Placing A Character On A Movie Set

Book-made-movie-set

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck 

Serendipity.

Just as I finished a book where the contemporary story revolved around a script and movie, I traveled to a movie set!

Maybe that’s more like irony than serendipity.

Anyway…

Once Upon A Prince is wrapping up as I type, a soon-to-be-aired Hallmark Channel movie.

AHHHHHHHH!

Book-made-movie-set

Who knew when I woke up at the crack-of-before-dawn to watch Prince William marry the lovely Catherine Middleton that I’d have the spark of an idea which would one day come to life on the Hallmark Channel.

There’s my serendipity.

Beyond the honor and sheer emotion of seeing characters life that only lived in my head, I learned some things about being on a movie set.

If you want to set your characters on a movie set, here’s some tips.

First let me say just say the language may vary from movie company to movie company, but the tips I put down here should suffice for your story book movie.

First team – the main actors.

Second team – the stand-in cast. This could be one or more actors who play bit parts or background cast who stand in for the stars during staging and lighting.

When the director calls for the second team, he’s calling for those stand-ins. When he’s ready to shoot, he calls for the first team.

Also, he calls the actors by their real name or character name.

If you’re writing a scene with characters on set, you could call for the first team, or call for the actor by name or character name.

Background – the crowd. Those folks sitting in the restaurant or standing around in a park or ballroom. We see them in every movie.

You can also call them extras but often when the director was setting the scene for filming, he’d cue, “Background,” and it was our call to “Action” and start pretending!

When the background appears to be talking, laughing, whatever, there is literally NO sound. The set is quiet except for the speaking characters and if 50, 75, 100 background actors even whisper, you’d get a hovering din. No es bueño.

So the extras just mouth pretend conversation. They look engaged but it’s all made up.

I was an extra for Once Upon A Prince and was schooled by professional background folks how to look real without making a sound. We actually worked out a routine and used it for every run through and the actual filming.

First positions – the beginning. When a scene is rehearsed, people move about, so when the director wants to rehearse again or is ready to film, he calls, “First positions.” Everyone goes back to the start.

Usually a scene is shot 2, 3, 4 however many times the director wants. So remember your first position!

We’re locked – wha??? I never really under this term and I can’t find it on any film term list but I think it means, “Ready to go.” Everything is set.

Picture’s Up – the shot is framed, ready to roll.

Sound – Quiet! All talking, sound, movement must stop. Actually, there are different terms for sound but in our case, when we heard sound we stopped talking.

Sound can also mean Sound Speed which might mean the camera is rolling.

Speed – the camera is rolling. Filming is happening!

Slate – also known as the clapper. The device that records a scene number and sync point as the camera rolls and before the action begins.

Playback – music. The director will call for play back if the scene has accompanying music or other sounds. This allows musicians, singers, actors to mime to the music that will be added later. 😉

Notes – feedback. A script is given “notes.” An actor is given “notes.” In Hollywood, that’s nice speak for feedback, critique, help, review. So your characters should ask for “Notes.” The scriptwriter will “Review the director’s notes.” The producer will give notes to the director. I think you get where this is going…

Touches – does everyone look good? I loved this one. The director or assistant director would call for “Touches” which launched the hair and makeup folks into action. They’d check the faces of the on-camera actors to make sure they weren’t shiny, and that their hair styles were lasting.

writing-novel-start

Every time I came off the floor as an extra, I’d call for “Touches.” But ha, no one ran over to me. What gives?

The term Finals is also used.

So, if you’re writing dialog, you might write something like this:

“Okay, let’s rehearse this. First team, take your positions. Playback. Action.”

“Okay, this is a take. We’re locked. Picture’s up. Sound, Speed. Action.”

The slate person jumps in without being called.

Of course you can vary the terms. I heard a variation of those terms with each shot.

Director – the guy in charge of the filming. Works with the AD (see below) and DP (see below) to execute the project. The film will have a lot of the director’s vision. He will map out the scenes in pre production and systematically work through them while shooting.

P.S. Scenes are not shot in order.

AD – assistant director. He or she will do a lot of hands on with the crew and make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. Kind of the Master Sergeant on set.

In my experience, the AD gave the directions right before filming. “Picture’s up. Sound. Speed. Playback.”

Then the director may call action. Either one could do it.

The director also said, “Whenever you’re ready,” if the scene was just one or two actors.

DP– director of photography. He works with the director to get the shots framed the way they want, the best way to tell the story.

Producer – the one who made the movie happen! Of course movies can have many producers who play different roles. In my case, the producer acquired the project and sold the concept to Hallmark.

A producer can touch all aspects of the process from the script to filming.

The producer may be on set for the entire process. She gives input and consults with the director.

I think you can have fun with this character in a book.

Say goodnight – a principle character is leaving the set or the movie.

The Circus – trailer location. I’m sure this term is different per movie set but for this movie The Circus was the location of the trailers for the main actors, wardrobe, hair and makeup.  Transpiration moved the cast and crew from the Circus to the set and back again.

From this point, the list is endless. 2nd AD. 3rd AD. Assistant DP.  Production crew. Hair and makeup. Transportation. Unit managers. Camera men. Security. Set crew. Wardrobe folks. Craft services. Or as we called it, “Lunch!”

In fact, here’s a list of terms.

Filming days are long. Twelve, thirteen hours. Sometimes the shortest scene may take an hour or more to film between staging, rehearsing, then filming from different points of view.

Speaking of Point of View. They use that term in movies too!

They entire crew breaks for lunch at the same time.

They get weekends off. But this may vary per director, location, union rules, etc.

The main actors have a “green room.”

I had a blast peeking behind the scenes of a movie set. 🙂 Hope these tips help in your writing journey.

Go Write Something Brilliant!


THE WRITING DESK

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

It Only Takes A Spark. . . Or Does It?

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck 

Ideas come and go. I’ve learned over the years the initial spark is just that, a spark, not a roaring fire that will burn long enough to write an entire book.

Let me give an example. When I  first started writing what turned out to be Lost In NashVegas (now Nashville Dreams), I came up with a story of a country girl who owned a fishing shack in central Florida. There was something about her wanting to buy or maintain an old house she loved. I can’t remember all of the details, but that should give you a clue. No details.

My agent said, “Nope!”

After brainstorming with her for a few minutes, (I’m making this sound way easier than it was. ha!)  we came up with the idea of having the Heroine be a songwriter. Okay, I can do that. I know nothing about songwriting, but I can do this! I’m naive and eternally hopeful that way. Scratching the surface of songwriting research, I put together another synopsis and three chapters.

My agent said, “Nope.”

My heroine wasn’t sympathetic. I wove in several major plot points that were nothing but cliché but never really managed any of them. I had a stolen song, an unwed pregnancy, and something about a rollercoaster that Susie Warren assured me was unoriginal. But the story was a country song itself!

So, I opened with my character waiting to sing at the Bluebird Ca fé ( a setting I had all wrong) and feeling like she was on a roller coaster.

Disappointed, rather CRUSHED,  I wasn’t hitting my agent’s hot button after two tries, I forwarded it to Susie. She called. “The roller coaster is a cliche.”

“Really?”

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“And you need something like . . . the three things she’s thinking of or wants or something.”

“Oh, good idea.” (I dedicated the “three things” in the book to Suz.)

That and more songwriting research got me a proposal my agent loved. And so did Thomas Nelson.

I did more research. Visited Nashville and The Bluebird Café. Research always sparks more ideas and layers.

Don’t let your lack of knowledge intimidate you. Dig in. Research. Make those cold calls to ask a question. I find really good stuff on YouTube. Which didn’t exist when I started that first Nashville book.

Research also helps with your dialog, your plotting, your setting.

Writing about an industry of which I knew nothing —music—I had very surface dialog. Because I didn’t know what I was talking about. I kept researching and finally found a book about Tom Petty. It was written in interview style. I found the information I wanted and also a format to use in the next Nashville book. The interview style.

When writing about infertility in the Songbird Novels, I discovered an article by a woman who didn’t want to use surrogacy to achieve her dream of having a baby because she felt it was inviting another woman into her marriage. I’d never heard that before and it gave me a profound, deeper angle for my character.

In writing The Royal Wedding books, I read blogs, history books, watched videos, studied European royal families. Apparently, calls to Clarence House went unanswered. Ha! No personal prince interviews were forthcoming.

Once you get a spark, take it deeper and find those unique layers. Use those to create dynamic characters and layered plots.

Go write something brilliant!


THE WRITING DESK

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

Writing to The End

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck 

Once I wrote the first draft of a book in six weeks. I was quite satisfied with having written 76k words, but I had a few more to go before writing The End.

Then, I had to start all over. The story needed a lot of  sanding and polishing.

Usually, about 2/3rds through the first draft, I make a major discovery that sort of brings the whole story together for me. I’ll stop writing forward and go back to the beginning and rewrite. The process usually goes quickly because I know what I’m doing.

But that time, I didn’t stop. I made some major character discoveries. I even changed a major character’s setting. But that’s okay. I refused to go back to the beginning to start my rewrites.

I wanted to go all the way to The End to see what was there.

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So much of a story is discovered as you write it, no matter how much you’ve planned and plotted. I dare say, if you’re not discovering character and plot layers as you write, you  might not be thinking deep enough.

It’s easy to stay with the plan. The writing is fast and relatively easy. But is that the best story the plot and characters can tell?

Stick with the story. Write to The End. Then begin rewriting. It’s a valuable lesson I learned while writing that book.

Here’s another big tip. Stay with the same story. Don’t jump to another idea. It’s so easy to get bored with what you’re writing and want to do something else. Stick it out.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to write to The End before starting over or moving to another project.


THE WRITING DESK

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

Someone Else’s Success Does Not Ensure Your Failure

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck 

Someone else’s success does not ensure your failure.

Unless, of course, you’re facing Jason Bourne.

Then you’re a goner.

But most of us feel like

if someone else “wins” they are better than we are.  Or, that they now have the spotlight and everyone will forget about us.
Entering a contest can rock your world or break your hopes. But it’s up to us, as writers, to be steadfast in our calling to write.

Contests do not make OR BREAK an author.

Published or unpublished.
Contests, while helpful and often a stepping stone, are merely a tool to help a writer reach the next level.

They are not intended to be a Seal of Approval or Seal of Disapproval that over inflates or deflates your dreams.

So take a deep breath. Swallow. Get back with your game plan and move forward.

Have a Game Plan

Speaking of a game plan…

1. Most of us enter a contest then sit back and wait… Bad idea. Move on. Start another story. Focus on your next book Contracted or not. Read a writing book. Read a good book, not in your genre. Spend time with the family. Don’t just wait.

2. Set new goals. If you’re not published, start a new story that you plan to finish in time for ________.

3. Follow up with editors or agents.

4. Sign up for a conference.

5. Do something outside of writing. Sign up for the local 5K. Work on a promotion in the day job. Start a review blog. I don’t know but you do. The Lord does. So get to work! 🙂

What To Do With Conflicting Feedback

It’s tough when you get conflicting feedback but DO take a deep breath, step back, get yer dander down and consider the input just might be right.

First of all, no judge that I know sets out to destroy the authors of the manuscripts they’re reading. I know, we all picture them with evil scowls, muttering, “Who writes this drivel!?”

Sometimes newer author judges can make some rookie mistakes. They take off points for creative choices or the word “was.” I think we should forbid anyone from discounting an entry because they used the word was…

But overall, I think judges are looking for voice and story.

And those are two of the hardest things for an author to master.

So, if you have conflicting feedback — one judge loved it and the other hated it — consider two things:

1. Audience. The first judge was your target reader. She/he felt your voice and the story emotion. The second may not have been your target audience. Or the story just didn’t resonate with them. Consider the story is probably somewhere in between. Needs work but doesn’t need to be torched.

2. The negative comments might have validity even if said harshly. Try to read between the lines. Hear what they might be saying if you were sitting across from them in a coffee shop. If a judge says the story was cliche or the characters kind of flat, take that into consideration. But don’t read: I stink as a writer. ReRead your piece to see where the judge might have accessed that? Have someone else you trust read it.

3. Don’t give up!

What If All The Feedback Is Negative

1. Get feedback from someone you trust.

2. Consider that the story just didn’t work for some reason but look for the positive input as a starting point to rework the story.

3. Be willing to rework the story.

4. Kick a few cabinets… er, I mean, spend some time in prayer. Let God share your burden.

5. Make a plan if you don’t have one. Execute your plan if you have one.

Contests Are Just One Brick In The Publishing Road

1. I didn’t win any pre-published contests. But I managed to get published anyway.

2. I haven’t won that many publishing contests but enough to boost my confidence and add a few line items to my resume. But I’m still publishing!

3. Keep your eye on the prize — getting your book in print. On God’s GOOD plans for your life. So keep working. Realize that publishing takes time because you’re not just putting words on a page, you’re learning a craft. You’re telling a story about pretend people that will touch real people’s lives.

So hang in there! You’re well on your way!

Go write something Brilliant!


THE WRITING DESK

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.