So you want to film a web series or a short film. Awesome! We could probably be friends.
I’m in the interesting position now, when I wrote the script for *itch I always planned on shooting it. I had most of the scenes in two locations that I could easily get access to. Betty’s, on the other hand, was written without the plan to shoot it independently. I basically pestered the extremely talented, and wonderful Hayley Grgurich until she decided she’d shoot it. Neither way is right or wrong, but if you wrote an awesome script you want to shoot yourself. you might face the cold realities of your budget. You might have an awesome ten car pile up scene, but if you’re shooting on a budget of $500, you might need to figure out a way to rework that scene.
One example of this is Betty’s takes place in a bakery, but after searching the city of Chicago, we were having trouble finding a bakery that could accommodate our shooting schedule. Hayley found an awesome building that was formally a Mexican restaurant. With some really quick rewrites, the bakery is now in a building that was a Mexican restaurant, but the lead character did a bad job of redecorating. It fits perfectly with the character and store we are creating, so thinking outside the box and working with what was available actually ended up creating a pretty great gag.
So tip one: Make do with what you have.
But before we get too much into locations. Lets think about the bare minimum here. You have a script and you have proclaimed to the world “I’m going to film this!” Now some questions:
Are you going to direct it yourself? (Hopefully it’s yes since I’ve never looked for a director, you’re on your own there)
Now make a list of the most important things that you need for the shoot. In order of most important. For Betty’s so far it’s been:
- Hayley (she’s directing, she needs to be there)
- Me (For my own ego, I’m going to put myself here. I’m not THAT important)
- The bakery location
- A director of photography to shoot
- Camera and lights
- The actors
- The other locations
That’s a basic list. Now ask yourself what is the biggest obstacle in shooting from this list? In our case, it’s being able to shoot in a bakery. If we went ahead and skipped getting a bakery location first. We could get all the actors and equipment we wanted, but it could all fall apart if we couldn’t find a bakery or it’s only available when the actors or Hayley isn’t free. That just wouldn’t work.
Now it’s time for some hard choices. Did you have an actor you REALLY wanted to work with? Or a DP? When I filmed *itch, one of the lead roles was specifically written for an actor, so I had to have her schedule too. But if you could live without certain people or certain locations, you need to lock in the things that are priority first. In this case, we had to find a bakery – the script is about a guy opening up a bakery. Once we found that location, we could start looking for everything else.
So we needed to make a schedule based on this list:
- What days is Hayley free? Any days she’s not, we can’t film.
- What days is a bakery free? Any days it’s not, we cabe n’t film.
Like I mentioned before, we found a location that we can make work.