We all need to make mistakes to learn. The shortcut is to learn from other people’s mistakes. For that reason I am going to share with you some of the biggest lessons I learned when starting out as a filmmaker. If you take note, you should save yourself some hassle, time and money.
1. Take your understanding of the editing process into production with you
If you don’t already have an understanding of the video editing process, do some research or shadow an editor so that you do. You could also try editing a small video yourself to get a taste of what it involves. This understanding is invaluable and will teach you some important lessons quickly, including the importance of capturing good sound. You will also see how beneficial it is to plan your shoots meaning you will enter the edit suite without too much superfluous footage. There is also a major creative advantage because you will know what type of shots are worth gathering depending on your video goals.
2. Organisation is key if you want to minimise stress and avoid costly mistakes
This applies at every level of a video production. The obvious point is to plan your shoot so you don’t waste time wandering aimlessly with a camera, collecting masses of useless footage. In terms of production management, it is essential that you manage your team well. Clear, timely communication is key so that everyone knows what they are trying to achieve, where they need to be to do it, and of course, when!
3. Recognise the importance of your crew and treat them accordingly
It may seem like a trivial point, but feed and water your crew. Making sure your workforce is comfortable and happy should be a priority because if they are not, it will impact on the quality of your production. Also, depending on your situation, be clear from the outset what peoples roles and responsibilities are and when they can expect to be paid. Then, make sure they are paid on time.
4. Take the time to get to know your equipment
If you are taking a hands on approach and have decided to get involved in the technical side of your video production, take the time to familiarise yourself with the gear you will be using. It is essential to do this prior to your shoot so you can ask any questions or do any research before you are filming. A common error would be to assume that you will know how to work a different model camera to ones you have used before. Cameras are changing quickly are despite them generally having similar functions, how these are controlled can vary quite a lot from camera to camera. The same goes for video lighting – get it wrong and you will be starting again.
5. Plan your shoots and avoid collecting hours of useless footage
I have mentioned this above in relation to editing but I feel it needs a point of its own. Not planning and collecting hours of footage is the biggest, most irritating time wasting mistake you can make. It means trawling through the footage in the edit, scrambling helplessly for some decent shots. There should be some kind of stat to illustrate the likelihood that the more footage you gather, the lower the quality is likely to be. I say this, because it is a sign of bad planning and not knowing what you want to capture on a shoot (unless you are making a Molly Dineen style observational documentary!).
6. Thinking about your audience with storytelling in mind
If you are making a video, it will be for an audience. This should be at the forefront of your mind when doing your research, writing your video script, creating your storyboard, selecting the talent who will feature, editing the footage to a particular length – in fact, throughout the whole process. Otherwise, what is the point? You want your video production to be engaging and for your intended audience to connect with your message. There are a number of different narrative styles you can use that will be familiar to your audience from the worlds of film, documentary and advertising. See our previous post narrative for some ideas.
7. Be aware of the boring stuff; permissions and copyright
It is the last thing you want to bother with when you are in the exciting and creative world of video making, but it is essential to gather permissions from individuals and locations when producing videos. Also, being aware of copyright so that you don’t put yourself at risk of legal action.