These filmmaking tips might help you avoid some unwanted setbacks on your next project.
One of the most surefire ways to learn how to make a film is by actually making a film. After producing short films, I have learned a lot about what it takes to make a movie idea from script to screen. YouTube has invaluable knowledge available in helpful videos and tutorials. I have compiled a list of 24 filmmaking tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way, covering everything from the importance of costuming and props, how to hold auditions for actors, and little camera hacks that will make every day of shooting a little easier.
Even though no list like this is in any way complete, it definitely highlights areas of production, namely planning and pre-production, that is often missed or glossed over by inexperienced filmmakers who may be a little too eager to hit the record button. And perhaps that’s the key takeaway from this: no expensive camera, lens, or other pieces of fancy gear can do what thorough, careful planning can do for your film.
In fact, it’s the little things that end up making the biggest difference in your production quality – thoughtful selection of costumes and props that speak volumes about your characters and cinematic situations, wisely choosing your collaborators based on the needs of your project, making sure that you communicate clearly your vision to your cast and crew so you can all work together toward a common goal.
Without further ado, here’s a list of filmmaking tips:
- Tell your characters’ backstories using their costumes.
- The overall appearance and quality of a costume inform who your characters are.
- A drastic change in costuming, like going from neat and clean clothes to dirty and dishevelled clothes, for example, can highlight a turning point in the story or character.
- Make a mood board. They will help you visualize the look of your film.
- Mood boards will also help your cast and crew understand your vision.
- Let everything inspire you, not just your favourite films. Paintings, photographs, short stories, old newscasts, whatever can be a great reference.
- Props are powerful and can tell your audience a lot about your character, so choose them wisely.
- Pay close attention to the different qualities of your props, including their appearance, cultural importance, and even the materials used to make them. These things could change the message being delivered to your audience.
- If you want to save time and money (and yourself from headaches), build your film around a location you already have access to.
- Put together an excellent crew. Having a good crew is always better than having a good camera.
- Let the actors you’re casting read the whole script.
- Have your potential actors read a monologue they feel confident about if your script doesn’t have much dialogue.
- After that, ask them to channel the attitude and motivations of the character they’re auditioning for. This will give you an idea of how well they’re able to take direction from you.
- Have actors auditioning for the same role read from the same scene. This will allow you to compare each performance easier.
- Record your auditions so you can reference them later.
- Use metal T brackets as markers for your actors.
- And then wrap them in colourful gaff tape so your actors can see them easily.
- Rehearse scenes with actors, especially if there is tricky choreography or stunts.
- And don’t forget to include the crew in rehearsals so everyone is on the same page once it’s time to shoot.
- Add key phrases to your characters’ emotional beats on your storyboard so you can keep track of motivations, making it easier for you to direct your actors.
- Popping a balloon near your actor when they’re supposed to react to something scary or surprising may help produce a more authentic performance.
- Door stops come in handy when you need to level your camera when it’s placed on an uneven floor.
- Use gaff tape to your lens so you can add focus marks.
- Find out about which areas of filmmaking your cast and crew are passionate about so you can take advantage of any special skills they have honed.
What are some other important tips you think new filmmakers should know about before filming their next project? Let us know in the comments.