Today, it is easier than it has ever been in history to film something. Digital cameras continue to get better and more affordable, and we are constantly finding new ways to share video content. Increased access to equipment helps tear down the barriers of who gets to make films, yet a side-effect is that new filmmakers can jump into the deep end without ever learning how others have done it before them. This self-taught method of filmmaking can lead to innovation and discovery… but it can also lead to headaches and roadblocks.
If you’ve ever looked at something you’ve filmed— a short film, a vlog, or even a TikTok video— and been frustrated that the finished product doesn’t look or feel how you envisioned; then this guide may be for you. But if you’ve ever looked at something you’ve filmed— a short film, a vlog, or even a TikTok video— and been frustrated that the finished product doesn’t look or feel how you envisioned; then this guide may be for you.
We want to empower the next generation of DIY (”do-it-yourself”) filmmakers who craft their projects with tiny crews or even completely alone. If your goal is to hone your craft, then read on.
Some of the topics we’ll cover include:
- How to create a screenplay and other pre-production documents
- How to choose and use a video camera to create cinematic images
- How to light and frame a shot
- How to efficiently run a day on set
- How to get great sound
- How to edit and finish your film
Our goal is to provide a wide range of advice that may be broadly helpful for a variety of projects. It’s up to you to decide which tools are the most helpful to add to your belt.
Which leads us to our final note about filmmaking rules: Namely, that there are no rules in art. For every single piece of advice we give in this guide, there are exceptions— filmmakers who have ignored that advice to create something brilliant. That’s the nature of art where the line between innovative and incorrect is a thin and blurry one. All we can do is tell you how these things are often done or have usually been done. That way, when you break a rule, you don’t have to say, “I hadn’t heard of that rule.” Instead, you can say, “I know better than that rule.”
And we can’t wait to see what you make when you do.
Illustration by An Chen.