1. STAY AWAY FROM THESPIANS!
Theatrical actors are trained to project and play scenes bigger for live audiences, which doesn’t translate to subtle film acting. A far superior resource for actors can be found through casting sites like BACKSTAGE where we nabbed 95% of our cast including our lead Kent Hatch, “Joe Brazil,” and LA CASTING where we landed our co-lead Burtis Cutler aka “Cowboy.”
2. AUDITION AT THEATERS.
Theaters might not be a great source for actors, but they’re a great places to hold auditions. We got lucky and one audition was donated by the The Garage Theatre in Long Beach and got a great deal on a second audition for $75 at The Long Beach Shakespeare Co.
Overall, theaters are a much more professional location than a school, church or restaurant.
3. MAKE NO PROMISES.
It seems obvious, but we jumped the gun with our first potential “Joe Brazil.” We insinuated an actor had the part, as he had “the look,” but after an audition, we quickly realizedour new friend wasn’t quite what we were looking for and feelings were hurt when we had to re-cast. Learn from our mistakes and make no promises early on.
4. REACH OUT TO YOUR RESOURCES.
Never be afraid to reach out to others for technical or creative help. People are more than willing to help the cause, share their expertise or even lend a hand.
Case in point: Darren’s brother Pat not only played the part of “The Inventor” with his dog Pookie, but he was crucial in helping setup gear and watch over our equipment while we were shooting our movie.
I, (Mike) reached out to my film school alma mater CSUN looking for a composer who had recorded Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” We lucked out and got a FREE recording from Dr. John Roscigno, the Director of Orchestral Studies at Cal. State Northridge. Talk about a come up! If you’re not familiar with ASCAP and Master recording rights; be prepared to pay thousands of dollars and lots of red tape if you plan on using a song from an established artist or record label.
In another example, we reached out to our friends Fatima and John, members of a bike club and have tons of bikes and parts. They kindly donated and built two custom bikes for Joe and Cowboy; two huge characters in our short film “Canners.”
5. KEEP YOU PITCHES CONCISE.
When reaching out to people, whether it’s for actors, composers or rental spaces– keep it short and sweet. Nobody reads these days—hell, you’re probably not reading this!
Case in point: We called an acting conservatory looking for actors. After corresponding for weeks, we finally get our “guy” on the phone. After a 5-minute call, his only concern: “So, when you going to rent out our auditorium and for how long?” People don’t read and they don’t listen either.
6. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
One great way to set your film apart from others— locations. Seek out unique, yet accessible locations. No one wants to watch the same old, tired“mumblecore” film of a couple arguing on a couch. Scout in person and ask around. Go out on different times of day to check out the weather, light, volume and atmosphere to insure you have a usable location that you can depend on.
Google Earth is your best friend—it’s free and never closes. The locations you find online might even inspire you to tell a story. Google Earth helped us discover 60% of our locations, all from our fingertips.
7. WRITE. RE-WRITE AND REVISE.
Are you sure you want to be a writer or filmmaker? Enjoy the agony and ecstasy of the process. Do your homework; research your topics and bring the goods.Are you really willing to work on a project for 1-2 years of your life, possibly for FREE?
The Nuevo Bros burned through multiple projects, concepts and re-writes in order to nail down a tight concept that we were able to execute on a microbudget. In total, we toiled for two years putting together “Canners” and it was well worth the wait.
8. CHOOSE YOUR PROJECTS WISELY.
If you don’t have an original, worthwhile project–don’t expect anyone to get onboard, especially for FREE! Don’t bother people if you don’t have a strong concept you truly believe in.
You only get one shot at a first impression, so If you’re pitching crap expect to be ignored. Be prepared to “strangle many of your babies.” Move on and push forward until you’re ready.
9. LEVERAGE YOUR CREATIVITY WITH TECHNOLOGY.
The ‘Nuevo Bros live over an hour away from each other (Moreno Valley and Long Beach) but we were able to write “Canners” with communicating via SKYPE.
We also used TEAMVIEWER, an invaluable tool that allowed us to share a computer screen and work together. With a copy of Final Draft we were able to get our script done remotely from the comfort of our homes.
10. AVOID UNION ACTORS ON A MICRO-BUDGET.
Unless you have a budget, don’t waste your time chasing Union actors, who require compensation, guild approval and insurance.
Unions will drop in on your production unannounced, so don’t even think about lying on your application.
In our case, on “Canners” a union actor would’ve cost us $3,500 to shoot a single, half-day, night exterior in front of a trash can—that wasn’t going to happen on a $2,000 total budget. Luckily; there are plenty of good, reliable actors that are close to reaching union status and have the chops. You can narrow your search to “non-union” actors on the aforementioned Backstage and LA Casting websites.
There you have it, 10 Useful Tips to get your own short filmmaking career off the ground. If you have any questions or comments for the Nuevo Bros, feel free to reach out us on facebook, Instagram, Youtube or twitter. You can stream our short film “Canners” for FREE at www.cannersmovie.com
Please consider supporting us on INDIEGOGO where you can earn some awesome, one-of-a-kind “Canners” perks.
“Canners” is a dark comedy/fantasy short film about greed, jealousy and aluminum cans that can be described as a “Twilight Zone” episode if directed by the Coen Brothers.