As with features, in any short film, the script is KING and QUEEN. This is especially true when it comes to attracting both talent and crew. Artists want to help create something unique and powerful.
A good short film should run anywhere between 3 – 12 pages, especially if you want to enter the finished film into film festivals. For first time filmmakers, whether they be a writer/director or a writer and director team, the shorter the better. 3 – 5 pages tops.
Workshop the script as much as possible. What does this mean? Having your script read out loud by a group of actors and getting feedback. Why? This will help you:
- Hear the dialogue spoken
- Understand what is working
- Pinpoint areas that may need to be changed or tweaked
A good way to organise a table read, if you don’t know many actors, is to contact acting students who want the experience and are willing to do it for free (or some snacks). If there may be a role for them in the actual production, that may also entice them to participate.
As you workshop the script, get feedback from the participants. Bottom line, your script needs to be smoking hot, have a “wow” factor. This will help you attract talent for the production as actors and crew want to be involved with hit or a prestige project for their CV. If they believe the film will have a strong presence on the festival circuit, they’ll want the exposure.
When you write your script, keep the budget in mind. Locations are one of the costliest parts of any production. Keeping the number of locations to a minimum, one or two locations, will be key to keeping your budget in check, especially if you’re self-financing the project. And, finding a location where you have complete control, such as your or a friend’s apartment, rather than a location that will have others overseeing it, will make your life easier and the production run smoother.
After the script is completed, casting is the next big step. When you’re ready to go into pre-production, have a cast wish list based on your vision for the roles. Reach out to an actor’s agent or, if you know an actor well, contact them directly. Often, first time short filmmakers cast their actor friends. If they’re right for the role, great! But don’t compromise.
Here’s a link to a three minute short which ticks all the above boxes.