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How to Start Filmmaking

Ah, here we are once again. Writing from the comfort of my home that I never leave. In this time of staying inside, it seems that many people are starting to like the idea of making a film themselves. That's how we all started. No idea what to do but raring to get going. This is why I am going to give you some of the basic techniques you need to consider when making a film for the first time. Let's take a look.

At its core, there are only two things you need to consider when making a film. How it looks and how it sounds. It is your job as a filmmaker to use these two mediums to tell a story. You can have the best-looking shots and some fast-paced, snappy dialogue, but if the audience doesn't know what's going on or what the film is about, it's dead in the water. Let's first tackle the picture.

Things to consider are:

  • Shot Size (The type of shot eg. Close-Up, Wide Shot etc.)

  • The Lens (Wide Angle, Telephoto etc.)

  • Camera Position and Angle

  • Composition (The arrangement of the shot)

  • Movement (How much the camera will move)

  • Light and Colour

All of these are very important and we will be putting out more content explaining all these terms in the future. I am not a director of photography, so here are some words from Fire and Iron's very own, extremely eloquent, Ben Chandler.

"Space and Time are of critical importance to film as they are what truly frame the narrative. This can be explained through the huge parallels that film has with our ability to perceive the world. Time and Space are boundary conditions of the phenomena we experience as an individual. And as individuals who perceive, we change our focus, we have our own biases, and these affect our observation and understanding of events, as well as other beings. We are creatures of narrative, this must be understood as it applies to film making. When you frame something, you are representing it in a certain way. To represent means to re-present. You can never be truly 'passive'. So, take your stance. With that in mind, keep the overall story in your mind at all times even when dealing with a single shot. As slick as a shot may be, if it doesn't work with the shots that come before and after it, then why are you doing it?"

"However ballsy and experimental you want to be, your film needs a logical flow, otherwise, it's nothing more than a compilation of 'stuff' (Non-linear films still have a logic). Films revolve around changing connections (between characters or a character and an object/place), and those connections are the most important thing in any shot, scene, act, or story. Changing connections in time and space is the very focus of your doing-justice, and is therefore what must determine your framing. From here, you can build upward to making your shots look fancy and dynamic with whatever embellishments take your fancy. Just remember, neglecting substance and an appropriate, effective flow will result in shooting yourself in the foot every time."

"Lastly, your story has a narrative and logic, but so does the film shoot! Your actors, location, props, and lighting occupy space and time as well, and those boundary conditions are precious. Prepare like mad: know the technical details of every shot, have it printed out, delegate tasks you can to crew, plan the shoot in a way that minimises moving gear and changing setups as best you can. This way, you have more time per shot to get the best out of it and you will make your director very happy. Make contingency plans your bezzie, and run them past the director. Things will go wrong, accept it, but if you and the director are clued up then you will reduce your chances of a botched production."

Now let's look at sound. Sound is an interesting one, because at the very start of filmmaking there were, of course, silent films. So, therefore, you don't need dialogue to tell a story, however, it can enhance it. If you cannot get decent sound, then don't put it in because it will only cheapen the film and ruin the hard work you've put into other aspects of the movie. I won't bore you with how to write dialogue, just head over to this blog on how to write dialogue that tells a story.

One of the best ways of using sound is musical scoring. As I say, this is used to enhance the audience's experience. It is important that the music doesn't become the focus, but more of an aid. If you're using purely using music to tell the story, then you might as well just make an album (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course).

Another aspect of sound is foley. This can sometimes be really fun as you have to come up with new and creative ways of mimicking sounds and (as long as it serves a purpose) it can enhance the reality of your project greatly. If you want some more tips on sound, especially on a budget, then head over to this blog here.

Well, thanks again for popping along to this filmic corner of the internet. Stay safe and good luck with whatever projects you've got going on.

Bye for now

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