How to Bootstrap Your First Short Film
As if the decision to create your first short film isn't daunting enough, you are also bootstrapping production. The good news is that now is a great time to make your own short film. Technological advances in cameras and accessories coupled with free access to streaming and hosting mean that producing and launching your short film is easier than ever.
After combing the internet and speaking to some bootstrapping filmmakers, we noticed a few pieces of advice that are worth sharing.
Set Reasonable Expectations for Yourself
If this is your first attempt at producing a short film, keep it simple. Every time you add another scene, another location, another character, the more diluted your film will become. Start with a powerful 1-3 minute short film and work your way up from there. Make every single second count.
Don't Skip on the Planning
When your product is short on resources, planning become more important. You can't afford any mistakes. Use a production template to stay organized. Your production documents should include:
- Task list
- Shooting schedule
- Contact info for everyone involved
- Production design
- Location directions
Use these documents as the framework for your production. Keep them updated.
Set a Budget- And Stick to It
If you currently have $0, you will need to start saving. Sell something you own, cut back on gourmet coffee. However you can save a few hundred dollars, do it! You will have some expenses, even if it is simply feeding your crew during filming.
After all of the dreaming and planning, it would be a shame to throw it away because of a failed budget. Be realistic with your cost estimates and add 25% in case of an unexpected expense.
Most films need actors, places to film, maybe wardrobe, and sound. When you are being resourceful and asking people for help, be honest. Let them know what you are trying to accomplish and provide straightforward expectations. If you try to sell people with the promise of fame and success, you will not be taken seriously.
Set reasonable expectations and communicate them clearly. The people who agree to help you may not ever see any tangible benefit. They should be helping you because they want to be part of a cool project, not because they expect anything in return.
Secure Amazing Locations
When your film budget is tight, you will have to work harder to find amazing shoot locations, but it will be worth it. Do you want to shoot in a large city park? reach out to city and find out what you will need to do. You may need to apply for a permit, so ask how much permit costs are.
If you have a specific building in mind, bring your plan and set up a meeting with the owner. Explain your objectives and why their property would be perfect. Sometimes you will be offered a property for free and sometimes you will be required to obtain an expensive insurance policy that is cost prohibitive. You will never know until you try.
When all else fails, check out your local short term rental sites and consider renting a cool property for a night to shoot. Whatever location you decide on, make sure you leave it better than you found it. You never know which connections will be valuable for future films.
Use the Right Equipment
If your smart phone is less than five years old, you have a camera. If you have an iPad, that's even better. Add some accessories and you are ready to shoot. Here is what you'll need:
- iOgrapher Multi Case
- Anamorphic film lens
- Flexible tripod
- Standard tripod
- Mobile interface
Purchasing these accessories in a bundle is the most cost effective. The iOgrapher Cinematic Filmmaker Kit has everything you need to film a professional short film at a great price. Financing is offered if you want to make payments.
Push the limits, build a social media following, and pursue your dreams of filmmaking. Keep producing and trying new things and never give up.