14 Feb 2018

7 Tips for making a short film in 24 hours

New AFTT Acting & Film students are about to start their Irreverent 88 project, where they have to make a short film in just 24 hours. So, we’re here to help!

Head of film at AFTT, Woody Naismith explains that it’s not about the equipment you use but the story you tell. “Don’t be afraid to get creative and use all the resources you have, even if it’s your iPhone! 99% of film makers just think about making a film, it’s the 1% that actually do it, so enjoy the freedom of thought and action.”
Whether you’re an AFTT student, or simply a budding actor or filmmaker, take down these tips to ensure your project flows in the right direction. 

1. Develop a Strong Concept 

Having a unique concept to grab the audiences’ attention is vital. Head of Production at AFTT, Kim Ramsay advised that delivering this within the first 30 seconds will be the key difference between tying the audience onto your concept and having them lose focus. Hook the audience in with a plot twist and leave them with a memorable ending to guarantee complete audiences’ responsiveness. 

2. Trust your instincts

When developing the story, and working on a quick-turnaround project like the Irreverent 88, Head of Acting Glen Hamilton recommends that you trust your instincts. Don’t try to over control the process, let it direct itself by having fun and following your instincts. As AFTT students start the Irreverent 88 projects only 5 weeks after starting their studies, to enable them to get hands-on straight away, this project is all about the journey, not the end result.

3. Create a Shot List/Story Board

Plan your work and work your plan! Taking extra effort to develop a Shot List or Story Board will allow for smooth sailing when filming the minimum shots, you need to tell your story. Plan for short and simple, but keep it well executed. Though it may take a little time up front, not only will your effort keep you on track when filming, but it will also save you time during your shoot! 

4. Delegate Roles Upfront 

The best type of teamwork comes from people working independently towards one goal in unity. Teamwork will be fundamental to keeping the flow for how your film project runs. Ensure everyone knows their roles and what is to be achieved from the start. Everyone’s strengths and abilities differ from others, so ensure peoples’ strengths are tapped into for maximum potential on your project and use your crew wisely. 

5. Focus on Performance

This means working with your actors, and finding a killer location! Less can sometimes mean more when striving for the audiences’ attention. When seeking a cast keep it contained, as your audience connects to your story through the characters portrayed. Location wise, finding somewhere that already has a lot of the set dressing/production design allows assistance when starting to film – it can also be a great source of inspiration when developing your concept! 

6. Time to Shoot! 

Get familiar with the equipment you are using. Ensure everything is fully charged and be aware of the technical aspects of all items in your kit, you don’t want to lose time fiddling with camera settings etc. Shooting in multi-cam where possible will save time when recording each scene and provide more coverage for the editor. Close attention to detail in aspects such as recording good quality sound and correct image placement will be vital, as you won’t have time to fix up such mistakes within 24 hours. Having an on set editor with a laptop who can edit, assemble and cut as you go will not only ensure time is saved, but you can quickly see if any shots are missing, if it’s working and adjust shoots as you go. 


7. Have Yourself Prepared for Film Day

The most important part of your film project will be you! Don’t lose focus or your audience will too. Feeling alert and focused on your task will allow for smooth sailing on the day. Sleep well the night beforehand to ensure a ready mind-set. Monitor your energy levels through the day – keep healthy snacks around for brain food and don’t skip meal breaks, even if you’re under the pump. Refreshing your brain with a break can often lead to greater ideas. Coffee will be your best friend – you can sleep when it’s all over! 
Most importantly, enjoy the process! The rewards of seeing the finished project after taking the journey to complete all the hard work will be worth it when the correct time, effort and energy are put in. 
Find out more about studying Film or Acting at AFTT.