The answer to this question is easy.
Make it easy to make.
“Yeah, right,” I hear you say. “Cause it’s that simple.”
It really is though. Think about it. You’re a producer who is really really eager to make a short film and get their career started. To dip their toe in the water. You’ve maybe tried once or twice before but the acting was weak or the cinematography wasn’t right so the film wasn’t very good. You know you can do better. You know, because you’ve finally figured it out, that the script is so crucial to a good film. The script is key. You are very aware of the fact that you aren’t a writer, so you have a hunt around on the internet to see if you can source a few scripts to choose from.
Three come across your desk that really stand out.
One is a tightly written, action-packed short. Fun, silly, lots of car chases and explosions, guns, stunts, packed with jokes and witty dialogue.
One is a hilarious comedy, set in someone’s living room – a conversation between three friends dealing with a crisis, full of memorable one liners and a bit of slapstick.
One is a tense drama about teen suicide, with a heart breaking scene with a boy jumping off the top of a building, an argument in the middle of a busy shopping centre at Christmas and a newborn baby character.
Which would you choose to make?
You’re a filmmaker who wants to make an impact. So perhaps option three. But then, that’s going to be difficult to shoot with getting a stuntman to jump off a building with a small budget – plus organising a newborn baby to be on set is going to most likely be really difficult. Getting permission to shoot in a busy shopping centre is hard enough – let alone trying for Christmas time. Even if you get permission outside of December, you’re then going to have to pay for the location to be dressed like it’s Christmas, so extra money on props and set design. So it’s unlikely to be option three that’s picked.
You’re a filmmaker who wants to make something the audience is going to enjoy. So then maybe option one. But again, stunts, car chases, explosions – all that equals extra bodies on set (stuntmen, drivers and pyrotechnics) and extra bodies equals money, which there isn’t really room for in the budget. That coupled with car hire from the drivers, money for the explosives from the pyro guy, making sure that the guns you’re using don’t get mistaken for real ones by the general public – there’s a lot of work and money to be put in to that one too.
You’re almost certainly going to choose option two.
Limited characters means that if you know one actor who is fantastic, they might be able to do a ring around and see if they know anyone else to do it.
One location means you can pile everyone into a house for two days and really attack it and get it done in one hit without losing too much time on location moves. Location moves can mean that crew get stuck in traffic, people get lost, gear gets misplaced – all sorts of little things can go wrong when you’re trying to shoot in multiple locations in one day.
Funny script means that if that one actor who is fantastic likes it and wants to get involved, those actors they’re ringing are likely to be the better actors they know as they can see the quality of the work.
That’s not to say don’t write multiple locations or explosions or shorts that require lots of production design. Write them as well – but if you want things to be produced to give you a little bit more credibility as a writer which may then lead to producers with more money asking what else you’ve been working on, start small. Start simple.
Make it easy for the little producer (who could one day be a big producer) to pick your script.
Then make sure you get that script out there as much as you can so they can find it!