Making movies is a challenging experience. There are a lot of elements of shooting a movie, that must be combined in a right way. If you’re lucky enough to get a good crew, the process of filmmaking will be much easier. Easier, but not easy, because filmmaking is a stressful and complicated process, that will pretty often drive you crazy.
Okay. Before we start to review the usefull tips for filmmaking keep in mind that this is only a short checklist. The real knowledge you get only by grabbing your camera and working with your crew. Checklists, guids and tips are just theoretical knowledge that will do you no good without a real practice.
In the following article, we broke the entire filmmaking process into 21 steps. Take time to look at this guide to make your video production process easier and organized.
- Choose a theme
Every movie needs a theme. Coming up with a good idea is another thing, but starting to shoot - is another. You should choose your theme carefully, take time to study it, by learning details about it. How to choose a theme? Fortunately, themes can be picked up everywhere. It’s just about finding a perfect one. The world is full of spectacular things to shoot. Explore your environment, choose something that fascinates you. Then, come through brainstorming. It is a process of discussions and focusing on your idea. Brainstorming is a great way to develop your idea. Write thing down. It will help to come with new ideas.
- Theme research
Choosing a topic is one thing, but definitely, you need to explore it, digging as deep, as possible. Knowing all the details, in and outs of your theme will help you understand how to approach it. Creating a storyboard will help you to visualize your theme. Remember, that every detail is important here. Planning and thinking about these details beforehand, will make your film engaging and stronger. Don't haste to grab a camera and start to shoot. Plan everything, then start a shooting process. Share your ideas and storyboard with trusted people, the opinion of which you care about. Stay simple, don't make your story complicated. Remember famous proverb "Less is more". It's better to have a simple story and strong film, than confuse your viewer with complicated story.
When creating something for people, no matter what, one should think about targeted audience. In case of film it is more than important. Think about people for whom your film is shot. If you choose a theme for a large audience, make sure the tone of your film is proper for your audience. Don't use swearing and offensive language, avoid showing improper content, such as sex, smoking, violence or drugs. Sure, there are cases, when the film is about such things, however, it must be shown in a creative and responsible way. We hope, you got the idea.
- Money, budget, investors
You’ve chosen a topic, explored it. Now, finalize your schedule and make your project's budget. Shooting a film isn't the cheapest activity. You should find money for realization of your ideas. Writing a business plan, to have a clear vision on how you will market and sell it or other details must be shown in this plan. Find someone, who is professional in this field. The best financial plan can be written by such professionals. After you have a business plan in your hands, try to find money. It can be crowdfunding or an investor. The choice is yours to make. However, remember, that this process needs strategy, pretty patience and enthusiasm. Do not be down by "no"s, it's natural to be refused many times. Finally, you'll get your desired “yes” .
It is also very important to write the list of freebies. There are lots of thing you can get for free, such as wardrobe, props or other things. An important part of this money race is to understand before you get any money, are there people ready to work for you for free or for liitle money. These are the best people to go this journey with.
5. Finalizing your script
The next step is to finalize your script. It must be put to an unchangable state. This is called a locked script. When your script is finalized, break it into a scenes and number them. Grab each element of your script, such as location, characters and etc.. From this information, work on a final schedule. Then, based on it, form a final budget. It is possible your budget will be short. You have two options, then - whether to get more money, or change your script.
- You don’t need expensive equipment
Now days, everyone can be a filmmaker. It was long time ago, when expensive equipment was needed for video production.Today, a film can be shot even with your smartphone. Have at least a mere camera or smartphone, editing software and … well, an enthusiasm. You can easely make great films using mobile devices and filmmaking apps.
Movie is not about visual information. It’s also about sound. Pay a huge attention to the sound of your video. Use an external microphone, as built in microphones on cameras will not serve you a good service. Also, while shooting, avoid noisy locations, especially if you do not have a normal microphone.
- Stay Steady
Shaking videos are not the best thing you can shoot. Use a tripod to still your camera. A tripod will help you to stabilize your camera and shoot from desired position. If, however, you don't have a tripod, try to lean against a wall, for keeping your arms still, while shooting.
The first and most important thing, when choosing a music for your film is to have or get permission to use it. This means you cannot use your favourite Beyoncé song or any other popular track that you like. However, getting a permission can be a costly deal. Use one of many free music libraries online, such as Incompetech or AudioMicro, that gives you an opportunity to use music tracks in your film for free. Sure, you can compose your own music as well.
As in case of photography, shooting from different angles makes sense. Shoot the same scene from various angles and positions. For example, if you’re shooting a wedding, choose the widest angle, then shoot close-ups of people face, their emotions.
Background is very important for your video. It must support your story, strengthen it. So choose carefully your background, always these thought in mind.
In fact, photography and videography rules have many similarities. The light is the most important thing in photography, the same is applied to filmmaking. Your subject must be well lit. However, overlighting is as bad as poor lighting. Remember not to put your object under shady trees with a bright background.
13. No zoom
We all know, an image loses quality when zoomed in. The same applies to videos. Don't zoom in. It's better to walk closer to your object, than zoom in. It will look cleaner and better, for sure.
14. Avoid overshooting
Sure, shooting from various angles, many times is good, but overshooting is bad as well. A common tendency for dilettantes is to shoot everything and thousands of times. It is highly unprofessional. Professional filmmakers claim that every hour of footage, ends up with minute in the final production. Consequently, ten hours of shooting, turns to 10 minute video.
16. Logos and Branding
Don't put ads in your film. Do not use object with branding or logos on them in your video. Try to dress your actors in cloths without any obvious sign of any brand or logo. Also, avoid branded items, such as smartphones or computers in close scenes.
17. Enjoy the process and … have some sleep.
Have you been thinking that moviemaking is an easy process? Wrong. Did we tell you to have a proper sleep? Seriously, making a movie is a stressful experience, which consumes so much energy. Have a proper sleep, meditate, to keep a mental balance, and never forget you are making a movie. Enjoy the experience. Keep calm and always remember to have fun!
18. Edition and first feedback
Guess, you've finished the production process, now you have to edit it. Listen to professionals, they know their job. Sometimes they cut scenes you think are perfect, however, be nice to your editors. They know, what they are doing. After the rough first edit it's time to show your work to people. Show it to people whom you don't know. Get their feedbacks. Use this feedback to edit the film again. Again, show your second edit to a group of people, who had never seen the film. Take notes. Go through edition process again, and again. Do this several times. Be patient. When you have a perfect edition, you can think about the next step to take.
At last, your movie is ready! Congratulations! It's time to sell it. For doing this, upload your movie to one of the many popular VOD platforms. Make poster and trailer for YouTube and all the other popular platforms to distribute your film.
Promotion is an important part of selling your movie. Write press releases, run blog, regarding your movie, which will allow people to know more about the film. Anable also people to leave comments and be engaged in conversation.
21. Social media
Marketing is nothing without social media. Create pages in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social nets regarding your film. The purpose of these pages is to get more people to your site. Share useful information, involve people to conversation, encourage shares and comments. Have "Buy now” button in your site, allowing people to purchase a full movie, after watching a trailer.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our film production checklist. Now, you’re ready to grab your camera and shoot a masterpiece.
Sources: Peachpit, LavideoFilmmaker.com, Filmmaking Stuff, University of Chichester blog, Desktop Documentaries