Sorry I haven't written much in the last few weeks. I was doing a pilot for the New York Television Festival, and it ate all my time like Cookie Monster at the Keebler factory.
That said, I thought I might write a couple DIYs on different aspects of DIYing a pilot which, except for the script, is run the same way a short film is.
So I'll start with a really general overview by offering a few tips and tricks:
1. Start with a good script. Even if the script isn't amazing, make sure it's something you're interested in doing. You'll be putting time and money up, so you should be at least 80% on board with the writing. If you can't find a script you like, write one.
2. Call in your favors now. A 30 minute short is going to be a real undertaking. You'll need equipment, people to run the equipment, actors, extras and people to help with everything else. All of those people are very expensive to hire, so call in whatever chips you have with friends.
3. Hire a sound recordist. You can skimp anywhere in a production and not get hurt too badly, except with sound. If you aren't close personal friends with a competent sound recordist, either chat one up at a bar and become BFFs or budget in some money to hire one. Nothing ruins the suspension of belief more than inconsistent or unclear audio.
4. Don't pay a ton of money for the camera. Don't pay too much for rental or purchase. Having the latest and greatest camera is less helpful than having a camera you know how to use, or someone who knows how to use one. With all of the various cameras available these days, there's a low cost solution that will work very well for your needs.
5. Have fun... Seriously, have fun. It's going to be stressful putting the whole thing together, and once you start shooting it's going to go very quickly, so make sure that you're working with people you like, and that you're having fun while you do it. Otherwise, what's the point?