Why Should Filmmakers Invest Time In Short Films? by R.L. Scott

Film Courage: Why invest all that time in short films? Did you realize that you were going to work your way up to a feature film eventually?

R.L. Scott, Filmmaker: Oh yes. Feature films was always the goal from the beginning. But I’ve always had a very realistic approach to the industry. I didn’t expect to make TRANSFORMERS like my first week out, you know what I mean?

I always felt like it was the craft it was really important to study it, to understand it, to be a student of film, to take my time and sort of get as technically skilled as I could through studying, through courses or through whatever it is, not be so much in a rush to just sort of throw things out there but really have a solid foundation and a great understanding of all the different aspects of filmmaking.

Most of it is to really go through the process because you learned so much going through the process. It’s one thing to have all of these ideas but until you really go through it and come out the other side, you really don’t understand it fully. You don’t know what it takes to go from script-to-screen and all those little things in-between. And so I wanted to start from a place that I would be comfortable, to start small. Not be in a rush to branch out and make things bigger.

So yes, it was always in the cards to make features but I wanted to be comfortable before I jumped in. And then ultimately my first feature film, I produced it myself. I didn’t ask for any funding at all because I felt like before I could expect someone to invest in me, I needed to show that I invested in myself. And I needed to show the value of my work because that’s a big thing, asking someone…asking them to take their hard-earned money and sort of invest in you and just looking at it from a realistic standpoint the question would be like “Why? Why invest in you? Can you even make this film? This thing you are asking me to give you money for, can you even do it?” You have to be able to show that you are able of producing this thing that you are asking people to pay you to make. So I wanted to have a tract record of work and I wanted a body of work that they could see. Basically I wanted to take all of the “No’s” away.

Any reason they would have to say no, I wanted to take that away from them.

And so a lot of that has to do with having a tract record even though you haven’t had anything distributed yet or you haven’t had any big successes there yet to at least have a body of work that can show consistent growth and show the value of what you have to offer I thought was important.

Film Courage: When you think back to being in Brazil and then being in South Carolina or somewhere in the South, how are you choosing which films you watched when you were younger? Who was influencing you, was it your Dad or your Mom?

R.L.: I think it came from martial arts and then it came from my love of storytelling. A lot of people think I only make action films but I make every range of film. I just happen to love action movies because of something I grew up watching. I think the martial arts was the biggest influence but then things that had nothing to do with action. I just liked really smart films, thinking man films, film that would make you think, maybe be a little unpredictable. Maybe the approach to telling a story is unique or sometimes it is just how you present the idea, sometimes it’s the way you go about telling the story visually, there are all of these different ways.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money you can still make something unique. You can still do something interesting and different. I think a lot of times people get too caught up on the budget and they start to limit themselves based on the budget. “I don’t have enough money to do this,” but maybe there is another way you can approach that problem. Or maybe there is another way to approach telling that story that could be unique that maybe doesn’t cost a lot. Maybe it’s in the way you shoot it. Maybe it’s in the way you light it. Maybe it’s in the way you edit it. Maybe it’s in the sound design or something like that. 

Anytime I create something, I never put a constraint on it based on the dollar amount. I try to not think about that. I try to think about that in terms of how can I approach this in an artistic way or a visually striking way or something like that.

Questions For The Viewers: What do you think of R.L.’s approach to filmmaking?

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