Questions Every Filmmaker Should Ask Before Diving Into Development!

So you’re a #DirtyBadass who wants to create your own production. Congratulations! That’s awesome, and we think your production will be awesome and we know that you too, are also, awesome. So what now…

Welcome to development!

You’ve made the brave decision to create your own work and maybe that means you have a story idea ready to go, or maybe you have no clue what exactly you want to make. Well, we here at The Dirty Filmmaker have you covered. No matter how “developed” your creation may be, we’ve compiled a list of questions you should immediately answer before taking your creation a step further.

Believe us when we tell you that if you can answer these questions clearly and precisely now, then it’ll make the rest of your production go undoubtedly smoother. Which in turn will allow your creative juices to flow as freely as a Snoop Dog rap (Or is it Snoop Lion? We get confused).
(Side Note: Know that throughout your production, these answers are going to naturally evolve, but use this as a bounce board, to return back to in moments of panic. We had plenty of those).

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What is your goal?

Basically, what do you want to achieve with this production? There is really no wrong answer here. You might want to create a series that’ll showcase, in true Kubrick style, your boss-like skills with lighting. You might want to use this to establish a character you’ve previously developed, and plan to shoot it on your incredible iPhone 13 (are those around yet?). Or you could aim to see your production being picked up by a network, hitting it big and winning a ton of Emmy’s (*cough* GIVE US A CALL FOX *cough*).
Whatever your desires with your production, make sure they’re clear now. It’ll make your writing, shooting and budgeting questions so much easier.

Genre?

This might seem simple, but there are so many sub categories within each genre. Just think in comedy alone you have farcical comedy, sitcom comedy, surreal comedy, dark comedy, dry comedy, sketch comedy, the list goes on. Being clear at this stage is going to inform your episode lengths, cost of production and even the time it may take to film. Know what you want and if you see it slowly shift from one to the other, just make sure to go back and adapt your writing style to suit this. (Side Note: With Dirty Talk we always saw it as sitcom esc, however as the show progressed, it evolved into more of a “Dramady”. Understand that this is okay and evolution is natural!)

Target Audience?

A big and important one, and a question we ourselves only officially answered right before we jumped into pre-production. Don’t make the mistake we did, because otherwise you’re going to find yourself with a lot more work on your plate later on. If you’re writing for women in their twenties, your dialogue and shot list is going to be completely different than if you’re hoping to tap into the Dungeons and Dragons crowd. Know who you would like your primary audience to be, and then tailor your creative style to appeal to their needs.

Length?

Now this is dependent on all the questions you’ve just answered above. This is one we learned a little later on and meant we had to do a whole load of adjusting, cutting and adding to areas of a story we had pretty much already developed. Know what the typical length your audience will expect for your genre. For example, the typical length an audience expects from a web series in general, is 3-6 minutes (remember we said typical, because there are many incredible productions, including ours, who haven’t lived by this rule).

Budget?

A frustrating thing to have to remind yourself of, especially at this stage, when all you want is to allow those ingenious, creative, shakespeare like moments of creativity to flow. However, this is one that would be “better” if you gave a basic answer at this stage. Not only will it help inform your choices and allow you to get more creative within your parameters, but believe us when we tell you, it will save you a broken heart later on, when you have to cut that incredible and amazing fight scene where the whole of the Las Vegas strip gets mauled at by purple and blue aliens. (Dirty Talk twist alert….. we joke!).

How is it going to be filmed?

Well, aside the fact that this is a question that your Director/DP should aid you with later on when creating the shot list (unless of course that’s you…WOOP!), know that your answer to this will be greatly informed by your genre choice and budget. You’re writing style is going to be very different if your filming a post-apocalyptic drama in true Zack Snyder “shakey” cam style, than if you’re shooting a sitcom styled comedy where the camera is almost always still. Get clear on this now!

Your selling factor?

Depending on what you want to achieve, this is hugely important. If you’re hoping to one day see this production picked up or bought, then try to figure out what exactly your selling points are now. Ask yourself “What is unique here? Why would people watch this? How does this relate to them?”.
A Dirty Talk example, we wanted to create something that showcased women in film, independent cinema and promote female centered story-lines. However, through developing our web series, we realized we touched deeply on the topics of LGBT, Gender Equality and Diversity while at the same time wanting to promote Micro-Budget Filmmaking.
Know what you want to say, what you want to publicize and turn these into your selling points. Its great to come back to when you’re stuck on a decision throughout any part of the production process, because it will help guide and inform you.

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So there you have it our Dirty reader! A quick, short list of questions to answer before diving into creating, what we’re sure will be, your insatiable masterpiece. Although some of these questions might seem a little “obvious”, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to forget or get confused later on; especially if you’re collaborating with other writers and filmmakers. It just keeps you all on the same page and keeps the vision clear.

Want some Dirty Advice? – Write these answers down on a little piece of paper and keep them in your back pocked at all times during production. If nothing else, it will be a constant reminder of what you’re working towards throughout shooting, which in turn, will continuously keep you asking the valid question “Is this shot/set up/design/moment being executed to best inform this productions goals?”. Better yet, we’ve compiled these questions into one short document for you, so you can easily download and share with your production team!

Development Worksheet PDF

Now get creating. We can’t wait to hear all about it. Better yet, we cant wait to watch it!

Are you developing your own production? If so, we want to know about it! Get in touch, tell us a little bit about it. You may even get a spread about your work here on The Dirty Filmmaker!

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