The benefits of making shorts and submitting to festivals are multiple. From a group of school leavers creating a short film with an iPhone, to an experienced commercials director demonstrating their skills at voicing a story in more than 30 seconds, the benefits are many. The financial rewards are few, but for those of you who have made a short film, you will hold it in your heart, always.
So how do I get started?
Before you start searching for a script or put pen to paper yourself, consider who your film is for; who is your intended audience? And before you do anything, watch a bundle of short films! Films like micro shorts from previous DePict winners to shorts on open platforms such as Short Of The Week, Film Shortage, Oscar-nominated short films and of course Vimeo and YouTube.
Set yourself a challenge
Commercials director William McGregor entered the Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge in 2011, this short landed him a meeting with a producer and a job at The Mill! There are plenty of UK based and international challenges that can be completed by filmmakers keen to showcase their talents. Taking part in a 48-hour film challenge can be really exhilarating! Having such a strict deadline means that you won’t be able to contemplate a sequence for more than an hour, let alone days on end. You’ll have to rely on your gut instincts! Filmmaking challenges have broadened in scope over the past few years, so if you want to test your storytelling abilities to the limit, consider some of these options:
Do you need funding?
Short films can be made on a shoestring if you have the right resources, but if you want your crew to show up, or if you need to hire some kit, you’re going to need funding. So how do you find it? In many cases, filmmakers foot the bill themselves, or a portion of it is funded by credit cards (this should be a last resort!). In some circumstances, you may find an investor who wants to help you out with the added benefit of using the production as a tax break, but these types of benefactors can be few and far between.
Crowdfunding is a full-time job, so have a hard think about your strategy and execution before you even type in ‘kickstarter’ to Google. You’ll need a firm budget in mind and some good reasons why people should hand over their hard-earned cash. Here are few things to keep in mind:
- First things first, make sure you have worked out a budget that’s realistic. Do you know how many days you need to shoot? Do you have a quote for kit? Are you paying crew? If so, are you paying them travel days and accommodation too? Is there enough slack in the budget for a day of pick-ups and post? If you have visualised a sequence set to a specific piece of music, do you have the funds to clear the track?
- Make a film to highlight why potential investors should give you their money. It could be a taster/trailer/sizzle reel or it could be you talking to investors straight to camera. Make it short, sharp and snappy.
- Build an audience for your campaign and project, create micro-short films about the characters, or investors telling the audience why they have chosen to take part.
- Offer incentives. These could range from a credit on the film to product placement. Whatever it is, make sure you can deliver.
- Call all your family and friends, friends of friends, family of friends and their friends. You are going to need to be relentless. Get on the phone and stay on it, work those calls until you sound like Ray Winstone!
- Think outside the box. Who would the themes of your film resonate with? It might be a business, institution or community project. Start making some connections between your film and products and services, think deeply about how you can use this to your advantage. Grants are offered from various charities for projects close to their cause, so do some digging and check out Grant Finder for some inspiration.
- Have some money in reserve yourself, to help withdraw funds if you don’t reach your target.
- Consider attaching talent to the project before crowdfunding? Make a list of the cast you want to attract and get a casting agent on board. They could be one of the most influential budgeting spends as they have the contacts to get your script in front of agents and actors.
What platforms facilitate crowdfunding?
If you’re considering applying for funding from one of the larger film institutions make sure you understand the terminology, especially with regard to categories of filmmakers. If you have little to no experience then look for funds catered to new filmmakers. Emerging filmmakers are expected to have a back catalogue of work under their belts, that could be in broadcast, commercials or having previously made a short that has toured the festival circuit.
If you want further information about short filmmaking in the UK, here are some other sites to explore:
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My First Job In Film is the UK’s largest online community of aspiring filmmakers. With over 26,000 subscribers, the platform has become the go-to resource for anyone looking to take their first steps in the film industry.
As well as promoting the latest job opportunities available in the sector, the site offers a wealth of career resources including in-depth career guides, CV advice, a screening room that showcases members work and competitions.