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http://www.scriptmag.com/features/notes-margins-elements-great-short-films

5 Things to Consider When Making a Short Film

 

There’s never been a better time to make short films. Not only do most film festivals have short film categories, but platforms like YouTube have made it possible to actually monetize shorts.

Particularly if you’re just beginning your film career, there’s no better way to start than making a short film. This film can become your calling card, helping you get into festivals, make connections, and find meaningful work in the film industry.

So what do you need to keep in mind when making a short film?

 

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There’s gotta be something in your parents’ creepy basement you can use.

 

1. What do you have?

First, take a look at what you have. It’s extremely hard to get funding (other than what you’re putting up) for a short. This is ten times as true if it’s your first. As a result, you’re going to want to look at what you already have at your disposal. Unless some kind of cool set is available for free, set your story someplace easily accessible. Unless you have a friend who’s a special effects or make-up whiz and willing to work cheap, don’t plan for a lot of special effects. Look at what you have and be creative with how you use it. After you make it big, then you can make a film that has everything you want!

 

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‘Nuff said.

 

2. Tight script

What makes a short film shoot last for days and days while the budget goes through the roof? Tons of locations and tons of characters. More locations and characters mean more traveling, more set-ups, and more coverage that you need to get. If, instead, your script has one or two locations and one or two characters (and comes in under ten pages), you can get it shot in one or two days.

 

http://www.stayup.com/artwork.html
Six different shots in what will be about two seconds of film. Would you be able to figure that out on-the-spot?

 

3. Storyboards and shot lists

Don’t think you can arrive on set and just wing it. Filmmaking is a complicated medium, and one that requires a lot of collaboration. To that end, everything will go more smoothly if everyone has the same, clear set of guidelines to follow – and if all the shots have been thought through in advance. Create storyboards to go along with the script so that everyone can visualize what you need, and top it off with a shot list listing the shots you need to get. You can check them off as you get each one and be sure not to leave the set minus what you came for.

 

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Advice in filmmaking… and life.

 

4. Get the coverage!

It’s every filmmaker’s nightmare. You’ve spent time and money to shoot your film only to realize in the editing room that you didn’t get enough coverage. Coverage refers to getting enough shots to be able to edit the film together in a way that appears seamless. If you haven’t gotten enough coverage, you might find there’s no good way to edit together two shots without it jarring the audience. Shoot wide shots, medium shots, close-ups, and inserts of various objects – along with whatever other clever shots you come up with! That way, you’ll have lots to choose from.

 

bad editing

 

5. Put it all together

Editing can be a brutal process, so make sure your footage is clearly organized so you can find what you’re looking for. This will save you from wasting lots of time.  Each minute of finished film will take hours to edit, so be mentally prepared for that fact. And if you do make it to this point only to realize you didn’t get what you needed to put together a decent short film, chalk it up to a learning experience, get back out there, and shoot, shoot again!

Can’t wait to see what you come up with in your short films. If you have any other tips/suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Happy filming!

 

Blog by: Sara McDermott Jain

Why the DFA Open House is a Must-See!

You know the regular school open house drill: sit in a chair with some strangers, hear a few words from a professor about what you would do in his class, maybe hear some success stories about former students…

But the Digital Film Academy Open House is no regular open house.

The DFA is all about getting students working in film – and their open house on Saturday, March 8th from 3-5pm in NYC is no different.

At this totally free event, attendees won’t just get to see the facilities and network with current/former students and professors. They’ll also take part in three hands-on demonstrations:

Directing

Directing Demo: Ever dreamed of commanding your own set as a director? Taught by Patrick DiRenna, the President of the DFA, this directing crash course gives attendees the “magic formula to create the perfect shot.” Guests will learn how to set up two different, dramatic SteadyCam shots and will also be taught the primary functions of a director.

ADR

ADR (Additional Dialog Recording) Demo: Imagine this: you’ve yelled “Cut!,” you’re bursting with excitement over what you filmed, and you get into editing – only to discover that the sound is a garbled mess. Something went wrong – so now, is your project dead?

Absolutely not, because you can replace that original dialog – if you know what you’re doing! Guy Mor, the DFA Director of Operations and an audio wizard, will show you how to both replace bad audio and record audio for animation… the best part? Attendees can take part in a fun exercise, re-recording audio for famous movie lines such as “Hasta la vista, baby” – and enjoy the results.

Media composer

Avid Media Composer Demo: Two things are hot right now in the world of film: Avid Media Composer, the most widely-used non-linear editing program for professional film, and the Red camera. (In fact, most DFA grads report being able to easily find work after graduation thanks to their continued free access to the expensive Red camera through the DFA membership program.) In this demo, DFA Equipment/Facilities manager Corey Christian works with both, showing how to load footage from the Red camera into Avid Media Composer and use the software to create a perfect final image.

If you’ve ever considered a career in film, what are you waiting for? Come to the DFA Open House to make connections, learn tricks of the trade, and see if you’re ready to take the next step to “monetize your media!”

RSVP today at DFA Open House.

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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DFA New Filmmakers' Screening

October 23rd was the most recent in a proud history of evenings that celebrate DFA graduates’ work. As each semester draws to a close, the DFA screens student projects at the Film Anthology Archives, an impressive venue in NYC whose name also carries quite a bit of weight.

The experience of getting to see their work on the big screen is often mind-blowing for students.

These nights typically feature a wide range of work across different genres, and the 23rd was no exception. The audience was treated to a documentary trailer, the first episode in a new web series, a video Kickstarter campaign, two innovative short films, and a music video.

Three of the filmmakers were in attendance, so I got to chat with them after the show.

First up for my Q&As was Rich Lanzillotto, the creator of the short film Stood Up. The film, which goes inside the troubled relationship of two New Yorkers, offers viewers an unsettling ending. Unlike the other filmmakers in attendance, Lanzillotto shied away from directing his own piece. His long-term goal is to become an editor, so he focused on the editing and producing of Stood Up, which he co-wrote with his step-brother. The directing reins were handed over to another DFA student, Joseph Leon Stein.

Next up on my journey through filmmakers was Mari Kawade, whose web series 2ndAve is garnering lots of well-deserved attention. Three episodes are already online and have received more that 17,000 views, no small accomplishment. Maho Honda and Tsukasa Kondo, Kawade’s two lead actors and co-producers, were also in attendance.

2ndAve Team
Tsukasa Kondo, Maho Honda, Sara McDermott Jain, and Mari Kawade talk about 2ndAve.

The show, which features a new-to-NYC Japanese actress (Honda) and her homo-sexual roommate (Kondo), has developed a strong following of immigrants. “We knew the show would have a strong reaction from other Japanese,” Kawade says, “But we didn’t expect the massive reaction from other immigrants.” 2ndAve’s storyline, which features, among other things, the struggle of living in a foreign country and trying to build a creative career, showcases characters that anyone can relate to.

2ndAve Mari
Tsukasa Kondo and Mari Kawade give Sara McDermott Jain the low-down on 2nd Ave’s audience.

The third filmmaker was Linda Ainouche, an Anthropology PhD with a passion for documentaries. Her documentary-in-the-making, Dreadlocks Story, was presented in the form of a trailer. The subject is fascinating: the documentary explores the connection between India and Jamaica, how India influenced Jamaica’s Rastafari, and the movement which led to the proliferation of dreadlocks. The finished film will delve into how this is a result of India and Jamaica both being oppressed by Britain at the same time, and how their resulting connection is one positive thing to emerge from this oppression.

Linda
Documentarian Linda Ainouche discusses Dreadlocks Story with Sara McDermott Jain.

Ainouche is currently organizing a crowd-funding campaign to help finance the next stages of her research. Of the DFA, all the filmmakers stressed how the support and experience offered during their classes made their films possible. The DFA membership, which allows free access to film equipment, also made it possible to do these films with little to no budget. Those filmmakers who were unfortunately unable to attend were Jamaal Green, whose Kickstarer campaign trailer for the dramatic, psychological web series Chronicles of a Profiler was screened; Christopher Delao, who directed the surprising short film The Room Next Door; and Jimmy Negron, whose music video “Anthem” for the group Chameleon packed a powerful punch. The following projects are available to view online:

Happy viewing!

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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