Our 2019 Musicbed Challenge is officially underway. We’re giving away more than $80,000 in grants and gear to filmmakers who can create a killer short film in less than 30 days using music from our artists.
For this edition of Musicbed Top 5, we’re going to show you the five films as inspiration for you to get started on your own journey. Each film is a great example of creativity under fire, showcasing creatives’ abilities to use their limitations and make them an advantage.
First, be sure to download the Starter Kit for this year’s challenge. It’s full of information to get you started, including playlists featuring the music you’ll need for your short film. The deadline to submit your film is July 11 by 11:59pm (CT), so go ahead and get the process started — every second counts.
But, without further ado, here are five example films that prove you have what it takes to take on Musicbed Challenge.
Spec Ad: Fire Within
The days of slapping a product on the screen and telling customers to “buy buy buy” are over. Done. That means you need to connect with people by telling them a solid story, which is exactly what Lucas Dabrowski did in this spec ad. A hero faces a challenge and uses her wits and strength to overcome it. It’s a simple story, but that’s the entire point. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to create a killer spec ad. Simply follow a narrative and use your filmmaking chops to make them believe it.
Director – Lucas Dabrowski
Director of Photography: John Ker
Editor: Colin Murdock, Rooster
Colourist: Clinton Homuth, Artjail
VFX – Alex Shahviri, Artjail
Mix – Boombox Sound
Song – Roary, “Fortress”
Documentary: Portrait of a Runner | Mitch Ammons
You’re probably going to hear the word “story” a lot in this post because it’s really the end-all-be-all for any film in any genre. That’s why we’re all here, right? In this short doc from Junior Hernandez, he follows the story of Mitch Ammons, who battled addiction and found his salvation on the roads. So, for the documentary category, maybe the lesson learned is this: Take time to find a compelling story. So much of good documentary work happens in the production stage and if you do the legwork ahead of time, it’ll pay off when you actually begin to roll.
Side note: We know Junior is a passionate runner himself and that probably didn’t hurt as he put this film together. If you can find a subject you’re passionate about, you’ll already have a leg up on the task at hand.
Director – Junior Hernandez
Executive Producer – Musicbed
Producer – Ashlyn Greer
Audio Engineer – Colten Marsh
Director of Photography – Mait Hudson
Editor – Junior Hernandez
Song – A. Taylor, “Embark”
Music Video: Roland Lewis – Wait
It can be challenging to have music selected for you, but you can also use it to your advantage. The songs we gave you in your genre playlist are written by talented storytellers, so you can use their creative work as a jumping-off point for your music video. When Dylan Hahn created this evocative short for Roland Lewis, he didn’t have to start from a blank page. Instead, he used the melancholy tone and subject matter to create a stunning short that reflects and enhances its subject matter. So, if you’re at a loss for a starting point, choose a song in your playlist and use it as inspiration. What story is it telling you?
Starring Madison Zirnsak and Roland Bingaman
Directed by Dylan Hahn
Producers – Wende Whitus and Dylan Hahn
Director of Photography – John Carrington III
Editor – Dylan Hahn
Song – Roland Lewis, “Wait”
Narrative: The Altar
On paper, the narrative category may be the most difficult because it has so few constraints. Tell your audience a story. That’s it. But, may we suggest giving yourself a few constraints as you begin putting your story together. Director Matthew P. Rojas created this tense, quietly epic short film in a single setting with just two actors and almost no dialogue. By doing that, he was able to dive into the mood, pacing, and setting so intently that you almost forget there’s so little going on. On top of that, if you pay attention to the story arc in The Altar, you may recognize some of its allegorical tendencies and references. You can use existing (ancient, even) narratives to put your own spin on as well. What we’re really trying to say is this — there isn’t much of a box in the narrative category, so maybe try putting yourself in one.
Starring – Erik Sands and Mason Woodward
Executive Producers – Musicbed, Matthew P. Rojas
Producers – Hailey C. Rojas, Brandon Zebell
Writer – Matthew P. Rojas, Jason Walter Vaile
Director of Photographer – Brandon Zebell
Editor – Matthew P. Rojas
Song – Eric Kinny, “Last Goodbye (feat. Danica Dora)”
Michael Gray’s (Mikevisuals) creative work is a bit of a magic trick — it’s so well-executed that it almost convinces you it isn’t there. This short travel film seems so effortless and casual that it’s almost like he’s not even making a film, but more taking you on a trip with him. And that’s the entire point. This category is deceptively difficult. We’ve all seen some travel films (probably from your aunt and uncle) that are incredibly boring because they’re just telling you about their road trip to Des Moine from their perspective. For your travel film, do what Michael does and include your viewer in the journey and cut your short with them in mind. It’s not enough to show people your travels; they need to feel them.
Song – Jacob Steele, “Miguel”
Feeling inspired yet? Use these films as lessons for your Musicbed Challenge film and then create something great on your own. Just as a recap, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The story is king, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Find something that connects and execute it well.
- Take time to find a compelling subject, especially in the documentary category. The more legwork you do up front, the stronger your final film will be.
- Find a subject you’re passionate about.
- Use a song as the catalyst for your story; listen to what the artist is saying. Particularly in the narrative category, create constraints for yourself. It’ll make for a more interesting film.
- You don’t necessarily need to invent a new story. Find an existing narrative and tell it in a way it’s never been told before.
- For travel/lifestyle films, it can be easy to create from your perspective. Remember to take your audience on the journey, too.
So, what are you waiting for? With these tips, you have the perfect framework to begin building a great short film. And don’t forget to download your Starter Kit as well. Musicbed is completely free to enter and you could take home thousands in film grants and tons of great gear.