6 Things You'll Want to Avoid Like the Plague when Making a Film

Are you making any of these classic filmmaking mistakes?

In the same way that being a professional doesn't necessarily mean your work always looks professional, being an amateur doesn't have to mean your work looks amateurish. One way to ensure that is by boning up on what the most common mistakes "newbie" filmmakers make, and DP JP Caldeano is here to tell you what five of those are in this helpful video:

There are a ton of mistakes filmmakers of all levels of expertise make on the regular, but there are a few that seem to plague the newcomers more often than the old timers. Here are the five Caldeano mentions in the video:

  1. Bad sound
  2. Bad acting
  3. Poor location choice
  4. Too many crazy shots
  5. Being negative

If you've watched a lot of amateur films (or took a cold, hard look at your own amateur work) you'll certainly agree that those projects were rife with some, if not all, of these mistakes. However, I actually want to talk about an issue that was missing from this list, one that I think is not only the number one problem filmmakers struggle with, but is also the most important issue for them to address—and that's #6:

Not having a strong story

Story is the impetus of your film. It's not only the engine, it's the tires, the wheel, the fuel, and the body. Hell, it's the radiator and wiper fluid, too. It's the whole damn thing. But so many filmmakers fall short of constructing an engaging, coherent, and entertaining narrative that audiences can make an emotional connection with.

Avoiding making that mistake means, yes, learning all you can about screenwriting, like story structure, character development, and dialog, but I've found that just knowing just how important storytelling is in a film is a humongous step in the right direction. So, crack open some books, read some screenplays, and watch a ton of movies; it might help you avoid one of the biggest mistakes filmmakers make—having a boring/unclear/nonexistent story.     

Your Comment

14 Comments

6. Please, avoid fisheye.

August 16, 2016 at 9:10AM, Edited August 16, 9:10AM

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Ricardo Martins
Director / Film Editor
95

The use of wide angle lenses is a stylistic choice, not a mistake.

August 16, 2016 at 4:21PM

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Warren Bros.
Filmmaker | Cinephile
252

That's what they said about the shit quality of DV.

Overuse of wide angle is amateurish. Why do we perceive it that way?

Think about it.

August 21, 2016 at 2:38PM, Edited August 21, 2:39PM

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David Gurney
DP
2351

So because people were "right" about DV being a mistake, that means you're right about wide angle lenses being amateurish? That makes sense. But if you want to go there, DV can certainly be a stylistic choice too. See Harmony Korine's Julian Donkey Boy and David Lynch's Inland Empire.
Kubrick, Aronofsky, and Gilliam have used wide angle lenses extensively. Are they amateurs?

September 1, 2016 at 12:24PM, Edited September 1, 12:25PM

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Warren Bros.
Filmmaker | Cinephile
252

5. Bad sound
4. A bad script
3. Acting like an asshole
2. Being negative
1. Complaining

August 16, 2016 at 10:53AM

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Chris Foster
Writer/ Director
157

Kind of funny how his first tip is to not have bad sound but the sound in his video is sub par.

Also, his edits could stand to be snappier - too much space in between his jump cuts.

August 16, 2016 at 12:30PM, Edited August 16, 12:30PM

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Daniel King
Videographer, Editor
302

I enjoyed this presentation.

August 16, 2016 at 9:37PM

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Craig William Dayton
Composer of music for film and TV
1

6. Having a jumpcut between every single small sentence...

August 17, 2016 at 9:10AM

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Max
95

Number 7, using sets, techniques, and subject matter that is almost identical to other artists:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1myw_0W5E8

August 17, 2016 at 1:05PM, Edited August 17, 1:14PM

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Emulp Edmon
Documentary Filmmaker
187

I think part of the lack of storytelling these days is the fault of Hollywood producers giving people like J. J. Abrams and Michael Bey money. Neither of them can tell a coherent story and that's what people are looking up to these days. Spielberg knew what he was doing in terms of story and character development, Abrams is only interested in how many lens flares and one liners he can fit into his films.

August 17, 2016 at 5:03PM

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Nathan Taylor
Jack of all trades, master of none
498

I agree, character is everything!

August 19, 2016 at 5:37AM

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Daniel
Filmmaker
185

Hi - Negative is a huge one! I've done some surveys and the responses about on-set harassment are pretty shocking.
https://www.facebook.com/MyGolio/photos/?tab=album&album_id=604709756334522

August 18, 2016 at 9:17AM

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Ian Nichol
Founder
74

Add overuse of sliders. So incredibly amateurish

August 18, 2016 at 2:49PM

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Paul Gee
Filmmaker
95

Another insightful read. Thank you!

August 19, 2016 at 5:37AM

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Daniel
Filmmaker
185

Typo. Sorry, I'm a total noob to this site.

August 19, 2016 at 11:00AM, Edited August 19, 11:11AM

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Daniel
Filmmaker
185