paul skidmore andparabolos

cinematic storytelling, strategy, and advice

development part i – the research

the development process is, in my opinion, the most important part of the production process.  i feel way too many take it lightly.  a lot of young filmmakers focus on the finished product.  a polished finished film is critical if you want to be taken seriously, but if people spent as much time in development as they did in after effects, the world of short film would have even more value than it does today.

the development process should really be spent developing story, developing a visual form around that story, and then acquiring the resources they needed to tell that story.  this includes the marketing scheme, release structure, etc.  if you don’t know where your film will play, then you don’t know who your audience is, and you don’t know how to speak to them.

there’s lots of great tools out there to use during the development phase.  i can’t cover all of them, but i can at least point out a few things i’ve found helpful (and free).

the research

iTalk Recorder (iTunes store link)


this little app serves as a voice recorder, similar to the now included Voice Memo app that’s part of the iPhone OS.  i started using iTalk before iPhone OS 3.0 was released, and still use it because it is more functional than the simpler Voice Memo app.  with iTalk you can name each recording, record at three different quality settings, and easily transfer recordings to your computer over a wi-fi network with the iTalk Sync desktop app (available as a free download from Griffin).

i’ve found iTalk to be very useful in recording little ideas i have, especially while driving.  often as a writer, i find myself talking/acting out scenes to feel the cadence of speech, etc.  with iTalk, not only can i record long fluid scenes (to be typed up later) while keeping my eyes on the road, but also, since i’m speaking into my phone, it keeps other drivers from assuming i am insane while i do it.

another huge benefit of this app is its low power consumption, since it continues recording even after the backlight fades and the phone locks itself (reminders or text message alerts alone don’t stop it, but if you answer a call or open any other app, the recording stops, saving everything up until that point). this means you can record for very long times without destroying the battery life, and i look forward even more to using this on iPad with its monster battery.  in this way, i have used iTalk to record scriptwriting sessions with a writing partner or company staff meetings.  i make these available via dropbox, and anyone involved can review the content at any time, even on their phone.

i was never diligent enough to carry around an “ideas” notebook or keep a file of index cards with lines or scenes or whatever, and furthermore, i just hate stuff.  that’s one of my selfish reasons for developing the processes i’ve developed recently.  technology has finally caught up to the point where i can walk out the door, do a wallet-keys-phone pat down, and i’m on my untethered, unburdened way.  now, for the first time, i’m actually saving funny lines, odd circumstances, and script ideas the moment i have them.  the quick record feature means i can do it even while i’m driving, keeping eyes-off-the-road time to a minimum.  oh, and it’s free.

Quickoffice mobile office suite (iTunes store link)

Quickoffice, Inc.

with the Quickoffice Connect mobile suite, you can create/edit/view word and excel documents, and view just about anything.  also, iPhone users know that the iPhone OS does not have a file management system built into the interface.  Quickoffice Connect has a file management system built-in, and also accesses your iDisk, Dropbox, and other popular file-sharing systems, allowing you to create documents and save directly to your iDisk/Dropbox, or move files about between them.  unlike many of the apps, i’ll talk about here, Quickoffice makes it’s products for nearly every mobile OS out there.

obviously, this is a great thing to have for any business.  for film production, i found myself jotting quick notes in it… things for tomorrow’s safety meeting during today’s tech scout, to-do items lobbed at me from a director in the midst of a creative brainstorm, etc.  by saving directly into iDisk or Dropbox, they are quickly viewable in other apps, or by other people who have access to those shared folders.

of course with the introduction of iPad, i plan on buying the iWork for iPad suite, so i’m sure my need for Quickoffice will diminish some.  still, it’s a great way to port files around on your iPhone, rather than just having access to view or the ability to send links to things.  Quickoffice syncs with any web browser over a wi-fi network.  you can manually upload or download files directly to the phone in this manner. until the iPhone/iPad OS has it’s own Finder, Quickoffice will serve just fine.

Evernote (iTunes store link)

Evernote Corporation

i’ve just started using this app, and i feel late in the game to it.  totally free to download and use, apps for iPhone and desktop, all kept in sync with a free account at the Evernote site.  a really cool way to store ideas, pictures… whatever.  categorize, sort, let Evernote extract text from a photo (wicked!) and lots of productivity stuff.  i may write more about it after i’ve had a chance to really put it to use.  anyone out there use it regularly?  any tips?


soon i’ll post development part ii – the screenplay, followed by development part iii – the pitch.  if you’re curious about why i’m so interested in portable production, read the original post.


skidmore | administrator

believer. follower. filmmaker.

  • share this:

what do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.