Getting into the world of filmmaking can be an exciting and challenging experience, especially for first-timers. It might seem overwhelming at first when you think of all aspects involved, including story development, camera angles, lighting, sound, and special effects. But the good news is, we’re here to help!
Today, we’re breaking down the top 5 tips for first-time filmmakers to help you get started on your journey into filmmaking which can be as demanding as it is gratifying.
1. Develop Your Vision
The hardest part is getting started. Often, the most difficult part is coming up with an idea that is worth pursuing. At its core, filmmaking is about storytelling, connecting with your audience, and capturing moments on-screen.
The road to developing your vision begins by understanding the fundamentals of storytelling, exploring new techniques, and getting creative with your approaches. From there, you can start creating unique video film that stands out and leaves a lasting impact.
2. Write a Script
You could have the best team in the world, an unlimited budget, and years of time to make the best movie in the world… but if the script isn’t good, your movie isn’t going to be good.
Edit. Edit. Edit.
Be absolutely relentless with edits as you move through your script. The first several rounds of drafts will undoubtedly have more content than you possibly need. The more you edit and distill your script, the closer you are to the core of your message and vision.
If you ask any great director, they’ll tell you that constant editing and getting to the heart of a scene is one of the best lessons that any new filmmaker can learn. Trust in your cast to bring the scene to life instead of trying to micro-manage every minuscule detail and you’ll have a much better final product.
Finally, concise scripts also have a tendency to finish shooting on time and under budget.
3. Equipment & Budget
No matter what film you’re trying to make, you’re going to need the right equipment for the job. Not every film shoot is going to need an ARRI ALEXA (which comes in at just under $100,000).
First, you’ll need to identify your budget and match that with your available resources. Some things you’ll need to consider:
Keep in mind that the best-laid plans often go awry and the best thing you can do is embrace the unexpected, welcome the opportunity for improvisation, and use those problem-solving skills!
Use whatever equipment you have available and source things locally if you’re on a tight budget. Focusing on the story and staying within budget is far more important than going into debt to rent expensive equipment or paying for exotic locations.
If it’s your first project, there are tons of award-winning short films that have been shot entirely using smartphones and stabilizing grips. Don’t worry too much about what you don’t have and instead look at what’s available to you.
4. Get Organized
Scheduling is key when it comes to filmmaking. One of the worst things to do is pack up from a shoot, realize you haven’t finished, and need to go back.
If you have the capacity, get an assistant director and script supervisor to help you out. Ensure that each member of your team has a specific role and well-defined responsibilities. This way you can focus on making your vision come to life and not worry about missing a scene or having to go back for reshoots.
If you’re doing everything yourself, you’ll need to be even more organized because you’ll be doing the job of 5-6 people. Maintain a master schedule with every single shoot detail, broken down day by day and scene by scene.
5. Set the Mood
Achieving the right mood is important. This is the case with your film as well as behind the scenes. Finding the right lighting, location, and setting are all important to the tone and mood of your film, and getting it just right can make all the difference.
Bigger productions have location scouts dedicated to searching back alleys and hidden gems to find the perfect filming location to set the mood. You might not have the same budget, but you can use royalty free stock footage to get inspired.
Setting the mood also means getting your cast and crew all on the same page. Being a dictatorial director may work when you have an Academy Award, but your crew may be less eager when working on smaller productions. Keeping your crew happy and motivated to work with you is another key important key to success.
And… that’s a wrap! Getting started on your filmmaking debut is within your grasp. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the process.
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