In low budget and community film making a lot of attention is paid to the participatory process and less to what creates an imaginative product worthy of a wider public. But I believe that creativity and quality are essential.
Experience shows that there’s some core advice that could help you to produce a high impact and engaging product.
With that in mind I’ve produced a short list of tips from my project notebooks. in order to help you to create an award-winning short film.
If you have any other tips and advice or stories, why not share your experiences?
- We followed a 40 20 40 'Guide' for project time and resources: 40% Pre-Production planning / 20% Production Filming / 40% Post-production - editing, reflecting, promoting, screening
- We are close to the life of the people involved (by us, for us / inside out)
- We have a lively sense of where we live: place, environment, or locality = our grassroots, our heritage, our futures
- We explored relevant issue(s) (for participants making the film AND for viewers at screenings or online)
- We employ film ‘crew’ services, and trainers and facilitators who who have experience of participatory work and who are committed to our project aims
- A new take on an old question; re-framing, re-imagining a question
- An embodied concept – our idea grew hands, legs, feet, eyes and ears – it came alive
- Engaged and participatory exploration of the topic with research ‘answers’ from many angles. But more than just face-to-face interviews with experts (talking heads)
- Telling a story well – twists and turns, surprise endings, re-appearances, character work, setting and context
- We identify and discuss anchors for our film to hold it all together – place, person, topic, journey, object
- Smiling and laughter in the making. Not another miserable and hopeless and dreary community film…
- We seek out older and younger perspectives (avoid what do they know? / I’ve seen it all before!) – collide and overlap opinions, make them meet?
- Everyone works as a team and also gives his or her best as an individual
- We love and relish our detailed planning and development – who, what, where, when, why. It’s our roadmap to success
- We like the big picture: a sense of the whole visual environment (panorama) or soundworld
- We like the little world; zooming in on telling details (the part is a part of the whole story)
- We are sensitive to ethical issues and educational growth; to risk analysis; we have consent forms and use them; safety first.
- We analyze stereotypes and extreme positions (sensitively) and find the story behind the story
- Fact: Those who do great interviews are not always the most senior, best paid or most confident people
- We pay a lot of time and attention to sound recording and soundworlds because film is also about listening skills
- Compellling music can lift a film / soundtrack editing matters too. We like visual rhythm.
- Time-keeping and time-management – are everyone’s responsibility
- We make an honest and critical choice of the best footage throughout and enough we leave enough time for a good edit as a collective
- We review and reflect as we go along – are we getting what we want? quick n tight?
- keep it short – no windbags please ! not a 2 hour community film!
- We present real issues and people, not a Hollywood fantasy land !
- It’s not about the money, it’s time and commitment …
- We share our experience with other groups and learn from them
- we thought and did a lot about screenings, DVD design and packaging, online, publicity; we had a great product as well as a great time making it
- golden trophies? really ?