Want to Learn Filmmaking? Here are 10 Tips to Get You Started

It's not hard to learn filmmaking, but it is rewarding. Whether or not you have time to dedicate hours, you can pick up filmmaking. Here's how.
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You dream of making your own movies, but you’re not sure where to begin. Sound familiar?

You’re far from alone!

But your dreams don’t have to stay fantasies. You can start learning filmmaking right now! Keep reading for 10 tips to help you get started.

1. Study What You Watch

The good news is that you’ve been preparing for a career in film for years — even if you didn’t explicitly know it!
Watching movies can be a great way to pass the time and entertain yourself. But it’s also a vital component of learning the art of filmmaking.

The next time you find yourself itching to do something creative, try this film appreciation exercise:
Pop in your favorite movie and grab a pen and paper. Now, really start to watch the movie. Look at the small details that make your favorite movie pop. As you watch, write down your observations or questions. Explain how these inclusions add to the movie-watching experience and further the film’s theme.

Make an effort to do this whenever possible. You’ll start to gain a critical eye that will help you develop stronger, more cohesive films.

2. Learn from the Experts

There’s never been a better time to learn the craft of filmmaking. There are hundreds of books, podcasts, and interviews to study that can teach you a great deal about film.

Independent film legend Kevin Smith’s SModcast podcast has several episodes devoted to navigating the world of independent film.

In terms of literature, Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel Without a Crew” is a great foray into the director’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get his first feature, “El Mariachi,” shot. Written as a diary, you’ll get to read how difficult financing a film can be and what you can do to overcome it.

Another great book to check out is, “Hitchcock/Truffaut,” which transcribes a series of interviews and conversations between the Master of Suspense and revolutionary French New Wave filmmaker Francois Truffaut.

3. Attend Workshops From Industry Experts

Reading or listening to filmmakers is one thing. But studying under them directly is a much more exciting opportunity.

Seek out workshops in your area. These crash courses will help you gain the baseline skills needed to write, produce, shoot, and edit a short film in a matter of weeks, not years.

Plus, most offer hands-on experience, so you can start to develop a sense of how film sets work.

4. Don't Let Your Gear Limit Your Creativity

Let’s face it, filmmaking can seem downright inaccessible. You have to have plenty of high-end, expensive gear to bring your vision to life. Or, at least, that was the case 20 years ago.

Now, technology is more affordable, convenient, and accessible than ever. In all likelihood, you could shoot and edit a film on whatever device you’re reading this on!
Every filmmaker wants to get their hands on the latest RED 4K camera. But your budget doesn’t have to get in the way of your vision.
Make your film, no matter what. Even if it means editing on free software and shooting on your cell phone’s camera.

5. Volunteer on Set

As fun and fulfilling as shooting films you’ve created can be, there’s plenty of value in assisting others. The best way to learn filmmaking is to get in the trenches and experience the fast and fun nature of life on set for yourself.

Whenever possible, volunteer to help your peers out. Not only will this help you gain practical experience, but you can take turns helping one another out. So when it comes time to shoot your next film, they can volunteer on your set and fill out your crew.

6. Network

It’s not always what you know that helps you land a gig, but who you know.

Spend time in your local arts district getting to know other filmmakers. You can also use the Internet to reach other filmmakers across the globe.

Social media communities like Reddit have entire subsections dedicated to film, filmmaking, and film appreciation.

7. Start with Shorts

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already have a treatment for your first feature completed. Though that’s a great start, you have to walk before you can run.

Instead, aim to create and publish shorts. They’re easier to shoot, take less time, and you can always flesh them out later if you so choose.

learn filmmaking
Don't Let a lack of resources stop you. Start out with Short Films.

8. Learn from Your Mistakes

If you were to watch your favorite film with your favorite filmmaker, they’d be able to point out certain mistakes they wish they could change. Such is the nature of filmmaking.

Instead of avoiding these mistakes, accept that messing up is okay. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and see them as a learning opportunity instead.

9. Read up on Film Theory

The practical craft of filmmaking, while important, is only half of the equation. Great filmmakers know how to use the language of cinema to get their messages across.
You’ll learn some of this from time and experience. However, you can get a jump start by reading up on the works of prevalent film theorists. Film theory analyzes and assesses individual films or movements in film to better understand their cultural impact and help aspiring filmmakers learn how they can deploy the same ideas.

Some great works to start with include:

  • “Men, Women, and Chain Saws” by Carol Clover
  • “Film Form” by Sergei Eisenstein
  • “Concepts in Film Theory” by J. Dudley Andrew
  • “Sculpting in Time” by Andrej Tarkovsky

While film theory is often dry and academic, the ideas you learn in these books will help you become a better storyteller. The ideas in these books might just fuel your next film.

10. Try Different Roles

Once you’ve found friends in your local filmmaking community, don’t be afraid to try different on set roles.
Switching things up from time to time is a great way to add to your creative repertoire.

And you’ll never know what passions you might discover. You may set out to direct only to find that you have a knack for editing, for instance.

Start Your Dream Career and Learn Filmmaking

There’s no need to put off your dreams any longer! Follow these tips and learn filmmaking today.

If you’re interested in learning from some of the industry’s best and brightest, make sure to get in touch today. We offer workshops in directing, writing, editing, and so much more!

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