5 Tips To Filmmakers Making Their First Feature Film by THE MASON BROTHERS Writer/Director Keith Sutliff
Film Courage: Let’s suppose you attend AFM (American Film Market) this coming year or next and you’re sitting around with a friendly first-time filmmaker and you say “You know, I just want to give you 5 tips which you absolutely must know about making your first feature film.”
Keith Sutliff: First thing I would say, definitely have more of a producer’s job still. That you have the budgeting and the financing locked in. That you have all the money you need for the entire film from pre-production to principle photography, post production to distributing and prints & advertising (P&A). Everything. That it’s locked in.
And then to have a set schedule and time frame when you want to get this film out there and not lingering and taking 5 or 10 years but having a certain timeframe like “Hey, this is my goal. I want this done, complete, out to the world by this time frame.”
There is also preparation with your cinematographer and other people with the shot list with what you want, your vision and talking to your team prior and ‘This is what I think for these certain scenes. This is how they should look. This is what I want.’ Collaborating with them and also I think it’s really huge as a director have a good working relationship with the cast and the crew (but essentially the cast). You are working with these people on set and directing them, what you want them to do and your vision. It’s important to where you have a good friendship and working relationship because you’re going to spend a lot of time with these people on set and even (some of them) in post-production. You’re still communicating with some of them depending on the size of the film.
And then when it gets out to everybody, if you’re doing a theatrical release or premiere, everybody is going to come and support the film. So it’s good that you have a good working relationship and you continue to have that. So it’s important I think for any director.
Film Courage: That’s great. Excellent. Did anyone sit you down and say the same [points to you]? Or is this all stuff you learned?
Keith Sutliff: No. Not really. From experience. This is my opinion.
Film Courage: Great tips.
Keith Sutliff: Yeah…and definitely the working relationship. I really want to touch base on that because if you don’t get along with certain actors or people as the director, it’s not going to work. You’re not going to work. They are not going to respect you. They may not put in all their effort and time into the scenes and everything you want, so you have to have that respect from the cast and you have to respect them, too. So it’s a mutual respect. And the crew, everybody. It’s a collaboration overall, that’s what it is (and a business).
Film Courage: Sure. And it doesn’t mean that they are bad actors or bad people. Maybe they didn’t want to really do it [the film or take on the role] and if you do anything with someone who is half-hearted, it creates issues.
Keith Sutliff: Right. You want to work with people who are passionate and take direction well. But also they are suggesting things “What do you think about this?” And you open your mind to “Yeah, we can change that around. That’s cool.”
You open your mind to their suggestions and collaborating with them and having that continue on until the film is out in the public and continuing to work with these people over a long time (for a career).
Question for The Viewers: What is your biggest tip for a first time filmmaker?
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