Heading out to make your first short film might feel daunting, but there are ways in which you can be efficient on your first go!
Since the onset of the 21st century, filmmaking has become much more accessible than it was before. The shift from celluloid to digital is part of the contributing factor behind the democratization of cinema as an art form. Today, the technology to make a film is accessible to most, as it fits in one’s own pocket in the form of a smartphone.
A high-definition camera being available to everybody is one of the major reasons why social media platforms are seeing a rise in independent content creators. However, the film has a very different approach than a reel or a short-form video. To grasp the challenge of shooting a movie, there are some prerequisites you should have in mind. These will help you translate your ideas better and map your vision before you have even started your shoot. Filmmaking is essentially problem-solving, and being a good director requires you to resolve the problem before it has happened.
Tackle your limitations with creativity
As a first-time director with no experience, it is extremely unlikely that you will get exorbitant funding for your project. Although there are creative ways in which you can bridge the monetary divide in your story, For instance, in the movie Clerks, Kevin Smith shot on 16mm black-and-white film in his own store to cut costs and cast his friends as actors. He did so by infusing their real personalities into the script.
In the case of your personal passion project, you might first have to understand what your limitations are. If shooting on an expensive camera isn’t possible for you, your DSLR or phone footage should become an aesthetic rather than a limitation. The script must fit the grungy and low-quality feel of the camera. A brilliant example of this is the horror classic The Blair Witch Project, where the crew shot the film like it was a found footage documentary.
Shoot in places you are familiar with
Among the challenges you’ll face on a shoot, one of the biggest is location management. As most of your shots need to be planned beforehand, there are many difficulties you and your crew might run into. Situating your story in places you know will give you an extreme advantage. Managing people and actors becomes easier if you are familiar with the location, so you can anticipate problems and prepare for them at the same time. Doing this also grounds your short film in reality and adds a degree of authenticity to your presentation. Logistically speaking, it is also easier to design shots and camera movements. For instance, Darren Aronofsky and his cinematographer Matthew Libatique shot their first feature Pi in the streets of New York which were familiar to them; most of the story takes place inside an apartment to heighten the claustrophobia, yet shots outside feel extremely professional.
Select your crew wisely
For debutant directors, it is imperative to choose one’s crew extremely carefully. The crew makes or breaks your film. The reason for that is that cinema is a collaborative art form, and a space in which you can freely express your ideas makes a difficult task seem easy. Selecting the right people will also bring a lot of enthusiasm and positive energy to your project. On the contrary, if you don’t choose people carefully, even menial tasks can seem like a burden and foster negative thoughts!