Advice To Filmmakers Preparing To Make Their First Feature Film by Ben Medina

Film Courage: Say we bring you in to speak with a room of 20 students about to make their first feature films. They’ve already made a few short films. What are you telling them? What’s your advice?

Ben Medina, Director/Photographer/Writer: Have they written their scripts?

Film Courage: Let’s say half have written scripts, the other half has not.

Ben: Okay, I’ll answer half of your question first. And then I will answer the other half of the question.

For the half of the students that have not written them I would say:

*Write what you can shoot

*Shoot what you can cut

*Cut what you can finish

Because from my experience I started writing ideas and then scripts that were in the realm of possibility of making or producing so I didn’t waste time. My approach was to write material that I wanted to see and wanted to make. That is great if you’re writing scripts on spec but not if you are going to write a script to make a film, write what you can shoot.

“I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he said 70% of all feature films are not finished.”

If you shoot it then you’d better be able to cut it. Don’t try to shoot an action movie if you can’t cut an action movie because the last part will be true which is you won’t finish it.

The only reason I have a career is because I finished the film first and then I became more and more and more ambitious about finishing things along the way.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he said 70% of all features are not finished.

I think it’s very hard when you tell a film student or a fan of film that Hey man, your Kung Fu action movie is not going to happen right now. You should do a bank heist movie that ends in a diner and doesn’t show the heist or something like that.

It’s a matter of…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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