How to Shoot Your First Short Film: Top 3 Tips

Are you aspiring to be a filmmaker but don’t know how or where to start? This article will give you the top 3 tips that you can use to shoot your first short film. 

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What Is a Short Film?

A film or movie is a sequence of moving pictures compiled with sounds to make a whole story. According to statistics, 30% of adults aged 44 and below watch movies every day, 27% of which are young adults. This shows that movie watching is a usual activity for entertainment and leisure.  

On the other hand, short films do not have more than 40 minutes of running time and are produced with a limited budget. Compared to full-length movies shown in theaters with huge funds for special effects, famous actors, and longer running time, how can you make your short film stand out? 

Here are the top 3 tips for shooting your first short film:

Tip Number 1: Know the Process

There are three primary processes of making a short film: planning, filming, and publishing.


It’s the stage where you need to make an effective plan for your movie. Here’s how:

  • Budget Efficiently – Your budget will depend on you, but remember, this is just your first film. It’s better to limit funds than go all out and lose a lot of money.
  • Focus on Your Content – Develop the film’s concept, script, and story writing. 
  • Prepare Your Storyboards – It looks like a comic with a series of drawings representing the scenes you will be filming. Having a storyboard is essential as it will help you, your cast, and your crew visualize everything.
  • Choose Your Actors and Crew – It will be hard to get a famous actor with a limited fund, but you can ask and bring your friends to act for you or be part of your crew.
  • Think About the Needed Materials and Equipment – Know what you’ll need so you don’t end up wasting time looking for them during filming. You’ll also decide whether to buy or rent your equipment at this stage.
  • Scout Your Shooting Location – Ensure that the site is suitable for filming in terms of lighting and sounds. You’ll also need to check if you’ll need any permit to shoot there. 


After planning and ensuring everything is complete, you can now start filming. 

  • Prepare for the first day of filming and arrive at the location early.
  • Call your cast and crew for a brief meeting and allocate time for your actors to rehearse their lines.
  • Strictly follow your schedule and shoot order as planned.
  • Always film scenes more than what you need to use as a backup.


This process is the most complex and most stressful. Here is how you make a final version and post your movie.

  • Review all the footage and audio of each scene. Reorganizing and making backup files is essential too.
  • Make your first edit using the video editing software you’re familiar with. Always check the visual, lighting, and sound effects or music you used.
  • If needed, make a second round of editing, do a final check and formatting.
  • Save, upload, and publish your first-ever short film.

Tip Number 2: Prepare Everything 

Here are the materials and devices you need to prepare:

  1. Good Script and Storyline – A video or motion picture cannot be called a movie without a storyline or script. It can be something that you create yourself, but you can also borrow or hire someone to write it for you.
  2. A Wonderful Crew – You can work independently, but it’s better to have supporters to help you with the work. Hiring a great and effective team will make your first filmmaking experience easy. It’s also good to learn how to collaborate with others more effectively.
  3. The Stars in Your Film – They are the people who will give life and portray the characters in your movie. They will be the ones who will provide emotions and make the scenes more realistic.
  4. Good Quality Camera – Professional cameras are expensive but a good investment in filmmaking. If you are on a tight budget, you can use your phone to film.
  5. Light and Sound Equipment – Make sure that you have enough working equipment with extras if needed.
  6. A Good Video Editing Software – It gets complicated here, but you shouldn’t worry as you can always use what you have. For example, IOS users can use iMovie, and if you are using Windows, you can edit your videos using Windows Movie Maker. 

Tip Number 3: Cater to Your Viewers

A movie without viewers is not a successful movie. Do not forget to think about who your potential audience should be. They are just as important as the budget, running time, cast, and story in filmmaking. Always think of what or who will be your viewers or what type of movies they want to see. Documentaries, animation, fiction, musical, comedy, drama, and thrillers are just a few of the many movie genres you can choose from.

You can research or survey and ask people what type of movies they are into. Search what movie is trending or visit sites and see what films have the most significant number of views. If you plan to make money in uploading your movie on any video-sharing platform, you should be familiar with what type of users will see your short film. Knowing your target viewers and what they want to watch will make your short movie successful.


Many famous filmmakers started their careers by making short films, and even the first-ever movie published is a short film. It was a stepping stone to many aspiring filmmakers. You also don’t have to spend much money on equipment and other things. Besides, if your short film is successful, it could attract people willing to fund your following projects. 

Rakesh Babu
Rakesh Babu
Rakesh Babu is a business analyst with a focus on startups. With an MBA and years of experience, he's a go-to source for insights on entrepreneurship. Beyond the business world, Rakesh is a chess aficionado and an amateur astronomer, always curious and seeking new patterns – whether in the stars or the stock market.


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