Action! Tips for Making Your First Short Film
As a young creative, the future of the film industry is literally in your hands, regardless of which field you want to go into. Much of the difficulty that comes in pursuing a career in a creative field is because of how many other people are vying for similar spots. To get a true advantage over the competition, you need to have something that sets you apart. One of these things that can make you stand out is a great short film—but there is a long way to go before you get there. Keep reading for some tips for making your first short film.
Don’t Overhype Yourself
By all means, be excited that you’re going to get to make something. One of the biggest mistakes young filmmakers make is being overly confident and overselling their film. Statistically speaking, your first film is not going to be very good—but that’s okay! Virtually no one makes a good film their first time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to make a good film; however, you should use this more as a way to hone your skills rather than something that will punch your ticket to the major studios. The greatest lessons we learn come from failure, and that’s what being a creative is all about.
One of the most important tips for making your first short film comes with a bit of a disclaimer: expensive gear will not make your film any better. Yes, shooting on a $25,000 camera will produce an image better than you can get on your phone, but your techniques are what you want to focus on. Shot composition, pacing, and story are just some of the things young filmmakers need to get right before they start focusing on getting the best gear available.
That said, it’s a good idea to learn about essential filmmaking equipment early to help you understand some of the technical aspects. You may also be able to borrow equipment to try it out first. Maybe you also own or know someone who owns a DSLR, which have been used by independent filmmakers for over a decade and can produce stellar images straight out of camera. It also may be worth investing in a microphone, as people can generally forgive poor image quality before they can forgive poor sound quality.
Every artist has inspiration. The best way to learn about movies is by watching them. There’s an old expression Picasso liked that says, “good artists copy, great artists steal.” Anyone can recreate a scene from another movie shot for shot, but the true challenge comes in taking the idea of the scene and spinning off something new. Watch some of your favorite movies and think really deeply about what makes them work for you. Try to take those lessons and put your own stamp on them. Ironically, the more purposefully you lift from other media, the more original you become.