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Renji Philip created the below step-by-step process to teach filmmakers exactly how to take an idea, turn it into a finished film and get people to watch it.


He created this process after writing-directing and producing 5 short films and 2 feature films, including THE WAKE OF LIGHT, which won 5 Best Film awards, 4 Best Director awards, 1 Best Screenplay award, 5 Best Lead Actress awards and 3 Best Supporting Actor awards.

THE WAKE OF LIGHT was produced with a small crew and a set of rules Renji Philip created to stimulate creativity. This hands-on filmmaking experience led to the creation of this process, which serves as a field-tested step by step guide to filmmakers on how to turn an idea into a film and get people to watch it.

Not only does Renji teach a detailed description of what each step is an how it fits into the larger filmmaking process but he teaches his personal inside tips and tricks that he learned through HANDS-ON movie-making. This is NOT theory. This IS a no-nonsense "how to" guide. Many myths about how films get made are dispelled.

Renji works with filmmakers (in person in Los Angeles and via Skype elsewhere) to get their movies made, seen and making money.

Contact Renji



1. Idea and Theme (and the difference between them)

    1.1 What Do You Want To Communicate?

    1.2 Why Is It Important To You? (hint: this is your secret sauce!)

    1.3 Making It Screenworthy

        1.3.1 Formalism (a short paragraph)

        1.3.2 Theory (also a short paragraph)

        1.3.3 Aesthetic (this is more important!)

    1.4 Locations

        1.4.1 White Walls

        1.4.2 Built-In Set Dressing

    1.5 Casting

    1.6 The Creative World of Your Idea

        1.6 1.6.1 Emotion and Tone

        1.6.2 Music

        1.6.3 Sound

        1.6.4 Lighting

    1.7 Marketing

        1.7.1 Target Audience

        1.7.2 Key Art

        1.7.2 Trailer

    1.8 Talking Too Much About Your Idea and Theme (let the audience figure it out and         they’ll love you forever)

2. The Screenplay

    2.1 A Story Told With Images

    2.2 The Screenplay for a Short Film

    2.3 The Screenplay For a Feature Film

    2.4 The 3-Act Structure of a Feature Film

    2.5 The Paradigm (and why it matters)

    2.6 Writing What The Camera Sees

    2.7 The Outline (A Story Told With Images, RP style-only allowed to action)

    2.8 Descriptive Narrative (What is it? What it should be and how to write it)

    2.9 Writing The First Draft (Mining The Ore)

        2.9.1 Act 1 Overview (Set Up)

        2.7.2 The First Image 

        2.7.3 The First Page

        2.7.4 The First Three Pages

        2.7.5 Inciting Incident

        2.7.6 Plot Point One

        2.7.7 The Hook (The key to your script)

        2.7.8 Act 2 Overview 

        2.7.9 Pinch 1

        2.7.10 Midpoint 

        2.7.11 Pinch 2

        2.7.12 Darkest Moment

        2.7.13 Plot Point Two

        2.7.14 Act 3 Overview

        2.7.15 Resolution (never let off the gas!)

    2.10 Considerations While Writing

        2.10.1 Creative Time

        2.10.2 Overcoming Roadblocks

        2.10.3 Grinding it out 

   2.11 Revisions 

        2.11.1  Late In / Early Out

        2.11.2  Trusting Your Gut

        2.11.3  Scene Elimination (moving the story forward, set up / pay off)

        2.11.4  Key Information For The Audience

        2.11.5  Distilling a Scene To It’s Essence

   2.12 Polish (making it sing)

   2.13 A Standalone Piece of Literature

   2.14 Using Music While Writing

   2.15 Dialog (don’t write subtext as dialog)

   2.16 Compression (forced close quarters increases drama)

   2.17 Distillation Method-should be used in creating outline too

   2.18 Imagery and Symbolism


3. Pre Production 

   3.1 Creating Your Budget

   3.2 Creating Your Schedule

   3.3 Start Date

   3.4 Creating a Set of Rules

        3.4.1   DOGME 95 

        3.4.2   Werner Herzog

        3.4.3   Your Own Dysfunction (hint: use it to your advantage)

   3.5 Incorporating or Forming an LLC For Your Production Company

   3.6 Chain of Title

   3.7 Unions

        3.7.1   SAG 

        3.7.2   IATSE

   3.8 Contracts

      3.8.1   Cast

      3.8.2   Crew

      3.8.3   Locations

      3.8.4   Background Actors

   3.9 Casting

      3.9.1   Who Do you Know?

      3.9.2   Casting Directors

      3.1.3 Casting Process

      3.9.3 Making An Offer
   Standard Offer
   Pay or Play
   Start Date

      3.9.4 The Coffee Meeting (vetting)

      3.9.5 Agents and Managers

   3.10 Crew

      3.10.1 Director of Photography

      3.10.2 Support Crew

      3.10.3 What To Pay

      3.10.4 When To Pay

      3.10.5 Backup Crew (you better have them)

      3.10.6 Crew Contracts

   3.11 Shooting Script

      3.11.1 Direction (see entire next chapter)

      3.11.2 Props (Key Props, Character Props, Utility Props)

      3.11.3 Wardrobe (character wardrobe with shooting consideration)

      3.11.4 Hair and Make-Up

      3.11.5 Location (refinement)

      3.11.6 Production Design (key set dressing, 4th of July banner)

      3.11.7 Shot List Ideas

      3.11.8 A Larger Truth

      3.11.9 B roll and Improvised Shots

   3.12 Shopping

      3.12.1 Organization

      3.12.2 Aging and Dying

   3.13 Location Scout

      3.13.1 By Yourself

      3.13.2 With your DP

      3.13.3 With your Location Contract

   3.14 Creating The Shotlist (with your DP)

   3.15 Creating The Shooting Schedule (with your DP and including key art)

   3.16 Equipment

      3.16.1  Camera 

      3.16.2  Lenses 

      3.16.3  Media

      3.16.4  Computer and Hard Drives

      3.16.5  Follow Focus (and backup)

      3.16.6  Headphones

      3.16.7  Sound Recording (Rode Wireless GO and Zoom iQ6)

      3.16.8  Tripod

      3.16.9  Moving Camera Stabilization (dolly, steadicam, Ronin, Ready Rig) 

      3.16.10  Lighting (key and fill only)

      3.16.11  Grip (don’t get carried away - no matter what people tell you!)

      3.16.12  Bounce Boards and Duvetyne (positive and negative light)

      3.16.13  Rechargeable batteries

   3.17    Transportation

      3.17.1   RV

      3.17.2   Van

      3.17.3   Cars

   3.18 Insurance

   3.19 Completion Bond

   3.20 Food

      3.20.1   Meals

      3.20.2   Craft Services (and Gatoraid)

   3.21 First Aid (including a snake and spider bite kit)

4. Directing

   4.1 Revisiting Your Idea and Theme

   4.2 Understanding The Whole Story

   4.3 Understanding Each Scene’s Unique Part To The Whole Story

   4.4 Understanding what each scene needs to communicate (using the word THAT)

   4.5 Meeting with Actors 

      4.5.1 Communicating The Whole Story

      4.5.2 Communicating Each Scene’s Part of The Whole Story

      4.5.3 Collaboration

      4.5.4 Character Backstory

      4.5.5 Character Objectives and Expectations

      4.5.6 Performance Continuity When Shooting Out Of Order

   4.6 Table Reads and Rehearsal

   4.7 Distilling a Scene To It’s Essence

   4.8 Background Actors

5. The Shoot

   5.1 Call Sheets

   5.2 Morning Review and Prep (items from chapter 4)

   5.3 Shooting

      5.3.1 Clapper Board

      5.3.2 Sound

      5.3.3 Coverage

      5.3.4 Performance (reference your shooting script)

      5.3.5 Staying on Schedule

   5.4 Evening Review

      5.4.1 Media Management

      5.4.2 Dalies

      5.4.3 Planning For Tomorrow 
  Making Adjustments (fixes and new ideas)
  Calls Sheets


6. Post Production

   6.1 Media Management

   6.2 Edit

   6.3 VFX

   6.4 Sound (watch movies with headphones on)

      6.4.1   Location Sound

      6.4.2   Dialog Editing

      6.4.3   Sound Design (including subconscious sound design to tell story)

      6.4.4   Mix

   6.5 Color and Finish

7. Test Screenings

   7.1 Goal

   7.2 Venue

   7.3 Attendees

8. Film Festivals

   8.1 Goal 

      8.1.1   Secret Test Screenings

      8.1.2   Building a Pedigree

      8.1.3   Future Collaborators (talk about Dean and Rainer)

   8.2 Submission Process (maximizing your chances of being accepted)

   8.3 Getting Accepted

   8.4 Screening Format

   8.5 Deliverables

   8.6 Projectionist

   8.7 Attending

      8.7.1  Attendees (and filling the theater)

      8.7.2  Your Movie Poster

      8.7.3  Flyers

      8.7.4  Business Cards

      8.7.5  Audience List

      8.7.6  Q&As (Shhhh! Don’t spill the beans!)

      8.7.7  Audience List

      8.7.8  Panels, Activities and Parties (Keep This In Mind)

      8.7.9  Networking (Yuck! There...I said it.)

   8.8 Awards


   8.10 Audience Ratings

9. Marketing and Monetization

   9.1 Logline (remember your idea and theme?)

   9.2 Target Market (nearly the most important thing in the book)

   9.3 One Sheet and Movie Poster (any guesses who it should appeal to?)

   9.4 Tagline (one last chance to clarify your idea)

   9.4 Trailer (the formula)

   9.5 Website 

      9.5.1 Conversion Rate (the holy grail)

   9.6 Social Media (the right platforms)

   9.7 Audience Ratings (again)

   9.8 Blogs

   9.9 Critics (be careful!)

      9.9.1 IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes (be EVEN MORE careful)


   9.11 Influencers

   9.12 Publicists (and how to pay them)

10. Distribution

   10.1 Chain of Title

   10.2 Holding Company (to protect your film’s intellectual property)

   10.3 Distributors (Domestic and Foreign)

      10.3.1 Contracts 
 Points of Negotiation, Red Flags, The Reversion Clause

   10.4 Aggregators

   10.5 Sales Agents

   10.6 Self-Distribution

      10.6.1  Theatrical

      10.6.2  Online
  Vimeo On-Demand

      10.6.3  DVD and BluRay

   10.7 Hybrid Distribution 

   10.8 Theatrical Platforming

   10.9 Release Windows (the correct order to maximize monetization)

   10.10 Accounting

      10.10.1  Their Accounting

      10.10.2  Your Accounting

   10.11 Changing Technology and Viewing Formats

11. Mistakes (that can cost you your film)

12. Toughness (physical and mental)

13. Focus (and distractions)

14. Being Present (aka paying attention)

15. Strategic Partnerships

16. Quid Pro Quos (and sinking friendships)

17. Collaboration

28. Vampires (how to identify and maneuver around them)

29. Creative Problem Solving, Learning From Masters and Original Thinking


Appendix - Financing


30. Traditional Financing

   31.1 Studios

      31.1.2  In House Projects

      31.1.3  Development Executives

   31.2 Attaching Talent

   31.3 Financiers 

   31.4 Independent Producers

   31.5 Foreign Pre-Sales 


31. Independent Financing (Private Equity)

   31.1 Investors 

      31.1.1 Offering Memorandum

   31.2 Donors

      31.2.1 Fiscal Sponsorships

      31.2.1 Crowdfunding

   31.3 Grants

   32.3 You

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