Filmmaking For Dummies Cheat Sheet
The responsibilities of a filmmaking team can be compared to those of the host of people needed to pull off a fine-dining experience from the director/chef to the production assistants/servers. As a filmmaker, you have to be organized enough to know what you need to have in order before you start and what to bring to a location shoot. And, if you can get high production values in your movie for not a lot of money, you’ll be all the more successful.
The Roles in a Filmmaking Production Team
Making a film requires the talents and abilities of a video production team. To understand the roles of a film production team, you can compare the positions of each crew member to the people needed to prepare a fine meal. The following chart lists the common positions found on a typical film production team and explains their responsibilities.
A Filmmaker’s Pre-Shooting Checklist
A pre-shooting checklist is a must for any filmmaker. Using a checklist helps you to prepare certain things before even setting foot on your set. Increase your chances of having a successful shoot by using this checklist:
- Make sure the money’s in the bank (is your investor for real?).
- Hire a great cook or caterer.
- Buy insurance (for crew, equipment, and locations).
- Book a professional still photographer, or have your crew take smartphone shots for publicity stills (needed for advertising and posters when you set up distribution).
- Secure location permits if necessary (so the police don’t bust you).
- Make sure all contracts are signed with cast, crew, and location owners, and get releases from everyone on camera — especially background people.
How to Enhance the Production Value of Your Movie
Making a movie that looks and sounds professional with high production values is an art and a science. As a budget-conscious filmmaker, you can enhance the production value of your production by using the tips in the following list to stretch your budget to cover the essentials and arrange some of the extras for little to no cost:
- Barter for things you can’t afford to pay for. “Give me this, and I’ll give you a credit or show your product or location in my movie!”
- Use big locations. Expansive looks expensive.
- Use large crowds to make your movie look like a bigger production. Instead of only 3 people standing in line, have 100! (Use free volunteers.)
- Move the camera.
- Get in a high shot or two. Shooting from an apartment balcony works great.
- Use an aerial shot to open up your film. If you can’t afford to rent a helicopter, license stock footage to use in your film.
- Make sure you get believable performances from your actors.
- Get a crisp, clear recording of your actors’ dialogue.
- Get professional music. A great composer can do wonders on your music score.
- Hire a cinematographer with a good eye. A good cinematographer can make your movie look impressive — what you see is what you get.
Items to Bring to a Film Shoot Location
Shooting a film on location keeps your filmmaking interesting, but it can also make your nerves frazzled. Before you head out on location, make sure you have everything you need — the items in the following list are crucial:
- GPS address to the location
- Masking tape, duct tape, rope
- Sound recorder
- Actors’ wardrobe
- Film, SD memory cards or hard drives (depending on what format you’re shooting with)
- Extra batteries
- Storyboards and the shot list
- Copy of the script
- Extension cords