Photo Credit: Derrick Gallegos
1. You need to go to film school to become a film maker
Don't get me wrong, film school can be a great opportunity for those who have the means. It is a great networking tool and a good program will have you hands on with the best equipment. Its a great help but it is by no means necessary. Today, there is an abundance of information all over the internet (in places like the Starr Street Media's WOTS!) that not only cover any technical questions you may have but also can help with things like writing and directing. With platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and even Facebook, reaching an audience has never been more accessible.
2. The Higher the Budget the better the film
There's a saying in car culture, “If you can't go fast with 90 horse power, 900 wont help you”. Just because you spent a thousand dollars on a lens doesn't mean you know how to use it. Cinematography rules like the rule of thirds and the 180 degree line will generally make most shots look better regardless of the camera it was shot on. Can't afford actors? Try asking around at a local college or university, get some friends who want to try something new, or hell, if push comes to shove, cast yourself! There are plenty of creative solutions to problems caused by a small budget out there, you just have to experiment and see what works best for you. The important thing to remember is: it doesn't matter how pretty your movie is. If the audience doesn't care about the story, your movie isn't going to be very good.
3. Not having a budget means you'll bank
You should know how to make a film on a budget, however you shouldn't let that be your mantra. Yes, films like Tangerine that were shot entirely on an Iphone 5s have seen success, however, this doesn't mean every film shot on a cell phone and edited in iMovie is an instant classic. Low budget film making is charming and a necessary tool for film makers (the majority of YouTube's identity came from this approach) however I'm going to say the same thing I said in my last point, charm will get you nowhere if your movie is bad in the first place.
"It doesn't matter how pretty your movie is. If the audience doesn't care about the story, your movie isn't going to be very good."
4. You can fix anything in post
With tools as powerful as Premiere, After Effects, Audition and so many more on the market, it's easy to tell yourself “We'll fix it in post”. Yes, you can do a lot in post these days, but this doesn't mean you shouldn't make an effort to get it right the first time. Speaking from experience, you always want to light and expose your shot as best as you can during production, the cleaner the raw footage, the more time you can spend actually editing your movie. Also, audio is extremely important, and it's a detail many directors forget. Nine times out of ten, bad audio in unusable in post production. Lastly, the one thing you CAN'T fix in post is direction, take the time to make sure that your actors are off book and comfortable with the material before the shoot. If you are unhappy with the direction a scene is going, take the time to fix it. You will be glad you did, especially since you're going to look at that same footage a thousand times in post.
5. Film is a solely visual medium and is the vision of a single person.
When most people think of the word film maker, they normally picture a skinny dude pointing a camera at things. While yes technically we can call this dude a film maker, we're entirely missing the point. Film is a collaborative medium that takes advantage of so many different art forms. Actors, for example, aren't just people who get paid to pretend to be somebody else. Their job isn't just to portray a character, but to communicate the story, emotionally and logically, to the audience in a way that is easily understood. Good directors put a lot of trust in their actors and actors need to trust the directors vision for a film; it's a two way street. Then there are designers who need to dress, set and light said actors; again not just to mark off all the technical check boxes but to contribute to the films story. Audio adds so much depth to a film because it can fill the space that isn't taken up by the lens. Good sound should make a scene that takes place in a city, for example, really feel like we are in a city. If you don't believe me, just try watching a horror movie on mute and you'll see what I mean. At the end of the day, there are so many aspects of film that go unnoticed to the general audience, however that doesn't make them any less important. Yes you could throw silent footage of miscellaneous object together in time and call it a film, and technically you would be right for calling it such, but connecting emotionally with an audience is so much more than just showing them a series of images in an arbitrary order. Its about taking them somewhere else.