Whether you’re planning to enter film school and embark on a Hollywood career or want to put on a school or amateur production that you can show your friends and family, brush up on the basics of filmmaking. Producing a film isn’t simply about pointing the camera and pressing a button. It’s about planning, budgeting, networking, and more. Here are the essential skills every young filmmaker should know.
Develop Your Creativity
Every director starts with an idea, and that idea came from a lifetime (however long) of experiences and knowledge. Read a wide selection of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Reading provides you with knowledge and teaches you about storytelling, and shows the connections between all things. It will create the circumstances that lead to creative thinking and problem-solving, which you’ll need on and off the set.
Naturally, watch a wide variety of films. Watch the classics and the works of the great directors, of course, but fit in experimental films, documentaries, arthouse movies, silent films, and more. You’ll enrich your creativity and learn about techniques as well.
Computer and Technology Skills
For a very long time, chemical-based or so-called analog film dominated the field. The combined expense of unexposed film and access to developing and editing equipment priced out many young filmmakers. Now, anyone with a smartphone and a laptop computer can make a movie in the digital age. While film remains superior in terms of lushness and quality, digital filmmaking allows a lot of room to experiment and explore. It’s also the industry standard. Learn film editing software, lighting, sound, special effects generation such as a green screen, and more.
While you should always strive for great art, understand that money makes it possible. Accounting may not sound like fun, but all filmmakers need to have a notion of how much money they can work with and where it all goes. If you’re attending filmmaking school, there is probably a course on finances. If not, read up on the subject or seek out classes that explain how to enlist investors, setting a budget, keeping track of expenses, and more. Look up several big-budget flops to get an idea of how poor finances can sink a production.
Truthfully, when considering skills every young filmmaker should know, people learn and gather most hard skills while working on other productions. If you can work on a film or video production for anyone during high school or college for free—or, if you’re lucky, for pay—take advantage of that opportunity. Whether you work on a local business commercial, a cable or online news program, a school play, or something else, get in there. Even if you’re a gofer, you can observe and perhaps even sit in and learn about the various processes that create a film. Who knows, it might even be your big break!