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HOW TO MAKE SHORT FILMS BY ACTOR & DIRECTOR SAI DEODHAR | FILMMAKING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

Are you an aspiring filmmaker? Looking for tips to shoot your first short film? Discover the script to screen process behind films with award winning short-film maker and television actor Sai Deodhar.

 

Popular Indian TV actor/producer and award winning short filmmaker, Sai Deodhar collaborated with LITKIDS for our masterclass series. In her masterclass, deconstructs the craft of film making in the stages of pre-production, production, post-production and offers hands-on tips for aspiring film makers. Sai addresses the hurdles faced by first time film makers and shares learnings from her own experiences.

 

About LITKIDS –

 

LITKIDS brings together a community of kids who are talented, offers content to develop their skills and creativity by learning from the best. It is an ultimate destination for kids to explore the world of literature, culture, art & music alongside celebrating their own creative expression through fun and challenging competitions.

 

In this article, you will read about short film making based on Sai’s professional experience. You can also watch her masterclass to know how to make your first film. Click on the link below.

PHASE 1 – SCRIPT

 

THE STORY – The easiest way to write a story is from what you’ve seen around in your family or you’ve heard of or it’s happened to you, something to do with that so taking that concept or taking that idea and then maybe constructing a story around it. That is the easiest way to write a story!

 

Keep in mind that wherever you are going to be placing in the story, it should be very accessible and not in a difficult location. It is not somewhere which is expensive because that means you will have to get too many permissions. So, keep that in mind when you write a story.

 

Once you write your story and you knowwhat is happening in the story, you write a screenplay.

 

SCREENPLAY – Screenplay is basically dividing your story into different scenes. For example, the first scene happens in the living room, second scene happens in the bedroom, third scene in the garden and forth scene in the kitchen.

 

DAILOGUES – Once your screenplay is written then you write the dialogues! Now there are few things which are particularly important when you write a script. You must do research. Whatever you are discussing, the world that you are creating the universe that you are showing, you should research about it.

 

Once you have the screenplay and your dialogues and everything ready, try and make a storyboard.

 

WHAT IS A STORYBOARD? – It is visually looking at how your story will look. Hence, you can create a storyboard based on your visualization. Once that is done once you have your storyboard and your story in hand, we come to the second stage of filmmaking – pre-production.

 

PHASE 2 – PRE-PRODUCTION

 

The second stage of filmmaking is pre-production which is as important as writing the script.

 

Locations & Light – The first thing when you start pre-production is scouting for locations! Finding out where you are going to be shooting the film and once you go to the location figuring out whether is it is possible to shoot there or not. There are a couple of things which need to be kept in mind when you see a location and when you decide a location, the first thing is the light. If you are a new filmmaker getting equipment is costly and placing lights or putting too many types of equipment becomes difficult.

 

Sound – See to it that at least the sound quality is so much that when you are recording the sound at least you get to hear a pilot track. Pilot track is what is being spoken at that point in time so that you at least get to hear that later once your film is made and you can hear what actors are talking. It is very important that the place that you’re shooting is not very noisy, unless your script requires a place which is very crowded, and which has a lot of noise in it.

 

Dubbing is basically once you have shot something, the dialogues are recreated in the studio, you say the dialogues again and they are synced over what the actors have said. This process is helpful when you can’t shoot in a surrounding where you can curtail the sound. The sound is a huge problem always, so it is advisable to dub your film later. Dubbing is easier rather than doing retakes and trying to get the right shot because of the sound.

Know more about dubbing from actor and voice over artist Manini De in her master class. Click here.

 

Schedule – Pre-production also includes answering questions like – How many days will be required to shoot the scenes? Where all will you be shooting on which all days? What scenes will you be shooting and when? So when you decide that this day I’ll be shooting here, from the screenplay, you find out all the number of scenes, which you will be shooting in a particular location and make a schedule accordingly.

 

In your pre-production, you should also know that if you have to spend five hours in a particular location, you have to finish these many scenes in those five hours because if you spend a lot of time, the schedule will suddenly go haywire! Instead of shooting five scenes in a day, you will end up shooting just half a scene. It has happened to a lot of filmmakers!

 

So be extremely vigilant about the time that you are spending while shooting your film.

 

Costumes – It is very important to have the costumes and everything ready before the shoot. Ideally, you should have a look test with your actors, get them into the costumes and click pictures and you see if this is the visual that you had in mind, this is exactly what they will look like and this is how they should be when you should be shooting.

 

Rehearsals – You should rehearse with your actors so that the actors know exactly what they are supposed to do when you are shooting. It is always better if you go on the location with your DOP(cameraman) and decide how you are going to take your shots with a shot division.

 

Shot division is where you plan your shots. When you have your scene, you need to divide it. For example, this would be a close-up, this would be a short shot, and this would be a long shot, so you know what exactly to do.

 

When you do a shot division, you know these are the 7 shots you need. Go ahead and do the blocking beforehand, so that when you go on the day of the shoot, you are not clueless as to where you want to place the camera or how you want actors to come or how you will be taking a shot!

 

Once you are done with the pre-production, it is all about going on the set and shooting.

 

PHASE 3 – PRODUCTION

 

When you go to the set, start early! Unless and until your shoot is only a night sequence. Even if it is a night sequence go to set in the evening. Be prepared, be sure about everything, and get everybody ready. So that when you roll your camera, you do not delay in a shooting and are already prepared.

 

It’s always better to take extra shots and take shots from different angles because usually what happens with new filmmakers is that even though you have done a shot division there are chances that you might drop the axes, there are chances that you might not be grammatically right. There might be technical mistakes that you do. This way, even if you have made a mistake, you have another shot from another angle which can be used in your film.

 

If the scenes are like in Sai’s movie which she spoke about where first is a scene with the living room the second scene is the bedroom and the third scene is in the garden and the fourth series again in the living room you do not have to shoot it chronologically, you have to shoot at your locations.

 

For example, if in the whole film Sai has three scenes which are in the living room, she’ll finish those three scenes first, then move to another location. That saves a lot of time.

After you are done with whatever it is that you want to shoot, it is very important to cross-check that you have taken all the shots. Then comes the post!

 

PHASE 4 – POST – PRODUCTION

 

The first step of your post-production is taking all the raw material or whatever you shot and transferring it on to your computer or putting it on to an editing machine and saving it.

 

Editing – This is one of the most crucial parts, because there are a lot of films which are actually not even shot well but have been edited properly, hence created wonders and a lot of films that have had a great story and are also shot well but are not edited in the right way, have been ruined. So editing is extremely crucial.

 

Sound – After editing comes the sound. Once you have shot, if you feel like you are okay with the sound, the noise is not too much, the ambient sound is not jarring and it’s not superseding the dialogues, you can go ahead. Always remember, the dialogues are very important! Even if the visual sometimes are little hazy, the audience is forgiving but, the audience does not forgive if the sound quality is bad.

 

So if you feel the sound is not good enough, Sai suggests you hire a dubbing studio which is not very expensive and dub your film or you can also do it on your laptop. Once dubbing is done then comes your background noise.

 

BG plays a key role in storytelling. It helps in taking the story forward, kind of underlining the emotions, nudging the audience to start feeling a certain way and looking at your film in a certain way.

 

Try and ensure that the background music does not overshadow the visuals. It must be in sync. When you make a film, the visuals should not dominate or the music shouldn’t dominate what the audience gets to see.

 

Once your background music is done then comes – foley.

Foley is creating sound effects. For example, creating the sound of the door opening, the sound of footsteps, etc. If you are shooting a thriller or you are doing a suspense film, these things are very important. Foley comes majorly into play when you are doing a suspense film, otherwise also if you want to have an ambient sound like birds chirping etc. you can enhance your movie using these effects.

 

Post that is done, then comes the mixing. Mixing is all about the sound levels. Balancing the background and the foley and putting it on to your film. Once your mixing is done your sound is ready!

 

Color Correction or DI – Color correction or DI is completely optional if you are doing a short film. A lot of new filmmakers do not go for that because it is an expensive process. When you are color correcting your film you can enhance the colors, the visuals can be enhanced, textures can be added, etc. All of this can be created when you are doing your DI or your color correction. This can obviously simultaneously happen when you are doing your sound as well.

 

So that is how you make a film! Once you make your first film, you embark on this beautiful journey of filmmaking which never ends.

 

Hope Sai’s tips help you make your first film. Click here to watch Sai’s candid LIVE chat with LITKIDS Influencer Ahaan Modi to know more about content creation.

 

Sai feels that there is a filmmaker in all of us and if someone really feels that they have it in them, and wish to tell a story to the world, one shouldn’t be scared. Just take a camera, write a script and make a film!

 

Follow these above points & get started on your filmmaking journey. Share your experience with us on litkidsindia@gmail.com. Tune in to LITKIDS YouTube channel for fun contests that can provide you with a platform to hone your skills.

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