Filmmaking in the Digital Age

The filmmaking scene is dramatically changing with unbelievable speed. The film image medium of expensive film stock is being replace by digital video. Video tapes are now be taken over by flash memory cards. Digital technology is changing the way we watch films (movies). No longer are filmmakers hindered or restricted by the elite film and television industry. The internet is now opening up doors for future filmmakers, allowing them to screen their films to a wider audience and gain popularity along with a cult following.

Film Stock vs Video
On several occasions, I have spoken to passionate filmmakers who have no idea how a film is made. They have an afficionardo attitude about how they are going to make their first film, before they have even attempted to write a script. Mind you they don’t even know how to write a script. In these conversations, I have suggested they start out making their first film on video. They then become argumentative and adamant that they are going to shoot their first film on 16mm or even more daring 35 mm film stock. Good luck.

In my experience there is no use explaining to them, how expensive it is to shoot a film on film stock and the advantages of shooting on video. Their head space is in another world. When you first start as a film maker, it’s as if you are struck by gold fever. I understand their passion, but if they are really serious  about filmmaking they will eventually realise, video is the way to go.

Flaming Filmmakers
I am saying this at the outset because this blog post will probably attract a lot of flaming comments saying that filmmaking refers to shooting a movie on film stock not video. Well if you look at the wikipedia definition of Filmmaking, it states:  Filmmaking (often referred to in an academic context as film production) is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program.

No where in this description of filmmaking does it mention the film production is shot on film stock or the final theatrical release is distributed on film stock. Filmmaking refers to film production or in   simplified terms ‘making a film/movie’.

Cut The Chatter And Make The Damn Film
I have also had conversations by wana-be filmmakers, who love to talk about their first film, which they haven’t made yet. But they never make the film. I know about these type of filmmakers because I was on of them. Eventually I did make my first film and I couldn’t stop making films after that. So come on guys cut the chatter and make the damn film.

Don’t Think (Hesitate) About Making A Film – Just Do It
Rather than hesitate about making your first film, grab a video camera. What? You don’t have a video camera! Come on, everyone has a video camera. Do you have a mobile phone? Almost every mobile phone these days has a video camera on it. Who cares what the camera looks like, just shoot a video and turn it into a film. I mean it. Use the video camera on your mobile phone to shoot your first film. Once you start shooting your first film, you’ll realise, filmmaking is highly technical and you’ll come across a whole load of of technical problems. That’s the joy of being a filmmaker. There’s so much to learn if you want to make a great film.

How To Shoot A Film
Now you’re probably thinking, “Damn!… How do I shoot a film”. Well, do your home work. Grab a DVD of your favourite film and watch it and watch it and watch it.

Don’t watch the film for the story line. Watch it and see how the director is using different images to tell a story. That’s what filmmaking is all about, how to tell a story visually.

You will notice a film is cut into different:

  • locations
  • angles of actors
  • framing of actors
  • and more

The Story Of Your First Film
At this stage all you have to worry about is coming up with a simple story. Such as:

  • a car pulls up into the driveway of a house
  • a person gets out of the car
  • the person walks to the house
  • the person knocks on the house front door
  • someone opens the front door
  • they have a conversation and the person is invited into the house
  • the person goes into the house and the front door closes

Now you might take lengthy shots of each part of the story. But how about getting some more shots of:

  • the person in the car
  • what they are doing in the car
  • their reflection in the rear view mirror
  • their hand turning off the engine
  • their feet stepping out of the car
  • their hand knocking on the door
  • and more

Get as many detail shots you can for this simple story. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Your not pressured by a budget and justifying why you went over budget. We all learn by our mistakes and make improvements on what we do next time.

I hope this blog post has inspired you to make films. Leave a comment, if you have any questions on how to make films using video.

Wikipedia – Filmmaking:

One comment

  1. So far ALL of your instruction has been very rewarding. Thankyou!! I am a novice at this and could really use some help.
    Would you suggest a camera that serves still photography and quality video? I do have an iPhone that produces good quality. But it seems I have seen cameras that produce good shots AND HDquality video. Where could I also receive good instruction from the very beginning.

    Thanks for your consideration.
    Blessings, Steve Seelig. Houston, Texas

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