This is a brief guide for those who want to make a film but don’t know where to start and how to proceed. It’s important to stress that the guide isn’t meant to be a detailed or comprehensive instruction. It’s more like the contents page in a book. The book itself is yours to write.
Writing a Script
The first thing to do is to create a story and write it down. But writing a script involves more than thinking of a sequence of events in their chronological order. Decide what you’re going to film, and how.
1. Choose a genre for your film. Is it going to be a comedy or a thriller, for example?
2. Decide on the format. Would you like to make an art film, a documentary or a musical film?
3. Most important, think of the order in which the shots will follow one another in the film. Forget the chronological order and imagine what your audience will see on the screen first, what next, and so on.
When you finish writing your story, it’s time for revision, which is always better to do after a break. Read a book, watch a film, do some housework or go out for ice cream, but put the story out of your mind. Somebody else can read it in the meantime, if possible; the more feedback, the better.
4. When your mind is fresh again, you can edit your story, keeping your reader’s feedback in mind too.
5. Now that your story is complete in your mind, it’s time to put it down on paper. Remember that your actors and camera operators will read it too. The script is more than just dialogues. It specifies the camerawork for each scene, the behaviour of all actors in it, and the onset of music.
Building a Team
Now that you have a film to make, it’s time to start building a team that will make it.
1. Casting actors is one of the most difficult parts of the project. Not only do they have to suit the roles; they should like your script and their roles too. Moreover, when casting your potential actors, you should also see whether they can work with their partners.
Another potential problem is, who will want to act in your film, especially if it’s your first one? You could speak with your friends or introduce yourself to an art school’s undergraduates. Whatever you choose to do, though, don’t expect it to be easy.
One more thing is, effective casting requires a lot of experience, which you probably don’t have if it’s your first film. It’s not easy to tell right away who will suit a role. Therefore, if possible, consider inviting a professional or a more experienced person to do the job.
2. The second most important person in your team is your camera operator. But you will also need light and sound operators, costume designers, makeup artists, and a good accountant, to name just a few.
Building a team is a monumental task, and you’ll have to pay for it all too. Therefore, it’s better to start with a simple, low-cost project that requires a minimal number of people.
Getting the Right Equipment
1. The most necessary piece of equipment is a good film camera. Most of them are expensive, though, but if you don’t give up window shopping, you will find a good one for a reasonable price.
2. You will also need proper lighting and sound equipment and decent hardware and software for post-production editing.
Shooting the film
With the script, the team and proper equipment at hand, you’re finally ready for the best part. You may now start
- Looking for suitable locations,
- Briefing your crew,
- Shoot the scenes for the film.
In the end, prepare for post-production editing of the film, as you’ve had to do with your script.
Starting from the first step, you can go down the list, making sure everything is going all right. In case it isn’t, and you can’t identify the problem, return to the beginning of the list and go down again. This way, you will inevitably stumble upon the problem sooner or later.