Today is hump day and it is time for a motivational post to get you through the rest of the week and into the weekend. Chances are you had a project due or assigned today. If you are like any other of the hundreds of film students across the country that project is a short film. Well it's time to start writing a feature! "Why? I'm not ready for that yet! That's a lot of pages!" you say.
It is 8 months to Summer Break
What is the significance of that? Summer break is the longest period of the year in which you have absolutely nothing important going on. This makes it the best time of the year to shoot your new feature! Why not come back to school next fall with a feature film in hand. Something all of your classmates can be jealous of.
Eight months is also a fantastic amount of time to hone a script. That is approximately 240 days. At one page of writing a day you'd have a four hour masterpiece! God help us all. In less than three months of writing one page a day you have a feature. You can spend another three months in rewrites to firm up the story. At the end of the writing process you should have about two months to handle the casting, crewing, and preproducting. Bingo Bango and a feature is in the can.
You are surrounded by professional teachers who have been there and done that. Writing a feature is tough and controlling the plot within it is even tougher. Why not use your resources at your finger tips to benefit your future? Most schools post their teachers bios online. Go through them and find a teacher who's work speaks to you and ask them for help. Teachers don't always have the opportunities to continue practicing their craft and this is a great chance for them as well. This will also give you a great chance to practice your pitching skills. If they're not interested in the idea, work on the pitch and idea until they are. The world is full of people who will not believe in your work until you've completed it.
If you are like most film students you are a lover of film. You watch a ton of movies each week. You probably know the ins and outs of what has come through the Hollywood system in the last fifty years. Your classmates feel this way too! Get a group together, get an idea together, and make a film. It may seem like a fantasy at first, but you will be surprised what you can do when you use the people around you to all of your benefits.
College is the last time you will ever have a pool of free labor as deep as it is. Favors start evaporating after you have been out of school for more than a year. You have memories, but that is all they will be. Don't wait five or ten years to collect on the time you shot Jane's short "Composition" project or Johnny's "The Art of Color" project.
Failure Doesn't Count
This is one project you can't fail. You are using the resources of the school that you are paying to be at and if it doesn't work out... they can't fail you. You will learn invaluable lessons that you will continue to use on future projects. One feature film will over the lessons you would have learned in 1 year of school and 1 year of the real world. Dealing with talent, cultivating professional relationships, and chasing your dream is why you are in film school right now.
So take a break from that "hue vs saturation color chart" project and open up your composition book.
Brandon Ruckdashel is the Festival Director for YoungFilmmakers. He has been the Program Director for NewFilmmakers for the last three years and Marketing Director for six. Brandon is a filmmaker who is most well known for his acting work in the HBO series Co-Ed Confidential and numerous B-Movies. Brandon has worked with Roger Corman alumni Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski along with a number of other very talented directors. Brandon's Directorial debut GRINDER will be out in theaters in 2016.
YoungFilmmakers screens quarterly in New York at Anthology Film Archives. Opened in 1970 by Jonas Mekas, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage, Anthology in its original conception was a showcase for the Essential Cinema Repertory collection. An ambitious attempt to define the art of cinema by means of a selection of films which would screen continuously, the Essential Cinema collection was intended to encourage the study of the medium’s masterworks as works of art rather than disposable entertainment, making Anthology the first museum devoted to film as an art form. The project was never completed, but even in its unfinished state it represented an uncompromising critical overview of cinema’s history, and remains a crucial part of Anthology’s exhibition program.