Working Backwards from our Online Release

Ok Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the final countdown to the For Patrick launch!

It doesn’t seem real to me that after working on this little film for so long, it is finally going to be online for all to see. Next week, here on the blog, I will release the film. It’s completely free and shareable to your friends (and enemies if you like).

Am I pumped? Yes. Am I absolutely terrified? ABSOLUTELY. You see, a film is like a child. You pour your heart and soul into it and send it into the great wide world. Hopefully it will make friends. Hopefully it will have the live you always dreamed for it. But like all parents, you have to let it go. I have done all I can for this little bit of cinema and it is ready to stand on it’s own little tripod. (Honestly, I’m kind of excited for it to move out of the house…)

This week, I wanted to give my final thoughts on producing a short film. My recommendations. My warnings. If you are thinking of producing your own short, please consider:

What is your goal for this film?

Where do you want it to end up? Do you want it to go to festivals across the country? Do you want to just do a film so you can work with your friends? Do you just need something for your reel?

Whatever the answer is (and all answers are valid), make sure you know and are honest with yourself about it before you begin. If you just make a film for fun and then decide you want it to set the festival circuit on fire, you may be in for some disappointment. Your film might have a lot of success, but it might not. Research the films that are getting into festivals. Attend the festivals. Know what your competition is. Entry fees to festivals can get pretty expensive, so keep that in mind as well.

If you want to make a film for fun, that’s great! Just know that films cost money. Do you want to drop a few hundred, or few thousand, on a pet project? If yes, go for it! If no, you might want to reconsider.

If you want something for your reel, make sure it is super professional- as professional as you can afford. You want something that showcases your talent, and will also be taken seriously.

What was my answer? A little bit of everything. I wanted to work with specific people and put their talents to use. I wanted something for my reel that shows my work at a higher level. But for this project, it was mainly the story. It was a story I believed in and wanted to tell. I also wanted to distribute online because I think that is going to be the new norm soon. There are so many great shorts made that people never get to see and I wanted this to be something anyone can see, anywhere, anytime. You never know who is going to see it and you never know who you will inspire.

That being said, it will be a while before I produce again- I have to recharge my movie-making batteries!

Do you want to make a short, or go for a feature?

There are tons of shorts being made. If you need to practice your craft before you work at a higher level, shorts are a great way to do that. But distribution for shorts is almost impossible. Unless you distribute online. If you put it online, most people don’t want to pay to see ten minutes of footage. It’s too much work. We are used to just clicking and watching. Also, keep in mind the length. Would you rather make a few two minute videos that may get more views, than one ten minute short? Our attention span is getting shorter so keep that in mind.

For the amount of time and money that goes into a short, why not add a little bit more to your budget and make a feature? Features seem to be the calling card of hot filmmakers now. You can still enter into festivals, and if you do distribute online, you can easily charge a few bucks. You can also sell some dvds. You may even get a distribution deal to get it in theaters.

Whatever length of film you make, know the benefits and limitations of your choice. This is a huge consideration for me as I look into new projects.

Should I crowdfund?

I believe that crowdfunding is an experience all indie filmmakers need to have. Everyone is doing it so you should know what it is all about. Basically, it is hard. It is really really hard. DO NOT run a campaign by yourself. Unless you have a very low goal, or a very large fan base, hustling a campaign yourself is exhausting. I mean, it is anyways, but imagine pulling a school bus up a hill. By yourself. That’s what it is like. It would be much easier if you had say, five to ten other people helping you and sharing that weight. Yes, there are ridiculously generous people (thankfully I know a few!), but the bigger your team is the easier it will be.

Make sure you commit to backer rewards you can handle. Not everyone claims their rewards, but plan on them all being claimed.

Crowdfunding is a lot of time and social media pimping, but at the end of the day, you will be inspired by all of the people that believed in your project and shared their hard earned cash with you. It is pretty overwhelming.

Are you prepared to dedicate all of your resources to this project?

Because that’s kind of what you have to do. You will go over budget. It will happen. Budget 25% extra. You may not go that far over, but you get what I mean. Things come up. Reshoots are needed. Whatever it may be you either have to be prepared to hand over your credit card, or stop production.

Are you ready to spend hours and hours answering emails and coordinating meetings and shooting schedules? No? Then stop now. Making a film is a full time job that doesn’t pay well. If you can’t treat it that way, you are going to have a hard time.

I don’t mean to be a Negative Nancy here, but making a film is a lot of work. It is a craft as well as an art form. This is why there are professional film makers. I have so much more respect for any film that gets made because like any child, they are little miracles.


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    1. mediaproductionwithmelissa

      Great post! Interesting to see films from an actor’s perspective. I recently started a blog, and it will be all about film-making, photography, and travel. I’ll be working as a freelance editor in Germany next year (moving from Atlanta, Georgia to Berlin for a year). Feel free to comment and follow mine!


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