On the back on the BIFA's 2013, we are reminded of the great talent the British Film industry has to offer; some of the nominees and winners were fresh new faces and others were regulars to our TV and cinema screens. Many film makers come and go through the film industry and, unfortunately, the industry is not always a kind one. However there are steps you can take to equip you with the knowledge needed to make it in the film industry, take heed of these wise words; they will be of use to you in future:

1. Their Scripts And Screenplays Don't Tell Stories

One of the most common failings with films submitted to the festival is that they lack structure; if there's no story, people won't watch it.

This is the same for documentaries; the best documentaries have a strong and engaging story with a beginning, middle and end.

Once you have the bones of your story, try to condense it down to one or two lines which are at it's heart, this helps to keep focus and ensure that everything you write links back to that.

9 Elements of Great Films

2. They Don't Clear Music Rights

Music is an integral part of a film and can really put your film on the map. But remember: You can't put someone else's music in your film without their written permission. If you do, you are in breach of copyright laws in every single country in the world.

Get music for your film

3. They Don't Understand Social Media

Social media has grown to gargantuan proportions and can be intimidating to tackle. Getting a firm handle on what you need to do to build a following of people for you will be invaluable for gaining support. Here are some articles to help you:

7 Things Filmmakers Can Learn From Perez Hilton

10 Twitter Tips For Filmmakers

4. They Don't Move With The Times

The films that people love to watch are ground-breaking, either with regard to topic or techniques used. Films like Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity have inspired many Film-makers and played on trends of the time.

Take a look at what you need to know with our 14 Trends Film-makers Watch in 2013.

5. They Don't Have a Marketing Strategy

Successful Film-makers can visualise the film buyer and distributor of their film BEFORE they make it. To successfully market and promote your film, you need to know exactly who you are promoting to.

The article below will give you the essentials for that all important press kit.

7 Elements of a Press Kit

6. They Don't Network

It's a people's industry. If you don't talk to that person sitting next to you, you may miss the opportunity to work with the producer/director/writer boozin-archerstyou're looking for.

They may not be able to work on your project, but they might know someone or they might be able to give you the advice that will solve your problem.

Get started by coming along to our next Boozin' and Smoozin' on the 2nd Monday of each month!

7. They Don't Make Films/Write Scripts

Practice makes perfect. The cheapest way to learn is to learn from your mistakes and successes! If you can't write a short script, no one will commission you to write a feature. No matter where your talent lies, start filmmaking.

Get together with a few mates and film something on someone's mobile phone. Then, with whoever still wants to do it, make another. And another. Your first mobile phone film may not have been BIFA worthy, but with a couple of films under your belt you'll be rapidly improving.

There's no better way to learn how to make films than by making films.

If you're hitting a wall when making your film and want to learn how to get through it, Raindance offers many courses to help you. If you are shooting your first few films, perhaps try this one:

99  Minute Film School which is £15 or FREE for Raindance Premium members

8. Don't expect handouts from government

The government has slashed arts funding over the last five years and we may have to expect more cuts to come.

Do not rely on government funding!

Use social media, use contacts, and use your initiative.

How Filmmakers Approach Investors

9. They Don't Train

Everyone makes mistakes when they're starting out, but you can minimize these by learning useful techniques and talking to people who know their stuff!short-film-project

Film theory won't help you when you're learning to make films, but listening to people with practical filming experience can. They've done it before and they can give you hints which will help you avoid some of the nightmares that first time film-makers often face.

If you feel there are gaps in your knowledge, there are plenty of courses Raindance offers to help you:

Raindance Film Training Courses

10. The Favourite Whine of Failed Film-makers

"We can't make a film, or write a screenplay because..."

Don't make excuses. Make Movies. Write Scripts.

They Say 'But I don't know how anything works'

Google and Youtube are wonderful inventions; if you don't know something, find out! There are loads of classes available and hundreds of websites with hints about every aspect of filmmmaking. Our indie tips include articles on everything from special effects to directing.

The 4 Habits of Successful Filmmakers

11. They think "I'll fix it in post"

With all the advances in post production technology, you can now do almost anything in post. And with software getting cheeper all the time, it's easy to rely on it to fix our mistakes, but don't be fooled.

Whether you're dubbing the audio or getting rid of a boom in shot, fixing stuff in post should only be used as a very last resort. If there's any way that you can fix it during production it will almost always work out quicker and easier than sorting it in post.

If you get everything as good as it can possibly be then post-production will be a calm and stress free proccess

The 13 steps of post production

12. They Alienate Their Crew

The words please and thank you cost nothing yet so many people forget them. If you're making a low budget film then the chances are that most, if not all, of your crew are working for nothing because they love your project, so be nice to them.

Try to get them decent food and decent coffee. When you're frustrated that the sun has gone in on that perfect shot, don't take it out on your DoP. When a train goes past just as you're filming a pivotal moment, don't take it out on your sound engineer.

It's simply good manners!

13. They Don't Get Permission to Film on Location

The rules on where you can and can't film in London are notoriously complicated.

It mostly depends on which borough you're filming in and how much disruption it will cause, but it's best to do your research well in advance of filming. The last thing that you want is to have your schedule disrupted because you suddenly discover that you cannot film somewhere.

You'll also need to make sure that you have permission to film on any private property, and be clear on whether your location is private or public property.

You can find more information on filming in London on Film London's Guide to Filming or British Film Locations if you are filming outside of London

14. They Don't Consider Other Opinions

If you show someone your script and they have constructive criticism don't ignore it - you may not agree but consider whether it will improve your script. The same is true if someone on your crew has another idea of how to achieve an effect.

People who have worked on different projects will have different approaches to a problem, but make sure you give someone's idea full consideration.

15. They Don’t Consider Other Opinions

If you show someone your script and they have constructive criticism don’t ignore it – you may not agree but consider whether it will improve your script. The same is true if someone on your crew has another idea of how to achieve an effect.

People who have worked on different projects will have different approaches to a problem, but make sure you give someone’s idea full consideration

16. They Believe Their Own Press Kit

Being narcissistic is part of the artistic personality. One needs a certain amount of arrogance as an artist. How else does a painter know where to put the brush?

Sometimes, however, one’s judgement gets clouded and you need to recognise this and be open to criticism. It’s also a good idea to surround yourself with a couple trustworthy friends ballsy enough to kick you in the pants when you spend too much time on your high horse.

Fade Out

Now, back to your writing and filmmaking.

Hope to see you and your film at the festival


Elliot Grove





😉 Now, back to your writing and filmmaking.

Raindance Film Festival is now open for submissions until 20th June 2014 at the latest. For more information  on how to submit a film for Raindance Film Festival 2014, visit out website

Hope to see you and your film at the festival!

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Elliot Grove
Elliot Grove founded Raindance a quarter century ago as a thought experiment: Can you make a film with no money, no training and no experience, he asked? When people like his first intern Edgar Wright started making movies he founded the Raindance Film Festival to celebrate their work in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998.

He founded the Independent Filmmakers' Ball in 2014

Elliot has produced over 700 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 (1997) was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America. In 2006 he produced the multiple-award winning The Living and the Dead.
In 2013 he relaunched the production arm: Raw Talent with the cult film director Ate de Jong. Their first venture was the psychological thriller Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. finished late 2013.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008), Raindance Producers' Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). He was awarded a PhD in 2009 for services to film education. His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Elliot teaches several courses at Raindance including Lo To No Budget Filmmaking and Writer's Foundation Certificate.

Read articles by Elliot Grove.