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How NOT to Shoot a $50,000 Short Film – Lessons Learned

So as filmmakers we all want to make the best films we can. Sometimes filmmakers think that a bigger budget is the answer, that bigger is better. This is what I thought when I went down the road and create my short film Red Princess Blues. After going down this road once before with my first short film BROKEN, I thought bigger had to be better. If $8000 was good (budget of BROKEN) then with $50,000 I could blow everyone away.

BROKEN opened a ton of doors for me as a filmmaker. I was contacted by studios, executives, producers, agents, you name it. BROKEN was an ambitious short film, to say the least. You can listen to that story here: How I Made Over $90,000 Selling My Short Film

In this episode, I discuss the mistakes I made when I made a $50,000+ short film. Mistakes with

  • Budget
  • Crew Choices
  • Size of Crew and Cast
  • Production Design
  • Distribution Plan
  • ROI (Return on Investment)
  • Who is the end-user (audience I’m trying to reach)

I do hope to get the opportunity to make the feature film version ofRed Princess Blues someday soon, I’m just not sure spending $50,000 for a proof of concept short film was the way to get that train moving.

Here’s the synopsis of the short film:

ZOE, a young teenage girl, is lured into an after hours carnival tent by the sleazy rock n roll carnie RIMO, and gets more then she bargained for. It’s up to the mysterious PRINCESS, star of the new knife show, to pull her out of the wolf’s den.

You can watch the short film trailers below:

This is not the first short film I made based on my feature film screenplay. I co-directed, with my brother in arms Dan Cregan, a traditional Japanese Anime Prequel called Red Princess Blues: Genesis starring the legendary Lance Henriksen. Check out that trailer below:

I was a bit ahead of the curve on the distribution of Red Princess Blues. I was the first short film to be distributed exclusively on an iPhone app. Streaming was not a thing yet. I go over what happened with that in the episode as well. Check out this promo I made for the app.


It’s not all doom and gloom. Many amazing opportunities were generated from RPB, I just wish it wouldn’t have cost me as much. = ) These are some interviews and red carpet moments from Red Princess Blues’ World Premiere at the HollyShorts! Film Festival.

You can see how large of production this short film was in this video below.

I do hope to get the opportunity to make the feature film version of Red Princess Blues. I hope you find some words of wisdom in this episode and that you can learn a few lessons that cost me a bunch of $$$ to learn.

So if you are thinking of shooting a $50,000 short film, FOR GOD SAKE DON’T. Listen to this first, I beg you! = ) Enjoy!

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