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Film Directing: Rehearsal Techniques

Film Directing: Rehearsal Techniques

In this post, I’m going to give you some great rehearsal techniques, to use while you’re directing your actors. Rehearsal is a very important part of film directing. in fact, this is where  most of the film directing is happening. Putting efforts on the rehearsal stage will save you a lot of time and money on shooting. Rehearsal is a good chance to see how the crew members react to each other and to create your own way of communication with them. It is also a good way to learn each actor’s method of acting.

When to start rehearsal?

Before we talk about any rehearsal techniques, Remember! it will take time for the actors to have full control on their lines and to get to know each other, so You want to start it as soon as you can. Once you got most of your crew ready. Don’t just run into rehearsal. Before you start the rehearsal stage, you have to make sure you understood the script completely.

Preparing for rehearsal

Rehearsal is not only about rehearsing but also about preparing.  This is a stage where everybody can expose them.  Everyone can share experiences that relate to the film. Rehearsal is all about discipline, but you need to make sure the atmosphere will be also the kind that will promote creativity and exploration of the characters and their situations. This will be a great opportunity to check out the actor;s ideas. Encourage your actors to be creative and to try different ideas. This creative atmosphere can only be created if you’ll make them fill safe.

Working with the actors – Rehearsal techniques

The first step of rehearsal is learning the lines and making sure the actors are feeling comfortable with them.

After you established that, your next step will be to make sure the actors understand their characters “wants” in every scene.

Now you’ll need to play the full scene and then start to break it into beats. After all the beats are clear, play the scene again and see how it looks.

Quick Tip
When you give direction to your actors, talk to their characters and ask them questions about it. This will help your actor to stay in character.

Correcting the actors

Be honest- If something the actor think or does, doesn’t seem right to you, let him know. Don’t be afraid to criticise. There is nothing worse for an actor, then to be sure he is on the right track and on the shooting day, to realise that he isn’t.

Fixing an actor’s work isn’t that hard. Simply make sure he understand the situation and his character’s need and objective.  Also, make sure your directions are clear. Don’t say stuff like “Do it again, only much more angry/sad/crazy”. When directing actors you should think about the actions that will describe what the character fills at the moment. Read the post on directing actors to fully understand the workflow with an actor.

Shooting the rehearsal

Doing rehearsals is all about coming prepared to the shootings.That’s why Some directors even like to shoot rehearsal (documentary style) in the locations of the set. Shooting the rehearsal is a great rehearsal technique because it will also help you think about the right shots for each scene. When you will watch the footage you shot at the rehearsal, new ideas will come up.

Improvisation in rehearsal

Improvisation is one of the best rehearsal techniques. Many directors like to be open for improvisations. I’ve talked about improvising in the post Tips for directing actors. Personally I believe that there needs to be a balanced between what is improvised and what is not. Improvisation simply gives you more options to work with. In the movie Waterfront, the part where Brando is pushing his brother’s gun away was an improvised gesture. That is a great gesture since it is followed by a great monologue from Brando.  There is no doubt as to how this small gesture helped the scene to become  one of the most classic scenes in cinema.

 

Pre-Production Steps

The Pre-Production Stage

There are 3 parts in a film production: Pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production is a very important part of the film production. It is the preparation stage and failing it, might create the failure of the film production or at least make it much more expensive.

The pre-production planning usually starts right after you got the finance for your film and when you have the final draft of the script. At the end of this stage, you should know how you are going to make all the scenes written in the movie script to look and sound good in the movie.

It is impossible to go through all the things that need to be taking care of in one post, but I’m going to go through the important ones and if there is something that interest you more, and you want me to go deep into it, let me know and I’ll do that. You can either write a comment at the end of the post or send me a message through the contact page.

Budget and schedule your film

  • The first thing you need to do is to schedule and budget your film. Now, you should have at least some finance by now and plan the budget is planning how you are going to spend their money. You can do it by breaking down the script. Pay attention to how many night scenes you have, how many scenes are in the same location or could be shot in the same location (even if in the script it’s not the same place).
  • Also, see if there are things you can change in the script to make the production less expensive. Read more about it in thisLesson and I also recommend reading the lesson on Making a Low-Budget Film.
  • When making the budget, you should include expenses for the investment packet to get more money. The investment packet is something you do want to look professional and you might need even a professional graphic designer.
  • You should also pay attention to office expenses – that is something that usually beginner producers intend to ignore, but it affects the budget hard. If it possible get a line producer and a unit production manager and let them take care of the budget and scheduling the film.

Hiring the crew members

  • After understanding your budget, you can understand how many crew members you need to have. This is a very important part and the crew you’ll choose will affect the quality of your film.
  • Read the article about the producers helpers. These are crew members you can’t compromise in to be able to do your job right, but there are many more crew members you need to find: Camera operators, audio operators, production assistants, an assistant director, director of photography, a prop master, gaffers, grips, hairstylist, a makeup artist, script supervisor, set designers, still photographers, location scouts, Transportation, Mechanical Effects team, catering, security.
  • Make sure all crew members share and believe in your vision and that they are available on the dates you need them to be.

Auditioning

  • I already uploaded a post about Casting an Audition  and I recommend going through it. For now, I will say that when you choose your talents, make sure they are available for the days you are planning to shoot.
  • When the auditioning stage is completely done, make sure you have a list of all the actors that are acting in the film, their role in the film, their telephone numbers, their agents and every other detail you need to be handy to you.

location scouting

  • Sometimes having one good location can really improve your film. When looking for locations you have to think about: the size of the location, parking places, transport facilities, toilets, do you need to build anything?
  • You also need to check how much control you will have on the location during shooting. You want to have as much as possible.
  • Pay attention to audio problems that may occur in each location- like traffic or electricity. Personally, when I find a location I like, I always like to walk around and see if there
  • are others locations in the area, I can use. It will also be good if the location will be close to a first aid station and a police station.
  • You may also want to do insurance to the locations. In the article Making a Low Budget Film, I’m talking about how to lower expenses in that area.

The Master Production Calendar

  • Your job as the producer is to plan each day of shooting. You’ll need to decide how many pages of script to shoot each day. Usually, it’s 2-5, but it can be a lot more if you need to save money.
  • Try not to shoot for more than 12 hours in a day. Keep the shooting as simple as possible.
  • Each day of shooting you will publish a daily schedule to make sure everybody know what they need to do and how much time they have to make that happen.
  • The master production should include a daily schedule for the pre-production and post-production.

Taking care of post production

  • Your job here is to find editing rooms, video editors, colorist and sound designers.
  • If there is a special song that the script needs, you should also think about music licensing. Al
  • Think about how you want to release the film. Is it through a file? Beta tape? Film?
  • In the Make A Low Budget Film post, I talk about how to save money in the post-production stage, so if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend doing it.

So these are the important things to take care of in the pre-production stage. As I said it will be impossible to go through everything here, but there are a lot of other things to pay attention to  like creating a final script, storyboarding, funding more money, taking care of communications, rent production offices if possible,  insurance coverage, open account for the production, pre-production meetings with all the main crew members to make sure they have what they need and more

The Script Treatment

Writing A Script Treatment

Knowing how to write a treatment is a skill that can really improve your script and your marketing chances. It is one step after the list of scene stage and before the first draft of the script.


The main problem with script treatment is that when someone asks you for it, you have to make sure that both of you are on the same page as for what a treatment is. Many producers say they want a treatment, but they really mean a pitch (which is a presentation of the script in a few sentences) or an outline ( which is a summary of all the scenes). In most cases, a treatment is the film’s story in a form of a prose (written in paragraphs instead of on the script’s format). The treatment will focus on the highlights of the film and it must be written in a third- person and present tense and to describe only what the audience can see or hear in the film.
The writer’s main job when writing the treatment is making everyone (including himself)  understand how the story is going to be treated.

What is the script treatment good for?

  • First of all – marketing. The treatment is going to be your main marketing tool. Its purpose is to help the reader visualize the film. Producers need to read hundreds of scripts a day. They simply don’t have time for that. That’s why many producers will ask you to hand them a treatment before you hand them the script. If they’ll like the treatment, they’ll ask you for the script.
  • In addition to it being a marketing tool, it is a great writers tool. I really recommend writing the treatment before you start working on the script. The treatment will make you focus on the main story, without the scenes and the dialog that might hide the problems with the story. Using a treatment will save you a lot of time you can waste on a bad script. Eventually , if your basic story isn’t working, the audience will not like your script.
  • The treatment is also a great tool when you already have a script. Sometimes you have a script with great scenes and great dialogues, but they are so great that they hide the story’s problems like story structure problems, conflict problems, premise problem etc. Many writers write the script treatment when they are having that kind of problems in their script or when something in the script doesn’t feel right and they can’t out their finger on what it is.
  • The treatment is also a way to make sure you are using the 3 Acts structure correctly. There are more complicated structures with much more than 3 acts and if you want to go deeper, I recommend reading the book Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

In short, you have only your emotions to sell.
This is the experience of all writers.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

How long should the script treatment be?

There are many opinions as to how long the treatment should be. It should be somewhere between 1-25 pages. Now, I know the last sentence didn’t help you very much, but it really depends on the kind of treatment you write, the kind of writer you are and the purpose of the treatment. The general rule for all kind of treatments is to try to keep it as short as you can, without being too vague. You don’t need to write every detail of the film. When you are getting too deep into the details you might find yourself getting lost. Stay focus on the main story. You can also write about the sub-plots in the treatment, but make sure they are staying sub-plots. Don’t go too deep into them.

The first steps of writing a script treatment

I’m going to give you a few tips that will help you write the best treatment you can have, but before that, I want to go through with you as to what are the first steps you should take when planning to write a treatment.

  • When approaching into writing a treatment, the first thing you need to do is work on your story premise. A clear premise will help you to stay focused on the backbone of your story. Write your premise on a little note and keep looking at it while you are writing the treatment.
  • A good title for the film is also a good way to stay focused on the main theme. Make sure the title is expressing the main idea of the script and what kind of genre it is.
  • Write an outline. An outline is a list of the main events in your story. Focus only on the plot when you do that. Simply write the story while focusing on the main events of the plot and the sub-plots. Make it about one paragraph for each event. Try to make it up to 5 to 10 pages for a feature film.  Read each event out loud and try to imagine it on the film.
  • Now, try to tell your story in one or two sentences. This is an important stage in understanding your story. If you understand your story well, it will save you time when you are writing the treatment. If you are having trouble with that, then there is something wrong with your story.
  • Write a Synopsis. It should be no more than 1 page and it should tell only the plot. Put some time and effort into it, you will use it later on when you’ll try to sell the script, but this will also help you understand the main parts of your story. You need to write only about your main characters important actions that move the story forward and as always- write in third-person- present and no emotions of characters.
  • Your next step is to make a list of the scenes of the film in a chronological order. Write only one sentence to describe each scene. Some writers like to write the scenes in cards so they can play with their order.
  • It is important to go through all the actions of your characters and to understand why the character acting the way he does. Also, understand the relationships between the characters. Why are they together? At least in your mind have their back story.
  • Make it sell. Think how the treatment will “catch” the reader to read more and make sure the style of the film is expressed.

Tips for writing a script treatment that sells

Now, that we covered what a script treatment is, I can give you a few cool and proven tips to help you write a good treatment that will sell your script.

  • Imagine the film. Start by imagining your film. Try to sit in audience seat and see how you are reacting to everything that happens there. Try to focus on the audience feelings and experience as you write the script treatment.
  • keep the treatment simple and clear. Write it in a way that the reader will understand completely where each act starts and ends. There are some writers that even mention the acts in the treatments or even the Mid-point. Try to stay focus as much as you can in the story itself. Try to avoid dialogues as much as you can. Don’t describe any feelings or thoughts of your characters. Remember! Describe only what we see or hear in the film.
  • Put a lot of efforts on the beginning of the treatment. Some writers like to even write the opening shot. Also, make sure the reader can relate to the protagonist right away. You should also try to go into the action of the film within the first two paragraphs. This action has to be something that will arouse the reader to read more. Just be careful not to exaggerate. In the story conflict lesson, we talked about the impotence of the commitment of the main character to her goal. Make sure it is understood right at the start and remember- the main character doesn’t have to stick to that goal throughout the movie, just until his next big goal will arrive.
  • Know the big crisis point. Even before you start working on the script treatment, you should decide right at the front what is the (you can read about it in the story structure lesson).
  • The treatment should deliver the tone and the mood of the film and also the experience that the audience will get from watching it, so if it’s a comedy, write it funny. If it’s an action film you can bring more details on the action scenes. If it’s a drama movie, focus more on the conflict.
  • Know your audience. By audience I mean, who is going to read the treatment? For example, if you are writing it for an actor that you want him to be in the film, focus on his part of the film, so it will look bigger.
  • Make sure that the protagonist’s growth and the changes are clear. the treatment also needs to deliver all the main and supporting characters, that are important to the events in the story.

 

Writing a script treatment is a profession. There are many writers that even make a living just from writing treatments. As I said it is a very important tool for the writer but also for your marketing package. Take the time and efforts to do it right. I also recommend reading the book Writing the Killer Treatment: Selling Your Story Without a Script by Halperin, Michael.There is also a great course from The Writers Store that is all about writing treatments you can read about it by clicking this link
Write My Treatment

The last thing that you need to remember when you are writing a treatment is that changes still may come. You are not writing the final draft, so focus on making it sell.

Internet Movie Script Database

Recording Film Sound On Locations

Tips for Recording Film Sound On Locations

Since the work on the sound design can take a lot of time, you should invest in the sound recording area properly. Why to waste the time of your sound designer on eliminating noises from the scene instead of working on more creative stuff for the scene.

Script breakdown in a sound context

The first step on film sound recording is reading the script. While you read the script, simply write down all the sounds that you hear in your head. If you are starting to have any ideas for ambience sounds, write them down too.
Now:
Look at your list and decide what are the sounds you’ll need to record on location and what are the sounds you can record later on by yourself.

Checking the location

All production begins with locations scout. This scout is done usually with the cinematographer, director, producer, and sound-Men. Sometimes the screenwriter and lighting technician come along. As a soundman, you must insist on being on this scout. If it does not fit your schedule, you may want to reach locations a day prior to the shooting. On the location pay attention to background noises. Will you be able to overcome them? Is it at certain times? Clapp and shout loudly. Do you notice some echo? It’s very important that if you hear something that might be a problem, you’ll insist on fixing it. Don’t let anyone tell you stuff like “Don’t worry, we will fix it in the post”- That’s never happening.

Microphones

The best way to record film sound is to use a few microphones, so each one will be on different character. It is important that your microphones will be of the same type and the right ones to any specific location. There are two main types of microphones: condenser and dynamic.
The dynamic microphone is the type which you usually see with singers and TV news people. Its drawback is that it need to be very close to the source of the sound, which means it goes in the picture.

The condenser microphone  is a mic that receives mainly the sound which it directed to and can come in the form of what is known as Gun mike which is a long microphone. The Gun mike connects to a long pole that called a boom. With this boom, the microphone will be closer to the actor more easily and without it getting inside the image. Condenser also comes with a small microphone that attaches directly to the actor who speaks and it is called Neck Mike. Neck Mike is used mostly in interviews. Sometimes it can be hard to hide it because it should be connected to the actor’s shirt and close to the connection of the neck with the chest. You can use a wireless Neck Mike on scenes where the actor is running or doing tasks that are difficult to follow with a regular condenser.


Hiding the microphones

Film sound is also the art of hiding the microphone. Whatever microphone you’ll choose, you should also think in advance where to hide it in the scene while taking into account that the more you remove the microphone from the character the more background noise will be recorded.
What you’ll need to do is simple:
first to put the actors in place and clarify the boundaries of the frame now it’s possible to determine a good place hidden microphones.You should also note that the actor isn’t standing next to a big noise source.

The Boom Man

During the shooting, the boom man is holding the microphone with a long pole called a boom. The sound man sits behind the mixer that is connected to the microphone and make sure the sound volume stay the same and at the right level all the time. In a low-budget productions the sound man has to be also the boom man, and while he holds the pole (boom), he works on the sound mixer. That is not recommended.

Some tips about holding the boom

  • The Boom man is holding the microphone with legs apart and arms outstretched. It is recommended to keep the boom over the head.
  • You Should pay attention that the cable is firmly held against the microphone boom, or else there will be a cable noise in the shot.
  • The boom should strive to move as little as possible, In order not to make strange noises.
  • While shooting microphone should be directed at the actor who speaks.

Room Tone

Do not leave the location without recording 30 seconds of room atmosphere sound. That means that the whole team is completely silent and only the natural noise of the place is recorded.

Sound tables

The sound man should hold the table containing the following information: scene, shot, Take, Timecode and description. In the description box, he writes his comments on the sound.

single system or double system

When shooting on film, the sound can be recorded separately (double system)to a machine. It used to be only when filming with film, but nowadays we use it even for digital shooting. The main advance of the double system recording is that there are many good cameras that don’t have the XLR connection you need to connect the mike.The single recording means recording directly into the camera.
You’ll need to decide which one will suit you best

 

Point of view

The camera transmits the point of view of an object in the scene. It basically takes the place of looking. If we are filming two people talking and we want to pass the point of view of one over the other, the camera will be in front of the photographed object in the place of the one we want to emulate his eyes. Usually the photographed object will not look directly into the camera, but 30 degrees to the side. If the object looks directly into the camera, it’s like he is looking directly at the audience and thus breaks the magic of cinema. Of course there are quite a few films that do this on purpose, but this should be a conscious decision.

read about more camera angles here

Pan Left \ Right

While the camera sitting on a tripod, we set in motion its lens to the left or right. If the director wants to see more of the right, he will ask the camera man to Pan Right.
These movements often are done relatively slowly unless doing what is called:
“Swish Pan” which is a very fast pan that create a blur background.

Click here for more about camera movements and rules

Tilt Up, Down

While the camera is stable on a tripod, move the lens up or down. If the director wants to see more of below the picture, he will say to the cameraman to tilt down.
Usually we use it to show the size and power of a person or an object in relation to the viewer, so the viewer feels as if he is looking up. The same thing when you want to emphasize the lack of power Tilt down will show the bottom part of a photographed object.

 

Here is a scene from one of the funniest films I know- the movie Top Secret – from the masters of parody- Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker– to show you a small Til up

Click here for an  illustrate that describe it the best

Click here for more about camera movements and rules

How To Make Low Budget Film

 

Producing a low budget film

Financing your film is probably the hardest job of the producer. Later on I’m going to write about raising money for films, but now I’m going to discuss the first step in raising money and it’s saving money.  I have also put a link at the end of the article to a great course full with tactics and strategies for raising money from independent financiers.

Now let’s start by lowering your budget:

Werner Herzog once said that the best advice he can give to young filmmakers is not to wait for someone to finance your film – “If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself.”
Planning a low budget film is no picnic. You do have the advantage of artistic freedom, but as a film producer, there are going to be a lot of problems to deal with.

so here is the deal:

On one hand, the producer’s job is to produce the director’s vision, but he also needs to keep the budget low. You have to remember-The chances that a low budget film will become a hit are not too big (even though we all know about low budget movies like Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and much more that made it big),

but here is the kicker:

The odds that the film will be screened at festivals are not bad at all.
I’m going to give you a few proven low budget film tips that will help you lower your budget tremendously

how to make a low-budget film? by planning ahead

The first step into saving money is planning ahead. Do a script breakdown once you get the final draft of the script. That is the only way you can really understand what the film’s needs are.

Look at what you got

A good way to start is to see what you have. Do that before you decide what film to make. If you got a big house, use that! If it’s a cool car, make a movie that will use it for the best. If it’s talented friends, use them. Take a good look at the unique things you have and own and use them to help you decide what’s your next movie is going to be like and about.

Save money with locations

A good location is the base of every good film. You shouldn’t compromise with it. But still: Sometimes it’s better to lower the expenses that come with the location so you can save money that will help you put up a better lighting or more days of shooting.

Here are a few tips to help you lower location’s expenses:

Try to use as minimum locations as possible

Yes, it may require you to rewrite the script, but if for example you’ll stay in one location and you’ll work with a small team and a relatively simple equipment, You can speed up your shootings with up to eight pages of script on one day of shooting.

Try to shoot as much as possible in houses

That way, each room can be its own location so you do not have to spend the time to move the whole team around. If you are using different locations in different places, make sure that it will be easy to move from one location to the other.

Big Tip:
Do not be embarrassed to ask friends and family to shoot at their houses, but be honest with them about what you are going to do at their home. Tell them how long the shooting is going to last.

Shoot in small rooms

If you are shooting in small rooms, it is possible to use smaller flashlights. and you are going to have to use a smaller film crew

Use every location as much as possible

Try to find locations that have the potential to be a few different locations. Sometimes every corner of a room can be a different location.

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Save money with Narrowing film roles:

Avoid roles of one or two sentences

Think about it- the cashier at the entrance to the theater that says, “What show do you want to see?” That part can cost you much more than if the role would be played without any words. Also, this is a good time to run the script again and see if there are characters that aren’t contributing anything to the script.

“One could make money and get a career going with a low-budget horror film about killers attacking holidays. It is always flattering to have somebody copy you.”
John Carpenter

Investing wisely production team

A good team is very important and you should not compromise with them. Try to get a team that will work in return for getting experience and try to take a professional team for days that are complicated. The roles you should try to find experienced crew are a producer, cinematographer, lighting director, sound editor and assistant director.
Basically the bigger the budget, the more experienced team you should have. Remember! An experienced crew can save your money. Remember that the more your team is experienced, the easier it will be to move around locations and deal with special effects and so on and that should be taken into consideration also. You should also reduce the amount of staff as much as possible and give each member several other roles. It also lowering the production budget and speed up the shootings.

Big Tip:
If you are getting the staff in return for food and experience, they should not spend money on anything such as travel. All they get for their work is this meal and a copy of the film when it is ready. Also, if people are working for you for free, don’t shoot over 10 hours a day.

A good way of payment is by giving the members some percentage of the profits of the film. In this case, there is no need to pay for staff expenses and the working conditions are like regular freelancers. It is important To be clear right from the start about the working conditions and terms of payment.

Choosing actors budget’s wise

Do not use an incompetent people as your actors. I’m talking about friends, family and so on. The actors are a very important part in the success of the movie and it is worth investing there. There are many good actors in the industry, even celebrities that will agree to act for free or at a very low salary.
Just remember! There are plenty of actors who had put all their money in drama schools and then went out to find that there is not much work. Make the most of it. You can find actors in community theaters, drama schools, etc. Advertise in those places, and write in the ads all the necessary information such as gender, age, and type of special features role, etc.

Saving money with cinema equipment

If you are a film student, you can get the school equipment from your film school, but you still may need to rent some of the extra equipment. So the only tip I can give you here to save money is, to look for your team,with the equipment you need.

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Save money on the post-production stage

When you get to the post production stage, invest in it just like the investment at any other stage. This is in the final stage of the film. The latest version of the script in the movie. Take all the time you need to for the video editing. It’s the same deal with sound design and effects.

How to lower your budget on post-production stage?

Rent editing room in dead hours

First, find professional editing rooms that can give you rooms in lower prices during the hours that are dead for them like night and weekends.

Come prepare to the video editing room

Know what you want. Do not waste the time and nerves of the video editor to try things you are not sure of. The more you know what you want, the more you will save editing shifts (and by that- save money)

“Other writers, producers, and directors of low- budget films would often put down the film they were making, saying it was just something to make money with. I never felt that. If I took the assignment, I’d give it my best shot”                                                                                                                    
Roger Corman

What you can do as a producer to save money

Become a Multimedia

In low budget films the crew is very small. That means that the producer has to do a lot of other jobs like finding locations, be involved in the casting of extras and much more. Sometimes the film producer even finds himself acting as an assistant director (although it is not recommended)

Be very very organized

If you are working on a low budget production, it is important to be very organized, disciplined and to understand all the processes in the production, also it is advised to know how to control your team better, to be skilled in negotiations, to be resourceful and know to use all available resources and most important to be able to think outside the box.

The next steps of financing your film

Now that you know how to save money, you can move on to the next step of financing your film and that is the script breakdown. If you want to deepen your knowledge in funding your film, I really recommend checking this amazing course from Tom Malloy. Tom Malloy, an experienced producer, that teaches a solid funding strategy with many proven tactics for raising money from independent financiers. The system consists of several training modules through all the stages from script to the pitch, business plan and more. The price right now is 67$ but if you are really serious about filmmaking, it can save you a lot of money later on and more important – a lot of time. There is also a 100% money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied in any way.
You can check it out by clicking Here!