Top 7 things I learned making my first feature ‘I Am The Prize’ by Oliver Purches

Next Saturday I am hosting a special screening of my debut feature film ‘I Am The Prize’ along with in depth discussion on how I did it and how you can to.

So… Making a micro-budget comedy feature film in 21 days is nothing if not educational. Here are my top 7 learnings:

1. Lack of time reduces quality more than lack of money.
With enough time, alternative options for coverage can be explored. If you’re rushing to make the day it will always look pony.

2. It’s really useful to engage the help of specialists who can provide small support here and there.
We had acting consultants, dance consultants, dating coach consultants – each raised the overall quality of the piece.

3. Anything that can be delegated should be delegated
ie if you have no previous personal connection to the person / thing you need then there’s no reason not to.

4. Teamwork makes incredible things achievable.
The momentum of having even a small group of people traveling in the same direction can make implausible things happen – like finding an actor to play a part 45 minutes before we need to turn over.

5. Find collaborators who will pick you up when you are down.
Over the course of a low budget feature shoot, any core crew member will likely have a day where they become acopic / catatonic. The key is to have enough people to lift one another up so that on any given day the person having a low ebb can be held by the others and the production can roll forward smoothly

6. Don’t scrimp on hot food or nice tea/coffee.
Almost not worth mentioning – but not quite. I got lucky in that my mum offered to help with this – she would cook, dad brought the meals to set. And I budgeted so we had lots of herbal / non-dairy / cafetiere options for drinks throughout. And biscuits. Never forget biscuits…

7. Be adaptable aka expect the unexpected.
One of our actors got knocked unconscious traveling to set one day. So we had to carry on without him until we could get hold of him. He had broken fingers – but after a few days was keen to finish the shoot – so I rearranged the days with him in and we completed a few days later than planned.

Bonus tip: Bearing in mind number 7, no amount of learning about or reading about or hearing about filmmaking (or screenwriting for that matter) comes close to the reality of getting on with it.
Relevant experience is useful, but you’ll never be prepared in any official way – you just need to be ready-ish. 🙂

To find out more andf get a LOAD more insight into how to make YOUR first microbudget feature film, come along to our London screening this Saturday:

Oliver Purches
Director // I Am The Prize

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