Basic Fundamental Film Making Tips
Updated: Jun 28
One common mistake when making a low budget film for your company is expecting stunning images with very basic or minimal lighting. Getting a quality image from the shot takes time, resources and a technician that knows how to light a scene. If you're struggling with budget and need to do a quick well-lit shot without expert crew then the easiest way is to film in an entirely outdoor location in the daytime. If you use boards and reflectors to divert and control the light, you can get a bit of control over your final result. Avoid shooting at night if possible, without enough light as this will add time, tiredness and all sorts of additional problems, resulting in a cheap looking scene.
When shooting a scene or piece to camera always ensure you get at least two or more takes as well as takes from alternative angles. This will help in the final edit if one of the cuts is suffering from a technical issue or if the shot has a problem that wasn't picked up at the time of shoot.
Before calling action on a scene, allow at least 5-8 seconds where both sound and camera are rolling/recording to support the sync during the editing process.
Perseverance is one of the key fundamentals to getting your project off the ground. You have to believe in your final film and consider the audience at all stages. Be honest with yourself throughout the whole process and also remember the message you are trying to deliver.
Whilst filming always review your footage through a frame. If you don't have a monitor to review the image it’s vital that you look at your shot through a frame of some kin, whether it’s via the camera's viewfinder, a mobile phone or even by making a square with your fingers. Do this continuously throughout the job as this frame is what the audience will ultimately see and you have to be able to picture what’s going into it. Any device that helps in this way will help you create for the audience exactly what you want them to see.
Don't break the bank, but stay on top of new technology and understand how it can really make your film stand out above others. Technology marches on and there is no shortage of gadgets to experiment with. For example, aerial drones with cameras attached have gotten cheaper and cheaper, and fly-over shots are now at the fingertips of any experimental film maker.
Use close-up shots to portray strong emotions and signal something important. The close up shot has been a powerful tool in cinema since the dawn of movies and can also be incorporated into a documentary, advert or testimonial video to have a big effect on your audience. It is primarily a shot taken of a subject or object at close range that is intended to show greater detail to the viewer. If the close-up is of an actor or interviewee, there will be a much more significant emotional connection between your viewer and the subject featured in the shot.
Close-up shots signal to the audience that something is important and can have a significant influence on the viewers understanding of your story. In a way, the close-up shot is a mirror in which we see the world and events of the story through their narrator's eyes.
Introduce your action/location with a wide shot. The wide shot or often referred to as a long shot is an easy way to show where we are and who’s with us without having to move the camera too much. It sets the location of our story/advert to the audience and offers the ability to flood the viewer with information quickly. When shooting a wide shot, consider where to set up the camera and whether the scene requires it to be static or tracking. Ensure that it is clear of all the crew and make sure that no unwanted objects, animals or people are not in frame unless required.
Get Inspired and experiment with a greater variety of Shots. Come to understand when making your film that every shot has a different way of telling your story and conveying a different message and/or emotion. Test different shot sizes, and learn unique ways to combine them with angles and movements to take your project to the next level.
Avoid unnecessary Zooms and experimentation when filming. When people pick up a camera for the first time it's tempting to want to hit the zoom button and experiment with every shot, but when you do this you distract the audience from the importance of the message. When starting off, still and well framed is the best way to work (let the object in the frame tell the story). If action and pace is necessary for a scene, let the motion that's happening naturally dominate your video. Stop yourself from adding random zooms which distract from the action unless absolutely necessary.
Remember the importance of capturing good sound as it is an essential way to complement high-quality video. Without it, your video may turn out useless and no matter how well it looks an audience may be distracted by an echo or buzzing sound on the audio track. Inexperienced videographers often fail to monitor the sound they're getting and without it the video is ruined. Monitoring the sound helps you avoid recording unwanted audio, especially during interviews when an undetected element might drown out what the person was saying.
Consider the background for an interview and make it creative and inspiring. At some point, you'll want to shoot video of a person talking into the camera and you need to consider whether a sit-down face to camera interview or an on-location conversation interview is the best for the film that you are trying to produce. Think about the message, plan ahead and deliver a much more professional result. Try to set the background of the interview to the story you are telling and the seriousness of the content. The background of someone telling a traumatic story will need to be a lot more minimalist than someone advertising a business or big happy event. A highly emotional interview should be shot up-close and with limited distraction so that the audience focuses on the story and emotion of the individual above all else.
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