One of my favorite concepts for no budget filmmaking is using the mini movie method in crafting the script. The reason is that instead of filming a feature film you can instead film 8 mini movies or AKA shorts. I think this gives a project more of a fighting chance. There are a lot of reasons why but I think it’s a lot easier to work with one short at a time. With a goal of 90 minutes that means each short can be just 12 minutes long.
The reason I love the idea of starting with one 12 minute short is that you can film it. Then you can evaluate the acting. Did you cast the right people in the right parts. You can play around with the edit. Look at what shots got missed or filmed improperly and do a reshoot when you film the next segment.
When you film one 12 minute short at a time AKA one segment at a time you can learn from your mistakes. You can work toward addressing any problems. Did the sound not come out right? Do you need to change one of the actors. Did the lighting screw up the colors? Was one of the locations tough to work in? Do you need an additional crew member?
The other thing is filming 6 pages a day for two days is very doable. Filming 6 pages a day for 20 days is much tougher. You are in fact taking advantage. It might be a 12 hour day to get all six pages in the can but that’s okay. The cast and crew won’t over react if they have to do this for two straight days. Trust me by the 5th or second week of 12 hour days people are at half mast. The efficiency drops exponentially after two 12 hour days.
The other key reason to use this concept is because you could break the story down into 8 different locations. Or you could break the story down into different cast members for each segment. If you can’t get an actor to return that’s okay because you filmed everything you needed with them in the first short. The reality is not being able to get an actor back is a problem because you always need reshoots. Ideally you could film one weekend. Spend the week in post and then the following weekend do reshoots, pickup shots, and audio looping.
The most important reason to use the mini movie method is because it’s a good way to write a great story. It gives you some parameters to follow to structure your script properly. At the end of the day it’s always about the story. You need a great story to have a worth while film that people will watch.
The Mini Movie Method Formula
The acronym is W.R.I.T.E.N.O.W. (this is my quick 10 word explanation. to better understand it I would read Chris Soth’s book. He also takes on mentors and has an online course)
W – world – first mini movie is in the ordinary world. We meet the characters and get to know them before the inciting incident takes place that sets the movie in motion.
R – reluctance – There is doubt to accept the situation that the inciting incident created.
I – initial attempts – The characters start initial attempts to solve the problems that they face. They test and try to figure out the best solutions.
T – try harder – after the initial attempts fail they try harder until we get to the midpoint of the story.
E – Eye Opener (The midpoint some new revelation takes place that changes everyones perspective after new things are revealed.) the main characters eyes are opened to this new revelation changing everything they thought they knew.
N – Nadir – the story reaches the lowest of the low. Nadir is dark in French
O – Overcome – the characters overcome the obstacles
W – Winning – the resolution