10 Things You Should Know When You First Start Out in Filmmaking
If I knew then what I know now, I would definitely pay more attention to these 10 things.
Ah yes, the first years of filmmaking. They're magical and wonderous. You're firing on all creative cylinders and bursting with motivation like a gas can in a fire.
And then you look back, years later, at your work and think, "Wow, I can't believe I made so many mistakes that could've been so easily avoided." I just so happened to watch one of my first films last night and had this thought...like...why did I decide to shoot two halves of a scene at different times of day? Literally the most noob mistake any filmmaker could make. And I cringed as I watched, not at the low production value and painful-to-watch cinematic missteps because of course there's going to be a besprinkling of those, but at how many of those missteps could have been averted if I had just known then what I know now.
If you're new to filmmaking and want to avoid some common beginner mistakes, take a look at this video from Simon Cade of DSLRguide.
Every filmmaker is different, which means the mistakes they're bound to make are different, as well. However, there are some classic no-no's that not only pretty much all of us have made but that you can so easily avoid if you just had the knowledge that they exist.
Here's Cade's list:
Being prepared will save you so much heartache, you guys. Plan everything. Make a ridiculous number of lists for shots, gear, supplies, and cast and crew info. Create schedules. Know what your project needs ahead of time so you never find yourself behind the eight ball.
Focus on stories
I mean, duh, right? But so many beginners get swept up in the romance of filmmaking that they forget that they're there to tell a story. Don't do this. Put all of your focus on the story you're telling and figure out which tools you're going to need in order to tell it.
Sound is SO important
Such a classic mistake here. So many newbies obsess over cameras when they should really be obsessing over microphones. Having good sound is more important than having good visuals. Period.
Be a good collaborator
When you first start out, it might be scary to branch out and work with other people, but don't miss out on this opportunity. Other people can bring so much to your project, so learn to be a good collaborator who listens to advice and ideas that aren't your own.
Don't be precious with your edit
I know, that shot was friggin' amazing and might even be the best one you've ever captured, but if it doesn't help the story or push it along, then don't waste your audience's time and cut it out. That's just the nature of the beast: sometimes your best work ends up on the cutting room floor.
Utilize what you have
Don't worry about all the sweet gear, actors, locations, and funding that you don't have. Take inventory of what you do have and work with it. Your best assets are the ones that you have, so if that means shooting your film on your smartphone at your mom's house for zero dollars, then rock that shit.
Value your time
Sometimes I want to cry when I think about all the work I did for free at the beginning of my career. Guess what! Getting paid in "experience" is bogus, so set a reasonable rate for yourself. You'll gain experience while you're gaining money.
Be patient, not passive
Building your career takes time, yes, but it also takes effort. Be patient as things align, but you should be the one working to align them.
Sometimes projects fizzle out: Sometimes projects won't get off the ground, so don't get discouraged when clients and collaborators don't call you back. This happens all the time. Just move on to the next.
Things will not go as planned
This is a promise: no matter how much you plan ahead, things will derail. One of your best assets as a filmmaker is going to be flexibility and resiliency as you put up with the unexpected.
What are some things you wish you knew at the beginning of your filmmaking career? What advice would you give your younger self about filmmaking? Let us know down below.