Sunday, October 29, 2006

Feature or Short Film?


Short film or feature film? I find myself questioning what I should be doing. I've done a number of shorts, and have written short film screenplays in the hope of putting them in an anthology. This may be a way to go, but I'm not sure. Long ago I was involved in such an endeavor, but it all fell apart, and I never looked back. I ask myself why would I want to do this? Why make a short film? There is no market for a short films. Film festivals, and maybe the Internet are my only option and I'd never make my money back, so what's the point. Filmmaking is a risky business, why would I want to do a short film with no chance of getting some of my investment back. Short films are usually used as a calling card. I'm still on the fence on this, and I don't know what I'll be doing next. I did see a very interesting short recently and thought that it was very good. Maybe a short has its place in this digital era, but it does seem that there are a lot of these shorts and they seem to get lost in clutter.

So as I re-write my screenplay I'm thinking why am I doing this again. Why another feature? After all haven't I learned anything? Why go down the same path? I'm still going to come across the same obstacles as I did before, so why a second feature when you're first wasn't at all that successful. My answer is why not? I've learned a lot of things, and feel that by only doing another film can I learn more, and get better at my own craft. Maybe my second will be the one. Maybe I'll have some success with it. I won't know until I try, and if I just give up then all of this will have been for nothing. It's my choice to work in this medium, and I'm fortunate to be living in a digital era. Technology leap frogs ahead, and I can still use what I've learned and apply it to filmmaking. Only this time I need more input from the outside, and I want the project to evolve into something that is better then my first project, and the first thing I need to do is rewrite what I've writen. As my screenplay teacher once said it's in the re-writing, and she was so right in that.

I've seen a lot of really good short films on the Internet. Of course I had to have access to high speed bandwidth to view them, and my opinion on that is that not everyone has high speed capability. But what I've seen so far is that there are a lot of talented people out there. Your short film can get lost in the clutter, and it's only going to get worse. I like to concentrate on feature films because it's a challenge. Writing an entire feature is tricky. Plot points and conflict resolution and even character development can really be hard to pull off. In "Deadly Obsessions" I tried to have a twist every thirty or so pages, and in the end I wanted to send the plot in a very different direction. From what I've seen with other film noirs of the past this was routinely done. I had examples and I used them, what I should have done also is get actors together early and do a read through. This helps the writer immensely, and can really make you're film stand out from all the rest. When actors get a hold of the material it becomes a different animal. When you hear the words you wrote you'll know what sounds good and what is total bullshit. The actors can even add things to you're words, and make them sound really good. Whether you do a short film or a feature it is a good idea to run through the lines and rehearse your actors.

A short film is hard to pull off when you jam pack things into it. Short films are a art form all onto themselves, and I certainly don't look down on them. To tell a story within 15 to 20 minutes can be difficult, but it certainly can be done successfully. Right now since I spend so much time on a film I'd like to make it a feature rather then a short film. I may not have a lot of money, but I do have time and I have to use that to my advantage. Whatever type of film I do decide to make I do know that I'll need some extensive pre-production to make the film. Getting other people involved in the film can only make a project better. But beware of the too many cooks in the kitchen syndrome. Just make sure you know what you want and have a clear plan on getting it done both during the production and after. Once you know how you'll put the film together technically you should give yourself time to work on the films aesthetics. It can only make you're film better, and it'll stand out more in a world bombarded by many different types of films. As my advertising professor once said: it'll break out of the clutter", and that's the best thing that can happen for you're film.

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