As well as visuals, ensure that you devote sufficient attention to sound, including the score. Possibly the worst aspect of watching a short film is when you’re forced to listen to the audio from the camera or another audio track with poor audio. Make sure that you have an audio system in place and someone capable of running it. Also, pull out all the stops to find a decent composer, as music is so key to any film experience and can really add something to the film’s quieter moments.
Engage us with your story
When you make films, your job is to make some that stand out among the rest. There are a number of cliches in short films that are visible at every film festival, which only gets eye rolls from judges. The talking head cliche, for example, is the worst of all. Avoid making the kind of shorts that see characters simply talking back to one another in a single location. Filmmakers are drawn to making this kind of short because it requires only one location and is straightforward to poor. However, it also has a tendency to be boring. Of course, there are examples of this kind of movie that have really worked. But if you’re just starting out, it’s a big ask for you to make this kind of film a success and having actors that can pull it off, bearing in mind all the dialogue. Simply tell us a story that engages us and don’t shy away from using atmosphere, music, and silence. Offer up some nice twists in the process and you might just be on to something.
Collaborate, don’t dictate
It can be all-too-easy to slip into the role of the cliché director that rules over everybody. Yes, it’s your film and you’re responsible for the entire production. However, you also need to have the ability to work with others, especially during the shoot. Allow your cinematographer to offer some ideas. In fact, you should ask them for their opinion on the shot should look. It’s okay to let your actors chime in with ideas of their own as well. Give them freedom with their roles. Feel free to go as far as to allow them to provide feedback on aspects of the script. Have faith in the sound and lighting people. Have trust in your editor and their experience and insistence. In fact, trust everyone and always be willing to listen.
Create a set with talented people all around, whether you find them at theatre companies, universities, online, or elsewhere. Just because you don’t know somebody doesn’t mean that they don’t have the kind of talent that you’re looking for.Filmmaking is collaborative. Even the biggest names like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese depend on their collaborators in order to make their classic films. They depend on both cast and crew to do their job and to bring everything they’ve got to the shoot.