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Making Your First Short Film? Listen To My Warnings

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Have a great script? Planning to shoot your first ever short film? I too was once at your stage and I too had a good script. It’s now in its post-production stage but looking back at the pre-production and the date of shoot these are some of the things which I could have done earlier which would have exponentially improved the output of the film.

Play out the entire Film before Shoot

I was working with actors whom I did not know previously. I met them only once/twice before the actual day of shoot. It is an absolute necessity to rehearse. Get all the actors together at a place, make them understand the character, the motive, the mannerisms and the quirks. Give the actors some references from other movies. Play out the entire film in a room before going for the shoot. If you have some corrections/ suggestions, talk to them beforehand. Make them understand how important the film is and make sure that they take your project seriously. They might think that you are going too overboard for a short film, but trust me, what they think does not matter. It’s your output that matters. Also, if possible take them to the location that you are going to shoot.

Share the Vision, Gain the Trust

I had a great cinematographer to work with. Again, spend a lot of time with him. Make him understand what you want from him. Storyboarding is a not a necessity. But if you think that it’s important, go ahead and do it. Take him to the location and explain everything that is necessary in detail. Remember it is very important that you and the cinematographer share the same vision.

Don’t be a Dictator

Another important thing to do in pre production is earning the trust of all the cast and crew. You should act as a leader and everybody working in the project should see you as their leader. Now, I don’t know you personally, but I do know that being a leader is the most important virtue of a director. Get all the cast and crew members to accept you as their leader mentally, in that case, 50-60 percentage of the job is done. Remember being a leader does not mean being a dictator. Dhoni is a leader and so is Ganguly. Find your style, take responsibility and become the captain of the ship. They will now be willing to do whatever you want them to do.

Take the Problems Head on

We as indie filmmakers are limited by time and money. Remember Murphy’s law from Interstellar? “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Well, that’s actually true on the set. The thing is, you should be mentally prepared to face all the obstacles like a real pro. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Get used to it. The movie entirely depends on how you deal with those problems in that limited time. Stay cool, confident and make smart solutions to resolve the problems.

Remember. You are the director of the film. It’s your vision. Don’t let others on the set be it actors, ADs sabotage your vision. I’m not saying that you should not take in suggestions/ improvisations.  Legend has it that the great “You talkin’ to me?” scene from Taxi Driver was improvised on set. So, shoot your version first. Get it right. And then go for improvs.

I might sound like I am preaching and warning you. But trust me, I ignored all the things that I have mentioned above and now I wish that I should have been a bit more careful. Keep in mind, this is not a boring cubicle job to be stressed about but this is what you wanted to do in life, right? So don’t stress out and never forget to have fun while shooting.

Adios.

 

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