SciCast – Film School


A little preparation goes a long way with SciCast. Or to put it another way: planning is over-rated.

Your challenge is to make a short film. Very short. Frankly, all the traditional film-making nonsense of scripts, storyboards, shot lists for the cameras, rehearsal schedules… — all that can all be a waste of time.

Got an idea? Great. Grab a camera, film it, see if it works. If it does, great! If not — work out how to fix it, and do it again.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from planning with fanatical attention to detail, and some of the best films you’ll see on the SciCast site have obviously been crafted with tremendous care. But others have been fresh and charming precisely because someone grabbed a camera and started filming, without really thinking about it.

How long does it take to make a film?

The flippant answer is “a little longer than you’ve got!” — and that’s part of the challenge.

However, it can be very quick. Suppose you stumble across an odd rock formation. You point your mobile phone camera at it, wonder out loud why it’s like it is… and you’re done. Now, a Wild West costume extravaganza about friction, sliding glasses across a saloon bar counter — that might take a little while to pull together.

Somewhere in between, the answer is: “it takes a few hours.” Could you finish up in a lesson? For your first film, no, unlikely. In half a day off timetable? Yes, quite likely. Over a few sessions of an after-school club? Absolutely.

If you can find your team an hour to plan, an hour to film, and an hour to edit, they should just about be able to work within those deadlines. It’s wise to allocate an hour you don’t tell the team about; if they’ve more time, they’ll fill it.

Our other recommendation is: don’t assume you’ll stop at one film. Most SciCast teams have been so excited by it all, they’ve made three or four. So be canny, and keep your first film simple and quick to make. Save the ambition for the next one!

Doing several things at once

If you’re running an after-school club, say, you might have several teams on the go all at the same time. Keeping track of them all can be tricky, but in most cases you’ll be limited by how much equipment you can muster. Nevertheless, it’s very hard for one person to produce more than about four or five teams’ efforts at once.