You may not agree with this. That is fine. I know what has worked for Continuum Pictures, its directors and getting to LA and surviving here. I am not too worried about the perfection of my writing here. I think the advice is more important than they way it is written. My next blog will be about getting your project going.
If you have decided to make a movie and you have decided who you are going to make it with then now is the time to choose what you are going to shoot.
In a previous blog I mentioned making a list of resources. If you have made your list of locations, cars, people, music that you can get rights to, and props, then you are ready to choose your project. I suggest you choose to write a project that uses the best of all the above items. Also I suggest that you shoot a movie you think others would like to see.
I want to give you an example. If you have chosen a friendly location, the difference between (and now actors forgive me) good acting and bad acting is the number of takes, angles etc… This is why choosing a friendly location is important. You have to have the time to give the untrained actor a chance to get it right.
Most of making a good first film is simply time. Do you have the time to get it right. In most cases people will arrange a location for a brief time, because well it is cool. Yet the movie just outright sucks. Made a few of those myself in the beginning till I figure it out.
Choosing your script is important. Take the time to do a few drafts before you shoot. Have others read it and tell you what works and does not work. And when you think you have the script the best it can be, don’t suddenly change your mind and go, “oh it’s too good, lets try to make it bigger.” Shoot the damn thing and shoot it right. If it needs to be bigger someone will see it at festival or in some agency and say “lets make it bigger.”
Horror is good. Horror is a genre that can move almost anywhere. Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch, and Night of the Living Dead are great examples of indie horror that did not require much in the way of locations or effects. Now the success of these projects is a rarity. But you never know.
Drama is a bad idea for a first film in my opinion. The actors most people have access to on their first film really cannot pull it off. I am assuming you don’t have a budget. I know you want to tell a personal story. It is okay to do so. Don’t let anyone stop you. But also don’t expect the world to necessarily be interested either. If you make a film for an audience of one, well be okay with just you liking it.
Important note: Don’t make a film that copies another film or style. If there is already one Blair Witch don’t try to make another. Spend the extra moments of your life trying to make something unique or as unique as you can. If it is in style, like vampires, try and guess what will be in style two years from now. Why it could take you two years or more to complete your film and get I out. Short Bus took five years from my understanding. (not sure it was a first film, but it did take a damn long time.)
Choose something you like and want to do. You may be doing it a long time. Danny Torres spent 4 years getting Wrestling Days out from the first day of shooting to the day it was released on Amazon. Even though it was not the only project going on during that time, we saw it nearly every day. It is the project that opened the doors to the studios for us.