Short Film Tips by Film Riot and D4Darious


Sources

Notes

00:02
welcome to film riot and if you haven’t
00:04
heard my road real is back which if you
00:07
don’t know what my road real is what
00:09
have you been doing it’s been going on
00:11
for six years every year it is the
00:12
biggest short film competition that
00:14
there is online and now they’re in their
00:16
sixth year and this year they’re giving
00:17
away over 1 million dollars in prizes to
00:20
be won across 28 categories of course
00:23
anyone can enter you just download the
00:25
starter pack and get shooting and I’m
00:26
gonna put a link for that starter pack
00:28
below but also this year I’m one of the
00:30
judges so with that in mind I thought I
00:32
would give some of my tips for making a
00:34
short film which of course we’re gonna
00:35
start in the most logical place which is
00:37
writing and more often than not I’m
00:39
really trying to write what I can pull
00:41
off I know what resources we have what
00:43
budget we have at our disposal so before
00:46
I go into the writing process at all on
00:48
keeping that in mind so I’m not writing
00:50
for a 20-person cast when I know I only
00:53
have three people that I can grab I’m
00:55
not writing for this big action piece
00:57
with explosions and guns when I know I
00:59
can’t get my hands on all that if all
01:01
you have is a coffee shop and two
01:02
friends well then get creative and write
01:04
something around that then while writing
01:05
I’m always trying to think in terms of
01:07
setups and payoffs I’m not just talking
01:09
about you know showing the close-up of a
01:11
gun and then later the hero uses that
01:12
gun I do of course do things like that
01:14
like in ballistic there is the setup of
01:16
the gun and her not understanding how to
01:19
use it in the payoff of her ultimately
01:20
figuring that out and we get to go along
01:22
with that journey so we have a setup and
01:23
payoff of that kind there but you also
01:25
have story setups and payoffs and
01:27
emotional setup and payoffs which I
01:29
tried to pay off the two main ones in
01:31
ballistic at the exact same time so we
01:34
have this setup of this main villain
01:36
that’s coming after our character
01:37
through most of the piece and we have
01:40
this setup of the emotion between the
01:42
mother and daughter that’s evolving over
01:44
the piece and then in the end in this
01:46
one moment we get that full emotional
01:48
payoff when we realize what the mothers
01:50
been trying to tell her all along which
01:52
gives her the strength to carry out the
01:54
climactic payoff between her and the
01:56
villain moving on to the next writing
01:57
tip is if first you want to go left go
01:59
right instead meaning your first
02:01
instinct is probably something the
02:03
audience is anticipating so do the
02:06
opposite a good example for this is from
02:08
my short film tell there’s a part where
02:10
the actor bends down to splash some
02:11
water on his face when he comes back up
02:13
and
02:13
I was gonna have something behind him
02:15
for a jump-scare but I quickly realized
02:17
that my audience was probably going to
02:19
see that coming so instead of doing that
02:21
I did the opposite I did nothing so
02:23
instead of having a payoff jump-scare
02:25
there that would deflate tension I just
02:27
let that build and hit them later where
02:29
they wouldn’t be expecting it and for my
02:31
last writing tip which is something I
02:33
always try to do and that’s let theme
02:35
guide your story figure out what your
02:37
theme is and that’s gonna dictate what
02:39
comes next and how your characters act
02:48
then we move into gear which is one of
02:51
the least important things when it comes
02:52
to telling a story to your audience but
02:54
still important and if you’re lucky
02:56
enough to have a choice in what kind of
02:58
gear you’re going to use think about
03:00
what you want your audience to feel what
03:02
you’re trying to convey and pick
03:03
everything around that don’t just do a
03:05
crane shot just because you have access
03:07
to a crane if you don’t have your choice
03:13
in resources and your resources are very
03:15
limited this is an aspect that you’re
03:17
gonna want to be thinking about when
03:19
you’re thinking about the story that you
03:20
want to tell keep in mind if all you
03:22
have as an iPhone gear everything around
03:24
that I mean our phones take incredible
03:27
video now but they do have a lot of
03:29
limitations so keep those in mind when
03:31
you’re crafting your story
03:32
moving into production the key is
03:33
preparation prepare then once you think
03:35
you’re prepared prepare some more you
03:37
should know the script forwards and
03:38
backwards better than anyone else do
03:41
shot lists do storyboards animatics if
03:43
you want to I’ve done animatics for
03:45
things like ghost house for sequences
03:47
that really didn’t need it and I never
03:48
showed my DP it was just for me to test
03:50
the pacing and tone to really hone in on
03:53
what I wanted my audience to experience
03:55
in that moment but just because you
03:56
prepare all of these things if you
03:58
storyboard the entire film shot list the
04:00
entire film do all these animatics that
04:02
doesn’t mean you’re gonna stick to it or
04:04
you even have to in fact it’s very
04:06
unlikely that you will with limited
04:08
sources like we have you’re never going
04:10
to really hit that thing that was in
04:12
your head but it’s going to educate you
04:14
on all the ideas that you know that you
04:16
want for the story so you can come up
04:18
with alternate very quickly instead of
04:21
creating from nothing you’re just
04:22
tweaking what you already
04:23
prepared then we have tone before you
04:25
roll a single frame you need to
04:27
understand your tone and lock into that
04:29
completely every camera angle lens
04:31
choice lighting choice your location
04:33
wardrobe should all feed into that tone
04:36
if you don’t and your tone is jumping
04:38
around where it shouldn’t be it’s going
04:40
to ruin your film and if you’ve ever
04:41
heard anybody talk about confident
04:43
filmmaking this is a place that will
04:45
really land there or not if your tone is
04:47
solid throughout and you really sell it
04:49
that’s gonna be a very confident and
04:51
it’s gonna give your audience the
04:53
confidence to just sink into your film
04:54
if you’re unsure how to strike the tone
04:56
that you’re wanting to strike go watch a
04:58
film that has a similar tone and analyze
05:00
how they pulled it off then you have
05:01
casting and I don’t know who said it but
05:03
the majority of directing is casting
05:06
casting really is key if you cast people
05:08
who can’t go to the depths that you’re
05:10
wanting to go that’s gonna be a major
05:12
issue for your film you’re not going to
05:14
be able to sell the moment and again
05:15
you’re gonna lose the confidence of your
05:17
audience and this is another part that
05:18
you need to be thinking about when
05:20
writing think about the people that you
05:21
know you can get in your film and write
05:23
to their strengths and weaknesses a good
05:25
for instance for this is between one of
05:27
my first short films losses and one of
05:29
my most recent ballistic look at the bad
05:31
guys in losses you have people looking
05:33
like they work at American Eagle with
05:35
their polo shirts and very young two
05:37
guys who look like they actually could
05:39
kill you so the intensity is not there
05:42
and losses but it is there in ballistic
05:44
because it was casted appropriately then
05:49
you have to commit 100% you and your
05:51
cast if anyone holds back we’re gonna
05:53
feel it and that’s another thing that
05:55
loses confidence for an example of what
05:57
I mean the best thing to look at is
05:58
action take my short film proximity at
06:01
the end of the film there’s this fight
06:02
scene in the mud and at first we had a
06:04
few takes going and it was looking okay
06:06
but eventually my actors looked up at me
06:08
and asked me if I was getting what I
06:09
wanted and I honestly said no they’re
06:11
giving me 90% and I needed 100 on the
06:13
next take they really went to 100% of
06:16
course keeping safety in mind and always
06:18
staying safe that being more important
06:20
than anything else but they gave me 100%
06:22
and that is what ended up in the short
06:24
film and if they didn’t it just wouldn’t
06:25
have worked and I’ve seen so many short
06:27
films where even the hero is just
06:28
supposed to be running but they’re
06:30
clearly just jogging and it doesn’t work
06:32
and of course this goes across comedy
06:33
drama and ever
06:35
other genre and scene if you don’t
06:37
commit 100% we’re gonna know then in
06:59
production just sound sound sound and
07:02
more sound I say it all the time on the
07:04
show and I’m still shocked at how many
07:06
short films that I come across where the
07:08
sound was clearly neglected if you don’t
07:10
have the right gear to capture really
07:12
good sound
07:13
don’t write something that’s really
07:15
dialogue heavy again going back to
07:17
writing to what you have resources to if
07:19
you don’t have great audio gear write
07:21
something that is very minimal and
07:23
dialogue or has no dialogue at all but
07:25
if you do have the gear be sure that
07:27
that dialogue is being captured in the
07:29
best possible way in the quietest
07:31
possible atmosphere and get as much wild
07:34
sound which is sound from onset as you
07:36
possibly can to use later it’s the
07:38
easiest to make feel organic when you’re
07:40
layering up sounds and post then the
07:47
last tip I have production is to feed
07:49
your crew and as well as you possibly
07:51
can have snacks on set have drinks on
07:54
set most of us aren’t paying the crew
07:56
we’re doing this as a passion project so
07:59
make sure you’re feeding them as well as
08:01
you can it’s one of the best ways to
08:02
keep morale up and everybody on your
08:04
side but now Before we jump into
08:05
post-production we’re gonna take a quick
08:06
break to thank daddy
08:09
let’s listen let’s let’s say the obvious
08:12
we talk about debate calm a lot you
08:15
probably know what I’m about to say to
08:16
ative website builders place to go to
08:18
create your identity online you could
08:20
brand yourself they got 300 domain name
08:22
extensions from dock Club to not space
08:24
but I’m not you know I’m not just a
08:26
spokesperson I’m a client I use it I
08:28
really do I I don’t know how many domain
08:31
names I have at this point I kind of got
08:33
addicted to it like gambling and I just
08:35
kept buying them thinking maybe one day
08:36
I would use it it’s not really gambling
08:38
that was a terrible example of what I
08:41
meant and I mean we all know the best
08:43
domain extensions to tell you start
08:44
online.com and dotnet I have a lot of
08:47
them anyway if you want to buy a
08:49
ridiculous number of domain names you
08:51
could use a coupon code film right at
08:53
domain comms check out to get 15% off
08:55
those domain names web hosting or email
08:56
whatever you want just throw all kinds
08:58
of money at it and get great stuff that
09:00
you can use to brand yourself online as
09:01
previously stated when you think domain
09:03
names think domain.com okay wasting no
09:09
time and moving right into
09:10
post-production if you were doing post
09:12
by yourself thing that really helped me
09:14
in the past when I was doing posts
09:15
completely alone is having time to step
09:17
away from it after you’ve been working
09:19
on it for a while you really aren’t
09:20
seeing it clearly anymore so giving it a
09:22
day or two before going back to it is
09:24
extremely helpful to see it more clearly
09:27
and even more helpful if you bring
09:29
somebody who hasn’t seen it yet you see
09:31
it in a whole new way that you don’t see
09:33
when you’re on your own then there’s
09:34
pacing which admittedly is one of the
09:36
hardest things to really get right but
09:38
it’s also one of the biggest issues that
09:40
I see in short films that get sent to me
09:42
watching it with someone else is
09:43
definitely gonna help you feel when your
09:45
short film is short but something that
09:46
I’ve always tried to do is cut cut and
09:49
when I think I’ve cut enough cut a
09:50
little bit more until you can feel that
09:53
it’s too tight and then you can start
09:55
letting it breathe a little bit more
09:56
then you have sound which is all your
09:58
sound effects and your music and
09:59
nowadays there’s a lot of things that
10:01
are really gonna help you out with this
10:02
one of the things that I’ve shown on the
10:03
show before which is instrumental for
10:06
small budget productions is something
10:08
called soundly we did a whole video on
10:10
that so I’m not gonna get into it but
10:11
you could replace pretty much your
10:12
entire production sound just using this
10:14
we’ll put a link in the notes below for
10:16
that then when it comes to music the
10:17
same thing if you can’t produce your own
10:19
music and you don’t know
10:20
composure you can either get licensed
10:22
music from a litany of places or use
10:24
something like film stroke where you can
10:26
still do custom music but from music
10:28
that’s already pre-made again links for
10:30
all of that for you below then there’s
10:32
notes getting and giving notes is
10:34
extremely important if you’re working
10:35
with people and you’re the director
10:37
you’re gonna be giving a lot of notes
10:38
and if you’re the editor or finishing it
10:40
on your own it’s important to send it to
10:42
trusted people to get notes and I always
10:45
use frame IO for this frame IO is
10:47
incredible for working in this capacity
10:49
let people go and sit with it and then
10:51
think on it and then leave notes inside
10:53
a frame IO it’s a lot more constructive
10:56
that way or use Google Docs and just
10:57
slap timecode on your piece so people
10:59
can leave a timestamp so you know what
11:01
part they’re talking about finally and
11:03
this goes for all the production and
11:04
again goes back to what we were talking
11:05
about before about don’t write what you
11:07
can’t do if you can’t pull it off don’t
11:09
do it if you can’t pull off visual
11:11
effects just yet don’t put them in your
11:13
film keep practicing or until you find
11:16
someone who can do it for you when you
11:18
put in things that are half done and
11:20
don’t really get all the way there you
11:21
would diss servicing the entire
11:23
production so if you can’t pull off a
11:26
spaceship don’t put it in your short
11:28
film if you need an explosion in your
11:30
film and you can’t show it you sound you
11:33
can always cut to the actors throw some
11:34
light on them use sound and you have
11:36
your explosion don’t try to do more than
11:38
you can actually pull off thinking that
11:39
it’s gonna add value to your film it’s
11:41
only going to reduce the value of your
11:43
film and kill that confidence from your
11:45
audience so that’s it a bunch of things
11:47
that helped me personally get better
11:48
over the past 15 years of doing this
11:50
professionally so jump into the notes
11:53
below check out my road reel and get
11:55
involved now while you have plenty of
11:57
time because when it comes to filmmaking
11:58
time really is the most valuable
12:00
resource so don’t rate go jump off

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