Hey you! Do you think you can write, shoot and edit a short sci-fi film in just 48 hours? Of course you can! Our first ever 48-Hour Sci-Fi Film Challenge starts this Friday at 8pm, and you’re invited to take part. To help you and other participants get ready we’ve compiled a bunch of advice, links and resources that might be useful.

You can sign up or find out more about the challenge here.


First, some quick advice from us:

  • Have fun!
  • Remember that your film can be any length UP TO five minutes. It can be just 30 seconds if that’s all you need!
  • Keep it simple! Stick to just one simple sci-fi element/one interesting idea and write your film around that.
  • Since this is sci-fi, if you’re using special effects or computer effects, don’t get too ambitious! One interesting effect can really make a film.
  • Start in the middle of the action! Keep things moving!
  • Don’t be afraid of leaving the audience with a few mysteries!
  • An old trick: Shooting in low light helps make obvious effects and costumes look better!
  • Charge your batteries! Get enough sleep! (These are basically the same thing!)
  • Don’t worry about repeating dialogue exactly as you write it. Sometimes it just sounds awkward. Letting your actors improvise makes the dialogue a little more natural.
  • Some people like using a storyboard to imagine what their story will look like. Storyboarding will help you make a shot list and help you figure out what angles to try!
  • Remember to get a variety of close-ups and wide shots!
  • A good rule is to finish your writing on Friday night, finish your shooting on Saturday and aim to finish your first editing draft on Sunday at noon. Give yourself lots of time for editing! If you have any computer visual effects, be sure to factor in rendering time!
  • Feel free to gather your team, scout locations, test or make any special effects and get your gear ready ahead of time!
  • Have fun! Again!

SOME FREE ROYALTY-FREE SOUND FX and MUSIC

I put together a quick mp3 with a few useful sci-fi-like sound effects, drones and ambiences from software synthesizers I own. Public domain and free. (If you want to credit me, credit Elling Lien)
https://goo.gl/b93zn3

Free sound effects library:
https://www.freesfx.co.uk/

Field recording ambience:
https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/free-ambient-background-tracks/

Free YouTube Audio Library
A huge library of free music you can sort by attribution or non-attribution.
https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music

Free Music Archive
http://freemusicarchive.org/

FREE ROYALTY-FREE VIDEO AND FX FOOTAGE

NASA Image and Video Library
Images and videos from NASA are generally copyright free and usable in films, but use of the NASA logo or name is not permitted.
https://images.nasa.gov/

You can copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist.
https://pixabay.com/videos/

A list of free resources. Make sure to check how to credit the creators.
https://www.filmcrux.com/blog/free-film-resources

 

FREE ROYALTY-FREE VIDEO FX AND FOOTAGE 

https://www.rpstock.net/stock-footage-library/free-footage/
High quality video footage of light leaks, futuristic-looking tech displays, ink flows and particle effects. These are really useful for overlaying onto your own footage to give it a sci-fi feel.

https://www.videvo.net/
Free and royalty-free library of videos and images for use in various projects

 

 

ADVICE ON SURVIVING A 48-HOUR FILMMAKING CHALLENGE

10 tips to survive and succeed at 48-Hour Film Project
http://hashmichousefilms.com/blog/ten-tips-to-survive-and-succeed-at-48-hour-film-project/

7 Pro Tips to Surviving the 48-Hour Film Project
https://filmmakeriq.com/2011/08/7-pro-tips-to-surviving-the-48-hour-film-project/

Primer for making a film in 48-hour short film
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAiVu8H7GOg

 

WRITING TOOLS AND ADVICE

A list of Common Sci-Fi Themes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_science_fiction_themes

Tropes from written Sci-Fi
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/the-25-greatest-science-fiction-tropes-ranked/

Malfunction generator
https://www.springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/malfunctionmaker.htm

A bunch of thoughts on what makes a good short film script:
https://www.indiewire.com/2016/03/sxsw-2016-what-is-the-key-to-writing-a-good-short-film-script-58016/

 

FILMMAKING TIPS AND HOW-TOS

A fabulous playlist of DIY Filmmaking Tips from Film Riot. Shows how to build your own versions of much more expensive filmmaking tools and effects that are just as good as the originals.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL11EAFEF634F88F50

In-depth green screen tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH8TWTt51W8

5 Tips on Shooting a Short Film (especially on a cell phone)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y1GOgd3uXU&t=66s

5 Low Budget Special Effects
https://tongal.com/blog/tongal-taught-me/5-low-budget-special-effects-for-your-cinespace-short/

The Lighting Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI208YxW0JAlxJV5zGT2HaQ
Some nice, short videos showing ways to replicate familiar film looks.

 

EXAMPLES OF 48-HOUR SHORT FILMS

From the Nickel’s October Horror Challenge 2018:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka2AwAzW7Qk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiBaTaj1F5A

Examples of short sci-fi films made in a weekend from Sci-Fi London:
https://48hour.sci-fi-london.com/2018/11/01/2018-challenge-winners/


Click here to sign up or find out more information about 48-Hour Sci-Fi Film Challenge 2019.