I love “5 tips” or “10 best” type articles … must be my short (oh, look, a bird) attention span …
A few things we have learned: #1 – have a few locations as possible to create your story. Every time you have to reset, you are losing time. #2 – if you are planning to shoot outdoors have a backup plan (either an alternate location, alternate dialogue to explain the weather change or an alternative shooting date). We have found tremendous support from the community for shooting our short film projects. Most importantly – and often overlooked by inexperienced filmmakers – is to make sure you have all your permits and insurance requirements in place. FAVA/CSIF members qualify for great rates on insurance. It gives your location contact peace of mind and protects you. Some of the coolest locations we’ve shot at are Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, the Eric Cormack Centre, Concordia University of Edmonton and Sharlene’s back yard … We haven’t shot there (yet) but Drumheller has some amazing locations and resources (e.g., Dinosaur Valley Studios and Starland Studios).
Our first resource for wardrobe is our actors … that way we don’t need to worry about fit and, amazingly, they are usually able to pull together a look we love! Occasionally, though, we need to beg, borrow and scour Value Village for exactly what we need (hint: Value Village has better pricing that Goodwill stores for most items). We have borrowed Security-type uniforms and purchased hospital-garb and clothing pieces that may be damaged. We have been creating our own “Tickle Trunk” of fun wardrobe pieces!
Again, our first resource is the crew we hire. Not only do they usually come with their own equipment, they are most comfortable using it. However, if you need to rent and you are a FAVA/CSIF member, they offer great rates. If you need something special, try places like Vistek, Keen Eye Production, or 4K Film Production.
People often ask us why we are doing a short film … where is our market? With this digital age, if you have a very short film or something that has tremendous public appeal, you can produce specifically for uploading your project. Or you can create projects for specific film festival audiences. Or you can create a variety of short projects to create a demo reel of your work and use this to “sell yourself” to investors. We use every short film project as a way to learn something new or to use the format as a way to make social commentary (e.g., one project helped us to learn about green screen technology; one helped us to create a very short story without the benefit of sound; one helped us learn about animation; and another involved lots of non-CGI special effects).
In our experience and conversations with people who are trying to create their short film projects (especially their first one), financing is always an issue. There is, of course, some support offered through the various levels of government … but we all know that those funds are limited and grants are extremely oversubscribed. Most of us have financed at least one project entirely out of our own pockets. We’ve been blessed by having cast and crew who believe in our project(s) so much that they have been willing to “work for food” (we always feed VERY well … homemade, hot and nutritious) and/or have accepted significantly less payment than they normally earn and/or have accepted deferred payment. We never take this for granted and have brought back many of these volunteer cast and crew for projects that we have been able to pay on. We have also volunteered for other peoples’ projects … it’s a great opportunity to give back as well as to meet other passionate filmmakers!