Digital Filmmaking For Kids For Dummies
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Digital filmmaking is the process of creating and telling a story or presenting information through the art of film using digital video cameras. Basically, it’s a way creative people like you can turn the ideas in your heads into films audiences can watch on movie screens, TVs, or computers.

You can assemble a team to create your film, audition and hire actors, and then shoot your film. Afterward, you can edit your film using commonly available editing software.

The roles on a digital filmmaking team for kids

There are so many different roles in filmmaking. You can see this when you watch the credits at the end of a mainstream film: The credits seem to go on for ages at the end of a film as they thank all the people involved, from the actors to the technical crews to the costume designers.

Here some of the main roles in making a film:

Writer The person who writes the story and script for filming. The
writer is really involved at the start of the filmmaking process,
but, occasionally, they might be invited to be on set when
Executive producer The person who provides the money and support to make the film.
Films cost a lot of money, so without executive producers, many
films wouldn’t be made.
Producer The person responsible for organizing the production and
filming from start to finish. Some of the duties of a producer
include: working with the writers, director and cast to prepare the
script ready for shooting; organizing and managing the film crew;
planning and scheduling the shoot; reviewing the edits with the
director; and organizing the distribution of the final film.
Production manager The person who works with the executive producer to organize
the people needed to make the film.
Director Directors work with the actors and crew during filming to tell
the story and to get the best result for the audience. They also
help to refine the story and script before filming, and they review the
edits during post production.
Assistant director The person who works with the director to organize the crew and
actors and to make sure everything is running smoothly during
Director of photography The person who works with the camera and lighting crews to make
the shots look great. They also work with the director to decide on
what types of shots to use. Sometimes the director of photography
can be the camera operator on smaller productions.
Location scout The person who decides on the locations to use for each scene
before filming. They spend a lot of time travelling around looking
at potential locations for films.
Casting director The person who auditions the actors to play the characters in
the film. They have to sit through a lot of auditions to make sure the person they choose for a role in a film is the right
Camera operator The camera operator is responsible for filming and setting up
the camera shots for each scene.
Boom operator/sound mixer The person responsible for holding the microphone and recording
sound on set. The boom operator also monitors the sound during
filming to check for volume levels and any sound issues or
background noises.
Gaffer Gaffers work with the director of photography or camera
operator to set up lighting for each scene.
Key grip Key grips are responsible for much of the equipment used in
filming, including tripods, dollies, cranes, lighting, and so
Props master The person responsible for finding props needed for each scene.
Some props need to be designed and built for a scene and others can
be bought.
Makeup and hair The person responsible for actors’ makeup and hair on the
set. Often, simple makeup is needed to stop shine on the face from
the lights, but sometimes more complicated makeup is needed to
create an effect.
Costume designer The person responsible for the clothes worn by actors on set.
The costume designer will have to obtain clothes based on the
characters played by the actors, and, sometimes, will have to create
costumes for characters.
Actors These are the people who play the characters in the film. They
take advice from the directors to bring the characters to life using
the dialogue written in the script.
Editor Editors are responsible for placing the footage together in the
editing tool to tell the story. They often work to make sure the
director is happy with the final result.
Craft service This is the department responsible for providing food and
drinks for the cast and crew. This is an import role as this can
easily be forgotten when organizing a film shoot.

Tips for auditioning actors

Filmmaking auditions can be quite stressful, so they’re also a good way to see how an actor works under pressure. This can give you an idea of how the actor will behave in front of a camera. After all, even the most confident person can become shy when a camera is pointed at them.

Auditions can also be good experience for the actors, especially if acting is something they want to do as a career.

The following list describes some things to look for in the actors you meet when running auditions.

  • How do they deal with stress? It’s not unusual for actors to get nervous. It’s how they deal with that problem on-camera that’s important. Can they hide their nerves? Do the nerves affect their performance? Do they look like a stunned rabbit in headlights? Give them time to relax by telling them about what will happen in the audition and a bit about the production if you want. Here, you can see how they listen and if they are interested in what you are telling them.

  • Are they natural? When an actor is performing, does it look and feel real? You should be able to believe what the actor is saying and almost forget they’re playing a role. Do they sound like they’re just reading lines? If so, ask them to think more closely about the lines they’re performing and to try to imagine they are the character.

  • What’s the actor’s voice like? An actor’s voice should suit the character and the lines they’ll be saying in the film. When performing, does the actor sound like a robot or do they deliver the lines with feeling and emotion? An actor’s voice is as important as their facial expressions and body. It should convey emotion, and it should sound interesting, not boring. Also, listen to how clear the person’s voice is: Do they mumble or rush words?

  • How does the actor respond to direction? The actor you choose should listen to you and do what you ask them to do. The last thing you want is an actor who thinks they know better than you and does whatever they want. During the audition, ask your actors to change something about the way they deliver their performance. See whether they do what you ask (or whether they at least try). You could ask them to pause before saying a line or change the amount of emotion in a line — for example, ask the actor to “be more angry,” or “be less cheerful.”

  • How does the actor work with other actors? It’s important that your actors be able to work well both on their own and with other actors. The only way to test this in an audition is to have the actor act a scene with another actor in the audition. Look to see whether the actor responds to what the other actor is doing in the scene. Do they overpower the other actor or do they support them?

  • Has the actor learned the lines? If you asked the actor to learn a scene or part of the script for the audition, they should have taken the time to learn it. This shows whether they are committed to your film and is a reflection of how much they want the part. You could allow them to have the script on hand to refer to, if necessary. But, sometimes, a script can be more of a distraction than a support — if it’s there, they’ll look at it. Ask the actor if they’re okay working without a script before taking it away.

  • What does the actor know about the character? Knowing some background about the role shows enthusiasm and a real desire to get the part. As part of your audition process, ask the actor questions about the character and what they know about the film. Remember, they won’t be a mind reader, so unless you provided information about the project with the audition information, then they won’t be able to answer much. You could ask them about the character, however, because they could get some information from the script. For example, you could ask the actor what they think is happening in the scene they’ve prepared, about the emotions the character is expressing, and how they feel about playing the character.

Editing keyboard shortcuts

There are a number of different editing applications that will help you edit your digital film. Although these applications have a number of differences, the keyboard shortcuts are, generally, the same across all applications. Here are some keyboard shortcuts that can help with the editing process.

Keyboard shortcut What it does
Command-I Import footage into an event
Command-N Creates new movie project
Command-E Export a timeline to the iMovie Theatre
Spacebar This plays the video in the timeline from where the play head
is positioned
Right arrow key Moves the play head one frame forward, which can be very useful
for precise editing
Left arrow key Moves the play head one frame backward, which can be very
useful for precise editing
Down arrow key Jumps play head forward to the beginning of the next clip in
the event browser or timeline
Up arrow key Jumps play head back to beginning of current clip or previous
clip in event browser or timeline
Forward slash (/) This plays the selected area of clip in event browser or
Backslash () This plays from the beginning of the clip, event or
Shift-Command-F This plays clip from play head position in full screen
Esc This exits full screen view
Command-Z To undo last action or change
Shift-Command-Z To redo last action or change
Command-C This copies the selected clip or text
Command-X This cuts the selected clip or text
Command-V To paste the copied clip or text

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Nick Willoughby heads Filmmaking For Kids and Film Future, a pair of programs designed to teach kids aged 7-16 the various aspects of filmmaking. Nick is also a writer and director for 7 Stream Media, a video and media production firm based in the UK.

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