Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #103

“…This one’s eating my popcorn!”

Punchlines work best at the end of the joke. This goes for a verbal punchline, a visual punchline, a story punchline, whatever. Set it up with the audience, let them build up a little interest in the Anticipation Bank, and then deliver the punchline.

It’s a trick I picked up doing stand-up and improv. It’s weird to think that there’s a mechanical aspect to comedy, but it sure seems to work.

And by “punchline,” I include non-comic things as well. Even in a dramatic moment, unless you’re very, very Memento-style clever, there’s a “punchline,” a place where something is revealed that makes sense of what you’ve already seen in a way you didn’t expect.

Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #98

Or buy a typewriter, ya pansy!

You don’t need fancy software to write a script — any word processor will do. The thing to remember is that no matter how much you spend on software and learning curve time, you’re basically producing a document that’s supposed to look like it came out of a 1920’s typewriter.

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Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #12

Preparation is the antonym of frustration

Get the script to the actors as soon as possible. Give them time to learn their lines. If they ask about their characters, talk with them and make sure they have all the character notes from the writer. The more they know, the better their performance will be.

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Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #4

Sand makes for a terrible foundation

Make sure the story makes sense and the script makes sense before you start. Cause and effect should make sense. Motivations should be pretty clear. What happens at different times and places should be obvious. The script is the blueprint, and everybody uses it. Where it’s weak, everything else is weak.

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