What Goes into Making a Film
If you are planning to make a movie or even just a short film, there’s a lot to think about. Below we’re going to go over the steps that you should follow to create a film. You are going to learn everything that you need to know to be able to film a movie.
During this stage you’re going to work out the filmmaking idea, along with the way it’s going to tell the story. You have to have a story or an idea, even if it’s a simple one, and it has to be clear. Try writing the idea down in just one tweet or 50 words. If this isn’t possible, it has to be simplified or rethought.
After you have this idea, you’ll be able to think of the ways it can become a film. There’s many ways that it can be done. One good place you can begin, is something called a mind map. You also could create a treatment. This is going to be the story’s detailed description and the way it’s going to sound and look on film.
If the film has dialogue and actors, a script should be written. If you have complex scenes, storyboards can be made to help with working out the way that they’re going to be filmed. When the shots are worked out in advance, it’s going to help you be sure you’re getting everything needed on any given day. These storyboards are going to be a great way to ensure the shots are making sense together. If you’re unable to draw, you can use a digital camera or simply list your shots and then check the shots off as they’re shot. You also want to visit those settings where you’re planning to film. Make sure that you’re also going to be able to get the permission you need to film in that location. Check lighting. Make sure there won’t be any distracting sounds or interruptions, and that there is enough space for the necessary camera positions you’ll need.
You can draw up the location plans to help with working out where the cameras and actors should go. Make sure you’ve got all the gear and people needed prior to shooting. Call sheets are a great way to organize what is needed.
Also, you want to make sure that you have the legal agreements signed before shooting, such as release forms from the actors. The last thing you want is to argue about them after the film is completed.
Shooting a Simple Film
If you are simply shooting something like an event or place record, you may not need to have a script or storyboard. However, you’ll still need some idea of what you’re filming, even if you’re just using a simple list of shots. Be sure you’re getting several shot sizes. These are things such as really long shots in order to show where you’re shooting mid and long shots of people. You also want to get many closeup shots of things and people.
Ready to Begin Filming?
Each shot needs to be set up carefully. It’s possible you’ll have to move your camera to another position so you’re getting your background, light, and framing right.
- Check Your Framing – Be sure you’re not cutting out anything that is important and you’re not including anything confusing or distracting.
- Check Your Light – Examine your light on your screen or your viewfinder. Is it looking right? If the area is looking too dark or bright, is it possible to change your exposure? You can manually set it or use the exposure compensation.
- Check Your Focus – Do you have a sharp shot? Is the correct section of your scene focused?
- Check Your Sound – Ask everyone to stop talking and listen for thirty seconds. Are you able to hear anything that is going to come out in the film? If so, can anything be done about it?
- Check Everyone’s Ready – Tell everyone you’re going to begin filming or say the word standby.
Getting the Necessities
Coverage will mean being sure you have all of the shots needed for the scene, so there is not going to be any types of awkward gaps or jumps when you’re editing it.
One of the ways to be sure you’ve got your coverage is to film what is called the master shot, which is a really long shot of your action or long shot. It’s also a good idea to shoot some getaways, these are details that are in other sections of your setting. These shots can be cut back so that you’re covering your gaps and problems when editing.
If you have a single camera and you are shooting a scene that is dramatic, set up your camera to get a master shot somewhere that is going to cover your entire action, and then film your actors completing your entire scene before filming your closeups and mid shots.
If you’re filming a live performance or event, another camera will be required. Put it on your tripod where you can cover your whole action, begin the camera and let it keep running. Keep in mind that the SLR cameras aren’t able to record clips that are very long, so if that event is going longer than the maximum length of the clip you’ll have to work with a camcorder.
If you are cutting in between closeups of actors who are talking to one another, film your whole scene with your camera on your first actor and then move your camera so that it’s facing your second actor and then film it again. You’ll then be able to go between your two shots along with your master and cutaway shots once you’re editing. It’s also possible to do this when it’s an interview.
With presenters or actors, it’s important to rehearse your scene a few times before it’s filmed. Have them go through your scene two or three times and make any types of changes when it comes to their performances or positions. Then start working out where the camera should be for every shot. This is the blocking process.
How Much You Should Film
When things aren’t moving, or some of the general people or scenes shots, each shot should be a minimum of ten seconds.
When people or acting or talking in the scene, the shots have to be topped and tailed. Start your camera several seconds prior to the action starting and keep it running several seconds once it’s ended. If you are working alone, it’s a good idea to start your camera as well as check the recording, before slowly counting to five. Then you should shout action or give the actors some type of hand signal. After they’ve finished, you then count out five again before stopping.
If you have a team, this drill can be your guide:
- Set up the shot and make sure your actors are in place
- Your camera operator should say ‘Camera set’ once they’re ready
- Your director should say ‘Quiet please’
- After everybody is quiet, the director says ‘Standby’ and ‘Turn over’
- Your camera operator begins your camera and makes sure it’s recording before saying ‘Camera rolling’
- The director will slowly count to five before saying ‘Action’ or can count using hand signals.
- The presenters or actors do what they have to do and the director will count five before saying ‘Cut’
- Your camera operator will stop your camera, then your production assistant will note your shot and the take on your list of shots
Get Your Location Sound
It’s important to record some of the sound from your location with any dialogue. Anytime you have a scene, you should leave your audio recorder or camera running so that you have thirty seconds or so of wild track or atmos, also known as the room tone. This can help with covering up your audio problems when you’re editing. If the place your filming has a lot of distinctive or interesting sounds, they should be recorded separately.
Check the things that you have filmed prior to leaving your location or setting if possible. If this isn’t possible, check you’ve filmed the things on your shot list or storyboard.
Editing & sharing
Once your film has been shot, you’ll have to get it together and make sure it’s ready to be shared. It’s a lot easier to edit your video if you’re organized before starting and following a plan.
Save & Backup
You’re going to lose a lot of work if the program you’re using for editing crashes prior to you saving. Make sure your program is set to regularly autosave every 5-10 minutes. If there isn’t an autosave, set reminders and manually save regularly, as well as making any really big changes. Having a backup plan is also important. It’s not worth the risk to your original files or the project files you’ve been working on for days.
You can’t take the risk of losing your original video files, or project files that you’ve spend days working on. It’s a good idea to backup the footage on a separate computer drive and backup to your external drive each hour. Then duplicate that drive to another when the day is over, keeping your second drive somewhere else.
Discover where the program you’re using is keeping your files so you’ll know which of the ones should be backed up. Don’t simply back up your project files, but having backups of your media is also important. Some of the programs will bundle it all into a project file which also makes it easy for copying and backing up files.
Choose Anything You’re Using
If what you’ve shot is only a couple of clips, everything should be loaded onto your computer. If there’s a lot of material you’ve filmed, each clip should be checked out. A logging sheet is a good tool to use. Make some notes about every clip and only import the ones that are good. But you shouldn’t be deleting any of your clips right now unless you know for certain you can’t use them. You may find them useful in a later stage.
Create Your Project
Open the program that you’re using for editing and create your project. Give the project a name.
Put Your Video in Your Program
Using your memory card or USB cable, now connect your camera and your computer. Then use your editing program so that you’re able to important your clips. If the camera uses tape, you’re going to need something called the Firewire lead. This is something that not all computers are able to accept.
It’s really easy to lose track of your stuff when you have a bigger project. So if your program allows you to, organize the video into different events, folders, or bins depending on what the program calls it. Name your folders to know what they contain.
Have a Plan and Follow It
If the film has been planned using a shot list or storyboard, you shouldn’t have any trouble editing the clips together. Projects that are unpredictable such as events and documentaries are a lot more challenging. If you have one of these, it’s best to edit it on paper before you start cutting your material together.
Divide Your Long Film and Make It Shorter Sequences
If you have a complicated film and it has many separate sequences, you want to be working on each sequence separately before assembling them into your long film. A professional program can help with doing this, since they’re made to work in this way.
When you’re editing action or drama, the following sequence is good to follow:
- Put your shots in the right order using assemble edit
- Roughly trim them so they’re flowing together (this is a rough cut)
- Precisely edit them, adjusting the levels of sound and adding visual and sound effects
This will give you a fast idea of the way the sequence will work before starting to fine tune it. This can be done in other types of ways. If you’re using a few parts of that same shot, doing an interview, or dialogue scene, it’s a good idea to choose the shot section you’re wanting before dragging that part to your timeline.
If you’re making something like one of the music videos, you’ll begin with your soundtrack before fitting the shots into it. It’s possible to put some markers on your timeline so you’re seeing where your cuts need to go. This can be done by making sure your film is paused at each of the markers or using shortcuts on your keyboard to put them in while your soundtrack is playing. If the editing software or app you’re using doesn’t come with markers, it may be possible to use your audio waveforms as guides.
Keep on Reviewing
It’s really easy to become bogged down with the details, losing sight of your bigger picture. That is why a lot of people choose to put together their rough cut of their sequences first. As you’re adjusting the edits, continue going back to see how they’re working together. You also should take some time to watch your whole sequence at once.
Allow Other People to See It
Once your video is edited decently, let other people see it. Ask for their feedback. Ask if there is anything that isn’t making sense or that is feeling awkward? If there is, revise your edit and let them see it once again.
Add Your Finishing Touches
Now is when you’ll need to fine-tune your edits, smooth your sound out, and ensure the colors are matching between shots.
- Sound – Pay close attention to the levels of sound. Make sure it’s not getting too loud, that your levels of sound aren’t varying too much, your background music or sound isn’t drowning out speech of actors, and there is no types of dead silence.
- Display – Most of the programs also are going to give you options for adjusting your correcting your contrast, color, and exposure. It’s also possible to color grade the video for helping it have a style that is consistent. Some of the programs include some basic color grading or it’s possible to use another program.
- Credits – Finally, you’ll add credits and titles. This can be either done in the editing program or with another program made for titling.
When You’re Done
Save your project and back it up. Export your film’s copy at its highest quality. Until this is done, it’s not going to play on any other device, or if the original media is moved or deleted. Then you want to export any of the copies that are lower quality. If they are for sites that are made for video sharing, make sure you’re following their guidelines for online compression so you have the best results.
These are the steps to take when you want to make a film. Make sure that you’re following them and you’ll have a film of which you can be proud.
800-Kamerman is a 20 time National Emmy award-winning video production company with over 30 years of experience producing compelling branded content, commercials, live events, features, corporate communications and educational videos for clients. Offices in Orange County and Los Angeles.