So you want to write a film? 10 Tips From Industry Insiders

Elements Film Lab has been hosting workshops and panel discussions with film industry insiders over the last few days to aspiring film makers and those already working within the industry. Over the festival weekend filmmakers have been participating in a series of workshops, discussions, conversations and engagements that will further their paths in creating world-class short films. This is part of Shnit 2015 – a short film festival currently in it’s 13th year internationally and it’s 6th year in Cape Town, South Africa. Elements Film Lab is an initiative of the shnit Expanded Talent Focus programme for Playground Cape Town in 2015.

(Left to right) Sibs Shongwe La-Mer, Jenna Bass and Jahmil X.T Qubeka in conversation in the Elements Film Lab Panel Discussion: That Big Bang

Here are ten tips from some of the best writers,directors and producers within the South African film industry right now.

  1. The main difference between making shorts and features is timing. There is an art to making both but most film makers said that it’s a lot harder to create a punchy short film that makes an impact in only a few minutes. If you can make great short films, you can make great feature films.
  2. If there are problems in the script, it will reflect onto the screen. Most aspirant film makers don’t take too much notice of the script  thinking that they can just throw something together but it’s the most important element before even attempting to find your crew or financing for your film.  If the script is not strong, the film will not work.
  3. With regards to your story, the big question is: What is the problem and how are your characters going to deal with it?
  4. Story telling is about making your audience engaged – they have to be emotionally invested to care about your characters.
  5. As an entertainer/writer/director/artist, your job is to surprise the audience.
  6. Figure out what your story telling style is – worry about the why and not the how.
  7. Stick to who you are and why you want to make films in the first place. This will keep you grounded in an industry that can tend to get distracted by fame.
  8. Very few people will give you real critical analysis – keep grounded as fame is a dangerous thing to chase.
  9. This is an incredibly exciting time to be creating short films now that people are more than ever consuming short forms of story telling on a massive scale. You don’t need much to make a short film – use what you have.
  10. Find like minded people who believe in what you are doing – if it’s not in your personality to push your ideas or to motivate others to back your film financially, find someone who can.
Producer Steven Markowitz at the Going Global Elements Film Lab Workshop.

Producer Steven Markowitz at the Going Global Elements Film Lab Workshop.

This year, the first Elements Film Lab is being hosted at the historic Cape Town Club on Queen Victoria Street. For more information, go to the Shnit website.

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