This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 170: Writer / Director Mark Hanley Talks About How He Produced His Recent Short Film For A Couple Hundred Dollars.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #170 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing writer/director, Mark Hanley. Mark recently wrote and directed a short film, which I thought was excellent. So, I invited him onto the Podcast to talk about exactly how he produced it on essentially no budget. He literally shot this on an iPad, and then used a whole host of iPad apps. to get it through post-production. And we talk about exactly what apps. he used to create the film. So, if you have been listening to this Podcast for a while and have been thinking about writing and producing a short film. Mark will really show us what’s possible for almost no money. So, stay tuned for that.
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So now, a quick few words on what I am working on. Once again, the main thing is, post-production on my crime, action, thriller, feature film, “The Pinch.” So, last week I was driving hard drives around town getting the footage to the various technical folks who will be working on this. And I still got a bit more of that to do at this week, and probably next week. My colorist, colored the first scene, which looks super cool. I’m excited to see things really start to come together really is all these sort of finishing touches, to really take the film to the next level. Really make it just that much better. So, it’s exciting as each one of these technical folks just add their little piece to it. I’d say, the way it’s looking. I’m hoping to get done in June, or maybe even as late as July. So, slowly but surely, things are moving along. So, not really a lot to report this week. But, that’s what I have been working on. I would say probably the next 2-3 months as these folks do their thing. There won’t be a ton from for me to do. And I can start to concentrate on some of the other things. I mentioned last week, I’m working on a horror, thriller script. So, I will have more time for that, and hopefully a little bit more time to do some stuff with
“Selling Your Screenplay” I’ve got a couple of big initiatives that I’m trying to launch through “Selling Your Screenplay.” So, hopefully, I’ll have some more time to work on those.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing Writer/Director, Mark Hanley. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Mark to, the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
Mark: No problem, thanks for having me, Ashley.
Ashley: So, let’s dig into your latest short film, “Dark Afternoon.” To start out, maybe you can give us a quick pitch or a log-line for the film.
Mark: I would pitch it as a film that is, essentially the sounds of fear. More so than hearing the fear. Where a 911 dispatcher receives calls from people who are experiencing something that is going on in their small town. And the 911 dispatcher has to listen to their calls and kind of interpret what’s going on. Before this sinister force makes its way to police station itself. And it’s kinda based on urban legends kind of motif.
Mark: That’s how it was formed.
Ashley: And that kinda leads me to my next question? Where did this idea come from? And take us backstory to the genesis, the very kernel of the idea and sort of how you started to think of this particular script. And maybe even talk a little bit about how that fed into you actually producing it.
Mark: About a year ago. I was watching a horror movie and there was a sequence in the movie where, somebody had captured something on radio within the film. That was some kind of evil demonic force. And that part of the movie, kind of stuck with me. As being the most effective way or part of the movie. And I began thinking that perhaps the audio part of cinema. Especially again, in the horror genre. There hasn’t been explored as much, as the visual obviously. And I started to kind of look up on the internet, and videos. The scariest types of sounds and phone calls and noises that have ever been captured. And I, and it really got my imagination going. And because I realized when you don’t see something, you can fill in what you think is there with your mind. And that it always made me a bit more scary than if I just watched the video that captured something that was supposed to supposedly scary. And I began to think of how could I take this idea, and form it into a movie. Where basically, you’re hearing the fear, more so than you’re seeing it. So, the idea of it, somebody who’s job it is to listen over a phone, or a communication device to what’s going on, in the outside world, kinda got me going. And then, I had done some research into some kind of urban legends of small towns that have had super natural types of incidences that have had occurred there. And I kind of put the two together, and thought it might make an interesting movie. If we saw things from the point of view of the dispatcher. And we heard things, from the point of view of the ones in the town. Without necessarily cutting away to their location. And we could only hear their fear.
And I thought maybe that would be a more interesting take on things, just showing the usual type of monsters and you know, villains that you are used to seeing in other horror films. So, from that I developed a 13 page script, and from that I developed an outline, that’s going to be part of a much longer feature length script, that’s about 85 pages.
Ashley: I see.
Mark: And that’s where the idea came from.
Ashley: And as you’re talking about this stuff. You know, hearing that fear, and that kind of stuff. In the back of your mind, did you know that you were going to produce this, as a short. Try and be a promotional piece for the feature film. Like, because all the stuff I’m hearing, is a lot of this stuff is budgetary, like you know, hearing it, but not actually seeing it. Makes it easier to shoot. Where those considerations or you just thought it was really just more for the scares, chills and the thrills.
Mark: It literally, was more of, I don’t want to call it a coincidence. But, the idea that I had, happen to just kind of emphasize the audio part. And I kinda stuck with that because I realized that if I was able to develop that, it would be something that I could produce on my own. If I were to pair it down to a short film. So, I thought that, because I’ve had other ideas for films that you know, the budget would have been much higher, even as a short film length. So, I kinda stuck with this knowing that, you know what? If I deviate from this central idea, that this could be something that I could turn into a short film. My original idea, ironically was, to kinda make a trailer. That was going to be like 3 minutes long, of a feature length film that I had not yet shot.
Mark: At some point in time, I thought, you know, I mine as well just shoot this short film version of this. And you, that is as much promotion for what a possibly feature length would look like, as just the trailer. So, I started to get things kinda organized and tried to figure out what I could do and what I couldn’t do. From there, that’s when the project really kind of came into formation.
Ashley: Yeah. So, tell me just a little bit about your production background? Before you just decided to produce this. Have you done a lot of video editing? Have you done, you know, produced video content before? What kinda stuff had you done before this?
Mark: I had graduated from the Academy of Art University in Tucson Arizona, in 2010. With the BSA and Fine Arts and emphasis on screenwriting, directing, and editing. And a lot of that was.
Ashley: I see.
Mark: Done over the internet. So, I had spent a lot of time at home on my computer, doing various projects, both for school, and for some people that I knew around here that needed a couple of music videos done. Somebody needed to make kind of a commercial.
And then I had produced a trailer for my own book. That I had compiled, some screenplays into. And I was kinda able to use traditional editing techniques, and animation, Apple Motion, and After Effects. To kind of try and separate my work a little bit from other people. And I think that’s kinda where I got more of my technical background. As far as being able to just put these projects together. Some of them are a little bit older, you know, that.
Ashley: Let’s talk about, I’m sorry,
Mark: No, I’m just saying, some of them, the projects I edited are, not quite as refine as the projects, mine is the newer one. I’ve learned quite a bit since then.
Ashley: Yeah. So, let’s just dig into “Dark Afternoon.” For a minute, in terms of just some of the tech, technical aspects of the film. What camera did you use to shoot the film on?
Mark: I literally used an AirPad, iPad 1.
Mark: Really the only camera I have. I don’t have an iPhone. I haven’t had a video camera for quite some time. And I found out that it actually shoots a pretty nice picture, HD. And I had bought a holding bracket that you could put the iPad in it and mount it to a regular old tripod.
Ashley: Hum, okay. And what did you use to edit it on?
Mark: There was, I used something called, “Pinnacle Pro” that’s now been turned into an elusion. And I, it was an app. That really, was as helpful as anything I’ve ever used on an iPad. Because, you just take you raw footage directly from your source material. And import it to the app. And you can make all of your edits, and your sound effects in this app. and trimmed everything down right to the frame.
Mark: And you can do everything on the fly, and it really was helpful.
Ashley: Everything was done on the iPad, you never like uploaded it to desktop computer?
Mark: The only thing I did on the desktop was at the very end, was to add some text to the film. Because the text at the end was not quite, it hadn’t been refine enough to do some of the fade-ins, and fade-outs that I needed to do. But, I would say, 95% of the actual editing was done on my iPad.
Ashley: Okay. And just tell me the name of that editing software again?
Mark: It was called, “Pinnacle Pro” it’s still on the apps. store. But, the people that developed that now, brought out a new app. called, “Luma Fusion.” And it kinda replaced “Pinnacle Pro.” It’s a much, much, more powerful app. editing tool. By far the most powerful one for any mobile device you can get.
Ashley: And what?
Mark: They just released it.
Ashley: And do you know, what that costs?
Mark: It was $20.00, they initially introduced it as a $20.00 app. for their first month. And then I think it was going to retail normally for $40.00.
Mark: So, it’s not cheap for an app. But, as far as that is, being software goes. It’s very affordable.
Ashley: Yeah. And what did your crew look like on this production.
Mark: I was literally myself, plus the crew and I had a friend of the family who was going to be the star of the show. And he realized a friend of his was going to journalism school. And was much more comfortable in front of the camera, and remembering lines. So, he brought his friend over one night and we literally shot the movie, the first time I met him. We hadn’t any rehearsal time. But, I had let them read the script. And pretty much I had built the set in my basement in the corner. So that half of the room was actually real. And half of the walls are just paneling that I had bought and put up. But, everything else in place, so that when he got there himself, like an actual room. And his friend would feed the lines of dialog of the callers on the phone, on set. Which would then be over dubbed by myself or whoever did the voice later. And that was pretty much it. Lighting in the movie was set-up in advanced. It was a pretty small room. Like I didn’t have a whole lot of room to move things around. There was a removeable wall that if I needed to shoot a reverse angle I could do that. But primarily was just myself filming, lighting, and then my friend doing the lines and then a friend of his doing the main acting.
Ashley: And one of the things I really liked about this short was? There was a lot of attention to detail. And you know, you see a lot of these short films. And they just feel like they’ve been rushed or you know, the film makers didn’t quite have enough time to really look into it. And you just mentioned the wood paneling. I mean, that’s a really good example. This takes place in the 70’s, and it looked like an urban, it looked like a room from the 70’s. You sort of had that wood paneling on one side, and brick on the other.
Ashley: Let’s start at the beginning of the film. The opening card, you had the title,
“Dark Afternoon.” And you have some sort of, you know, it’s very moody, right from the very start, with that opening card, to set the tone. Maybe you can talk just a little bit about that. What is sort of your idea for this tone, and why, specifically at that opening card, was that a font you found? Or did you just draw that? Are you artistic enough to draw that? Let’s start there, and we’ll kinda go through the different pieces of this. But, let’s talk about that opening card to start.
Mark: Okay. The logo, “The Dark Afternoon” logo was something I had drawn. In an app. called, “Pro-Create For the iPad.” I used the Apple Pencil to do the lettering. And then I placed it on just kind of a dark red background. And I knew this was going to be filmed through and app. for the iPad. Which was called, “8mm.” Which gives you different filter options. And I kind of tailored that first shot, to slowly sort of get people into the idea that they were almost watching a home movie. Not necessarily a found footage movie. But, something that looks like something that’s someone may have recorded something on 40 years ago, with their 8mm camera. And I wanted “The Dark Afternoon” title card to evoke that scratchy, grainy, slightly blurry film effect that you get from something like home movie. And also set a very dark tone for the film that was the calm. Because in some ways, that opening card was probably the most important shot in the movie. That if you can get the right atmosphere from that card, then you can go into the film without having to erratically change any kind of tone. So, I started that.
Mark: And then I went into the short text sequence.
Ashley: Yeah, let’s talk about that film. Because that was the next thing I was going to mention. It sounds like you used an app. called, “8mm.” And again, maybe you can talk about the work for, how does that work? With this, “Pinnacle Pro” this “Luma Fusion” you edited in there, and then, you export the video. And then somehow run it through another, once you’re done, you run it through this “8mm” app.
Mark: What happened was, I used an app. called, “Film IC Pro” Which gives your iPad control over it, exposure, and focus, and being able to keep the focus from shifting. And I would film the actual movie on that. On as high a quality as I could. And then I would import each one of those scenes into the 8mm. And then from the 8mm app. I would add export it back to
The Pinnacle Pro, which is now Luma Fusion. And then I would sort of edit it with the filter on it already. So, I would have a good sense of how the scenes worked together visually. I wanted to make sure that the app. was kind of holding together the visual motif of the film. And that every scene kind of blended in with every other one. And then once I had kind of locked down the basic edits of the film, with it that way. Then I could kind of trim off a little bit of excess that I didn’t need. I shot up some scenes around my town. Just as establishing shots kind of give you an idea of the type of town, small, midwestern town. And then it was something that looked credible, that’s something, that maybe you would find on something, on somebody’s home movies, if you were to delve into them, and come across it. Sort of like “Urban Legend” that I was going for.
Ashley: Yeah. And how did you even know about these apps. do you just? Do you do a lot of videos on your iPad? So, you are just always looking for new apps. to try out. How did you even come in contact with these things? And learn how to use them.
Mark: I had actually, one of the apps. I had on the iPad, which was “The Pinnacle Pro” and I had done some editing for a friend, who was working on a project of theirs. They were doing a commercial. And I realize just how convenient it is I suppose, is the word? And how much you can get or got on your iPad when you’re just on the couch, or sitting in bed. It’s amazing I actually probably got more done there than if I was at my desktop. From there I would go onto the app. store, and look up apps. based on the specific need, like the Film IC Pro. The one that you would use to capture the footage. So, I did research into which would be the best app. to capture footage, and that one always came up at the top. And I would look for the app. for adding a filter of some kind. And through those 3, I used that for the visual aspect of the film. And I did try and make sure that the ones that I chose. Where going to at least, powerful enough to be able to hold a film together.
Ashley: And let’s talk a little bit about the music. Again, I think it’s another great touch. It sounded like 1970’s Halloween, you know, or somebody’s very creepy movie. Where did you get this sort of creepy soundtrack that you had?
Mark: Very much, I grew-up in the 80’s and the John Carpenter films were pretty much, as far as like a horror sound goes. The touchstone for this film is not only was it set in the 70’s. My movie, so it worked with these films. But, these earlier ones like, “Assault on Precinct 13” and “Halloween” but also slightly more moodier movies that he had done, that maybe not as many people had. Like “The Fog” and those always kind of stuck with me because his music was pretty straight forward. And really isn’t musical as much as it is a sonic kind of feel that he gives to his movies. They’re not orchestral, they give it a kind of mechanical touch that makes the movie feel a little bit more less Hollywood like, in something that’s little bit more emotional resonate, that you just get to these tones of the music. So, I always kind of thought that when it came to this type of a film that, that sound, that basic kind of tonal sound of really deep bass, keyboard. That over laying, that multi-tracks can really kind of make a movie as effectively electronically as it is visually.
Ashley: And so, what are those logistics of actually creating that music, or downloading that music. How did you actually find that? Or are you a musician? And you were able to create it?
Mark: Well, I created the music was in “Garage Band”, or the iPad. Which was something that I had gotten the iPad, that was one of the 3 big apps. that “Hippo” had released on the iPad Pro. And I realized that you know quite honesty there is a lot of things that you can do with an iPad creatively speaking, that a lot of people are not aware of, or might not think of or think about. And I went on there, and I was able to find all kinds of different synthesizers, and sequencers that would fit perfectly. And then also, it allows you to multi-track, so that you can start your music on there. Which I think was probably the longest post production I did. The movie from an editing point of view, was done in maybe in two weeks. And then from a point of view of like sound production, or sound effects music. That probably took about a month, month and a half. So, that’s were pretty much the bulk of the post-production work went into.
Ashley: Now, are you a musician? Do you have some background in music that you were able to, you know, you’re telling me this is. You’re making it sound easy, but I’m not a musician so, I haven’t opened “Garage Band” But I don’t think I could create music like you were able to do.
Mark: I’m not a musician per say, I grew-up, my brother was in a band when he was much younger. This was 30 years ago, and I grew-up around music, and musicians. I never formally had taken any lessons, or anything of that nature. It’s more just kind of hearing something and then trying to get an idea of what I think it should sound like. And then finding the appropriate, like hardware or software that allows me to do that. I used to use the regular Yamaha keyboard, just to kind of experiment with sounds. And then I was able to then replace that with something more digital. But for me, it’s always been just kind of, I guess playing it by ear. I don’t really know a whole lot about music from a technical point of view. I think I just might know when I have achieved the right sound for the right scene to give it the right mood and atmosphere, that makes the scene work and be more effective.
Ashley: Yeah. Okay, so let’s talk about production design. Almost everything as you mentioned, takes place in this one room. You give a couple of establishing shots around the town. But, for the most part, it’s in this one room. And again, I was just really impressed with the sort of level of detail. I mentioned the back of the walls, and how they looked very 1970’s. But you also had an enormous amount of equipment. There’s kind of like a dashboard that the guy sits at. It looks like some sort of call center, you know, dashboard. There’s a clock at one point that looks 1970’s. You have an old telephone. Did you know you had these props, like did that ever enter your mind as you’re writing this? Yeah, I can produce this. Did you know you had that stuff? Or did you go out and find it at the Goodwill or something? How did you?
Mark: Literally, I did find some of it at the “Goodwill Store.” The telephone was the hardest of all to find. That was something that I had to go online and do a specific search for that. And the other items that I purchased were from a Goodwill and others were from a friend, who had a couple of older items that they’re parents had given them. So, I kinda had an idea I had written a list of the different types of like, technology of the era. And where I would have to go to find those.
Ashley: Okay. And what, go ahead.
Mark: Oh, I’m sorry, I was just going to say that for each individual item, I had to make sure that I, it was something that was feasible to buy. And yet also fit the movie, and the time period.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And so, what did you end up spending on this film, would you say, all total?
Mark: About $200.00
Ashley: And can you just, even just ball park, kind of loosely break that down. Where that $200.00 went?
Mark: I would say, about $120.00 was spent on just the paneling, the brick paneling for the room. All the brick walls in the movie are just a facade of paneling that I had to connect to my basement. A couple of blinds, that I had to buy, and some curtains. That was pretty much for that end of things. I would say about $120.00 for that. And then for the apps. I would probably say, I downloaded an app. called, “Twisted Way” Which allowed me to do some of the distortion for the telephone effect.
To kind of make it more of the mid-range sounds. So that it didn’t contain any highs or lows. And gives you that kind of over the phone sounds. And I would say, app. wise I spent about $50.00 and the other 20 dollars. Was actually spent on the desk itself, which was just a door that I had put an orange material over. And then I had created that
control board, that’s just made out of cardboard actually. So, I had done that. Then I had found various knobs, and speaker grill, that I was able to fix to the surface of it. I bought some trim at a local hardware store. To give it that kind of wood quality that some. And these are things that I had researched on the internet as well. To kind of get an idea of what types of control boards that they would have been using at that time. So, I spent probably about $50.00 on desk. Because that would be the focal point of the movie.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, what was your goal, in making this film? What were you trying to do?
Mark: I a lot of times, I might get an idea for a film. And if I write a short script of it, for even a feature length. At times I’m not sure? That I’ve communicated as much of what I want the movie to feel like. Because usually when movies you know, are written. They obviously are filtered through a director, producer, and everybody that makes them. So, the goal with this particular idea was. I wanted to create something that looks just the way I pictured it in my mind, when I first came up with the idea. Because it, the movie is as much as about the presentation of the idea, as the idea itself. So, I just wanted to make sure, that it doesn’t have a standard horror film quality to it. That it was something that would, it was something a little bit unique, and different. And I was kind of hoping that perhaps a short film could give somebody out there producer, more of an idea, of what this storyline would be if I were to just pitch the idea, or write it as a feature. They may picture it in their mind a little bit differently than what I had. So, I thought if I shot a short film of it. That perhaps I could communicate it better that way. And then, you know, see what happens.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, perfect. Have you started trying to market this a little? Entered this in film festivals at all? Anything like that?
Mark: Yeah, let’s see, I’ve started to do research I have a list of some up-coming film festivals. There’s a, quite a few of them that do deal with short horror films. And that’s a pretty big sub-genre when it comes to like short films. So, I’m going to be spending most of the spring and the summer submitting to these film festivals. And seeing what type of feedback that I might be able to get. And also simultaneously trying to finish the feature script that would kinda flesh everything out that’s in the movie. So, that’s the marketing that I’ve never been very good at marketing. I’ve never been real adept at this social media aspect of things. Mostly I just kinda make things. And sometimes I’m not always sure how to, you know, to get the word out.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. sure. So, how can people see. “Dark Afternoon.”
Mark: They can check it out at my website. It should be imbedded in on one of the web pages there. Which is – www.markhanley.net. And that will probably be something that would maybe accompany by another trailer that I might put out. As far as just the short version of the short film. So, that would be one out let.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. And I will grab that link market, yeah, I’ll put that in the show notes, so people can click over with it. So, Mark, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing this. You know, you gave a whole lot of great information. I keep telling people on this Podcast. Hey man, just get your iPhone, get your iPad, and go to work. And you’ve proven it possible. So, I really appreciate it.
Mark: Yeah, totally.
Ashley: Yeah, very well done, As I have said. There’s a lot of care and attention to detail in this short. So, you should be very proud of it.
Mark: I appreciate that, I really do. And I think of you. yourself as kind of an inspired, if someone wants to write me. It really is more up to the film maker to get things going and to use what resources you have available to you. Even if they don’t seem to be enough. That there is so much that can be done at today’s day and age, that was not possible ten years ago, to make your own film. Even if it’s just a short film. But, it really gives film makers an outlet to produce a movie that actually can speak to people in some ways. So, for that I’m very grateful.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Mark: Lots of great info. on your site about that.
Ashley: Thank you, thank you. No, perfect. Well Mark I really appreciate it.
Mark: Oh, thank you, I appreciate your help too.
Ashley: : I just want to mention two things I am doing at “Selling Your Screenplay” to help screenwriters find producers that are looking for new material.
First, I’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-line per newsletter, per month. I went and Emailed my large database of Industry contacts and asked them if they would like to receive this newsletter of monthly pitches. So far I have well over 350 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These producers are hungry for new material and are happy to read scripts from new writers. So, if you would like to participate in this pitch newsletter and get your script into the hands of lots of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
And secondly I’ve contacted one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites. So, I can syndicate their leads onto SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently I’ve been getting about ten to twelve high quality paid screenwriting leads per week. These are producers and production companies who are actively looking to buy material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you
sign-up for SYS Select you’ll get these leads Emailed to you directly several times per week. These leads run the gambit from production companies looking for a specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas. Producers are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series pilots, it’s a huge aray of different types of projects that these producers are looking for.
And these leads are exclusive to our partner and SYS Select members. To sign-up again, go to – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
I just want to take a quick minute and congratulate Peter Stephens. He used the SYS Select Email and Fax Blast Service, late last year. And he was able to option one of his scripts through that Blast Service. So, congratulations Peter, great job! Very well done!
I recently set-up a success stories page, for people who have had success various SYS Select Services. I added a little blurb about Peter’s success, and the option that he had. So, if you want to learn a little bit more about that? Just check out – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success, again, that’s – www.sellingyourscreeplay.com/success. Also, if you have had any success with any of the SYS Select Services, please let me know. Just drop me an Email. It’s inspiring to hear these success stories. So, I would love to share your story, either on the successes stories page. Or perhaps even in a Podcast interview. And I think Peter’s example is kind of a real. It’s a good example of how things go. A lot of times I don’t hear about the success stories. Even though I love to get them, and hear about them. In this case Peter came back to do another one, a blast through the service. And you know, he just never mentioned to me, that he had done this option deal a few months ago. So, again, if you’re out there listening to this, or you used any of the SYS Select Services. Please do if you’ve had success with them, please do just drop me an Email. And kinda just tell me what all happened. Because as I said, I love to hear those stories. And if it’s appropriate maybe we could get you on the Podcast, to come and tell me your story. And tell how things happened for you. And I know that will be inspiring for everybody who listens to this.
On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing, Writer/Director Ed Gass Donnelly. He recently directed a film called, “Lavender.” We dig into that film. And we also talk a bit about he broke into the business. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Mark. I talk about this practically every week. I’m a big proponent of getting out there and doing things on your own, not waiting around for permission from some producer or director, or actor. Just getting out there and doing stuff, making things happen for yourself. I think what Mark did, this is a fantastic example of his, exactly that. There is a couple of pieces to this. I genuinely believe that going out and doing short film. I do believe this is, a way of pushing your career forward. You’ll meet all sorts of people in the production process from you know, the actual producing. Whether it be actors or directors, or other producers. All the people that will work on the film, you get to meet them. Those people will know other people. So, it’s a cool great way to network. Just with the other film crew folks. Once you get into post production, you will potentially meet, other people. Other producers just, distributors. If you are doing maybe a feature film, or even a short film. Maybe there is a distributor who is looking for that. You will hopefully submit your short film to film festivals. Again, that’s another great way to network. I mean, it might just, with this short film, might just land in the hands of the right producer. And they might want to read some of your scripts, because they like the short film. Or they might want to hire you to write one of their projects. Again, I really think just doing stuff like this at any level is just a good way to get yourself out there and show people what you can do? I don’t think you should get too caught up on just on one short film. I think it’s definitely a series. And I think you need to continue to push forward. Hopefully you’re working from short film, maybe even up to a feature film. I wrote a post that on “Selling Your Screenplay.” I will link to it in the show notes. And so, literally it’s called, “How to Become A Screenwriter” I’ve talked about this post before on the Podcast. I think I was at about episode #75 of the Podcast.
And I went back and I just charted how new writers that had come on the Podcast to tell their story, and how they had broken into the industry. And a good number had started with short films. Most of them had done numerous short films. And so, I think that there is, some sort of just president or template to look at, if you are a screenwriter trying to break into the business. I think there are definitely a lot of writers who have broken in this way. And again, I’ll link to that article in the show notes. But, check that out. But the other piece to this, and I think it’s a piece that so many newer screenwriters fail to understand, is that doing a short film like this, is? I think it’s going to be the most creatively fulfilling projects you ever work on as a screenwriter. You know, you have to ask yourself, why you want to be a screenwriter? And I kind of feel like, if this idea of just doing a low budget short film. If it doesn’t appeal to you. I just, I don’t know, like, what exactly are you in this for? Like myself, I know, I like to do creative, interesting projects. And you can do that, anybody can do that, Mark just proved it to us. Anybody can get their iPad or their iPhone, a good number of apps. Yeah, there’s a few bucks. You’re going to have to spend to get download with this app. or download that app. But, for the most part I think people who are listening to this Podcast haven’t got the means to come up with $100.00 – $200.00 you probably have a separate cell phone. You need to get out there and you can kinda do this. It’s again, it’s gonna be one of the most creatively fulfilling things you do. The more money that’s involved in a project, the more people, if there is lots of money, it means there’s also lots of money. And so, the writer just becomes less and less important, and more and more opinions. And it becomes less and less one person’s vision. And the more money, the more people you can get involved. Go to IMDb and look me up, look at my credits. I can tell you after, with absolute certainty that you know, the more I’ve been paid for a script? The less enjoyment and the less creative fulfillment I gotten out of it. It’s a literally, inversely, related. So, the more money you’re going to make, the most likely, the less creativity. And the less enjoyment you will get out of that project. So, I think these types of low-budget short films, they all for the writer, the film maker. The real chance to be creative and do something. Just totally with their vision. You’re not worried about trying to make your money back. There’s really no constraints on you other than budget. That’s it, when you get up and start actually getting paid for this. And the budgets get bigger. Then you’ve got a whole bunch of other constraints. You know, market fit. You’ve got, you know, other producers on the project. You got you know, other people that are investing, everybody gets a say, and things can get a little bit diluted. And that’s the great thing about, “The Pinch.” I mean, not only have I not been paid for it, I’ve actually invested my own film money. So, at this point, I’m in the hole, with “The Pinch.” But, I also haven’t had anyone looking over my shoulder, to try and tell me what to do. And again, this doesn’t mean I don’t listen to other people’s opinions. I’ve been showing the film to people and getting notes. And it’s been a collaborative piece process. So, it isn’t just about being a megalomaniac you know, film making ala-tour. There’s still a lot of abrasion to it. But, at the end of the day. I’m the one who gets to make these creative define “Design the final decision.” The one who is putting the most money, and giving the most and work for it. Being very creative for film, and again, not only have I knocked out the pay on “The Pinch” I’ve also lost money. So I would really just look at these types of projects as that. As you know, hopefully you want to be a screenwriter. Because you want to work on creative, interesting projects. And this is a way of doing that, even if it goes nowhere. Even if it doesn’t make a career. You’re still doing hopefully what you love. And you’re still kinda getting out there and being all artists. And I really genuinely think that’s what it’s all about. And I think even if you succeed at the highest level of screenwriting. You know, you’re up there working with Spielberg on his next movie.
You know, I think you’ll still look back at the early days of your career. As being a dramatically different thing, more creatively, dramatically fulfilling, than what you would be working on. As I said, at the highest level of this. So, really keep this in mind I also again, I don’t look at it as doing one shortened. You should be doing many, many, shorts, and hopefully those shorts. Maybe they eventually may lead to a feature film. And then you know, again, off to the races. And potentially turn that into a business. Don’t know if there is a business market in shorts. But, again, I think they can be creative fulfilling. And I think the fact that you’re not going to make any money off of this short. In some ways that can be liberating because you don’t have to worry about anything, market constraints, or really much of anything other than what you really want to do? So, hopefully this interview was inspiring. I know I really enjoyed it. I will link to Mark’s website, where you can check out the short there. I would encourage you to do that. You know, it’s a very short so, it won’t take a lot of time. But, definitely check that out. And hopefully that will get your own creative juices flowing. You know, if you do a short film. Please do Email me, I love to look at these short films. I get Emails occasionally from people who have done short films. And I’m happy to look at them. So, just drop me an Email. And have me take a look.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.