How to make an independent film: step


What you need | Step by step | Storytelling

How vì you get started with filmmaking, & make short movies or videos that people will want to lớn watch? You need to:

Choose the right equipmentLearn how films tell storiesDevelop your story ideaPlan your shots & soundFilm and edit the movie carefullyGet feedback before you finishShare it in the right format

Tip: Before you start on a big filmmaking project, make some simple short movies lớn build your skills. So if you’re planning to make a documentary, make a mini-documentary khổng lồ practise. If you’re planning a drama, try filming a single scene.

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Want to get started quickly? Read my 10 tips for beginner filmmakers.

Want lớn know more? My 163-page illustrated guide Start Making Movies explains the filmmaking process, what you need, và how lớn use images & sound khổng lồ tell your story.

Get the right equipment

You need a camera to film your movie. You could use an iPhone or camcorder. But a mirrorless camera lượt thích the Panasonic G85 or Fujifilm X-T3 has more creative potential. A microphone will help you get better sound, & a tripod or stabiliser will keep the camera steady. You might need lights or reflectors.

You’ll need an editing program or app. iMovie & Adobe Rush are easy khổng lồ use; Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro are more advanced & powerful. If you’re shooting on a smartphone, you could edit on the phone or a tablet, but it’s easier on a computer.

Here’s my các mục of what you need lớn get started. You don’t need to buy everything: it’s best khổng lồ hire or borrow anything you won’t use regularly. 

Learn how films tell stories


Film language means the way pictures, sound and editing help to lớn tell the story. You need to know when lớn use a closeup và when lớn use a wide shot. You can use the lens, camera angle, light & sound lớn create a mood.

It’s important that your shots look right when you edit them together. The continuity system can help. It’s a phối of rules about where khổng lồ put the camera and how lớn frame your shots. It’ll make your movie easier to understand & better to lớn watch.

Develop your idea

First, decide what kind of movie you want khổng lồ make and why you’re making it. Is it a drama, a campaigning video, a documentary or a music video?

Keep the story or idea simple và make sure people can understand it. Can you describe it in 50 words or a tweet? If you can’t, it needs khổng lồ be clearer.

Plan how you’ll tell the story. Beware of relying on a clever twist: your movie should be interesting all the way through. Make sure you grab people’s attention from the start, then give them a reason khổng lồ keep watching khổng lồ the end.

You could follow a standard three-act structure. A setup introduces the characters and the scenario. In the confrontation they work through the challenges, & a resolution wraps it up.

If you need inspiration, I’ve put together some cool short movies và ideas here. Và this page has short film story ideas and advice.

Be realistic. Don’t worry if you can’t afford lots of characters or an expensive location. Instead, treat limitations as a challenge.

Keep your movie short. You can make a one-minute movie in a few days. A ten-minute movie will take weeks. & the longer the movie, the harder it is to hold people’s attention to lớn the end.

Plan your movie


The moviemaking process has three main stages: pre-production (planning), production (filming), & post-production (editing & sharing).

Pre-production is the planning stage, where you work out your movie in detail. You need to lớn plan what you’re going lớn film, how you’ll film it, & what you’ll need for the shoot. Planning might seem boring if you want to lớn go straight lớn filming, but it’ll save time in the long run.

There are several ways khổng lồ plan. You can develop ideas using a mindmap or mood board. Then you can write a script and draw storyboards or make shot lists. Go to this page for my film planning templates.

Choose actors or presenters/interviewers carefully. So, for a serious movie, don’t rely on using your friends unless you’re sure they can act. Audition them before you commit to using them.

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Drama students can make good, affordable actors. But if they’ve only acted on stage they’ll need khổng lồ tone it down for the camera. That means speaking more naturally và using smaller gestures. They should keep their eyeline close to lớn the camera without looking into it the lens.

Check out the locations where you’re planning khổng lồ film. Make sure you can get permission, and find out if you’ll have to pay. Is the location safe? Will there be any interruptions?

Some filmmakers shoot ‘guerilla-style’, filming on location without permissions or permits. This is risky as you could get stopped or fined. And it may not be necessary: some cities will let small crews or students film in the street for không lấy phí as long as you let them know in advance. 

Plan your film as a series of separate shots. You’ll probably need between twenty & forty separate shots for a one-minute movie. 

When you’re ready khổng lồ film, you need to lớn make sure you’ll have everything you need on the day. You can use a shooting schedule and call sheets to plan this.

Film your movie


Production is the filming stage.

Work in a team if you can. You can film single-handed, but it’s easier with other people. In a three-person team, the director has overall control và works with the actors or presenters. A camera operator films the shots. The sound recordist sets up microphones và checks the audio.

The filming stage is much easier if you’ve planned it in advance. Make sure your actors learn their lines, và work with them lớn ‘block’ the scene. That means planning where they will stand và move, và how the cameras will capture their performance.

If you need khổng lồ shoot drama scenes with just one camera, you can vày it by filming the kích hoạt several times.

First, film a master shot of the whole scene all the way through.

Then reposition the camera khổng lồ frame a closeup of one actor. Film the scene again.

Now film the scene a third time, framing the second actor. When you edit the movie, you can start with the master shot then cut back và forth between the closeups.

Before you start recording, kiểm tra that camera settings are correct. Kiểm tra the framing, light, sound và focus. Use a microphone, and listen to the sound on headphones, if possible.

Film each shot for longer than you need (ten seconds before & after any action). If you’re working in a team, you could follow the shooting drill on this page. Either keep the camera still, or move it smoothly & steadily: don’t pan và scan.

Check your shots before you leave the location if you can.

Editing and sharing


Post-production is where you decide which footage you’re going khổng lồ include in your movie. Then you edit it, showroom sounds and effects, và get it ready to share. Make sure you allow enough time for this stage.

Before you start, get ready khổng lồ save và backup your work. Then go through what you’ve filmed và choose the stuff you’re going khổng lồ use. You could make a paper edit, working out the edit in advance. This can be particularly useful for documentaries. 

Open your editing program or app and create a new project. Then find or import your clips. If you’ve got a lot of material, you should organise it into separate folders or ‘events’. If your movie is complex, divide it into separate sequences, then combine them at the end. This is easier to manage with pro editing programs. 

Start editing by putting together a rough cut. Choose roughly the parts you need from each clip, and địa chỉ cửa hàng them to the timeline in order. Then check the order and see if the movie makes sense. Change the order, and showroom or remove shots, if you need to. Remember it’s the finished film that matters, not the individual shots. So you should be ready lớn get rid of your favourite shot if it doesn’t fit the movie.

When the order looks right, adjust each individual edit so the sequence flows smoothly. Then showroom sound effects, voiceover & music, & adjust the audio levels.  With pro programs, you can also correct the colours. Next, you can showroom effects và titles.

Before you finish editing your movie, show it khổng lồ other people và see what they think.

Does it make sense? Is the story clear?Is the timing right: is it the right length, và is the pace consistent?How about the audio: can you hear all the dialogue?Finally, does it feel right? Does anything feel awkward or wrong, và what can you vị to improve it?

Make sure lớn save your movie & back it up. Then export or ‘share’ a copy at the highest unique your program allows. (You can alway make a lower unique copy from a high chất lượng copy). Finally, make copies in the format you need for distributing your movie. If it’s for online use, kiểm tra the specifications with your host or streaming service. If you’re not sure what format khổng lồ use, choose MP4: it’s compatible with most phones và computers.