You might have a compulsion to make films; you might not. You might be trying to think of a way to give your activism campaign an edge, publicise an event or just give vlogging a try. However, if you are pursuing videography in any way big or small, these are seven things that you’re going to need.
It doesn’t have to be a physical notebook, but you should have something to write ideas in. We get ideas all the time. Yet, if you don’t write them down, you’ll probably forget you even had them. And you don’t save your notebook for blockbuster plots. No idea is too small to write down.
Clapperboards have a real purpose. They’re not just for looking trendy on set. They synchronize sound when you match the frame the board closes at to the snap in the soundtrack. Of course, too many people ditch them nowadays because cameras have built in mic’s. Synchronizing sound is not difficult and doesn’t cost any money.
It’s always a good idea to try to organise your shoots. They’ll have a much better chance of turning out well. You don’t necessarily need a call sheet, but at least keep your shot ideas and everyone’s contact details in one place.
If I were starting filmmaking again with €50 to spend, I’d sooner spend it on a sound recorder than a camera. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Reality is, nearly anything with a rechargeable battery has a HD camera now. What hasn’t changed, in fact, what has gotten worse, is sound quality.
To give a little history lesson, the first consumer cameras had mic sockets – and people used them. Now we have internal microphones. However, just because you can use an internal mic doesn’t mean you should. If you can’t get your hands on a sound recorder, use your phone. Keep it close to whoever you’ve convinced to be in your video. You’ll get better sound than anything your camera can get.
Patience in the editing suite
It has almost become a scientific fact that most filmmakers starting out spend 70% of their time cursing at ‘Windows Movie Maker’**. As someone who has used other software – I will admit that I wouldn’t use Windows Movie Maker for love or money. But it’s better than nothing. One way to tackle slow editors is to be patient and plan your edit first. If you know how your shots are going in, there will be less swapping around, fewer crashes.
Besides, the reality is, you can’t have a disclaimer ‘this was made on a bad editor, so apologies if it’s not great’. The audience don’t care about the stuff you put up with making your film. They don’t want to see the man behind the curtain. They just want to see the Wizard of Oz. Essentially, editing is about your decisions, not your software.
Do you know how people edited films twenty years ago? They cut up film and stuck it back together with tape. Never forget that. Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, and The Godfather – all these films were made on far less elaborate editing suites. However, if you make your film first and plan the edit on paper, your local youth club, arts centre or production company might oblige you with a good computer if you say please.
No one said filmmaking is easy, films don’t just happen. Likewise, people don’t just suddenly learn how to make a good film, at least most people don’t. Your first film might be terrible, but you’ll get better. You get disappointed all the time; you just need to be able to keep moving forward.
Don’t make a film and not distribute it. It’s a cardinal sin. For all your work, you need to show it to people and send it to people. Even if they don’t get it, the sky will not fall down. Your next film will be better. And not only that, keep a supply of DVD’s – you never know when you’ll need them.
** Don’t call me up on that…