Are you a budding filmmaker with a passion for creating films, movies or documentaries, but find yourself feeling defeated before you’ve even started, because you don’t live next door to the Hollywood film studios?
Then this is just for you, the future of filmmaking is NOT in Hollywood! The future of filmmaking lies with independent filmmakers just like you. If you have a smartphone, a camera and a computer with access to the internet, you can start making movies TODAY!
We’ve said it before, we live in one of the most exciting times, a time when you can be anything you want to be if you lay the right foundations and commit 100% to following your dreams. If you dream of making a movie (short or long), then there has never been a better time to grab your clapper board and shout “Lights, Camera…ACTION!”
Looking for a little extra inspiration to get your creative juices flowing?
Good! Let’s take a deeper dive into how you can to get started in film and build an exciting career filled with intrigue, suspense and drama.
Take a look at the final credits played at the end of any movie…it takes a massive team to make a movie, regardless of whether it’s a feature length film or a 2-minute commercial, each and every production needs a team of people to make it happen.
You don’t have to be a Hollywood Blockbuster Director to work in film…so what can you do?
There are so many diverse roles you can play in the making of a movie, documentary or commercial. Whether you want to take on the role of Screenwriting and Storytelling, Directing, Producing or you dream of taking control of the Lights and Camera. There really is so much to choose from…and you can choose to focus on any one or try your hand at a few until you find your perfect fit.
A film project needs at least a camera person, sound mixer and an editor. Any gear you need can be hired by the day, and locations can be sourced free of charge to stretch your budget. The most important thing is to START practising.
Long before the battery on your camera is even charged, you need to know what your story is.
Every production from a short 30 second video clip to a 2 hour feature film needs a script. You need to be able to tell a story to excite and engage your audience. You first need to know what the piece is going to be about - are you selling a product, is your story going to be a suspense thriller, a drama or a comedy? If you're doing a documentary - what are you setting out to do, inform or provoke? You need to become a MASTER storyteller to excel at your craft.
If you have dreams of becoming a director, here’s an insider’s tip – it is much easier for a screenwriter to become a director, than for someone without screenwriting experience. Why? Because you need to prove you can tell a remarkable story and, the best way to do that, is to write one.
Learning how to write a screenplay involves many aspects, there are certain rules that must be followed to ensure seamless collaboration across multiple writers, directors and of course the actors who will be performing. They all need to be able to artfully interpret your meaning so it translates effectively onscreen.
One of the core responsibilities of the screenwriter is to ensure the characters are carefully crafted with enough depth to ensure they are believable. Their dialogue needs to be consistent and convey the right amount of emotion and personality.
Directing: Artistic Vision
The Director has overall responsibility for the artistic vision, and for taking the strory from script to screen. The director needs to be able to translate his/her vision onto the frame, constantly communicating with the audience.
To become an exceptional director you need to eat, sleep and breath film, read screenplays and learn to visualise the story in your head, mentally watching it all unfold in your mind and imagining what camera angles and soundtrack you would use to give the best effects.
Producing: Project Management
The producer has a diverse role, but acts as the project manager of the production. The producer is often responsible for everything from recruitment, staff welfare, hiring gear, co-ordinating locations and budget.
Editing: Piecing it Together
Editors work very closely with the Director to craft the finished film, ensuring the story unfolds naturally. Editors tend to spend many long hours working in the editing suite, picking out the best shots from the various takes and then 'knitting' them together into exciting and mesmerizing scenes, according to the script. Each shots needs to be carefully chosen to ensure only the best takes are used and seamlessly edited for continuity. Sometimes adding in that quirky adlib the actor added in artfully develop the characters. Once all that is ready, the Editor then works closely with the sound crew, to ensure the soundtrack is perfectly overlaid.
Next to the Director, the Editor has the biggest influence over the outcome of the film and whether it becomes an award-winning production or not.
Motion Graphics: Start and End
Motion graphics are widely used in film and television post-production to create title sequences, bumpers, and logo animations. Everything from the opening credits, to the introduction overlays in documentaries, to the closing credits are the responsibility of the Motion Graphic Designer.
There are so many more roles within the film industry, but these give a flavor of what’s available.
So, How do I ACTUALLY become a Filmmaker... In 3 - Easy Steps
You write a brilliant story, organise your team and shout, LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
In a nutshell.
But yes, there is a little more to it. The Filmmaker takes on the overall responsibility for the film, coming up with initial idea and very often writing the script. The filmmaker then must get to work coming up with the money, putting the crew together and producing the project. Depending on the size of the production the filmmaker may take on additional responsibilities such as filming locations, auditioning actors, preparing the budgets and quite possibly even directing the film.
However, the bigger the production, the more important it is to delegate the roles and focus on the overall management of the production. You can’t be all things, know what you do well and find people who are better than you at the other stuff.
PROTIP: Learn as much as you can about the filmmaking process before you take on your own production. Start with a short course in filmmaking, to get a good handle on all the basics. Consider freelancing for a few projects and watch how and what they do. Always be willing to learn!
As a filmmaker, some of the core skills you need are creativity and attention to detail. You need to be highly organized and be able to lead a group of people, and you need to be a GREAT problem-solver who can think fast on their feet.
Step 1: Learn the Basics
If you want to become a master at filmmaking do yourself a favor and start with a short course to give you a good solid foundation in the knowledge and skills required to produce a short video, including screenwriting, directing, producing, digital camera operation, lighting, sound, and basic computer editing on an industry leading application. Make sure you get practical ‘hands-on’ experience across the five stages of the video production process.
Step 2: Start Building your Portfolio
Create a short film to hone your skills and to showcase your work. Most courses give you the opportunity to create a short film as part of your course work, but don’t stop there. Write a script, film it and produce it. And get it out there.
PROTIP: Send your short film to be entered at Film festivals, it’s the perfect way to start connecting and building your network. Many of the Film Festivals have special student sections, who knows you might just get flagged as the next up and coming talent!
Most importantly, get started! Shoot a short with your mobile phone or a handheld camera, focusing on one technique to showcase and use it to build your show reel. Start telling stories!
To get better at what you do you need to do 2 things – Practice and Learn to take feedback gracefully. Then use that feedback to refine your edit. Leave your work for a week or so, and then come back to it. When you look with fresh eyes, you’ll also gain fresh perspective.
Step 3: Start Putting Yourself Out There
There’s nothing quite like learning on the job! The best way to learn is by doing and observing. Do some freelancing on set, try your hand at being a production assistant and progress from there. Try as many different roles as you can. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know people in the industry and to start building your network. The Film industry across the world relies heavily on word of mouth referrals, so make sure they know who you are. Always be polite and cooperative and never get too big for your boots. The only crew who can get away with acting like prima donnas are the talent.
PROTIP: Don’t stop creating your own stuff. The internet opens a huge opportunity to showcase your work and it only takes one lucky break to make it to the big leagues.
So, we’d like to leave you with this one POWERFUL QUESTION, guaranteed to move you closer to your dreams.
‘Given the resources you have available to you now, what is the film you can make this year?’
Think about it, even if you can only make a short, using your mobile phone and lapel mic…it’s the best to start. You need to write as many screenplays as you can. You need to shoot and direct as many films as you can. You need to get yourself out there!
- 14 Sep 17
- SAE Creative Media