Spielberg did it. Scorsese did it. Even Tarantino took a shot at it. All these people have one thing in common - they began their careers directing short films. And much as one would like to believe that with talent and the right script Hollywood will come grovelling to your door, the chances of this happening anywhere other than your feveredly optimistic imagination are slim. Make no mistake: cinematically speaking, the best way to get yourself noticed in the world is by making a short film.
So how does one go about it? To find out, I went to the last meeting of the New Producers Alliance, hosted at the Royal School of Art. The NPA is an organisation which seeks to provide an opening in this notoriously incestuous business for new film-makers who, in the words of publicist Jessica Kirsch, dont happen to have a dad whos a film producer. Present were Michael Wrenn from Alliance Distribution, Clare Binns of Oasis Cinemas, Nick OHagan, indie producer of Fever Pitch, and Emma Shepherd, Commissioner for Channel 4s Short and Curlies.
The message was mixed: on the one hand, this is a relative golden period for short films, which are receiving more exposure on television and cinema screens than ever before. However, competition has increased proportionately, and making films is still as tricky as ever. Luckily, organisations like the NPA exist to give you a much needed helping hand. If you cant afford or cant be bothered with film school, theres no need to wait. As Shane Meadows, director of Smalltime and TwentyFourSeven, has said: There are people out there who wont make a film unless they can shoot on 16mm: well I think, fuck off then. Camcorders cost nothing. You can only learn the fundamentals of film-making by teaching yourself, which can be done with a camcorder (easily blagged off Bloomsbury TV). These efforts can then be sent to different organisations to secure funding for your dream project.
So what did I learn? Well, here in ten easy steps is the beginners guide to making your very own short film:
A short film has to be a labour of love, and will take up more time and effort than climbing Everest. This is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. But dont worry - if youre talented enough, the big bucks, Betty Ford clinic and Hello magazine will all come with time. Heres Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape, Kafka) with some advice: For those aspiring to a career in the film business, I offer this equation: Talent + Perserverance= Luck. Be ready when it happens.
For more information about the NPA, get in touch with Jane Ivey, Rebecca Johnson or Phillida Lansley on 0171 580 2480, or otherwise e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further internet resources are available at Yahoo! Independent Movies and Film.
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