How To Produce a Short Film You Will Be Proud Of
(Posted On: 28-09-2015)
The following article shows how you can achieve this.
As producer you are responsible for the cost of this project so make sure you choose your script with the budget in mind. This means minimal characters and minimal locations. Mine had only two characters and was set in one location for this very reason.
Depending how confident you are in your writing ability you can write it yourself which will help keep your budget down or you can get someone else to write it for you. I'd had a degree and masters degree both specializing in scriptwriting and had written a feature-length stage play before I'd written this one so was confident in my ability. Whatever you do, don't take a chance. If you're not confident in your scriptwriting abilities hire an experienced scriptwriter to write one for you. There are plenty of up-and-coming writers just looking for a chance to get their work shown.
It's a short film so keep your story simple and to the point. You don't have time for subplots or lengthy expositions. You want to hook the audience's interest very quickly and keep them hooked until the end. My script had a very simple premise and ran at around eight minutes.
This is a professional movie intended to be seen by other professionals in the industry so somewhere along the line it is going to cost you. If you want professionals working for you, you're going to have to pay them. You will need actors, film crew, food to feed your actors and crew, travel expenses and an editor at the very least so make sure all this is accounted for as well as any 'extras' you failed to see at the outset.
There are various ways to raise the capital for your movie including:
Crowd funding platforms (such as Kickstarter.com)
Friends and family
Your own personal money
Grants and crowd funding platforms will take time and with little to no credentials are not guaranteed. If you're not lucky enough to have friends and family willing to fund your project then most likely you're going to be using your own cash.
I paid both actors the equity minimum per day and agreed a fixed price with the production company to hire a crew for shooting and to cover the editing. Make sure you have enough in the bank in case you have to go over your intended budget. My initial budget was £1,000 but ended up being closer to £2,000 by the end.
It is imperative that your actors are at least trained if not that experienced. The last thing you want is a beautifully shot film let down by shoddy performances. If you can get a named actor even better but chances are you won't. There are various sites you can advertise for professional actors such as Mandy.com, castingcallpro.com, Spotlight.com etc. Each actor should have a decent show-reel you can watch which will give you an indication of their level of experience and ability. I was lucky as an actress I had previously worked in theatre with was available and the other actor came recommended.
Ultimately you are all involved in creating something deeply personal and intimate together so you will want to hire people you can get on with and work well together with which is something I always bear in mind when casting actors.
How much you pay them depends on what you agree. Both my actors were happy to work for free but I chose to pay the Equity minimum because I wanted this to be a professional venture and to give them an incentive for giving me their best work.
You will need them to sign release forms allowing you to use their name and image once the film is complete. It is highly unlikely an actor will refuse you permission to show their work but it always pays to be on the safe side. You can download these from the internet or contact a film industry union for more information on where to get these.
At the very least you will need an experienced director (if you're not directing this yourself), DP (with their own camera kit), sound and lighting crew and editor. Start with the DP and they should take care of the rest.
Again you can advertise for a DP on sites like Mandy.com or ShootingPeople.com where you will likely be inundated with responses. DP's should have a decent show-reel for you to watch and base your decisions on.
The crew I hired came based on personal recommendation from the actress I was using. A young, up-and-coming production company who had already made a feature-length movie they were hungry to make more movies. Once on board they took care of logistics such as securing a location, camera set-ups, release forms, food and call sheets thus lifting a great deal of worry from my shoulders.
Time is go