Anatomy of a Short Film

In 2014/2015, my partner, Stephanie Dawson, and I worked on a short film that I wrote, entitled “In-Kind.” I updated this page throughout the entire process—from pre-production, to production, to post. The idea is that readers will be able to join us on this journey and learn the ins and outs of producing a film—including the successes and failures, and sacrifices and compromises. We’re excited to take you on this journey and invite you to post your comments, sharing best practices and asking questions.

The Story

I’ve written a few produced shorts already, but one of my goals has always been to write a theme-based short film with minimal dialogue. I admire the medium’s ability to tell a complete story through action. So much can be communicated by a simple look in the eye, which is often more powerful than any written word.

Joe Forbrich (SAG-AFTRA) in “In-Kind”

Our story is a simple one about a woman and her daughter and the homeless man who lives outside their apartment building. Our original intention was to tell the story of a person who loses his home for one night and his encounter with a homeless man who lives in the park. However, I was more intrigued by the point of view of the homeless man and thought the best way to explore it was to flip the story on its head—instead of a person who goes homeless for one night, what if a homeless person gains a home for one night? When the mother and her daughter leave their apartment, the homeless man finds his way in. However, he’s more virtuous than some might give him credit for, and his appreciation shines clearly after his departure.

An example of a short that is theme-based with minimal dialogue is the 1991 Oscar-winning film “The Lunch Date” by Adam Davidson, which was the original inspiration for our film. To me, this is the perfect short.

Assembling a Look Book

I’ve begun to assemble a look book, which lays out the vision for the overall look and feel of the film. I’ll be continuously adding images to this. You can check it out on Pinterest, by clicking here.  

Creating a Shotlist

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My film partner Stephanie and I attended the Hamptons International Film Festival this past weekend. I’ve been serving on the festival’s screening committee for the past few years and have been to the festival just once before. After waking up far earlier than I would ever wish to on a Saturday morning, I got together with Stephanie and we headed to Penn Station to catch our train to East Hampton. Along the way, we continued work on the shotlist for our short film, “In-Kind,” which we had begun several weeks earlier. Our progress has been slow, but fruitful. I’m excited about some creative shots we have planned, including one inspired by my filmmaking idol, Alfred Hitchcock (let’s hope we can execute it and do it justice).

The train pulled into East Hampton Station and we easily found our way to the theatre on foot. After some back and forth between venues to pick up our passes, we got in line for an advance screening of Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. The film felt like a departure for Reitman (Stephanie called it “Reitman does Nicholas Sparks”), and, unfortunately, I can’t say it was a step in the right direction for him. The film is underwhelming and lacks a good amount of rationale and motivation for some parts.

We then met up with some folks and had a leisurely lunch before heading to another theatre to screen a shorts program. Once again, I was left underwhelmed. The shorts were experimental, which never leaves a good taste in my mouth. (They seemed so interesting on paper!) Despite the lackluster crop of films we screened, Stephanie and I were having a great day in the Hamptons. We caught up with our same friends from earlier for dinner before heading back home. And then the adventure began …

East Hampton Station was right where we left it. We arrived around 8:50pm, just in time for the 9pm train—the last train of the night. If we missed this one, we’d have to wait until the following morning to catch the next train. With nowhere to stay, we couldn’t miss it. 9pm rolls around. No train. 9:10 creeps up. No train. Okay, so now we’re worried. As Stephanie got on the phone with the Long Island Rail Road, I checked the train schedule on my phone. We both came to the same conclusion: the 9pm time listed on the print schedule we had been consulting was only applicable to certain days. Ouch! Now what?

We had heard of the Hampton Jitney. I see it wheeling around Manhattan from time to time, and for Stephanie it hearkened back to an episode of Sex and the City she knew. I did some quick work on my phone and discovered that the last Jitney out of East Hampton headed to Manhattan (a good two-hours-plus away) was scheduled for 10pm. We picked up our things, headed to the bus stop, and crossed our fingers.

The sight of a bus approaching at 9:55pm meant I could finally exhale. (The last thing I wanted was to be stranded in the Hamptons overnight—the irony of which just occurred to me, considering that “In-Kind” is about homelessness. And I guess there could be worse things than being homeless for one night in a beautiful, quaint town with nice weather.)

It always seemed like riding the Hampton Jitney was some sort of “experience.” I didn’t understand why until the on-board steward handed me my complimentary snack and drink. I made quick work of my Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and lemonade, then slept the rest of the way …

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We didn’t finish the shotlist for “In-Kind” on Saturday, as we had hoped, so we picked it up again on Sunday, amidst making a pot of chili. (In Labor Day, Josh Brolin’s character makes chili, and we had been thinking about it ever since—so I guess that’s one good thing that came from the movie.) We succeeded in completing our shotlist and decided on our next meeting date. Progress is slow, but it’s beginning to come together.

My advice for when you’re making a film without a set deadline: never end a meeting without scheduling the next one. It’s the only way to ensure you’re keeping the wheels in motion.

Scouting Locations/Constructing a Story Board

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Stephanie and I have each had several projects on our plates, so “In-Kind” hit the back burner for awhile, but despite continuous side projects and day jobs, we’re back in the thick of it. In fact, we’ve been making much more progress as of late than we had in the previous few years of toying around with this film.

We’ve recruited Laurie Rud to produce the film. After a couple of productive meetings, we each have our marching orders and we’re working hard to finally make this film a reality. This includes getting a fundraising plan together and continuing with the necessary legwork during this pre-production phase to ensure production goes as smoothly as possible. In my opinion, pre-production is the most important phase of filmmaking. You’ll always encounter unexpected obstacles throughout production, but the more prepared you are going in, the better shape you’ll ultimately be in. The goal is to mitigate as many potential hindrances as possible.

This past Saturday, Stephanie, Laurie, and I got together at our shoot location in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the home of a friend. Only Stephanie had previously been there, so it was important for Laurie and me to visit and plan some of the logistics of the shoot, including making any necessary adjustments to the shotlist in order to capture what we need.

Since neither Stephanie nor I are keen on illustration or have the patience to fake it, we opted to photograph myself throughout the location, portraying each character in the film. These shots would make up our story board. Next, Stephanie will compile the photos and outline them in chronological order to give our yet-to-be-named cinematographer a clear understanding of our vision.

Picking a Camera/Finding References

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We’ve greased our wheels, so following Saturday’s location scout and story board “photo shoot,” Stephanie and I decided to keep the momentum going. We met on Sunday to watch various YouTube clips of raw and color corrected footage from a mix of camera types. The goal was to find a camera that will give us the look we’re trying to achieve for this film. “In-Kind” has a fairy tale-type quality to the story, so we kept that top of mind as we compared cameras. Ultimately, we put together a short list, which includes the Arri Alexa (which we like partly because of the creamy quality it gives human skin), the Canon C500, and the Black Magic. (Update: We wound up shooting “In-Kind” on the RED Epic, due to convenience [our DP owned it], and the footage looks terrific!)

Finally, we took a look at some film stills with comparable looks to what we want to achieve for “In-Kind.” Given the fairy tale quality of the film, we’re really looking for deep, rich colors and nice contrast, so we chose films like Maleficent, Big Fish, and Magic in the Moonlight, among others. These references, the camera, and the story board will ultimately serve as a springboard for our cinematographer.

Maleficent (2014)
Big Fish (2003)
Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

Designing Key Art

Monday, November 3, 2014

We recruited a couple of talented designers to create key art to be used in our social media campaign (among other things). Our logo was designed by John Henriques. It depicts a lamp with a window pane integrated. The lamp is representative of a key element of the film and a light motif that’s found throughout, symbolizing kindness, purity, and optimism. The window is another important element, as it represents the barrier between the warm, comfortable indoors and the harsh, cold outdoors. (Our story centers on a homeless man who finds a home for a night, and the mother and daughter who inadvertently provide him with that comfort.) The film will have an innocent and slight “fairy tale” quality about it. This is represented by the parchment background and crayon outline of the logo. Illustrator/designer Christie Chisholm created a series of social media graphics that leverage the parchment and a color palette of deep, vibrant colors, including red, blue, green, purple, and orange—again, highlighting the fairy tale theme.

Launching a Social Media Campaign

Monday, November 3, 2014

Today, we launched our official Facebook and Twitter pages. The goal is to use these platforms to provide inspiration and tips on quick and easy ways we can all be kind to others each day—rather than solely using them to raise awareness of the film and our fundraising efforts (though there will be that, too). We want to get people to think about kindness in a new way; it doesn’t take any real effort to put a smile on another’s face. We’ll be posting regularly, so be sure to like and follow.

Fundraising

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It turns out that November 13 is World Kindness Day. I had never even heard of this day until I launched the “In-Kind” Twitter account and fooled around the platform; someone had mentioned it was coming, and I thought, “This is perfect timing!” Stephanie, Laurie, and I decided that would be the perfect day to officially launch our fundraising campaign.

With about $8,000 to raise, we have a few initiatives planned to help drum up much-needed funds. The first is our “1=1” campaign; for every $1 donated, Stephanie and I will collectively donate 1 minute of our time to volunteer service. The idea works seamlessly with our theme of kindness. Donors will take satisfaction in knowing that they’d be directly benefitting the film and indirectly benefitting worthy causes through Stephanie’s and my volunteering.

We wanted to get the word out to as many people as possible, so we posted a “World Kindness Day” graphic, as well as the first of several brief videos we created, each demonstrating a quick and easy way we can all be kind to one another. I boosted the video on Facebook with $20 to spread the word to a larger audience. I also e-mailed everyone in my address book, spreading the word about “In-Kind.” Let’s hope this moves the needle…

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Our “1=1” fundraising campaign wrapped at the end of 2014. In the end, we raised about $1,300, meeting our goal for this stage of the fundraising process! Stephanie and I continue to do our volunteer work, adding up those minutes that equal the dollar value that we raised. We’re also planning our next stage of fundraising, an Indiegogo campaign that will include gifts and more giving back at each donation level. (We have about another $5,000 to raise!) In preparation for the launch (starting in early February), Stephanie, Laurie, and I shot a series of eight brief, comedic videos recently, each demonstrating a different aspect of filmmaking (e.g., editing, color correction, casting, etc.) and the cost associated with each. We feel it’s important that our donors—especially those who are unfamiliar with the filmmaking process—know how their contributions are being used. These videos will be posted on our social platforms throughout the month of February, leading to our late February/early March shoot. We also shot a video that will be used to thank our donors to date, as well as portions of another video that will become our Indiegogo campaign video.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

As of March 12, we exceeded our Indiegogo fundraising goal by raising $4,066 (136% of our goal)! As of this writing, we’ve raised over $5,600, in total. All funds raised from this point will go towards our film festival submission fees.

In order to make good on our promise to our Indiegogo supporters, we ordered gifts that tie back to a storybook theme (which relates to the film). Depending on donors’ giving levels, they will receive one or more of the following gifts:

  • For $25, an “In-Kind” bookmark, which includes basic information about the film
  • For $50, a notebook with pen so donors can write their own stories (or whatever they wish)
  • For $100, a flexible, #bekind-branded booklight
  • For $250, a blanket to cozy up with while reading a book (as well as a walk-on role as an extra in the film)
  • For $500, a photo storybook that recounts the making of the film

In addition, all donors will be invited to an exclusive backer screening of the film in New York City, which producer Laurie, co-director Stephanie, and I are currently planning for the upcoming months. We’ll aim to assemble a fun party where invitees will screen the film, meet the cast and filmmakers, eat and drink, mingle, and participate in a yet-to-be-determined raffle, in which 10% of all proceeds will go to charity and the remaining funds will go towards our film festival submission fees.

Saturday, July 31, 2015

Thanks to all of our fundraising efforts, we raised enough money to complete the film. However, despite “In-Kind” being done, it’s not the end of the journey. Our next step is to get people to see it. The typical route for short films is to submit it to film festivals in hopes that some will include it with their official selections. Festival application fees can range quite a bit, so we need another round of fundraising to help cover those costs. To that end, we’re about to start planning a screening in New York City for this September (after the craziness of summer is behind everyone). All of our generous donors to date, as well as their guests and the film’s cast and crew, will be invited to watch “In-Kind” and learn about the making of the film. The plan is to have items available for auction, including signed memorabilia related to the film, as well as goods from local businesses. We hope to raise $1,000 to help cover some of our festival fees.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Though the film’s complete, we’re still in need of raising funds to cover our film festival submission fees, so we planned and executed a private backer screening to which all previous donors and their guests, cast, and crew were invited to screen the film (our first audience!). Our host was People Lounge in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. We provided light refreshments; had a signature drink at the bar (the “‘In-Kind’ Collins”); had a #BeKind selfie station; and held a raffle and silent auction, featuring items from our shoot and goods courtesy of Jacques Torres Chocolate, Dauphines of New York, and Doma Na Rohu. We received positive feedback on the film and everyone seemed to have a great time. Check out several photos from the night here.

Writer/Director Daniel Quitério introducing “In-Kind”
Actor Joe Forbrich
Actors Monique and Makenna Pappas
Producer Laurie Carmel Rud, Writer/Director Daniel Quitério, and Director Stephanie Dawson

Crewing Up

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Earlier this week, we posted a call for crew on Mandy.com. Job descriptions were written for a director of photography/camera operator, sound mixer, editor, composer, production designer, sound designer, and costume designer. We also requested submissions from potential first assistant directors, first assistant cameramen, production assistants, gaffers, and key grips. Within a day, we received about 100 submissions across the various roles from people interested in working on “In-Kind.” Laurie, our producer, is sorting through the submissions, then Stephanie and I will make some final decisions prior to our February 28 shoot.

Creating a Newsletter

Sunday, February 8, 2015

As part of our online communications with friends and potential donors—in addition to our social media presence—we launched a weekly e-mail newsletter today. Thanks to MailChimp, we’re able to create a sleek, professional newsletter that can be personally sent to the nearly 200 people on our mailing list. This is part of an ongoing effort to lift the veil on the filmmaking process and provide people with great behind-the-scenes content that is designed to keep them interested and feel invested in the film. Each week, we’ll include a gauge of how we’re doing in reaching our fundraising goal. It’s important to provide a visual representation in order to hopefully drum up necessary support. This is particularly of interest as we timed the first newsletter to coincide with the launch of the second phase of our fundraising, an Indiegogo campaign that is scheduled to launch this week.

Cast & Crew

Saturday, February 28, 2015

As is expected when making a film, hiccups occur. So far, we haven’t experienced anything major, but we did postpone our shoot by a week to give us more time to find just the right cast and crew. We posted descriptions for cast and crew on ActorsAccess.com and Mandy.com, respectively. After reviewing approximately 90 actor submissions and several dozen crew submissions (spanning various crafts, such as cinematography, production design, and music, among others), we’re confident we found the right mix of talent. So far, we’ve officially announced our two female leads, Monique and Makenna Pappas (pictured below), a real-life mother/daughter pair who will anchor “In-Kind,” along with a male lead, who will be announced on our Facebook page next week. (Key crew announcements will also be made on Facebook next week.)

Monique Pappas (left) and Makenna Pappas (right)

Today, the core team (including our new DP, production designer, and costume person) met at our shooting location for a meeting and tech scout. We walked through the script and story boards, as well as discussed the spaces that we’ll be shooting. Questions were raised and answered, and all departments are beginning to gel nicely, ensuring each person’s work is complementing the other’s (the ideal scenario).

Co-directors Dan Quitério (left) and Stephanie Dawson (right), with director of photography Josh Echevarria (center) at the tech scout

We have 1 week to go until our shoot. The weather forecast is good, and we’re excited to make this film a reality. But there’s still so much to do…

The Shoot

Check out photos from the shoot here.

Sunday, March 15

After over four years with “In-Kind” in mind, we finally shot the film. A team of over 20 artists and technicians gathered in a Bushwick, Brooklyn apartment the winter-cold weekend of March 7 – 8 for over 20 hours, capturing some fantastic footage that will next be edited, color corrected, and set to music. There’s still a long road ahead of us and much more money to raise to make it happen (though we’ve met all our fundraising goals to date!), but I can honestly say that I feel fortunate that our little film with a big message is taking shape as my team and I had hoped. The production design was vibrant and colorful, the performances were stellar, the camerawork was beyond what I expected (we wound up shooting on the Red Epic). There were few compromises made, but it was all for the best, and I can’t wait to head into post.

Makenna Pappas and Monique Pappas in “In-Kind”

There’s not much glamor or prestige that goes into making short films. You can’t exactly go to the local Regal cinemas and buy a ticket to see a short. So why do we do it? Our lead actor Joe Forbrich (SAG-AFTRA) says it best in the following note he sent to the filmmakers after our long shoot. Joe performed in “In-Kind” just after wrapping a part in a Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks movie, and just before starring on Broadway in an upcoming production. Despite his impressive credits, he cites the magic and luxury that goes into working on a low-budget short film.

From Joe:

I just finished a long weekend of working on a short film. I played a homeless person who commits an act of love. There is great luxury in this—putting myself in the shoes of a man less fortunate than I, all the while knowing I can go home to a warm bed, my wife by my side.

Much like this homeless man, I participated in this project as an act of love. As did just about all the 20 or so others who came together in a Bushwick apartment donated by friends who didn’t mind having it taken over as an occupying army would on their march toward battle. The bathroom became the costume, hair, and makeup quarters. The living room became the barracks. The kitchen fed the troops. And when we needed to shoot in one of these rooms, all the gear was cleared and the production designer went to work, putting every set piece back in place, as if it had been there all along.

Low budget short or not, this light brigade still requires all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster, from the camera and lighting equipment, props and furniture, down to the bureaucratic details of special contracts with union actors. Certain luxuries are necessarily missing from these projects; there are no plush mobile trailers to house the stars of the movie (which is fine with me since I’ve never been a star), no catering trucks offering fine cuisine, and no one to hold an umbrella over you if it’s raining outside. These things are cool if you’re being financed by Sony Pictures. But not deal breakers when you’re raising funds through Indiegogo and the like.

I have been on movie sets that spent millions of dollars in a single day. I have been flown first-class to Germany to speak six lines in a Steven Spielberg film. I have loved every minute of it.  But I was also secretly jealous of the relationship between Tom Hanks and his director. How they collaborated and talked about the story and the shots, and the workaday trust that made the impossible seem effortless onscreen. How every movie is a mountain, and every day is a shovelful of dirt to be thrown upon this artful heap. That’s what I wanted.

And that’s what I get when I work with Stephanie and Dan. They let me play in the sandbox with them. They also handle all the personalities and dodge the cars when we shoot on the street, and they slip on the ice like the rest of us, but they get up and keep going because the shoot must go on. There are 20 or so artists who must somehow knit themselves together and come up with a film. There is only so much time. Only so much daylight left. But in the end, late on a Sunday night, we know we’ve got the elements of something special. Something magic. Something collaborative. And that is luxury.

Joe Forbrich (SAG-AFTRA) in “In-Kind”

Hiring an Editor

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Now that the film has been shot, Stephanie and I had to hire a good editor to stitch it all together. Our goal was to find someone who wouldn’t merely create a series of cuts to get from point A to B; we wanted someone who would be able to take a creative, inspired approach to the editing so that each cut and fade would help to elevate the story (as all good editing should do). We sorted through several editors who expressed interest in working with “In-Kind” (thanks to an earlier Mandy.com post, calling for editor submissions) and found Cara Gordon, a talented editor who we think would be perfect to bring “In-Kind” into its final stages. Cara also does color correction and graphics, so she’ll be wearing multiple hats during this all-important post-production phase. Check out her reel here.

Working with the Editor

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Upon hiring our editor, Cara, Stephanie and I gave her a general sense of the story, the theme, and the mood we’re hoping to achieve. With that, we passed along the script, the footage, and the script notes taken on set and left her to “discover” the story in her own way. A few weeks later, she completed a first assembly of the film, which Stephanie and I reviewed. It’s always difficult watching a rough cut since there’s no music or color correction at that stage, but we looked beyond that and thought about whether the cut was tonally and thematically achieving what we had in mind for “In-Kind.” It was a great start. We assembled in-depth notes for the next pass and will be seeing a few more assemblies before the final cut.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cara took our notes and assembled a fine cut of the film, which Stephanie and I reviewed together. “In-Kind” is definitely taking shape nicely. We put some more notes together after carefully viewing the film and sent them back to Cara. We also scheduled our first in-person editing session with her for about a week later. When Stephanie and I met with Cara, she had already revised the film based on our most recent set of notes. The three of us viewed the film a few times together and made some more adjustment, scene by scene. By the end of our session, we were all excited with what we had. Our picture lock was set! The next step is to schedule a spotting session with our composer/sound designer (more on that below) to discuss music and sound and determine where and how it will be integrated into the film. While he’s working on music and sound, Cara will be color correcting the film.

Saturday, July 31, 2015

We received the latest cut of the film, which includes the score, all sound (mixed), and color correction. It looks great, except there was an issue with the sound, so we sent it to Jay, our composer/sound designer, to watch it and give his feedback. We wanted to ensure the sound is exactly as he wants it. Of course, he has a far more refined ear than Stephanie or I, so it was important to let him have another listen. That’s when he found that the music and sound effects weren’t quite as crisp as intended. There may have been an issue during the rendering process of the final edit. Cara is giving it another look, and soon our “final cut” will indeed be final.

Finding a Composer

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Months ago, when we posted a call for submissions to fill various positions, one of them was for a composer. Though we were seeking to fill several roles, we received far more interest in the composer position than any other, with nearly 100 submissions (100!). Stephanie and I painstakingly reviewed the submissions, listening carefully to samples. We were specifically listening for versatility in musical style, as well as work that characterizes the sweet and somewhat whimsical tone and theme of “In-Kind.” We narrowed our choices to about 12 composers. From there, we interviewed nearly all 12 over the course of one week, either via phone call or Skype, as many were based in other countries. In the end, one person rose to the surface. We chose Jay Rothman of Mirrortone Studios in New York City. Stephanie and I were drawn to his versatility, as well as the whimsical and somewhat fairy-tale vibe of some of his pieces. Jay is also a sound designer, so he will be wearing both hats while working on “In-Kind.” With a nearly silent film, sound and music are perhaps even more important than usual. (I type this while watching a PBS Great Performances special with the New York Philharmonic performing iconic music from Italian cinema. This only serves as a reminder of how important a good score is to help tell and elevate your story on screen.)

In the coming days, Jay, Stephanie, and I will be holding a spotting session, during which we’ll watch a cut of the film and decide where music should be placed. We do know that like every other craft that’s helped define “In-Kind” so far, we’re looking to have the music reflect the two separate worlds portrayed in the film: the warm and vibrant interior world of the mother and daughter, and the cold and harsh exterior of the homeless man.

Have a listen to some of Jay’s previous works here.

Scoring the Film (and Sound)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

“In-Kind” co-director Dan Quitério (left) with composer/sound designer Jay Rothman during the spotting session

Stephanie and I recently met with our composer/sound designer Jay at his studio in Hell’s Kitchen, New York for our spotting session. With limited knowledge about film music—but with an immense appreciation and respect for it—we allowed Jay to guide us a bit. We watched the film in its entirety to get a feel for it, then again scene by scene, all the while conveying the emotions we’re looking to extract from the audience—as well as what the characters are feeling—along the way. Since Jay is wearing two hats, as composer and sound designer, we discussed both crafts simultaneously, highlighting the various cues where music should begin and end, as well as the different sound effects that would help enliven the story.

Since “In-Kind” has very minimal dialogue, Jay’s roles are of the utmost importance. It’s always difficult to watch a film without music. You don’t always realize just how important it is or its power to manipulate emotions. Once Jay felt he had a grasp on what Stephanie and I are trying to achieve, we left him to work. We expect to receive updates with him over the next few weeks, including individual scenes, so that we can keep track of his progress and provide feedback along the way.

Submitting to Festivals (and Getting on IMDb)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

With the film in the can, we’re ready to start sending it out to festivals in the hopes that it will be selected and screen in front of eager audiences. There are hundreds of festivals in the world, ranging from the top tier (e.g., Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Berlin, Toronto) to smaller, startup festivals in local areas. It’s important to realize that each festival has its own agenda, and with that comes a separate and often unique taste in films. With that in mind, we’re aware that “In-Kind” may not be a good fit for certain festivals, so we’ll avoid those and save ourselves the submission fees. It’s better to focus on those into which we stand a shot of getting accepted. Even then, the odds are always against any submission. Some amazing films (many future Oscar winners) have been rejected from festivals for any number of reasons, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality of the film. Submitting to festivals can be discouraging (and expensive), but it’s important to devise a festival strategy that works for our specific film to increase our odds of acceptance and enable us to intelligently budget our costs. That includes considering alumni festivals (those that have previously screened our earlier works), festivals that focus on specific genres or audiences (i.e., children’s festivals, African American festivals, etc.) that relate to our film, and reviewing lists of the best festivals worth their submission fees (various lists can be found throughout the Internet). As we continue to submit, our strategy will evolve.

We’re focusing on online submissions using Withoutabox and FilmFreeway. The former is owned by Amazon (which also owns the Internet Movie Database), so submitting via that platform automatically gets us on IMDb. Check out our page here. We were sure to populate all of the required and suggested fields with information about the film, including cast and crew bios, production stills, and artist statements that we had our principal crew write (also to be used in publicity/press materials). Once we are accepted to festivals, we’ll send along the press materials, posters, and other collateral to be on display for theatergoers to view; this includes cards (in our case, we designed bookmarks to go with the film’s theme of storybooks) on which we’ll place stickers that will include the dates and times of all screenings of “In-Kind.”

Why submit at all? Festivals are often the only place short films are screened in front of mass audiences (including press and industry people). We make shorts to serve as a sort-of calling card, showing film industry folks our artistic and technical abilities. Careers have been made beginning with a strong short film, and that’s enough reason to do what we do.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This week, we got word that “In-Kind” was accepted into its first film festival! The film will screen at the 2016 Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey this March/April.

Garden State Film Festival.jpg

One thought on “Anatomy of a Short Film”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

a film blog by Daniel Quitério

%d bloggers like this: