As I read “How Not to Make a Short Film” I felt more and more cheated, not by the book but simply by my film school. Why we hadn’t my instructors taught me this stuff? This is a book every film pupil, every filmmaker must read prior to writing, producing, or directing a short film. It’s a must-have resource that guides one through filmmaking’s precarious decisions and shows how to avoid the many errors in judgment that indicate mediocre films. Written by Roberta Marie Monroe, an award-winning filmmaker, and former Sundance Film Festival video clip programmer, Roberta brings to the table a wealth expertise about every phase, from getting pregnant to production to distribution.
With regard to filmmakers, film festivals are the main outlets and they have become the judge, court, and sometimes the executioner when it comes to evaluating the worth of a video clip. By knowing what not to do you may greatly increase one’s chances of having your work being seen and appreciated. In this respect, the book walks a person through the minefield of mistakes that aspiring filmmakers and seasoned advantages make, so that you don’t have to make them your self. In addition , the book features interviews with many of today’s most gifted writers, producers, and directors, in addition to provocative stories from Roberta’s own short film experiences.
The book can be laid out in a most pragmatic style and follows the steps you might normally take in producing a short film. The very first chapter on the script story discusses keeping it fresh and listings a multitude of storylines to avoid, storylines which have become mundane through overuse. Whenever programmers say, “Been there, noticed it, ” you lose them along with your audience. This chapter I found most fascinating as it allows us inside the programmer’s mind and the primary selection criteria, namely what’s the story and why exactly should I watch it? This section also covers the script assessment such as hiring a consultant and the pros and cons of getting feedback from friends.
An additional chapter discusses film length and how it should match the story. DP Geary McLeod comments, “Every single framework has to work, it has to move the story forward. ‘Economical’ is what short filmmakers need to remind themselves. ” The book goes on to point out that it’s furthermore easier to find a slot for an 8-12-minute film versus a 28-minute opus. Meredith Kadlec adds, “Don’t fall into the trap of trying to prove how MUCH you can do, rather [show] how WELL you can do it. ”
“How Not to… ” addresses a wide array of filmmaking considerations, from selecting a producer, knowing their duties, to budgeting, plus ways to save money and raise funds. The chapter on Crewing Up is most relevant to first-time filmmakers. It talks about the synergy of a film crew as well as how to guide their efforts and handle the ever-changing dynamics. This chapter describes the key positions, people you need to consult before you shoot along with subjects that need to be addressed. The chapter reiterates the need for harmonious collaboration and the fact that you cannot do it all by yourself.
All these considerations may seem daunting at first when they are not addressed, your film suffers as a result. After reading this book, I had been overwhelmed by the multitude of responsibilities. However I remembered Roberta’s mantra that you should have good people around you which book provides direction on how to choose your support team.
Casting is another area where the author suggests seeking assistance. She goes through the process of locating and hiring a casting director combined with the reasons for doing so. One would assume that casting directors would avoid short movies but many look on it as a way to provide work and exposure for their clients, especially those that have breakout potential. Suggestions about auditions, rehearsals and creating a secure space for your actors in also offered in this chapter. Actor Chase Gilbertson talks about how neophyte company directors sometimes drift off track. “Obviously if I’m doing your film, the story was good enough in the first place but now rather than simply telling a good story, occur to be trying to make a Hollywood blockbuster. Yeah, you’ve got a lot of cool toys yet ultimately what is the end result? What happened to the story? ”
The chapter on production discusses numerous precautions relating to the on-set experience along with creative solutions to some of these problems. One of the best was using New York Calls to outfox an innocuous business owner. Other troublesome areas covered include on-set etiquette and attitude, insurance and permits together with meals and craft services. What was especially important is Roberta’s guidance to have a good time, be prepared, and enjoy the magical moment of being a filmmaker.
Post-production is the love/hate partnership of filmmaking. All mixed together is the footage you love followed by the worst shots, lighting, performance, and blocking of your life. Roberta repeats many times, “This is normal. ” She also suggests reading Walter Murch’s book “In the Blink of the Eye” to gain some extraordinary insights into the editing process. Knowledge of how editing works is paramount to your success on set, she says, for then you’ll know which photos are most important to tell your story. The chapter also hits on how technology has made filmmaking less self-disciplined, i. e., shooting more video footage, cutting faster, and ending up with additional versions while wasting labor.
Roberta sights a MPAA report saying that only 2% of all feature-length films actually secure a theatrical or even DVD release. From that one may surmise that in the short film entire world distribution could be even more difficult. Orly Ravid of New American Vision points out that will distribution process starts before you create your film. You need a sense associated with who is the audience, conceive the film’s appeal in advance and have convincing marketing illustrations or photography that sells the film. Orly also advises budgeting funds for advertising outreach. This chapter discusses many channels for distribution but declares that your short may also have value as a TV pilot or when expanded into a feature. Orly’s invaluable questionnaire “Is Your Film Submission Ready? ” covers the most challenging and overlooked areas. Academy certification information is also covered in this chapter.
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Roberta makes finding short vendors easy by posting an up-to-date list of U. S. and international businesses on her website.
The chapter within the Sundance Film Festival provides an lighting up background as well as effective submission techniques. The submission do’s and don’ts list by Sundance programming manager Adam Montgomery will help move you film further up the selection ladder. The section on publicity plus marketing tells what you need, basically a robust website, a stellar collection of nevertheless photos and a simple business cards directing people to your site. In addition , posting a trailer will greatly improve your ranking on Google and give viewers a better glimpse of your work.
The rest of the guide is allotted to sample budgets, top short filmmaker clichés, and an extensive resource guide. This guide contains listings of short friendly film festivals, short film distributors, blogs, community outreach organizations, databases, plus broadcast and online television companies.
“How Not to Make a Short Film-Secrets from a Sundance Programmer” vividly depicts the particular enormous task that filmmaking entails. Yet it shows how simply by avoiding the many pitfalls one can save time and money and create a short film that remains memorable in the minds associated with programmers and audiences. Well written and timely, I strongly recommend this book as an addition to every filmmaker’s resource library.