5 tips for getting started on a short film for REC Ya Shorts

Thinking of entering but stuck on a film idea? Need to beg, borrow, or steal a camera? Not sure about editing? Coffs Harbour local Mirco Guidon, aged 23, a winner of REC Ya Shorts in 2015 and 2016, shares 5 tips to help…

1. Write a story that you’re able to pull off in your particular set of circumstances.

If you’ve got a great story that involves really technical scenes such as car chasing, and you’ve never made a film before, it’s maybe a good idea to write something a bit more toned back. Or you might develop that idea into something else.

Base your story idea around what you have available. For example, if your parents own a shop or a restaurant, see if you can film there at night or when it’s closed, and work your story around that. That doesn’t mean that you have to do an idea that you don’t care about – there’s still lots of room for creativity. If you set that film in the restaurant, for example, it can still be about whatever you want.

2. Think laterally when it comes to your team

Not everyone is necessarily going to have mates who are actors (or wanting to be actors). But again, you can still use whatever you have available and make it work. For example, for my film Good Morning Dave, I chose one of my high school teachers to play the home intruder character. He’d never acted before but it really worked because he’s such a huge character in real life. Once you get started on your idea, people and resources will pop up.

3. Don’t be discouraged by lack of filming equipment

The festival directors (Dave Horsley and Kate Howat) are always saying to anyone entering that if it doesn’t look great or it doesn’t sound perfect, it’s OK – it’s all about the story. All the technical stuff will come later. Everyone entering is still at the learning stage.

When it comes to actual equipment, use your imagination to make whatever you have available work. Last year, my friends and I shot a whole film on a mobile phone. We knew that it would never look like it was shot on a professional camera, so we decided that we’d run with it being in found-footage style instead of trying to it make it look like a standard narrative film (such as in The Blair Witch Project). Our film was about a group of friends who went camping and run into a serial killer. We felt it worked best if they were operating the camera, which made it feel more scary and real. Plus that also solves a problem if you only have a phone to film on!

4. Be patient with yourself when you’re editing your film

Learning how to edit is fun, but takes a little patience. Your editing software is a tool that you need to get used to using until it feels natural. You’ll find yourself thinking: what do I have to do now to make a cut between these two shots, what do I have to do to make a scene transition. Eventually you’ll find you can do it – but only through experience. In no time it will become second nature, and you’ll find yourself splicing together shots quickly.

5. Google, YouTube and DVD bonus features are your friends

If you’re unsure about how to do something, practically everything you need to know is on Google or YouTube. There are so many tutorials and conversation threads. It’s good too to watch lots of films and pay attention to what the pros do. But do whatever works for you! I  watch a lot of films and then watch the director’s commentary that comes with the DVD… which I know may seem lame to a lot of people, but I find that I get a lot out of those.

For more inspo, check out Mirco’s winning film from last year Good Morning Dave.

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