SO YOU MADE A SHORT FILM AND NOBODY WATCHED IT… HOW COME?- IMPORTANT TIPS TO MAKE A BETTER MOVIEDean Silvers is not your regular filmmaking advisor. He is one of the most accomplished filmmakers(been in the filmmaking grounds for the past 20 years) and who has seen the industry, both Hollywood and world cinema as a whole, analyzed it, hated it and loved it, and written a hell a lot about the craft of filmmaking and it’s role in todays world. Bellow is an article published by Dean Silvers for the huffingtonpost.com This article is by far one of the most inspiring Filmmaking stuff I’ve read so far, and it is sure to keep you hooked as well. Why did nobody see your short film? Why didn’t it get into those festivals? Why wasn’t your feature film bought and distributed? Why couldn’t you sell your script? Everyday smart and talented directors, actors, writers, and producers fail — their hopes and aspirations go down the drain. But what’s most heart wrenching is they never even realized they were only a few small adjustments away from success. I’ve worked with Academy Award winners, one-hit wonders, and no hit wonders. We’ve seen the difference between success and failure, and a lot of the time, there isn’t much of a difference at all. I’ve seen and worked with filmmakers of various fields and I’ve part of Filmmaking team of different countries, and through it all I’m tired of seeing talented people fail, and tired of seeing your work be ignored by the industry of any region and by mass audiences. Audiences aren’t always sure about things like sound, lighting, and other filmmaking essentials, but everyone thinks they know actors. Novice filmmakers often make a huge mistake in the casting process. The actors they choose aren’t per say terrible, but are often not memorable or just look like bad carbon copies of famous actors; and worse they try to imitate some famous personalities which might make your film look like a gimmick. Casting is not about who’s attractive, and sometimes it’s not even about who’s the best actor. It’s about finding those actors who stand out, the actors the audience will care for and remember. Don’t cast based on fancy acting degrees, cast based on what you see and hear. Years ago I was casting a film, and a young girl came in for the lead role. She had a memorable look, voice, and a real presence for such a young girl. Her voice was unusual for a girl her age, somewhat raspy, and wise beyond her years. She wasn’t your normal 11-year-old breakfast cereal commercial actress, but we loved her. And although she had never starred in a movie, we knew she was different, and we cast her for the lead role in the film. The film was Manny & Lo which became a hit at the Sundance Film Festival. Who’s the he actress? Scarlett Johansson. (You might never know where your smart choice could lead you and your team) Be different and bold with your casting. If your casting stands out, there’s a very good chance that your film with stand out as well. Your Cinematography Is Overdone and Boring: We see hundreds of unsuccessful short films or feature films every year that all look exactly the same. They are filled with static shots (no movement) that don’t help the story, a bland color palette, and are also very poorly lit (lighting for a digital camera is no easy task) — we call this “cliché bad indie film” cinematography. We have an ongoing joke about how difficult it is trying to find a Cinematographer whose reel doesn’t include someone smoking a cigarette in slow motion. Work hard to find a good cinematographer who understands your vision and whose artistic ideals are spiritually similar to your own. For example, a great place to find talent on the internet is Richard Botto’s Stage32.com social media website. I remember years ago struggling to find a Cinematographer for my directorial debut for HBO. Eventually we found the reel of a very talented recent Columbia graduate. Even though he was inexperienced, he understood lighting, movement, and was also a very nice guy. We hired him immediately. His name is Michael Barrett and he went on to become one of the industries foremost Cinematographers, shooting films like Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, and many others. (once again, smart choices with a unique sense of artistry) The Devil in disguise – Your Ego: I often find myself telling first time filmmakers “you’re not curing cancer“, and not to take themselves so seriously. Somehow, someway, for some reason they already think they’re the next Scorsese. And this often hurts them. A tell-tale sign of an egotistical filmmaker is if they are an unknown and the trailer for their short film heavily features in big letters “A Film By” followed by their name. We don’t know who you are, why would we care if it’s a film by you? Your trailer should stand on its story, characters, and its editing. A lot of filmmakers and actors today are more into their persona, and the industry, than actually loving the work. (Agree?) Furthermore, ego will always hurt a creative person. Be open to feedback to become a great director, actor, writer, or producer. Be confident in your work, but listen to what others say. I’m not saying change your film if someone doesn’t like it, but test your film with an audience of twenty or so, and if ten of those people have problems with your ending, take their concerns seriously. At first it’s hard to not feel defensive when someone has comments or critiques about your film, but never feel you have to make their changes, always be open to all the options that can make your film better. Brilliant Cinematography inspiration – True Detective Bad Sound: This is a major problem, compounded by the fact that it is so easy to fix if you just really pay attention. If your film looks terrible but has great sound, people might just think it’s your aesthetic. If your film looks great and has bad sound, people will think you’re an amateur. Sound is the first indicator to the industry that you know what you’re doing. Did you hear what I said? Did you hear what I said!? Hello!? Your Story Isn’t Interesting: Everyday we see short films, scripts, and features about the following topics: A depressing story about a dysfunctional family, People trying to make it in the movie business, The difficulties of dating, The daily life struggles for millennials, A coming of age story about leaving a small hometown, etc. It’s not that these ideas are necessarily bad, but they’ve been done over and over again. (and once and for all, it is a terrible cliché) Without industry backing or very famous actors, these stories will not help you break into the Film and TV business. What worked for David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, and Flirting with Disaster) and me was our first film together, the off-beat comedy, Spanking the Monkey. The story had a twist, and the humor was about the human condition (in an unusual way),which made it stand out from the crowd. In addition to comedy another successful trend we’ve been seeing is independent Sci-Fi films. With Sci-Fi the storytelling possibilities are endless. You can bend the traditional norms to create something relentlessly original. And you’ll be able to pay for those CGI effects because new technologies have made them much more affordable. Gareth Edwards made Monsters for a pittance and this led him to directing Godzilla. Colin Trevorrow made the independent Comedy/Sci-Fi film Safety Not Guaranteed, and his next film is Jurassic World. To sum things up There’s a lot of great advice in this article. What do you think applies most to your projects, where can you improve, and where can you aid someone else?
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