top of page

Thoughts on The After Action Report (or Finishing a Film)

A woman lies in a recliner while a man kneels
Susan Kelejian & Edward Gusts in Self Harm

I gave myself a week to collect my thoughts. Finishing a film is intense.

My experience is bound to differ from yours; but making this film helped me learn.

Some things went well, some did not. I may expand this post in the future, but for now; I have a few things I want to talk about before they fade too far.

Here is what I learned so far:

  1. You absolutely can make a feature for under $5000. Now submitting to festivals, and promoting the film may push me over that; but in terms of ACTUALLY MAKING THE THING it is totally doable.

  2. Do not shoot with different cameras. I have a lovely but unreliable Black Magic Pocket Camera. The fact that I (rightfully) did not trust it led to me using a second backup camera. My insane logic at the time was that I would only use this footage for emergencies so the differences wouldn't matter; but what actually happened was that The Pocket would die mid scene leaving me with the wonderful choice of ONLY using the backup camera's footage, or trying to match vastly different looking footage.

  3. Greenscreen is a terrible choice for low budget filming. Once again, my thought was cost saving on locations or bringing in actors for extra days; but even perfectly lit greenscreen is difficult to use; and less than perfect lighting? Abandon all hope. The only Green screen shot that worked was a simulated zoom call.

  4. Pay your actors. Admittedly, this is also a personal belief of mine; BUT things will go wrong on your shoot. And Actors are far less likely to feel you are wasting their time if you show them you respect it by paying them.

  5. It ain't over yet. My film is done. But, I still have to submit it to festivals, create teasers and trailers, promote it, come up with a marketing campaign, and then make close captioning, upload paperwork, and create artwork and a Press Kit. The lesson here is not to burn yourself out. A finished film is like a kid that you've sent off to college; all the worry is there, but you are no longer in control.

Now the most important thing I got out of making this Film is proving that it was and is possible. It took a hell of a lot longer than I expected but it is done.

The second most important thing I got out of this was the evaluation. After a week, I re-watched the film. Yes, there are a couple of tweaks I may make that slipped by me. Also; If the film plays in a theater I will be damn sure to test run it on a large format before letting anyone else see it. (minor flaws on my computer are a lot more noticeable on a 50 foot screen). But, all that is to be expected. What really helped me is seeing my film as it is. Not what I envisioned in my mind. Not what I feared it would be. But what it is.

With a couple of fixes and maybe another color pass, I can make this film 5 to ten percent better. But that is it. There are some things that I am not satisfied with, but they cannot be fixed without multiple reshoots. There are other things that simply reflect the low budget and honestly some skills that I need to improve on.


It is a movie. I had an idea in my head. A story that I wanted to tell, and I fucking told it. I created something. The next one will not have the same difficulties that this one did. If I am any good it will have completely new ones. And that is the path I have chosen.

I don't know if this film will succeed commercially. But I do know that I probably would not shoot the next one if I let this one fall apart.

I hope that people will see and enjoy this movie. I hope it leaves a mark on the people that watch it. But I know that it has left a mark on me. It has changed me. Probably more than I know.

If you have a movie in your head (Or a picture, or a song), I hope you make it. I hope you bring your creation into the world.

Let it leave it's Mark.

Thanks for reading,



Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page