Planner . Filmmaker . Edmontonian

What I Wish I’d Been Told in Film School (re-post from

What I Wish I’d Been Told in Film School

Our first guest blogger—Local film-maker and Assistant Director Adam Bentley—shares his thoughts on some lessons he wishes he learned in film school.

UPDATE #1: Adam also wants to let potential ADs know about this resource:

What I Wish I’d Been Told in Film School

Or 12 lessons I learned the hard way on how to make great short films

By Adam Bentley

12. Treat your cast and crew well and they will do the same to you

• Always have a variety of healthy food on set and have crew take breaks together

• Always give your cast and crew 12 hours between shooting days

• Always make shoots short enough that payment by working on their films seems like reasonable compensation


11. Treat your film like a small business (just in case you make a profit!)

• Always ensure all release forms, permits, and contracts have been signed before production begins

• Always use the cheapest option to achieve the best results

• Never let one person assume all the risk

• Always ensure financial and creative decisions are made by different people


10. The shortest, simplest scripts make the best short films

• Always make your script as short as possible

• Always keep your locations to as few as possible

• Always keep your film’s focus on as few characters and themes as possible


9. Become friends with actors and production crew

• Always know that every social interaction is a potential networking opportunity

• Always keep in touch with actors and crew between productions

• Always begin your cast, crew, and equipment search with your closest friends and colleagues


8. Not everyone who wants to work on your film should work on your film

• Always interview people rigourously before hiring them as cast or crew

• Always hire people you already trust

• It’s always easier to fire people in pre-production than to cheat their mistakes in post-production


7. Produce your film backwards

• Always decide on your final presentation method before deciding anything else

• Always hire your editor, composer, colourist, audio mixer, and promotional artist during pre-production

• Never begin production before every related aspect has been organized, funded, and decided


6. If you hear “it’ll be tight, but it’ll work”, run!

• Always keep a large contingency fund

• Always plan ahead to avoid costly mistakes

• Always allow for plenty of time to film each scene (and then more time!)


5. The film you want to make and the film you can make are the same film

• Always embrace the idea that working with less leads to better ideas

• Never get married to an idea, but also never give up too easily

• Never lose sight of the essential theme of your film


4. Not everyone wants to see your film; but there’s always someone –and they will love it

• Always target your films to specific audiences (and know them ahead of time)

• Always seek support from existing fans before looking for new fans

• Your parents are the only people who will always want to see your films


3. Your first, second, or even third film will never be your best film

• Always understand that filmmaking is a difficult, complex, and costly process that requires a great deal of stamina and experience

• Always understand that your film can only be as good as the experience you have and the only way to make better films is to get more experience

• Never believe that THIS film will be THE film that will make you a famous director/producer/actor


2. You are a professional artist; start acting like one

• Never spend your own money on a film, unless you believe you will make a profit

• Always find new ways to earn an income from your artistic talents

• If someone asks you what you do for a living, always tell them you are a professional artist


1. Learn to love all aspects of making films (or don’t make films at all)

• Always make production as least stressful as possible

• Always work with people who agree with the above statement

• Never believe that making films is more important than your friends and family

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This entry was posted on 2012: June 24 by in Film.
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