One of the first major stumbling blocks any aspiring film maker is likely to encounter is working out how to get noticed when they’ve just started out. It is often said that talent will find a way through and of course the better the product you’re offering, the easier it is to sell. The more you plan and prepare beforehand, the smoother the film making experience will be. It will also be a lot easier to pull in investment for your film if you are able to present a detailed overview of the project, the characters, story, setting. etc. Below are some words of advice for beginning work on your first film.
Write A Full Treatment
When inspiration strikes, be it in the form of character, story, or other ideas, it is tempting to dive right in and start creating straight away. However, making things up on the hoof is difficult, especially when dealing with a couple hundred pages of script. Without any pre-planning, the writer must remember the various plot strands and decide how to resolve them as they write, which takes the focus away from the writing itself.
A treatment is like a synopsis, but much more detailed. Whereas a synopsis describes the premise of a film in order to entice potential viewers, a treatment, on the other hand, lays out the film from start to finish so those who ultimately work on the film can see its structure and understand the progression of the story from start to finish, without having to read through the entire script.
Funding is a tricky business, particularly for those new to the process. There are a number of ways of going about obtaining funding and it is up to you whether you seek the full funding necessary to shoot the entire film straight away, or if you opt to seek a smaller amount of money upfront and use this to produce a teaser and entice other investors.
Funding can come from literally anywhere and some filmmakers are able to significantly reduce costs by using people they know to fill out the cast and crew. One famous example of this is the film ‘Clerks’ by Kevin Smith in which Smith cast a number of his friends in the leading roles. The film was also shot in black and white to save money, yet despite all the effort put into producing the film on the cheap, it has endured as a respected and influential example of a cult film.
Produce A Test Sequence
A test sequence is a short sample, usually a single scene or the first 10-15 minutes of your script, that film makers use as a way of encouraging investment from either a studio or an individual backer. When making The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers were pressing for a larger budget than the studio felt was necessary. By shooting a 10-minute test sequence, which showed off the films ‘bullet time’ innovation, the Wachowskis were famously able to secure a much larger budget and went on to produce one of the most influential films of all time.
A test sequence need not necessarily come from the beginning of the film, but the sequence should make sense when presented to a potential investor who has minimal knowledge of the rest of the film. If your budget allows, consider hiring the services of a video production company to help you produce the best test sequence you can.
Getting your first film project off the ground isn’t easy, but it is an incredibly rewarding creative endeavor and once you’ve gone through the process once, it will be much easier for any future projects.