You’ve decided to make your first short film. Congratulations! You are embarking on an exciting journey and your life will never be the same ;). We salute you! To get you started, here are some tips to make sure your new venture is a success:
Less is More
When you first start writing, a common mistake is to end up with a script having dozens of pages. You’re letting out all that creative energy. It’s good to just let everything out that comes to mind, but when it comes down to the product you actually want to film, it is best to keep it short. We’d recommend no more than 10 minutes. Why?
First of all, viewers can easily disconnect if they feel the story isn’t progressing. In comparison to feature films, your viewers will give you a very limited concentration span.
Second, some festivals are less likely to include you in their line-up if your film is longer, as it will take up a bigger slot in their programming.
Prefer Visuals over Text
Have you ever heard the term ‘exposition’? Exposition is a literary device used to introduce background information about events, settings, characters, or other elements of a work to the audience. For instance: a character explains that they’re sad because they had a bad childhood. First time writers often try to explain all their ideas in dialogue between the actors. It is however a lot more powerful to try to explain events and ideas visually, that’s the true power of film.
Try to evoke the response you want in cinematography: sometimes an image of a leaf blowing in the wind is more powerful than any heartfelt monologue.
Keep it Practical
You might have a brilliant idea of an epic fantasy battle in the vein of Game of Thrones. We get it. We would absolutely LOVE to feature a short like that on Snoovies app. Do however keep in mind that Game of Thrones was shot with an average budget of 15 million per episode. Creating 6 Minutes of Game of Thrones will cost you 1 million.
It is important to keep practicalities in mind. How easy will it be to shoot the scene you have in mind? Will it require permits, stunts, CGI, costumes? A simple dialogue with two people in a park can already take hours to get ‘right’, so don’t make things too difficult for yourself when you’re just getting started.
Nothing is more important than the Story
At Snoovies we often get submissions from filmmakers that have a strong track record in visual effects and/or cinematography. Yet we’ve rejected some of the most beautiful works we’ve ever seen. Why?
As we said above, good filmmakers prefer visuals over text. However, some take it too far and end up with 15 minutes of beautiful shots, while nothing is actually happening. That is something you don’t want.
Every story requires a clear beginning, middle and end. There has to be an obstacle, a climax that fundamentally changes the protagonist’s life in the 10 minutes you are working with. You’ll see that even with suboptimal cinematography, a strong story that moves audiences will always win hearts.
Learn from the work of others
Everything great came from great things that preceded it. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In order to make a good short film, it is important that you watch a lot of short films. Learn what works and what doesn’t from viewing as many shorts as you can.
Browse through the different ‘moods’ in our app, and make sure you tap ‘learn more about the filmmakers’ on every short you watch. See the obstacles other filmmakers faced, and how they got to where they are. Many filmmakers even share their social media information in our app, and wouldn’t mind at all being reached out to for tips and tricks on how to make a great film.
So there you have it. You now have all you need to smash it. You’ll be great. We can’t wait to see the outcome. Once you’ve finished your film and done your festival rounds, make sure you submit it to us. We’d probably love to feature it alongside the other great mini movies we have. Good luck!