- Viknesh Silvalingam
3 key takeaways from making my first feature film
Updated: Mar 1
In 2011, whilst I was still a film student in San Francisco, I produced and directed my first feature film, True Love. As a Singaporean, I often romanticized the notion of my first feature being set in my hometown. So during that summer break, I flew back to get this film made on a shoestring budget of $7000 ($9,300 now when adjusted for inflation)
Now, I'm embarking on my next project, (a sci-fi short film. More to come on this), here are 3 points that I learned making True Love.
Figuring out what crew members are essential.
This could be subjective to how the director is running the set, but I found out that I couldn't make the film without them:
Director of Photography
Finding free/any locations
Make a list of locations you already have for free
Sit down with your crew and cast, the people most involved in the planning and organizing of the shoot, and make a list of all the locations you already have available to you for free.
Transformation of existing locations
You'd be surprised how a little bit of furniture rearranging, creative production design, and a slightly different camera angle can turn one room into a variety of seemingly other locations.
As for forgiveness instead of permission
As long as you're careful, out of the way, and not blocking traffic, crowds, or other activities, you can film basically anywhere.
Start a social media presence for the film early... way early.
Your Audience Can Be Mobilized
Are people talking about the film? Are people searching YouTube for behind-the-scenes footage and interviews? Are people in forums discussing the possible plotlines? The level of social media presence is an indicator of the film's success.
Increased Viral Potential
Think about how many short films screen at festivals every year, but never have a life beyond a few small in-person engagements.
Draw Inspiration and Learn Something New
Connecting with Other Filmmakers is a big part of filmmaking. Even if you’re not looking to hire crews through the platform, someone might reach out to you.
True Love got a decent reception having played in a few festivals before it got picked up by a distributor for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Google, Play, and Apple TV.
Now it's playing exclusively on Cpics.tv a new subscription streaming outlet specializing in South Asian films, TV shows, series, and documentaries.
Watch the film here: