Jump to content


Photo

Your FIRST Very Own Short Film: What Should You Focus On?


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 12 posts
  • Director

Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:30 AM

Simple question:

For the very first short film that you're planning on directing / producing, what should you concentrate on in order to be successful?

I didn't go to film school. But I'm a huge fan of Truffaut, Kubrick, Cassavetes, and other biggies. Suffice it to say there is NO WAY in hell that my first film project will hold anything like a candle to their own first real stabs in cinema. And to be honest, filmmaking is (I'm sure you'll think it dumb of me to say but it ought to be said, for the newbies out there) EXTRAORDINARILY complex.

Colour grading. Pulling focus. L-Cut. J-Cut. S-Cut. Location scouting. Workflow in post production. And on and on and on and on and .... I can see why so many risktakers give up on film eventually. It can all seem too much.

That said, I don't want to make the filmmaking process wrinkle-free. I'd just like to know -- from the bona fide pro's out here -- what/how THEY would advise rookies to pursue their first goes at this exhausting, empowering art form.

Thanks...
  • 0

#2 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 06 February 2013 - 03:45 AM

You should focus on making sure you enjoy the process. My first short film sucked...not just the content but the process because I was so obsessed with making it perfect that it failed, I was uptight, and I had no fun. Dont be afraid to make mistakes because YOU WILL. But you dont want to lose the joy of filmmaking before you start. Have fun, do the best you can (within reason) and be open to learn from your mistakes. Have the realization that your first short will probably not be any good. It probably wont get into any fests either. Still, you can try anyway. I tried to get my first short into fests but it was ridiculous, ugly, and had bad sound. My second short wasnt too great but the sound improved. As I went on and on, they good better and I learned what I needed to do.

Hope this helps.
  • 2

#3 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1675 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:43 AM

matthew has hinted at it, good sound. It is probably the biggest newbie mistake; disregarding audio. If anything, and kind of ironic this being a cinematography site, I would shoot it on any camera that you can lay your hands on, just get good audio. That means getting an experienced sound person to record for you. This is my technical advice. Creatively, script or idea is king, so many short films out there clearly have not given it much thought. Given your tastes, look at those films and observe why or why not the story works. keep that in mind when you write your script, but this being your first, don't stress about it, just make it no matter what.
  • 0

#4 Austin Mitchell

Austin Mitchell

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Director

Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:54 AM

Before I made my first short I read somewhere a quote from Kubrick, which I'll paraphrase: "If you want to make a movie, before you know about anything else, you need to know about photography." I took this advice to heart and learned everything I could about the basics of composition and still photography, and I read about the elementary shots in cinema. I'm not a professional and I'm still striving to learn everything I can, but I did personally make a first short that I felt proud to have made. If one is careless about photography then one might as well write a novel instead and leave it up to the imagination.
  • 1

#5 Travis Gray

Travis Gray
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 209 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Boston, MA

Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:23 AM

Yes. Audio. Nothing takes me out of a project more than bad sound.
And then bad acting.
And bad writing.

I dunno. I'm a perfectionist. All of that.

I would almost put focus pulling lower on the list. Make sure shots are in focus in general, but if you miss a mark when someone's moving, I don't think it would be the end of the world. And grading, as long as it doesn't look 100% awful. You'll learn new editing stuff as you go too. Just don't keep going back and recutting the same project. Keep shooting different stuff.


But yeah. Audio. And make sure it's something at least you'd want to watch.
  • 0

#6 Jon Rosenbloom

Jon Rosenbloom
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 713 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:41 PM

I'm going to agree that you need to get good sound! But that's a technical thing; you have to budget for a decent sound-recordist. Also, you've got to be on top of the eyelines, but that's still kind of a technical thing, and you've got to go out of your way to mess them up. Artistically, I think the biggest thing to work on is casting and performance.
  • 0

#7 Patrick Nuse

Patrick Nuse
  • Guests

Posted 07 February 2013 - 01:51 AM

Script.
  • 0

#8 Suresh Kumar

Suresh Kumar

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:10 AM

You should focus on making sure you enjoy the process. My first short film sucked...not just the content but the process because I was so obsessed with making it perfect that it failed, I was uptight, and I had no fun. Dont be afraid to make mistakes because YOU WILL. But you dont want to lose the joy of filmmaking before you start. Have fun, do the best you can (within reason) and be open to learn from your mistakes. Have the realization that your first short will probably not be any good. It probably wont get into any fests either. Still, you can try anyway. I tried to get my first short into fests but it was ridiculous, ugly, and had bad sound. My second short wasnt too great but the sound improved. As I went on and on, they good better and I learned what I needed to do.

Hope this helps.

I have desperately needed such words because im doing my 1st short film with DSLR.Before it was done with my mobile cam.Now Im step ahead with technology. Hope your words will be so helpfull in my career.

Thank you so much Phillips.
  • 1

#9 Joshua Thomas Gallegos

Joshua Thomas Gallegos

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Director
  • Houston, TX

Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:09 AM

John Huston said that great directing is in the casting. In fact he stated "80% of directing is in the right casting". having said that, none of that will matter unless you have a good script to shoot. As a mere observer, I also understand that simplicity works better, unless you're making a music video. Traditionally, I think the best films are about people and their stories, so getting the right actor is the most important thing, once everything else is right.

That being said, I need to learn how the technical aspects of movie making work, which is important, but I don't think the latter matters, if people don't truly understand what cinema is. Martin Scorsese simplified everything to me when he said: "The biggest challenge in cinema is getting what's in here *points to his head* onto the screen, that's it."

So, learning the technical aspects of filmmaking is crucial to understand how it works...once these things are learned, then practice them. I think that helps avoiding silly mistakes.
  • 0

#10 Patrick Lewis

Patrick Lewis
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 12 February 2013 - 12:47 AM

In my efforts to come up with some sort of story for a script (for my first effort, as well) I came across this article. The things mentioned here already are on the list, as well as many other things I didn't think to avoid. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination. I'm still trying to get a script together. I hope this is some kind of help. For me, I've really just been interested in going through the proper process of making a film, so I've been researching some of the technical aspects of that. Sound is high on my list of things that need to work well. I also want to shoot in 16mm, so I'm also trying to decide if I should go the telecine route or edit the film itself and sync the sound to the print. It's all definitely complex, but it makes you appreciate good films more, I think.

 

https://frankglencai...ent-films-suck/


  • 0

#11 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1675 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:53 AM

I wanted to reiterate what has been said; firstly, good audio (and no it doesn't have to be expensive). Always have a dedicated crew member for audio, monitoring levels. The simplest of set ups for "good" audio would be a shotgun mic going into a mixer, going into the camera, with the boom op monitoring off the camera.

 

Secondly and perhaps more important than sound only because this is your first time out is "Simplicity".

Keep it short.

cast it well.

use a camera or the chip/card that you can plug straight into the computer , off load footage and start editing. Use a easy to use consumer cam. Don't bother with anything that requires any sort of trans-coding or the like. Always think "simple". Use an editor that doesn't require trans-coding of footage in order to edit. Think Imovie or Final Cut x or similar. the article linked above is full of cliches and pitfalls to avoid, lots o good advice and laughs.


Edited by Chris Burke, 12 February 2013 - 07:56 AM.

  • 0

#12 Matthew Kane

Matthew Kane
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 59 posts
  • Electrician
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota

Posted 25 April 2013 - 09:31 PM

Audio is definitely important, but I'd strongly consider a very short silent film for your first time out. Being ambitious is great, but limitations can A. keep you from going insane, and B. force you to consider techniques you're not accustomed to. So many student/learner films are bogged down with awfully written, poorly acted dialogue that tries to cram complex character nuance into a form that simply doesn't have time for it.

 

I think it's been said, but don't expect it to be your opus, or to feel like a polished professional production. Francis Coppola's first film was very modest. If the early films of great directors have anything in common, it's that they started out with a compelling concept, or a novel viewpoint on a situation (not by saying "geeee I gotta get this done for class" or "my friend just got a new slider").

 

Don't spend a ton of your own money--inexpensive mistakes are my favorite kind. You'll feel more free to experiment with storytelling if you know you can afford to make another film next month.


Edited by Matthew Kane, 25 April 2013 - 09:31 PM.

  • 0


Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

CineTape

Tai Audio

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Opal

Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Opal

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

The Slider

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc