Simple Secrets on Making a Shortfilm
-Simran Tandon (a mass communication student)
If you are starting out a career as a filmmaker or you think you don’t fit in the mainstream Bollywood films with sexist item numbers and exaggerated plots, you are probably going to end up making a short film and you should. It is in this journey of making your first short film that you shall explore your deepest strengths and strangest weaknesses. It is your best-selling card as an upcoming writer or director.
While you embark on your voyage as a novice filmmaker, you may make a million mistakes and have a trillion shortcomings; here are some simple secrets to ensure that your ship doesn’t sink.
Stay Grounded, Even if your dreams fly high
Let’s just establish that you cannot attempt a remake of Inception or Hum Sath Sath Hai in your short film. Remember, there is a reason it is called a Shortfilm. Even if the statement you want to make through your film is a bold one, or the idea you want to drive home is groundbreaking or heart wrenching, your story needs to be simple. Don’t make your plot unnecessarily complex. Remember the KISS principle, “Keep it Simple, Stupid”
Don’t be Captain Obvious!
Before you jump to any conclusions, for keeping it simple, you don’t have to spoon-feed every detail to your audience. Make your content subtle and your ideas palpable. Let your audience come to their own conclusions and derive their own meanings out of what you visualize and serve to them. For example, in the much talked about shortfilm, Ahalya, the director/writer has dexterously named his characters Ahalya and Indra relating it to the Hindu Mythology regarding the wife of Gautama Maharishi. He chooses to make a reference of the Ramayana but does not state the mythology itself to drive home the idea for his audiences.
Crowd is your best sponsor
Generate a buzz for your shortfilm, let people anticipate it and raise funds for it. Crowd funding your shortfilm not only settles your budget issues but also helps you get a sure-shot audience for your film. But remember, you need ample social media marketing and extensive networking to generate the funds. You may not be able to get what Shyam Benegal got for Manthan (For this film 5 Lakh farmers, who were the members of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. donated Rs. 2 each), but will definitely get a boost for making the film.
It’s not about I, It’s about We
If you think you single handedly can set out to make a film, you are mistaken, my friend. You need the perfect lighting, sound, make-up, location, acting and direction to create a compelling cinematic experience for your audience and for that you need a team. Anurag Kashyap’s “That Day after Everyday” had a team of around 30 people. Moreover, you just don’t need a team; you need a team that is as passionate and dedicated to your idea as you are. Because remember, you won’t be paying them much. So, passion can be the only inspiration when money is not.
Use a twist, or irony
Give your audience a chance to get surprised. You have to lead your audience to the twist or the reveal that you have planned in the end, but you don’t give it away until the last moment. For example, in the Oscar winner “The Crush” by Michael Creagh, in the end, not only was the boy not using a real gun, but he was indeed correct about his teacher’s fiancé not being good enough for her; the boy helped prove his cowardice. That provided an engaging twist to the audience. And where there is no twist, irony comes to your rescue. For example, in the 2017 Filmfare Shortfilm Finalist, “The Virgins”, the director chooses irony to drive home the folly of the situation. Both the characters show ironic behavior to please their spouse.
In the end, it all boils down to your idea. You idea should be unique, different and appealing. If you have a great thought in your mind and you are able to convey it to your audience effectively, your task has been done well. You need to visualize every inch of your story and facilitate a vicarious experience for your audience.