How to Make a Short Film

It's easier than ever to make a film, new technologies have brought costs down, while the internet's made it possible to collaborate with like-minded filmmakers to develop your film.

Making a film is divided into three stages:

1. PRE PRODUCTION

  • write the script
  • create a budget in the business plan
  • raise funds for your film
  • planning production

2. PRODUCTION

  • production (shooting the film)
  • post-production (editing, grading and visual effects)

3. DISTRIBUTION

  • get your film seen at film festivals, screenings and on DVD
  • bring in money to your investors

Developing your Concept

What is the story you want to tell and who would want to see your film? You need to set out a film proposal that contains the outline of your project. With this document you will be able to bring crew on board, apply for grants and will give you a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

Writing the Script

The script, or screenplay, outlines all of the elements (audio, visual, behavior, and dialogue) that are required to tell a story through movies or TV.

Storyboard your Film

It's the way to visualize how actors, props, backgrounds and camera angles will fit together in any particular scene or sequence of shots. It's the visualization of your script.

Prepare a Budget

Create a realistic estimate of how much your short film will cost and be liberal with your cost projections. Make sure you've budgeted for all your needs and get otherwise you might not be able to show your film in festivals or get distribution. It's better to spend more time raising too much money than to find yourself in a situation where your film is half-done and you are out of funds.

Find Funding for your Film

The most important document is your Budget which is included in the Business Proposal. See here methods of raising money for your film.

Hire your Cast and Crew

Go into Production

Finish your Film in Post Production

Get your Film seen with Distribution

 

Probably the most important part of the process is writing the script – you can take the best actors and the most expensive kit, and still make a bad film if the script isn't up to scratch. It's also the cheapest part to fix, so take your time over it. Everyone starts small "A common mistake is being overambitious," says Virgin Media Shorts winner Jason Wingard. "I have seen first time film makers trying to shoot 20-30 min dramas or even features far too early. Shoot something simple."

Remember: almost every great film-maker started out making short films.
Location, location, location Draw up a list of available locations (home, workplace, etc) and write around them.

Even mundane locations can be made interesting with a clever script – look at films like Primer (set mainly in a suburban house and garage) and Following (set mostly in houses and flats, with a couple of key scenes shot after hours in a nightclub). Embrace your limitations Make a list of the resources you have available to you and work out what sort of story you can tell with them. Got access to an unusual location or prop? Make it the centrepiece of your film.