The official poster for my upcoming short film Hangry has been released. I’m currently in post-production and will be delivering a rough cut to the Memphis Film Prize on June 12. If Hangry is selected to the Top 10, it will screen along with the other nine finalists during the first weekend of August. In the meantime, be sure to Follow on Twitter and Like the official Facebook page to stay up to date.
You want to make a short film, so, you text a few friends and ask for their help. Then, you reach out to others in your network to see who might be interested and slowly start to build your team.
But did you know that HOW you go about building your cast and crew will have either a positive or negative impact on the overall production experience AND the final film?
Let’s say that when you first contact people you simply ask, “Hey, want to help me make a film?” and they say “Yes.” Then you approach 10-20 more people with the same pitch and they all say “Yes.” At this point you’re feeling pretty good. You have enough hands on set to help out with everything you’ll need during production.
When everyone arrives on set for the first day of filming no one is EXACTLY sure what they’re supposed to be doing, what they were supposed to bring, who they’re supposed to be helping, and what their essential function is. You have enough people on set to get the job done, but confusion reigns because specifics are unclear. This can affect morale, slow the shoot down, and ultimately compromise the production quality of the final film.
Now, imagine you build your volunteer crew another way? Instead of asking, “Do you want to help?” say this, “I’m producing a short film and we really need someone who can oversee continuity. Can you do that for us?”
Give EVERYONE a specific job to do, so he/she will know exactly what to prepare for, what to bring, and what to do while on set.
The number of pre-production meetings you schedule should be in direct proportion to the scope and complexity of the shoot. You don’t need to meet every single day (Remember, these are people volunteering for your film, so be respectful of their time), but you do need to meet to review on going action items and to ensure every one is on the same page. For my latest short film Hangry, I met with my crew four times prior to the shoot.
PROVIDE A SHOT LIST AND PRODUCTION SCHEDULE
The crew likes to know what’s going on so they have an idea of what they’re working toward and what needs to be accomplished each day. Take the time to make a shot list and production schedule and distribute both to your crew.
Set aside time for a tech scout with your key department heads. This will give them the opportunity to see the space and ask any logistical questions pertinent to the shoot, like where to load in and store gear, what’s allowed/not allowed while in the space, where will all departments set up, etc?
Just because you may be working on a no-budget short doesn’t mean that the set can’t be (or shouldn’t be) professional. Everyone’s experience while on set will be much more positive if you go about preparing the right way.
Have any thoughts to add? Leave them in the Comments.
People who work in video production want two main things from every video they produce:
High production value
Emotional response from viewers
The first can be achieved with the proper equipment and the proper technical training. The second, however, can be more elusive.
How do you create a story that stimulates a meaningful, emotional response from viewers that inspires them to act?
Obviously, if there was one tried-and-true answer to that question that I could bottle and sell, I could retire now. But the following episode from the podcast Revisionist History provides some fantastic insight on human emotion. I think if you work in video production it’s worth a listen. There are some important lessons to be learned and practices to implement that will help your next story illicit the kind of emotion that you want.
Here’s the episode. In it, Gladwell explores the country music industry and why its songs feel so much sadder than any rock ‘n roll ballad. If you can’t listen to the full 45-minute episode, here are a few sections you can skip to:
Rather than provide you with my own take-aways, I’d like to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the Comments section. What stood out to you? What can we all do as video production professionals to ensure that our stories resonate with viewers?
And if you haven’t subscribed to Revisionist History, I encourage you to do so. It’s a fantastic podcast.
Big and Tall, the short film I wrote and directed last year, has been accepted to the Lake Charles Film Festival coming up October 5-6 in Lake Charles, LA. Now celebrating its 7th year, the Lake Charles Film Festival is brought to you by Louisiana Film & Video Art, Inc. and was formed to bring quality independent film & music festivals, special film screenings, and educational filmmaking & music workshops to Lake Charles. Screening info for Big and Tall will be announced once the festival schedule is released.