Preparation

  • Films are a collaborative process, everyone in the production is important because every role contributes to the end result. Working together as a team is essential, good teamwork shows on screen!
  • Encourage everyone to be as hands-on and involved as possible.
  • All films face challenges and constraints in terms of time and money. Discuss this with your team and work out how to make the most of the opportunity, utilising the resources you have available.
  • Encourage your team to evaluate through the process: what they’re learning, what’s working well, what isn’t working well. Successful film makers regularly evaluate all aspects of production.
  • Plan, plan and plan!
  • Remember to focus on the story and encourage your team to be creative and have fun with their ideas.

Story-planning

  • Think about the story arc. All stories need a beginning, a middle, and an end. Films can end with a cliff-hanger or leave the viewer asking questions. 
  • Having a script means that everyone on the team understands the concept and action of the film.
  • Get the main action points onto a storyboard with any dialogue/sound included. This helps the team interpret the film and form the direction of how it will look on screen.

Filmmaking 101

  • Keep the camera still when shooting still shots! This improves production value and appeals to the audience and judges.
  • When the film concept, script and storyboard are finished, put together a production schedule for the days/times of shooting.
  • Stable movement is key for more dynamic shots like tracking, panning, zooming and handheld shots.
  • Think about continuity. This means looking at light, sound, weather conditions, technical aspects, backgrounds, foregrounds, props, wardrobe, hair, makeup, and all other costume related details to ensure it matches for the duration of the film.
  • During filming, think about how the shots will go together when edited – are you getting all the essential shots? Editing is an important part of filmmaking as it puts the story together, sets the pace of the film and makes it look as good as it possibly can. Are you giving yourself opportunities to make choices in the editing room?
  • Can all your footage be edited together successfully? Rehearse the action or practice the animation. Have run-throughs with the cast and crew so they can develop confidence in what they are doing.

Sound

  • Think about how best to record sound – this can be challenging on mobile devices, so keep the action as close to the camera as possible or, if you have one, use a separate microphone plugged into the camera or a smartphone.
  • If you are using microphones, ensure that the sound levels are consistent by wearing headphones and listening to all dialogue and external noise during takes.
  • Where possible, concentrate on recording the dialogue when filming – additional sounds, such as background noise - can be added later along with music.
  • If filming outside, be aware of wind sound. You can block wind sound, caused by wind blowing across the microphone, by sheltering the mic using a foam wind sock, or any thick piece of fabric will help.

Light

  • Be aware of how you are lighting the scene you are shooting – make sure the subject is lit and clearly seen.
  • Think about the ways different lighting techniques can be used to build mood and effect – the use of shadow, colour, different degrees of softness or harshness, for instance, can be used to change the mood of your film.
  • Try to keep the lighting consistent for every shot in a scene. Particularly if you are filming outside, be aware where the sun is, and how the light on your set is changing.

Credit to the roxy5 Film Competition for these helpful hints!