Are you a writer who wants to get your work out there? Many writers are now taking matters into their own hands when it comes to getting their work produced, especially in short film.
It can be tricky to navigate from being a writer to organising a team of cast and crew for a small shoot. But it’s possible! And guess what? There’s no ‘set way’ in which to do it.
That’s right – there is no ‘pathway’ to producing. And after you’ve done your first production you’ll do things differently the next time.
Here are our Top 5 shortcuts that we come back to, time after time:
1) Good, Fast & Cheap?
Many will be familiar with the notion that you can pick any two but never all three. Now switch it up.
To produce a piece of work – in this case a short film – you’re going to need a Writer, Producer & Director. If you are setting out on your first short film then you can choose to do any two of those roles. You are already the Writer so you get to choose between being the Writer/Producer or Writer/Director.
So: Choose your strength and set yourself up for success. MORE: How To Maximise Your Portfolio
2) Trust is key!
The most common choice is to become the Writer/Producer and this means you have to select a director to work with. You need to find someone you can trust (because they have a quality showreel you admire) and someone who is on the same wavelength as you.
Where do you find these people? Look for graduates from the NFTS, Film Schools or advertise on Shooting People. Once you have selected the right director for you – hand over creative control to them.
So: Trust that you have selected the right person to deliver your project and let them get on with it. MORE: All About Relationships & Teamwork
3) It’s all in the timing
Set yourself up for success and plan to shoot no more than 4-6 pages per day. Don’t kill everyone on set with long hours, don’t kill your script and don’t make the editor want to kill you because there’s not enough material to choose from.
So: Create a reasonable timetable and organise yourself. MORE: The Writer Is King (Or Queen) … IF You’re In Ultra-Low-Budget Film
4) Are you experienced?
Always select and book a location with the director, DoP and Sound dept.
You can’t see or hear what they can see and hear – remember this is your first shot at producing your own work. Listen to the experience of those around you. And if you’ve done your job properly you have surrounded yourself with people who are better than you. That way you’ve just turned your first shot at producing your short film into your very own film school education!
So: Find people who are better than you and trust them to do their jobs and you will learn an immense amount in the process. MORE: 4 Top Tips for Entering Short Film Contests
5) Lights, Camera… Actors
Where do we get our actors? Firstly, you need to make sure you have budgeted accordingly but you can get good actors to work on your project for around £100 per day plus expenses. Use agents as your casting director. Here’s how. Write a thorough breakdown of your characters; age, accent, class and then email that breakdown along with brief details of the project and the fee you are going to pay the actor to the agents.
You can find a list of agents in CONTACTS which you can buy from Spotlight, HERE. Agents are great because they have done a lot of the leg work for you already. If an agent sends you one of their clients as a suggestion for your short – you don’t have to worry about ‘if they can act’. You only need to think about ‘are they right for the part’.
You then book a church hall or small space for the casting. You will want to see if they can listen to you and take direction. You then have the difficult choice of deciding if they are ‘right’ for your project. Let the agents know who has or hasn’t made the cut. Be professional and courteous and suddenly you have the beginnings of a reputation with actor’s agents.
So: Actors are an invaluable asset and a secret tip to finding good ones is to go through an agent. Then it’s up to you to figure out if they are right for your project. MORE: 3 Issues With Casting That Great Character In The Produced Version Of Your Screenplay
As we said earlier, there is no set way to do this and we do hear a lot of people asking, “But how do you produce a film, I don’t know where to start?”
You start by surrounding yourself with people who are better than you. At Makelight Productions we’ve made countless shorts and been screened in festivals all over the world. We are now embarking on our first feature film. You can find out more about it HERE.
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