At the 5th Annual Hollyshorts Film Festival last week I came across a great panel on short film distribution moderated by Roberta Marie Munroe (How Not to Make A Short Film: Secrets from a A Sundance Programmer) at the Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.
Munroe along with panelist Todd Luoto, Sundance Film Festival and Independent Filmmaker; Carson Mell, Independent Filmmaker; and Orly Ravid, New American Vision, took us down the long and windy path of film distribution as it relates to short films. Historically, short films have been seen and treated as the redheaded stepchild of the film world. What exactly are you supposed to do with a 7 to 10 minute film where features are king? Well it seems that you need to answer that question long before you turn on your camera.
According to Munroe and the panel one of the biggest mistakes filmmakers make, and there seems to be plenty, is not figuring out who they are making this film for. If you only plan to show your comedy gem on Youtube then you don’t have to worry about any of this, but if you are interested in a film career and your short seeing the light of day then you might want to heed their advice.
It all starts with the story. If you have a crappy script, you will end up with a crappy film. No amount of editing, music, or over-the-top post special effects will be able to cover the crappiness. Really put the effort into coming up with the best script that you can. Have other people read it (not just your girlfriend who thinks everything you do is brilliant) who can give you sound feedback.
When you cast your film make sure you understand the SAG talent agreement if you choose to work with union actors. According to Luoto you have a lot of work ahead of you once you sign on for that relationship. So if your best friend is Will Smith and he loves your sci-fi-comedy-adventure film enough to star in it for you; remember — he is a SAG actor and there is a lot of shit and paperwork that comes with his generous offer.
Make sure you have all your clearances in place. Now