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Old 12-08-2016, 12:09 AM   #1
rishi851
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Why do they say "Start making short films"

Everywhere...on blogs, in interviews and advice they say...go out and shoot something, anything. Cast your sister and make a movie on that handycam. Can't a person not do any of those and still make a feature film? Create a budget, shoot on 16mm for example and make a feature without ever touching a camera?

I made 3 shorts in an intensive direction class and haven't touched a camera ever since(or before). I want to just jump into a full fledged feature film.
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Old 12-08-2016, 12:34 AM   #2
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Make a few pies at home before you open the pizzeria.

Of course you can go for a feature first if you want. You said you have 3 shorts under your belt already, so you kind of answered your own question... if you learned from them.
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Old 12-08-2016, 01:20 AM   #3
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rishi851 View Post
Can't a person not do any of those and still make a feature film? Create a budget, shoot on 16mm for example and make a feature without ever touching a camera?
Yes. But having a little experience can't hurt. Can it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rishi851 View Post
I made 3 shorts in an intensive direction class and haven't touched a camera ever since(or before). I want to just jump into a full fledged feature film.
Did you learn anything by making those shorts? Can you use what
you learned when you make that feature?

The reason "they" say "start by making short films" is because it's
good advice. Learning what things cost on a small scale can help
when budgeting a feature. Working with non-actors can help a director
learn how to communicate. Using that handycam can be a cheaper
way to learn framing and camera placement and what needs to be lit
then starting with 16mm film.

You learned things when you made 3 shorts. I bet your third one is
better than your first one. So tell us; what is wrong about the advice
to go out and shoot something?
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Old 12-08-2016, 03:36 AM   #4
Cracker Funk
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You've followed the instructions. You made short films. Now you want to make a feature. Do it!
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Old 12-08-2016, 05:30 AM   #5
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Well, the reason is simple:
whatever you'll do for the first time: you will probaly make a few mistakes if the proces is more elobarate than pushing 1 button.
So you can write a feature, spend 2 weeks shooting it and then discover in the edit you did something wrong on every day you were shooting. Maybe the exposure it bad, maybe yo yelled 'cut' too soon, maybe the audio is bad, maybe the focus was off, maybe you just have shots that don't work well together in the edit. All kind of errors you were not prepared for and now you wasted weeks of everyone's time with mistakes you could have made while shooting a short.

Fail fast, learn faster.

The first time you tried to walk you were also still learning.
You first drawing (or attempt to it) was also no masterpiece.
Your first karate class....
I can go on.

'Go and shoot anything' is said because that is the way to try and taste filmmaking before investing a lot of money in something you might not enjoy as much as you imagined.

I'm always advocating shooting short shorts first. Too many times I've seen people embarc on shooting a long short or a feature and then choke, because it was more than they could chew at that moment.
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Old 12-08-2016, 02:26 PM   #6
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I thought it was common sense. : shrug :
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Old 12-08-2016, 05:46 PM   #7
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Even Michael Jackson rehearsed and did talent shows. Lol
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:17 PM   #8
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A feature is very hard work. Even a junk quality feature takes an exceptional amount of time and effort. If you goal is to make a feature, just to say you made a feature, then go for it! If you want to produce something high quality, with more than a snowballs chance of reaching any type of audience, then you produce shorts until the quality of your product is such that you can get someone to give you money towards a feature - even a couple grand.

Perhaps an idea would be to do a feature of vinettes ala Coffee and Cigarettes?
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:01 AM   #9
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The whole point is that, unless you have a substantial enough budget where you can delegate the "technical" tasks to your creative partners (DP, PSM, 1st AD, H/MU, Production Design, Editing, Sound Design, Legal, etc., etc., etc.) you will have to handle all of these tasks yourself.

I have a background in music engineering, and when I migrated to audio post it was at least a half dozen shorts before I felt that I had a handle on the prep work and the workflow. It took a lot longer before I felt I really had it down and was able to work creatively and efficiently. That's just one film discipline, and I already had a solid understanding of the technology.

BTW, when they say "go out and shoot something, anything" the implication is that you literally have zero budget, so use your camera phone, or your Uncle Phil's old camcorder or whatever you can beg or borrow and shoot trains going by, people in various situations, weather & wildlife and so on. Shoot a short skit with a couple of friends. Play with the footage in your editing program and effects. In other words, get your ass out there and LEARN.

I always advocate working on other projects. This is a zero budget way to become more familiar with the various aspects of filmmaking and start building your network, which is just as important. You'll watch lots of good stuff happen, and lots of screw-ups (take special note of those!). You'll meet all kinds of people, from really cool to delusional morons. You'll learn from them all.

Then spend a some money on a short. That one DP had a good eye. The PSM/Boom-Op on that shoot last month is pretty decent within the limitations of micro-budget. And that girl a few months back would be great for the __________ part. You get the idea; you've already got a basic grasp on the local filmmaking scene, they've already got the gear and more connections, and you can just direct and produce, because you want to direct, right? You spend your money on talent and taking care of your cast & crew, not gear that you will rarely use.
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Old 12-10-2016, 10:31 PM   #10
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As a counter-point to what's been said in this thread...

I actually chose to make a feature first without ever doing a short.
I don't recommend that everyone should do this, but I felt confident enough in my artistic sensibilities, and decided that if I could surround myself with talented people on the crew and cast, I'd be able to direct a decent feature.

The result? That feature won awards at film festivals, but did not sell. I have been in debt trying to pay it off for a couple years.

On one hand I wish I'd have just done a short and spent less money, but on the other hand... being able to say I've done a feature and having it in my portfolio certainly raises a lot of eyebrows when networking. It also gave me the confidence to keep making films. When I set out to make that film I was young, and it took a certain bit of naivety to decide to do it. If I had waited until I was older and wiser to make my first feature, I might have been be too jaded to take that risk.
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Old 12-11-2016, 01:23 AM   #11
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Like any other career, you start at the basic, then the minors, then the camp, then the big leagues... You need to learn the in-between. Pin the best high school basketball player against Lebron and even if the kid is advanced for his stage he will look horrible in comparison, that can crush someone. You need to build that "in between" first. Have to go through the process if you want to survive. Anyone can get lucky, but if you have not learned the basics in the war field you will not last long.

Just enjoy the journey.
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Old 12-11-2016, 11:18 AM   #12
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonshieldmedia View Post
As a counter-point to what's been said in this thread...
The question is why is this advice (make short films) given. So I
don't see a counter-point in your post. You wish you had done it.
Seems to me you're saying that that is the advice you would give
based on your experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moonshieldmedia View Post
When I set out to make that film I was young, and it took a certain bit of naivety to decide to do it. If I had waited until I was older and wiser to make my first feature, I might have been be too jaded to take that risk.
This I understand. The counter-point to that is when you are young
you make five or six short films in a year then make a feature. If you
start at 20 you're making a feature at 21 not yet too jaded to take
the risk but with some basic experience and knowledge that will help
with the feature. If you start making short film at 13 (like I did) you
can get 15 to 25 made before you're 20.

No one here has said to NOT start with a feature. But we are all giving
really good answers to rishi851 question.
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Old 01-11-2017, 03:26 PM   #13
rishi851
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VCT_Guru View Post
A feature is very hard work. Even a junk quality feature takes an exceptional amount of time and effort. If you goal is to make a feature, just to say you made a feature, then go for it! If you want to produce something high quality, with more than a snowballs chance of reaching any type of audience, then you produce shorts until the quality of your product is such that you can get someone to give you money towards a feature - even a couple grand.

Perhaps an idea would be to do a feature of vinettes ala Coffee and Cigarettes?
See that's the thing. I already have the cash. I have a mansion in a picturesque hill station available to me anytime, as long as I tell them in advance. I have around 300,000 USD. I did the calculations-shooting on 16mm.
But I haven't made any short of merit. In fact just those 3 shorts is ever I have even handled a camera. What I learnt was because it was an intensive 3 month film school every department students were there-and I didn't even have to know the lenses(the DOP student was doing that).
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Old 01-11-2017, 03:29 PM   #14
rishi851
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Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
The question is why is this advice (make short films) given. So I
don't see a counter-point in your post. You wish you had done it.
Seems to me you're saying that that is the advice you would give
based on your experience.


This I understand. The counter-point to that is when you are young
you make five or six short films in a year then make a feature. If you
start at 20 you're making a feature at 21 not yet too jaded to take
the risk but with some basic experience and knowledge that will help
with the feature. If you start making short film at 13 (like I did) you
can get 15 to 25 made before you're 20.

No one here has said to NOT start with a feature. But we are all giving
really good answers to rishi851 question.

Yes Thank you. I am learning so much. I have learnt so much from you guys and this forum in general. I wonder why aren't most of you already making feature films. Money is the primary concern but working around the problem? Each scene you watch of a film makes you wonder if I could have shot it like that, or how.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:34 PM   #15
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I know someone who made a feature first (after inheriting a lot of money from a passing relative) and the movie bombed and they lost it all. I say, if you have some short film ideas you're passionate about, then you may as well tell those stories first. Or a more profitable way to gain some experience, shoot some music videos.

But if you feel comfortable in your knowledge and skillset, are willing to take on the huge risk, then go for it. Just be conscious that there is a huge risk. Though filmmaking is always a risk. You can lessen that risk with a bit more experience.
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