Just make a short film already!


Many people talk about (and dream about) making a film, but few actually go out and do it. That’s because they somehow convince themselves they can’t. Or they focus on all the reasons preventing themselves from making a short film.  Let’s lay some of those ridiculous reasons to rest.

  1.  “I can’t afford it.” In this day and age, you can make a movie on your cell phone and edit it on your computer with free software that you can download from the internet. Saying you can’t afford it is not a valid excuse.
  2.   “I don’t know any actors.” You don’t have to know any professional actors to make your first film, grab some of your friends, even if they are awful actors. You’re not making this first film to win an award, you’re making it for the experience.
  3.   “I don’t have a script.” You can write a short 3-page script that should equate to 3 minutes of “on-screen” time. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. You’ll want to avoid any dialogue pieces for your very first film as sound is quite a complicated issue for a first-time, untrained filmmaker (unless you have a friend who can capture good sound for you.)
  4. “I honestly don’t know how to do it.”  If you really lack the confidence, then sign up for a short home-study course that teaches you the basics, then go out and make your first short afterwards.

The best thing is just to go out and make it.  The experience alone will teach you plenty and you’ll be in a better position the second time around.

Want to sign up for a short home-study filmmaking course?  Drop us an email and we’ll send you a prospectus: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

About the author:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer at Amour Setter Films and owner of Auteur Film School.



Why it’s OK to make mistakes & what to do about it


Everyone has to start somewhere and most budding filmmakers start off being a Runner or an Intern.  I was lucky (or unlucky, depending how you look at it) to have very heavy discipline early in my career in the form of strict (and mostly perfectionist) bosses. They didn’t accept mistakes and often took me to task in front of others. Fortunately, I’m a tough one, so it made me more determined to get it right the next time. Unfortunately, I also got fired a few times for messing up because I had no prior training (there were no part-time film schools around at that time.)

Today I feel lucky that I had that disciplined basis to start from, but I’m also a lot wiser when dealing with Interns and newbies than many of my early bosses were. I recognize that making mistakes is part of the learning process and that it’s actually ok to make mistakes provided you use those mistakes to help yourself improve.

Let’s look at some things you should do when you make mistakes:

  1. As soon as you’ve realized that you made a mistake, bring it to your boss’s attention immediately.
  2. Apologize for the mistake, don’t try to cover it up or make excuses.
  3. Learn from the mistake and don’t repeat it again.
  4. Have a plan of action ready as to how you will deal with the mistake and/or fix it.
  5. If your boss reacts in an angry way, don’t sulk or get upset. Taking responsibility for your mistakes means being able to deal with the response you get from your boss.

Now just because it’s ok to make mistakes doesn’t mean you should slack off. Being 100% focused on your work means avoiding mistakes as far as possible. But know that when you do make that odd mistake, applying the 5 points I mentioned above will definitely help you deal with it in a more professional way.

About the author:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and owner of Auteur Film School.




The difference between Facebook & LinkedIn


After seeing umpteen selfies and bikini-clad women vying for attention on LinkedIn, I decided to educate the lesser informed of us who have yet to figure out the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn.

The main difference between LinkedIn and Facebook (for those who honestly don’t know) is that LinkedIn is a business platform whereas Facebook is a social platform. Think of Facebook as your local coffee shop where you meet your friends and family to catch up.  Now think of LinkedIn as the big glass building downtown where business people get together to hire, contract, share business-related information and do business together.

So let’s just mentioning the 4 main things you would NOT do when going to the big glass building looking to do business (LinkedIn).

1.  You wouldn’t arrive there wearing your underwear or bathing suit (or flashing your bare bits) because it simply sends out the wrong message. People honestly don’t have to unclothe to get attention. Success is by far the best attention-grabber.

2.  You wouldn’t arrive there without a cv because you could well miss an opportunity to get hired.

3.  You wouldn’t tell everyone you meet about your personal problems, religious or political  views because your potential boss, business partner or client may find your shared views offensive enough to not want to do business with you.

4.  You would refrain from being rude, abusive or politically incorrect because people judge you by your actions. Nobody wants to do business with abusive people, racists or sexists. (What you say on LinkedIn will have very far-reaching consequences for your career).

On the other hand, when going to Facebook (the coffee shop example I used earlier), do whatever you like considering your audience. Take as many selfies as you want, and wear your underwear or bathing suit. Curse, jab fun at your friends, tell everyone how you feel today, etc. That’s the place where you get to relax and have fun.

Since LinkedIn is a professional platform for serious business people, it is highly frowned upon to use it as a social platform. Of course, it is to be expected that a certain amount of “social fluff” will bleed through to LinkedIn, but I believe that mostly comes from a place of not understanding the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn.

Have a look at this tongue-in-cheek advertisement for Cell C directed by South African, Jonathan Parkinson, it sums up social media beautifully and shows us just how ridiculous we’d actually seem if we practiced social media actions in real life.

About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer at Amour Setter Films & owner of Auteur Film School




You have finally finished your script and you want to produce it into a film. That is great. Congratulations are in order, as you have come a very long way.

Unless you have your own crew and are going to be your own camera operating person then you will need to hire someone that will shoot your film for you. As a filmmaker, you will have so many responsibilities that you should rather give that responsibility to an expert. In order to make the best of your movie and get off to a wonderful start, here are 5 tips that will help your shoot move smoothly.

1. Be A Storyteller

The filmmaker is first and foremost a storyteller. You must have a cohesive, compelling story to tell. This is not a difficult thing to do, as everyone has, at least, one real-life story to tell. Whether it’s a breakup, a family trauma, or a secret desire, you will find a good story if you look closely. You have to trust that no matter how painful the story is, or how embarrassed you are of that story, it has been experienced before by someone else. This is not a bad thing. It means that we are all connected in some way, and that these stories are indeed universal. We all have a unique story to tell that many people will relate to and identify with.

2. Have Your Shot List Ready

There are some filmmakers who will storyboard every single shot on their shot list. Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for this. (He was also notorious for giving his actors very little freedom in their movements and portrayal of their characters). ALWAYS finish your shot list before you get to your set. It will give you a roadmap of what you want, and how you will shoot your video. And because you are so well prepared, you can easily replace or remove a shot that you don’t need. Or you will be inspired to get another shot…one you didn’t think of before. And when this happens, it always feels great.

3. Have Your Location Locked off

I love shooting on location. The environment is real, as it is the world of the story. This is very helpful for your actors to believe the world they are in. Have it ready to show your producer, so that he/she can prepare adequately. Take them to the location, let them see what you have in mind. This will help your producer immensely as it will show them what types of shots will work from your list, and which ones won’t, etc.

4. Know What Equipment You Think You’ll Need

This usually will come to you when you are preparing your shot list. As the filmmaker, you should have an idea of how you want all your video shots to look. This usually means that you should have a basic working knowledge of the type of equipment you will need in order to get the shots. For example, your opening montage is a sweeping arc of the countryside that then leads into a house with two people eating dinner. You should know that this type of shot is going to require a crane, with the ability to swivel 180 degrees, and then also have it on wheels or some stable moving vehicle that this crane can be attached to. This will show the producer that you know what you want and it will be their job to try and get it for you. But if you walk into a meeting with your producer, and just hand them a list without any clue as how to get it, prepare for disappointment.

5. Learn Communication

In my experience of making short films, good communication is the single most important thing you can bring to any meeting with your crew. The ability to communicate to your team what you want and how you want to get it is crucial.  But communication is a two-way street. You cannot go into a meeting with demands and be inflexible. Be open and receptive to what your team members have to say and offer.

If you take the time to prepare for your shoot correctly, then when you actually get to the set, things will flow more smoothly.

Want to learn how to make your own short films? Auteur Film School offers a number of home-study courses in filmmaking. Email for more information: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za


About the writer:

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 8.34.00 PM

John Montana is an actor living with his wife in L.A.  His most recent video, “Hungry” has been accepted into 24 international film festivals.

Check out his short film – HUNGRY at No Title Production Films.




Gossip is alive and well and thriving on social media these days. Some people honestly have nothing better to do than run others down. How can you conduct yourself so as to avoid gossip & remain professional?

  1. If you happen to be caught up in a conversation that quickly turns to gossip, try to steer the conversation to another subject or politely suggest that since the person being discussed is not physically there to defend themselves against attacks, it might be better to discuss something else.
  2. Never, ever repeat any gossip, unless it involves a very close friend or family member and you feel the allegations made behind their backs are serious enough to warrant a discussion with them directly. Repeating hurtful or petty gossip will not help anyone, it will only make you unpopular for partaking in the gossip in the first place.
  3. If you resign from your job or freelance position, don’t discuss your reasons with other people. Simply say “Things didn’t work out as planned” and leave it at that.
  4. Develop the philosophy “What you think of me is your business, and what I think of you is mine.”  People don’t need to know what you think of them.  Nobody is perfect and just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean they should stop existing. You are not going to like everyone you meet and not everyone you meet is going to like you. By the same token, if someone insists on telling you what they think of you, tell them it’s none of your business.
  5. The less you rely on other people’s opinions of you to feel good, the stronger your self-esteem will become. People with strong self-esteems are more successful in life because they can rely on themselves to feel good.
  6. Are people talking about you behind your back? Ignore it. Let them continue if it makes them feel important. Don’t react, don’t lash out and don’t try to defend yourself.  Keep your head up high and continue living your life with integrity. There will ALWAYS be people talking behind your back, so get used to it.
  7. Make a point of always saying something nice about people behind their backs and learn to focus on people’s positive traits rather than their negative traits.
  8. Avoid gossipers at all costs and do not become friends with vicious people who like to gossip because you can bet 6 month’s pay they will gossip about you behind your back if given half a chance. Choose your friends wisely!
  9. Learn to mind your own business. Who cares what people do in their personal lives? As long as it doesn’t directly affect your job or negatively impact on you at work, does it matter? Nobody said you had to be friends with everyone you work with.
  10. There are times when gossip can be very damaging to your professional reputation and may warrant a visit to an attorney to issue a letter warning the guilty party that they may be sued for defamation if the gossip continues.

If you avoid gossip, gossip will tend to avoid you. Live with integrity, help others where you can, be kind and compassionate, be polite and behave professionally. If you do all of that, gossipers will find it difficult to gossip about you and when they do there are usually enough people around who will come to your defense.

Want to learn how to become more professional in your filmmaking career? Auteur Film School offers home-study courses in filmmaking with many subjects focusing on Life Skills and building your professional career. Email for more information: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za


About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and principal at Auteur Film School.




The benefits of having a LinkedIn profile


These days anyone who is serious about business is on LinkedIn. Think of it as the Facebook for business. You can add people in your industry, comment on people’s posts, keep in touch, ask for referrals and even write professional blogs that you can share with everyone in your network. You can also see who has viewed your profile and blogs, as well as receive a ranking score for your profile views.

LinkedIn profiles are now hybrids of resumes, websites, Facebook and blog pages. It’s a complete presentation of who you are and what you are up to professionally. Most recruiters now use LinkedIn to do a quick check on people applying for jobs.

Here are 5 benefits of having a strong presence on LinkedIn:

  1. You can get seniors to notice you by creating a professional profile, posting content regularly and commenting on posts.
  2. Since LinkedIn is a prospecting, research and engagement tool, you can connect with decision-makers you might not normally be exposed to.
  3. You can introduce people to one another and be instrumental in bringing like-minded people together.
  4. LinkedIn is the perfect environment to leverage ‘brand power’. Remember there’s your brand, your company brand, and your industry brand. Promote and connect all three and watch relationships grow.
  5. Your strategic,  consistent and value-driven communications used in a thoughtful way on LinkedIn can and will open doors for you.

Remember that LinkedIn is a professional platform so you need to respect the platform etiquette. Sending  frequent, non-permission based emails are strongly discouraged. Spend some time interacting with people, supporting their content, causes and company before launching into requests for work or introductions.

Want to find out how you can become more professional in the film industry?  Auteur Film School offers a number of home-study film courses that include business skills. Email us for a prospectus: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

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About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and principal of Auteur Film School. Visit her LinkedIn profile




busy-880800_1920In business attitude is everything. It’s a fiercely competitive world out there and people who have great attitudes together with excellent skills get hired more often. Over the years, I’ve had to deal with a lot of unprofessional people and I can tell you first-hand that they don’t last very long. Nobody wants to have to deal with anyone who is rude, unreliable or sloppy.  There are plenty of people out there looking for work which means everyone is replaceable. Let’s look at some ways that you can improve your attitude and become more professional.

  1.  Answer emails as soon as possible and always follow through.  If you have told someone you are going to call them at 10am, do it. Show people that you are 100% reliable.
  2. Be friendly and professional at all times. Treat customers with the utmost respect and put them first.  In this day and age businesses that have a customer-centric approach are more successful.  Be part of the solution every step of the way.
  3.  Avoid office gossip. Socialise but walk away from negative talk and don’t be guilty of spreading rumours about anyone. You have no idea how much damage this can cause to your professional reputation.
  4. Always be on time.  In fact, be 10 – 15 minutes early. Nothing says unprofessional like arriving late for work or meetings.
  5. Dress professionally. Just because you work in the film industry doesn’t mean you can look like a hippy or a student. People who dress professionally gain more respect and get taken more seriously.
  6. Be careful what you share on social media. Potential employers will always do a background social media check on you so if you have controversial posts or photographs, they may negatively affect your chances of landing work. Or they may even get you fired.
  7. Always be sharpening your saw. This means you should never stop studying. Register for short home-study courses that you can do in the evenings and on the weekends.  The more you arm yourself with knowledge and skills, the faster you will be promoted.
  8. Treat your job like it’s your own business. If you “own” your job and care about every aspect of the business, you will climb the ladder very fast. You will stand out from other employees who watch the clock and do the minimum required of them.
  9. Get involved. Volunteer to manage office events, meetings, etc.  The more involved you become in your company’s culture, the more you will be appreciated.
  10. Anything that goes out to clients should be 100% professional. That means using spell check! You represent your company any time you deal with clients so make sure you represent the company in the most professional way possible.

Want to learn to become more professional in your filmmaking career?  Auteur Film School offers fantastic home-study courses in filmmaking. Drop us an email and we’ll send you a prospectus.

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About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and principal of Auteur Film School.