saleable product.  However, the best part was the cost.

Each three day weekend Shoot cost, on average, $3000 which was saved and cash flowed on every weekend.  The total shoot cost was $30,000 spread over 14 months.  Most Indie feature films have budgets ranging from $1million – $20 million.  The Australian feature film, “The Sapphires”, cost $10million.  So how would you like to shoot a film for $30,000?

Scary Shot over Balcony 16 Floors High

Scary Shot over Balcony 16 Floors High. Yes, it was worth it.

Yes, one has to be clever and get most locations for a contra promotion and for Zero cost.  We owned our own film equipment to the value of $20,000.  All our crew were co- owners of the film and therefore contributed their time and effort to the film they part-owned.  Yes, one had to be clever and determined. However, money was not the barrier.

The point is that it is far better to be making a film than talking about it.  One can make a micro budget feature on the weekend while raising a budget for the $1 million dollar film and have two projects on the go.

Once again, I must add that we shot ”The Makeover” for $30,000.  However, Post Production did cost a considerable amount after the shoot and had to be cash-flowed.

  1. I edited the film myself (Free)

    Cafe Scene The Makeover

    Cafe Scene “The Makeover”

  2. I paid my composer $5,000
  3. I paid my Sound Post person $5,000
  4. Colouring cost $5,000
  5. Final Post and Deliverables were $10,000

Yes, the above five elements cost another $25,000.

Now let’ s mention the promotion and sales over two years.

  1. Film Marketing Materials cost $5,000
  2. Film Festival Entries were $7,000
  3. Film Markets and Promotions cost $25,000
Shooting Bar Scene The Makeover

Shooting Bar Scene “The Makeover”

This totals another $37,000.  Other expenses relating to the film included Censor Rating and other issues to the value of $15,000.

The Total Budget in the end was $103,000 cash flowed over four years.

This is still very inexpensive.  If I was to make the film again on the weekends I could do this slightly cheaper, knowing what I know now.  But not by much.  Here is what I estimate it would cost now if one owns their own film equipment.

1.  Shoot  $30,000
2.  Post    $30,000
3.  Marketing and Promotions  $30,000

Directing Cafe Scene The Makeover

Exterior Manly Beach

How did “The Makeover” fare in the world market?

Film Festival Screenings
1.  Cannes Independent Film Festival 2010
2.  New York Film Festival Best Comedy Drama 2010
3.  Screening American Film Market, Los Angeles 2010

Sales Worldwide

  1. Australia: DVD Release in Australia and New Zealand in all DVD Blockbusters and shops
  2. Europe: Pay TV
  3. America: Pay Per View Cable
  4. ITUNES Movie Release 2011 US only
  5. VOD available on many different VOD Platforms

Top 10 Movies on YouTube for 2012-13
As of today, the film has been watched on Youtube 1,084,196 times.On Set The Makeover

In my opinion, this is not that bad for a film that was shot on $30,000.  In 2007, one had to shoot on the most basic of cameras, if one was shooting on a low budget.

Today, one could shoot their film on a Cannon C300 or if one can on the Red Epic or Scarlet and shoot a film that looks like a big budget film.  If you want to learn how to shoot a your film professionally and make a film for a very low budget, please enrol on the 4 Month Film School.

In any case, I am looking forward to shooting my next film “Absolute Freedom” on close to a million dollars in the outback with the Red Camera.  Please follow the adventure via this blog.

If you made it this far, please watch the trailer for “The Makeover”.

“The Makeover Trailers –  100 minutes Feature Film 

The Makeover won Best Comedy Drama at the New York Downtown Film Festival.  The film was also sold to Pay TV in Europe and has come  a viral success on the net.








29 Days to Screenplay Heaven.

September 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on 29 Days to Screenplay Heaven. 

Its taken 29 days exactly to complete the first draft of  ’Absolute Freedom’.  In the hope of helping you with your own projects, I would like to share my own experience writing the screenplay.

Writing the Final Scene for the screenplay Absolute Freedom Date 19th September

Writing the Final Scene for the screenplay Absolute Freedom Date 19th September

Before ‘Absolute Freedom’, I have written 7 full length feature screenplays, two of which have been made into movies.  My third  will be ‘Absolute Freedom’ which will  be produced in 2014.  Here are my observations on my experiences writing the first draft of the  screenplay ‘Absolute Freedom’.

1. It was so much fun this time.

Yes, I cut off the phones and did not look at an email on every single morning that I wrote.  The hardest part was when I had to stop.  This time it was very exciting.  In fact, it was the first time I felt nervous about the day’s writing at the start.

2. The importance of a really good screenplay.

I am very aware that every scene that I write effects a full on crew and cast shooting the scenes in March-April, 2014.  I am also aware that millions of people around the world will see the film.  The creations on the page now are what they will spend part of their life watching as a movie in late 2014 to  2015 and beyond.  I must emphasise that creating an outstanding screenplay affects the whole production process down the line.  If the script is hot, the crew and cast are excited and into the film.  Likewise the opposite is true when the script is lame.

2. Writing pace and stats.  

I started on Thursday, August 22nd, and finished the last page on Thursday, August 19th. Each writing session was about 2-3 hours long.  So you could say that I wrote the screenplay in four weeks.  However, on closer inspection, I averaged about 4-5 pages per day and wrote on average 4-5 days per week.  I took Saturdays and Sundays off.  The total screenplay is 96 pages long so in the the 29 day period I wrote for 21 dDays.

3. The writing zone. 

The most challenging draft is the first draft of the screenplay.  The writer faces blank

The Final Scene Absolute Freedom

The Final Scene Absolute Freedom

white emptiness when one sits down in the morning.  The Director has a screenplay to work off.  The Editor has the shots covering the scenes to work off. The Writer only has his or her creativity.   I believe the writer needs a creative zone seperated from other people and interuptions.  To write well, one needs to dive deeply.  David Lynch expressed his thoughts about the writer’s zone in his recent book.  He compared screenwriting to diving for fish.  In the shallow waters, one only finds small fish.  One needs to go deep, to find the big fish.

I personally wrote only in the morning.  Normal work happened in the afternoon.  When I concluded writing at 12.30pm and had to go to work at International Film Base in the afternoon, I found it hard to seperate from my story.  I personally found that I suffered Left Brain Syndrome where your mind wanted to stay in the very pleasant world of creativity and resisted the drag to Right Brain Reality of logic and organization.

I assume this is why so many writers will cut themselves off from all distractions and find a cottage in the middle of some mountainous valley.  They need to access the zone.

I started the 2nd draft on Monday, 22nd September, and I should have the 2nd draft completed by the end of this week.  All the people who I have promised the script to by the end of the month, shall read ‘Absolute Freedom’ early next week.

To conclude, all the preparation before I wrote the first draft paid off handsomely.  Having my 30 page Story Event Document meant that I always knew where I was going with the story.  Spending time on my intensive preparation was so essential to the writing process on the First Draft of ‘Absolute Freedom’.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on the writing process.



Should I hire a professional DOP or shoot from the hip?

September 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on Should I hire a professional DOP or shoot from the hip? 

UnknownShould I shoot my own film or hire an experienced DOP (Cinematographer)?  This is a question that I am asked by my clients on a regular basis.  So here is my take on this all important question.

I believe that if you do not intend to earn a living from shooting films,  hiring a professional DOP is the best option.  This means you can focus on the job at hand - producing and directing your film.

Most Film Directors have never trained as DOPs.  The Film Directors who make Hollywood films and big budget independent films, always hire a Director of Photography who takes care of the technical aspects of shooting the film.  The DOP in turn will then hire their camera operators on a big budget film.  This is how it has happened since the early days of Hollywood and how it happens today at the top end of Film Making.

images-3In small independent films, the lines between DOP, Camera Operator and Director are more blurred.  One extreme example is El Mariachi where Robert Rodrigos was an all up one man crew directing the film and shooting the film as best as he could.  The book “Rebel without a Crew” is a great read and talks about Robert’s adventure shooting El Mariachi with a crew of only one.

My feeling is this.  As a Film Director, you want to be like the General looking at every aspect of the film.  You want to be like Steve Jobs and have the vision for the project and imbue your vision through to your creative crew.  Hiring an expert DOP will improve the quality of your film dramatically.

Unknown-1Matt Smith hired me as his DOP on “Repressed” (please have a look).  This meant that he could add his vision to my cinematography skills and get the film that he wanted.  I was able to help him get the visual look that was needed for the film.  I spent a full day on the various locations in pre-production planning the shot list.  Matt also had ideas visually for the film and as a result a wonderful collaboration happened with a great result, a short film that looks awesome.  Matt actually edited “Repressed”.  What a great job!

Hiring professionals will increase the success of your film.  Remember the Director in the indie film world will usually get the credit for the successful film and not the DOP or the Editor.  So why make life hard for yourself?

If you shoot the film yourself, it might be  a lot of fun.  However, if you are inexperienced, it is likely that you will make many mistakes and shoot films with lack of coverage, ultimately ending in a poor film.

imagesIf your goal is to use several films learning via mistakes and you are not worried by the results of your film, well this might be a fun way to go.  If your goal is to earn money as a gun for hire DOP, it is important to learn how to be an expert DOP via shooting as many films.

However, if your goal is to become a successful film director as quick as possible, shooting your own films is not a great way to proceed.  Hiring a professional DOP is the way forward and should be part of your production plan for your film productions.

Unknown-3Hiring an experienced DOP Pros and Cons

Pros for hiring a DOP:

  1. You get great shots and coverage for your edit
  2. The Film looks much better and has the professional sheen
  3. You can find a collaborator in the DOP you choose that will stay with you on many future films
  4. It is much less stress

Cons for hiring a DOP:

  1. You might have creative clashes with your DOP
  2. You might feel that  your vision for the look of the film is not adhered to
  3. You might choose the wrong DOP
  4. Good DOPs cost money; all good professionals do

Most of the above cons can be alleviated if you check out your DOP.  Check how you feel intuitively with the DOP when you first meet him or her.
See the films that he or she has shot before.  Do not look at showreels.  See the full film. Make sure their previous work is exceptional as that is exactly what you will get.  A great way to get value when you hire a DOP is to ask them to throw in all the cameras and lights equipment with their labor in a daily capped fee.  This way you can get the equipment as part of the deal.

Unknown-2Trying to do it all yourself usually leads to an amateur result unless you have been trained in cinematography and have shot many low budget short films.  Here are the suggestions for hiring a DOP:

  1. Look at our Services page
  2. Place in Google Search one or all of the following Keywords: DOPs, DOP Agents, Cinematographers
  3. Star Now

However, I highly recommend that you learn as much as you can about cinematography and shot listing for a scene when you are learning film making craft.  This way you will be able to communicate with your DOP and get the result you are after.  One way, of course, of learning about cinematography is to book on to a film school that teaches you all the technical side of film making.  Make sure you get to do all the crew roles.  That is the why we created the ’4 Month Film School’ so you get to sample all the crew roles.  This will ultimately make you a better Film Director in the long run.

Colm O’Murchu      Director

Screenplay Report Week one

August 31, 2013 by · Comments Off on Screenplay Report Week one 

Waterfall Victoria. from recent trip. Amazing enefgy

Waterfall Victoria. from recent trip. Amazing enefgy

Screenplay Update on Absolute Freedom – Week 1 of a 5 Week writing Process.

Once again I am sharing my experiences in creating the 110 minute feature film, ‘Absolute Freedom’.  I am not saying that my writing process is for everyone but maybe you can try some of these processes and see if they work for you.

I started to write the screenplay for ‘Absolute Freedom’ one week ago.  Today is Saturday, 31st August, 2013 and it is the end of Week One.  The Screenplay will be 110 pages long and I am currently at Page 25 with 85 pages still to write.  At an average of about 25 pages per week, I will complete and polish the script by the end of September, 2013.

I am finding the process very enjoyable as I have a 30 page plan called a Story Pillar Map.  Every story event has been worked out in advanced.  Therefore, the process of now expanding to a 110 page screenplay is exceptionally enjoyable.  I find it hard to stop writing at midday and would like nothing more than to continue writing the screenplay.  This detailed preparation has now made all the difference to the writing enjoyment.

The great thing about having the 30 page Story Pillar Map is that there is zero chance of getting writer’s block.  The reason for this is that all the story issues have already been worked out and resolved.  That part of the process took about three months working on it part time, before writing the first page of screenplay last week.

Why am I not writing more than five pages per day?  Firstly, there are corrections at the start of the morning on the material from the previous day.  This also helps me to get zoned into writing the scenes for today.  Four to five pages takes me about 90 minutes – two hours to write.

Yes, if I wrote six hours per day, I would write 16 pages per day making the writing process only 10 days.  And yes, its tempting to get the script written fast.

However, I still have to look after Sydney Film Base, Australian Film Base and International Film Base and oversee our 4 Month Film Schools and write the blog.  There is something productive anyway about writing five pages per day in that one can detail, take time and put everything into the morning session.

I am also very conscious and mindful that every scene is creating work for our crew and cast in March-April, 2014. Every car explosion, shootout and 100 extras is easy to write and rather challenging to produce.  Therefore, I want to make sure that every scene is quality.

We all find our own different processes.  When I am writing the screenplay, the scenes that work always make me feel elated and excited.  On the contrary, the scenes that are not working make me feel listless and frustrated.  This has only happened to me on one scene out of the 45 scenes I have written last week.  I believe that this is due to the intense preparation in advance of writing the screenplay.   When multiple scenes do not work, it is very frustrating and ultimately leads to writer’s block and a depressed mood and trip to the pub to medicate.

I believe the best way to avoid problematic writer’s block is to work on your story Creation and Story Pillars in detail till you feel 100%.  Work with a team of people or one other person that you click with.  Work together on the story. Question every story event till you have found gold.  Then place it as a Story Event in your 30 page treatment.

When we were creating the story for ‘Absolute Freedom’, a story event could sit on top of 5 other ideas for that story event.  That’s five ideas that we dished and excluded from the final story.  Over many a long country drive, walk in the country, Valeska Madrid and I worked tirelessly on the story creation from May-July this year.


Story conference Day

Story conference Day

One other technique I use regularly is this.  I recruit the actors to workshop a Story Event.  I describe the scene and then the actors improvise the scene.  I workshop the scene till I think it is right.  I then record the scene on my IPHONE recorder.  Then when I write the next scenes, I have a feel for the scene that I am writing.  I can even play back the impros and hear the scene.  I may even use some of the dialogue from the impros.

Also, I can check scenes that I have written and workshop them with actors.  Having actors working alongside the screenwriting process is invaluable for me.

My writing process may help you with yours.  Find what works for you.  In the end the goal is the same: a Great Screenplay that attracts finance and excitement and the very best cast.

To summarise my process.

1. Spend time with your creative team creating the story.
2. Story comprises story events and pillars and for a feature film will be approximately 30 pages. This document is called a Treatment or Story Events Document.
3. Write at least 25 pages per week and your screenplay will be completed and polished in five weeks.
4. Recruit  actors to workshop your story events in advance of writing the screenplay.
5. Also, actors can help you with your next draft as you perfect you screenplay.  The actors can workshop your scenes so you can actually see the scenes working.
6. You need an awesome screenplay to make a great movie, so put time and effort into creating one.


Screenwriters Master-Class starting soon Click for details

Now You See Me – Very enjoyable Film

August 27, 2013 by · Comments Off on Now You See Me – Very enjoyable Film 

UnknownNow you see me.  - Film Rave

My Score 8 out of 10 –   Critics 5 out of 10 –   Average Audience 7 out of 10.

Many Critics did not like this film. Audiences responded much better as you see from the score. I very much enjoyed the film and personally found the film very entertaining and compelling. The film had exceptional Film Sets and the cinematography and the editing was at a 10 out of 10 standard. Very enjoyable

Financing Feature Films

August 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on Financing Feature Films 

Steadicam 6It has been a big decision to make. The decision is this. Do I share all our confidental information about the financing of our film, ‘Absolute Freedom’? Do I publish to the world exactly how we are going about making our next film? Many film industry people have advised me not to share. I am going against their advise and sharing.

Why is this?
I believe that the internet has so dramatically changed the world and sharing what you know is part of that process. Yes, I hope you become fans of the blog. Yes, I hope you tell others about this blog who then gain education from my experiences. Yes, I hope that you are all primed for the release of ‘Absolute Freedom’ in late 2014.

I have to say I am very excited about our next feature film, ‘Absolute Freedom’, which at the moment, is well on the way to being completely financed. With about 60% of the $710,000 budget reached, the ease at which this film is attracting financiers is breathtaking. We have had two investors commit $100,000 each and there are multiple $15,000 investments. Also, IFB has invested facilities and time to the value of $120,000.

I believe that the main reasons for this is the quality of the story.
Also, we have our deadline. The fact is this: no matter what, International Film Base will be shooting in the first half of 2014. The Shoot is currently scheduled for March and April 2014. I have that certainty everytime I pitch a high net investor about the film. We are on the move towards that date.

Another reason is our great Business Plan.

You may notice I am setting up links to our Business Plan and that is to show you an example of what you can set up for your business plan for your future films. Also, maybe some of you will get excited and decide to partner me in the great adventure of making my next film.

Today in this post, I would like to outline the different ways of attracting finance.

  1. Government Direct Finance
  2. Market Attachments – Film Distributor Attachment.
  3. Soft Money borrowed against the Producer Offset.

What we are using in our financial plan is the following and none of the above:

  1. Producer Offset
  2. Private Investments
  3. Associate Producer Partnership
  4. Donations
  5. Finder’s Fee with Finders finding finance
  6. Attracting an international name Actor that audiences will recognise
  7. International Sales Agent

Each finance area requires a post in itself. Lets break down the six areas that I am using.

Cars OutbackAustralian Producer’s Offset: (Only in Australia).  I am going to write a post on this area very soon. In a nutshell, the offset produces a 20 – 40% guaranteed return of your approved production budget called the QAPE  (Qualifying Australian  Production Expenditure. That means that your investors are guaranteed that before any sales of your film. This means that your bottom line is here. Sales of the film will then recoup the rest of the budget and move you towards blue sky profit. This is different to the Soft Money option outlined above.

Private Investments: Investors invest as limited partners in your film production. They have no creative control or input outside of financing your film. They want you to look after their investment. The more you do, the better for your next film.

Associate Producer Partnership: We already have several people who have invested as Associate Producers.  For details, go to our Amazing Opportunity Page and you can see all the benefits for the Producer. This is great for investors who also want to be Film Producers and get their first producing credit. These opportunities only come once in a blue moon so the smart emerging film maker will grab this one.

Donation: This is usually for the small amounts of investment. We have a donation page on This is for people who would like to donate $5 to $2 000. Everything helps. We have as of yet not bothered too much with this area. But it’s there for people who want to donate.

Finder’s Fee: I need to write a post on this. The Finder’s Fee is very exciting and some of you may want to play Finance Finder for us.
A Finder’s Fee is 15% Commission on any money raised. This is great for money motivated people who want to make some extra money. Generally these people know wealthy people and they persuade them to invest in your film. This one is really working for us. More detail on this one in the future.

Attracting International Named Actors (INA) into your film: This is a major asset for your film and I believe every serious indie film maker who is making their feature film should look at attracting a named actor. Yes, we are looking at this for our film. With an international name actor, you will attract international sales for your film. This is so important. I will write a post on this later.

International Sales Agent (another post later…. Phew): Having a reputable sales agent attached in advance is of great advantage and will help attract a named actor.

Finance is energy and belief in your film. Make sure you have made three successful short films of your own, learn off the experience of feature films like mine and go for your own feature film as soon as possible. Indie Feature Films make your career.

Indie Film Making Passion from Colm O’Murchu – Director International Film Base

Colm O’Murchu is an indie film maker who loves making films. You can find out more on this page: Please spread the word for this indie filmmaking blog.

Story Creation first- Writing the Screenplay second. This is what we are doing on Absolute Freedom

August 13, 2013 by · Comments Off on Story Creation first- Writing the Screenplay second. This is what we are doing on Absolute Freedom 

One of the main reasons I have decided to keep a regular blog is to highlight the process

Sunday 11th August at the 12 Apostles Victoria

Sunday 11th August at the 12 Apostles Victoria

of creating our next feature film, Absolute Freedom. I want to include what works for the film production. I also want to include what does not work. The challenges are one of the fun parts of making a film and I am sure we will have many on our road to completing the film in late 2014.

So where are we at now in the development process? We have completed the story creation and are about to start on the 2nd draft of the screenplay. Up to recently, my main focus was creating the story for the film Absolute Freedom. We have finally completed the process after months of diligent work.

Creating a story for a 120 minute film is an exceptionally challenging process and many film makers fall down at this very important part of the process.

Its very important to recognise the difference between creating a filmic story and writing a screenplay. There are big differences between the two.

Some writers take on the challenge of writing the screenplay as they are making up the story. This is exceptionally challenging and generally the writer will end up with a very weak story or even worse, end up with writer’s block.

With Absolute Freedom our new 120 minute film, we have spent many a day working on the story. We have what I call Story Pillars. These are  story events that move the story forward.

This is how we train our students to write: breaking the Sreenwriting process in two:

1 Create the story first, story event by story event.  In other words, create your characters and the story plot and movement. Make sure there is strong objective and create extreme obstacles and blocks in the way of the success of the character.

2 Then, after you have spent an exceptionally long time preparing your story, only then write the screenplay.

For example on Absolute Freedom, we have 28 pages with 93 Story Events. When we start to write the second draft of the screenplay, the 93 Story Events will expand to a 115 page Screenplay. Working on the Story first and writing the Screenplay second is an efficient way of working on the story.

When I start to write the screenplay, one of the ways I work is that we cast actors in the12 Apostles Sunset 11th August 2013 roles and then improvise the scenes. We actually record the scenes and then write the scenes and the dialogue from the improvisations. This is a very effective process and really guides the writer to write scenes that work.

This is the process that we are working on at the moment with our script. I have just placed a casting in Star Now and with the help of the very best actors we will now workshop and write our screenplay over the next five weeks.

This process saves a dramatic amount of re-writing and creates exceptionally real screenplays.

Everyone has a different process for writing their screenplay. There are no rules or guaranteed formulas to make the screenplay work. However, it is advisable to work on your story first before actually writing a 120 page screenplay.

Indie Film Making Passion Blog launched on Monday August 5th 2013

August 2, 2013 by · Comments Off on Indie Film Making Passion Blog launched on Monday August 5th 2013 

ColmO’Murchu.Com  launches as an official blog today,Monday, August 5th.  Colm Sing

For some years, I have regularly written to people interested in my film courses and I have found that I have enjoyed the process immensely. Finally, I am expanding and creating a blog for the indie film world.

The Blog is about Indie Film Making Passion. Please feel free to take a preliminary preview. The blog content will be updated once per week over the future.

The content I intend to cover will include the following:

  • Case Study: the Making of our $710,000 feature film, “Absolute Freedom”
  • Indie Film Making Advice
  • Film Raves – My favourite Movies of 2013 and beyond
  • Podcasts with other film makers and film experts (Yet to be started)

Yes, it will be a great place to visit once per week. Of course, as you are on our mailing list you will be the first to receive our weekly content.

Please feel free to pass on the details to your friends and network as this will be a great source of information and content for the Indie Film Maker and the film enthusiast. I will also be very happy to make the site interactive with your comments on the bottom of each entry. Please feel free to comment.

Here are the details of the Blog Breakdown.

1 Indie Film Making Advice
This will be advice for the Indie Film Maker. Whether you are a short film maker or a feature film maker or a film enthusiast, this blog will clarify the indie film making process and the sales process.

2 “Absolute Freedom” Case Study
This will be a blow by blow account of my experience of making “Absolute Freedom.” This is our new $710,000 feature film for the world market. The film will be shot in the USA and the Australian outback. This will be a film worth following. This part of the blog will be excellent for the future film maker who wants to make feature films that sell. Also for fans of the film or the film making process, this case study will be a wonderful education in the film making process. You can find out more about “Absolute Freedom” on both theses pages. 

3 Film Raves – my favourite films of 2013 
This section will be updated when ever I see in the cinema an awesome new film. I will not update films I do not like or I think are average or only luke warm fare.

I will need to score the movie at 8 out of 10 or more. Of course there is subjectivity in every choice of film. However, I believe that you will be guaranteed to love about 80% of what I love. Please have a look at some of the films I have liked in the last few months.

4 Podcasts  (starting soon)
The podcasts will be great to listen to while you are doing some activity such as the gym, exercise or  driving. The podcasts will consist of interviews  with successful film makers or a podcasts directly from me about the film making process.

I look forward to your comments and feedback on the content on this blog and I hope I can inform you about the process, challenges and best practices of Indie Film Making over time.

Colm O’Murchu

Director International Film Base

8 Reasons you should attend a Film Course

October 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you want to be a Film Director?

Here are five reasons to enroll on a high quality Film School

Actors Acting on one of our Four Month Course Production

You learn how to make films professionally.

Many people try to do it all on their own and they end up making the same amateur mistakes. These mistakes tend to make their film efforts look amateur. I see it time and time again. Film Makers who make film after film and wonder why they are never getting into A List film festivals or getting a great reaction from their audience. Without the correct instruction, this film maker can end up permanently grounded.

The main problem areas are

  • Sound
  • Poor Acting
  • Shot narrative
  • Post Production

2  The second reason to enroll on a Film Course is the networking. You meet like minded people and

Filming on set

this will accelerate your progress dramatically. There is nothing like meeting people with a similar passion. Many people on our courses end up collaborating on film projects after the course. One person ends up as the producer while the other is the Director and another person ends up writing the film. These people create a core film production entity. There is so much power in these combinations.

I remember when I was in Film School years ago, three of us got together and in record time we had a $25,000 budget and  a 20 minute short film produced. Back then,  it was hard to raise the budgets needed to make films. You had to shoot on Super 16 mm film stock and edit on steenbacks using film print. You had to hire a negative matcher who cut your negative using your edit decisions from your work print. All in all it was an expensive process back in 1992.

Somehow within six months we had made a film with a very big cast. There was a Grip and Gaffer Crew and as a young film maker, I thought all my Christmases had come at once. We had Cranes and Tracks and basically all the frills of a big budget film shoot. and this was all as a result of two other people I met on a Film Course.

Today,  the Camera Lights and Sound and Grips Equipment has come very inexpensive.  Today everything has changed.

3  Knowlege of what Film Equipment you need.

This is the third reason you need to attend a Film Course. You need to know what equipment to use. You need to know what the best lowest priced equipment you need for your film shoots after the Film Course ends. This part saves you thousands of dollars.

You need to know what the best Camera is to use on your shoot. You need to know the best sound equipment to obtain. You need to know the best lighting combinations.  There is a lot to learn but it can be learned very quickly on a high quality film course.

When you attend a course like ours, you learn all about the best equipment to use and whether you should buy or rent after the Film Course.

4 Training

This is one of the most important reasons to attend a film course. You learn how to make a film using our FIlm Equipment.

You learn how to

  • operate a Film Camera
  • create a Shot list
  • how to direct actors
  • how to get the best location sound
  • how to light a set effectively.
  • and much more

On a really good film course like ours, you learn how to make a film by actually shooting a real film. You get to do all the crew roles and get some experience in all the areas. This ultimately makes you a better producer or director or writer.

5 The Accelerator.

A really good film school accelerates your film career dramatically. You learn how to make a film ten times faster meaning that over a six month period  you gain years on the competition and put yourself years ahead of the people who are trying to do it all on their own.

6 Great Times

I always remember my Film School years fondly. When you were learning how to make films, you are finally living with your passion and moving towards your dreams. Many times we hear from our film students about how profoundly their year has changed. They tell me how many times their lives are transformed by doing something worthwhile and how it is wonderful to live life actively involved in their passion.

7 Mentorship.

When you get involved with professional film makers, many times they will help you and act as a mentor. If you are a talented emerging film maker, your talent will shine and the organizers of the film course will take notice and want to help you.

8 The In Club and Work

When you have successfully completed our film courses, you will be invited to join our In Film Club. Here you will hear of job opportunities and film projects. Here you will also hear of DOPs and other crew and actors that you will need to make your film happen.

So for these 8 reasons, it is a really a great idea to enroll on our top quality Film Course. Check out the 4 Month Film School 


Till next time have a great one

Colm O'Murchu

Director Sydney Film Base

The Film Editor- The Real Star of Film Production

September 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

POST: The Film Editor is the true star of any Film Production

Today, I want to focus on The Film Editor.

Learning all about the Tools of the Trade

This morning I read all about the Oscars.  Kirk Baxter, an Australian, has just won back to back Oscars. Kirk won last night for the film " The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. *  Yet it hardly makes the papers.  For many people, film  editors are these nerdy characters who spend way too much time in small rooms. Yet in reality they are the true stars of any Film Production.

Tropfest was one of the big film events in February.  Tropfest is the worlds largest film festival which takes place at the Domain in Sydney. On the Saturday I attended Tropfest Roughcut with about 150 other film makers.     Speaking at the event were non other than

Geoffrey Rush, Actor (The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Caribbean)
Kieran Darcy-Smith, Director (Wish You Were Here), Actor (Animal Kingdom)
Jason Ballantine, Editor (The Great Gatsby, Wolf Creek, Wish You Were Here)

Jason Ballantine is certainly one of the most talented Film Editors with a raft of great film credits all ready attached to his name. Yet he is very humble.  Yet, he is one of the most important  creative people working on Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio

I always find it amazing that Film Editors never get the credit that they are due. I am going to be controversial and say this the Film Editor is the single most important crew member after the Film Director.

Many outsiders do not realize the following fact.   The Film Director will spend most of his or her life in post production. The Shoot might be only 6 - 10 weeks while post production will often consume about 9 months after the film is finished. Peter Jackson spent just over  a year shooting the Lord of the Rings trilogy and then spent three years in Post Production.

It is the attention to detail in Post Production that pays off. If time is spent on post production, this will dramatically make the difference between a  really good film and an average film.

Let me clarify Post Production. Post Production includes the

Picture Edit (today's subject)
Colouring and Grading
Visual Effects
Sound Postproduction
Conforming formats such as DCP.
The Film Director is involved with all of the above.

Booming and getting the very best location sound

On the film set, the film director only gathers the building blocks of  the film and of course it is very important to get the very best building blocks. However the edit and full post production is where the film is made. There is a gulf of difference between a really good edit and an average edit. In the former,  the film is dynamic and engaging. In the latter the film stinks and is considered a Turkey.

However the edit is one area that is neglected in the short film arena. Many emerging film makers believe that the film is complete, once the shoot is over.

The mindset is this .....  "Oh yes there is still a bit of editing and music to do but the film is now shot and it will only be a short time till the film is complete."
The emerging film maker  then confronts reality. Post Production can suddenly feel like a never ending process.

Picture Editing  is an art form that  only came into existence when  motion picture was invented back in the late 19th Century.  Before 1896, there were many fine actors who acted in theater  and there were many stories been told in different mediums. Photography had been around for a long time. Music had been around since the dawn of man.

Motion Picture editing only started once we could shoot motion picture.  Therefore it is the purest season of film making. It exists totally out of the need to cut motion picture and create the illusion of a story.

Editing up to the early 1990s was a cumbersome process. I remember my first films back in the late 80s. We used to edit on Steenbacks. We would literally chop the film with a small guillotine and splice it back together with splicing tape. Any visual effects would be chalked on the film print and sent off to an Optical House where the effects would be created.

How times have changed for the better.  We now edit in the computer and anyone can do it from anywhere. I often edit on the airplane when I am on long flights. You will only know the difference great editing makes once  you start to make your own films. One of the areas we focus on in our film schools is Post Production. A large part of the course is dedicated to post production with 5 sessions spent finishing the film.

Many emerging film makers find the shoot so exciting and fun. The adrenalin is running and once the film is shot, they then are

Course Production Filming on Set

confronted with post production which is insular and slow.  Suddenly there is only two people.  The Director and the Editor sitting in front of a computer actually making a film. Not so exciting for many people.

To me personally, editing is one of the best parts of film making.  When one sits down to create magic and a memorable engaging story, the hours fly by.  I believe that if you want to be a Film Director it is important to love this season of film making.

You have a choice as a Film Director.

  1. Learn editing and become an expert at editing and cutting your own short films and anyone else you can volunteer for. I  personally think that if you can learn to edit, it will pay off in the  long run.
  2. Find an experienced or up and coming editor and work closely with them on your films

How do you do this?  The first step is to enroll on a really good film school


Till next time , have a great one.
Colm O’Murchu      Director

* If you have not seen the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, please see it. It is a wonderful film that engages you from the beginning to the end. David Fincher  is at his best in this very engaging thriller set in Sweden

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