Welcome to Short Film 101


This course is designed to help as many filmmakers as I can by sharing my experiences over the last 10 years as I have tried, and sometimes succeeded in navigating a path into the film industry through making short films.

Making short films is a great and often successful route into the film industry for emerging filmmakers and on this course we're going to explore some techniques and ideas that will help you make better short films, as well as feel more confident in your own abilities and your creative voice.

Steven Spielberg broke into the ranks of directing for Universal by creating the short film 'Amblin', the makers of 'Saw' used a short proof of concept film to show their vision to studios to persuade them to back and finance the feature film version and, with film distribution and production now rapidly evolving, there is plenty of opportunity for you to join them.

The reality though is far more than words and far harder than film schools or articles online can make it seem to be.

My name is Adam Spinks and I'm a filmmaker, who splits my time between working on my own independent projects and working on larger scale feature films and high end television productions. I started out on my journey just over 10 years ago, having left University for the second time with a Master Of Arts degree in Screenwriting, and the road to this point has been paved with difficulties I couldn't have foreseen or been at all ready for from my training. There have been a great number of times when I have considered walking away from film, some of these are very recent. A lecturer once said, in probably the most helpful piece of information I ever got from either of my film school experiences that:

'The road to success is paved with bodies... most of them are suicides'

It took me years to fully understand the message in this quote, both the literal and quite depressing meaning but also the metaphorical meaning of it. So many start and give it up because it doesn't happen the way it's meant to, or at all for them but if you can find a way to continue, to endure and to adapt to challenges then perhaps you can outlast those who fall away on the road, who turn back or turn away... and a large part of the resolve to do that comes from our own self-belief.

This self-belief is something that will waver from time to time, and certainly there's a whole industry of gurus out there offering to strip you of your own self belief and sell you the next book of magic solutions with which to catapult yourself to success... In fact, there's so much intricate and, at times frustrating, details that make up the early years of becoming a filmmaker or even working in the industry and that has really been my motivating force for designing this course.

It's so easy to get caught out by any number of the hidden costs that can be associated with film production, whether those are financial costs or costs in goodwill or costs in terms of time. It's also so easy to get caught up in the cycle of training courses, of reading the next guru book and of over analysing your own output that you can get lost in all of the noise. I know this because I have been caught out by them myself, I have had the experience of grappling with these issues and having them nearly derail or destroy an entire production or project. It's also worth saying that making any kind of film, of any length, is an extraordinarily difficult task that combines so many skills and disciplines, and to make a good film is even harder! Now imagine making a film with all of that noise, doubt and frustration built up inside you. The only thing bigger than the chip on your shoulder will be the problems your film faces throughout production due to it.

The truth of it is that you're going to have to make a whole heap of films before you make one that you can objectively watch and be somewhat happy with! Analysis can come later, the power you have lays in learning and 'doing', not reading and thinking. Quentin Tarantino famously said that he did not go to film school, but that he went to 'films'... the single most important and empowering thing you can do for yourself on your journey to becoming a professional filmmaker is to actually make films.

I want to demystify the entire process of short filmmaking in the hope that it might help find a few more voices and make a few more of you heard with your creativity and vision.

Together we'll explore the creation of a project from day 1, all the way through to the distribution and film festival side of the process. We'll cover why pre-production is the most important part of the entire process, why WHO you bring on board your film is absolutely critical to the success of your project and how you can maximise the audience of your film once it is finished and ready... plus so much more.

So let's get going!