The global film industry is massive, with box office revenue expected to hit the $50 billion mark by 2020. Directors and producers can be set for life from one good movie. But, it’s much easier said than done. Great production takes practice, patience, and careful planning.
If you create movies yourself, you won’t want to miss out on the tips we wrote ahead. They will help transform you into a pro filmmaker and maybe inspire you to make the next big hit. Turn on your camera and enjoy!
Do you want to be like your favorite producer or director? Then it only makes sense to study their work. By studying every detail of a movie, you’ll pick up on techniques and ideas you can apply to your own creations.
Re-watch your favorite productions or those that resemble what you’re trying to achieve. Instead of casually watching, take out a pen and paper. Note how lighting, angles, editing, and other aspects are used. Consider where you struggle the most with your own filmmaking and pay attention to how successful films do it.
If there is a producer or director that you look up to, study their work in particular. They all have unique styles of creating films that you can learn from. On the flip side, do some research into critique they’ve received. This can be equally beneficial as you pick up on what not to do as a filmmaker.
There’s nothing or nobody stopping you from becoming a great filmography. Equipment or capital will help the process, but you can start at any time and work with what you have. Look at the classic horror film The Blair Witch Project. They only had $60,000 in the budget and it ended up grossing $249 million worldwide.
To get started with filming though, you need the basics. A DSLR camera if a nice middle ground as they can be found at a fair price without sacrificing quality. Even if you have to use a simple smartphone camera, don’t let it stop you from pursuing your passion.
Secondly, you’ll want a sturdy tripod. This will keep your camera still for better shots compared to freehanding. It should ideally have an adjustable height so you can be versatile with your filming. If you don’t have the money to invest into a high-end tripod, smaller affordable ones will still improve your filmmaking.
A quality microphone will pick up voices and details better and phase out unneeded background noise. You should get a microphone that attaches to your camera like a shotgun condenser mic or invest into a boom microphone.
Microphones that mount to a camera make the overall filming process easier and more convenient. You don’t require a dedicated team member to carry the mic as you would with a boom microphone, and you become mobile with less bulky equipment.
Besides equipment, you may be limited in terms of location, actors, and team members. Don’t worry! There are many great films that were made with small teams, too. If you have any friends or family in your network that can contribute to the project, now is the time to ask for help. Research local places that you could go to for completing certain scenes or achieving a specific aesthetic to keeps expenses low.
If you limit yourself, you’ll delay your project and it’s overall progress. So get out there and start filming what you have! You can always reinvest and improve things later.
Filming takes planning. If you’ve ever winged a video or movie before, you know that it probably won’t turn out well. Do you want to make films like the pros? Then you need to develop proper planning for all of your work.
It all begins with planning the film before you’ve even begun taking out the camera. The first thing to consider is the plot. Flesh out the story, the characters, and as much detail as possible. Creating a storyboard or frame by frame shots to use as inspiration later.
Then, list all of the gear, actors, and other equipment that you will need to complete the project. Budgeting and funding will naturally come after this. If you don’t have the existing capital, brainstorm how you can to raise it.
When the day comes that filming actually begins, you need to plan everything out physically. What locations are you going to shoot at and at what times? What equipment needs to be brought? Make a list for these things and ensure that you share it with everyone involved.
Imagine being able to talk to someone who is in the exact spot you aspire to be in. It’s like speaking to a future you. They hold every secret and piece of knowledge to make you successful. And, guess what? It’s 100% possible to find someone like this — they’re called a mentor.
A filmmaking coach will probably have an impressive resume of producing or directing big films under their belt. They are busy people, so getting ahold of them might take some effort. But, imagine the payoff. Even if you sat down with one for a single hour, you could learn life changing things about movie making.
How do you actually get a mentor? By reaching out. We’re sure that you have a favorite producer or director that you aspire to be. As we mentioned earlier, you should already be studying their work and pulling techniques from it. But, this also creates the opportunity to reach out and establish a conversation with them.
Research if they have social media or an email that you can use to contact them. If so, send a personalized and genuine message. Use their name, congratulate them on a recent success, or tell them about how one of their projects inspired your filmmaking. Get a conversation going and see if you can’t schedule a meeting or phone call. You’d be surprised how humble some very successful filmmaking experts are.
Two brains are better than one. Or in the case of collaboration, it may be many more! Think about how previous projects of yours went as a solo producer or with a small team. Now, imagine how much better it would’ve been and how fast it would’ve went with double the people.
You should definitely be open to the idea of collaborating with other passionate people or those in the industry. Together, you will teach other different things and be able to put your strengths into one project to create an impressive piece of work.
Meeting other filmmakers is easy, too. Just take a look at Meetup.com and how many local groups you can find.
Even if you live in a smaller town, there’s typically plenty of Meetup groups to check out. Events happen often and many are free. You will be able to network with others in the film industry, find potential job opportunities, and make friends with mutual interests.
You may have the greatest shots in the world, but if you don’t piece them together correctly they won’t work. The editing process is one of the most important steps when creating a film of any type. Visual and audio effects, transitions, and subtle changes all add up to form your masterpiece. This means that you have to become a master of the various software that you use for filmmaking.
One of the best places to begin learning more about any software is through the user guide. Sure, it’s mundane and dry, but it’s one heck of a resource. It was written by the developers themselves, so you literally couldn’t learn from a better source.
Gradually study every aspect of the software itself. For editing programs, get better at using special effects, making interesting transitions, and using music to enhance visuals. If you use audio software, learn how to master songs that you use in your films or improve vocals. Learning consistently compounds and by the time you know it, your efforts will show in your work. This brings us to our next point.
The student believes one day he will be a master, while the master understands he will always be a student. That’s the motto you should live by. It takes only 20 hours of learning to become good at any new skill, but 10,000 to be one of the best. Aspiring filmmakers like yourself need to not only dedicate time to practicing making films, but also learning how to.
Even if you went to university and have years of experience under your belt, you can learn a thing or two. Small techniques or theory you pick up will slowly transform your films over time. What are good resources to learn filmmaking? Here are a few.
Platforms such as Udemy are incredible for continuing to master your passion of creating films. Many of the courses are very affordable and will have a great return on investment. You can learn about anything from directing to creating videos or the business of filmmaking. The best part is that you go at your own pace.
Reading rewires your brain to make you more intelligent. Even reading for just 30 minutes per day could be enough to read a book per week. As a filmmaker, there are tons of books you can pick up that will advance your skills and knowledge. The result? Higher production quality, unique ideas, and theory that will serve as the basis for all of the work you do in the future.
The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus will teach you the essentials of filmmaking and integrating it with modern technology.
Another popular book is Directing: Film Techniques & Aesthetics by Michael Rabinger and Mick Hurbis-Cherrier. You will learn how to become a better director and also harness knowledge on editing, project budgeting, and more.
Reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll be happy you picked up the habit when your movies transform!
When you’re on the go or pressed for time, nothing beats a good podcast. It doesn’t matter if you’re commuting or exercising, podcasts will teach you so much about filmmaking. There are over 525,000 active podcasts and you’ll have no problem finding one about making films.
We recommend checking out the No Film School podcast that was started in 2016 by Jon Fusco and Liz Nord. The two hosts invite leading industry filmmakers and experts on to share their knowledge or advice. They also do movie roundups, movie festival reports, and more.
Search Google Play, iTunes, or other platforms for production related podcasts. Keep a few on your phone or computer so you’re always ready to learn something new.
Be patient. Becoming a pro in filmmaking will take time and gradually happens. You can start your journey by studying successful films, producers, and directors. Take notes on anything that you can apply to your own creations.
No matter if you have the best equipment in the world or just the basics, try not to be a perfectionist. Work with what you have in terms of gear, actors, and location. It will test your creativity and skills that will only further enhance your filmmaking expertise.
Make sure to take the time to plan out everything, too. Create a plot, list of characters, and set a budget and timeline for the project. Teaming up with others in the industry can help speed up projects and make them even better.
Similar to networking, you can find yourself a mentor to lead you in the right direction. While you could meet them at events and tradeshows, nothing beats a genuine attempt to establish a conversation. Find a way to speak with professionals and experts in the industry to help you become a better filmmaker.
Lastly, never stop learning about films. Read, take courses, and listen to podcasts. You will improve many different skills, from directing to producing and editing. Take the time to learn the ins and outs of any software you commonly use, as well. So, what are you waiting for? Get out your camera and apply what you learned today!