7 filmmaking tips that don’t help you make films


Total Recall

Oh yes that was great advice. I will certainly point the camera at the subject. Are you getting filmmaking tips that are so obvious they don’t actually help you make a film? Have you been given these golden nuggets only to find out they are made of plastic?

Below are 7 of the incredibly obvious tips that have somehow become important public knowledge.

1. Get your subject in the frame

Yeah isn’t this obvious? Wasn’t this the purpose of filmmaking itself? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone or something in the shot to look at, to engage with? Maybe the frame doesn’t need a subject. Maybe it’s a wide, establishing shot, or a close up on a rock that is telling the audience that in a second a wave is about to crash into it. Not all films require a person, subject in each frame for the entire duration of the film.

2. Charge the batteries before the shoot

Unless we are supposed to make a drawing of each frame rather than using the cameras we bought, charging batteries is like asking film crews to breathe air because they might forget. Without batteries, or power for that matter, there is no film. It’s quite obvious from the moment a DSLR camera is bought, that it will require battery power on location. In fact, is there a solar powered DSLR?

3. Make sure your tripod is straight

It’s hard to imagine an oval shaped tripod, or perhaps one that is hexagonal, that somehow can’t be placed in a room to provide a straight angle. The implication of a tripod that is straight could also suggest it only has one leg. Would this not classify it as a monopod? Surely a monopod that is not handheld will fall over and break the camera? Perhaps this refers to hand-made tripods that don’t conform to the proper specifications as in, bamboo often isn’t entirely straight.

4. Rehearse with your actors

Do filmmakers really think actors are supposed to just walk into the shot and perform lines from a script they’ve never read? This would be quite an interesting thing to film. With a script in hand, the human brain does require some time to memorize dialogue, unless it is 100% improvisation. Some scenes in movies do have an element of improvisation but in general actors have prepared with the director to some degree their charaacter (even for 5 minutes) before a take.

5. Make sure the room is well lit

Should we ensure that all lights are pointed at equal angles to illuminate the interior evenly? Should every dark corner be turned into the light? Does this suggest that a badly lit room will make a bad film? Aren’t films supposed to have a degree of atmosphere with soft lighting, hard lighting, or one side of the face in shadow, the other side burned out? Making sure a room is well lit could suggest that there are no windows that allow light to pass through. Of course cameras do require a certain level of light to function, but there are also higher ISO settings, different F stops and other factors that affect the amount of light being captured on each frame and again that whole process is part of making a film. (Wow that last sentence was kind of painful..moving on)

6. Bring spare batteries

I guess if we didn’t charge the batteries in the first place we should have probably bought spares, you know, to act as a redundancy to the ones that didn’t exist. So essentially what this tells us is to bring additional batteries to the batteries we already own or have knowledge of, yet somehow they are separate, and belong in their own place. They can’t be part of the first set, there’s a second set, that has its own rules, its own system.

7. Don’t make your editing cuts too fast

Hmm what does this imply? That our editing cuts are so fast that we can’t see the footage? Is there an edit every 1/24th of a second? What if the editing is too slow? What if the air-conditioning in the editing room is too weak? Would this mean that the editor is having to sweat more to make the cuts, therefore affecting the quality of the decision making? This needs more clarification.

Well there you have it folks. If you would like to check out some real film tutorials have browse of our library (hopefully there isn’t too much wood in those, but feel free to comment if you think they need to be improved. Hey, we all make mistakes!)