How to Make a Film Before you Turn 30
Making a movie by any age might seem like a lofty ambition, but two young filmmakers talked us through how they went about achieving their dream.
Bradford-born Scott Elliot and Sid Sadowskyj are about to release Scott and Sid, which surprisingly enough is their own life story. At the age of 15, they paired up, wrote down what they wanted to achieve before they turned 30, and then set about getting their targets. By the age of 24, Scott and Sid had become millionaire business-owners, but they still had one dream outstanding.
Scott spoke to us about how he and his friend got to live out their ultimate fantasy, and gave us tips on how anyone can do the same.
Dreamchaser: an individual with the courage to follow their heart and the belief to succeed in the path that they take.
“This is the mantra that myself and best-friend Sid Sadowskyj live by. It is the vision that has inspired us since the age of 15 and will continue to do so.” Scott says, straightaway laying the ground work for his ideology for pretty much everything.
“Filmmaking isn’t a straightforward or effortless process. It took us a long time, and was a tough slog. Get ready for rejection and learn to love it – it will only make you stronger. We were turned down by far more people than those who eventually said yes!
There’s so much advice that we have been offered over the years, some we took on board, some we didn’t. Making a film is a personal project for all involved. It effects people in different ways and every director, producer or writer out there has a different method in how they approach it.”
It’s a cycle of rejection that every aspiring creative can identify with. So what was the first thing Scott and Sid decided they had to do?
“First and foremost, set yourself a goal. Remember it takes time to make a film – it can take many years but don’t feel pressured to get it right in the first instance. It took us 18 months to raise £1.2 million and four years to cast, shoot and edit it. It was a long and mentally draining process but one that we have found very rewarding.
Once you start, don’t stop. It’s easy to scroll through Facebook, socialise and watch Netflix rather than write your script or call a potential investor – but don’t let the lure of an easy, everyday-life pull you into bad habits. Always check you are on the right path and never give in to temptation or procrastination.” Scott explains, before going on to point out the inevitable temptations that can easily distract all of us.
“Make sure you’re on the right course, one that inspires you to get out of bed in the morning and look forward to the future that lies ahead. Keep checking you’re on the journey you envisioned in your dreams, but be willing to adjust things when necessary and understand why.
Emotions played a significant role in my journey while creating Scott and Sid, it was such a personal project that had a lot riding on it and took up many years of my life. The hardest part of the ‘Dreamchasing’ process for me was the doubt and the dark thoughts that accompanied the creative process. The project took me from the high, dopamine hits where everything was great and then brought me crashing down to reality when investments fell through, or when part of the project was halted in some way or another.”
There are bound to be some dark days on any project. Filmmakers, no matter how experienced or successful, have often spoken about the doubts and anxieties that can grip them in the midst of making a movie. Scott offers up some advice on how to get through these troubling times.
“Distance yourself from the negativity that unfortunately occurs in everyday life. Greed, vanity and selfishness are prevalent in society at times and you must push yourself away from the temptation to accept them in yours. Surround yourself with the people who strive to be more than normal and those who remain polite and courteous no matter the great heights they may reach. If you surround yourself with smart, creative people then your project can only go from strength to strength.”
What about the more practical elements of filmmaking, and what does Scott recommend debut filmmakers do first?
“The most important advice to future filmmakers is to cast early. I was told to cast the film only weeks before principal photography but I casted a year earlier, taking only six months to find all of the cast. So many show reels were sent in and I sat and watched all of them. I went to casting sessions in London – which were terrifying. After starting the process (long queues of actors waiting for their 20 seconds in the spotlight to prove they were right for the part), I decided that this wasn’t the way I wanted to cast. It didn’t get the best performance out of the actors, so I decided to shake things up a bit. I wanted to make them feel as comfortable as possible, so I invited potential actors to a more comfortable setting – my flat! I found that it allowed them to be more relaxed and they gave a more rounded and sure performance as a result. The results were amazing and I’m glad we went about casting in the way we did. One of my biggest regrets is saying yes to one individual in a rash decision, who we ended up cutting from the film.”
The two filmmakers are from the north of England, and given the seemingly-irresistible draw of the more traditional media landscape in the south, why did they decide to stick close to their roots?
“Yorkshire and London played a central role in the film. We had determined early on that we wanted to remain true to our Yorkshire roots and we were living in York at the time so that made it easier to scout locations during the development process. By the time we hit pre-production, securing locations was a smoother process as we had done a lot of the hard work early on nurturing relationships and getting people on board with our ideas – we were fortunate to work with landlords, land owners and local councils who were accommodating and could see the value in what we were creating.
It was as simple as finding somewhere and meeting people or getting on the phone and sending an email. There is no magic formula. You just have to get out and find out who owns the rights to film in certain locations.”
“It probably seems cliché but the locations we used added so much production value to the film. Getting permission to film at places like York Minster, The York Walls and Piccadilly Circus was an unforgettable experience and every scene and location added a further dimension to our story.” Scott adds.
With his debut film about to be released in the UK, we wonder what final tips Scott has for others looking to follow in his footsteps.
“A big takeaway is to plan early and get out scouting as soon as possible. Finding the right locations is as important as finding the right lead actors!
Lastly, go with your gut. Listen to the little voice at the back of your head as it’s usually right! No one can tell you the correct way to live your life as a filmmaker. Whilst many will offer advice or opinion, if you remain true to yourself, you will be prouder as a result.”
On Release in UK cinemas on 6th March and then on DVD / Digital Download 12th March