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How to make a short film with practically no budget!

 

Making a short film with the availability of today’s technology has become a relatively simple endeavor for most people.  Assuming that you own a respectable computer, a digital camcorder and some kind of editing software, you are basically ready to go.  Add some decent actors, a simple script and you’re a filmmaker!

But, first things first; you will need a story.  Remember, most of what filmmakers do is to become a storyteller.  And if this is your first attempt at creating a short film, consider a comedy or spoof on a topic that isn’t too serious.  With the discriminating taste that has been acquired by most film viewing audiences, even on Youtube, it’s wise to leave the more sobering ideas to those that can spend millions of dollars telling their story. 

Now that you have a basic outline for your story using the cast available to you, create a bit of a character for each role.  What is the personality of each character?  Do they have a specific way of speaking?  There are many ways to create individual characters for each role which helps when writing the final draft of the script.  But don’t get jammed here.  You might have friends that are really good actors and you have no idea.  Ask around; see who is up for the excitement involved in making even a short film.  Then work around what you have when writing the final draft of your script.  Don’t forget that although you might only have a few characters in your story, that there will be background actors required, set dressers (to create realism) and production assistants to help organize things during the day of filming.

Once all of the “pre-production” already mentioned is completed, now you are ready to start filming.  Make sure your camera battery is fully charged and that you have more than enough tape required for filming your short film.  Don’t worry about filming in sequence.  You might have to work around people’s schedules, so shoot out of order if necessary.  This can be fixed in editing.  Remember to be careful not to “cut” the scene pre-maturely.  Some of the best films were created during the “unscripted” moments.  Also, don’t forget to take close-ups and different angles of the same scene to have plenty of footage to use when editing.

Finally, it’s time for editing.  Hook up the camera and import the video into your computer.  Please note that these short films can take up a huge amount of space, so make sure you have enough space on your hard drive.  In your editing software, begin placing scenes in order.  You will notice, as you go along, that some scenes don’t work; that’s where editing comes in.  Choose another clip from that same scene until you find one that works for you.  Continue until the entire film is complete.  Word to the wise: try making a short webisode or very short film (5-6 minutes) before attempting a longer film.  You will discover that the experience you will gain even creating such a short piece will go a long way when shooting future projects.  

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