9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

Making movies has evolved. You no longer need expensive equipment or advanced skills to create a feature yourself. 

Whether you want to shoot a short film or a full-length feature, the inexpensive film equipment available today makes it easier than ever to film yourself. If you’re looking for filmmaking pro tips to start shooting the project you’ve always wanted to film, now is the time to learn some simple shooting tips to get started right away. 

Previously, owning or renting film production equipment was prohibitively expensive. Plus, this type of equipment was cumbersome to transport to and from a film set. However, with the affordable filmmaking equipment available at B&H Photo/Video and Amazon, you don’t need a large crew to film your passion project. 

A filmmaker can now film a feature film on their own with camera equipment such as a smartphone or a mirrorless camera, as well as a few extra pieces of film gear, which is easier than ever before. Nonetheless, to begin filming a feature film on your own, you must first understand some key elements of filmmaking. 

In this post, I’ve compiled responses from a variety of independent filmmakers in my area to help you learn how to be a pro at filmmaking on your own. Here are ten pointers from question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers I know in my filmmaking community to help you learn how to film yourself. 

These filmmaking tips will help you improve your ability to film footage on your own if you are a vlogger, an amateur filmmaker, or looking for ways to promote a product online. Are you curious? Let us get started.

9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

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Video Gear for Filming By Yourself

The most important aspect of filmmaking is having the proper filmmaking equipment and understanding how to use it to create high-quality videos on your own.

Camera

If you’re going to film by yourself, the first thing you should consider is getting the right camera. Many of the filmmakers I spoke with emphasized this point repeatedly. 

While there was much debate about the best filmmaking camera to begin filmmaking yourself, the key to selecting the right camera was to find one that you could afford. 

Your smartphone is one of the most accessible filmmaking cameras available. You can shoot 4k video footage in a camera that fits in your front pocket if you have the right smartphone.

Popular smartphones  AppleSamsungGoogleSony, and Huawei all shoot in 4k, there are some drawbacks from shooting with your smartphone compared to shooting with a filmmaking camera like a mirrorless camera like the Alpha series from Sony.

One of the drawbacks is not having the ability to add different lenses to the smartphone. Having the ability to use multiple lenses while shooting can add so much to your footage. 

For example, having a wide-angle lens can help shooting master shots of a whole scene, or getting in close and working in cramped spaces. 

Or, the ability to add a 50mm lens which is the most versatile lens that is fantastic in low light conditions, as well can be used for providing a great depth of field to a shot.

But if you want to use your smartphone for shooting a film, there is the option of adding an external attachment lens like the Moment Anamorphic or Ulazni Anamorphic lens which gives a cinematic look to your smartphone footage. 

I use the Moment Anamorphic Lens on my Apple iPhone, that the quality and depth it provides steps up the quality of footage I am filming with my smartphone.

Stabilize Camera Footage

9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

I have written a post on the importance of stabilization, you can read it here, but when it comes to filming video make sure your footage looks smooth.

If you have watched the film “The Blair Witch Project,” you probably got motion sickness within the first 10 minutes of watching the movie because of the shaky camera footage throughout the film. 

Keep in mind that the filmmakers of The Blair Witch Project choose to shoot the film this way to give it that found footage look.

But unless you are shooting a sequel to this film, please make sure you have stable footage throughout your film.

Why? Because if you have shaky camera footage, it just doesn’t look professional. 

There are ways to maintain stabilization throughout filming, and some options are inexpensive to buy. 

The cheapest way to stabilize your footage is to place the camera on a flat surface, but if you are shooting with a smartphone, that might be tough to do.

If you have the money to build a proper filmmaking kit, I would suggest purchasing a good tripod that can handle a mirrorless camera with a lens attached along with other gear like a monitor that may also be attached to the camera. 

Manfrotto produces quality tripods that can handle everything from smartphone kits right up to a fully loaded camera setup.

If you want mobility while filming, I suggest picking up a gimbal/stabilizer.

A gimbal like the DJI OSMO for smartphones and the DJI RONIN for filmmaking cameras like DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. 

One of the important tips on How To Film By Yourself is using a great stabilizer to help eliminate the shaky camera footage while on the go.

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Sound

9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

How To Film By Yourself – In my post, vlogging cameras and tools to make better vlogs, I discussed how important audio is to filmmaking. 

No matter how great your camera, performances, or visuals are…if you have bad audio, it’s game over.

All the filmmakers I asked about what’s the most important part of the filmmaking process is, all agreed that sound brings the visuals to life.

If you are filming yourself, the most important tip to remember is if your camera has a built-in microphone, never use it! Your camera is built for recording visuals, not sound.

Whether you are using your smartphone or filmmaking camera, always make sure you have sound gear by your side.

There are two options I suggest if you are filming yourself without a crew behind the camera. 

My first suggestion, which is a cheaper option, is to use a shotgun microphone attached to your filmmaking camera that records directional sound. 

What that means is wherever the microphone is pointed, that the sound that is being recorded. 

The second suggestion is using wireless lavalier microphones that allow you to record sound wirelessly from a transmitter and camera-mount receiver. 

These are perfect for bloggers, documentary filmmakers, and any other filmmaker looking to record sound without any wireless.

When shopping for a wireless lavalier microphone, try finding a kit like the Rode RODELink Filmmaker Kit that features an omnidirectional lavalier microphone for hands-free speech and dialog, a bodypack transmitter, and a camera-mount receiver.

How To Film By Yourself Sound Tip: Always pay attention to the weather and surrounding when shooting. Excessive wind or background noise can ruin your videos. 

Wait for the right moment to shoot, if not, it’s tough fixing it in post.

Lighting

9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

How To Film By Yourself – If you want the images you are filming to pop, you need to understand your lighting conditions while filming. 

You can control your lighting conditions better while filming indoors, but when you are shooting outdoors you need to pay attention to the sun.

If you are filming outdoors, try not to film subjects that are in direct sunlight. If possible, try shooting on days where there are overcast conditions. 

Shooting in overcast conditions, you can control the light on your subject better using a bounce reflector.

A reflector is a tool that helps a photographer/filmmaker manipulate the light by providing another surface for the light to bounce off. 

Reflectors are cheap filmmaking tools that can make an impact on your filming.

Another thing to consider if you are shooting outdoors is, using a mirrorless camera like the Sony alpha series that works perfectly in low lighting conditions, as well as harsher sunlight conditions. 

When you film indoors, try to black out any windows that sunlight may come in from. 

By blacking out your windows, you can control the lighting better with a set of lighting equipment like the Neewer film lighting kit you can find on Amazon here. 

How To Film By Yourself  Lighting Tip Below.

You can get fantastic lighting equipment from Amazon and B&H photo/video that can handle all your lighting needs.

Shoot In 4K

How To Film By Yourself – While you can shoot in either 1080p or 4K, the benefits of shooting in 4K is the ability to shoot in higher resolution.

Shooting in higher resolution allows you to zoom in clearer because of the improved video source you are working with.

Even if you are shooting in 4k and have to downgrade to present the film in 1080p, the images will still be noticeably sharper than if you just shot the film in 1080p.

This is great for when you need to place the camera far away from the subject, and need to zoom in on the subject in post, you will not lose the detail compared to if you shot in 1080p.

Another advantage of shooting 4k is that most cameras that record at 4K shoot at a higher bitrate. 

A higher bitrate means you get a better color detail that improves any gradual changes in the footage. This means you will get deeper blue skies and deeper solid colors in your film footage.

Most mainstream Mirrorless and DSLR cameras today like the Sony A7R series and the Panasonic GH5 can shoot in 4K.

Plus, with technology changing rapidly today, your 1080p film footage will not look great compared to 4K and 8K cameras today.

Use Multiple Cameras

How to Film on Your Own – When shooting videos or movies with multiple cameras, you can film the same scene from various angles at the same time. 

Multiple camera shooting aids in the editing process by allowing you to combine different angles to add movement or different perspectives to the scene. Shooting with multiple cameras takes a little longer to set up than shooting with one camera, but it can help you shoot scenes faster. 

The key to using multiple cameras in a shot is to position the cameras so that they capture all of the angles you want in the shot. Keep in mind that you must position them so that they do not appear in the other camera’s shots. When shooting a scene with a single camera, you usually keep it fixed in one location. 

Then, using your second camera, you could incorporate another fixed position to get a different angle from the same shot, or you could add movement to shake things up a little in the shot. 

The video below is an example of a three-camera setup I used as the director of photography on a short film years ago.

We used a multi-camera setup because we wanted to shoot everything in one day. With a three-camera setup, we were able to cover all of the shots on the shot list, giving our editor a lot to work with. 

Keep in mind that this was the first time attempting the three-camera setup on a shoestring budget.

Show Off Your Creative Side

How To Film By Yourself – This is one of the other key points that many of my filmmaker friends could not stress enough, and that is to be creative when you are filming.

I know for myself that when I started filming by myself, I used the same filming techniques over and over again. 

But when you do this, your audience begins to lose interest over time and will stop watching your videos completely.

When you are filming, why not incorporate different camera angels into your scenes. 

Try using a low angle shot where you position the camera near the ground. You will find that by using a low angle shoot, you will find your footage looks more cinematic

Another suggestion is trying a tracking shot in which the camera moves alongside a subject. This type of shot works well if you are shooting a performer while they are walking. 

There are so many different camera angle options that you can play around with when you are filming. 

Related Article: 11 Basic Camera Angles & Shots Every Filmmaker Needs To Know

Learn To Edit

When it comes to editing, most filmmakers I asked whether or not they prefer editing their films, and the results were mixed. I’ve always edited my projects because I couldn’t afford to hire others when I first started, so I learned how to do everything myself. 

But there’s something to be said for having an outside perspective, and it’s probably useful if you’re the type of writer/director who can’t let go of things in your film. But, whether you want someone else to edit your work or not, directors must edit at least a few of their projects.

If you’re new to editing, you’re bound to make mistakes. However, if you do not know how to edit, you will be severely disadvantaged in comparison to directors who do. 

Understanding pacing, coverage, transitions, what shots you’ll need and what shots you won’t need will help you in the long run. I’ve edited for directors who don’t know how to edit, and the footage is full of unnecessary coverage.

Or during the editing process, I find out the storytelling is very weak because these directors don’t know how shots and scenes go together. 

Editing is one of the most important things for directors to know about.

Side Note: There are many great editing software programs out there that will do the trick for you when it comes to editing. 

Programs like Adobe Creative CloudDaVinci Resolve editing software, and Vegas Movie Studio have created editing programs that deliver amazing results.

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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.

9 Great Filmmaking Pro Tips on How to Film By Yourself

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