Producing : Short Film vs. Feature Films vs. Episodic (Either TV or Internet) by Alexander Lash

Alexander Lash

Short Film vs. Feature Films vs. Episodic (Either TV or Internet)

Have been wanting to discuss with filmmakers for awhile, their thoughts on the pros and cons on different formats of entertainment. Obviously each have upsides and downsides, i.e.: short films can be great practice, low risk in terms of financial and time investment, but on the downside; there's almost no money in them. Talk to me about what you see as the top benefits and downsides for different forms of media, and going about pursuing them.

Joe Becker

I work in the film BUSINESS, which means I want to make money. To make money, you have to make a good product that people will be interested in spending money to see, and you have to have a good marketing plan. You can make money on shorts IF you want to do a youtube channel and make most of your money from youtube checks. Or if you can find a monetized outlet for short films. They do exist. It's my least favorite. Web Series is good, again, if you want to make money from youtube, or if you can find a monetized outlet. They also exist. My second least favorite. TV Series. You need to make something that is high quality, fun, exciting, entertaining, and it helps if it's educational, but doesn't have to be. If you can consistently come up with stories to tell every week, a series can make you enough money to support your film habit. As with all outlets, know your audience and cater to them. And have fun. There are different types of weekly shows; sitcoms, dramas, talk shows, game shows... pick something you're good at, that you like, and that you know you can pull off. Remember this though, Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Geller had a sitcom. It got cancelled. You've got really tough competition. If you're doing a sitcom, don't cast your buddies, and shoot it yourself and shoot it in your house. Hire some real actors, a real crew, and shoot it in a sound stage. Plan on spending about $500k. Unless you're shooting for a web series. Feature. My absolute favorite. Before I go on, I am involved in all of these. I make shorts, web series, TV shows, and feature films. They all have their place. But I live for the Feature. Nothing beats a good story, well told. The writers, the actors, the camera, props, costumes, make-up... all come together to tell the story. When it's done right, it's magic. When it's done right, not only does the audience think they just got a bargain, they go tell their friends, and they come back to see it again. If you want to make money, you can use the smaller projects to build an audience, raise some funds, and learn your craft. As a matter of fact, it may be good to make your first feature with your second best script. You can make all your mistakes on the first project, and save the best script for when you really know what you're doing. Unless you just want to hire a good cast and crew first time around. If you hire a well known director, and a professional crew, they can bring your story to life for you. That's my recommendation. You can learn on set by watching, listening, asking questions... and then be ready to make your second, third, or fourth film yourself. Take time to learn your craft. Don't jump in blind thinking you know it all, or you'll wing it like Indiana Jones and it will all work out. Let the pros do what they do. Hire pros and trust them. If you have a good director, crew, and cast, it's much easier to raise the money to make the film.

James Patrick Brown

There's money in shorts if they get you the recognition you need to get funding for your next project or paid work on someone else's project.

Matt de Rojas

I'm currently not in a position to get into features now seeing as I graduated from college a few months ago, but I have been and am currently using short films to work my way up, so to speak. I have a ton of ideas and projects that are long-term for a variety of reasons. So I'm working on the simpler stuff for the time being. Some stories work better as shorts, others as features, and others as TV/web series. How much do you want to/are you able to say about the characters, the story, and all that? If it's a fairly complex situation, you may wish to serialize it. If it's more straightforward, then perhaps a one-shot film is best (unless you feel like the film REALLY needs a sequel—but be careful about that, since most sequels and the like nowadays seem rather unnecessary, a lesson Hollywood may never learn). Sorry if it seems like I'm rambling, just wanted to add my two or three cents.

Joe Becker

Don't think you're too young. Justin Chambers graduated from college and then made Broken Roads. He's 26 yrs old and his second feature is in post. We're all different, and if you feel you need more time to learn, that's good. But don't blame your age. Age has nothing to do with it.

Matt de Rojas

Oh no, I wasn't saying I was too young at all. I'm sorry if that was implied. I just haven't had the time or resources to fully get into features yet, really. You are correct, it's different for everyone.

Joe Becker

I just don't want you to sell yourself short. It's tough getting into features. but anyone can do it. go at your own pace.

Matt de Rojas

Of course, of course. That's what I've been trying to do. I think I'll know when it's time.

Other topics in Producing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In