How Big Should My Short Film Be?

How big should a short film production be?

It’s a tricky question, not just when planning a shoot but when writing and creating your work. It affects everything. From locations, to talent, to lens choices.

So my current dilemma is this: Should the narrative short film I am writing be kept small and achievable with my own kit and resources? Or should I write for a bigger production with funding, crew and more advanced kit?

The correct (and logical) answer of course is to write without constraint and change to fit the production when you get to it. It makes sense. It allows you to chop and change the creative to suit your production when it comes to it.

But (and here’s the crux of this piece) it is SO TEMPTING to write big, aim high, and never actually make the film you wanted to make.

I’ve been through the funded and commissioned shorts route a few times and it brings with it a set of expectations that demand a certain type of production. You have notes and sign off and schedules and budgets to stick to, which is all extremely helpful, but there is always the nagging feeling that the film you are tying to make could be made quicker, smaller and without the apparatus of a production team around it.

So, what have I decided? I think, in this case, I’m going to keep things small and do things my own way without funding. That gives me scope to experiment, try things, and essentially prototype something bigger much more quickly. I feel it’s an experiment worth conducting, and I’m sure it will be a learning experience too.

I’ll keep you posted and hopefully share some of the process along the way.