August 22, 2017 at 12:32PM

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I am a complete and utter beginner. Help! Where do I start?

I'm currently in the beginning baby stages of being interested in making films, and I'm ready to move past the basic "I like watching movies and learning what makes them good" stage. I have no equipment and minimal experience. PLUS I'm not interested in going to actual film school. Does anyone have practical advice for the total newbie?

13 Comments

Find a film-making club in a city near you, or start your own club and see what kind of interest you get. Also, to save money you can start shooting video with an iPhone, which has several low-cost film-making apps you can buy. A used iPhone works just as good as a new one. A feature film was shot with three iPhone 5s phones a couple of years ago.

August 22, 2017 at 10:44PM, Edited August 22, 10:44PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31634

get a job as a PA

August 24, 2017 at 10:54AM

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Indie Guy
1141

Thanks for your advice!

Renee B

August 31, 2017 at 5:09PM

Here's the feature film that was shot with three iPhone 5s phones...

Tangerine (2015) - Red Band Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALSwWTb88ZU

August 25, 2017 at 10:24PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31634

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response! Time to start playing with my phone and seeing what it can do. Also will be checking out "Tangerine".

Renee B

August 31, 2017 at 5:14PM, Edited August 31, 5:14PM

I think Guy McLoughlin is giving good advice here, I would advice you to start by buying the book "Rebel without a crew" by director Robert Rodriquez and then view all the 10 min filmschools that he did on youtube. Consider that we no longer use actual film and we have digital recorders instead of cassette and he left out of the book that he had an "IN" in hollywood through his Mom, but for information and basic advice. There is no substitute for experience. When you start making crappy little films of two to ten min long, then you learn to read what you are doing right and wrong. Joining the local film society as Guy recommends, they can watch what you are doing. Much of this is developing discipline, going out the door, give yourself an hour and take 5 min of footage then edit it at home. No substitute for experience, then the youtube tutorials and books will make sense, if you just think about making films, that is what you will do, if you get out of the chair and actually make a bunch of crappy ones, then at some point, they will get less and less crappy and that discipline of doing it will serve you well, as they say in sales that old asian proverb
"salesman who covers seat instead of territory always stay on bottom?

August 28, 2017 at 1:11AM, Edited August 28, 1:11AM

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I appreciate your detailed answer! I have looked in to some books and tutorials, but you're so right - experience is going to be the best teacher.

Renee B

August 31, 2017 at 5:12PM

I would definitely try to find a local production house and see if they need an intern! That is what I did in high school!

August 28, 2017 at 12:58PM

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Filmaker
218

That's a great idea! Thanks!

Renee B

August 31, 2017 at 5:11PM

Grab any camera you have access to film. Write what you have available to you. Yes, even if it means shooting on your cell phone if you don't have a camcorder or DSLR camera. Challenge the norm of filmmaking, don't follow it.

Don't know professional or even upcoming theater actors to be in your movie? Have your friends/relatives/siblings be in it and make your characters mute/silent. Or better yet, have it star yourself. Think of new ways around a roadblock, instead of turning around and going home.

Don't get caught up with these dick-measuring contests about camera, gear, etc. Those people will make you feel intimidated to go on IMDB to just watch a trailer, let alone help you write and shoot your films. Avoid reading those posts like the plague, they'll only slow you down.

Don't have mics for good audio? Yes you do, use your voice notes app on your iPhone (Or android equivalent). Just watch for fly overs (Nearby airplanes flying over you ruining your audio, car horns, etc).

Above all, just go out and do it. Movies are stories. Not what audio gear you used, not lens comparisons, not what cameras you used or even what actors you got. Its a story. Don't let anyone complicate or convince you otherwise.

August 29, 2017 at 7:12PM

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Thanks for your thoughtful advice! I have to admit I've been a little intimidated by all the gear talk I've come across, but I'll deal with that when I need to. :)

Renee B

August 31, 2017 at 5:11PM

Check meetup for filmaking groups, get a good book on dslr filmaking definately watch youtube videos on filmaking. Do not get hung up on gear none of that matters, using even an iphone and technique matters, lighting matters, composition matters. Watch your backgrounds, notice what is back there and keep it simple. Often I get a good take and then see an ugly electrical outlet while editing. Stay away from cheesy transitions like where a book opens or the image turns into a bird, instead make most of the edits cuts and occasional dissolves esp to show passage of time. With everything ask yourself the question, "What is the motivation" so in lighting if the scene is angry, show angry lighting, angry costume, angry composition, think about the height of the camera and if shooting two people talking, line up their eyes to the same height, lots of good material, be your own film school and don't just read, but do. I do practice video all the time to test out an idea, concept or to see if the scene works casually, before bringing in actors, lights etc.

September 1, 2017 at 9:12PM

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I know it sounds all well and good to say go out there make a film, its about the story, and learn along the way, but the truth of the matter is if you PA for working production companies, you will learn how to make a film the right way 10 times faster. If you are young say you will work for free/experience. Then when you need crew, you will know a great DP, production designer, producer, and AD, and if they like you they will crew for free and bring gear, no iphone needed. An iphone isn't a problem because of the quality, its a problem if you are filming movies by yourself. Focus on working on set and meeting people, then when its time to make a movie, you have a support network to help you, definitely don't get too used to making movies by yourself, those people are difficult to work with.

September 4, 2017 at 10:14AM

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Indie Guy
1141

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