10 Common Mistakes Made by New Filmmakers
No filmmaker is perfect, especially when you're just starting out.
The mistakes you make in the first few years of your filmmaking career are as plentiful as they are embarrassing, but if you know what kinds of things to look out for as you work on your projects, it'll help you avoid these common blunders. In this video from Indy Mogul, filmmaker Marina Bruno shares 10 mistakes made by beginner filmmakers. Check it out below:
Here are the 10 mistakes Bruno mentions in the video:
- Lack of preparation: It's incredibly important to be prepared when making a movie, but oftentimes new filmmakers make this mistake because they don't know what to prepare for. The list is long, but the most important things are: have lots of charged batteries, account for your gear/costumes/supplies, check the weather, finalize any permits/permissions, and wear comfy shoes.
- Bad sound: Any seasoned filmmaker will tell you that having good sound is more important than having good images. So, if you're in the market for a new, fancy camera, you might want to consider funneling some of that investment into audio instead.
- Not enough sound effects: This is a classic mistake (and one I made plenty of times in my first years). Sound effects help convince your audience that what they're seeing is real (not a staged exercise in filmmaking) and add depth to what should be the lush soundscape of your project. Add rich, appropriate, and high-quality sound effects to your film.
- Underdeveloped story: This should be numero uno! Story is absolutely everything, so if you go into a project with a bad script, you're going to be left with a bad film. Garbage in, garbage at, y'all. Take the time to write a decent story.
- Bad casting: Stop casting your college roommates to play detectives and middle-aged dads. The fake mustaches and wigs aren't fooling anyone and make your project look amateurish.
- No dialog: This is the one thing on the list I don't fully agree with, because how much dialog you put into your project depends on the kind of project it is. Comedies, for example, can have a ton of it, while dramas have a lot less. As a general rule, I advice writers to not include too much dialog, because new writers/filmmakers tend to over-explain and over-write, which leads to these ham-fisted and clunky expositional scenes that get people's eyes rolling pretty quickly.
- Long credits: Guilty. I used to include super long credits in my early work, frankly because it looked cool and it made me feel like a real filmmaker. But, you know, when it's just you and your buddy making a film, you probably can just get straight to the point.
- Clichés: Your early years of filmmaking are sometimes the best, because you get to discover who you are as a filmmaker. You get to experiment and try new things without worrying too much about clients, opinions, or staining your filmography forever. This is why you might want to avoid repeating anyone else's style, regardless of how much you want to be the next Aronofsky. (Only Aronofsky can be Aronofsky. You be you, boo.)
- Not compromising: Filmmaking is like a marriage: it's messy and crazy and chaotic until one day you die. But being open and willing to compromise is not only super mature of you, it's also a necessity if you're going to be working and collaborating with others who also have opinions and expertise and experience.
- Talking too much: Stop talking about making films and just go make films. Don't have any gear? Grab your phone, go outside, and shoot a time-lapse of the setting sun, or an artsy fartsy black and white montage of nature, or a short film shot entirely in POV shots.
There are plenty of resources out there that highlight the many, many, many mistakes noob filmmakers make at the beginning of their careers, so you should definitely click on those links to learn about some other things you could work on before you start your next project.