Are you ready to make your first feature film? Making a movie can be a daunting task – but it’s also easier than ever to read professional scripts, learn about cameras and connect with potential crew members online. Maybe you’ve already made a short. Let go of your inhibitions and try a feature!
Get Your Script ReadyThe first step in making your first feature film is finding the perfect screenplay. You might consider writing a script yourself; this way, you”ll be able to convey your own personal vision and have control over the story. If you don’t have money to pay a writer, writing your own script might be the most practical solution. You can also make story decisions based on your production plans – locations, budget concerns, etc. To save money and time, make your script less than 100 pages (1 page equates to roughly 1 minute of screen time). Don’t rush the writing process; if you’re going to go through all the effort to shoot a feature film, you don’t want your final product to be marred by basic screenwriting mistakes. You can only do so much to fix story problems in post-production – and you won’t want to add expensive re-shoots to your schedule. To learn more about screenwriting structure, check out blogs like Go Into the Story. If you’re not a writer, you might enjoy directing a script that someone else has written – never underestimate the power of a good collaboration. You can look for an already completed script, or you take more time and provide input at the beginning of the writing process. Keep in mind that if you are not planning to pay the writer, you’ll need to partner with someone who has the same level of experience as you do. You would both need to get something out of the partnership. If you want professional-level work, you’ll have to pay professional-level fees.
Establish Your BudgetFigure out how much you plan to spend on your first feature film. You can purchase software to help you organize everything or use a simple Excel document. Decide if you’ll be doing a non-union or union production (for a union production, you’ll need to pay certain minimums and follow specific rules). Here are some of the items you should include in your budget:
- Crew rates
- Equipment rentals (lighting, camera, sound, etc)
- Incidentals (tape stock, hard drives, batteries, office supplies, etc)
- Permit and security fees
- Location rental fees
- Catering/craft services
- Set Dressing/Art Department
- Set construction
- Color Grading
- Color Timing
- Licensing fees (music, artwork, etc), legal fees and clearances
- Entrance fees for film festivals
- Travel to film festivals