Take the short film route to success

The success of Balaji Mohan’s Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi (KSY), which had its origin as a short film, might have come as a shot in the arm for aspiring filmmakers.
Making short films to prove their credentials has become the case ever since video sharing became a phenomenon on the Internet. But there is no doubt that Balaji’s unexpected success has created an explosion of such content online.

From assistant directors, to film students and film lovers, everyone is making short films today. These films, whose running time ranges from 10 minutes to even 45 minutes, are seen as a calling card by youngsters, who want to enter the film industry. Ram J Saravanan, who is already an assistant director and whose short film ‘Brian’s Gandhi’ has made an impact in film fests, says they give him an identity and makes it easier for producers to spot his talent.

Romance, humour and social awareness seem to be the major subjects for these youngsters, who spend anything between 3,000 to even 3 lakh for their films. Says Deepak, a Pondicherry-based engineering graduate whose short ‘Anbendra Mazhayile’, has garnered over 7,000 views online, “With a good camera and help from friends and acquaintances, you can shoot your film in a cost effective manner. I spent just 800 shooting the film while the post production costs came up to 2,000. ”

On the other end of this spectrum is a freelance editor-turned-director Krishna Ganth, who has spent 3.5 lakh shooting a 45-minute film, ‘Hi Pooja I Am Krishnan’, which he hopes will help him get recognized in the industry. “I wrote a feature film script but since I wanted real stars for my film and a good budget to back my script. So, I decided to make a demo film with TV stars and associates of top technicians in the industry which will help me get noticed. I’m planning to sell this to a leading TV channel and get my investment back,” he says and adds that he will also be making the same as a feature film once he finds a producer.

While feature films are the ultimate goal for most of these youngsters, short films are also a hobby for film enthusiasts like Yes Kay aka Senthil Kumar, who works as a software engineer in Bangalore, and has made the short film Claravin Pravin, a rom-com. “I don’t think I want to make a living making films. But I’m passionate about films and once you start making them, you get addicted to them,” he says.

But Balaji cautions that making short films is not a shortcut to becoming a feature film director. “Short films help you get a hands-on feel of the job and learn the craft. Before my short film became a hit, I spent six years putting myself through the entire grind – watching as many films as possible and learning from them, reading scripts, writing and rewriting scripts, and so on,” he says, adding, “Today, technology might have made making short films easier, but one shouldn’t lose perspective and fail to grasp the language of filmmaking.”

How To Make A Short Film
The first and foremost is of course an ability to tell a story (even if it is a typical one), in an interesting manner visually.

While you can choose to straightway film your script just by visualizing the scenes, it is better to write a proper script. You can find the scripts of various films and screenwriting tools online that will help you get a better grasp on your subject. You can also take references from other films to plan your shots.

Fix your budget first as the selection of your cast, crew and equipment depend heavily on this.
With digital becoming the norm these days, all you need is a good camera to shoot the film. You might borrow from friends, or rent them from film production outlets, some of which charge a nominal fee for independent projects. Always remember, it is the look of your film that will be the hook to catch a viewer.

Casting is often a challenge as you cannot afford real actors. Choose your cast from among your friends and acquaintances and give them roles that are close to their real nature.

Many aspiring actors have woken up to the fact that these films can add to their portfolio and are now willing to act in such films for free.

If you are going to shoot a lot outdoors, be prepared to have a crowd on the scene. Outdoor shoots require you to shoot fast and that is where a well-prepared script will help the most.

Post production will take a bigger chunk of the budget so plan accordingly. It is also the place where you can right the wrongs you might have done during filming. So, never rush things here.

Create catchy promotional materials – posters, teasers and trailers, to grab the attention of your prospective audience.

Upload a very good quality copy of your movie on video sharing sites. Subtitling the film will be an added plus, but please make sure not to make literal translations of your lines. Film festivals have a rule that prohibits short filmmakers to upload their content online before the screening. So, if you are intending to send the film to such fests, never, never, never upload the film online.

Use the online media to the hilt to promote the film. Target everything from social networking and micro-blogging sites to even entertainment websites. Don’t hesitate to reach out to celebrities and industry folks online and request retweets. They are sure to pass on the word.


Most Recent