Whether your favourite filmmaker is on the other side of the world living the dream in Hollywood, or on the other side of a screen, with millions more subscribers than you, sometimes it can feel like making films for a living isn’t a realistic ambition.
But we believe that anyone can make a film with the objects that they use everyday. That’s why we were so excited to run a filmmaking workshop for you lot at an O2 store in Kingston earlier this month, during the International Youth Arts Festival which is held in Kingston.
On the day, we gave out loads of film-making accessories, learned tips from former Go Think Big project leader and Freelance Filmmaker Nat, and then put what we learned into practice with the O2 Gurus at the store.
Here’s some of Nat’s top tips on making a film, without having hundreds of quid worth of kit…
1. Use what you’ve got
“People always ask me what camera to buy, but the best camera you can have is a camera you have on you,” Nat told us. “A mobile phone might not be the best camera in the world, but you always have it on you, so being able to use it to the best of it’s potential makes a world of difference.”
2. Go landscape
“Most people always hold their phone portrait because that’s the way the phone is positioned, but the number one rule is to always make sure it’s landscape!” said Nat. “The simple reason for that is that you want to film for the medium you want to show your film on. All TVs are landscape, it makes sense. It also looks a lot more professional, you wanna avoid those black bars on the side when you upload onto different platforms. It really does depend on your platform though, so if you are making a film for Snapchat then it’s completely acceptable to film in portrait. You’ve just got to be aware of where you plan to post your film.”
3. It’s not about money
“You really do not need money to be a good filmmaker,” Nat assured us. “Being a good filmmaker is all about being creative and finding solutions. Everything that you can spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds on, is just trying to replicate things like sunlight or good sound. You don’t really need it!”
“You could spend a few hundred pounds on good lighting, or you could just use natural sunlight. If you film at around 10 in the morning, that’s when the sun is rising and the light is perfect. You get this nice glow and it really highlights the face beautifully. No amount of professional lighting will ever replicate that look.”
“If you cant afford a tripod, sometimes I just get blu tac and a pile of books and make my own thing. It doesn’t really make a difference if you’ve paid nothing for it or if you’ve paid £100: if it does the same job, then it’s just as good. Everything you can do with professional equipment, you can do at home, you just need to be a bit creative and think outside of the box.”
4. Listen up
“Recording sound is something that a lot of people get really wrong with mobile phone filmmaking,” Nat told us. “Despite the purpose of a phone, which is to call people, the recording on phones is actually really, really poor. And not just on phones, also on DSLRs! There’s simple ways to get around this. For instance, just being able to project your voice, not shout, not whisper, but make sure it’s really well heard. You should also film at about an arm’s length because that’s the optimum distance for a mobile phone to pick you up really clearly. Also, do a bit of a sound test. Go into a room, record for a few seconds, if you think: ‘oh, I can hear electricity, or I can hear the traffic’ shut the window, turn that generator off!”
5. Google it
“There’s so many tutorials online you really don’t need to go to film school or university to learn the skills you need to be an expert filmmaker. Andrew Kramer is really good. He’s done amazing tutorials on learning to edit and After Effects which have really helped me. My favourite YouTubers are probably The Vlog Brothers, Hank and John Green. I just think they make really great content. When you watch their videos they may not be shot amazingly, there might not be that many angles, but they’re just really good at the pacing and the rhythm. They really focus on the content, which, at the end of the day is the most important thing about filmmaking. No amount of an expensive camera can ever replace good content.”
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