How To Get Better At Filmmaking [2021]

Updated on September 2, 2021


Are you interested in making better videos?

Are you tired of being mediocre and having all your projects end up that way too? You aren't alone. Many filmmakers face the same problems - getting stuck in a rut, or not knowing how to get out of it.

If this sounds like you then read on... There are many ways to improve as a filmmaker, but here are twenty tips for the basics. In addition, I've included some thoughts on what film school could be doing better.

Finally, there's an article about why content is king! Jump over to that now if you're not into the whole brevity thing...

12 TIPS FOR MAKING BETTER FILMS

1. START WITH A STORY IDEA

The whole point of filmmaking is to tell a story, but where do you get your ideas? Well, you could always just make another movie about alien invaders or some guy who's bitten by a spider and gains awesome powers - that would be easy wouldn't it?

No, not really. Sorry, bad joke there! The fact is we have all daydreamed at one time or another and we all have the ability to turn our dreams into stories. If you need inspiration then taking an acting course may help as actors must learn how to draw on their life experiences to play different characters.

Even when they are playing fictional characters they will still use aspects of themselves for the role. So if you want to write a screenplay based on a dream or something that happened to you, then do it! Don't worry about whether the story is "original", after all, there are only about seven basic stories anyway.

2. DECIDE ON A GENRE AND STYLE

Once you have an idea for your film then start thinking about what style of movie it should be in. You may decide to make a documentary, but does this particular subject lend itself to that?

Or instead, you might choose narrative storytelling and live-action (ala The Blair Witch Project). Are you going to use stop motion animation? Is it going to be animated using 2D or 3D?

Once the basics of your genre and style are decided upon then you probably want to do some research. Read books, articles and watch movies that are of the type you're making (or are at least similar).

This way you will develop a better understanding of what it takes to make a film like this. By all means, don't copy anyone (that's not what I did with these tips), but learn from them instead (that's how I learned!).

3. CHOOSE AN AUDIENCE AND A PRODUCTION ESTIMATE

This is where things start getting real as now you need to choose an audience for your film and then work out how much money you have available to spend on it!

The best type of movie project is one that fits both requirements - meaning it has universal appeal and won't cost a huge amount. A realistic budget is one where you need to film in your own backyard or use a very small crew.

If you can't find any way of making the film that satisfies these two criteria then it's probably not meant to be!

4. CHOOSE YOUR FILM EQUIPMENT

This is really important - if you've got all these great ideas for a movie but don't know how to shoot it then what's the point? It means you better get out and buy yourself some cameras, lights, sound equipment, and editing hardware (as well as other stuff).

There are many filmmaking websites out there that can help with these types of decisions, so make sure you read as much information as possible before parting with your hard-earned cash!

5. PLAN A SHORT FILM SCRIPT

Now that you have your gear and a rough idea of the budget it's time to figure out your script. Of course, this is easier said than done, so if you've never written a screenplay before then maybe you should do some more research first (I suggest reading 'How to Build a Great Screenplay: A Master Class in Storytelling for Film' by David Howard).

Basically, though there are three key elements in any movie - dialogue, action, and description. So when writing is sure to keep these three things in balance with each other- don't make one element overshadow another!

6. FUND THE PROJECT YOURSELF

If getting enough money together for making a short film seems like an impossible task then try asking around. Get creative and don't be afraid to ask for help.

It could be that your family or friends would be interested in putting some money into the project - after all, you may not have a lot but there are probably others who aren't able to afford a lot either!

Or maybe you can get an interest-free loan from someone? You never know unless you try, so just go out and do it!

7. WRITE A SHORT SCREENPLAY

Once you've worked out what gear you need then write a short screenplay based on the story or idea you want to tell. Basically, a screenplay is like a blueprint for your film as it will tell everyone exactly what happens when they watch it.

So no matter whether it's dialogue, description, or action you should give them a full idea of what they're going to see.

8. WORK OUT WHAT YOU NEED FOR THE SHOOT

If there is an aspect of the production that isn't covered in the short screenplay then you need to work out how it will be shot and who's going to do it.

For example, if your plot involves a car chase or a special effects scene then you better have someone that knows what they are doing when it comes to vehicles/special effects!

If all you can afford though is the extra crew I'd suggest writing some notes on how things could be achieved - this way everyone will know their role and what needs to be done (more about making notes in tip #9).

9. WRITE NOTES

The best way to learn filmmaking is to learn from someone else, and this is where notes come in.

This works well if you are on a limited budget as it will allow other people to read your script and make suggestions.

You can then take some of their ideas and either incorporate them into the script or write them down for a later date (in case you want to use the same ideas again).

10. PLAN A SHOOTING SCHEDULE AND MAKE A BUDGET

Once you have an idea of what needs to be done (based on your screenplay) then plan accordingly - how much time do you need for lighting up scenes, shooting action, etc?

The more time needed the more money required! If anyone says production is easy then they have probably never done it!

11. GET SOME EXPERIENCE

If working on a small budget or just starting then try getting experience by volunteering to work on other people's projects for free. It doesn't matter if it's short films, student films, action videos, etc - the key thing is that you're getting experience doing what you love.

If you get the opportunity to do this then make sure you take it as there are many skills you can learn while helping someone else out - plus who knows, maybe one day your volunteer work will lead to a job in the industry!

Who knows? Just remember though that no professional production will ever let crew work for free...

12. IF YOU WANT IT, GO OUT AND GET IT

What comes around goes around, so if you put in the effort then one day your hard work will pay off. You may be looking for a big break but don't take shortcuts and make sure you do things properly - it could be that you have to make several low-budget short films before anyone notices!

If this is what it takes then do it because in the end it's all about getting experience and having fun - making movies at any cost can really help you learn more than any course!

The best way to learn filmmaking is to learn from someone else, and this is where notes come in. This works well if you are on a limited budget as it will allow other people to read your script and make suggestions.

You can then take some of their ideas and either incorporate them into the script or write them down for a later date (in case you want to use the same ideas again).

It's important that even when working independently, you're constantly learning new skills so that one day YOU might be able to offer advice too!

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