How to launch and manage a short film project on a budget
If you have a short film project or idea in the back of your mind, then may be this article can help you produce and screen it.


The film-making bug is breaking out everywhere and many want to make their short film or documentary just for fun! If you have a short film project or idea in the back of your mind, then may be this article can help you produce and screen it. In this article, we will give you some tips and tricks to produce a short movie.

1. Starting the project and preparation

Th beginning stage of producing a short film is one of the most difficult phase. But it is one of the most important stages to produce the film project. During this stage, there is often a tendency to precipitate and even omit this step. Even though you are making a short film on a budget we strongly recommend you plan ahead first.

In the beginning, you need to have a screen play or a short script or at least an abstract that provides a quick and clear picture what the movie is about. This will help you seek financial support, partnerships and build a team.

Once you have a clear idea of the movie, you need to gather the right and affordable equipment. Many filmmakers use DSLRs like the Canon 700D, or mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic GH4. Of course, if you have good financial backing you can get high-end cameras. But remember, don’t spend all the money on cameras as you will need other important equipment such as: recording gears, tripods, lenses, stabilizers, cranes and other kits. And of course, you will need editing software’s such as iMovie, Final Cut Pro X or Adobe premiere Pro.

Building the team

Like any project, you cannot do everything on your own. You need to assemble a team. To make sure your film is successful you need to have at least:

  • A cameraman
  • A director of photography
  • A sound operator (or sound engineer)
  • A person to take care of makeup and costumes
  • One person to take care of drinks and meals at the shooting location
  • A person who knows about lighting
  • A production assistant

2. Planning

Once you have your team, equipment and ideas, you need to plan in detail! During the planning phase and before you start shooting, along with team, you will need to:

  • Define of the roles of each actor (by defining the main and secondary characters).
  • Develop the plot.
  • Define the different nodes of the plot: incidents, obstacles, adventures, action …
  • Make the storyboard.
  • Determine what you’ll need for each shoot.
  • Decide the scene for each shot.
  • Determine what equipment you will need and list all necessary equipment.
  • Determine how many and what types of actors you will need to employ and same for the production team.
  • Determine what accessories, makeup and costumes you will need and get them.
    (The list is not exhaustive. Your requirements will depend on your film project)

Once you have your ideas, details and course of action on paper you can move forward to shoot for the movie. Please note that building a team and planning goes hand in hand and both can be done simultaneously!

3. Organizing and executing

Like any project, good collaboration among the team members and stakeholders is necessary for the success of your film project. You cannot do it all alone. A good project manager or in your case a director should not only build a team but also know how to delegate the tasks and monitor their execution.

One of the challenges of making a film is that the work to be done or the tasks are fragmented and dispersed. So, the key to successfully make a movie is to execute, monitor and bring together all the fragmented tasks by following a coherent workflow. Hence, a project management software will help you see how everything is logically linked and updated in real time. It will provide you a bird eye view of all the activities and the sequence of tasks which is necessary to complete film.

 4. Closing the project

Again, like any project, once the shooting and editing is complete you need to wind up and close the project. In a normal project, you produce reports that documents the results and lessons learnt and then deliver the project to an operational team. In your case, what good way to screen your film in a short film festival or at your local Lions or Rotary club! And then, followed by a Q&A session where you and your audience can discuss about the journey of making a movie and the lessons learnt.