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Filmmaking for Beginners

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/15/2010

If the filmmaker in you is itching to be set free, this article on filmmaking for beginners will offer you pointers on the psychological preparation, planning and preparing your project, selecting your equipment and even distributing your first digital film.

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    Before we examine the nuts and bolts of filmmaking for beginners, let’s look into the qualities you should bring along with you when you’re reading to take a leap into filmmaking.

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    Willingness to Learn

    Willingness to learn and explore is a key ingredient to becoming a successful filmmaker. If you’re new to the game, be willing to learn the aesthetics and techniques of filmmaking, even if there’s nobody to teach you or you can’t afford to go to film school.

    Leave no stone unturned when learning about filmmaking equipment, editing software, distribution of digital films over the Internet, and so on.

    To this end, you must constantly be learning by watching films, reading and taking notes, working with experienced filmmakers and attending filmmaking workshops or even participating in filmmaking forums over the Internet.

    Set it in your mind that you will need decades of learning to master the art and craft of filmmaking. Never stop on this front even if you’ve found some success as a filmmaker.

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    Plan and Prepare

    If you’re starting out, plan a small project first. You could work on a short film of about ten minutes on a subject that excites you. A short film will really test your expertise on all areas of filmmaking without placing excessive demands on your resources.

    Even if you have a project worked out in detail in your mind, you will still need a script or storyboard before you go out and shoot your film. You don’t have to follow Hollywood standards here. Just have something on paper that would not only keep you on the right track but also act as a blueprint for your actors and crew members.

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    Equipment

    You must get the best video camera available for your project as your resources allow. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t lay your hands on the latest HDV camera or a 3-CCD DV camera. Get what’s available – S-VHS, Hi-8 or mini DV. These camera models will not make your film inferior.

    Great documentaries and feature films have used entry-level video cameras. A good portion of The Blair Witch Project contained Hi-8 video footage. The same goes to the commercially-successful 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams, shot entirely on Hi-8 and which has now seen DVD release.

    As for post-production work, all you will need is a computer with a FireWire connection or a video capture card if you’re dealing with analog video. You can use video editing programs that came bundled with your operating systems – Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. You can also try out some of these open source video editing programs.

    Remember, it’s your ideas and vision that matters. Equipment comes second.

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    Actors

    With a script and equipment ready, you will need actors for your film. Chances are you won’t have the budget to hire professional actors. Get started with friends and family members. If you can’t find any talent within these circles, consider your local amateur theatre group.

    Many would want to be involved in your project without pay just for the love of acting. The first thing they would want to look at is your vision and how much faith you have in your project. Rub your enthusiasm on them and you’ll soon have enough takers.

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    Distributing Your Film

    As a budding filmmaker, your main goal should be to get exposure and feedback from your film instead of striking gold. Getting your film noticed among a global audience is not impossible with video sharing sites and online film festivals. Putting up a trailer over YouTube is enough to generate a huge amount of interest.

    If you believe your film has commercial potential, you should consider distributing your work through CreateSpace or independent film distributors.