Best Book Of The Week: MAKING IT BIG IN SHORTS “… And How To Benefit From Having Made A Short”

Best Book Of The Week: MAKING IT BIG IN SHORTS “… And How To Benefit From Having Made A Short”
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An interview with the author of MAKING IT BIG IN SHORTS. For filmmakers.

I had the pleasure of talking directly with Author / Producer / Instructor Kim Adelman. (who is Kim Adelman? here is a quick video from her here:)

We talked about this book right here:

And after reading her inspiring and well-researched book, I was excited to ask her a few questions about the process:

This book is so much more than a few tips and tricks for short film making, this is incredibly comprehensive, what inspired you to write a full book on the subject?

“This is actually the third edition of MAKING IT BIG IN SHORTS.  The first version was written back in prehistoric times —  before YouTube existed!  Back then, realistic and practical information about short filmmaking was passed on verbally from experienced filmmaker to wannabe filmmaker.  That’s how I learned the ins and outs of making short films and launching them on the festival circuit. 
After I sent the 19 shorts I produced on the festival circuit, I was invited to speak on festival panels and at university workshops to spread the information I had learned. Additionally, it seemed like practically every week a friend knew someone who wanted to make a short film and needed advice.  I was spending way too much time downloading what I knew to these friends-of-friends.  So I started formalizing my “words of wisdom” into a course called Making and Marketing the Short Film, which I taught at UCLA Extension.  Ultimately, the next step was to write a book. Technology changes so fast that I’ve had to update that same book for a 2nd and then 3rd edition to keep up with the reality of filmmaking today.”  

Since this is the third edition, what were the biggest updates and why?

“The subheader for the 3rd edition is “Shorter, Faster, Cheaper.”  “Shorter” — well, that’s not new; the number one mistake most filmmakers continue to make is their films aren’t edited tightly. Almost every short film could be at least 2 minutes shorter. “Faster” and “cheaper” are the advantages today’s filmmaker has over previous generations. You have access to so many tools that make pre-production, production, post, and distribution easier, faster and cheaper than ever before.   
So it’s never been easier to make a short film. Just to give you an idea —  the number of shorts submitted for consideration for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival was an all-time record high of 10,374 submissions.  And those shorts were made during the pandemic year 2021! 
The downside: it’s harder than ever to make something happen with that short.  You can’t just put it up on YouTube and assume you’ll attract millions of eyeballs.  Or submit to a film festival and assume you’ll get in.  Note: Sundance only programed 59 shorts in competition in 2022. 
So a big focus of the 3rd edition is thinking about why you want to make a short and how to benefit from having made a short. For example, there are chapters entitled “Seven Secrets for Success,” “Launching Yourself and Your Film,” and “Parlaying Your Little Film into a Big Career.””

When you compiled this book, what was the hardest part of the process for you? and what was your favorite part??

“I mentioned that it says “Shorter, Faster, Cheaper” on the cover. That applies to the book itself. The third edition has less pages and is a faster read than the previous editions.  As a result, it’s less expensive as well. Frankly, a book for short filmmakers should be quick and to the point — and shouldn’t be expensive!  But it was hard to distill everything into only 10 chapters.  
My favorite part continues to be sharing the wisdom I’ve accumulated from my own experiences and from other filmmakers.”

What is the BEST piece of filmmaking advice you ever received (or gave)?

“Actually the penultimate chapter of MAKING IT BIG IN SHORTS is “Fifty Filmmaking Tips.”  I’d hate to pick just one.  
Instead I’ll share with you something from the foreword of the book.  
Even though the third edition of MAKING IT BIG IN SHORTS is shorter than previous versions, I kept the foreword by Mark Borchardt from the first edition. 
When I originally started compiling filmmakers’ advice for my book, one of the filmmakers I interviewed said I should talk to “the most famous short filmmaker in the world,” Mark Borchardt, whose experience making his short film COVEN was documented by the filmmaker Chris Smith in the feature documentary AMERICAN MOVIE (1999).  If you’ve never seen AMERICAN MOVIE, you can rent it on Amazon for $2.99 — money well spent!  
Anyway, here’s my favorite part from Mark’s foreword: 

“…when you make a short film, the world is yours. Any idea goes. You’re not regimented to any structure. When you make a feature film, you lose a certain amount of freedom. A feature has a sense of pace you must – you must! – be adherent to, and that can get sticky and complicated in the crafting of the story. Whereas a short, man, a short can ride on a singular idea without the fabric of multiple plot twists, subplots, and secondary characters. It can be a single, flaming, meteoric idea. That’s a short film, man. A meteor going through the sky.”” 

Learn more about Kim here:    

Kim Adelman is the author of Making It Big in Shorts. She produced 19 short films that won 30+ awards and played over 150 film festivals worldwide, including the Sundance Film Festival four years in a row. Ms. Adelman currently teaches Cinema Production 2 at Mount St. Mary’s University and Low Budget Filmmaking at UCLA Extension, where she was honored as Entertainment Studies Instructor of the Year in 2014 and won the Distinguished Instructor Award in 2016.


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