8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

Let’s go back to basics! If you are thinking or overthinking about producing your first short film, you are not alone. These are the 8 things that were around my head when deciding to go for it.

1. Is Making a Short Worthwhile?

I hate to reply to this with another question, but you have to ask yourself first: Why do I want to do it? Maybe you want to be an actor and it can be a way to get material for your reel, get credits and exposure. Same with a director or DP.

If you are a screenwriter or producer, you might want to see your story come to life and get recognition for future work or use it as proof of content when selling a script. There are many reasons, and whenever there is a goal there is a way. Go for it.

8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

2. Which Script Should I Use?

Choose a script that makes sense to your goals and budget, but that also transmits a message you are passionate about and want to explore.

A tip for me was to look at the locations. They are a big part of the production side. I kept it simple for this first one and absorbed everything I could from the experience.

3. How Do I Prepare a Budget?

The software "Movie Magic" is a frequent suggestion in the industry. I even purchased a workshop to learn how to use it, to then realize I didn’t really need it for this first short film. Open your excel sheet and consider everything that comes to mind.

Most likely you would end up spending more on your first short anyway, but these are things you should definitely have in mind for your budget: location fees, actors, food, crew, wardrobe, props, editing.

Please remember you can always negotiate rates. You will be surprised by how flexible and collaborative people can be, just make sure to be respectful and appreciate what they bring to the table.

8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

4. Who Do I Really Need for Crew?

This is probably the question I had the most trouble finding answers to, and it is because it would depend so much on the project size and budget. After lots of consideration, the essential crew roles that any production has no matter the size, I believe is (at least 1): director/DP (it can be the same person or different), 1st AC, Gaffer/Grip (ideally one of each), sound, 1st Ad, art director/ production designer, wardrobe, hair, and make-up.

In my short film budget, I couldn’t afford a person for wardrobe or make-up. I was trying to do it myself but, in the end, the amazing actors took that on themselves, they were on top of their outfit continuity and did their own makeup.

However, when I do it again, I will try to make it work because it is something you should not have your actors being distracted with.

5. How Do I Find my Crew?

First, you should look at your immediate people. Think hard, and then harder. You might think you do not know anybody but then realize you do know at least 1 person, and that person might know another person, and so on. After that, connect with other creatives.

Look at Stage 32 members in your area and connect with them. If they can’t help you, they might be able to refer you to somebody. Word of mouth is amazing. Also, you could post a job on Stage 32 for instance.

Social media is a great source. For me, Facebook groups were very helpful. There is a Facebook group in Atlanta Film Production Group, where I was able to find members of my crew, and they were amazing. It was also a quick call with a very fast response.

8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

6. How Do I Find Actors?

First, prepare 1-2 lines of description of the roles you are looking for. Also, selects sides for the audition. You could post a casting call in Stage 32, actorsaccess.com, Facebook groups, or any other platform.

You can request reels, or just send sides for self-tapes to those actors that fit what you are looking for. Another conventional approach is reaching to acting schools and posting a casting call.

7. How Do I Find Locations?

Giggster.com and peerspace.com are my favorite sites to use for location scouting. You can negotiate rates and see pictures of the locations. They are accessible and simple platforms.

Airbnb is also an option, especially if I’m desperate! You might find a lot of owners are okay with you filming there, but make sure to have them sign a release form. What I do not like about Airbnb, besides the limited creativity in the locations, is that check-in times are usually later in the day so this might be conflicting with the schedule. Also, you can find great places while driving around. You can approach the owner and negotiate with them.

If you have a budget for it, hire a Location scout. They already have knowledge of locations and can take away from you the time that this process takes.

8 Questions I Had Before Producing my First Short Film

8. Am I Ready For This?

I really don’t like when I have this question in my head, because as a perfectionist myself, the answer will always be no, and of course, I overthink everything, but the truth is that we are always ready. You don’t win unless you risk or lose. We have to make it work. There is always something to be learned from the experience and there is also growth. Enjoy the journey!

You might have these same questions or other ones in your head right now, but I want you to know that questioning is the first step. Do you need to know the answers to all of your questions before deciding to go for it? No! You can figure the answer to these questions during the process too.

Self-doubt and fear before starting a journey is a constant battle. However, every time I fear something, I know I need to do it. After all, we have 50% of succeeding or failing in something, why not take a chance in that good 50%. You got this!

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About the Author

Mariannjely Marval

Mariannjely Marval

Actor, Screenwriter, Assistant Production Office Coordinator, Location Scout

Mariannjely Marval is a bilingual screenwriter, a proud Venezuelan and USA citizen. Conscious about the underrepresentation problem in the entertainment industry, Mariannjely's passion for writing grew from a desire to a mission to contribute to the Latinx narrative. During the pandemic, Mariannje...

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