Producing : Is it worth it to produce a short film? by Mariannjely Marval

Mariannjely Marval

Is it worth it to produce a short film?

Hello fellow creatives. I'm a screenwriter/actor that wants to be a producer in the near future. I have written a few short films and I'm considering producing them. If you have produced any shorts, would you please share your experience with me? What worked and what didn't? Waste of time and/ or money? There is a better way to get that hands on experience? Please don't hold back on the good and the bad side.

Nicholas Jordan

The "trick" if there is any such thing is not to go beyond budget which you consider dispensable — I have not produced anything but walked on to a $100,000 set & my edit made it to air-time on screen which is astounding in that I have never studied film formally → You run The Making of God Spoke and it will tell you everything that you will need to know on a $3Million + project

Doug Nelson

All I produce now are shorts. You can produce a 8 - 10 min short film, using consumer grade HD DSLRs for basically the cost to feed your actors/crew a decent lunch each shooting day: A simple 2 day shoot with a 7 cast/crew is gonna cost you about $200 a day. About $400 for two days, throw in a few odds & ends and you are easily up to $500. Your first film will likely suck but the understanding, experience and education are priceless. When finished, you've got something tangible. Is it 'worth it'? You bet it is! It's the best and cheapest filmmaking course you'll ever take.

Kiril Maksimoski

I personally do not know director or writer who has made it big before making it yes, please do :)

Mariannjely Marval

Nicholas Jordan Thank you for the advice :)

Mariannjely Marval

Doug Nelson thank you for the insights! How do you go about finding a DP, light, sound, editing for that budget? Using students? I have actor friends and a director that will give his time to the project, but for the rest of the crew I'm looking about $4000.

Mariannjely Marval

Kiril Maksimoski :) thanks!!

Dan MaxXx

if this is the life you want to do as your occupation, then yes- it is worth making shorts and knowing filmmakers. Gotta make your own Luck, find your own people and rise together.

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

Mariannjely Marval What Doug and Kiril said. If you cannot get through a short, you certainly cannot get through a feature. It's a required step, in my view.

Doug Nelson

Mariannjey, you're in Atlanta; find out where the local filmmakers hang out & join 'em. Post notices on local school bulletin boards, Craig's List & anywhere else you can think of. Attend local film festivals... just get out there and circulate.

Morris Stuttard

Everything everyone already said. Just make sure you look at it as an education, not a golden ticket. And enjoy! It's a ton of fun too :)

John Ellis

$4K for a first short is a lot of money, esp. since you most likely (IMO) will never earn that back. I consider shorts a sort of hands-on film school. You'll learn the craft and make connections - the same as you would in film school, but for a lot less money. But keep the expenses in the 100s, not 1,000s.

Here's how to break in from Beck and Woods (A Quiet Place):

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

Nicholas Jordan To add to this on budget. Depending on where you are, $200 a day is not reasonable - In California, there is literally no legal way to hire a crew without paying at least minimum wage. You can style the project as a student film, but there is no legal mechanism which relieves you of that responsibility unless it truly is a volunteer and community-owned project. Because the moment there is any agreement that you get the rights to someone else's work (which you MUST have to show it anywhere), you are their legal employer. In that context, $4000 is not an unreasonable sum for a 2 day shoot, possibly 3, depending on your production design. Yes, it is still a lot of money. But it's 2021 and it's not a lot of money. My first film, in the days of actual film, was $25k and that was many many years ago.

Doug Nelson

Shadow - many of us (self included) left California for a reason: It's to expensive to live or work there. Even the big studios are sending production to other states (& offshore) because of that. She's in Atlanta - quickly becoming the East Coast version of Hollywood. My advice to her is to take advantage of that while she can.

Mariannjely Marval

Thank you for sharing your experiences! Def going to take all these great advices and start working! :)

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

Doug Nelson Mariannjely Marval Our show Esco Eats shoots in Atlanta - be careful about employment laws there that's all I will say on that - best to pay minimum wage and make sure you OWN all the rights, and avoid wrath of labor departments. As an independent film maker, I sympathize and have to deal with this on every production I work on. It's just a fact but consider it's also a fact that not paying people properly is actually theft of their labor. There is no way around that fact, not legally and not morally. It's gotta be faced.

Chris Donaldson

Absolutely it's worth it to make a short film. But only after I've considered a few things: do you have the team ready and willing to go to make the best project possible? Have you thought through how you are going to market this piece (through film festivals, self-distribution, etc) to get the most exposure and bang for your buck (since you won't be getting an actual return on your investment, most likely)? This plan needs to be in place BEFORE you shoot so you can be thinking in that context.

What you want to make sure is that you learn a ton, and you come out the other side with the best calling card possible that represents your mad skills, etc. If those ducks are in a row - go for it!

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