Making Your First Short Film: Everything You Need to Know


So you’re finally getting ready to start your first short film. Whether you’re in film school, doing a project for a communications class, or just doing this on your own, it’s exciting to start something new!

As a novice film director, you’re sure to make plenty of mistakes along the way. Mistakes are part of the process. That said, we want to help you get started off on the right foot.

Keep reading for a few pieces of advice for making a movie.

Funding: Do You Need It?

You can start your first film on a shoestring budget, but you’re going to need supplies. Sure, you can film a decent movie with a smartphone and some free editing equipment, but this usually requires a lot of innovation. As a newbie, it’s in your best interest to rent higher-quality materials.

You’re also going to need to pay your team and get a film studio for rent if you’re not doing everything on your own.

If you don’t have enough money to start with, you’re going to need help. We recommend crowdfunding for your first short film.

Recruiting Your Team

Who’s acting in your movie?

If this is a school project, it’s likely that you’ll collaborate with other students. If not, you’ll need to find other actors. Put out a call for actors online.

Make sure that you spend plenty of time on auditions. Bad actors can ruin a great movie. You can find plenty of talented amateurs if you take your time.

Spend More Time on Your Script

Good actors can’t save a bad script. Sure, your passion might be filmmaking, but unless you’re collaborating with a creative writer, you’re going to need to spend more time on your script than on your directing abilities.

Make sure to avoid clichés and unnatural language. Give clear stage directions and be ready to change things up if they don’t feel right when the actors are performing.

Consider collaborating with another writer who can edit your work and offer recommendations.

Keep It Short

Remember, this is a short film. You should cap your film at 45 minutes or less (and less is better). You don’t need a lot of time to make an effective movie.

The longer the film, the better it has to be to captivate audiences. When you’re a beginner, we recommend 20 minutes or less. Make those minutes count.

Stay Flexible

Flexibility is everything when it comes to making a movie. Most first-time filmmakers start the process with huge ambitions and many great ideas. In reality, when you’re a beginner on a shoestring budget, it’s likely that many of those ideas won’t come to fruition.

When you stay flexible, you’ll be ready for any potential problems. You’ll be able to make changes when necessary without spiraling into despair.

You’ll have plenty of time for perfection later in your filmmaking career.

Good Luck With Your First Short Film

Your first short film won’t be your best, but it will be something that you can be proud of. With enough effort and creativity (and the right actors), you’re sure to create something that will entertain audiences.

Start finding your team and bringing your vision to life!

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