How To Produce A Short Film: with Farah Abushwesha
In the latest instalment of our How To series, we talk to BAFTA Nominated producer and founder of BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing competition, Farah Abushwesha.
Farah's production work includes the acclaimed directorial debuts BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Rowan Athale's The Rise and BAFTA nominee Tom Harper's The Scouting Book for Boys. In 2016, she co-produced winner of BAFTA for Best British Short The Party. Farah's also the author of the Amazon bestseller Rocliffe Notes - A Professional Approach to Screenwriting and Filmmaking, a compendium of advice from 150 industry contributors from around the globe and is writing her second book Rocliffe Notes on Low budget Filmmaking. Who better to ask for some advice on getting started with our own short film projects?
What was the first short film you produced, and how did it go?
It was No Deposit, No Return. It was about a desperate woman who breaks into a sperm bank. We funded it by asking men to donate their sperm and give us the proceeds. The industry thought it was a great pitch and we were sponsored by Fuji, Panavision, Lipsync Post. The film went on to do festivals and was a great start.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I should have made a feature film and not waited for permission. I took a long time to gain the confidence to make features. I’m also conscious that every day is a school day and you learn more and more. Film-making is about communication and you must communicate your ideas.
When starting a project, what are the key boxes you make sure to have ticked?
Raising the money, having a good script, getting an amazing cast, finding and locking down locations, insurance, getting the right crew.
What, for you, have been the most successful ways of funding projects?
Each project has its own challenges. What I realised more than anything that raising the money is about demonstrating that you know what to do with the film once it is made, giving the film the best opportunity of being seen by the widest audience and making its money back.
When marketing on a shoestring what are the priorities?
Getting your film made - create a marketing and festival strategy. It’s all in the detail.
Read loads of scripts.
Rely on freebies or handouts or mates to turn up as extras.
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