Hey everybody. My name is Allison Powell and I’m an actor and filmmaker.
I am going to walk you through the five steps to get your project from script-to-screen. And I’m mainly going to be talking about shorter projects (short films or web series). There’s a lot of information about how to get independent features made and while it’s essentially the same steps there are a lot more in depth and you have a lot more variables that you’re dealing with but there’s not a ton of information about how to make a short project or a small budget project.
“There’s a lot of people that’ll just say ‘go make your movie…get friends together, go shoot it on your iPhone,’ which is great and totally doable but sometimes it’s like I don’t know what to do?”
There’s a lot of people that’ll just say go make your movie like get friends together go shoot it on your iPhone which is great and totally doable but sometimes it’s like I don’t know what to do? What are the steps how do I make it happen and that’s certainly where I was coming from when I started making shorter projects. So I am going to explain to you everything that you need to know.
First step when you’re making a short project is to determine what your budget is. I always tell people your budget is the money that you have whether that’s the money that you have in your savings account. The money that you can put aside from your check every week or the money that you crowdfund and raise with the help of friends. It’s always gonna be the money that you have. Anything is possible on any budget. Some things are just easier with more money or easier to achieve with less money. Your budget is determined by what you want to do with the project at the end so think about that if you just want to make a project to learn how to get a project together. What it means to be on set, test out producing something, test out if you like directing, see if you want to get some better footage for your reel or dramatic footage for your reel.
I highly recommend spending less money. You are going to learn the same lessons if you spend two hundred and fifty dollars or if you spend twenty five hundred dollars and it’s way better to learn the lessons on the two hundred and fifty dollar project than on the twenty-five hundred dollar project.
Think about what you want to do with your end goal. If you want to submit it to festivals. If you want it to be sort of a proof of concept for a feature or pitching a pilot then you probably want to spend a little bit more money. You’re just going to get a slightly higher quality project. You’re going to be able to rent better equipment and locations and make it look really, really nice.
If you just want to make a project to learn how to do it you can spend 60 bucks. I made five projects for $60 to a hundred and fifty dollars and I learned almost everything I needed to know about producing doing those projects so it’s totally possible. When you’re thinking about your project think about the end goal and that’s going to determine what your budget is and again your budget is the money that you have. Anything’s possible for any amount. It just might take more work.
Your budget (when you’re putting it together) I put all my budgets together in Google Sheets just as a spreadsheet so basically an Excel document. That way you can also put in all of the formulas. So I can say it’s going be a two-day shoot, I’m paying my director two hundred dollars a day, so two hundred/two days and then I can put in a formula here to multiply those days or add the columns. Then I have a running tally going and it should look something kind of like like this:
If you’re only spending money for food you might not even need to put together a budget but it’s always a good practice to try to do it. One of the first bigger projects that I did I never made a formal budget and now when people ask me how much money I spent on it I don’t have an answer and it would have been great to know and a great way to track what I was spending and what I was spending it on. So even if it’s a tiny project go ahead and put together a little spreadsheet. Again you might as well learn on a smaller project you’re spending less money on something where you’re spending $8,000 and $10,000.
The second thing to do for your project is to hire crew. You only have to hire crew people one one person at a time. When I was first starting out I felt like I got overwhelmed because you need a sound person and a camera person and a lighting person and a make-up artist and do you need somebody to do costumes and who is going to handle props and what is production design…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
Allison’s motto is “Make it Happen.” Since moving to Los Angeles from North Carolina, Allison has been involved in projects as an actor, writer, director, producer, and resident tea drinker. Her short film “Black Widow: Origins” got rave reviews from Movie Pilot News and is toured the country with Geek Film Fest. Last February she completed her first feature, “Banging Lanie,” as producer/director/lead. She most recently worked on the romantic comedy “Fame-Ish” which was all filmed during a real anime convention. Allison is an avid runner and just completed her first 50 mile trail run.
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