You’ve been thinking about this for a while. I know you have and I think you should DO IT.
Don’t know where to begin? DON’T WORRY… I got you. It all starts with COMMITTING TO IT. There are a few hoops and obstacles but it’s possible if you DECIDE that it’s happening no matter what.
The greatest way to learn is by doing. But the film industry is one where it can be hard to be given opportunities. One of the best avenues to receive them is by creating them for yourself. Here are some steps to help you make your first short film:
1. COMMIT. COMMIT. COMMIT.
2. Come up with an idea: The short film world is VAST. It ranges from two people talking, one person talking to no one, claymation, silent film, black and white, mixed media, musicals! IT’S ENDLESS. This could be a story that you've always wanted to tell, a concept that you've been thinking about, or something completely random that comes to you. The key is to find something that excites YOU. If it peaks your interest, or moves you emotionally it’s bound to do the same for others.
3. Write a script: Once you have an idea, it's time to put it to paper. Or to screen (who are we kidding?). A script is a detailed outline of your film, including dialogue, action, and character development. This helps in the efficiency of shooting and makes sure all of your ideas are understood by the creative team, so that you can get all the footage you need. It's important to keep your script concise, as short films are typically under 15 minutes in length. Most short film festivals won’t take submissions longer than that. The ideal is 10 minutes. ***The general rule for shooting is a minute per page.
4. Gather a team: No film is made by one person alone, so it's important to curate an ensemble of talented individuals to help bring your vision to life. This could include actors, a director, a cinematographer, and other crew members. Obviously if you don’t have a budget you have to ask people to donate their time and talent, but you’d be surprised at how willing people are to participate. And if you are going to spend money anywhere, spend it on SOUND. iPhones these days are incredible enough to make Oscar nominated feature films, but the sound on them aren’t. This can make or break your movie, so get ahead of the problem by investing in someone who knows what they are doing.
5. Scout locations: Finding the right location can be crucial to the success of your film. Take some time to scout out different locations and choose one that best fits the mood and atmosphere of your story. Remember, most public settings like a park or playground require permits. These permits can be free or with little cost, but make sure you are doing everything legally.
6. Rehearse and shoot: Once you have your team and locations in place, it's time to start prepping and filming. This is where you'll bring your script to life and capture all of the footage you need for your film. Make a list of every shot you need to get to make the movie complete. This way you’ll know how many set ups, angles and people you’ll need to get it done. PRO TIP: You don’t have to shoot in order either. Most productions will shoot on a location availability basis or an actor availability basis. If you have multiple scenes at the park, shoot all of them there before going to another location, so you don’t go back and forth. Saves time and money.
7. Edit and add special effects: After you've shot all of your footage, it's time to edit your film and add any special effects if necessary. This can be a time-consuming process, but it's an important step in ensuring that your film looks and feels the way you want it to. There’s an old saying that goes: “there’s the film you write, the film you shoot and the film you edit and they are all different.” Magic can happen between the chemistry of the actors and maybe the story changes because of the people you cast or the weather outside while you’re filming takes the movie in a different direction. Be open to the possibility that your movie can change and get better by unforeseen circumstances.
8. Share your film: Once you've completed your film, it's time to share it. Pick a select few of trusted individuals to view it and get their thoughts. You’ll learn if you think you need to change something or if you feel confident in your choice. Once settled with the final edit you can do whatever you want! You can upload it to a video sharing platform like YouTube or Vimeo, or screen it at a local film festival or submit it across the world. If you are submitting to festivals though, you can’t have it on a public video sharing platform. Most festivals wouldn’t accept it.
Creating a short film can be a challenging but rewarding process. By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to creating your first short film, expanding your knowledge and sharing it with the world! We can’t wait to watch what you create. :)