Online Free Filmschool
Planning is Done - Let's Make a Movie
Film production is a time of controlled chaos. The better job you've done in preproduction the more the chaos will be controlled. But there will be some chaos. Equipment fails, people get sick, weather goes bad, anything that can go wrong will.
Movie production is the most exciting and nerveracking part of the process. How well do you do when you are sleep deprived?
Handling the set is probably the most important key to a successful shoot. Making sure that everything is where it needs to be, everyone knows what to do, and it all happens safely is the goal.
If everyone knows what they are supposed to do and the director is willing to delegate and only interfer when something isn't happening then things can go smoothly. But things can go wrong quickly if something wasn't well planned or creative egos start to clash.
Directing is a skill that few ever master. Because films are shot in small increments, and often out of order, the director needs to have a clear vision in their head that they have shared with the talent, and be able to make sure that vision is maintained through every single take.
Every scene needs to filmed from a variety of angles to provide the coverage that the editor will need for the final version of the movie. The director needs to know what these angles are and be sure they allow the time to get at least one great take from every coverage angle.
Special care needs to be taken to support continuity. When takes of a scene are shot separately it is easy to overlook changes in costume or props that will become obvious in the final edit when different takes are edited together. Preventing these mistakes allows smooth continuity.
Part of getting great coverage is how the actors are placed and move within the physical space of the set. This process is termed "blocking" and is another important part of storytelling and needs to be well understood by any director.
Many scenes involve moving actors which creates a whole new set of problems for the directory and DP (director of cinematography). A special set of tools and techniques are required to allow camera movement to follow moving actors.
A number of basic rules need to be followed to prevent confusing your audience such as the 180 degree rule. Once the basics of visual storytelling are well understood a creative filmmaker can start to break the rules to add variety and interest to the final film.
Age old rules of visual composition can strongly effect the mood of a scene and how the audience feels about the characters.
Your actors are key to ending with a great film. Understanding how to encourage and channel their skills into just the right performance, without creating hard feelings, is a skill every director needs to learn. It has often been observed that actors are different from other people. They have different motivations and insecurities. Learn how they think and what drives them and you are on your way to a great career. Great acting comes next after a great script to making a successful movie.
Good lighting is one of three production elements that will make or break your film. Audiences rarely notice good lighting but they still sense it. Good lighting helps control mood and emotion and clarifies the action. If you do a good job with lighting you will likely get complements on how good the sound was from the audience.
Speaking of sound: good, clear sound capture is the second element of production. Don't scrimp on capturing sound. The built-in microphone of cameras give terrible and unusable sound. Buy or rent quality equipment and find someone qualified to use it. If the audience has to strain to understand what the actors say you have a disaster.
The last production element you must get right is the cinematography. The images you capture must be clear, focused and properly exposed. But more than that they must be technically correct they must be shot to tell the story in a clear but unobtrusive way. Cinematography styles change as new technology and creative minds bend the rules. Also the rise of digital cinematography has brought many new possiblities for creativity and cost savings.
Along with all these technical and artistice element to your production there will always be very important business and marketing issues to deal with. Are you staying in budget? Are you creating a movie anyone will want to see? Are you breaking any laws or taking unnecessary risks? Are you building buzz about your production and connecting with people who can help you make money from it?
The Film Production section of 4Filmmaking.com covers all these things.