5 Tips for Beginners to Start With Short Filmmaking in India

Shooting a short film can be challenging and tricky at the same time. There are so many amateur filmmakers in India who have a great idea or a short script but always end up compromising on their vision of the film due to lack of resources. Most of you who are just starting out might be low on budget but don’t let it affect your enthusiasm for making the film.

With the rise and awareness among people for short film festivals around the world, it has become easier to get investors on board for the film you want to make and showcase it at a platform where your work is recognized. There are many A-list film directors who started out with short films, in an era when short films were used only as another format of advertisement or a medium to promote social a cause.

Nowadays, even if you don’t have money to buy a professional camera, you can always start with smartphones. With technology getting advanced each year, good quality camera phones are available at competitively cheap prices. These smartphones, along with mobile filmmaking applications for editing, have helped produce some of the best short films available in India. There are brilliant directors like Shlok Sharma, Vandana Kataria who have shot entire movies and music videos on their phones.

Here are a few tips that will help you make a good short film:

1. Script

The script for your short film is the most important thing you should work on prior to beginning the shoot and organising the production.

Start by brainstorming ideas for your film. After you are ready with a vague idea, discuss it with your crew or fellow friends and filmmakers, understand their perspective and use what inspired you from a movie or any kind of art in the making. Write all moments, set-pieces, beats, or bits of dialogues you would love to see in the film. It is not necessary to make use of every idea or dialogue that you noted but listing them gives you a probability for using it in future. Then outline the complete thing and write your story keeping in mind the beginning, middle and the end of the story.

A good rule of thumb when writing the script for a short film is to “enter late, and get out early” which means to enter the scene as late as you possibly can and get out as soon your character gets what they needed in the scene. You only have so many pages to tell your story, so don’t waste time on moments, exchanges, or backstory that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Note: When writing any script, keep in mind that one page equals roughly one minute of screentime. If short films are typically under 5 minutes long, you don’t want a script that’s longer than 5 pages.

2. Locations

Assessing your film locations is always a smart thing to do. If your film is completely indoor, try to know the space you will be shooting thoroughly, then plan your scenes utilizing the space. If you don’t do that, you might miss some interesting corner of the space which will remain un-utilized.

If you are filming in outdoor locations, do it at a place where you are familiar with the challenges. So, if you shoot in a marketplace, it will be crowded and noisy and you will have to plan beforehand how you will deal with that.

3. Gear

Concentrate more on the resources you have rather than what you don’t. Use the world around you and make something unique out of nothing focusing on the perspective you are trying to portray via your craft. As Anurag Kashyap once said, “Your film might be low-budget, but it shouldn’t look like one.”

4. Editing

Hire a professional editor for this task because they will provide aesthetic inputs by using various editing styles. Even if you are editing it yourself, make sure you know about various montage techniques.

Editing is similar to watching rock climbers go up a mountain route. They will all struggle on the same parts, and there are a few accurate ways to solve those parts.

5. Audio

If your film has great cinematography but the audio quality is lacking, audiences will quickly pass the “amateur” judgement. Many of the budding filmmakers ignore the background score which makes the final cut look bad.

The most ideal situation is to invest in a separate audio recording device, and record audio separately from the video. You’ll have to bring in some one to run the audio recorder, and you’ll have to invest a little money into some more gear, but you’ll end up with a final product you’ll be more happy with.

Also, if you don’t have sound recording equipments, try to use your creativity to make a film with very less dialogues. But, don’t make the dialogues sound noisy and disturbing. This will affect the quality of the film. It is not always necessary to include dialogues in your short film.

Conclusion:  Short films are the future of filmmaking and it’s safe to say, the future is here – making things easier for budding filmmakers like never before! With affordable high-quality gear, a ready-made internet audience, and more and more film festivals that are actively promoting the craft gives you an opportunity to make a great short film on a budget, have it screened, receive feedback and keep getting better.