Here’s how to make your short film if you work full time

Creating is hard work.

No one really likes to hear that, or acknowledge it as a fact. But it is crazy hard work, and you can’t just make it happen whenever you want.

Ideas have this way of developing slowly, so even if you desperately want to write a beautiful, timeless screenplay, you can’t force it.

So what does it take to create deeply and meaningfully – without trying to force it?

The luxury we all have and yet always seem not to have: time.

But it can often feel like we have no time left, especially when you’re working full-time and have a ton of commitments (I’ve been there too), so how do you find the time to make a short film?

Grab a cup of tea and get comfy because I’m breaking it down for you.

Be the boss of your calendar (not the other way round)

I’m a Google Calendar convert but whatever your fav method of keeping track of your day is, make sure you’re on top of it.

If you met me a couple of years ago you’d see me waking up early, trying to eat breakfast and work on my own projects, running to my 9-5, wasting hours in an office where I didn’t have a lot to do, and coming home to waste more time.

I’d spend the evenings thinking ‘what should I do tonight? I know I have to get in touch with that agent and create a pitch deck for that film but where should I start?’ And then the whole evening was almost gone and I’d just eat cereal and watch TV.

I could waste entire days sometimes before I got into Google Calendar and started taking control of my time.

Time blocking is a great way to break down your day so you can actually see what time you have to spare. Google cal does everything in blocks, but you can also get a great physical calendar that’ll let you do the same thing.

Mastering your calendar may seem pointless or scary depending on your mindset. Time blocking also doesn’t scream, “I’m an inspired creator”. But having that system in place is what is going to allow you to spend way more time being an inspired creative.

Schedule everything in (travel, food, time spent checking emails) and you’ll be surprised at what is left over.

Schedule and automate everything that you can

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Start making your films

Or just stick with the never-ending freelance jobs

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you’ll know that I tend to batch my content and schedule it so I can save myself a lot of time. Even if you’re not putting out blog content and not using social media for your work (though here is why you should) there will still be a lot of things you can batch and schedule.

Setting up an automatic reply for your email can also be useful if you’re ready to create. You don’t need notifications and distractions, so set up an automatic reply to say you check your email twice daily and you’ll get back to them soon.

Not only does this stop people from emailing you unnecessarily (I feel you if your inbox looks like that 😭) it means that you don’t feel chained to it. You don’t check it every half hour and spend time writing and rewriting replies.

Even if you’re not utilising social media to boost your work, scheduling it can be a great alternative. I’m going to share a little horror story with you about the mistake a lot of creators make (and then ask me to fix for them)…

They use social media semi-regularly. They get a little bit of traction on a few things, but don’t dedicate the time or effort to it that it needs.

Then they have an amazing idea, go into their creative cave and don’t post anything for two or three months. Then they make it, edit it, get it to a point where it doesn’t consume them (sound familiar?).

They’ll eventually return to social media and only post about their new project, trying to get people to watch it or donate to the crowdfunding campaign that’ll mean they can afford festival submissions. But their audience doesn’t respond.

Why? Because in order to get people to take an interest in your work, you have to consistently show up and engage.

So even if social media is not a big focus for you, start scheduling it anyway so you don’t fall into that trap.

Read more: how to stand out as a creator in the Instagram age

Make (your film) life as easy as possible for yourself

Now that you have your calendar all shiny and polished up (and probably even colour-coordinated) you know what time you have to dedicate to your film.

So when you’re getting your script together, try and make life easier where possible. If you know that realistically you only have one weekend to shoot, your script is going to have to reflect that.

You don’t have to limit your creativity, you just have to be practical.

Working with a crew you know well and have full confidence in is also a way of making things easier. There’s nothing worse than having serious time pressure on a shoot and a crew that aren’t doing their best.

Let your crew know that this is, in part, a passion project. That’s why you’ll likely only able to answer film-related emails or messages on your lunch break or after work. Chances are, every one of them will have been in the same position.

Talk about your project to anyone and everyone

Don’t be afraid of it. There are a million questions you have and a long to-do list to keep track of, but don’t let the feeling of ‘there’s so much to do’ get confused with ‘this is too much’ or ‘this is never going to work’. Because it absolutely will.

Talking to friends and family means they’ll know the pressure you’re currently under. Sometimes they’ll want to help, sometimes it’s enough that they don’t add any more pressure. You may even get additional funding if you end up chatting to someone who’s really interested in your project. Talking about your film on social media is also useful.

If you want to get into the nitty gritty then you can book a free strategy call with me here.


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