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Advice on how to get started?

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Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Advice on how to get started? Reply with quote

So, I'm a pretty big Batman fan, and I'm also a very big movie fan... I love most of the Batman movies, and I've enjoyed several of the fan films people have made, and I've finally decided that I want to get around to making my own. I was hoping that people with experience in making their own Batman movies could help me out.

I'm going into the mindset that I probably won't be able to get started on actually looking for actors or partners or do any shooting for about 2 or 3 years - during which I will spend saving money for production and writing a script.

I have an idea of what I want to do, but I've only had a tiny bit of experience with film... I'm taking an acting class right now, however.

I'm expecting that even if I pinch every penny I get for the time until I can work on it, it's going to be very low-budget, I don't even have a camera or anything yet. So I'm looking around on IndyMogul and things figuring out how I can get decent effects for very cheap. Costumes are probably going to be expensive too.

I will say that I'm very excited about eventually doing this. I have a big Batman collection that will influence me in my creative choices for making this film...


Batman (1943 film serial)
Batman & Robin (1949 film serial)
Batman (1989 film)
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman & Robin (1997 film)
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
Batman: Gotham Knight
Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero
Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker

Comic Books

Batman: Year One
Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: Dark Victory
Batman: Hush
Batman: Cacophony
Batman: The Widening Gyre
All-Star Batman & Robin Vol. 1
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth
Arkham Asylum: Living Hell
The Dark Knight Returns

Misc. Items

Batman: The Animated Series (16 DVDs comprised of 4 volumes)
4 t-shirts
5 posters
Batman: Arkham Asylum Collector's Edition

I'm hoping to get plenty more comics in the future between now and when I get started on the film, including The Killing Joke, Knightfall, Face The Face, No Man's Land, etc.

Can anyone give me suggestions on what I should do about my movie?[/u]
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Scott Hamilton

Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 509
Location: Wichita Falls, TX

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Pretty broad question. Let me know if you have any specific questions on film making... as for what you should do you movie on, write it so that you can actually do it. It doesn't have to be real elaborate... could just be a 3-5 minute short with Batman and a couple of bad guys. In fact, I'd recommend something like that for a first attempt. Make your learner mistakes there, as opposed to in an hour long fan film.

It helps to write it based on locations and props you already have (like a boiler room, a warehouse, an office, etc), and props you already have. It'll save you money.

Spend the money/time on good costumes. Learn a lot about lighting, sound, shot composition, and editing. Seems overwhelming, but you have a fun (and long) road ahead of you. Like I said, practice as much as you can on short films. You can reuse the same costumes, and make multiple shorts. You will learn as you go, and each will be better than the last.

Just my thoughts on it... good luck!
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Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the thoughts! They'll come in handy, I'm sure to hang onto that advice.

I was contemplating doing a few short films just for tests first, but I wasn't really sure yet. Now that you mention it that's probably the way for me to go initially.

I do want my "ultimate" fan film to be above-average length, around at least 40 minutes, but I'm also trying not to do anything TOO ambitious... No dangerous stunts, no rooftop scenes, etc. so it's forced me to really think outside the box as far as Batman goes but at the same time I take it as kind of a fun challenge.

As for current locations and props available, I do happen to be lucky enough to have Two-Face's coin, it came with a special edition of The Dark Knight, I'll try to get a picture as soon as I can... I'm hoping to have him be a major character in my film, too, so that's a nice plus.

Another nice bonus is that there's this place in the city next to mine that seems perfect for Crime Alley, which was going to be a major location of events story-wise for my film; it's this long street that looks real dark and lonely at night, and right in the very middle it has this really small, old movie theater with a turn about half a block away, which sounds very ideal to me for scenes with that area. The only downside is, I was thinking that before I'd be able to work on this movie I'd probably move out of state, but I'm not sure yet, I'll have to see.

The one thing I'm really worried about the costumes aside from the cost (want to get costumes for Joker, Harley Quinn, and Batman, the Two-Face actor could just wear a suit with some makeup) is that I plan to make a very special version of Batman's costume, one that has never been seen or used before. I won't make it from scratch, but I'm hoping to do it by building off of a standard Batsuit and adding onto it with other things I can find. My girlfriend is good with clothes and could probably help me on that.

I'm hoping I can take some sort of film class in college that will help me out in learning the things I need to. Something else I've been wanting to get into the habit to is watching movies that I really like with the director commentary on and watching more behind the scenes things, so I have a better, clearer vision of how certain things are done. Again, not looking for anything too ambitious, but I still like to do my research.

There's also a Party City close to where I live that may be able to help me find some decent props, like those push-in knives that give off the illusion that the lade is actually sinking into something, etc.

Thanks again for the help!
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh here is a good how to get started follow these 2 steps and you are golden

1.dont use the Batman Begins TDK theme
2.dont do a Heath performance.

well if u can keep those out you already won me over.
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Scott Hamilton

Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 509
Location: Wichita Falls, TX

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha, true the Batman soundtracks are way overused. But don't be discouraged against throwing them in there to have something to edit to. Even if it isn't the most original use of music, you can still do some cool stuff with it to set the tone for a good Batman movie. Plus, they are really fun to edit to.

I do agree though, the Heath Joker is way overdone, and shouldn't be attempted... even really good impersonations just fall flat to me.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I checked out the script section, it was very cool... Lots of potential short movies. I don't think I'd attempt any of them without contacting the author first if possible to ask for permission though, that's just something that as a writer I've always been touchy about.

Speaking of music, I had a question, what's the legal aspects of using Batman music or even any general kind of music in fan films? I mean, it's non-profit, so I don't see why it would be a big deal, but I've heard about WB getting pissed over people using the theme from the 1989 Batman film, particularly in the fan trailer adaptation of the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. Yet I've seen tons of fan films sampling from music in all categories and not getting in any sort of trouble that I know of.

In regards to my version of the Joker, I'm mainly portraying him how he was written in the comics, particularly Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" and Brian Azzarello's "Joker", with a hint of my own personal take. He would only very slightly be like Ledger's Joker at all.
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Scott Hamilton

Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 509
Location: Wichita Falls, TX

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check this out regarding the legality of fan films.

Link: (click here)

As long as you aren't selling it, it's totally fine. We had a premier in a movie theatre for our, and 300 people saw it for free. Would have been sweet to charge, and sell DVD's, but generally you don't want to mess with that stuff... although we were very accepting of voluntary donations, as the theatre wasn't free.

Yeah if you have access to a good composer, or can do it yourself, thats obviously more original and gives you more practice for film making in the long run. I still don't think there's anything wrong with using the Batman themes for you movie though, especially if you are just getting your feet wet with short films. Maybe if you ever tackle a big Batman project, you could go original. But in the mean time, I'd say you can go with the Batman scores, but use them creatively. Don't just edit a scene and then drop a music track from Begins over it and hope it works. Lay the song down first and try to visualize how your scene will fit to it (you can do this before you even shoot it). That way your scene will be on beat with the music track, and it will seem as if the score was done for your movie. I agree with Chayden that it does get old to hear the same songs over and over, but if used creatively, they can really help your film.

Oh, and last thing, don't mix scores... don't use the 89 theme for opening credits, then go into Begins or TDK for your first fight scene. I would say, if you use any of the previously recorded Batman scores, to try picking one and go with that.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, Chad Stoops was a pretty amazing Joker! He had just the right unpredictable pitches of mood and activity, it was like no one would be able to tell how far he would go or what he was thinking of... THAT'S what I think Joker is all about.

As for scores, well, I wasn't sure if I was even going to use any Batman film scores, there were at least two movies with tracks I thought would be good for the bittersweet tone I'm aiming for in my film, that aren't overused like Requiem For A Dream:



I wasn't sure about contacting a composer for an original score at first, I thought it would be a big hassle, but if people are as eager as you say I may try it.

I wasn't sure about doing screenings at theaters or comic cons either, I might only do it if it's at the urge of the cast and people who help me make it, I'm sure they'd like some kind of celebratory viewing for their work.

I do have another question though, can anyone point me out to any good advice regarding costume design? As I said before, I intend upon building on a standard batsuit (one of the all-black movie ones, probably a toss-up between the Michael Keaton '89 version of the Christian Bale Begins version) and adding more things onto it to give it a new, different appearance. I've never tampered with any of this kind of stuff before, and I'm assuming I'll have a lot of time on my hands to learn how, so it'd be really nice if I could be lead in the right direction in advance, so the final build looks as good as I want it to for the movie. Camera aside I'm expecting this to be the most expensive part, it may not sound realistic but I'm hoping not to go over $200 for the batsuit...
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Scott Hamilton

Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 509
Location: Wichita Falls, TX

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theatrical screenings are a lot of fun, and a huge pay off! Although they take a lot of work to coordinate and promote. I know that's the last thing on your mind at this point, but here is ours.


Making a good costume for under $200 may be doable, but I'm not costume designer. If you're going with piece of real costumes and adding to it, it will probably get pricy. Ours was over $300, and we didn't even shoot HD. If we had, we probably would have needed to sink more money into it, as more detail shows. I think Thomas got a lot of the pieces for our costume at Brotherhood of the Bat... http://com1.runboard.com/bbrotherhoodofthebat

I'm sure others can help you more on the costume part of it.

And good call on the Requiem soundtrack, there's a lot of good dark tones in there.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't take time to read much of the responses up above, so I apologize if anything is repeated by anyone else.

I have a few tips on casting people for your film; get whoever you can get; friends and family members, even if they are not actors or have any theatrical background experience. It's all about you communicating with your actors and forming a decorous strong and secure bond and chemistry with your actors and make them feel comfortable with what they are doing, what role they are portraying, and what material they are dealing with.

Forming a good connection with your actors will bring out the best of their acting ability and their character will come out and look natural on screen. However, most directors have a different way of working with their actors, this is just how I work with mine.

What I would do to prepare for your large Batman film would do what Scott said above; write and direct a short film. It could be a Batman short or an original short, depending on what you want to do. Practice makes perfect. You can learn a majority of filmmaking techniques and rules here online about shot composition and various things that will be needed for making a film.

Also, don't strive for a certain time length for your film. Just sit down and write. If it turns out well written and it's only fifteen pages, I would stick with it. Don't add scenes that will be unneeded to make it a certain time length because that will make the film drag on and that is definitely not what you want.

As for music, there are many people online who will compose original music for your film for free or for a low price, depending on the scope of your project. I personally would avoid using copyrighted music and material, but that's just me. Use what music fits the mood of your scene, if it's Danny Elfman's score or Hans Zimmer/ James Newton Howard's score.

I personally would not avoid using these soundtracks, even if people say the music is overused. If it fits the mood of your scene, use it. However, if you do use copyrighted music and put your film on YouTube, you risk the chance of having it get removed. Always remember that this is your film and your creation, don't always go along with what others say because that could ruin your own interpretation of the film and the characters within the Batman universe.

Indy Mogul is an awesome tool for cheap DYI filmmaking, like you stated above. Always be sure to take a look on their website or YouTube channel for cheap tricks. And as for costumes, I'm no good at that. Just try and use the clothing and resources you have around you. Maybe just invest in some good lights to light your scenes instead of focusing on costumes, primarily Batman's, because maybe you can then have your Batman actor be concealed in the shadows at all times; that way the camera won't be able to pick up on all of the costume details on Batman. Just my thought.

Scott said the basics that will make your film good; use what resources you have available to you. Use locations you can easily obtain. Use people you know as actors. Borrow equipment from friends and get them involved in your project, whether that being a camera or editing software and applications. Just practice, practice, practice. The more films you make and write, the better they will get. If your first film bombs, don't give up, keep making them.

One last thing, something I always go by from the independent filmmaker, Jim Jarmusch; "Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work will be authentic."

I know this is a very long quote and may not seem correct, but basically just take whatever material that speaks directly to you, in this case it can be previously made Batman films/ fan films, comics, and stories. Good luck with your film!

- Will Phelps
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Bittersweet - Short Film (2009)
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Good artists borrow, great artists steal" I don't know who said that but I interpret it as meaning don't just plagiarize others ideas and copy paste them to your own work. Take inspiration from it and make it your own, put your own perspective and style on it. That goes along with what Will said I think. Every artist's stuff can be traced back to someplace. Especially when you first get started, that's just how you learn. One of my earliest stories is based largely on the Legend of Zelda lol.

As for getting started on a fan film? Well get a cheap camera. Don't be too concerned with getting an expensive setup for your first film. Use what you can get your hands on for lighting. Pick up cheap lights at a hardware store or at Wal-Mart. As Will said, use the clothing you have available. This goes for props as well. If you need something you don't have check out yard sales, thrift shops etc. Write your story around locations you have access to but don't allow that to limit your creativity. Think big, but still within the realm of do-ability. Your first effort should be a short, as was said above. You're going to make a lot of mistakes the first time (I know I did) and making those mistakes with a shorter running project will be a lot less stressful. Reliability with actors more than likely WILL become an issue. People are busy or lose interest, after all they're not really actors. Don't let that discourage you and just keep pushing on. Try to schedule your shooting around the actors schedules as best you can and make filming fun! After all, that's what it's supposed to be right?

Use simple more realistic characters like Two Face or Joker. You could even pull off characters like Mr. Freeze if you get creative. Have Batman stick to the shadows.

Hmm I can't think of anything else right now. If I think of something I'll add it.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would start small. Something do-able.
Test shots, work your way to a teaser or a Trailer.

You will have learned a lot, while not having the pressure of a complete film. Embarassed

You will not be 'burned out' and turned off to any future endeavors
either. Just a thought. Rolling Eyes
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