10+ Important Tips For First Time Filmmakers – Short Film Advice

Important Tips for first time filmmakers

Shooting a short film isn’t as difficult as many people imagine. To make a short film, many aspects must be considered.

However, in order to be effective, a filmmaker must first grasp what these characteristics are and how to employ them to benefit the picture. If you’re considering filming a short film for the first time, you should know what it takes to be a successful first-time short filmmaker.

What experience do I have as a first-time filmmaker? Let’s just say that in the last five years, I’ve made a lot of blunders when it comes to making short films. What were these filmmaking blunders that I’ve committed in recent years?

Continue reading to understand the aspects of short filmmaking I got wrong, and how first time filmmakers might learn from my mistakes to become better filmmakers.

Here are my top ten tips for first time filmmakers, which I hope will help them succeed.

10+ Important Tips For First Time Filmmakers - Short Film Advice

10+ Important Tips For First Time Filmmakers - Short Film Advice

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First time filmmakers’ advice – The first piece of advice I can provide to any aspiring filmmaker is to not aim for the stars on their first outing.

What exactly do I mean? A first-time filmmaker must realize that anything can happen in their first film. Actors and crew were unable to arrive on set for the first day of filming, the place you planned to use was bulldozed the night before…the list goes on and on.

Taking a ‘less is more’ approach to filmmaking is crucial while shooting a short film for the first time.

What exactly do I mean? Which plane in the image below would you want to learn to fly from if you were learning to fly? Which is better, the left or the right?

10+ Important Tips For First Time Filmmakers - Short Film Advice

If you’re learning to fly for the first time, you’ll probably go for the plane that has the least amount of equipment to worry about. 

Before hopping into a jumbo jet and flying with a crew and passengers, you must first master the basics of flying with the fewest controls possible. 

Even the simplest films are frequently the most challenging when it comes to filming a short film. As a result, as a first-time filmmaker, you must comprehend the ‘less is more’ philosophy.

Related Article: Best Online Filmmaking Resources To Be A Better Filmmaker 

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Elements Of Film Production

First-time filmmakers’ advice – From my experience as a first assistant director, second unit director, assistant director, producer, and director, I’ve learned that even the simplest short films are difficult to make.

Regardless of the duration of the short film, there are some important factors to good filmmaking that every filmmaker must master.

  • Story and Script
  • Pre-Production Planning 
  • Finding Locations
  • Casting The Right Actors
  • Directing Actors 
  • Managing Crew
  • Directing the Photography
  • Camera Operation
  • Lighting
  • Sound Recording
  • Editing
  • Sound Design
  • Music

To complete each of the activities listed above, you’ll need sufficient experience. Particularly in terms of sound, cinematography, and editing. 

It would be like piloting a passenger plane for the first time if you didn’t have any expertise with any of these duties and attempted to make a short film right now. 

Controlling the controllable and bringing in qualified staff to fill in the rest of the jobs is the most important aspect of the list above. This way, you can concentrate on what you know and trust the rest of the team to assist you to finish the task correctly.

Related Article: 8 Important Low Budget Filmmaking Tips For Beginners

The Fundamentals Of Filmmaking

First-time filmmakers’ advice – There are four foundations of filmmaking that a director must grasp before filming a film, regardless of its length, to make a good film.

  1. Story
  2. Camera
  3. Editing
  4. Sound

Story

A fantastic story is required for a film to be deemed a masterpiece. The story is simply one of many elements that go into making a film, and each one must be exceptional.

Camera

Following the action with the camera creates a sense of forwarding motion, velocity, and energy, and allows the audience to join in the action. 

Re-watch your favorite film and assess how camera movement enhances the impact of important scenes. The story is visually told by the camera.

Editing 

Editing is the process of fine-tuning your story’s pacing and structure. Film/Video editing is crucial because it allows us to merge pictures and sounds to feel emotionally engaged and sometimes actually present in the film we’re viewing. 

Video editing is unquestionably one of the most significant tasks in the film industry. Editing is the process of fine-tuning your story’s pacing and structure.

Sound 

Sound is a form of auditory storytelling. Audiences are drawn to sound because it engages them. Sound elicits emotional responses, draws attention to what’s on-screen, and is utilized to convey mood. 

Sound elicits emotion and helps people connect with what they’re witnessing.

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Understanding The Fundamentals Of Filmmaking

10+ Important Tips For First Time Filmmakers - Short Film Advice

Tips for first time filmmakers – If you want to be a filmmaker, you should try to get as much experience with these four principles as possible. You may not be directing a script you wrote, and you may have a sound and editing crew, but you should be familiar enough with these jobs to comprehend the process.

Consider the airplane example from earlier.

How are you going to fly an airplane if you’ve never flown one before? Will you entrust the plane’s flight to the instructor or co-pilot? If that’s the case, you’re not the captain.

It’s the same with filmmaking: if you don’t understand the fundamentals, you won’t be able to properly lead the production. So, my advice is to keep your short films simple so that you can rectify and learn from your mistakes in order to become a better filmmaker.

Famous Directors That Began With Short Films

Even renowned directors like Martin Scorcese and Steven Spielberg began their careers as filmmakers with short films, whether they were in film school or working on their own.

They had dreams of making it big in the film industry at one point in their lives, but they also understood that they needed to start small and prove to the world that they had the vision to succeed.

Here’s some sound advice from two successful filmmakers who started with short films and went on to make feature films.

Related Article: 10 Important Tips for Directing Actors – How To Direct Actors

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, and more.

Summary

I know these short filmmaking recommendations for first time filmmakers are all over the place, but I hope they give you a better idea of what it takes to make a good film. Making a short film for the first time requires a lot of confidence and determination. Making a short film for the first time requires dedication and a never-say-die mentality.

If this is your first time making a short film, don’t try too many things at once. Write a basic plot that can bring out your inner innovative director’s side, based on the places and people you already have.

If you’re concerned about your abilities, consider volunteering on an independent film to get experience, watching YouTube videos to brush up on some skills, or enrolling in online filmmaking courses.

All I have to say to aspiring filmmakers is to pick up a camera and start filming. It’s the most effective approach to learning.

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

10+ Important Tips For First Time Filmmakers - Short Film Advice

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