Making Your First Short Film.


how to make a short film

The short film form is a great and easy way to grab audiences attention quickly, because of its obvious quick running time. Unlike its budding feature film form, which usually has to work harder and faster to grab and sustain that attention, but a lot of people struggle and want to know how to make a short film.

Short films are an art form in itself, they have specific characteristics and needs that need to be mostly followed in order for success. Technically under 15 minutes, the shorter the better, but the information placed must be thought-out. Cutting out the right amount of footage and clips is crucial for the influence of the film! But today we will tell you exactly everything you need to about how to make a short film.

Short films are a great way for inspiring filmmakers to get experience and recognition. Making your first short will also make you consider if a career as a filmmaker is right for you. Filmmaking is not easy, and many people only realise this on day 3 of their set experience when the actors are crying and the crew are arguing about the last packed of biscuits. Making your first short film is the perfect testing ground on how to make a short film.

8 Tips On How To Make A Short Film:

1. Work on your story.

The first thing that you’ll need to do to start off your production is to have a good story idea, whatever your genre is, you’ll need to start the writing process first and foremost, this sets the stage for your projects. If you have a Screenwriter friend you can ask them to help you with the writing process, or you write it yourself, if you’re not used to writing screenplays then there is a lot of information out there on youtube or google to help you. A ten minute film should be around 7-8 pages long and we would recommend you use screenwriting software such as, Final Draft or CeltX. 

Here are some links to help you start your screenwriting journey: How to write a script – Masterclass. Filmmaking 101.

2. Pre- Production.

After you’ve got your script together and are confident it will be a good story to tell, you’ll need to start thinking about pre-production. You’ll first need to get yourself a crew together. Filmmaking is a collaborative process, working with others is also an enjoyable way to make your film, you can get friends, family or whoever else is interested in working on a film set.

Every good production needs a good Producer or Co- Producer and an 1st Assistant Director. If you can’t get a producer then you can do it yourself!  These two roles will help you out expeditiously on your production: They will help you find crew, with location scouting, with casting, making call sheets, schedules, contracts, release forms, catering and they’ll be with you every step of the way. These are all integral parts of learning how to make a short film.

The essential crew you’ll need:  Production Designer, Art Director, Lighting, Sound, Gaffers, Spark, Camera Operator, DoP, 2nd Assistant Director and a Script Supervisor.

Based on your budget, you can hire professional crew or see if people will work for free in exchange for experience. Websites such as Mandy and The Dots, are great for finding actors or crew. Facebook pages and groups are also a good place to find crew.

3. Budgeting.


how to make a short filmFilmmaking is expensive. Hiring talent and crew, getting kit together, hiring locations and most of all, feeding everyone. Depending on the scale of your production, you will need to work out how much everything is going to cost you. The key to a smooth production is to make sure you have a good budget plan organised. If you can’t self fund the production, you can use a website such as Kickstarter, where you ask friends and family to help fund your project.

 

 

4. Storyboard and Shot List.

how to make a short filmThe next thing is to work with a good DoP to help come up with a good shot list and storyboard. Storyboards are a pictorial representation of each scene, shot- by- shot. They do not need to be artistic, but need to have a clear indication of where the characters are places and where the camera will be, it’s framing with details such as focal length, camera movement and location.

Working closely with your DoP will teach you how to make a short film and achieve both of your artistic vision.

Storyboard Help. 

5, Equipment

how to make a short film

Equipment is the most expensive thing about filmmaking, but without it, we can’t make a film! You’ll need to do some research on what kind of equipment you can want, what you can get your hands on, etc. The most important thing is to get yourself a good camera and some good lighting set ups. Lighting is key!

 

 

6,  Get ready to Direct!

If you are planning on directing your film, you’ll have to brush up on Directing 101. You will need to learn how to direct your actors to achieve you intended vision, character emotions and reaction are key to telling the kind of story you want to tell. You need to know who you’re working with, as everyone actor will be different. You need to be prepared and flexible. You need to learn how to be direct, but also give your actors enough space to think/ collaborate and find their headspace.

You will have time to prepare and also get experience in rehearsals. Another thing is to watch directors online and observe how they direct film acting.

7. Make the movie.

The big day has finally come! This is the most vital part of your production, but also the most fun part. If you have a good call sheet and schedule, then it should go smoothly. Having a good 1st Assistant Director also helps in making sure you are on time, it makes everyone concentrate and remember that you need to get shots done!

Always take extra shots, including close-up angles that you can add while putting the film together. Always shoot a little more than the intended scene because you never know when you could use a particular shot.

Also remember to focus on sound! Most often sound is added in post production.  Although dialogue can be added in post as well, having a good sound recordist will make sure the sound is the best it can be.

Remember to feed and hydrate your cast and crew throughout the day, make sure there are no accidents on set and always consider the weather if you’re going to be shooting on location.  They key is to work positively with everyone on set and make sure everyone is safe. This is how you’ll learn on how to make a short film.

8. Post Production!

how to make a short film Once filming is over, make sure to back everything up so no footage is lost, this is key in continuity.Get yourself some good editing software or an editor. You will have to work closely with your editing and sound team to decide on which shoots to keep, the visuals and feel of the film. Add sound affects, music and voiceovers and remember to colour grade, this will make your film look professional. It is also a good idea to go in for a second edit, just to add final touches you might not have noticed the first time around.

Once re-editing has been done, re-look the film one last time with your crew, and check if all suggestions have been incorporated. Get final feedback on the film and ensure all issues encountered during editing have been rectified.

Having a film finished so other people can watch it is the most important part of filmmaking. Even if you think it’s not perfect, finished is better than perfect.

Now all that is required is to get it out there!

The key is to find your voice, create work, get it online and people will take notice. Websites like Vimeo are such a good platform for young filmmakers.