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Old 05-16-2019, 11:57 AM   #1
finalact4
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Default Producing a Short - Advice Needed

hi everyone.

i don't know where to place this question. i've been thinking about shooting a short at some point in the future, say, the next year or so.

i am totally ignorant, i admit it. i have recently gained some insights on film production from the MasterClasses i've taken: Jodi Foster, Ron Howard, Spike Lee, Scorsese, Finch...

my first bit of business would be a camera, i think. can anyone offer some idea of what i might need? like a handheld camera? i guess i could play around with my iphone, but i'd like the quality to be as good as possible.

i have written a short (one recently), but it's a period piece. it's the 8 page i wrote for Story Writer's contest here on DDP recently.

but...

i posted the opening page of Wasteland: The Sixth State pilot on twitter and a cinematographer responded with, "I love this! Seriously love the visuals, the storytelling. This sequence alone, I'd love to film."

so it got me thinking. maybe i should try to shoot something that i've written. here is the one page... can anyone give me some idea of what it would take to do this? and if i wanted to collaborate with this DP how do i approach that. i'd like to have a well thought out plan. something executable.

would it be cost prohibited to shoot 1 1/4 pages as opposed to an eight page short that's a 1920s throwback thriller? the latter would cost more. what's important to me is the film quality. i might be able to find investors, i'm not sure.

i suspect money would be involved.

so ,can someone give me some advice on how to approach filming one scene? consider i'm like Jon Snow - i know nothing. any insights would be helpful. as you read the page you'll see it has a very specific esthetic. it's black and white, color enhancing where applicable would have to be done in post, right? i'm not looking for notes on the scene as i am happy with it as written.

i live near Dallas and there is a women's film industry here. could that be a resource of support?

i know this might seem ambitious, but i follow a lot of working writers on Twitter and one of the "big" advices they give is to produce a short.

here is the one page.

Code:
TEASER EXT. CITY STREET, LONDON - GRAINY BLACK & WHITE - DAY A DESERTED STREET overflowing with GARBAGE. WIND BATTERS plastic bags, tossing contents down the road. INFECTED DEAD and DECAYING BODIES as far as the eye can see. BLACK STREAKS of blood from every orifice. Scabbed over BOILS BLISTER their faces. A painful death to be certain. BOARDED UP homes with a BLACK "P" sprayed on their doors. A QUIET THRUM RESONATES through us. Barely audible beneath the wind, but it's there-- Something bad is coming... Then, the SLAP of TINY DIRTY FEET. Glimpses of RUFFLED LINEN and LACE. SHE passes us. We TILT UP, and PULL BACK, as: TIME SLOWS TO A CRAWL: ROSALIE, 4, runs away from us. Blonde locks whipping in the wind. Her NIGHTGOWN BILLOWING behind her. A RED RIBBON slips from her hair, the wind catches it, carries it away-- It is the only speck of color in this grim, monotone world. She holds the hand of her BABY DOLL. She slows, turning in every direction, desperately searching for someone-- The DISTANT THRUM RISES-- Rosalie faces us. BLOODSHOT EYES brimming with tears. Irises so light they almost seem silver. Her chin quivers in fear-- ROSALIE Mama? Mama, where are you? (trying to be strong) Mama? I can't find you. (forlorn) Mama? The THRUMMING IS ON TOP OF US NOW, we can't hide from it, and neither can she. A DARK SHADOW passes over her. She glances up, can't keep her fear at bay any longer as-- Tears slip from her eyes, except when they fall they turn RED, filled with blood as we realize-- She is one of the infected. A BOMBER SOARS overhead, its PAYLOAD FALLING... Rosalie brings Baby Doll to her lips, WHISPERING URGENTLY-- ROSALIE It's okay, Baby. It's okay. Mama's here. Mama won't let anything happen to you. Close your eyes, Baby. She's so scared and so alone-- she just wants her mama. Then, a BLINDING FLASH OF LIGHT--
i appreciate any advice you can offer.
best,
FA4
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

The reason to make a short is to see your work produced or you want to be a director as well. I feel it used to be a huge gateway to the industry, and still can be, but I wouldn't make a short as a career move unless your heart is fully in it. I would do it for fun and if it turns out well, then you can use it. You know?

A period piece is going to cost more money to make obviously than 2 people talking at a diner. Or 2 people in a car. So is this the right idea for you to make first time out or should you write to your budget?

As someone who went to film school and dreamed of making my own CLERKS which is about 90% of people probably on this board a few years back, I'm always dreaming on making the indie feature. Technology is so much better now that it's almost begging you to make a feature over a short. Now that sounds crazy I know, but it used to be such a cost difference and now people do making feature films using their iPhone with attachments, etc.

Back to short idea -- you find a DP with a camera. They are everywhere looking for work. Most you would have to pay of course, but there's always up and coming college kids who are just excited to use the camera they bought. Back in the day it was the Sony VX-1000, than the Panasonic DVX 100, Canon XL... I dreamed of those cameras, now it's the Mark 2 and Red Camera and HD on your iphone... it's endless. Truth is it doesn't matter as the new cameras are so damn good. And a good DP can make almost any camera look great. And a worse camera may help a period piece, you know?

So my advice is make sure this is the best short for you to tackle, working backwards into your budget and find people to do all the things you don't know. Maybe you don't even want to direct and you can fill that role. It all depends.

What you wrote seems like it would require top notch attention to details and a great DP -- it seems crazy ambitious...

I would 100% say write an easier scene you know you can shoot with locations you have access to, so you can figure out how it all works before you try to film this short below.

Also, you could take a scene in one of your feature scripts you like... we did that... it was fun... so it's sort of a marketing tool for your feature.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I1Ylynes8A

this short cost $3 dollars. just saying.

best part of shorts is when they could never be a feature film and are just 1 crazy idea. shorter the better in 2019 though.
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Old 05-17-2019, 12:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bono View Post
The reason to make a short is to see your work produced or you want to be a director as well. I feel it used to be a huge gateway to the industry, and still can be, but I wouldn't make a short as a career move unless your heart is fully in it. I would do it for fun and if it turns out well, then you can use it. You know?
i'm going off of what several writers working in the industry are suggesting writers do to help jumpstart their careers. i don' know what you mean by, "unless your heart is fully in it." yes, i'm invested. i'm not doing it for fun, i want to do it to showcase my writing, my brand, and my capabilities.

but i also don't want to be wasteful. i don't want to do it unless it will help. i don't want to be self-indulgent. i only want to do it if i can execute it well. with or without a hired DP.

and, i would like to direct. right now, writing is most important.

Quote:
A period piece is going to cost more money to make obviously than 2 people talking at a diner. Or 2 people in a car. So is this the right idea for you to make first time out or should you write to your budget?
if i'm going to do it, the idea of producing something that is reflective of my film making esthetic and style is important to me. i write primarily action driven, sci-fi thriller specs with a moderate budget to high budget. to produce something similar seems (i could be wrong i guess) the right idea, in the sense that it is reflective of my style and esthetic. all my specs with the exception of the new rom-com i'm finishing have this visual aspect to it. i want to showcase the visual aspect of storytelling. i might be able to do something with the funnier rom-com scenes, but there's still a SFX even in those scenes. idk, i'll have to think about that.

i do not want to produce something other than what i've written. IOW, i am not interested in producing a micro budget or indy budget kind of piece as that is not what i write, nor is it what i'm interested in writing.

Quote:
As someone who went to film school and dreamed of making my own CLERKS which is about 90% of people probably on this board a few years back, I'm always dreaming on making the indie feature. Technology is so much better now that it's almost begging you to make a feature over a short. Now that sounds crazy I know, but it used to be such a cost difference and now people do making feature films using their iPhone with attachments, etc.
CLERKS is a feature that was done on $27k budget. this is not what i'm interested in writing or producing.

Quote:
Back to short idea -- you find a DP with a camera. They are everywhere looking for work. Most you would have to pay of course, but there's always up and coming college kids who are just excited to use the camera they bought. Back in the day it was the Sony VX-1000, than the Panasonic DVX 100, Canon XL... I dreamed of those cameras, now it's the Mark 2 and Red Camera and HD on your iphone... it's endless. Truth is it doesn't matter as the new cameras are so damn good. And a good DP can make almost any camera look great. And a worse camera may help a period piece, you know?
okay, so i do have a DP that that said he was interested in this one + page. i'm trying to discern what the cost of hiring one might be? i have no idea. and if i hire a DP it seems prudent to understand other costs as well. otherwise it's kind of futile. so, if i went that route instead of buying a camera, i'd have a camera for that project. but ONLY for that project.

i don't know, but when you hire a DP is it normal that they are able to use the footage they shoot as a sample? or is it at my discretion? is that something that can be negotiated as part of the hiring process? i have no clue, but if it would help in convincing someone who has the chops, to work with me, i'd like to better understand how all that works. clearly i'm a novice at best. at worse, a complete idiot about such things.

i do think i could story board it out to save time in creating a shot list. there is an actor's studio in the city circle in my community in North Dallas, so i might be able to find a 4year-old, or better yet a small 6 year-old. i know i have a lot to consider.

i've thought about buying a camera for several years now. man, i love the capabilities of the Sony's A7S II for the shallow depth of field, slow motion and low light capabilities. watched a test, it's beautiful. i also like the Sony PWX-FS5 and the Blackmagic URSA mini pro, but clearly there's a lot of research i still must do. i was thinking of a budget of like, $6k

and what about editing? i need an editor, too, right? and sound? yikes! this is kinda exciting.

Quote:
So my advice is make sure this is the best short for you to tackle, working backwards into your budget and find people to do all the things you don't know. Maybe you don't even want to direct and you can fill that role. It all depends.
i do want to direct it. that's very important to me. okay, i will take your advice into serious consideration. there might be other scenes i can practice on, since i'm serious about directing myself and not leaving that to someone else. i guess i have to consider a lot of things.

but producing this one page would go a long way as a representation of my work. i mean, i have no idea of the budget, but i'm certainly looking at writing in a whole new way-- haha. i mean are we talking $10 grand or $30?

Quote:
What you wrote seems like it would require top notch attention to details and a great DP -- it seems crazy ambitious...
yes, i know. i did mention that. details are important. i mean, shot properly, this would be beautiful.

Quote:
I would 100% say write an easier scene you know you can shoot with locations you have access to, so you can figure out how it all works before you try to film this short below.
okay, that's good advice.

Quote:
Also, you could take a scene in one of your feature scripts you like... we did that... it was fun... so it's sort of a marketing tool for your feature.
i don't know what you mean, this is a scene from my pilot. it's the opening moments. i've written a feature as well.

responding to your second post... not for me.

thanks for all the comments. i have a lot to consider. not in a rush. working on it on the side. will have to google resources to help with how to create a budget and other things.

post edit: i wonder if i could do a go fund me? i've also been thinking about starting a prodco or LLC as a way to write off expenses like this. i even have a name for it.
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TIP OF THE DAY: when you attend a big film festival, make sure you have a pitch ready-- you never know when you'll find yourself sitting across from Shane Black and he asks, "what're you working on?"

Last edited by finalact4 : 05-17-2019 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 12:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

This is why, several weeks ago, I threw some of my limited discretionary income toward the Shore Scripts Short Film Fund.

In addition to the thrusts and jabs of the arguments over the value of shorts, as seen in this thread and others like it, here's their logic of the usefulness of a finished short film in your repertoire:

From the Shore Script FAQ

For one thing, if I were so lucky as to win this, I don't have to do anything to get the short made (ie. find director, casting, locations, equipment, etc.) or distributed, like when you do it yourself.

$15,000 isn't much for a short: The one I gave them was a 20-pager with ordinary urban locations (office, cafe, etc.) and then some road traffic scenes. I don't know how far that budget will go. But if I were told I could have $15K and HAD to make a short film with it, or let experienced experts do it for the same amount, I'm only too happy to leave it to the professionals - and still own all the rights to it.

Of course, one factor to consider is that I may have different career goals when compared to most here - for instance, I've absolutely no interest in directing, acting, scoring, etc., but have considerable interest in aiding with the actual production (ie. helping to arrange the money, casting or distribution through my contacts made over 10 years, etc.)

The idea of doing a short had bounced around in my head before, in that I'd considered trying to take one of my scripts to a local film school. It fell through when financing issues arose. See? It all starts with the money.

No matter, a short is a no-loss proposition, and seems like the way to go if you have the time, funds and inclination.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:47 PM   #6
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

FA4 -- my posts are my best creative writing, I'm not writing a term paper, so just know that... I'm just writing from the heart, very quickly and throwing all ideas that come out of me at the wall. If you want perfection and reading comprehension on DD posts, that is not me. I'm just trying to get my thoughts out! Ha.

I'm just being honest. I'm just hoping 1 out of 100 random thoughts will lead to some help.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bono View Post
FA4 -- my posts are my best creative writing, I'm not writing a term paper, so just know that... I'm just writing from the heart, very quickly and throwing all ideas that come out of me at the wall. If you want perfection and reading comprehension on DD posts, that is not me. I'm just trying to get my thoughts out! Ha.

I'm just being honest. I'm just hoping 1 out of 100 random thoughts will lead to some help.
hey, Bono, i'm not sure what you mean here. but did i offend you somehow? because i haven't said anything about your writing, creative of otherwise. just really trying to clarify my position, which admittedly might change.

i very much appreciate everything you've offered thus far, so i'm a little confused by this post. i think i've responded in the same candid manner you did.

i'm taking everything you've offered to heart. so if i've somehow offended you, my apologies as that was not my intent. a lot of thoughts came rushing out.

best,
FA4

PE: i didn't say anything about perfection or reading comprehension. i simply said where i didn't understand your meaning.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by catcon View Post
This is why, several weeks ago, I threw some of my limited discretionary income toward the Shore Scripts Short Film Fund.

In addition to the thrusts and jabs of the arguments over the value of shorts, as seen in this thread and others like it, here's their logic of the usefulness of a finished short film in your repertoire:

From the Shore Script FAQ

For one thing, if I were so lucky as to win this, I don't have to do anything to get the short made (ie. find director, casting, locations, equipment, etc.) or distributed, like when you do it yourself.

$15,000 isn't much for a short: The one I gave them was a 20-pager with ordinary urban locations (office, cafe, etc.) and then some road traffic scenes. I don't know how far that budget will go. But if I were told I could have $15K and HAD to make a short film with it, or let experienced experts do it for the same amount, I'm only too happy to leave it to the professionals - and still own all the rights to it.

Of course, one factor to consider is that I may have different career goals when compared to most here - for instance, I've absolutely no interest in directing, acting, scoring, etc., but have considerable interest in aiding with the actual production (ie. helping to arrange the money, casting or distribution through my contacts made over 10 years, etc.)

The idea of doing a short had bounced around in my head before, in that I'd considered trying to take one of my scripts to a local film school. It fell through when financing issues arose. See? It all starts with the money.

No matter, a short is a no-loss proposition, and seems like the way to go if you have the time, funds and inclination.
thank you, catcon, very interesting site. thank you for your comments as well. much appreciated. producing a short is complex.

best,
FA4
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

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Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
hey, Bono, i'm not sure what you mean here. but did i offend you somehow? because i haven't said anything about your writing, creative of otherwise. just really trying to clarify my position, which admittedly might change.

i very much appreciate everything you've offered thus far, so i'm a little confused by this post. i think i've responded in the same candid manner you did.

i'm taking everything you've offered to heart. so if i've somehow offended you, my apologies as that was not my intent. a lot of thoughts came rushing out.


best,
FA4

PE: i didn't say anything about perfection or reading comprehension. i simply said where i didn't understand your meaning.
No no no - not at all. I was making fun of you myself mostly and that when you read my ramblings, there is no need to respond to everything as even I know most of it is just me going off the deep end. My post did read a little angry and I did not mean it at all that way. I was just throwing it out there, that just ignore my stupid thoughts as my wife does.

i was trying to say you often respond to the full post a person makes and I just don't want you to waste time on my entire posts -- that's what I was trying to say. I will not be offended if you write "okay, good thoughts." or "i disagree with it all." I was just trying to save you time, but you do what makes you happy. Maybe you love to respond to the whole posts. But I did not want you to be obligated.

I have yet to be offended by anyone on this board. Some people stir me up more than others, but you are not one of them FA4.

Take my posts as a fat guy like Kevin Smith used to be who just talks a lot and only intention is to make people laugh/smile and hopefully offer some help. I'm the harmless best friend in a rom com.
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Producing a Short - Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bono View Post
No no no - not at all. I was making fun of you myself mostly and that when you read my ramblings, there is no need to respond to everything as even I know most of it is just me going off the deep end. My post did read a little angry and I did not mean it at all that way. I was just throwing it out there, that just ignore my stupid thoughts as my wife does.

i was trying to say you often respond to the full post a person makes and I just don't want you to waste time on my entire posts -- that's what I was trying to say. I will not be offended if you write "okay, good thoughts." or "i disagree with it all." I was just trying to save you time, but you do what makes you happy. Maybe you love to respond to the whole posts. But I did not want you to be obligated.

I have yet to be offended by anyone on this board. Some people stir me up more than others, but you are not one of them FA4.

Take my posts as a fat guy like Kevin Smith used to be who just talks a lot and only intention is to make people laugh/smile and hopefully offer some help. I'm the harmless best friend in a rom com.
okay. so good to know. it's just a process for me. how i think through things, more than anything it's to myself-- it's how i commit things to memory. it's a little akin to when you meet someone new if you say their name 7 times you won't forget it.

thanks for the thoughts.
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