Monday, March 28, 2011

6 Tips to Win $30k in 6 Days


Hello filmmakers,

The title of this blog post might sound like a get-rich-quick scheme, thats because it is. As you know the Pepsi Films Tribeca competition is closing very soon, so we figured we would share some secrets on how to win this thing in 6 days. Yes that's right, 6 days. It sounds crazy but we've won some competitions back in the day in less than a week and the recent grand prize winners Lloyd Choi and Simon Yang pretty much wrote, shot, and edited the spot the day before it was due. So yes, it is possible to snatch that $10,000 cash prize and $20,000 production deal in less than a week. Here are 6 our tips on how we made it happen:

1. Identify your constraints: What do you have available to you? What can you gather together in less than a week? You have 6 days to get this done, a camera, friends who are willing to act, a piece of music that PepsiFilms is providing, your own stupendous filmmaking talent, and a week's supply of energy drinks. Work with what you have, there's no time to try to order that prop you've always in your film and wait for it to arrive in the mail.

2. Location: You might think writing the script is the next step, but we think finding the location is. The location can help determine the look of the piece and even the story. For example if I know of a massage parlor that I can film in, I might go ahead and make this movie in less than 24 hours:

Yes, that movie was written in a couple hours, shot in 3 hours, and edited very soon afterwards. So have some locations in mind!

3. Script: Now that you have all the things you know you can work with, a location, actors, and equipment, just come up with a great story that makes use of all of that. Sometimes it's much easier to write a story based on constraints than coming up with a great narrative from scratch.

4. Schedule: Now you have the script and everything you need, plan out your 6 days:
Day 1: Identify everything you have to work with, write this script, make this schedule
Day 2: Contact all your talent/crew and lock down a date, brief them about the shoot
Day 3: Tech scout your location, write your shotlist, make your storyboard
Day 4: Shoot it.
Day 5: Edit it.
Day 6: Submit it.
Day 7: Rest.

5. Preparation: We've mentioned this so many times in previous posts, preparation is key. Since you have so little time, you have very little margin for error, so make sure you review your script with the team, make sure everyone is on the same page (literally). Then you go ahead and make a detailed shotlist/storyboard and run through everything on location (a tech scout of sorts) to make sure you can plan for anything that might and will go wrong on your shoot day. You definitely won't regret this.

6. Shoot to Edit: A lot of directors like to get great coverage for their editors, shooting all the components of a good story so the editor can tell a great story. However, if you're tight on time you may not have the luxury of a) shooting a lot of footage and b) editing all of it. Coverage is fantastic to have but if you've planned well and you happen to be the editor (which is the case for a lot of us filmmakers), shoot exactly what you know you will need when you put this story together.

And that's it! You can thank us when you see us at Tribeca.

Good Luck!