This is a transcript of SYS 443 – Making It Big In Shorts With Kim Adelman.
Welcome to Episode 443 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger with sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Producer Kim Adelman. She’s written a book about producing short films and how they can help a young filmmakers career. If you listen to this podcast often, you’ll know that I’m a big proponent of short films, I think it’s a great way for writers to get some credits especially early in their careers. So, we have a great talk today on short films, what to look for, how to get them produced, how to write them, and what to do with them once you’ve written them, so stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast, so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mentioned in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast and then just look for episode number 443. If you want my free guide How to Sell a screenplay in five weeks, you can pick that up by going to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. Teach you how to write a professional logline and query letter, and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So, a quick few words about what I’m working on. I’m actually headed out of town tomorrow, although I’ll be back by the time this episode airs. So, it’s kind of a little bit trivial. But this episode and next week’s episode, I’m pre-recording a little early, just to get ahead of my vacation. I’m still plugging away on the NFT project I’ve been talking about that I’m doing for the Rideshare Killer should have an announcement on that pretty soon, I’m really digging into the screenplay contest and Film Festival now, spending some time on that, the festival is moving right along, I’ve got the location set, and I’ve had the location set for a while. And that was a big piece to get that all settled. We’re going to be screening films at a small Theatre in Hollywood called the Yard Theatre, October 7th to the 9th, please do come out if you’re in the Los Angeles area, we’ll be screening films and all genres, we’re even going to have a live in person table read of one of the top screenplays from the contest. And then myself and any of the other industry judges that will be at the table read will give the writer live notes. So that should be interesting for screenwriters. Even if it’s not your script, you’re welcome to come out and give notes as well and add to the conversation. But I think it would be interesting just to see how this format works. And you can kind of get a feel if you could do something yourself, you could get a bunch of actors, you can put a table read on. And this is a good format that I’ve used before with the writers’ group that I was involved in for many, many years. So, stay tuned for more details on that. But I think it should be a fun time for screenwriters. And just interesting to kind of see how a table read goes, if you’ve never seen one. I’ve started to really push the screenplays out to all our industry judges, you some of the scripts are starting to rise to the top, all of them get, as I mentioned, at least two reads. And then if they get a consider or recommend on one of the first two reads from one of the readers, then they also get a third read. So, most of the top scripts I have three reads on, so I’m starting to push those out to the industry judges. Hopefully the industry judges really liked the screenplay and want to option it and then produce it, we’re still waiting for our first check on the Rideshare Killer, but it should come in any day now. My earlier film, The Pinch has actually had two decent sales recently through our sales agent. We sold it to Taiwan and now also to the UK. I think it’s already available in Taiwan as this deal closed, I think in May. So, if there are any listeners in Taiwan, and you see it available, please do reach out to me, I’d love to know how this plays where it even shows up in Taiwan. And the UK deal is still closing, I’m still pushing some of the deliverables over to them. So that might be a month or two. But I know I have some listeners in the UK. So hopefully some folks here in the next month or two can find The Pinch in the UK as well. And I’ve mentioned this previously, both of the films I’ve done recently, The Rideshare Killer and The Pinch are available on Tubi. TV, which is completely free. You just have to watch advertisements, but definitely check out Tubi. TV. If you run out of things to watch on Netflix. It’s a pretty different set of movies that you can find there. So, it’s nice just as another option if you kind of get bored with Netflix, I use Roku so I just added the Tubi. TV app through Roku was pretty simple. But I’m sure just about any device that you use has an app, I mean, you could probably just watch it on your phone. I’m sure that your iPhone or whatever has an app you could watch it there but most of these smart TVs and most of these TV type devices, Apple TV and Roku I’m sure you can you can find the Tubi TV app or you can just go to their website on a computer, just Tubitv.com, I think is their URL, and you can just watch it that way straight in the computer, you don’t even have to create an account. They’re pretty casual about it all. But again, you do have to watch the advertisements as you’re watching the movie, but it’s super convenient and super easy to do. So, you know, obviously, I’m always trying to get people to check out my films and read reviews but really, even if you’re not interested in my films to be TV is just kind of a nice, free, additional, you know, entertainment options that you might want to look into. Anyways, those are some of the things that I have been working on. Now let’s get into the main segment, today I am interviewing Producer Kim Adelman, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Kim to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Kim: Oh, I’m excited to be here.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background? Where do you grow up? And how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Kim: Well, believe it or not, I’m one of the few people you’ll meet who actually grew up in Los Angeles, who also has no family whatsoever in the entertainment industry. So, my dad’s actually professor at UCLA. So, I fell into filmmaking, the world of film because there’s so many jobs, obviously here in the entertainment industry.
Ashley: Just curiosity, what is your dad teach at UCLA?
Ashley: Okay, so yeah, nothing in the film. It’s interesting you say that, that you’re one of the few people from LA in the entertainment business, because now that I’ve done the podcast for a while, there’s a good mix of people that are from LA, I would say, interestingly, but you’re right. Most of them come from a background where they had a family member in the entertainment industry, there’s usually some connections that kind of propels them a little bit. Anyway. So, let’s talk about that a little bit. So, then what did you do just to kind of start getting a career you went through high school college? Were you one of these students filming stuff as a young kid? What was sort of the beginnings of this for you?
Kim: No, I was somebody who obviously loved watching movies, and going to the movie theatre and watching TV and things like that. And then I went to UCLA, and I was a history major. But during my senior year, I interned and of course, there were internships available in the film industry. And so that’s where I got my first job. And I was very lucky that the first person I interned for got me my real first job. And I jumped a lot of steps and went straight into working at the studio. And I was an assistant to a vice president of production at 20 Century Fox. So that’s how I learned the entertainment industry. I thought, that’s how it worked. Like people would come in, pitch their ideas to my boss, my boss would pitch it up to her bosses. If they liked it, the studio would buy those scripts or option the script and start making developing it and ultimately, either make it or not make it but that’s the way I understood filmmaking when I first started out.
Ashley: Okay, so let’s jump on that right now. So, what changed? What is your sort of impression? Because I think in just broad strokes, that’s generally how people sort of think about it is that you know, you start at the lower levels, and if they like it, the Assistant likes it, she passes it to her boss, if the boss likes it, she passes it to her boss, and then just up the chain.
Kim: And can I also say how important systems are low junior level people. And the senior level people always tend to think that the junior level people have their fingers on the pulse of what, you know, the young people like, it’s true. So, they like to hear, you know, what are you interested in? What have you read? What do you think is good? So never, you know, think that the assistant or the junior level people are not respected or their opinions that people aren’t interested in their opinions and that sort. But you know, the other interesting thing about that job was, you know, I sat in the room outside where the meetings were, I chatted with everybody was so nervous to come in and pitch. And then they went in pitch, and then they left. And that’s what seriously, I thought that’s how movies got made. But it also teaches you like, what’s the difference between me sitting in this outer office and the people going in, like nothing? So, you know, a friend of mine who actually met at Fox was like, we can be producers. And literally, that’s the beautiful thing about being a producer, you literally can just say, we can be producers, and you can become a producer.
Ashley: You get to start putting stuff together and hopefully get something made at some point.
Kim: Yeah, exactly. But seriously by because we said we were producers, friends of mine from UCLA who did theatre, we’re like, well, we’re going to be doing some theatre, we need a producer, do you want to come produce our theatre. And since I hadn’t done in school, I was like, Sure, and that way our production company is making something. And you know, one of the big things I’m a huge believer in is you should always be doing something, right. If you’re a writer, you should always be writing, if you’re a director, you should always be shooting something. And if you’re a producer, do your best always be producing something. And theatre is wonderful for that, you know, Theatre in Los Angeles sucks. Nobody wants to come see it. But there’s always interesting people who want to do interesting stuff in theatre. And like shorts, it’s such a low bar of entry, you know, theatres out there that are very easy to rent. And the cost is so minimal compared to trying to make a feature film.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And so, we talked before we started the interview, we talked a little bit about short films in general, and I’m a big proponent here on the podcast. I’m always recommending it. And a lot of it is exactly what you’re saying. If you’re a writer, you spend a lot of time just sitting in your room by yourself. Sometimes it is important to get out there. So, let’s dig into that next step. How did you get interested in short films? And then ultimately, how did that land you on writing this book making it big in short?
Kim: Well, I’ll tell you two funny things, which is that normally people make a short film and then make a feature. But because my partner and I were trying to produce films, we act against somebody, a friend of ours was like, hey, our friend is going to produce her own film, do you want to produce it? And so, I wasn’t the person who gave the money for it. But I was the like, run around producer for it. So, the first thing I actually was involved with was a feature. And then I went back to play producing because the plays kept on happening. And somebody from the Play World said; Oh, we have this opportunity to make short films, we heard you recently made a feature for no money, we need to make shorts for no money. Would you be interested in making short films. And the beautiful thing about that was, because we were going to start making independent films, I had been going to Sundance. And so, I’d seen a bunch of short films at Sundance. So, I could say, these are the kinds of short films you should be making. So, it’s weird that I started with features and then when it shorts, but because I knew what I consider to make a good short film, and I’d already dealt with a bigger problem of feature a short just seems so easy for me to produce. So, I actually ended up producing for FXM movies for Fox 19 short films. And most people don’t produce so many short films, I would never recommend if you’re paying for them on your own to produce so many short films. But because I was paid to do it, and there was money to do these, I was very lucky to be able to make so many short films, and it took them out on the festival circuit with the directors, I was producing these I was not directing them or writing them. And as a result of that, I learned so much. And people come and say; Oh, we know so much about short films, you know, and people ask me questions about it. And the publishers from my book came to me and said, we hear you know a lot about short films, we want to make a short film book, do you want to write a short film?
Ashley: Huh? Okay,
Kim: So, I came to write short film book.
Ashley: Gotcha, gotcha. So, let’s just take a step back there. So why do a short film? What is your pitch to people, especially just from the angle of, you know, a screenwriter looking to break into the industry and they come to you and say, what should I do? And a short film comes up, maybe give your pitch? What can people expect? Why do we short film and what can people realistically expect out of doing this short film?
Kim: Well, here’s the thing. As I mentioned, I did a reverse I did a feature, then shorts, most people do a short, learn how to do filmmaking based on the short and then specifically spend the rest of the time trying to get a feature made. But a feature takes so long and so much money. And it’s hard to say; Okay, next weekend, we’re going to shoot a feature. I mean, there’s certain kinds of features you can tailor to be like, next weekend, we’re shooting a feature. But most features are like, it could be like an 18-day shoot. Whereas a short film, everybody watching this podcast, I guarantee you, if you have an iPhone, and an idea, and at least one friend, I can tell you on Saturday, you can go make a short film, and edit it on your phone and put it on YouTube. And you have made a film.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Kim: and it’s a miracle, it’s totally a miracle that we can do that.
Ashley: And so realistically, what can people expect to get out of these? I mean, the title of your book is “Making it big in shorts”. What does that actually mean, Making it big with shorts?
Kim: Well, I’ll tell you, that was the publishers title, but the idea…
Ashley: You’re very honest.
Kim: Sure, of course, why not. But you know, the concept is that you can use a short to propel yourself into a larger marketplace. And I am a big believer in shorts as calling cards. And there’s constant examples of people who have made it short not even thinking it could potentially be a feature, the short does very well. And people say, oh, there might be a feature in here. And people do use their card, their shorts that way. Also, people use their shorts to just announce themselves to the industry, show up in the festival circuit, meet other people. And you know, the other thing is just like writing, if you say you want to be a writer, you should be writing. If you say you want to be a filmmaker, you should be making films. And when you make a short, now you are a filmmaker. How easy is that?
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. One of the other things and you’re sort of getting to all of this, I found with myself getting out there and actually making movies, you make so many contacts, just going through with actors and with all the different positions and cinematographer and everything. And those people all know people in the industry. So, you know, it can really the more stuff you’re doing and writing is such a lonely profession. So, I think it’s doubly important for writers to get out there and do some networking. And this is really one of the easier ways to do it is to actually go and to do a short. Now, one of the things that I know and I faced this myself as someone who didn’t have a background in producing, where do you just get the competence to say; Okay, I’m going to go produce a short I’ve written this five-page script, you know, it takes place in my apartment, or my parents backyard or whatever, but where do you get that competence to actually go? What do you need, how much money what sort of camera what sort of equipment and just what do you need to do to get started?
Kim: Okay, well, two things, you know, don’t overthink it. You really can just jump in with your iPhone. And you can also make sense that you never show anybody just like doing a fresh draft of your script. You can just jump out and make something and if it sucks, then you’re like; Okay, I’ve learned a lot from this, I will make a thing next week. Okay, that sucks again, I won’t show anybody. Nobody says just because you shoot it, you have to share it with the world. Having said all that, I also teach at UCLA Extension. And UCLA Extension is adult education. And there’s nothing more empowering than just taking, you know, a 12-week class, that will be about like making a short film, or, frankly, find my book, read my book, that’ll encourage you. But also, you know, you can take a class very easily, meet people in that class who are also interested, because you know, filmmaking, it can be a one-man band situation, but it’s so much better if you have a core group of people you can work on. So, you know, if you take a class, you’ll meet other people who want to make films as well. I’m also a big believer in go to film festivals, even if you don’t have a film in the film festival, because you’ll meet other people who love films who want to be involved in films and are willing to kind of help you out in that way. But for a lot of people stumbling block really is like, well, I don’t know anybody who out, you know, how am I going to get a cinematographer? How am I going to get actors, and so it can be a little intimidating. The one other thing I want to say real quickly is that, you know, some people will shoot on something and then realize, you know what? This is not what I want to do. You know, I’d much prefer writing, I much prefer being in my room just typing where I can control everything, and everything is exactly the way I want it to be. So, not all writers should feel like you must go out and make a short film. It’s totally fine to just be a screenwriter. And that’s it.
Ashley: Gotcha, gotcha. So, let’s get into some of the just the nitty gritty of producing one of these things. I mean, I know you keep saying you really don’t need anything more than your iPhone, but you know, what is sort of like a baseline to produce something that you would recommend? I mean, should someone get a little bit of a better camera? Should someone pay for some of that, like you mentioned a cinematographer, would that be a position that you would recommend? Okay, if you have a few thousand dollars, where are you going to spend that few thousand dollars?
Kim: Well, I guess it’s also kind of what level of film you’re wanting to make, right? A lot of people think that they need to make this big, long, 20-minute film, student film type of thing, because that’s what they’ve seen, right? They’ve seen it at festivals, or they’ve seen it on TV, and assume that it’s like a little mini movie. And at that point, it is like a little mini movie, and you really do need to kind of get everything that you would need to do if you were doing a low budget feature, it’s just going to go much faster, because you’re only going to shoot it on like a week or something like that. And I had filmmaker friends who made a short film that way. And they ended up calling it the Apocalypse now short filmmaking just kept on going on and on and on and on, and their posts took forever. And so, you know, you can totally do it that way. And that makes sense. You know, you just approach it just as you would feature your, as always, your script is your blueprint, right? What do you need to make to turn those pages into something that you can film, and then you do have to start thinking about locations and props and costumes. And I always say, people, places and things, you know, the places and things are in your script, the people behind the scenes, it’s like, well, where are you going to find all those people, and you truly can just advertise, you know, like on Craigslist, or mandy.com. And fight, say, I need a cinematographer, we’re going to shoot in two weeks, you know, and look at people’s resumes and see what it is that but I think it’s a better thing, if you can meet people, you know, in person and see who they need. And truthfully, you meet one person, and they work all the time. And they meet, they’ll bring other people to your project, if they’re excited about it. And most people are because short films are so unique, and special, you know, so like, people who work in commercials all the time, they’re used to trying to make a car look gorgeous, in the middle of the desert, they’d much rather be doing a weird horror film in somebody’s basement. And they’re excited by that concept. So, you really can get people who want to help you. And you know, they kind of believe that you will have a vision for the future and you’re making you know, like you get to meet you now, before you become big Steven Spielberg, you’re going to work with you when you’re little Steven Spielberg. But in theory, you know, you’ll grow up to continue to be big, Steven Spielberg, and they’ll hire you to do all this other stuff. So, people like working on shorts, for many reasons.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So just again, just sort of random production tips. Give us a tip. And this is something that I struggle with on low budget stuff, you know, getting non-professional actors to perform. I mean, how do you find people? How do you cast people that don’t necessarily have acting experience in these roles for these shorts that you’re shooting on your iPhone?
Kim: Okay, well, so there’s a couple of things. Number one, you there’s no reason to not have professional actors, right, the Screen Actors Guild that has many contracts for short films or web work or things of that sort. And if you’re shooting in Los Angeles, it’s a town full of actors who normally are, you know, guard number two in a prison drama and would love to be the lead detective in your short film. So don’t think that you can’t get professional actors. And actors love to work more than anything. And also, they love to get you know, different things up for their reel so and they want to work with you. So, when you become Steven Spielberg will always hire them. So, you know, don’t think that you can’t get actors. However, I will say, if you are going to go for nonprofessionals, my biggest recommendation is you should think of like who do you know who has so much personality and would be great on camera, and then tailor short specifically for that person. So, it’s called Organic school filmmaking, what do you already have, rather than trying to reach out and find something. So, if you know somebody who’s just sucked likes personality galore, and would be great on camera and could do certain things, right? They couldn’t do a ton of stuff. But there’s certain things they’re great at, write something specifically for them, and film that. And then it’s really special and unique, right? It’s not just your standard horror film, or whatever. It’s this really special, weird one starring your friend.
Ashley: Gotcha. Now, I’m curious, you mentioned a couple of times, like doing a short film in an effort to try and get someone to recognize your feature film script and turn that in or doing a short film just as a calling card. I mean, certainly, that’s at a production level above just something you’re doing on an iPhone. I mean, I guess if you’re really talented, but what do you do? So, once you get this thing done, what do you do to promote it? Is it a matter of sending it to festivals? Do you just send it you put it on YouTube? And hope it goes viral? Do you send it directly an email, to producers, to directors, to agents to managers? What is your sort of strategy for marketing these shorts?
Kim: Well, I think it’s smart to realize what you really have, right? So that’s why it’s worthwhile going to festivals to see what kind of films played festivals, and you have to honestly assess, does the thing that I make feel like that. And, you know, there are some festivals that are just short film festivals, like the Palm Springs short film festival that shows like over 400 short films. So, there’s a whole variety of different kinds of things that are being shown. But you know, honestly, assess is my thing feel like something I just shot in my backyard. And it really is just, you know, a jackass kind of thing. And it should be on YouTube, and people are going to love watching somebody fall down and hit their face or whatever. And, you know, I always like to share the statistics for Sundance. Hold on, I’m just looking to actually find this statistic. Because I think people are kind of surprised how many short films are submitted to Sundance every year. So, this past year, which, of course, was still people making films during the pandemic, right. But the films that were submitted to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, 10,374 shorts were submitted.
Ashley: How many did they accept at the time?
Kim: Okay, good question. Thank you for asking that. 59 Shorts screened at the festival. Now, Sundance is not the B and L. But what I loved about that number is, it gives you an idea of how many people made a short film in that year and thought it was worthy of sending to Sundance. Now I can imagine I’ve never screened for Sundance, but I’ve screened for other things, that half of them are literally just somebody shooting in the backyard with their iPhone, it’s unwatchable. It’s not like a Sundance quality thing. So, you can cut that number, you know, and half right away. But you know, also watch stuff on YouTube and see what kind of people like also, of course, you know, is that something that you’re really is it just a crazy tick tock thing that you’re shooting, don’t you know, rule out social media and send things out that way? But it’s not the same world anymore, where you could just post something on YouTube, and it’ll catch on, and everybody’s like, well, I’ve never seen that before. So much stuff is being generated all the time, that I think it gets kind of depressing. And that’s why I personally am not producing right now. Because like, there’s just too much out there. But don’t let that stop you, you know, you will have the really interesting idea that the world has been waiting for. And the same way, you know, depressingly enough, there’s so many scripts that are written every year. But you know, in theory, you should do it because you have something you’re dying to say or make. And only you can do it. So, you should do it.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So just again, we just sort of some general questions for writers, for people that are getting ready to do a short. What do you think impresses Hollywood? Are there some quick tips you could give us for getting a lot of bang for your buck? Some things that will be impressive in a short film?
Kim: Well, I’ll tell you, it’s an in my book, I was very lucky to go to a Senate short filmmaking lab where they had an executive from Paramount, and they kind of put him on the spot and said, you know, what impresses you about a short when you see something, what makes you interested and he was, he’s like, I’m just going to get this off the top of my head. And I’m just quickly typing it down, because I’m, I’m dying to know what he’s going to say. And so, this is what he said. And this is, of course, a short that’s already been made, not a script, per se. But what really impresses him about a short is a very clear sensibility. And what I think that means is kind of like, you know, like Wes Anderson has a very clear sensibility. But somebody who’s like directing a show on television doesn’t necessarily have a strong sensibility as a director, you want a really strong voice in that way. He actually said production value did matter to him, which kind of is a knife in my heart, but a style that is in control, meaning it’s not all over the place, and this is a good again somebody wants to potentially hire you to do something else. It’s not somebody who’s like wanting to buy your short or whatever. He’s looking for talent in the short to see if you’re somebody who’d want to be in business with. Strong performances. He said, I can see work well with actors. And truthfully, I always tell people the two things that kill low-budget features and short films all the time, bad acting and bad sound. So, you were asking about actors, you know, and quite often, you know, you’ve never worked with an actor before directed as an actor, you know what you want them to sound like in the sound and say from your writing, but you might not have the skill to bring out from them what, you know, the quality of acting we’re all used to seeing and television and movies. So, you know, acting is really an important thing. Something a film that is not copying something else, you know, used to be the joke that there were millions of people making Quentin Tarantino short films, you know, I’m just another one of those. So, you don’t want to be copying something we’ve seen before richness of narrative, there’s for your writing for you, within a limited framework, being able to convey a complicated emotion. But that was super interesting, too. So, it’s not so much like; hey, we can run around and capture this, but you really, the viewer gets something out of seeing it. And then you really feel like there’s some true emotion in that project. And lastly, was stylistic pizazz, which is a phrase I love. But it also shows you like stylistic pizazz going to end up the list of things that they’re looking for.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So no, that’s a great list for sure. Let’s talk just quickly about the different types of short films out there and are there any particular types, I mean, whether it be genre, or even maybe styles, or whatever might be different about shorts, but are there different types of shorts that might be better suited for a beginner writer versus maybe a more experienced writer producer?
Kim: You know, as I mentioned, a lot of people think that they know what short films are, because they’ve seen, you know, these longer short films that look like basically many features, and they think; Oh, my God, I’m never going to be able to do something like that. And truthfully, most of those are made by people in film school who have the structure, right? You were saying, like, where do I get the camera? Where do I get the editing, who’s going to help me do all this, if you make it in film, school, it’s all there, right? They’re going to provide you with the camera, they’re going to provide you with fellow students who will shoot it, they will take an editing class will provide you with an editor, they’ll be a class that does post production sound, and you can do all of it in film school, if you’re doing it by yourself, it can quite be intimidating and take too much to do. So, I think there’s too many of those big long, 20-minute, you know, Oscar worthy kind of films, quite often with people on the program on the festival circuit are looking for something short, I mean, like less than 10 minutes, and something really kind of different. So, you know, there’s a couple of other genres that I always like to recommend to people to think about. And I’ve got another list. So, I’m looking down. One of them that is always kind of fun and easy to do is a parody or an homage, like, take something that already exists, and can you do a funny small version of it that works, and the nice thing about that is people coming to it are familiar with what you’re trying to parody. And so, you’re not starting from scratch, and it shows, you know, I can do humor and all that kind of stuff. So, if that’s your inclination, it’s something kind of fun to do for short and works well in short. You can always do an adaptation of something that already exists. You know, legally, you should get the rights for the thing that you’re adapting. But you know, I’ve known many people who have adapted like jokes, or urban myths, or things like that, that are not, you know, written stories, but just generic stories that are out there. So, you know, that adaptations are kind of nice, because you don’t have to start from the beginning. Mockumentary is another good genre that works very well for short films. And also, if you don’t have a lot of equipment, you know, you can think that’s when it’s great to shoot on the iPhone, because there’s a lot of talking heads. And you have to have the right sensibility for that. But if you want to do mockumentary, that’s really great. Doing a genre film, like doing a horror short film, there’s always markets for sure, for short films, quite a few people have done really amazing sci fi short films. So don’t think it always has to be like a coming-of-age story. There’s also, you know, film challenges, like the 48-hour film challenge. It’s kind of fun to do those kinds of contests, because you’re given parameters that you have to do. And you also building with teams and finishes, you know, in a very quick period of time. So, you know, if you don’t have a lot of structure around you, sometimes joining one of those 48 Hour Film Festivals are a good thing to do. The warning about that is those films often are not like festival kind of films, they’re made for certain categories, they screen in a certain way, but they’re not necessarily you know, they don’t have much life beyond the 48-hour film challenge thing. I’m a big fan of contests films, you’ll hear all the time that various people are running contests sometimes sponsored, you know, like, Nike is doing a sponsored thing, do something showing Nikes and you can win this or whatever. And those are kind of fun to do, because there’s no pressure on you, right? You know, you weren’t thinking my grand Opus is going to be a Nike film. It’s just something to make and see what happens and you know, does your creativity and sometimes you really make something kind of interesting. We talked about like, personality inspired films, if you know somebody that can be really great craft the story around them. And that I think is really special because again, that’s a personality that nobody else has access to. And then you’re not worried about acting or anything like that, you are working to their string. Also, a location inspired stories kind of great and I produced a lot of short films like that, like, choose a location, like a, I wouldn’t say a restaurant because with too many set in a restaurant, but for an example, in a restaurant, think of a story that can happen in a restaurant, shoot two days in the restaurant, and there’s your whole film. And then last two are a skill inspired to demo. So, let’s say for example, you’re a martial arts expert. Think of a story that involves martial arts and do it that way, or you’re a makeup artist, and you really want to show your makeup talent, you know, think of a story that could be that and demo your work as part of the short film. So, you’re making something narratively interesting, but actually kind of get to jobs, and your specific thing that you’re used to. And then last is the proof of concept, you know, like that you have this idea for something big, I’m going to make something small to show you what it could potentially be. And a lot of people do that.
Ashley: Yeah, so let’s talk just about differences in writing a feature versus writing a short, you’ve mentioned all the different types. I mean, obviously, the longer it gets, it starts to take on a lot of that three-act structure, but maybe you can talk about it a little bit, you know, and as someone I’m actually running a film festival in October this year, and I can tell you, I’ve had a number of short films submitted that are like one or two minutes. And as the person that’s programming the film festival, those are so easy to program. If it’s one or two minutes, it would have to be kind of offensive to not accept it. Like my it’s my first year with the festival. So, it’s not like I’m getting tons of submissions. But I think that you don’t necessarily need a beginning, middle and end when you’re talking about one minute. But you can still entertain someone, it could still be a several short, but maybe you can talk about that a little bit. What’s some of the differences in writing a feature versus short. And then just some tips and tricks for writing the various types of short films?
Kim: Well, I will say, you know, beginning, middle and end is important in shorts too and not your start might not necessarily start at the beginning. Sometimes it starts at the end and goes reverse or whatever. But you want to start strong and strong and make it as short as possible. Like you were saying like one or two minutes short is a great idea. And I’m a big believer in those two, but even a one shot short can be fat, you know, it’s like really be careful and cut as tight as you possibly can with short, there should be no wasted moments whatsoever in shorts. Oh, you know, the other thing that I didn’t mention different kinds of shorts is a dialogue free short. I’m a big believer in that too. A short that has no dialogue whatsoever, because you can do that. And I’d say a silent movie, just a short this time with no dialogue. Because it’s an interesting challenge. It’s something you really can only do with a short film. And also, it avoids bad acting, because quite often they see bad acting. So that’s always a good thing to do in that way. But yeah, I love a short-short. And I think if you can come up with something like that, and that’s sometimes we’re like a joke works perfectly in a short form and of that sort. And always tried to do a very strong opening. Because even like, feature, nobody’s going to watch it. If they hate the beginning. Even a short if the beginning is terrible people just like, oh, this is going to be painful. So, try to come up with a really good strong beginning for your film.
Ashley: Yeah, sound advice, for sure. So how can people find your book? Do you know where it’s going to be available or is it already available?
Kim: It is already available. It’s you know, not there’s bookstores that many places anymore, but if you can go to bookstore. You look for it. It’s obviously on Amazon as well, too. It’s nice and skinny. So, it doesn’t take much time to read it. It’s short.
Ashley: Perfect. Perfect. Yeah. So, making a big and shorts will link to the Amazon version, people can just click over and get it through Amazon. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing and just follow along with your career? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, any here comfortable sharing a roundup for the show notes?
Kim: Yeah, I have a Twitter. That’s Kim Adelman, you know, I don’t necessarily tweet that much. And I’ve just a website. It’s Kim Adelman, which is basically nothing but it contains my email address. And you can always want to reach me there and see what I’m doing that way.
Ashley: Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, Kim, thank you for coming on and talking with me today. Fascinating. I’m going to check out your book. And hopefully a lot of our users will and get something out of it as well. As I said, I’m a big proponent of short. So, I really hope people do listen to this and it inspires them to go make a short film, even if it is just with their iPhone.
Kim: I do too. Thank you. And thank you for supporting short films. And good luck with the programming and your festival. I hope you have great shorts.
Ashley: Yeah, thank you very much. So, we’ll talk to you later. Bye.
I just want to talk quickly about SYS select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays, along with a logline synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays they want to produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. There have been a number of success stories come out of the service. You can find out about all the SYS select successes by going to sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also, on SYS podcast episode 222. I talked with Steve Dearing, who was the first official success story to come out of the SYS select database, when you join SYS select you get access to the screenplay database, along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS select members. These services include the newsletter, this monthly newsletter goes out to a list of over 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also provide screenwriting leads, we have partnered with one of the premier paid screenwriting leads services so I can syndicate their leads to SYS select members, there are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently, we’ve been getting 5 to 10 high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the gamut. There are producers looking for a specific type of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. They’re looking for shorts, features, TV and web series pilots all types of projects. If you sign up for SYS select, you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also, you get access to the SYS select forum, where we will help you with your logline and query letter and answer any screenwriting related questions that you might have. We also have a number of screenwriting classes that are recorded and available in the SYS select forum. These are all the classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to those whenever you want once you join, the classes cover every part of writing your screenplay, from concept, to outlining, to the first act, second act, third act as well as other topics like writing short films, and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, please go to sellingyourscreenplayselect.com. Again, that is sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
On the next episode of the podcast, I’m going to be interviewing producer and director Rick Dugdale. He has been producing for years including films like An Ordinary Man starring Ben Kingsley. But he’s turned his talents to directing and he recently directed a feature film called Zero Contact starring Anthony Hopkins, both as a producer and a director. He’s got a lot of great advice for screenwriters. He spent a lot of his career working with writers and hiring writers and we talked through his recent film and how it all came together for him and where he found the screenplay for this particular project. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s the show. Thank you for listening.