I’ve starting working with my mentee Jules, and in doing so, the memories of making short films come flooding back. Shorts are so great and SO HARD! When you are directing a short, most often you are also writing, producing, and being your own cheerleader. It is mind boggling; juggling the stress of wearing a million hats, the desire to say so much vs the need to cut it down, and the always nagging question – how will I feed my crew??
Speaking of which, this may seem a random place to start but it’s critical. Whether you pay your crew or not, a well-fed crew is a happy crew. This is as true for a short film as a feature or a TV set. On a good day, you are asking your crew to work 12 hours. Most likely you’ll push them for more. A second hot meal, or a treat in the middle of the day go a long way. If I could give only one piece of advice, this would be it. The alternative is a crew that feels disrespected and is not on your side, and bad energy on set.
The 2nd bit of advice I have is hone your story down NOW. I love how ambitious you all are and the last thing I want to do is curb ambition, but this is not a feature. This needs to be a little polished gem. Lean and mean. Cut it down, make it as tight as possible. Desperately try to make cutting choices before production.
That’s it for now, Nicky
At NYU’s Graduate Film Program, Nicole Kassell’s work was recognized with an Outstanding Achievement Awards in directing, writing, editing, and producing. While at NYU, Kassell produced, and directed three short films; Jaime, which won the 1999 DGA Best Female Student Filmmaker Award; and The Green Hour, which was honored with the Warner Brothers Pictures Film Production Award and was selected for the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Kassell is best known as the writer/director of The Woodsman, based on the play by Steven Fechter and featuring Kevin Bacon. It has won numerous awards, and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004. More recently, she has directed two episodes of the television series, Cold Case.