Movie Producing Made Simple: Make a Short Film in 30 Days

Step-By-Step Process that simplifies making a short movie. Get IMDB credit, film festival access, experience and more!
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Instructed by Leslie Lello Business / Media
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  • Lectures 129
  • Length 6 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 10/2014 English

Course Description

*** Last update: May 2016 ***

This course has BRAND NEW, UPDATED material as recent as May 2016!

Anyone can make a movie with modern technology, but most people get stuck in the process because it can be very complicated and overwhelming. There is a lot of work to creating a high-quality short movie and lack of knowledge about the process can make that work insurmountable. This course aims to overcome that challenge by providing mentorship and a clear 10-Step process to get you from beginning (desire) to end (finished movie).

Produce Your First Movie With Ease Using Fun Yet Methodical Step-by-Step Process

  • Before Pre-Production-Getting Mentally Ready and Finding Your Script
  • Pulling in All Elements During Your Pre-Production Process (Including things that lots of first-time producers overlook)
  • Being On-Set, Making the Movie, Post-Production Video Editing, and Marketing

Self-Empowerment in the Entertainment Industry Starts with Making Your Own Movies

This course puts YOU in control of what type of productions you give your time and energy. This course is geared toward anyone who has ever wanted to make a movie and is especially important to those that want to work in the entertainment industry and need a reel to do so (ESPECIALLY ACTORS).

Writers, Director, Cinematographers and Actors all need to show their abilities through a reel in order to get jobs, but often they need to get jobs before they can create a reel.


This course will not only teach you to produce movies, it will give you the opportunity to pick the material that will be perfect for your reel, open you to the world of film festivals (fun, supportive and great for networking), give you a prestigious PRODUCER title, get IMDB credit and make you better at your current craft by understanding a producer's point of view, typically the person that does the hiring on productions.

How long have you been waiting for your movie career to happen? Now is time to make it happen!

All future updates to this course are free - you are "locked-in" at the current low price of $149 - you will never pay more if you enroll today at the introductory low price.

And there's a 30 day absolutely no questions asked full money back guarantee - my personal promise of your happiness and satisfaction! You really cannot lose!

What are the requirements?

  • Most people will need at least a couple hundred dollars to produce a movie. A movie budget of $1000 is recommended, but with innovation it can be done for a lot less.
  • You will need time to not only watch the course, but also do all of the pre-production, production and post-production steps. One month is recommended for the entire process, and it is advised that you clear as much as possible from your schedule aside from what is vital.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Find the Perfect Script for Your Movie
  • Create a Logical Pre-Production Schedule
  • Plan a Movie Budget That Allows for Flexibility and Efficiency During the Entire Filmmaking Process
  • Execute the Last-Minute Details that Many First-Time Producers Don't Know
  • Balance the Role of Producer and Actor on Set, and Embody the Role of Producer on Set
  • Cast the Right Actors, Find a Great Crew and and Pick the Best Shooting Locations for Your Needs
  • Keep Morale High On-Set so That Your Actors and Crew Are Happy AND Working Efficiently
  • Finish the Movie by Knowing Exactly What To Do During Post-Production
  • My personal guarantee of your success. Take the course for 30 full days, risk free - there's a full, no questions asked ever refund policy!

What is the target audience?

  • ANYONE who has ever wanted to make a movie
  • Those that want more credits on IMDB
  • Actors, directors, writers, cinematographers - Anyone who needs REEL to get more work
  • Beginners Welcome, ideally with an familiarity with movies and tv through watching them as an audience member

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome and (STEP 1) MINDSET
Welcome & Introduction
New Material!

In this lecture we talk about what it means to be a producer, and the skill you will acquire by using this course to produce your movie.


Recommended Materials: This video explains what is recommended you have with you while viewing this course and why you need it.

If you are just watching this course but don't yet have a producing project in mind, you simply need to pay attention and take notes.

If you have a project you want to produce, then we will talk about your production binder and how you will use it.

So to summarize:

Producing Later: Notebook for notes

Producing Now: Production Binders with properly labeled dividers

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PDF List of Recommended Material... specifically, how to label the dividers in your production binder.

If you are just watching this course but don't yet have a producing project in mind, you simply need to pay attention and take notes.

If you have a project you want to produce, then we will talk about your production binder and how you will use it.

So to summarize:

Producing Later: Notebook for notes

Producing Now: Production Binders with properly labeled dividers


In this video we will be talking about some of the people that this course would be good for (see course goals in Drive) and benefits of being a producer to non-producers, including actors, directors and writers, as well as for people who have never been on a movie set in their life.

In this course you will learn how to make a movie and by doing so, you will gain a number of benefits, including an IMDB credit, film festival access and credit, a producer credit next to your name, footage for your reel, a greater understanding of what it takes to put together all of the elements of a movie production, footage to show to agents and managers, and the opportunity to network with a lot of people in the entertainment industry that you might not have access to as an actor or non-producer.

You will also acquire some excellent management, project planning and multitasking skills.

Plus, producing movies is fun.

So why not take this short film making course and learn how to make your own movie, for fun or to bump your movie career to the next level?


I cannot advise a specific budget because each project is different and each person making the movie has a different tolerance for substituting creativity for money.

That being said, we talk a bit about buying scripts contracts, location permits, and releases for actors and locations.

I am not a lawyer and nothing in this course should be taken as legal advice.

In my work, I try to get things for free unless I have been provided a budget.

This requires me to think creatively on how to fulfill the needs of my movie.

So when we talk about getting crew, cast, locations, script, food, etc, I will be aiming for the lowest cost possible.

This doesn’t mean that you should do that, too. If you have the money to spend, spend it, but don’t waste it.

And keep a contingency fund. ¼ - ⅓ of your budget should be in the contingency fund, regardless of the actual budget size.

A contingency fund is defined by Wikipedia as “a fund for emergencies or unexpected outflows, mainly economic crises.”

You will be thankful when you are in the middle of shooting your movie and realize you need to buy or rent of piece of equipment at the last minute and have the money to do so because you have set that up in your budget beforehand..

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This PDF is a self assessment for you to download to see where you’re at before we get into the course, as we as where you are hoping this course takes you.

It is important to be clear on this because it will help you make decisions in line with your ultimate intentions and will also motivate you when the going gets tough.

This video gives you a rough idea of the 10 steps to this movie producing course and recommends being flexible but diligent and focused. The PDF Student Activities in this course are included to help you brainstorm options while producing and give you ideas on ways to get things for your movie that you might not have considered.

Yes, it is homework. But if you do it, it should make the producing process easier and will get you in the habit of asking open ended questions and thinking creatively when solving problems.

When you take an online filmmaking course like this one, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the details. Rather than get stuck in the process of filmmaking, I recommend that you watch the entire course once to get an understanding of the filmmaking process, and then start again with the first lecture and work your way through my ten step filmmaking process as you take action on the steps.

Also, do your best to do the steps in order, although Step 4 (casting), Step 5 (location), Step 6 (crew) and Step 7 (equipment) will probably overlap and that's ok.

Often you will find something you need for your film well before or after you are consciously working on that step, so try not to be too rigid. The steps are there to help you break down the work into manageable pieces as well as to give you a framework that reminds you of all the aspects of filmmaking that you need.

In the midst of producing, it can be easy to miss an element because you are sometimes juggling 50 little details about the movie. The steps are there to make sure you don’t miss anything in the midst of your ‘juggling’.


There are a few important aspects of filmmaking that are important to note about this online filmmaking course.

First of all, I have not gotten into the details and procedures of making a SAG-AFTRA movie. The instructions for doing so are on the SAG-AFTRA website and they do a great job of explaining it and it’s free, so there is no need for me to cover it again.

Second, this course assumes you already have your money for your short movie. There are a number of ways to raise money for a movie, from crowdfunding to self-funding and everything in between. I have always self funded my movies, except in one instance, or have produced for others that brought the money to the production.

Finally, it must be emphasized that nothing in this course is legal advice. Here is the official ‘legalese’ regarding that matter:



This document was created using a Contractology template available at

No advice

This video course contains general information about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.

Limitation of warranties

The legal information in this course is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Leslie Lello makes no representations or warranties in relation to the legal information on this website.

Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, Leslie Lello does not warrant that:

  • the legal information on this website will be constantly available, or available at all; or
  • the legal information on this website is complete, true, accurate, up-to-date, or non-misleading.

Professional assistance

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services provider.

If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider.

You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.


Nothing in this legal disclaimer will limit any of our liabilities in any way that is not permitted under applicable law, or exclude any of our liabilities that may not be excluded under applicable law.


This lecture is an overview of what we will be discussing in the section on Mindset, which is Step 1 of this producing course.

Future lectures will talk about what your intentions are for this course and for your future movie. Why do you want to make a movie? Just having this awareness will help you make decisions during the filmmaking process.

This section discusses how to “get it all done”. In other words, if you have given yourself a month to finish pre-production, there will most likely be aspects of your life that will pull you off course until you realize you have taken you focus away from your movie. This section talks about techniques to get over these hurdles of distraction, fear, perceived time shortage, etc, to help you stay focused and action oriented.

This section also covers what it means to be a producer, what a producer does and the difference and interplay of leadership and power. It is important to recognize this distinction because the aspects of leadership and power on a film production work together but are not the same.


If you do not know what a movie producer is or does, you are not alone.

Many actors arrive in Los Angeles and New York and do not know what a producer does.

In this lecture we talk about the similarities of planning a movie to planning a party in order to clarify the roll of the producer in movie-making.

By using more mundane and familiar terms (like those related to a party) you get an overview of the producing process and understand that you have probably done something very similar already in your own life, even if your efforts didn’t directly relate to film or making movies.


How to make a movie? You would think that it starts with cameras, lights, scheduling, actors, a script, etc.

But before you get into any of that, you should know why you are making this movie.

You could just be making a movie because filmmaking is fun and interesting.

If that is so, then that is your intention, and that is a fine one to have!

However, perhaps in addition to that you are seeking something more.

Are you already an entertainment industry professional or on your way to becoming one? Do you want to build your reel? Show off your acting skills? Go to festivals? Network with other professionals?

By setting intentions before doing anything else you get clear on the “whys”. By getting clear on “whys”, they will inform the “hows”.

If you are just wanting to get together with a few friends to put something together for you tube, the decisions you make along the way are going to be different than if you were an actress interested in producing to make a reel.

So before you go anywhere or do anything, write down the reason(s) you are making a movie. This will make decision making easier as you go through the process.

Oh, and if you have never made a movie before, then consider that your first couple movies are more about getting the process down. Yes, you want it to look awesome for your reel and for your audience, but you also want to get it done.

Here is a lesson from Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way: take care of the quantity right now, not the quality. The quality will take care of itself, especially as you get better at the filmmaking process. Right now, just get your movie done.

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"Markers of Success"

In this lecture you will be doing a PDF Student Activity that helps you to quantify your goals from the last exercise.

What that means is that the previous exercise was about vision, but now you are creating specific and measurable achievements so that you can assess your attainment of the more general goal or mission (or vision).


In this video we will be discussing the responsibilities of the producer.

You should print out the PowerPoint slide attached to this lecture and post it near your workspace.


With leadership comes responsibility, and if a choice should come up that is challenging, there are three parameters for basing your decision: wellness of cast and crew, financial wellness of the production, and ultimately, the wellbeing of the production and the movie itself.

You are actually serving the people that you brought on to your film by guiding the outcome. Make decisions that are best for (1) the production (2) your budget (3) your people, not necessarily in that order, but oftentimes it is in that order and if you look to what is best for the production, often that will cover what is best for the budget and the people involved, even if it is not as overt.


In this lecture we will talk about the importance of mindset when learning new skills and when confronted with obstacles during the producing process. This is especially important when in a leadership positionIt is likely you will hit obstacles when producing, especially when it is a new skill you are learning.

In the midst of any challenging situation, it is best to ask, “How can this get better? How can I make this situation better?”

If working with people, “How can we solve this?” This takes the focus off of the problem (which usually just turns into constant complaining) and focuses on moving through it.

This works by oneself or with others.

Another good question is, “What is good about what is happening right now?” Even if you can’t see it when you first ask, your mind will start to see different ways of looking at the situation that are more positive. This will help you to either see new ways to move through the issue or accept what is happening as a positive.



Gratitude. It is the most important thing on set or anywhere, in my opinion. I recently went through a Forbes Resort training where one always finishes the exchange with Thank You. Even if it feels odd, you should be thanking the people you come in contact with constantly. There is nothing more demoralizing than giving 100% on a film crew for on a low-budget production and the person you are working for not appreciate your effort. Think of “Thank Yous” as million dollar bills and you have an unlimited supply so give them away freely and with sincerity.


PDF Student Activity:

These are some tools for you to use to get your mindset in place and some supports for the process ahead of you.

I have this information in a downloadable .PDF so that you can put it in your production binder or with your class notes.

Section 2: (STEP 2) PICK A DATE to Shoot Your Project

I mentioned a contingency fund earlier and now we are going to talk about that in terms of time and planning your movie (pre-production).

If it takes 1/3 more time to build a business than what is usually expected, then that 1/3 extra time should be planned for, regardless of whether you know what that time will be used for.

What this means in terms of movie producing is planning a deadline a day or two before an aspect of your movie is absolutely needed.

Need the final draft of the script for the actor auditions on Friday? Then make the deadline for the final draft on Wednesday or Thursday, so that any hold-ups will not mess up the next step in the process.

Also, deciding how much time to allocate for pre-production can be confusing if you have never produced a movie before.

A good rule-of-thumb is to have a month of pre-production for a one to two day shoot. This will keep you moving through the movie-making steps fast enough so that you feel urgency, don’t get distracted with unimportant aspects from other areas of your life and don’t get stuck in any fear that might come up.

At the same time, one month of pre-production for your short movie allows you to schedule vital life activities (like driving your kids to school and feeding the dog) while the rest of your free time is devoted to planning your movie, rather than watching television or going to the mall for a sale, which are activities that you can resume after your movie is finished.

If you cannot be self-motivated to stay focused on your movie and finish it, an external deadline can often be very helpful. Try to find an event or deadline to aim for that requires that your movie be complete.

Perhaps you could read up on film festivals and choose one that looks awesome to you and that would be perfect for screening your movie.

HOW TO CREATE A DEADLINE FOR YOURSELF: Look for the application deadline for that film festival. That date will be your ultimate deadline, but then give yourself a week or two before that film festival deadline to actually have the movie finished because you don’t want to have to rush through editing, while thinking about the best route to take to the post office in order to get there before they close.

Going full circle, giving yourself a couple of weeks before your dream film festival deadline also gives you extra time you need, in case anything slows you down on the way to preparing your DVD for the festival.


When scheduling events for your production, you can work off of a digital calendar, such as Google Calendar or iCal, or off of a paper calendar or appointment planner.

This lecture contains a video that is a instructional screencast for the best way to use Google Calendar for your production.

I have also included a link to printable calendars if you prefer working with paper.

You may also choose to work with paper and then transfer the information to your digital calendar later (or vice versa).

If you work with paper calendars: the deadlines and scheduled events you create will sometimes change, so you may want to print out several blank calendars in case anything shifts in the midst of the producing process, but I encourage you to stick to the dates that you pick and not move things around too much.


This is your checklist for the section on scheduling the actual shoot dates of your production.

This is the to-do list in PDF written form, which you can download in the resources area for this lecture.

Your shoot dates should be selected before moving on to the next step.

Section 3: (STEP 3) YOUR MOVIE SCRIPT is your road map to your entire movie

This overview video introduces the concept of being strategic when selecting your script, and outlines some ways we will be selecting the best script for you, considering aspects such as who will write the script, the production budget of the script, sources of good script material, ways of securing stories for your script and a detailed pattern of discussing rewrites with your screenwriter (or to get feedback if you are the writer).


This video discusses strategies to keep your movie script inexpensive to produce and shoot. It is a good idea to stay within these guidelines, especially for your first few projects.


If you are still stuck on figuring out what your movie should be about, this video explores more sources of story ideas.

Stories are all around you if you listen carefully. If you keep your mind focused on thinking, "What would be a good script for my short film?" you will soon start to see source material everywhere.

Be sure to watch the video on Optioning/Buying Your Movie Script, which should not be taken as legal advice, but is definitely a good thing to think about when seeking your screenplay.

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"Brainstorming Story Ideas"

In this PDF Student Activity, you will asked questions to help you get an idea of stories that might make good material for a movie script.


You might already have the story, but you don’t know who will write it. Here are some ideas for getting your story written.


This video should not be taken as legal advice, but optioning is definitely a good thing to think about when seeking a screenplay for your movie.

This prevents two producers from working on the same script, which is helpful. Imagine doing a year's worth of work on a feature film and then finding out a movie with the same story is being released just as you are going into production?


Here is the Wikipedia definition of Option (filmmaking):

In the film industry, an option is a contractual agreement between a potential film producer such as a movie studio, a production company or an individual, and a writer or third party who holds ownership of a screenplay. The agreement details the exclusive rights including the specified time period and financial obligations. The producer has to advance the essential elements, such as financing and/or talent, towards the creation of a film based on thescreenplay.

Similarly, producers can also option books, articles, video games, songs or any other conceivable works of intellectual property. A separate deal would be made with a screenwriter to write the screenplay. This is not an option.

Financially, the contract qualifies as an option and may be assessed using real options analysis.

The term is often used as a verb in Hollywood. For example, "Paramount optioned the short story by Philip K. Dick."


When a producer options a script, that means that the producer is paying for the option to make the script into a movie in the future, but is not ready to buy the script right now.

I believe optioning is usually an unnecessary step when you are working with SHORT MOVIE SCRIPTS and that a producer should go straight to the purchase because producing a short takes much less time.

It is my opinion (not legal advice to you) that you can skip the “optioning phase” (see below) with shorts unless there is competition for the story or you do not plan on shooting for a while. If you do choose to option the script, there should be a nominal payment to make the option legitimate (I have a friend who options feature scripts for $1) and consult a lawyer on the paperwork.


Unless you are shooting your movie with a bunch of friends, it is really important to format your script properly and in the way that professional scripts are formatted. The reason for this is that (1) people who know anything about making movies will not take you seriously if you don’t format your script correctly and probably will not want to work with you (2) a properly formatted script often gives people who know what they are doing an idea of how long your movie will take to shoot and a rough idea of the final running time of your movie.

A script that is not formatted properly will make it challenging to make accurate estimations. These estimations are important to a producer because they will tell you how long you need to schedule locations, actors, when to plan meals, etc

Final Draft and Celtx will auto format for you. They take a little time to learn but once you understand how to use them, they will help you move quickly through the writing process.

In this lecture we quickly go over the basics of Celtx screenwriting software.

It is very important that you get other peoples’ opinions on your script or the script you have written by someone else. There should be a few rewrites to the script before you finalize it and move on to step 4 (which is casting).

A good rule of thumb is to have the script read by 3 separate people, get feedback, note the changes that you frequently hear, make those changes if they feel right to you, then repeat the same process until you feel that the script is excellent.

Ignore feedback that is non-specific like, “The script was really hard to get through.” That doesn’t help. If the reader cannot answer WHY the script was hard to get through, then be polite and say thank you, but toss that opinion out of your mind as irrelevant. It is useless to you.

Usually when people criticize like that, it is about their issues, not you or your script.

Are you ready to pull out your calendar? It's time to get a solid schedule for writing (or having someone else write) your script.

This video concludes this section on finalizing your screenplay for your short movie.

Additional details about rewrites, revisions, script feedback and deadlines are contained in this video which will help you move through this step, lock down a quality final draft and move on to the next steps in producing your movie.


This section reiterates the conclusion video for the section on creating your script, with step-by-step instructions to walk you through creating a writing schedule, getting the script complete and polished and ready for your next step in the movie producing process.

You need to finish these To Dos before moving on to the next step.

This is the to-do list in PDF written form, which you can download in the resources area for this lecture.


Are you ready to cast your script?

You might already have the actors you need, or you may need to seek them out through a casting call.

In this video we talk about the upside and downside of casting friends. We talk about human nature and how that can effect the reliability of friends you choose to cast.

This section of the course will discuss the process of the casting session and audition process.


There is a nuance to seeking actors for your movie.

This video talks about elements that should be considered when you start to ponder how you want to set up your casting session including number of rolls, unique special abilities that may be hard to find, how long to give each actor, whether or not to take breaks, etc...

Also, details you need about the production before you post anything about the rolls or production.


There is no set amount of time that is best to cast a project. Time allotted to casting is based on your schedule, the amount of money you have to rent a room (if you are using one in which you have to pay) and the number of rolls you have to cast.

I would give each auditioner 3-5 minutes. In fact, 5 minutes can often be too long. Sometimes you get into cool conversations with the actor and the audition will take longer. This is a good thing because it shows you and the actor have rapport which will be a good thing on set.

Often there are a few no-show that will balance out the long conversations, so I would schedule each actor for a 3-5 minute slot with a 5-10 minute break at the end of each hour to catch up/go to the bathroom/have a snack.

I usually bring in approximately 20-30 people for each roll. That works out to approximately two hours of auditioning per roll. If you still do not find anyone for a roll, you can always hold another casting session.

No sense in holding a 5-hour casting session for one roll if the first actor who walks in is perfect for the part.

In this lecture we will be brainstorming options for locations for your casting session.

In this video we will be talking about the dates that you need to solidify before holding the audition.

These dates might shift around a bit, but hopefully not because much of your actor and crew selection relates to who is available for all of the required production days.


In this lecture we will be talking about the typical actor compensation for a low budget or no budget movie.

When I offer the actor the part, I like to provide a simple contract, even in informal settings.

This is to protect both parties and, more important, make sure that everyone is seeing eye-to-eye on expectations.

One of the important things to mention in the contract is compensation for their performance.

Before you post anything about your movie anywhere to find actors, you need to have a clear idea of what you are looking there and then convey that in a character description.

It is easiest to prepare this beforehand, ideally in a text document, so that you can just copy and paste the information whenever necessary.

This is especially helpful when posting in multiple places, like several casting websites or printing out a casting request at local theaters.


In this lecture we are going to visit a couple of casting websites that are popular in the larger entertainment cities (Los Angeles and New York).

There are several websites that will help you cast your movie.

It is especially easy if you are in a major city, but if you are not, it can seem challenging to find actors.

There are additional strategies in this video for you to use if you are in a rural area that will make finding the actors you need much easier.

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In this lecture you will be working on solidifying all of the information for your project to be presented to actors, posted on bulletin boards and on casting websites and distributed to the public in order to find your actors.
In this lecture we will be doing a screencast of a walkthrough to use Now Casting, including signing up for an account, entering the production information and adding specific information about each roll in your movie.
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Here is my own list of things I bring to my casting sessions.


To make the greatest use of your time at the casting session, it is good to get there early, set things up, and know how to efficiently conduct the flow of actors.

Also, a reminder on slating your actors.


I generally lean toward NOT casting friends in my movies without an audition unless it is a theater group that I have been working with for a while.

If it is NOT a theater group but just an individual friend that I know socially, I require the actor to audition. The reason I do this is because you want the actor to appreciate the roll because they will work harder at doing a better job at it. If you just hand it to them without work, it is likely that even a close friend with the best acting skills will “phone it in”. This has happened several times for me and I have become quite strict about this policy regarding casting.

Ultimately you have to do whatever works for you, but this is what I have learned after 10 years of casting. If you hire your friends to act in your movie, here are some questions to ask yourself about them.


In this lecture I share my process for selecting actors for my movie after the casting session.

You have now held your casting session and it is time to pick your cast from all of the actors you saw during the casting session.

But what happens after the casting session? If you have not already made a decision about which actors you want to cast, here are some methods to work through the decision making process and also the next steps with contacting the actors, letting them know they have the roll, and confirming that they are able to do the roll.

Sometimes choosing your actors is based on gut instinct, which works really well for me.

But if I am not sure about which actor to cast, I have a step-by-step process upon which I base my choice for actors for my movies that has worked successfully for me most of the time.


This lecture outlines the to-do steps for the section on Casting Your Movie, as presented in a previous video lecture.

This is the to-do list in PDF written form, which you can download in the resources area for this lecture.

Try to finish as much as possible before moving on to the next step. You might still be looking to fill a couple of rolls in your movie while working on other steps, but it is a good idea to lock this down as soon as possible.

Section 5: (STEP 5) FINDING A LOCATION: to Shoot Your Movie

In this step we will discuss locations for your movie. Sometimes what seems like the obvious choice brings up issues once you are actually shooting the movie.

We will go over potential problems with locations that you may not be aware of and characteristics of a good location.

In this lecture we will be talking about how to get free locations, how to “pay” for locations in ways other than money, and how to decrease the costs further.

In this lecture we will have a list of general characteristics of a good location for shooting a movie.

In this lecture we will debate the up-side and down-side of shooting in a location without permission.
Location Lockdown - The Key to Making Sure That Location Is Yours!

If you build your set with Wild Walls (movable walls) in a warehouse, you will be able to control every aspect of the design and lighting.

In this section we will discuss what you need for building your set, and some potential downsides to shooting that way.


Each member of your crew is an expert in their craft and will be able to spot potential problems in a location before shooting begins.

In this lecture we will talk about which crewmembers to bring and why.


This lecture is devoted to talking about some of the things you might not have considered when scouting locations.

There are many more than what we discuss in this video, but the general intention for the lecture is to make you aware that things might come up on the day of the shoot that you regarding the location that you never thought about.

When you are on a location you are considering, try to think of all of the potential problems you could run into. You may still use the location, but at least you have brainstormed solutions to those problems before you have everyone on set and the clock is ticking.

Knowing what issues could completely mess up your shoot will put you ahead of the game and ensure a smooth shooting day. In this video get some tips on what to look for and check in a location that you would not think to check.

(STEP 5) FINDING A LOCATION: Action Steps / To Dos - Finding Movie Locations

Your movie crew is your team behind the camera, making sure all of the elements of the movie look as realistic and appropriate as possible.

Their creative choices feed into the look and feel of your movie. On an indie movie set I like to have friendly people who are flexible and that also don’t mind jumping on camera in a scene if necessary.

An on-set crew could be comprised of hundreds of people, but for your indie-short movie, I will be covering the bare bones crew members you will need.


In this lecture we will be talking about some online and offline sources for your crew.

Some may work better than others depending on your location.

Once we get into the individual crew positions, I will also mention some places to find that crew member.

The key is to think creatively, consider the skill sets required for the position, and if you cannot find someone who has done the position on another set, fine someone who has skills that would be helpful for that position.


In this lecture I will be talking about some things crew members want out of their participation in your movie other than money. This will help you when you are encouraging others to get involved with the movie you are producing.

Negotiating with your crew often depends on how much experience they have, and what direction they are going in terms of working in the movie industry.

Knowing what they want helps you help them move forward in their career (or at least see the upside of getting involved) and also makes participating in your movie production more appealing to them.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for directors.

But before we do, let’s make an analogy.

Think of your movie as a wedding.

If the producer is the event coordinator finding all of the details for the wedding (like church, reception hall, date, invitations,etc), the director is the person involved with selecting the color scheme of the reception hall, the paper for the invitations, the songs the band will play.

The director makes most of the creative decisions on set and pulls together the creativity of the crew in order to create a cinematic story that makes sense, is compelling and is cohesive, with all of the elements (from all of the crew departments) fitting together as a seamless whole.
The Director of Photography (D.P.) / Cinematographer is the head of the camera department and lighting department.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for cinematographers.


Boom Operators hold the mic close to the actors using a stick-like device called a boom. On low budget indie sets, like yours, they will also be in charge of the sound quality, which is usually what a sound mixer does, but it is unlikely you will have one.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for your sound department.

An assistant director makes sure that the movie is being shot on time, anticipates the needs of the set beforehand to make sure those elements are ready to go when needed.

For Example: If the crew is almost done setting up for a scene, the A.D. will get the actors needed in that scene and make sure they are ready to step on to set as soon as the crew is finished with the setup.

The A.D. also makes adjustments to schedule with the producer and director if the production is running behind schedule, in order to get the shots that are vital.

I have a friend that calls A.D.s “Traffic Cops” on set, but I think there is a lot more nuance to it.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for your Assistant Director, or at least some characteristic that good Assistant Directors have.


A makeup artist’s job is fairly self-explanatory, but sometimes they need special skills like prosthetics or “practical” special effects (like gunshot wounds or cuts). (as opposed to digital special effects or VFX which is done during post-production.)
If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for a makeup artist for your movie.


This crewmember is also referred to as “continuity” and makes sure everything matches properly within the scope of the movie.

They also record data, such as the length of a shot, the time the crew gets the first shot complete, the time the day ends, and makes sure all of the dialogue is covered in the script.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for your Script Supervisor, or at least some characteristic that good Script Supervisors have.

On a low budget short movie set, the production designer is the art department. The most simple way to say it is that the production designer makes sure that the set looks correct. If you are working with someone who has never done it before, make sure they know that they are in charge of covering any logos that are showing. No logos may show if you are planning to publicly screen (or post online) your movie.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for your Production Designer, or at least some characteristic that good Production Designers have.


On a low budget short movie set, the production designer is the art department. The most simple way to say it is that the production designer makes sure that the set looks correct. If you are working with someone who has never done it before, make sure they know that they are in charge of covering any logos that are showing. No logos may show if you are planning to publically screen (or post online) your movie.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for your Production Designer, or at least some characteristic that good Production Designers have.


Editors are not usually on set (although sometimes they are). They are part of your post-production crew (or he/she IS your post production crew), in charge of putting the clips of your movie together to make a movie.

They also sometimes do things in post production like color correction, visual effects, motion graphics for credits, dialogue and sound correction, foley, music and DVD authoring.

If you are having trouble finding this member of your crew, we talk about some unconventional places to look for a movie editor for your project.


This lecture is just a few things to keep in mind as you are going through your To-Dos for Step 6, Finding Your Movie Crew.

The basic equipment for a movie falls into three categories: Camera, Lighting and Audio. In this section we will be talking generally about what you should use and where to find equipment. Equipment changes fast these days so specific recommendations will not be given, but I will give ideas on where to get advice. The final destination of your movie also has something to do with equipment selection.

In this lecture we are going to talk about the required quality of your movie, how the movie will be shot and how tha play into the cost of your equipment.

These factors must be balanced correctly for you to optimize your budget but also get the best looking and sounding movie you possibly can.


It is beyond the scope of this producing course to go into specific equipment choices, so here are some people you can ask that will help you make the best decision about equipment.


In this lecture we are going to be talking about camera equipment to shoot your movie.

We will also be talking about bare minimums for your camera’s capabilities and features.


In this lecture we are going to be talking about audio equipment to shoot your movie.

We will also be talking about bare minimums for your audio equipment’s capabilities and features, and comparing the pluses and minuses of a couple of different mics.


In this lecture we will be talking about the one piece of equipment which I consider to be a MUST on every movie set and that is a clapper or clapboard, and why it is important.

There are a couple of ways audio is recorded. We are going to talk about those ways, what synch sound is, why we use a clapboard and how it plays into editing.

These are your options for getting equipment for your movie production. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option.


In this lecture I will be covering some of the details to keep in mind as you work on the To Dos for Step 7 - Finding your movie equipment, which is presented in the next lecture.


Try to finish as much as possible before moving on to the next step. It is likely you will be solidifying locations while working on other steps, but it is a good idea to lock this down as soon as possible.


It is time to pat yourself on the back because you have made it to the week before principal photography (shooting the movie).

So far you have been working on the overarching necessities of the production.

Now you will be focusing on the flow of the day of the shoot (or days of the shoot if you have chosen to do two days.)

The practical issues of food, water, shelter, communication and organization of cast and crew are the focus.

This is also when you MUST lock down any production needs (crew, location, actors, etc) that have evaded you so far.

The first activity for this step is to assess what you still need. There is a PDF in the next lecture to help you with this assessment.

1 page

PDF STUDENT ACTIVITY: In this lecture you will be making a list of what you still need for your production.

This downloadable PDF will help you make a list of what you still need in terms of location, crew, cast and equipment. These items are top priority this week.

In this lecture you will learn the importance of numbering a script, how these numbers differ from the on-set numbers.

In this lecture we will discuss what storyboards and shotlists are, and why you need them as soon as possible from your director.


In this lecture we will be talking about the importance of a shotmap and how to read one, and why it is very helpful to the movie production when your director creates one.


In this lecture I will talk about how your Assistant Director will create a shot order based on the shot list, shot map and storyboards that were created by the director.

Each location will have a shot order.

If you do not have an Assistant Director, you (the producer) will probably be doing this job.


In this lecture you will be shown a call sheet and instructed on how to read one and create one.

Yet again, I am asking you to make sure everybody knows the schedule.

Sure, it may be a bit overkill, but you would be surprised how often people get confused with when they have to be on set and where they have to show up.


In this lecture you will learn what you need to prepare for the production meeting and gather the information you need from various key crewmembers so that you are ready for the meeting.

In this lecture you will learn how to conduct a production meeting. I like to do this 7 days before shooting a short. So if you are shooting on Saturday the 8th, your meeting should be on Saturday the 1st.

t is a good idea to rehearse actors before they arrive on set.

The producer can be there, but you do not have to go if you do not feel it is necessary.

The director should be there to help convey her vision to actors through their performances.

This is also an opportunity to make sure everyone is clear about non-acting details (like wardrobe).

Your Craft Service table is a table of food on set that allows your crew or cast to grab snacks throughout the day when they get a chance.

There are no formal breaks on a film set aside from meals (lunch and dinner). There is also no time for a crew person to drive down the road to go get a bag of chips at 7-11.

Therefore, you have to provide that for them so that they can grab what they need and go back to work.

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Instructor Biography

Leslie Lello, Producer/Director - Photographer - Videographer

Leslie Lello is a New York native and an award-winning Producer/Director.

She has been bi-coastal and working in various capacities in the film, media and the entertainment industry for over 15 years.

She started her career as an actress, but quickly found herself behind the camera as a Chandra Wilson’s (ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy) personal assistant.

Since then, Leslie has directed and produced & directed a number of movies, several of which have appeared at film festivals across the country.

Most recently, she has been freelancing as a photojournalist and videographer, and produced and directed the documentary "New Jersey 350" which has screened at several festivals and won several awards.

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