One person film crew – Are you an independent filmmaker that has an idea that you want to shoot today but doesn’t have the crew to help with production?
There are several amateur filmmakers out there that want to film a documentary or short film but lack the resources to do that.
A crew is a valuable part of film production, but if a beginning filmmaker can’t come up with a crew to start filming, what do they do?
This post is dedicated to the filmmaker out there looking in ways on how to make a film on their own as a one-man or woman film crew.
To master the art of the one-person film crew, you will need to follow 7 tips, including concept ideas, equipment, and planning steps.
What I hope you will get out of this post is a better understanding of how to shoot a feature film (Short or Long) on your own by making yourself a one-person production team.
One Person Film Crew - How Master Filmmaking By Yourself
How To Make A Film On Your Own
Shooting a feature film on your own can come with many reasons, and many of them are based on the project and ease of filming on your own.
I have to warn you upfront that being your own one person film crew can have its challenges.
When it comes to filmmaking, having a team behind you all working together to create a vision on screen, makes the production more rewarding because you all share a sense of accomplishment.
But, shooting your project can save so much stress and frustrations that come from working with a team based on low-budget filmmaking.
Here are the 7 Steps On How To Make A Film Yourself Without A Crew.
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STEP 1. The Script
One person film crew – If you are a new filmmaker just starting the filmmaking journey and unsure of the process of screenwriting I will just give you one tip.
When it comes to filming from the page, one page of a screenplay is equal to one minute of screen time. (Give or take how much action is on the page.)
To break down short fil scripts for example, if you have a 5-page screenplay, you are looking at 5 minutes of screen time.
How long will your film be?
What I suggest is to start researching youtube for short films that are the same length of film that you will be shooting.
What type of film will you be shooting?
Think about what way you want to tell your story.
Are you thinking about filming a vlog to place on YouTube? Or, are you wanting to shoot a narrative piece to shop around to film festivals?
What I suggest if you are coming up with short script ideas is to settle in on a genre like comedy, horror, documentary film, etc., and stick with your plan.
Are you thinking about using actors or are you going to act in the project alone?
If you are thinking about going alone on the project without actors, I suggest shooting your film with a POV (point of view) or Vlog style.
If you are unsure of these styles I’ve mentioned, here are some examples of projects that were shot as a one-man or woman film crew that you should have a look at.
While you are researching these films, make sure you have a pen and paper handy and scribble down any ideas you get from these examples.
Keep in mind while watching these short films is to think about what locations you are thinking about, and the film equipment you may need or have access to.
STEP 2. The Film Equipment
One person film crew – What access to film equipment do you have?
The cost of film equipment can be next to nothing if you go MacGyver style, or expensive if you just won the lottery.
Regardless of how much funding you have, you can achieve incredible footage with the variety of cameras available on the market today for your one-person crew.
If you are on a limited budget, you don’t have to look far to start shooting immediately because you probably have access to an incredible video camera in your pocket right now.
Cameras on mobile phones have changed over the past few years, and now they are capable of shooting 4K footage that only DSLRs were able to do a few years ago.
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If you are seeking something that was built strictly as a camera, then you should focus on a really good DSLR camera.
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The next piece of equipment for your filmmaking is Sound Equipment.
For documentary filmmakers, I will suggest a Rode mic that can fit on top of a DSLR camera to capture really good sound for interviews or close to the camera sound.
The great thing about the Zoom H4N is you can filter the sound quite well in the post-production stage of filmmaking in the editing suite.
Plus, having a Lavalier Microphone you can place them on an actor to ensure that the dialogue is being isolated as well for the editing suite in post-production.
For audio, a Rode Mic such as this one will fit on top of your DSLR and is perfect for interviews or close-to-camera audio.
Another piece of equipment you will need is a handheld tripod like the Zhiyun Crane 2 for incredible stabilization that will take away the shaky cam footage that can make your audience nauseous.
If you are looking at a more stable option for your camera, then pick up a solid Tripod. I would suggest Manfrotto tripods, as they are a great reviewed company for their tripods.
What type of lighting will you be using?
If you are thinking of going alone on shooting your masterpiece, you can use a LCD light that can fit on top of your camera.
If you are thinking about an indoor shoot, then maybe think about cheap box lights that can fill a room with clear white light.
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STEP 3. Pre-Production
One person film crew – This next stage is something that can be fun or exhausting.
To have a successful film shoot with your one-man or woman film crew, you need to break down your script. Go over everything you need to make it successful.
Thinking about the locations, wardrobe, props, etc. you need to be up and running for your first day of shooting.
Create a spreadsheet for each scene and make note of everything you need for each scene.
The next step in this pre-production stage is the storyboard.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the animation skills like someone from Disney animation, stick figures work just as well.
What you are trying to do with the storyboard is to figure out where you want your characters to be on screen and what angels you want for the scene.
Looking for actors to fill out your cast?
Things have changed over the years in regards to casting, gone are the days of placing ads in the classified section of the newspaper.
Do newspapers still exist?
What has worked well for me lately, is Facebook groups. Just by typing casting and your city, you will come across quite a few groups in your area that you can begin putting out a casting call.
Also, hunt down acting schools in your area, and ask if you can post a casting sheet on a bulletin board for students to see.
Actors are always paying attention to Facebook groups and bulletin boards in your area, so you won’t have much trouble filling out your cast.
Once you have quite a few actors who want to read for your film, it’s time to begin the audition process.
Have a look around in your area for libraries and community centers that reserve rooms for free, and reserve a time and date and then let your actors know.
When it comes to the audition day, try blocking off half an hour per actor to discuss the project with them, and then have them read a scene from the script.
STEP 4. Shooting Schedule
One person film crew –
Scheduling sometimes is difficult to get a crew who is working for free to find a day that works for everybody, but make it so. If you are shooting your film alone, then pick a day and just do it!
If you have actors in your feature, think about creating a closed Facebook group page so it’s easier to communicate with each other.
You can do this with email, but it can become bothersome if everybody is cc’ing each other about stuff that doesn’t pertain to the film shoot.
Here is a piece of advice that I can’t stress enough and that is, on shooting days, take into account additional travel time.
What could usually take a 30-min drive could end up being an hour because of something uncontrollable.
I worked on a set once in which the schedule called for one scene to end and another to begin at different locations that were a 30 min drive away from each other, and 30 min was the only break in between.
So when it came down to shooting the next scene, everybody was late and we lost the daylight because of poor scheduling.
Go through your shot list, and double-check everything.
STEP 5. Production
One person film crew – The big day has arrived, and you will be excited to start shooting, just make sure you focus on the scene at hand. Don’t think about the scenes that need to be shot later on, because things happen.
When it comes to organization, you can plan for the unexpected.
The weather could change half-way through a scene, your camera could begin to malfunction, and you could run out of time for the rest of the shots or scenes in the day.
I have never worked on a film set where things went as planned, but they have been all non-paid shoots, so you plan for this.
Always plan in your schedule pick-up days, in case you need to reshoot scenes that were missed.
If you a one person film crew director, still schedule pickup days for yourself, make sure you have a clear calendar in case something needs to be reshot.
Step 6. Editing
One person film crew – I am a horrible editor, so I can’t give you great advice on this as a one-man or woman video production editor.
There is probably a 4-year-old on youtube that can teach you editing better than me.
Seriously, there was a youtube video I saw in which a 9-year-old taught me how to use Snapchat.
But, if you want to use a robust editing suite that many filmmakers use, I would suggest Adobe Creative Cloud (which includes Premiere Pro, After Effects, Adobe Audition, and Photoshop).
You can pretty much do anything with the Creative Cloud; it’s a monthly subscription service but it’s worth it. Click here for more details.
You can also try DaVinci Resolve editing software which is a great standalone editing software that is free, I think. Click here for more details.
STEP 7. Promotion
Time to have the masses watch your video!
Now, you can try to submit to a few festivals and test your luck in being selected but chose a handful. The cost of submitting to film festivals can get quite costly, so only submit to the ones that you really would go to.
Find a film festival in your area first, as they seem to always focus on local submissions first.
Where do you find film festivals?
Start your research by using Google and Film Freeway. Odds are you will find what you are looking for.
If you want a great site that has a list of film festivals, check out Raindance, they keep an up-to-date list which is a great resource to bookmark.
If you didn’t get selected for any festivals, don’t worry as there are tons of places on the internet where you can post your material for people to see.
Start with Youtube first, but for the word to get out that your film is on the platform, you need to use social media to spread the word.
You can use Vimeo as well, which shows the product in higher quality compared to youtube, but there are fees attached sometimes. Check out the Vimeo options here.
Do you think you can Master The Art Of One Person Film Crew With These 7 Steps?
The great thing about filmmaking in today’s world is the only costly thing is time.
You will make mistakes along the way, but you will learn each day something new and something to forget in order for you to be a better filmmaker.
Now, go out and make your masterpiece.
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