Isabelle Boddy - Met Film School Review
19 June 2015

The Short Road to Feature Film

By Cassio | Categorised in News, Film Festival Diary, Industry Interviews

Short film can often be an important stepping stone to feature filmmaking.  At Met Film School, students are encouraged to test their creative boundaries and flex their filmmaking muscles producing short pieces of work; whether that be short film, web series or commercials, before jumping in to feature filmmaking. (For more information on our Undergraduate Programmes in practical filmmaking, request a prospectus.)

This short work continues to launch the careers of future feature filmmakers, allowing the talent to showcase what they can do to acquire the support and nurturing that they need to start their debut feature film.  But many writers/ directors/ producers ask how this path is carved out.  What can we learn from those in the industry who started out making shorts and ended up creating their dream features?

At Edinburgh Film Festival this year, we heard from the brains behind the BFI, Film London and Creative England to hear what they think filmmakers need to do in their short films to set up this strong foundation.  Here is their advice:

  • What do your short films tell the industry?  Are you really strong working within a particular genre?  Do your films share a tone or aesthetic?  Your shorts need to inspire the industry and prove that you are the only person who could go on to make this particular feature project.
  • Think about the longevity of the project- the creative process for a feature film is tough.  Have you found the right team yet?  You all need to share the same passion and desire to make the film.  Most importantly, you all need to be on the same page when it comes to understanding what the project is!
  • Is this the right feature film for you?  Don’t go with your first script draft, really think about the project as a platform for your feature career.  Be ambitious but feasible.
  • Before embarking on your feature, your shorts need to collectively showcase your progression as a story-teller, and prove that you are ready to take the step to the next level.
  • Think about your festival strategy!  Showcasing your shorts at festival level is really important in getting your name as a filmmaker out there and your work exposed to the right industry insiders.  The best two within the UK are Edinburgh and BFI London Film Festivals (but they demand UK Premieres for all shorts) and Leeds (which is an Oscar- qualifying festival.)
  • Be really ambitious in your casting for the shorts- it really helps them to be seen.  Who is your dream talent for your protagonist?  Be pushy with agents and get your project offered.  Many actors want to make connections with emerging short filmmaking talent, they see you as the future of the film industry.  They can also commit to short shoots more easily than feature.  Then you’ve made connections that can help you get the cast that you want for your feature.
  • Make sure that your short is 15 minutes long or less!  You’ll be surprised by how many great films are not accepted into festivals and do not get the audience exposure that they deserve because they exceed this by one or two minutes.

For more information on some great schemes out there for emerging filmmakers, check out the new website ‘The Network’ launched this week by the BFI.  Read more about what support they offer filmmakers here.

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