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Are Short Films Worth It?


Updated August 18, 2021

I used to think short films were a waste of time. Feature-length IMDb credits was the ticket. But after writing and directing Rose and the Outlaw, I realized my view wasn’t quite inaccurate.

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The Importance of Short Films

Getting back in the director’s chair for Rose and the Outlaw was more rewarding than anticipated. My end game has always been to direct, but most of my filmmaking career had been spent in post production and writing spec-features.

As mentioned above, I thought feature length IMDb credits should be the only focus. But the decision in 2020 to write and direct a short film ‘Rebel Without a Crew’ style changed my mind completely. In fact, the sequel to Rose and the Outlaw is already scheduled for 2021!

Are Short Films Worth It?
On set shooting Rose and the Outlaw | Released 2020

You Learn By Doing

Writing and directing Rose and the Outlaw opened my eyes to the importance of actually doing the craft. Sure, I’ve spent thousands of hours working as an editor and a writer, and these are crucial skills. But you only become a director by… wait for it: directing.

Rebel Without a Crew

Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron and other successful filmmakers talk about the importance of being experienced in not just directing, but every aspect of making a movie. Why? Because it helps you communicate more effectively with crew. It also empowers you to make more creative decisions, and it avoids delaying your shoot if someone can’t make it. The sound mixer is sick? Well if you know how to run sound, you don’t have to delay.

The timeline for Rose and the Outlaw in Avid Media Composer
The timeline for Rose and the Outlaw in Avid Media Composer

Short films are ideal for teaching you how to do it all, because you in fact do have to do it all. Unless you actually have the budget to pay a bunch of people. On Rose and the Outlaw I was forced to run camera, sound, direct, edit, do sound design and color. All on top of acting in the film. And as difficult as that was, I’ll never have a production hiccup due to reliance on crew.

Building An Audience

The path of the indie filmmaker today is to build an audience. You can have talent, great scripts and still get nowhere because financiers and studios often want guarantees before they spend their money. A new filmmaker coming to them with an existing audience can go a long way.

Speaking of that, if you’d be so kind to follow my YouTube channel, I would seriously appreciate it!

Keep IMDb Fresh

IMDb is owned by Amazon, and it’s the de facto place to have credits in the film industry. When I worked as an editor on indie features, my IMDb profile stayed current. But when I switched to writing spec features, it looked as if I’d fallen off the map.

Directing IMDb qualifying short films helps keep me active on the industry’s largest resume database. It also allows people to rate my films, which helps overall marketing endeavors. If you’d like to rate Rose and the Outlaw on IMDb, that would be HUGE. Thank you!

Reckoning: My Next Film

The sequel to Rose and the Outlaw is titled RECKONING and scheduled to go into production November 2021.

The sequel will be longer (25 minutes), have more characters and be shot on “real” equipment. Reckoning is set in the 1800s in the town of Little Cataloochee, NC. This mountain town doesn’t exist anymore, but is now part of a national park. However, you can find fascinating history about Little Cataloochee online.

So are short films worth it? You bet. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, my recommendation is to get your feet wet now and learn the craft of story telling by writing and directing short films!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to be in on the behind-the-scenes action for Reckoning, sign up here.