Short filmmakers run into a number of challenges when they start off to make a short film. Some are hesitant to get started because they’ve never made a short film before, even if they’ve written a feature script or a television pilot. How is making a short film different? What makes it difficult? Why should someone make a short film? Here are some of the questions short filmmakers often ask. 

How long is a short film?

Shorts can be only a few seconds long and can also run up to an hour. Be aware that film festivals will have a greater challenge programming your short film the longer you make it. A programmer would like to include more filmmakers in their short programs, and a long short limits their ability to do so. I would strongly advise making your short film less than 10 minutes.

Can short filmmakers make any money?

Yes, there are ways to monetize your short. You might be fortunate to have someone pay you for the rights to distribute it. Uploading your short to YouTube or Amazon will lead to some money coming back. In general, making short films is not a way to make money. It’s for developing your skills and building a portfolio to be hired in the future.

How much does it cost to make a short film?

You can make a short film for next to nothing. Maybe the cost of a bag of Doritos. Or you can spend tens of thousands of dollars. It’s up to you. Never think you need money to make a short film. Sundance has accepted short films that have had no budget. But having the money to do certain things, like paying your actors or director of photography $100 a day, can help you make a better film. But remember—-money does not make a film good.

How do I raise the money to make a short film?

Don’t use your own money because you will end up spending a bunch of your own money even if you raise the money for your short film, so if you start off saying you will use your own money it will become a nightmare. Don’t fund your own short. It makes your cast and crew weird. It makes you feel bad. Go get the money from Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Ask people for money and then go make them proud. How do you raise money from a crowdfunding platform? That’s another blog. 🙂

Why do I need to make a short film?

To learn. Short films show yourself who you are. They prove to the world you’re talented and skilled. Making a short film lays the road to becoming a professional storyteller. Why do you think you need to make a short?

What if I don’t have any money?

Make friends if you don’t have any. Friends will let you borrow their phones so you can shoot your script with their phones. If you don’t have any friends, you need to practice being nice and being around people. Being nice and being around people is a key part of making films.

What’s the hardest thing about making a short film?

Writing the script. Once you have a great script everyone will help you make your short film. Short filmmakers often rush forward without spending enough time on their script. Wouldn’t you want to spend most of your time on the hardest part of making a short? Writing a great script is the hardest part of making a short film. There is nothing harder. Spend most of your time and focus on writing.

How do I find a writer or director or actors or crew?

Use your gut. Trust how you feel when you meet someone. Short filmmakers might simply pick their friends to work with. If you know your friend is not qualified, do not hire them. It’s okay. Look at their work. Is it good? Be brave and honest with your decisions. People will tell you they will fail you very early. Don’t kid yourself. If you’re doubtful, trust there’s another person around the corner that’s perfect. It’s true.

What’s the most important thing about making a short film?

Patience. When you rush any part of the process, your work will suffer. Have patience every step of the way and you will give yourself the best chance to make the best choices. Once you panic and push things forward, you’re moving back to where you started in the first place.

What’s the worst mistake you can make?

Not finishing. Finish the script and finish the movie and find an audience and show it to people. The education you receive from fighting your way through making a short film, learning how to work with others and being honest with yourself, all the while being courteous and prompt, will prove to be the most important way to becoming a professional.

Finish your short!

Short Films 

Submit your short film to BlueCat’s Short Film Festival by March 17th!