How to Make Short Films: Beginner’s Guide

Who doesn’t love movies? They are very entertaining. Some are thrilling and can make you scream, some are romantic and can make you fall in love, while some are mysterious and can put you in deep thought.

A powerful movie is a product of an excellent filmmaker along with the collaboration of a strong production team. Before achieving award-winning films, filmmakers begin with making short films.

Short films are literally short, focuses on one or more subject, and basically meant to be non-profit. Short films are created by independent filmmakers for gaining experience or adding credentials to their filmmaking career. Yes, the first step to being a successful movie maker is to make short films. Here’s how:

How to Make Short Films: The Genesis

Making short films is not just about filming something interesting. It is way more complex than that. It requires deep brainstorming and needs excellent implementation of concepts, which makes it the first step.

Creating an Idea

First, you have to think what kind of a short film you would want to create. This is easier said than done. You must think of something that does not only interest you but also interests your prospect audience.

Choose a genre you are comfortable working with. You can settle with a popular subject, a documentary like film, an action film, or anything of interest.

When creating an idea, make it original. Make it very interesting – not cliché and not stereotypical. After choosing the genre, you will start creating the script.

Writing the Script

Celtx is a free online tool you can use to write a script. When writing a script, you would want to start by finishing your outline. An outline is not a script but a summary of the whole plot.

An outline determines the start of the story, the problems, the cause, and the solution. It also tells a characters background before he or she entered the plot. When the outline is clear enough, you can start writing your script in a more comprehensive manner.

Before writing your script, think of your characters and how to write their character build up. There’s also a need to establish a setting for your story. The questions where and when must be clearly indicated on the script.

Thinking of an idea may be challenging. If you’re having a hard time thinking of a nice plot, take some time to unwind and open your mind for ideas. You can gain ideas from your personal or other people’s experiences.

You can also generate something simply with the use of your imagination, or by little things you see everywhere.  For example, you can observe an old lady sitting alone on a bench.

Ask yourself: Why is she alone? What’s the story behind her being alone? What is the day like for her? What is her personal perspective of happiness?

Storyboard Your Story

Creating a storyboard is similar with drawing a comic. In a paper, you can draw how you would like the scene to be like in the actual film.

Drawing your storyboard will also let you decide what kind of shot each scene would be. This will help you evaluate how the whole story will look like. When completed, this will be your reference in the filming production part.

Pre-production

After making the script and the storyboard, it is now time for prepping the production. It would be the time you must pick appropriate locations for each scene, the casts, and the crew. The scene must be picked wisely to synchronize well with the story.

Selecting casts is quite a challenge. You can ask close friends to act for you or open audition to the public. This is honestly not easy. You must build public awareness that you are looking for a great actor.

Then, you have to filter the applicants. You can ask them to act a short part of your script to help you evaluate whether they are good for the role or not.

You can’t make a short film alone, you need a crew. They are one of essential parts of your success in producing charismatic short films.

Your crew must have a strong work ethic, good communication abilities, and can work well with time pressure. Also, good rapport should be established in your team.

Production

The production step involves the funding and the shooting. Short films are non-profit projects done by filmmakers using their personal funds, or funds from sponsors or private organizations.

If you do not have the budget for your film, you can do crowd funding. Crowd funding is an alternative way of financing a project where funds come from raising contributions from a large scale of people.

The Indiegogo can help you fund your film. When funding is already enough, filming takes place. The challenge is working well with the weather and other unprecedented situations.

Post-production

After all the filming, you will now edit all coverage. Editing can take more than a couple of weeks. This is when you remove unwanted takes, bloopers, and wrong coverage.

The audio should also be edited, sound effects, and background music. When all is done, the next step would be how to get it seen. How?

Making a public announcement is easy, but getting the attention of the crowd is tedious. How then will you get your film seen? Posting it on YouTube or on other social media is the easiest idea.

But it’s like dumping all your hard-work on the recycle bin. You have to get it seen on theaters! And the best way to do that is by participating in film festivals.

Search for local or international film festivals. Look for the submission requirements and if yours is qualified, go ahead and submit your film. Submitting it does not 100% guarantee that your film will be shown, but who knows?

Summary

How to create a short film? It is not as easy as you think. It needs deep planning and researching. It needs great funds and extensive work around.

True, they may not be as good as the feature films from big producers, but people behind the short films share the same passion with those on the huge screen.