7 things that automatically kill your film before it’s even made

automatic-film-failure
Making films isn’t just about getting a great shot, making a nice edit, or having top actors. What happens before a film is even made often makes a lasting impact on how it will turn out.

Below are 7 of those things which shouldn’t be overlooked, given that the film’s success will depend on all the elements being considered before a single frame is shot.

1. No marketing plan

A lot of films get made and sit on the shelf straight after the edit. This is quite typical of a student or low budget short film, but documentaries and features can also fail on this level.

The marketing plan is the last thing people are taught at film schools yet it’s the first thing that matters when people want to make a film actually sell and earn the crew a living. Why else should a film be made if an audience is not going to watch it except for the cast, crew and the odd intrigued grandmother?

2. No safety considerations (Winging it)

Some people think it’s ok to nearly kill their actress on set while making a low budget movie. We’ve all heard that story. We even started encouraging the industry to do something about it. A few weeks later the tragedy in Georgia amplified that need. Why make a film if the safety of the crew is a last resort? Is it logical to go to a warzone without a bulletproof vest or spend a day in the desert without water or provisions? The same goes for films. What happens on the set makes the film. What doesn’t happen before people get to the set, can destroy it.

3. No insurance

I’ve come across a few instances where people had their camera equipment worth thousands of dollars stolen from the set. For low budget filmmakers, that’s a disaster if they haven’t taken out insurance. Even if a film only has the budget to buy a wooden spoon, it still needs insurance for the equipment (unless it was carved out of wood too!)

4. Relying on good weather

If a film is supposed to be sunny, happy, full of light and a film producer decides to shoot scenes in the winter because it suits him, that’s not good for the movie. If genre and style are important, why are people giving up on the atmosphere? Small budgets make it difficult for crews to bring out lighting equipment to compensate for crap weather, but in the end, style tells story as well. Disney would struggle to market ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ if it was set in the North Sea during winter.

5. Really bad catering

What’s with the war rations? Student films as well as indie movies struggle to sort out their catering making crew lazy, tired, angry, and unloved. Feeding the crew is vital for good performance yet this is often the last thing a producer wants to pay for. It may sound like a secondary concern, but if the performance of the actors is lacking and the script is good, it won’t come across in the right way. This could impact the whole movie.

6. That one distributor contact who apparently will buy it

It’s great to have the interest of one distributor for a movie still to be completed but why put all the faith in this? What happens if they see the final film and think it sucks? Will they buy it then? If not who? What I’m trying to say is, if a film production is putting all its financial weight behind a project they think will sell to one customer, and it doesn’t work, that movie will likely never get seen. There needs to be a bigger strategy from the start.

7. Shooting on the streets with guns and no permissions

Students might get away with it, but a professional shoot with no permissions could face serious repercussions. After 911, police authorities around the world got much less enthusiastic about film shoots in open spaces. Waving guns and replica AK47s in the street might have been ok in 1998, but in 2014, it’s more likely to be treated as an act of terrorism.

There are of course many factors a film production company will have to consider before green-lighting a project, but these are some of those areas, particularly in low budget filmmaking, that tend to have a negative impact on the outcome. Check out some of our other film tutorials for an insight into preparing and shooting your films.

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