The Short Guide to Making an Awesome Short

Part 1. Script Writing: Have a good story to tell
Part 2.1. Pre-Production: Be ready!
Part 2.2. Pre-Production: Keep on preparing!
Part 3. Production: Are you ready?
Part 4. Post-Production: The fun part!
Part 5. Release and Promotion

Part 2.2 Pre-Production: Keep on Preparing!

So you got your script written, you made some first drafts of your storyboard, you started looking for your actors and started thinking about your shooting order… Guess what? you still got lots of preparing to do! So take out your headphones, pencils, sharpeners and sheets and let’s get started!

Start Looking For Music

Your film is gonna need music, this is a good point to start looking for a musician that is willing to help. Having an original soundtrack is something that will take your film to the next level. You would be surprised how many musicians out there are looking for opportunities like this to get a chance to create music for something, all you would need is a convincing script and clips of previous work to lure them in. Make sure to get someone that has something to make you hear also, listen to their work and make sure their style matches yours, or your vision. You can find many musicians on any film forum out there. Another popular way is using pre-recorded songs by independent artists, they will most likely be happy your using their song, but make sure to credit them, you can find thousands of artists on sites like, and even the Vimeo Music Store. If you know any other ones please feel free to share.

Create a playlistA good exercise that can be extremely beneficial for your film, or for the one that will be creating your music, is to make a soundtrack playlist to your movie. Find any song that you wish you can use in your film, but obviously don’t have the rights for them. These will give your movie a feeling, and will help anyone else involved to get a sense of direction, especially the actors! [Our actor Franco Campisi listened to our playlist between each shot to get deeper into his character]. Giving your characters a theme song can also be a fun exercise.

Location Scouting

This is where your background imagery of your film will take place, so choose your locations wisely. Spend a few days looking for different options, take pictures and then compare. Think about access and filming difficulties of each location, but more importantly find a visually stunning environment, look at lighting, colors and textures with a great sense of depth. Lots of your film’s feel will come from its environment, so don’t rush through this research process.

Scout a location

Document Your Process

In this social media era promoting your film before its done is a huge bonus and a great way to get people curious about your project. Put up a blog, Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger, anything will work. Create a Facebook page for your film, and start writing about your progress. Document your steps and take pictures to give people a little preview and to show them how fun it is to prepare a film. People love making of’s… the same goes for pre-making of’s! Use Twitter to follow other filmmakers and comment on their projects, they will return the favor by getting interest in yours.

Posters – Give Your Film an Image

Come up with posters as soon as you can, and create several of them as your production moves on. No need for ten of them as people will lose interest, a good number is between 2 and 4. Your first one does not need to be complete, it’s more of a tease and to show people what your film will feel like. You might not even have your actor yet, but you know what your movie is about and the feel you are going for, so being vague with just the title and perhaps a quote or log line would be enough. This can also help in the luring better actors, with your film having more credentials.



In The Pines Poster - Short Guide on FilmShortage.comguide-poster-tell

Being vague does not mean effortless, if your not a designer, find one! You cannot go through a film without any professional branding, he will come in handy later on in post production (we will touch this subject in the next posts) with the opening titles and end credits. Image is everything, people will see your poster before your film, so make sure you impress them right away!

Budgeting & Scheduling

You should now know everything you need for your film, you have your actors and have an idea of how long your scenes are.

Create a list of all the props you need inside the screen, then go through your shots and prepare a list of mechanical props that will make your scenes work. Gather up your budget and look at your options here if you have gone over budget. Watch Ryan Connolly’s Film Riot webisodes to get some quick great tips on DIY filmmaking, including this episode on Budgeting.

If ready you can start purchasing and reserving your equipment if you know your shooting dates. If you don’t know your dates, call the places to find out their policies of reservations (some might ask for weeks in advance).

Test Shots

Shooting Order + Lenses

This next step is optional, but can be very helpful if you have the time for it.
Go to your locations, grab stand-ins for your actors (one or two will be more than enough) and place your camera shot by shot. Perfect your angles, movements, focus and lenses and write down your final adjustments on your shooting order sheet. Don’t need to captures the scenes perfectly, just record a little clip of the angle, and movement if you have, so you can review them later on a bigger screen to make any final technical changes. Test anything you can, including lighting and sound, so you know on shooting day that you got everything covered.

So be ready, next week we start production!

Part 3: Production