Writing a short film script can be a great creative exercise for any screenwriter to challenge and refine their storytelling chops. But that writing process can be so much more informed and intentional if you understand the business of developing and producing short scripts into films. And who better to tell you all about film finance than Steven Demmler, a Managing Partner of Talon Entertainment Finance, which, by the way, will be offering $10K to one project from WeScreenplay’s Short Script Screenwriting Lab.
Check out our conversation with Steven below where he talks about everything from film equity and debt to financing LED Volumes for virtual production facilities. His insight might help you take your own short film script to the next level!
Investing in Film Equity is Risky, But…
When you invest in film equity, you’re basically offering money in exchange for partial ownership. According to Steven, this can be really risk because you’re not guaranteed a return on your investment. If the film doesn’t make any money, neither do you. That’s why when he makes these investments, he does so on projects he’s passionate about.
“I’m looking for the art that really speaks to me… You have to go into film equity thinking, ‘I’m probably not getting some or all of this [money] back. So, if I’m going to take that risk, I want to take it on a project that…speak to me.”
This should encourage you to take creative risks and write short film scripts that you care about. Tell the stories that resonate with you because chances are they’ll resonate with others, as well — and they might want to invest in your project because of it!
A Memorable Short Film Script is Thought-Provoking
Steven mentioned that short films allow writers and filmmakers to experiment, learn and grow. He likes to read scripts that feel like the writer has poured everything into them — something thought-provoking which makes him think about the script for days.
According to Demmler, the best short film scripts tend to be punchlines and jokes instead of character development or a three-act structure because of the medium. But he has read some that include those elements, and they tend to stand out. When it comes to shorts, he likes the ones that have a clear hook and are concise, hitting the right moments and wrapping up quickly.
Take Demmler’s advice and take a look at your short film script. Does it have a clear hook? Is it concise? Do you hit all the right moments before wrapping up the story quickly? If the answer to any of these questions is no, go back to the draft and see where you can improve the work. It could mean the difference between having a short screenplay and having a short film completed.
Read More: 5 Steps to Turning Your Short Film into a Feature
Writers Need To Understand the Business
You’ve all heard about “overnight” successes — filmmakers that seemed to come out of nowhere and hit it big with their first project, like Damien Chazelle with the short film version of Whiplash. But that’s just not how it works (or worked for Chazelle).
While sharing the story of how Chazelle got his start, Steven explained why it’s important for aspiring writers to understand how the business works:
“It wasn’t just — he made a short and, ‘Oh look,’ people wanted to give him money. I think an understanding of how things actually work — how you have to build relationships and the way you do that and the time it takes [is important].
In reality, it takes so much time and energy and networking and random work within the film industry to set yourself up with the right opportunities. It’s not just about writing a short film script and taking it out to producers and execs and managers. It’s also about taking the time to develop relationships and proving yourself in writing jobs that may not be all that glamorous.
Talon Entertainment Finance has partnered with WeScreenplay, and they will select one project from this year’s submissions to the Short Script Screenwriting Lab to receive a $10,000 short film grant! Talon Entertainment will also offer development mentorship and support to the selected project and writer.
Time to polish those short scripts!