Make Your Own Scary Movie
By Wayne Rice
Winter nights can be long and cold; two pieces of good news: first, December 21st was the longest night of the year, so it's going to get a little better every day, and second, you can have a lot of fun at night, especially if you are making your own Horror Movie!
To start, you'll need a plotline. Since this is possibly your first screamer, plan on making just a five or ten minute masterpiece. Once you get the hang of it, you can make a longer sequel, "Bloody Snow Bank Part Two!" Think about what you want in your film. Concentrate on action with simple dialog
Professional moviemakers usually storyboard their work, planning out each scene, camera angle and actor placement. You can try your hand at this too. Just use stick figures and make simple sketches; it will help to organize the entire project. You can even scout out locations for each scene. Remember that with the magic of video, your bedroom door can lead directly into the cellar if you edit it that way, and your backyard can be the park sown the street – it'll be your secret!
Once you have your story sequences, you can start shooting. Remember you don't have to shoot the scenes in order, shoot from shortest to longest, easiest to hardest. Be sure to get what you want recorded, and don't be afraid to shoot several takes of the same thing, as you may miss something during filming that will spoil the take. Check costumes, positions, camera angles, and lighting. Sound can be added later.
Using a video editor, such as Avnex's Movie Morpher, break the takes up into individual files. This will make handling them easier later on. Review each take in full screen mode as well as reduced; pay attention to all the elements of good filmmaking, camera, focus, light, action, movement, placement; be sure to watch for mistakes or things that shouldn't be in the film, the dog peeking around the corner, a TV in an old Western setting, etc. Decide which clips you will work with and move them into their own separate directory.
Now you can edit the film together. Choose your transitions and effects. Splice the film together for a first cut. Take a break once you've made it. Walk away from the PC, have something to eat, go for a walk, or do something totally unrelated. When you return, you should be refreshed and ready to evaluate your first cut. Make whatever adjustments you need. Hopefully you won't have to re-shoot anything, but if you do, study the preceding and following scenes to make sure you can re-create the continuity you will need to get from one scene to the next.
Now you are ready to do the Foley work – for those of you who do not know, most all sound effects in the movies are over-dubbed in a special studio by a Foley artist. They synchronize sounds with movement, mostly in real time, to make footsteps, punches, and other sounds fit into the action. You can do this with a program like Avnex's Music Morpher Gold, where you can record voice and sounds and then apply filters and effects to create the perfect sound bites. You can then edit in the results. Dialog can also be created and dubbed in to suit the action. One technique is to have the speaker facing away from the camera. You can also play the video and record live dialog as you watch. Then you can add filters and effects to the results.
Don't forget to invite the relatives and neighbors and be sure to serve plenty of popcorn for your movie premiere. Sprinkle a little Paprika on it for a bloody-good effect!
Wayne Rice is a freelance journalist, copywriter, photographer and artist. He currently resides in the United States.
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