Making a Film? Think Like a Professional Filmmaker

We have found budding filmmakers often experience less traction than expected from their latest project. The cause? Certainly, it is not from a lack of creative input, but rather the finer details seem to get lost in the excitement of the process. 

In our interview with short film platform SHORTLY founder Eva Thunell, she shared some gems of knowledge to help boost what you can do about your film’s exposure and get your head in the game. 

Know your film market and marketing strategy.

Rule one: do not underestimate the power of a solid marketing plan.

Before you get creative, have you seriously considered who your audience is? 

Eva Thunell emphasises how important pre-production considerations are. You should be: “Looking into things like, who is our audience, where should we promote it, who will we talk to our film about?…That will make the film so much easier to handle when it’s ready and to really define the audience. Because you can work with your potential audience when making the film and find ways of collaboration… it’s highly unrated.” 

Now you know who you are seeking to address, how are you going to reach this audience?

One important and finer detail that is often overlooked is the EPK (electronic press kit). This is an essential tool in shouting out about your film – you can approach potential opportunities and network confidently knowing you have a digital document to fire over which represents your short film to an outsider. The EPK will be formed of elements including but not limited to a trailer, high-res images, poster, synopsis and faq’s. You might approach or be approached by film festivals, magazines or blogs who would be seeking an EPK to give them more of an idea about your project, having one to hand will be useful in implementing your marketing strategy. 

Legality and compliance. 


Rule two: maintain law and order 

Indeed, as creatives, filmmakers naturally get excited about the production and direction of their work. We have found this can mean the formalities are often overlooked and these can play a large part in the potential exposure of your project. Since, if rules are violated your work can be taken down from platforms. 

Thunell calls for greater awareness to this aspect film makers often neglect: “Thinking of [whether] you want to reach an audience, you have think about these things [copywriting and licensing]”- to legitimise the film.

Things on the technical side to remember:

  • Echoing Eva… check the rules for submission before beginning your work.
  • At the DAFTAS, due to the nature of spoofing or parodying of another work, music can be directly copied from the original without permission. Although, it must be changed to comply with the law.
  • In other cases, a licence would need to be gained from the owners of the music – this can take time and when – like for the DAFTAS – the timeline is short, creating original music tracks may be a good option to avoid copyright issues.
  • Similarly, to legally comply, you should always have your Music Release Form handy to avoid any copyright claims.
  • Filming on location: permission must be gained from the local council or authority when using public land. Similarly, you would require written permission to use a businesses’ location and show their name or trademark. Look into technicalities before getting started to avoid wasting your time.
  • Talent Release Forms. Make sure you are getting a talent release form signed by every actor on your set. Without it, you risk being denied a screening or even a distribution deal.

Reality check.

Loaded with the ammunition to target your audience and comply with regulations, you now need to consider the film so it becomes unified whole- character development, a strong script and solid production. 

Rule three: balance is key

On average, 40% of individuals both direct and produce their short films, how will you maintain an equilibrium between the processes?

Addressing the common issue of serial production without considering marketing often causes the film to lack traction. Thunell states: “The film is made and they are already in the thinking of the next film. But they didn’t think about making a trailer, or images or posters… so when it’s time for the marketing part you don’t have that to help to market the film.”

To support the growth of aspiring talent the DAFTAS are excited to be working towards offering an intensive two-day bootcamp targeting creatives including actors, filmmakers, and content creators. Upon completion all participants will be armed with a wealth of knowledge and the experience of rubbing shoulders and making conversation with top industry professionals.

Other resources the DAFTAS offer includes a deliverables list and templates which outlines key elements which should be considered in the production of a short film. A free template is available to download here.


Words by Amelia Leonard-Morgen

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