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Tag Archives: short films

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?

 

https://gladlydo.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/5-places-you-need-to-re-organize-in-your-home/messy-basement/
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.

 

http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-cya-23/
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

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July 30th DFA Student Screening!

July 30th turned out another series of exciting, diverse short films from DFA students at New York City’s Anthology Film Archives!

Patricia Olivera and Silvan Friedman in The Dawn.
Patricia Olivera and Silvan Friedman in The Dawn.

First up was The Dawn, a film written and directed by yours truly. Despite his very sheltered point of view, the five-year-old protagonist pieces together the fact that his beloved mother has killed his father. The biggest challenge of making this short was working with such a young child, although hopefully his youth and innocence serve to create that much more of an impact once you realize his life will never be the same.

Ananya Sundararajan
Ananya Sundararajan

Next there was In the Bedroom, a short by Ananya Sudararajan, who also co-wrote and acted as DP for another short film in the line-up, Jam. In the Bedroom was more experimental than the other offerings. The camera remained in one position the entire time: at the foot of the bed of a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. This served to make the viewer feel almost as if they’re spying on a real couple from a hiding place, rather than watching a short film. After the male lead fails to perform in bed, he takes his anger and frustration out on his girlfriend; however, she’s the one who gets the last laugh.

Filmmaker Pauline Gefin (right).
Filmmaker Pauline Gefin (right).

Next up was The Potluck, from frequent screening contributor Pauline Gefin (and Jam’s sound recordist!). In the course of 9 minutes, the audience sees a very strained relationship between three former friends, and how catty two of the girls are toward the third, Victoria. However, when the hostess, Ashley, begins choking, she’ll find out who she can really count on. The short packs a great visual punch at the end, when Ashley puts a photograph of her and Victoria in a place of pride on her shelf.

Kaylyn Scardefield and Joseph Ernest in Jam.
Kaylyn Scardefield and Joseph Ernest in Jam.

Jam, the fourth short, came from Nacho Diaz-Guerra. This piece served to keep viewers guessing as different details were revealed. The three characters meet when young Alice buys back her grandfather’s watch from a pawnbroker and his friend. It’s clear that both Alice and the pawnbroker’s friend, Luke, have strained relationships with their father figures. In Alice’s case, we hear one side of a tense phone call; as for Luke, we witness his older friend’s constant badgering. In the end, Alice and Luke form a bond – and take a small revenge on society.

African masks.
African masks.

The last film of the evening, Thousands: Sonnets of the Sun, was also the longest at close to 29 minutes. This film, from Lucas D. Oliveira, was ambitious not just in terms of length but in subject matter. A true coming-of-age story, viewers were treated to an intimate look inside the mind of a young boy, Tolo, as he struggles to understand nothing less than the meaning of life and his place in it. His father, an African mask carver, has taught him the stories behind the masks, and how masks would be used in special ceremonies where children became adults. Of course, these ceremonies aren’t common in Brooklyn, where Tolo lives – but that doesn’t stop him from exploring their power and doing what he feels he needs to to get to the next level in his life.

Congratulations to everyone who screened! I’m looking forward to what’s next to come from this group of my fellow filmmakers.

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain.

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5 Rules of Successful Crowd-funding Campaigns

Everyone wants to crowd-fund to raise money for their film projects… but few people know how to put a good campaign together. Here’s everything you need to know!

Calendar

Set the Smallest Goal Over the Shortest Period of Time

Sorry if you want to raise a million dollars, but remember: $10k is the tipping point with crowdfunding. Asking for more than that gives you a drastically reduced chance of reaching your goal.

That being said, be realistic about how much money you need. As an indie filmmaker: what’s the smallest amount of money that makes this film possible?

Also, be realistic about the campaigning time-frame. This doesn’t mean leaving it open for six months, assuming that by then, it’ll all trickle in… the opposite is true.

Campaigns less than 30 days do better. Why? A campaign gets the most attention at the beginning and at the end. By keeping the campaign shorter, the buzz remains steady throughout and you keep excitement among supporters high – which leads to more shares, more likes, and more cash.

Another note about the time frame? Avoid launching when people have to pay rent or taxes. Aim to launch after they’ve gotten their paychecks.

Friends

Have Over 1000 FB Friends

Try to hit 1000 Facebook friends before crowd-funding. Success isn’t just based on how many people contribute, but also on how many people SHARE your story with others. A plea for shares often finds help when a plea for cash alone doesn’t – and the more FB friends you have, logically, the more shares you get.

Also remember, when deciding which crowd-funding platform to use: Kickstarter integrates with Facebook, making some things easier. However, Indiegogo will give you ANY funds you raise (minus a higher percentage) while Kickstarter will return funds to backers if your goal isn’t met. Carefully weigh your options.

Camera

Have a 50/50 Video

A no-brainer, but campaigns with video are 20-30% more likely to reach their goals. Videos shouldn’t go over 2 minutes and should be 50% about the project and 50% about the creator. When it comes to crowd-funding, people are as interested in the person behind the goal as anything else – so make your personal story a good one.

multitask

Keep Backers Posted and Respond to Activity

Keep backers up-to-date! This helps them feel appreciated and keeps them excited – and more likely to spread the word about your project.

They should receive a weekly email newsletter that contains a funding update, an update on any new content added to your page (announcements about new actors joining the cast, etc.), any mentions you’ve had in the press, and, most importantly, a call to action! Always ask them to share your page with others.

Hand in hand with this, respond to activity on your page in real time (read: within 6 hours.) This doesn’t just mean giving a ‘like’ to nice comments, but also dealing with any negativity in a professional way – especially when it appears publicly. Also, every time a donation is made, give the backer a shout-out on social media: an immediate reward!

medal

Post-Campaign Like a Champ

Thank every backer individually, and don’t screw up the delivery of rewards! These are the items you’ve promised in exchange for money. DVDs, posters, etc. – they should go out when you said they would, and be what you promised.

Finally, make good on your biggest promise – get this film made, and use ALL the funds you earned campaigning. If you earned more than your goal, don’t treat yourself to a spa day – put it toward this project. But hey, a bigger-than-expected budget? What a great problem to have!

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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