It is quite common for filmmakers, even established ones, to fear the unknown or second guess their work, particularly when creating work who’s whole point is to be displayed for all to see. Fear, particularly for creative minds, can hinder artistic ability and destroy your filmmaking capability, leading to self-doubt and often the abandonment of a passion project. However, when your fear is debilitating, it is time to conquer it, so these tips for filmmakers are aimed to overcome your fears and give you a realistic, helpful process so you can keep creating.
Types of filmmaking fear:
First, let’s look at some of the types of fear that filmmakers commonly feel:
- Afraid of the unknown
- Afraid the film isn’t viable
- Afraid the audience etc. will dislike it
- Afraid you won’t do the subject justice
- Afraid you don’t have enough resources to get it done
- Afraid you’re underqualified or talentless
- Afraid of wasting your time
- Afraid of your work being unimportant
Sound familiar? This is obviously not an exhaustive list but you get the idea. So, what can you do about it when these less than encouraging thoughts start to creep in?
The best advice for filmmakers is that if you are starting to feel afraid, ask yourself these three questions and often, you’ll be able to identify the underlying cause for the fear (making it a lot less scary.)
- What is the direct result of this action/behaviour/route etc.? – Often, the fear of consequences can plague your decisions, particularly if you are prone to overthinking. Ask yourself if there is immediate or genuine danger to yourself, others or the project and then consider it rationally rather than spiralling.
- What are my motivations for doing this? – Remind yourself why you started this project and what led you This is easier if you have a memento or totem that you can look at, that acts as an intrinsic reminder.
- When did my fear start to manifest? – You’ll notice your fear building but many times there is a different reason that is being avoided. Is your fear directly related to what you are doing or has it built up from something else? Identifying it makes it easier to manage.
Fear is a natural part of life, it’s where the fight or flight response comes from and it is completely normal to be afraid, but it shouldn’t be debilitating. Accept that fears will pop up and that it’s healthy to be afraid as long as you keep going and you’ll find this is the boost for your filmmaking career you may have needed.
Surround Yourself With Support
When working on your film, create an excellent support network that you can confide in and bounce ideas off. Support can make you feel less alone and avoid the negative thoughts from impacting you too greatly, and talking about fear can help to quell them somewhat. Just ensure they are people whose opinion you can trust so that when they tell you not to be fearful, you’ll believe them.
Don’t Shy Away
Fear works best when it mounts, chipping away at you a little each day until you feel like you can no-longer complete your project. Don’t let this happen to you, show up each day and make your film despite your fear and you may well find it’s a better end result because of it.
Engaging with your fear and making sense of it makes it less scary so take these filmmaking tips on board to conquer your fears and avoid it putting a halt to your projects and career in the future.
As Brian Tyler says, “your best work is only your best work, if works with the film”. Filmmaking is a collaborative creative process and the end goal can only be achieved when everyone works together. The creative process never stops, and for Brian, a project never finishes, it simply comes to an end when they run out of time. This is a lesson for us all; Brian is constantly building on what he has and striving to improve his pieces of music. For him, the work that goes out to the public is just a “snapshot” of the idea at the point he ran out of time. Don’t be afraid to change things as you go along as a director, don’t be afraid to allow your work to evolve. A piece of music can catch you off guard, and a piece that was meant to be drumming along in the background, can soon become the title music for the opening sequence. Allow your creativity to run free.
We know a musical score can make a film, but the film also makes the musical score. The film leads the way and influences composers work. As with any creative, they go through a process, just like if you’re directing a film or designing a set. Beginning by coming up with the central themes of the music he’s setting out to write, Brian normally starts at the piano. He maps out the themes of the piece he’s going to create; taking influence from the film. Brian discusses the relevance of knowing about the filmmaking process (take a look at our article on the 3 phases of filmmaking). Filmmaking tips and techniques are not just for the camera man. The more you know about the filming process, camera angles, lighting and editing, the easier it is to capture the essence of the film in the music.
As a director, if you’re asking someone to create a piece of music for your film – you need to involve them in your creative process and allow them to be part of your vision. Leaving them in the dark isn’t going to help them shed light on your film with a beautiful musical score. One of our top filmmaking tips for students has got to be to communicate. Communicating with the team around you will make your vision many times easier to achieve.
The director is the main man (or woman), and every director is going to enjoy different types of music. A film composer has to understand the different genres because all the filmmaking tips in the world won’t help someone who doesn’t know their genres. But equally, remember that your favourite piece of music might not be the best piece of music for your film. A composer needs to be central to the creative process and understand the director’s wants and needs, before they can really engage with the piece of music they’re creating. As a director, think about what a composer might need to know. Every composer will be different, just like every director will be different. You need to become a collaborative force, so together you can create something meaningful. With the right team around you, turning your filmmaking dreams into a reality is one step closer. Give this article about turning filmmaking dreams into reality a read to see what else goes into it.
To see Brian Tyler describing and explaining the above philosphy and approaches in his own words, check out this micro-documentary.
We know music can make a movie. You can hear a piece of music and instantly link it to a film. Those iconic pieces of music make a film memorable, but how do you get that music into your film? There are lots of things to be considered when it comes to music licensing for film, and selecting your music is the tip of the iceberg.
There are some really important things you need to know when you’re choosing your film’s soundtrack. You need to be aware there are two rights for every song. There are “publisher rights” and these are held by the person who wrote the song. There are also “master rights” and these are held by the person who recorded the song. For instance, Justin Bieber sang Love Yourself, but did you know it was written by Ed Sheeran? In this case, Ed Sheeran holds the publisher rights and Justin Bieber holds the master rights.
If you’ve found a song or a piece of music you want to use, you need to figure out who owns the publishing and master rights. Once you have found out who they are, you need to contact each of them and ask for permission to use the song in your film. The more people you have involved at this point, the longer it will take and the more difficult it can be. If you’ve selected a song which has four publishers, you’ll need approval from all four writers and the musician.
You can’t use the music until everyone has said yes, if one person says no, or if they don’t respond, you can’t use the song. One of our top filmmaking tips is to select a piece of music where the publishing and master rights are held by the same person. This not only saves you a load of time, but saves you a load of money too.
That brings us nicely on to the monetary aspect of music licensing for film. How much do music rights cost? Excellent question, and a hard one to answer! It depends on the kind of music you’re after and what you are going to be doing with it. Some songs used in advertisements can cost well in excess of $200,000, but there are also times where music is free to use. If you have music in a scene – let’s say you are in a coffee shop and a tune is playing in the background and no one is paying it any attention – this could cost you nothing.
As a standard, you can purchase the rights for a song for around $1500; that’s $750 for the master and $750 for the publishing rights. It’s worth remembering that these fees can be negotiated. If the artist you are talking to likes your film, or wants their music to be in it, you might be able to negotiate a better rate (and you know we love to cost-save).
Now you’re well on your way to securing music rights for your film, it’s time to start thinking about sound mixing and editing. Take a look at our article on Sound Mixing Vs Sound Editing to brush up your skills, and remind yourself of Filmmaking Trends of 2017 whilst you’re there too.
A high-end, high-price cinema camera will not make a great filmmaker. Knowledge of the craft, a deep understanding of the language of cinema and the creative flair of the individual will make the next generation of filmmakers shine.
They all have to start somewhere and today’s image capturing technology is making that start more and more accessible. Of course, the professional kit is there – RED and Arri are out there and it’s tempting to think that a project is not going to be up to scratch without such 8K monsters. But audiences want to see a good story and nowadays a good story can be captured on and increasing number of affordable devices that allow student filmmakers to flex their burgeoning creativity.
At the higher end of the student budget the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera comes in at just under one thousand pounds and is becoming the go to camera body for the serious low-budget filmmaker. It’s small, easy to handle and produces excellent results. Just remember to budget for lenses, batteries and digital storage.
A step up from this is the URSA Mini 4K EF, also from Blackmagic. Another thousand pounds adds a 4K sensor and 12 stop dynamic range for that close to professional polish.
Perhaps the most popular format for those learning the craft is the DSLR. These are widely available and offer enough flexibility to allow even the keenest student to apply the latest filmmaking tips and techniques. Take a look at Adorama’s favourites in this field with the Canon 70D as the best all rounder for an easy to handle, robust camera that produces good results. Paired with the right lens it can produce great results. Again, remember to budget for batteries and storage.
There is another factor that the student filmmaker must consider with these budget cameras and that is sound. A big caveat with any of the units listed here is that a separate sound recorder will be a necessity – audiences will forgive picture definition being slightly off from perfect but loss of sound track fidelity is something that will seriously distract from the emotion that is being created for them. Try the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder, an external digital sound recorder with plenty of features and flexibility.
Traditional cameras are all well and good but let’s not forget that technology is moving forward apace such that now every filmmaking student will have the means to capture a visual story already in their pocket. Almost all filmmaking tips and techniques can be executed on the current generation of smartphones – check out Sean Baker’s Tangerine as proof. The ever evolving iPhone and Samsung S series are the pick of the crop that can handle 4K and 60fps footage.
One last branch of camera engineering that requires mention is that of drones. Costs are coming down and quality is going up. The Mavic Pro comes in at a thousand pounds and for that you get a 4K camera with 3-axis stabilisation. It’s not just the grand, sweeping aerial shots these machines create – they allow for crane shots and ultra-smooth tracking shots over the roughest terrain.
Once your students have the equipment that can further enhance their creativity, they’ll be free to apply all the filmmaking tricks that their emerging imaginations will want to express on the screen. Combine this with Quickclass.net’s filmmaking tips for student filmmakers and the next wave of visual storytellers will be on their ways to proving themselves.
A good camera and a natural eye will get you somewhere, but if you really want to go far and achieve great things in filmmaking you’ll need to nurture a few keys skills.When you start filming, everyone needs to know how to do these key things: how to shoot, how to use different pieces of gear, how to edit, and (hopefully) how to write a compelling story. Beyond that (and only really gained through years of experience in the field, and years of mistakes, failures and learning from them), there are really valuable skills and mind-sets that will help you get noticed.
With the hope of passing on what he has learnt over the years, Darious Britt, who runs the YouTube channel D4Darious (which has almost 200,000 subscribers), has created a video listing the 9 skills he thinks are most essential.
Each of Darious’s points touch on a different aspect of being a filmmaker, a real filmmaker, with all the ups and downs and unglamorous failures that come with that. Here we have reviewed his list, summarising each point, into a list of Top Tips for student filmmakers.
(Also check out another of our articles “Turning Filmmaking Dreams Into Reality” where we detail a similar set of qualities which will really help you go far in the industry.)
This is really about being pragmatic. The chances of you making your debut film and it skyrocketing you into being the next Denis Villeneuve or Damien Chazelle are near-zero. You can’t rely on the luck a few others have, the meteroric success stories are like winning the lottery. You need to take the small jobs, the projects that you will need to sacrifice your precious “artistic integrity” for – whether that be commercials, training videos, adverts, wedding videos even. This point, above all, is that you can’t afford to be full of pride – as that won’t get you far.
- Business savvy
This is about economy. Don’t aim to write the biggest, most action-packed blockbuster to begin with, and certainly don’t waste your breathe trying to get a studio to pick it up. Instead write and make 5 smaller films for the price of that one. Think about what studios will actually pay for, and also what audiences will pay to see. Know your audience and again (the same as before) be pragmatic.
- Know how to learn
This just goes for life. It’s certainly not something that can be ‘taught’, as such, but instead something which you need to nurture within yourself, and that takes a good knowledge of oneself, and a lot of tenacity. It doesn’t come from filmschool, which is becoming increasingly less important (as discussed in another of our articles here). Make the most out of everything that happens to you. You succeed? Good, learn from it and move on. You fail? Too bad, but you have to be able to learn even more from it, and you have to learn to move on.
- Technical Expertise
Filmmaking is more of a technical subject that most give it credit for. There is a vast amount of not only technology you need to become acquainted with, but also huge amount of regular practices which you need to adopt – whether that be marketing, Photoshop, special effects, or even understanding the physics of a camera.
- Story Analysis
They say that some are just born with a naturally brilliant genius for voice, the written word and story – think Oscar Wilde or F. Scott Fitzgerald – and that others will never achieve the same knack for storytelling, even with all the training in the world. This is a lie (mostly). There is a science you can learn, and from that the art will come: story structure, fundamentals of drama, character development.
For this there are 3 books:
- Story by Robert Mckee
- Screenplay by Syd Field
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Also read more. This will help so much more than you will think; if anything this is actually more important to making movies than even watching movies.
- Film grammar
Like all languages, film has grammar, and hence rules in place, although the rules are slightly less strict than with written language. You can subvert various rules for a desired effect, but you still need to know the rules in the first place to be able to do this.
Filmmaking is the most social artform of them all. You can’t get away with being a recluse or ‘just-not-a-people-person’. You have to learn to communicate with everyone in your crew, and work well with them. This involves management, motivation, and empathy. A huge part of empathy will be knowing what each persons jobs actually entail, and their responsibility as part of the whole working machine that makes up your crew.
- Critical thinking
This ultimately comes down to being logical about what works and not being overly sentimental about ‘your baby’. Tone and pacing a hugely important and if you find out that a whole scene doesn’t fit in your film only after you’ve started editing, you still need to chop it.
- Talent and hustle
Everyone loves talent; it’s the one skill that gets all the praise when something great is achieved. However what is forgotten are all the skills which helped talent get there – and without which, talent would have gotten nowhere.
Hustle is actually much more necessary, and will actually get you further – as Darious said “Talent rarely beats hustle when talent don’t hustle”.
Unless you habitually watch a film through the end of the credits, it can seem baffling just how many people work on a film at any given stage of production. Over the past two decades, 77% of films released in the United States only had one film editor. Despite offering an overall look at how many editors work on the film on average, this statistic fails to reveal editorship trends in recent years.
In the decade and a half between 1997 and 2011, between 81% and 75% of films credited one editor only. However, by 2016, the number of single editor films had dropped to 68%! So why is it exactly is causing films to increasingly bring on board multiple editors to get a film cinema-ready? In 2016, roughly 9% of films employed five or more editors, an extraordinarily high number of editors in relation to standard practice. Most films with a large number (5+) of editors, tend to be compilation or anthology productions that feature various directors, often also shifting narrative. The 2012 film The ABCs of Death 2 featured more than two dozen directors and a whopping 22 editors. Movie 43, a comedy anthology film, featured 13 editors and both New York, I Love You and Paris, je t’aime credit 8 individual editors.
Although compilation films tend to employ more editors, it is hardly a genre in and of itself. Is there however a genre that tends to favour more editors, perhaps due to budget or other constraints, to produce the film? By looking at the credits of various films across different genres, it becomes apparent that certain genres do indeed favour multiple editors. Almost 35% of science fiction films over the past two decades have used more than one editor while the number of Musicals that tote more than one editor is less than half that! These days, more than 50% of Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure and Sports films credit multiple editors.
With more editors being hired for films it’s forgivable to assume that they must work consistently, but that’s not the case. Between the 7,617 films which grossed at least $1 in US box office in the past two decades, the most frequently hired editors were Academy-Award winner Pietro Scalia (Black Hawk Down) and Chris Lebenzon (Top Gun). Although both Scalia and Lebenzon have 24 credits to their names between 1997 and 2016, 56% of editors credited in those years only have one credit to their name. This is not inexplicable, as most editors don’t limit themselves to cinema and instead cut for television, music videos and online content alongside feature work.
Despite more films hiring multiple editors, there’s been a noticeable decline in editing apprenticeships in film. In 1998, 23% of films had an apprentice while, in 2016, that figure dropped to just 4%. Whether the lack of editing apprentices is caused by seniority in the industry, or the accessibility of at-home editing suits and the overall abandonment of apprentice-style education, is still unclear. Besides certain genres favouring multiple editors, particularly those that tend to contain more visual effects, it’s interesting to also see the correlation between films with multiple editors and the growing trend of digital filmmaking.
Many of your students may plan to study filmmaking at university before trying to break into the industry. The following is a series of exercises that will help them prepare for university level film courses. If you teach at a university level or already use these techniques in the classroom, check out these simple career-boosting exercises that will help your students and their resumes when applying for jobs in the competitive filmmaking landscape.
1 – Experience is Everything
Working hands on in film and TV not only helps prepare for a career in film but it’s also an excellent teaching tool. Whether being hired as a runner on a set or answering phones at a production company, a hands on approach to filmmaking will help students better understand the industry. Encourage your students to look for work, whether paid or unpaid, in film and TV and also host workshops to help them understand how to write a film resume and apply for specific jobs. With websites like Gumtree and Production Base your students can find jobs that span only a weekend or a few months so that they can experience filmmaking first hand as well as gaining confidence working with professionals. Whether over half-term or an entire summer, encourage your students to learn on the job and use their free time doing what they love.
2 – The More the Merrier
Besides working on films, one of the best learning tools available to aspiring filmmakers is actually making films. You may already have the production of a short film included in your curriculum, but your students should know that the more content they produce, the more confident they will become. Encourage your students to experiment with different genres and to constantly film, even if just with their phone. Whether your students are writing and producing their own content, or even documenting snippets of their lives with family and friends, encourage them to continue making short films. In order to encourage your students to produce as much content as possible, try to find a way to host short film festivals at the end of each term where students can screen their extracurricular films to you and the class. Have them write mini reviews for each classmate’s film that they can exchange over the holidays to encourage one another to continue producing awesome content.
3 – Network, Network, Network
It may be difficult for some students to talk to people outside of their immediate circle about filmmaking. Once at university, it’s increasingly important for them to know how to network with industry professionals and faculty members. To help your students perfect their networking skills and create career-boosting connections host a networking event with students from other filmmaking courses either within your own school or from others. By networking, your students should feel confident in representing themselves and their work.
4 – Social Presence
In this digital age it is essential to have an online presence. Try and dedicate some class time to showing students how to create webpages in which they can showcase their work and portfolios. In the age of social media as well, students should be made aware of what is acceptable to share online in a professional landscape and what isn’t. After a workshop like this, encourage students to find out what they want to present to the world and instruct them on how to go about representing themselves professionally whether through limiting social media usage or creating new accounts they can use purely for their academic and professional endeavours.
No matter how much you try, students will never be 100% prepared for university. Encourage your students to take full advantage of the connections they’ve already made throughout school as well as the resources available to them once at university to help ensure their future success.