Looking to embark on your film career but not quite sure where to start? Development Executive Peter Parker of the Creative England Film Team shares his top 5 tips for all those about to make their very first short film...
Up Close And Personal
New filmmakers share a collective fear of visually stating the obvious in their first short. They don't want to be seen to be manipulating audience emotion; they want to remain artistically elusive and subtly underpin their action. However, in doing so they often fail to get up close and personal to their protagonist. DO NOT be afraid to get tighter with the camera; to look past their eyes and get inside their head. If you don't show it on screen…how do you expect your audience to feel it?
Set-Up? Less Is More
The journey from a short film screenplay to a first cut will tell you everything you need to know (or not!) about exposition and backstory. In this case, less is most definitely more. If the average short film is between 9 and 15 minutes long you don't want to waste a third of your run time setting the scene; and then setting it some more. What you find in the edit is that compression of the narrative brings with it an innovation in storytelling… the rest is usually just needless repetition.
Cut In Camera
If you want to save yourself a whole world of pain in the edit and bring clarity to your vision (and your shot list!) … then make sure you appoint your editor as early as you can and, wherever humanely possible, get them on set to work with the director and the DOP. Trust us… you'll be extremely happy that you did.
Cover All The Angles
Pick-ups and re-shoots are the bane of every producer's existence. Never EVER underestimate the time, capacity and resource it takes to get a short film made. A short isn't any easier to make than a feature… you're just on set for a fewer number of days. So get a great line producer or 1st AD and make sure there's some wriggle room in your schedule and contingency in your budget. If you fail to plan, you are without doubt… planning to fail.
Why are you making this short? You better have the answer to that question before you start shooting it, and preferably before you start writing it! Does this represent the type of films you want to go on to make? Is it linked to a feature concept? Is it a calling card to get an agent or find a Producing partner? Do you already have plans for distribution? Which media platforms do you want to reach and why? Which festivals are you targeting; what are their submission deadlines? There's literally no point making a short unless you know who you're making it for, where these people are and how you're going to reach them. Artists create; filmmakers must connect.
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