Want to make your own films? Read this first

Making films is a challenge - and something that requires a lot of planning. It’s not as simple as writing a screenplay or blog post. It often requires a lot of elements coming together - some inside your control, and some not.


Remember, films are expensive to make. You can make a feature film for less than $5,000, but it’s a challenge. And that’s still a lot of money for a lot of people who aren’t yet in the industry.

In this post, we take a look at everything you need to know before you start making your own films. Grab a pen and paper and take notes.

Go Into It, Knowing Mistakes Are Part Of The Process

When it comes to filmmaking, making mistakes is almost inevitable. Nobody gets it completely right the first time around. It takes directors multiple shots, angles and edits to get a result with which they can be happy.

Before going into it, therefore, it’s worth taking this attitude onboard fully. You’re not going to nail it perfectly the first time around. It’s going to take a large amount of experimentation and jiggling around to get it right.

Don’t assume that because you haven’t got the perfect shot immediately that it’s never going to happen. Just see it as an inevitable part of the creative process. Over time, you’ll grow and learn, and know instinctively what works, and what doesn’t.

Get Your Equipment Covered

New camera equipment - especially quality stuff - costs a lot of money. It’s usually the biggest expense you face when you’re first starting out.


Don’t assume that it’s covered under your existing contents insurance. While you’ll usually get a payout if you only use camera equipment in your house under home contents insurance, that ceases to apply the moment you take it somewhere else.

For budding directors, having the right camera equipment insurance is essential. If something were to happen to your gear on set and you had the wrong insurance, you’d be fully liable for it. And you might not be able to replace it.

Find Costumes

Don’t underestimate the power of costumes to tell a story - even a factual one. What you wear and how you present the people in the film can have a significant impact on how the audience receives them.

If a character is playing a particular role, be sure to find the clothes that match it. So, if you’re shooting a mini-documentary about science, then be sure that the scientists you interview look the part. If you’re doing some sort of fiction or real-life drama, put thought into the types of clothes people wear.

Get Your Points Across Visually

Sometimes you need a wordy explanation to fully characterize a scene. But when it comes to film, it’s almost always better to get your points across visually if you can. 

How this looks on screen will depend heavily on the story you’re trying to tell. But adding regular visual cues, this can help people get to grips with the subject tremendously. 

Visuals are really helpful because they get rid of the need to narrate or explain - something that can turn off a lot of audiences. Adding body language, diagrams, slides and other features changes the dynamic and makes it more appealing to viewers who just want to consume the core points. 

Choose Low-Noise Locations

Today, there are noisy locations everywhere. Even if you’re in the countryside, there’s still the risk of animals bleating and wind noise. 

Where possible, try to find low-noise locations that provide a studio-like ambience. Even noise-cancelling microphones can fail sometimes, allowing the sound of passing street traffic to crowd out the actual sounds you want the audience to hear. 

Pick A Frame Rate

We tend to think that higher specifications are better. But when it comes to film, that’s not always the case. In fact, evidence suggests that lower frame rates change watching experience.

Video recording equipment allows you to capture scenes at pretty much whatever framerate you like. Some cameras allow you to shoot at a million frames per second, which is quite remarkable. However, your audience won’t be able to detect any difference above 120.

What speed should you choose? Well, it all depends on the effect that you’re going for. If you want your films to actually look like films, then your camera equipment will need to run at around 24 fps, which is the industry standard.

If you go higher than that, it will surprise your audience. It’ll look smoother and more “live,” potentially destroying the visual effect you want.


Get Your Subjects Moving

It might sound strange to say it, but people tend to act best when they move. That’s why a lot of directors encourage physical activity during scenes. Moving the body changes the state of the mind, and leads to some of the most impressive outcomes.

Delivering dialogue while walking towards the camera, for instance, is a common technique that directors use. With the blood pumping, actors are often able to deliver better quality than when they are sedentary.

Review Your Work For Errors In Continuity

Today’s audiences are highly sensitive to continuity errors. They’re sick and tired of filmmakers ignoring the logical sequence of events.

When making films, a lot of studios hire continuity specialists. These professionals watch out for things like inadvertent costume changes, logical issues in the plot, and strange turns of emotion that won’t make sense to viewers.

Create More Booming Sounds

You’ll notice that when you watch a professional production, the sounds are always booming, while it’s always tinnier in amateur filming.

The reason for this has nothing to do with the quality of the actors. Instead, it’s inherent in raw footage. Unprocessed recordings always sound a little flat. Just take a look at some of the backstage outtakes of your favorite films to get a sense of this. 

Adding a “boom,” though, is considerably easier than most people imagine. Modern software allows you to add it in after the fact. Or you can add it real-time to your microphone setup.

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