February 21, 2019

'7 Deadly Sins' Committed by Amateur Filmmakers

Committing these common filmmaking sins might mean asking for your audience's forgiveness later.

Everyone makes mistakes. It's just a part of being sentient meat sacks, you guys. It's okay...unless it isn't...like when you make an unwatchable movie.

There are a lot of things that could contribute to your audience having a bad time watching your work, so we want to make sure you're not making some of the more common and very avoidable beginner mistakes.

Videomaker has laid out a good handful of them in this video, entitled "The 7 Deadly Sins of Amateur Video." Check it out below:

Firehosing: Thou shalt not shoot everything

The cool thing about digital cameras is that they allow you to capture as much footage as you want. The not so cool thing about digital cameras is that they allow you to capture as much footage as you want. This strength can also be a huge weakness because many times this leads to filmmakers not having to think very hard about what they're shooting, capturing everything, even if there's no reason or intention behind it.

Don't do this. Plan your shots ahead of time. Think long and hard about what you want to communicate to your audience through your images. Essentially, be intentional.

Snap shooting: Thou shalt record all the action

Whenever you're getting a shot of some action and you think, "Yeah, that's good. I'm going to stop recording now," just go ahead and keep rolling for another 10/20/30 seconds. Why? Because it'll save your ass when you head into your edit. There's seriously nothing worse than editing a scene and needing a shot to be just a touch longer...like a fuggin' half a second would turn a mediocre sequence into a masterpiece. (I might be exaggerating, but I'm also not.)

Let your shots breathe, let them linger, and don't be so eager to stop recording.

Headhunting: Thou shalt have proper headroom

Okay, so there are rules in filmmaking, gang (sorry, rulebreakers), and one that a lot of inexperienced filmmakers break deals with headroom. What the froomp is headroom? It's the space between the top of the frame and the top of your subject's head. Having too much or too little creates an unbalanced composition, with too much causing viewers to feel unsettled with the floating head aesthetic and too little (top of the head cut off) causing them to feel claustrophobic. 

So, just be aware of where you place your subject's face. (Weirdest-sounding sentence I've ever written.)

Also, duh, this rule can definitely be broken, but you better have a reason, pal.

Backlighting: Thou shalt not under or overexpose

Okay, so you're shooting outdoors. If you don't have additional lighting to put in front of your subjects, don't use the sun as a backlight. For real. You're going to end up either blowing out your sky or underexposing your subjects. It's not a good look and it screams "I have no idea what I'm doing!"

If you have lights, set them up in front of your subject so you can have a balanced exposure...one that properly exposes the sky and your subject. If you don't, just move your subject so the sun becomes the key light rather than the backlight.

Motor zooming: Thou shalt not zoom so damn much

The 80s are over, okay? Stop with the crazy zooming. I mean, not because the style or aesthetic sucks (hey, I'm an 80s kid...I'm hip), but because it'll make it super hard for your audience to know what the hell they're looking at.

Think about it: what were your mom and dad doing the entire time while they filmed your tot soccer games and horrible and long school concerts? Yeah, they were zooming in and out constantly, making your 0-0 tie and the sound of 50 children playing "Twinkle Twinkle" on recorders not the worst thing about watching those videos.

Upstanding: Thou shalt not shoot from the same angle all the time

It's always good to get a different perspective, especially when filming. We're always seeing things at eye-level, so seeing that same point of view throughout an entire film can get really, really boring. 

To fix this, just try shooting from different angles. Get on the ground and shoot some worm's eye shots or get on a ladder and do some high angles. You can even go nuts and get an overhead or put your camera in the fridge while your subject guzzles half a gallon of almond milk.

Jogging: Thou shalt stabilize your footage 

Stabilizers are really nice, fam. They can help transform a shakey, unwatchable smear into a beautiful, fluid, kind of sexy piece of digital art. So, if you have the resources to get your hands on one, do it. You won't regret it.

If you don't have the resources to get one, that's okay. There are ways to make your footage look more stable that don't cost any money, including setting your camera on a solid surface, using a string to create a triangular base with your feet, or perfect the ninja walk.

Whatever you can do to make your footage more smooth, do it. Your audience will certainly appreciate it.

What are some other mistakes or "deadly sins" you think new filmmakers should avoid? Let us know down in the ol' comments section.     

Your Comment

3 Comments

Great!

February 21, 2019 at 10:54PM

1
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Mohamed Isaaq
Script Supervisor, Writer & Director
8

you forgot no. 8.....Don't listen to any of this nonsense

February 21, 2019 at 11:44PM, Edited February 21, 11:44PM

0
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Steve chase
Director
174

maybe:
8. Why, What and How: WHY are you shooting/editing this, WHAT's its reason and purpose and HOW are you conveying these ideas into your film.

February 22, 2019 at 11:16AM

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David Huxiley
Director
204