Making a film isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. There is so much planning involved, more than you probably think. It’s not as simple as setting up your camera and yelling “action!” We’ve outlined some of the things you need to consider when planning your own film and some tips on how to pull them off successfully.
When it comes to planning a film, the first thing to consider and the most important is the concept of your film.
What’s your film going to be about?
Find an interesting idea to create your story around and run with it. Pick something that inspires you enough to expand on it and choose something that you would like to watch. You should always make note of any ideas you have, no matter how ridiculous or stupid they sound. These crazy ideas may become useful one day and you never know when you might find a way to use them.
Even if your heart is set on an idea, don’t let this stop you from writing down any other ideas you have. It’s much better to have multiple ideas for a project, don’t just settle for one. Where possible, it’s best to write in as much detail as possible, start expanding on your ideas and creating a world for these characters.
Now that you’ve got the concept for your film sorted, it’s time to start creating the script.
The script, for those not aware contains all of the dialogue in the film.
Your job as a scriptwriter is to flesh out all of your ideas and turn it into a fully-fledged film. This is where you bring your concept to life. A good idea is to brainstorm. This allows you to lay out all of the basic story arcs and where you want your characters to end up.
Don’t worry too much about working linear, if you have an idea for a certain scene then go with it. Any plot holes will write themselves with the more you write, and you should never stop writing new ideas. Fresh ideas can give you a different look on a character or set them on a different path, which could lead to some wonderful storytelling.
This is the time to be developing your characters, making their personalities clear and their purpose in the film. It’s always good to write a bio for each character, going into more detail about who they are. This proves useful for the actor playing the character as well as scripts can often leave out important traits that a character may have and gives them a backstory to work with.
Don’t worry about your first draft being your finished product either. Keep working on it until you’re happy; try getting more opinions if it will help you. A film is only as good as its script so it’s important to get it right and not rush or leave anything out.
So once you’ve finished putting together your script, it’s time to plan your storyboard.
Having a storyboard will allow you to map out your film and plan how you want every scene to look. By doing this, you give yourself a clear view of how you want the film to be and it makes it a lot easier shooting it. It’s always good to visualize what you want the film to look like, shot by shot and storyboards can help you get a feel for it.
You don’t have to worry if you’re not exactly a professional artist, rough sketches will do. As long as you can clearly see what you want to achieve in the scene, then anything will do. It’s a good idea to write notes underneath each box, describing what is going on in the scene or certain emotions you want to try and capture with different shots. If you’ve got it in your budget, there is an option to hire a professional illustrator to help better portray your vision.
With any kind of film, there is always going to be at least some kind of funding needed. Whether that be the cost of equipment, hiring a place out or paying your cast, but it really depends on the size of your film.
If your production consists of only you or maybe a small team, you won’t need to factor in much funding. You should budget for any equipment you might need, such as cameras and lighting and depending on who you cast, pay your actors. We’ll talk more about equipment later.
You’ve got the script down and you’ve planned out how the film is going to look. Now it’s time to cast your characters.
This again depends on the size of your film, but casting is still an important part of planning your film. While you might initially consider casting yourself or your friends as the lead roles in your film, you should try auditioning people or reaching out to actors looking for work.
Try and find the perfect person for the role you’ve written. Don’t settle for someone who you don’t feel will portray the character the way you envisioned him or her. I mean you want to create a quality film, right?
The amount of crew you require will vary with the size of your production. For a bigger production, take into consideration you will need crew to help with filming, lighting, sound and potentially make-up. If you are a smaller production, you should consider reaching out to other filmmaking friends to help on the project. A perk of hiring your friends is getting potential access to more equipment, improving the quality of film you produce.
Location is key when planning a film.
It’s important to find and plan out all the locations for your shoot. The right location can add a lot to a scene and make your film look and feel more authentic. By using multiple locations, you give your film more variety and make it feel like a bigger production.
You should scout out any locations you want to shoot, taking photos and videos and even doing some test filming, to get a preview of how it would look onscreen. It’s a good idea to then make a note on your storyboard of certain locations you want to film scenes in. Factor in the size of your production when choosing locations too, consider the amount of cast & crew you will have with you and leave enough space for equipment.
A shoot script is basically a script with all of the technical details and shots alongside the dialogue.
So basically it will set the scene, detailing out the location, camera angles you want to use, etc. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in chronological order either; a lot of people don’t shoot the film as it’s supposed to be seen. So don’t worry about not filming in linear form, shoot the most practical way.
Now comes the hard part.Scheduling and organising your shoot can prove to be trickier than you think, especially if you have a decent sized production. You need to make sure all of your cast are ready and available to shoot their scenes, whilst making sure your crew is available (if you have any) as well.
Next you have to make sure the location you’re shooting in on that day is free, especially if it’s a place you’re hiring out. Imagine turning up for a full day of shooting to realise it’s preoccupied. Plan ahead.
One of the most important things to consider when scheduling is making sure you leave yourself enough time to get the right shots. Some many people in the past have left it too late or settled with the shots they got and this impacted on the quality of the film. Give yourself more time than you need to get multiple takes; it’s better to trim through all the fat than to settle.
This mostly applies to bigger productions, but is a good thing to do for practise.
Call sheets will basically be a breakdown plan for the day. It will have the actor’s name and their character’s name on it, the time they need to be on set, if they need to go to make up first and what scenes they are shooting. So it’s a pretty important piece of paper.
Choosing the right equipment is crucial for the quality of film you put out.
It’s always good to invest in great cameras, preferably ones that are suitable for outdoor filming. As with most things when it comes to filming, you shouldn’t settle for the first camera you see. Go online and read reviews, find footage shot with different cameras and look at the specifications. If you’re serious about creating a quality film then you need to invest the time into finding the perfect camera.
This applies to lighting and sound as well. Films can really benefit from a good lighting setup and the sound quality of a film has to be good. One of the first things most viewers will pick up is the sound quality, so you better make sure your audio can heard loud and clear. Spend time researching different combinations and look at what works for the kind of film you want to make.
Now this doesn’t mean you need to rob a bank to afford the big budget cameras. There are plenty of HD cameras out there that won’t bankrupt you; you just need to budget well. If you have friends who are into filmmaking too, it’s a good idea to ask them to get involved and to borrow some of their equipment, potentially reducing costs.
You should now be ready to start filming. There’s a lot more that goes into filmmaking than people think, as we’ve seen here. Hopefully at least some of these techniques will help you when planning your next project.