9 Tips for Filmmakers Struggling to Make Their Short Film - Raindance

The first short film is the point in the filmmakers’ lives where they fly the nest to dive into their storytelling careers. They learn a lot about the practical aspects of filmmaking during that time by making big and small mistakes. Some see it as a cosmic filter to weed out the unworthy or the unwilling.

The first few short films give the filmmakers a taste of the management responsibilities on their shoulders. They take them through the journey of crest and troughs of the filmmaking process. This is the point where every filmmaker learns the hard truth- filmmaking is hard.

Here are nine essential tips that can help filmmakers put their short films in tune and trim, and make good short films.

1) Set Realistic Expectations

Ambition is what drives us to live. But, the last thing you want is for your process to get polluted with unrealistic expectations. So, you need to set realistic expectations with your projects and stay grounded.

The pieces about filmmaking projects getting fully financed by VCs, pre-sale distributions, and local investors, in indie filmmaking books and blogs are the myths you don’t want to believe in. Also, don’t think about awards just yet. Just glue your mind to finishing the short film as economically as possible with grounded expectations.

2) Know The Responsibilities of Crowd Funding

Crowdfunding comes with a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. First, to raise the funding you need to be explosively active on social media asking friends, family, and relatives for their money. When you do raise the money for your project, you will have the responsibilities of packages like name in the credits, DVD copies, posters, t-shirts, etc.

Also, one crowdfunding campaign is most likely your last. You will be so exhausted and frustrated from the experience that you won’t consider it an option yourself. Secondly, you can only ask for family, friends, and relatives for funding so many times. One to be exact.

3) Audition Everyone

The first short film establishes your presence in block letters, whether you make it good or bad. You need it to go right. You need the best team of crew and actors to ensure the best cinematic experience you have in mind for the audience. For that, you need to audition and find people that are the best fit for your short film.

Turn to the talent agencies, local universities, and theater companies to cast your actors. Audition and judge the prospects on their abilities to make the simplest and hardest scenes compelling and engaging. Audition your crew as well. Choose the best sound designer, editor, film composer, and most importantly cinematographer in your reach by judging their previous work and their suggestions on the film for a better experience.

4) Create a Compelling Cinematic Experience

In a short film where there is a lesser time to grab the audience’s attention, visuals are more important than the depth of the story. You need to create a compelling cinematic experience that sticks with the audience. Think of the production and visuals as the marketers of your scripts. Many great short scripts have been undersold by the poor production value and lackluster visuals.

So, keep your lighting, lenses, and camera work tight. Find the most visually enticing locations you can. Partner with the best lighting technicians and amazing cinematographers that know how to amplify a storytelling experience with visuals. If you have special effects to deliver in your script, commit to them.

5) Proper Communication of ideas

 Communication plays a vital role in the clarification of ideas, thought processing, and don’t be afraid of explaining your idea to cast and crew exactly what is it you going with your film. Told them about mood, the theme, character flaws, character history which might or might not be included in the film, and back story elements about your film’s character.

The more your cast and crew know about the back story

of the film ultimately more effective will be the storytelling of your short film. Try to treat your cast and crew in well-manner as good relation between each member means more conformability on sets and boosts the team morale which in return gives the best possible finished product.

6) Focus on Decent Audio and Sound Effects

 Audio and sound effects are as important as the video and visuals. So don’t forget to emphasize making it the best you can. A bad sound is known to be a hallmark of the amateur filmmaker. If your targeted audience unable to understand what your actors are depicting, there would be less room for emotional connection. Synchronization of visuals and sound effects with the right location is the cherry on the cake.

Never compromise to get the best, Use an external recording device and a shotgun mic if your budget allows. You can use royalty-free music or sound effects from the internet if your budget exceeds expectations.

7) Understand the Target Audience

The most important thing behind the success of any film and filmmaker is to understand the target audience, researching and understanding the expectations of the audience which may be young and mature is a bigger fish to fry. It’s mandatory to analyze deeply about other’s work before you on the same audience as of yours.

Try to understand the demographics and psychographics related to the targeted audience as the short film industry’s audience is quite specific and different compared to that of the mainstream audience of larger full-length films.

Most of the short films would be watched online so your targeted audience should be familiar with the use of the internet.

8) Go for a Quality and Twist Central Message

A Central message is often said to be the spine of your video production strategy. It acts as the heart of your short film and how it is played out. It is going to depict what is your short film is about? As the whole film is marked around a central topic or message.

Your film should have a satisfying payoff to the audience and the best method of doing so is to plot a twist. You can bring a conflict resolution in your short film from a unique twist which can let the audience in a world of imagination and running their minds to get the twist by themselves before the film depicts it’s own enabling the audience to get automatically connected mentally as well as emotionally.

9) Get Correct Length and Runtime

It is maddening to watch a long 10 hours series. A shorter film scripts less costly and will eat up a shorter slot of time which in result will help to build an economical budget. A too fast and short shooted film might end up looking amateurish and unambitious effort.

A shorter running time means that there’s less to film, so you can put more focus on those vital story plot and character moments during production. Hence the audience will not get lost in unnecessary scenes, sequences, and dialogue. The most preferred timing of your short film should be between 10-20 minutes.

In conclusion, the first few short films define the path of your career and determine the type of filmmaker you are. The process of making them tells you the nitty-gritty of filmmaking and teaches you a lot about it. These four tips will surely help you make things easier for yourself and ensure success in making your short film.



Nitin Gupta is a voracious reader and an even passionate writer. Having worked with numerous field pharma distributor billing software and MNCs across the world, he really has very to the point and enthralling insights about the industry and the people working in them.

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