Top 10 Newbie Filmmaker Mistakes. Avoid these mistakes

Vamify Felix

Posted on April 18 2019



Top 10 Newbie Filmmaker Mistakes

Nobody is perfect. I am quite sure that every filmmaker (who is worth his or her salt) will remember one or two especially embarrassing or discouraging moments happening in their first year! (Or finds very cringeworthy material, when revisiting early works.) Since I have been there and have done that, I would like to offer some pointers on how to avoid the most common newbie mistakes. This will not spare you from making your very own mistakes - but may help you to side-step the biggest clichés!

1. Start right
A good movie depends on an engrossing script as well as interesting and flowing dialog. So the biggest part of your pre-production should be completing the script or concept for a commercial.

2. Planning
I can not repeat this enough – Thorough preparation before the actual shoot is a must. There are so many things you have to keep in mind while shooting. Realizing you did not charge your batteries or not finding an empty hard drive, should not belong among them. Make your life and the lives of your crew easier and charge your batteries, check your equipment, costumes, supplies and permissions as well as the weather and the like in advance.

3. Just do it
In the past years working in this business, I have heard about hundreds of projects people were planning on realizing, but in the end I actually got to work for or see only a fraction of them. Talking about projects is easy, but what really counts is the end result. So try to have actual work-output, not only word-output. This will get you a lot more respect from fellow filmmakers, friends and family. Apart from that it will serve you as a work sample and provides you material to show your progress and style.

4. Over-equip
Sure, new cameras get released every other year, the equipment improves by the hour and you want to stay “state-of-the-art” throughout your career. Still, a typical mistake would be to purchase and hoard unnecessary filming gear. Better invest your money in a few high grade basics, like a good camera, matching set of lenses and proper audio equipment. (And learn how to properly use it!) A sound filmmaker is able to shoot a great film, while using only the bare minimum of equipment. Having limited equipment not only helps to focus on the main objective, but spares money and time. In short - Do not get tempted or fear that you need to lend/buy all the equipment at once. Just buy the essentials and learn how they are used. You will accumulate more and more gear over time!

5. Poor Sound and Sound Effects
Never underestimate the importance of sound and sound effects! Your film will most definitely end up lacking depth, if you underestimate their importance. Sure, your first impression while filming is the picture. But sound and sound effects are just as important as creating a good picture! Do yourself a favour and invest in good audio equipment, it will save you from hours in-post or worse, unhappy clients.

6. Working with unskilled personal
For beginners this will always be tempting and convenient, but: Stop casting your friends or colleagues for your productions. They are no actors and it will show. Even if you do not have the money to pay for professionals, you can at least try to get enough funds for the compensation of expenses and/or ask some acting-students if they want to star in your project. This way you might actually find a cast that feels comfortable in front of a camera and they can use your film to apply for payed roles later on and receive work experience. This will create a win win situation for the both sides and builds your network.

7. Long Credit Roll
As a newbie you will be super stoked and proud after you finish your first projects- and rightly so! Still, honestly no one reads the credits anymore. Especially, when you mention every plant seen in the background. Send a version with long credit rolls to your parents or better just stop and save everyones time.

8. Imitation
Many filmmakers have a role model, they are looking up to. This is all fair and good, but please avoid working exactly like them. You will never become a second Tarantino and you certainly do not want to be seen as the lesser form of somebody else, do you? See. Better spend your time in finding your very own style of filmmaking. This will get you the recognition and the attention you deserve and want to work toward.

9. Improvise and learn how to compromise
This is a hard lesson but still true. No matter how well-prepared you are there will always be moments, in which you will need to improvise and/or compromise. Especially, if you work for clients.

10. Experimenting and self-realization
In addition, if you want to try a special way of filming, better do it in your free time as your own little project. Never force your (new, outrageous, groundbreaking, experimental or the like) ideas on a commercial production. It will almost never be the right time or the right place to try something new or worse, something your clients did not agree on!

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