Beginners start here


The worst way to learn about filming is by reading a book or a website like this. The best way is to make lots of films yourself, but have them reviewed by somebody who’s been in the busiiness for a while. The second best way is to make your own films, then read a bit of a book or useful website, then make another film, then read some more, etc, etc Why not try? Most modern telephones can shoot video, and there are free editing packages available for computers, tablets, and even on the phone that shot the material. Many of them are free; ask Mr Google for suggestions. Then wander off the local park or beach or whatever, and grab some shots. Try and shoot with a sequence in mind. If you’re lucky, maybe a car and trailer arrive. You could grab a shot of the car reversing towards the ramp. then a shot of the driver getting out and waving to a friend. After that, you could try a long shot of the boat being launched. Then you realise that this could take a long time – five or ten minutes easily. You don’t want your shot to last that long, so try to get a closer shot of the driver concentrating on steering. And so on, and so forth. Or just try a collection of children playing on slides, swings, knocking a ball around. Then cut those shots to music.




Even with something this simple, though, there are problems. For a start, most people hold a telephone vertically – this way round.



But most films and television programmes are shot using a screen that’s wider than it is high:

You can use either. But choose one. and stick to it. I’ve seen so many people use both in one shoot, and… it’s a recipe for disaster! Editing becomes almost impossible. Join your shots in as pleasing a way as possible. Then get somebody to watch the result. On a monitor is best. But don’t ask your mother to watch it; she’ll be most admiring. Automatically. Find somebody whose opiniion you trust. And somebody who wasn’t present at the shoot. If in doubt, upload it to Youtube (t’s free) and wait for comments. Send me a link and I’ll try to be constructive.


Now do it all over again. And again, and again, and again. If you can bear it, look at some of the pages on production, and try to plan your next shoot. Get some friends together and try to shoot a short story. There are all sorts of scripts on the internet. And each time get feedback from a viewer or viewers.


Most people think of the shoot as the main bit of film-making. Experienced producers and directors say you should allocate over fifty percent of your time and attention to planning. Fifteen percent of your energies on the shoot, and the remaining thirty-five or so percent on the edit. If you can bear it, look at the section on storyboarding. An hour or so with pencil and paper can save you hours on location in the swelttering heat or pouring rain!