You may be thinking, “I want to be a feature filmmaker,” but have you maximized the potential of your short film first?
Many indie filmmakers underestimate the value of a short film over that of a first time feature. Sure, the short film market is no comparison to feature-length movies being sold for millions to watch, but if you can achieve high degrees of mastery on your mini-production, when you get to shooting that first feature, wow, will you be ready.
People need to have a feel for your style, your story telling abilities, but more importantly, people need to actually see it. If you think you have a masterpiece and Spielberg should fund your next movie, it needs some serious international attention first.
Short film production is far less risky because you save time, costs, and in general a 5-day shoot is manageable and a perfect environment for you to show your skills. Then comes editing, and of course the distribution of your film.
If your short makes a big noise at a major film festival, gets an award, garners good reviews from a reputable publication or attracts the attention of a funder, you are making great progress in 1/10th of the time. First time features are great if you have that experience and track record, because it takes much more time to make it a reality.
The great thing about your short project is that you can master different skills, but also spend more time promoting, and getting people to see the film whereas on your first feature, you will spend months planning, shooting and editing, and may never complete the huge task, and risk bankruptcy if its self-financed.
Youtube and social media tools are also a great avenue for sharing your low budget productions. Build a fan base for your short films, and create an experience for your viewers. Fan clubs are your audience, and can help you secure distribution if you can prove you have a good following.
Good luck, and remember, your next short film could be worth millions of dollars to you in the future. Every small step is hugely significant.