Monday Prescriptions – The Size [of Your Film] Matters

Hi Film Folk!

Today we want to talk about ‘the first time’ – of making a film. Or rather, the length of your first film – the never-ending ‘shorts vs. features’ debate.

Should you start with something smaller, as the independent film tradition advocates, or take a plunge and invest in something more substantial? Well, FD dares to suggest it is down to what you aim to get out of the whole project.

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The Short Way

Make a short film if:

– practicing the craft – visual storytelling, directing actors, setting up shots, all of this is best learnt from combining book tips and taking up a project. Hence, making shorts is a good practical exercise

– on a tight budget – simply, less material to shoot, less expenditure. Provided that you keep your story simple as well (even a 2-min Sci-Fi flick would be a strain on the bank account)

– building industry contacts – doing as many shorts as possible (your own ones or helping someone else) is bound to gain you an invaluable network of crew and cast contacts, from which can then pick the ones you’d like to collaborate on a regular basis. Also, a great way to discover fresh talent.

A short film is NOT a way to generate fortune. At least in most cases. So, when you set out to make shorts, you don’t (or rather, shouldn’t) have financial recoupment hopes – think more about your artistic aspirations and building your unique voice as a filmmaker.

The Feature Way

Make a feature film, if:

- want to generate revenue - features sell easier than shorts. There are more distributors for features than shorts. Simple as.

- looking for representation - this one is for the screenwriters out there.  Fact: agents and production houses/departments don't take on shorts.

- have an experienced producer - now, shorts also need good producers (especially if you've got plans to hit some festivals afterwards), but with a feature the scale of responsibility and the demand for investment/funding increases twofold. So you really need some who knows what s/he's doing.

You DON'T PRACTICE with a feature film - it would be too much of an expensive exercise. And time-consuming.

We are far from saying that shorts are easier than features, or vice versa. Or that one has more merit over another. On the contrary, we believe that both types require a great deal of planning and preparation, and, most of all, dedication. The point of today's discussion was to highlight the importance of knowing what you are aiming for, in order to achieve exactly that result and nothing else.




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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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