Why I don’t do film competitions.

Here in my city, Tampa, Fl, there is the yearly competition in which you have to write, per-production, raise funds, audition, shoot, edit, and do post all in 30 days.   Sound fun right? Yes, if you are new to film or make films as a hobby. However, if you are serious about becoming a filmmaker and do it as a carer then this is  a complete waste of time. And here is why.

30 days to make a serious short film is just not enough time.  Will start with writing. You can bang out a script in a few days? It is done all the time, however you need to edit, rewrite and develop that script.  You need to take the time to develop the best script possible. You should also send it off to a script consultant and get their notes. I know many don’t but it is a good idea to do. This comes from people who do film making for a living.  That is a month you could have taken to develop that script.

Then comes funding raising. If you are fortunate enough to have the money sitting in the bank to shoot your film good for you. You are doing better than most.  It is true you could do a micro budget film, however it will show in the final product. Not to mention you can’t pay anyone who is working for  you.  Sure you could ask around for people to help out for free, and that seems to be a constant thing that happens in Tampa and something I will write about in the future, but are you going to get the best people who will do their best work? The best DP or editor, best lighting or sound? Just a question.  That 30 days could be used to raising capitol via Crowd funding and private investment.

Then comes pre-produciton.  Enough cannot be said about pre-producition. The more time you have to plan the better your odds are of making a successful film. Plan plan plan, is one of the biggest pieces of advice I get from successful filmmakers.  You need to take the time to think and plan out everything. That is a month that could be spent hashing out all the details.

Auditions. You should find the best actors you can find. You should take a thoughtful search for your talent. Sure you can go “hey you want to act in this thing I am doing?” and sure you might have some talented people come work for you. But don’t you think you would be better served if you took the time to look and hold auditions and find the best actors for those role.  Take the time to do rehearsals and table reads?

Post. Do you think you’ll have the best edit, color correction, sound and whatever visual effects and whatever else is needed in just a  week or two. Is it really the best cut you can have? Do you have time to test screen your film to get an audience feedback?

Lets be honest with ourselves, can we be doing something more productive with our time as filmmakers?  Do we want to be know as winners of local film competitions, or do we want to be know as filmmakers who are producing amazing content that is widely recognized.

Here is how I am spending this month: Producing a short film, developing a feature, assembling  a creative team, writing a business plan for my production, taking acting classes, working with another production company on a few of their projects, running PR and social media for the FMPTA and running a filmmakers speaking series.

Russell Hess said it best, “Lets have 48 hours career competition.” Let see where the people who are entering these contest are in 3 years.  I know where I want to be in 3 years and it is not wasting my time on silly little contests or projects.  There  was the NBC Film Festival that I wanted to enter and who’s deadline was 1 June.  By the time we got done with the 1st draft of the script we would have had 30 day to complete. I consulted with filmmakers with whom I respect and that are putting out amazing work. After their advoce I killed the production. I wouldn’t be able to produce the work to the standard that I have placed on myself.

I am sure I am going to hurt some peoples feeling and make a ton of new enemies. However I want to see Tampa Bay film grow, thrive and be taken seriously. That is why I wrote this. This why I go out of my way to help other people without asking for nothing in return. We have to live to a higher standard than what we have in the past.

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