Movies are a great form of entertainment that immerse us into worlds of fear, laughter, adventure, and fantasy. Many amateur filmmakers would love to make their own movie, but sadly most of these people have no idea how to get started, or think it will cost a ton of money. With determination, and following these tips, any amateur can entertain an audience with their film.
It Begins Here
Every movie starts with one little idea that is developed into a script. For example, the idea of a child being forgotten at home more than likely gave us Home Alone. The idea of what goes on behind the scenes of a day time soap opera, gave us Soap Dish. Any idea can be a good one, but try to think of something that will be easy for you to shoot budget wise. Therefore, no super sea monsters trying to destroy the world. So what is your idea?
On To Writing
Now that you know what your film will be about, it's time to start writing the script. However, before starting on your script, take some time to brainstorm. Writing down all your thoughts will help prevent writer's block. Take a week, a month, or even few months to brainstorm. Make sure to list all scene locations, character information, and situations that will occur in your movie. When considering locations, it would be wise to think about easy accessible areas. Writing a scene taking place on the roof top of a high rise would make no sense if you do not have one available.
After brainstorming, it is time to move on to writing the script. Celtx is a great program for script writing, it formats, and makes everything look professional. This is a free program that you can download from the Celtx website. Usually every written page of a script equals one minute of screen time. When considering movements without dialogue, some pages may equal less than a minute.
Once you have completed your script, give it to a friend, or family member, and have them read through it. When they have finished, ask them for their honest opinion. Their feedback will make your script stronger. If someone is having trouble understanding anything, you may want to change it, or figure out a way to make it more understandable. If you receive good feedback, it is time to move to the next stage.
Now Comes the Lines
For the next stage you will look through your script once again. However, this time you will draw vertical lines on it. Knowing the basic shots of film making, such as : extreme long shot (ELS), long shot (LS), medium shot (MS), medium close up (MCU), close up (CU), and extreme close up (ECU) will help in this process. A lined script basically shows the different shots you want for your scenes. This will make it easier for you to complete your story boards later. Every time you want to move the camera, you will draw a vertical line through that section of dialogue, or action. For example, if your script states that a character "opens a bottle of soda", you might want to get a close up of that action. Therefore, you will draw a vertical line through"opens bottle of soda" and label it as (CU). In addition, be sure to label each line as a different shot. Your close up shot of the character opening the bottle of soda should have a name like shot "B1". Giving every line a different name will make editing a little easier.
Time To Draw Some Pictures And Make A List
Storyboarding your script will give you a visual idea of what the shots will look like. You can download storyboard templates online for free. If your drawing abilities are not up to par, do not panic, stick figures will work just fine. Every vertical line from the lined script will get its own square. Remember to name the squares with the proper shot name.
Once the storyboards are completed you can move on to creating your shot list. During the production stage, this list will alert you to what shots are yet to be completed, and where the camera will be positioned. You can download templates online, or create your own with any word program. The list should contain the following columns: scene number, shot number, framing, and description. When organizing your shots in the list, be sure to arrange them in the order from widest to closest. For example, if scene one has a close up and a medium shot, you will do your medium before your close up shot. This technic will prevent you from moving the camera forward then back again.
Making a production book to place all these items in will be useful. A three ring binder, or even a folder will do. Be sure to place everything under plastic covers to protect your documents from spills.
The Search Begins
Now it is time to find actors, and crew members. Friends, and family can make great crew members, or actors. You can also place ads on sites like Playbill or Craigslist to search for actors, or crew members. Unless you are willing to pay your workers, when placing ads be sure to mention that your gigs are non paying. Having your crew members and actors sign a form of agreement will prevent anyone from leaving before shooting is completed. You can create a simple form listing your starting and completion date.
After you have found your actors, holding a table read is advised. Here you will gather all of your actors and have them read through the script aloud. This will allow actors to become comfortable with their roles, and will also give the director an idea of how the actors will deliver their lines. Be sure to print enough scripts for everyone. Having water, and snacks available during this meeting will keep everyone's energy up.
When it comes to equipment, you do not need an expensive camera, or other high priced items to make a great movie. An inexpensive digital camera, or even a good cell phone camera, will give you a great look.
Let the Production Begin
When you have found everyone, and everything, you need to bring your movie to life, it is time to start the production. During this stage all scenes taking place in the same location should be shot together. Doing this will save you from returning to the same location again and again.
Providing lunch and other treats for your cast and crew will keep them energized. Everyone works better when they are fed, and hydrated. This will also give you a good repetition, and more people will want to work with you on your next project.
Once you have shot all your scenes, it is time to bring it all together in editing. Programs like Final Cut, and Adobe Premiere are great choices for this task, however they can be a little expensive. If you prefer something free, Windows Movie Maker, and LightWorks are worth a try. If you are using a Mac then i-movie is a good option. When creating the credits, make sure to list everyone that helped in the production of the film.
After editing is done, throw an opening night party, and let everyone enjoy your directing debut.
So there you have it, simple tips that can help any amateur filmmaker entertain an audience.