If you’re a beginner interested in learning about filmmaking, take a look at our Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners below.
Whether you’re a complete beginner, or an experienced filmmaker, making a film can be challenging. It’s often a lot of work, and there are several traps you can easily fall into that can affect the quality of your film.
These Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners can help to ease you on your way to filmmaking glory.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #1: Make Sure to Shoot in the Correct Aspect Ratio
One of the most common mistakes we often see is filmmakers shooting with a phone in the wrong mode or position.
If you’re shooting on a phone, decide if it’s best to shoot in a portrait or landscape ratio. If you’re making a video for TikTok or an Instagram reel, then portrait mode works great. But if you’re planning on uploading to YouTube, or submitting to a film festival, then landscape tends to look better.
Think about where your film is likely to be seen. If people will watch it on a TV screen, make sure to shoot landscape.
Tops 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #2: Always Plan Ahead
Pre-production might feel a bit unnecessary, especially if you just want to get on and shoot. But a small amount of planning can help you make the best possible film.
You might not need a full blown script, but a storyboard can help you to stay on track and to visualise what your film will look like. (Take a look at our top tips for Storyboarding here > >)
Schedule your shoot too. This doesn’t need to be in tons of detail, but having a schedule and maximising your shooting time will help you capture the best footage in the time you have. This is especially helpful if you’re working across a few different locations – moving from location to location always takes away your shooting time.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #3: Shoot a Few Different Angles
One of the biggest giveaways of a beginner filmmaker is a film that’s mostly shot in continuous wide angles. This is the ‘default’ shot, it tends to show the whole scene.
Mix your film up with a variety of different angles. Include some close up shots, or some shots that cut in from the side. You can edit these together into a continuous sequence. Using a mix of shot sizes and angles will add lots of visual interest your film and keep things fresh for your audience.
Want some suggestions? Take a look at our foolproof Quick Cut Angles series > >
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #4: Don’t Shoot in the Dark
Footage shot in the dark never looks good – the sensors in digital cameras often struggle to pick up the image, so you can end up with lots of fuzzy pixels and unclear images.
If you want to shoot a dark, moody scene, don’t just shoot in a dark room with the lights off. Either shoot in in natural lighting and then apply a visual effect when you edit, or spend the time setting up the shot with a light source to feature your subject.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #5: Don’t Neglect the Sound
Sound can be one of the trickiest things to get right on a film production, especially as a beginner filmmaker, and especially if you’re working without specialist microphones and recording equipment.
Always try to get an extra take just for the sound. Place the camera or the mic as close to your actor/presenter as possible so you get the clearest possible sound recording.
If you’re shooting outside, try to shield from the wind and wait for any planes to pass overhead, or traffic to go by. When you edit, you can use the audio from your sound take together with the separate visuals for a clearer sound quality. Using effects like noise reduction or levels editing can help polish the sound even more.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #6: Try to Shoot at Eye Level
Another common mistake we see a lot from beginner filmmakers is that they often shoot at their eye level. This means that the camera is nearly always looking down, or looking up, depending on their height.
Always try to shoot with the camera level to your subject’s eye level, not your own. Using a tripod can help with this.
You can choose to shoot at high angles or low angles, just make sure to do it deliberately to convey status or relationship.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #7: Avoid Gimmicky Transitions
Transitions can be fun, and if you’re making a comedy sketch, or a music video, you can get away with quite a lot. But if you’re making a serious film, try to avoid using some of the gimmicky transitions available in editing apps.
The best editing is said to be invisible, so try to stick to the boring ones. Use straight cuts as much as possible, or splash out with a fade, but try to avoid all the flashy transitions that draw attention to themselves unless you’re certain you want that style.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #8: Forget Almost Everything You Know About Drama
This filmmaking tip for beginners is especially for young filmmakers who might also be studying (or remember studying) drama.
We see lots of beginner filmmakers try to suspend the audience’s disbelief. In drama, you can build a world out of chairs, and the audience will go with you. But on film, it just looks like a pile of chairs.
In drama classes and performances, a child can play an old woman, or a dragon, or the spirit of the wind, and it’s all fine. But on camera, it’s clearly a child. Pay attention to everything you’re showing – your audience will.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #9: Make Sure to Use Copyright Free Music
Getting to grips with copyright can feel complicated, but the essence of it is, don’t use music, footage or effects that you haven’t created, or that you don’t have permission for.
It might seem harmless to include a song by your favourite artist, but YouTube, Vimeo and some of the streaming platforms will put limits or strikes on your videos, or they might remove them altogether.
Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners #10: Don’t Let Perfection Become the Enemy of the Good
Making a film can be a lot of work, so it can be easy to say “I’ll do that tomorrow.” Meticulous planning might start to take over, and despite having a great idea, you find you don’t actually get round to shooting it.
There is never a better time than now. Make the time, get onto shooting and finish that project you’re working on. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just getting it done is the best way to progress from a beginner to an expert.
So there you have our Top 10 Filmmaking Tips for Beginners!
If you’re looking for some more filmmaking tips, or some advice on how best to grow your filmmaking skills, then take a look at some of our practical filmmaking projects and guides here > >.