TIPS FOR YOUNG FILMMAKERS- By Donal Foreman
WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT
Don’t attempt to write an amazing crowd scene unless you know for sure that there’s a festival happening in the next week or so that you can use as a backdrop. You should always play to your strengths. It’s always a good idea to think about something unique that you or your family may have access to that you can use in your movie.
YOU CAN’T BEAT HOLLYWOOD
It will always be tempting to try and imitate the style and overall theme of your favourite blockbuster, but always remember; the game is rigged in their favour. You can always try, and your failure may be unique and interesting (and usually funny) in it’s own right- but you can also just do your own thing. Try something that the studios wouldn’t have the courage or the imagination to do in the first place.
Mistakes will always happen, but they could be avoided if young filmmakers paid attention to their favourite films. Pick a movie you love, turn the sound down and look closely at the camera angles, the editing and the lighting. Go on Youtube and see how an effective story can be told in five minutes. You may not be able to match the production value of these films- and you don’t need to anyway- but oftentimes the art of good filmmaking doesn’t cost any money.
After every film you make, it should teach you something that you didn’t know before, and achieve something you probably thought you weren’t capable of. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go out every time and just start something you have no idea of how to do. You should draw on the skills and techniques that you’ve already learned- but if you’re not building on them, or not pushing yourself further, you’re playing it too safe. And that will show.
Showing your film to an audience is one of the most important ways of figuring out what you’re doing right or wrong as a filmmaker—but that doesn’t mean you have to try to please the audience. A lot of the time just seeing your film with other people in the room will help you see it more objectively. And if you’re still thinking your film has to be 20 minutes long, just imagine how long that 20 minutes is going to feel when 300 people are sitting beside you watching it.
DON’T NEGLECT THE BASICS
Audiences will forgive a lot of the technical flaws in your film if your story is compelling, your actors are engaging or your jokes are hilarious- but there is a limit where the technical mistakes start to get in the way. Usually, it’s the point where they are no longer able to clearly see, hear or follow what’s actually happening. So get to know your equipment, practice with it and learn the basics of shot composition.
The limitations of younger filmmaking can usually be disappointing. How are you supposed to make an amazing film when all you have is very old equipment and a couple of close friends? The first step is easy. Change your attitude. You should be celebrating the fact that all you have is an old camera and only one or two friends! This means that all of your solutions to the problems that you face are going to have to be creative ones.
DON’T LISTEN TO ANYONE
Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman famously said of the film world that “nobody knows anything”; and it’s true. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore everything anyone tells you, but if you’re really passionate about a project, make sure you don’t let anyone talk you out of it. It’s important to make the film that you want to make- not the film you think people want to see, or the film your friends and family want you to make. Most of all, don’t listen to the people who say you can’t do something. Limitations may be your friend, but the types of restrictions that really get in the way are the ones that you let stay in your head. Who says that films have to cost a certain amount, look a certain way or contain this element or that one?