EXPERTS Reveal: What advice would you give to your young filmmaker self?
A lot of advice exists out there on how filmmakers can get started in the the industry. Film schools across the globe offer a wide range of free resources which is fabulous for getting started. But the question is – which advice is actually legitimate?
What does it take to get your filmmaking career off the ground? What ways can you invest in the art and sustain a profitable business? What would you like to know NOW before kicking off your filmmaking career? Our experts range fro ma variety of filmmaking disciplines and have some fantastic advice on the subject:
The advice I would have given to my young filmmaker self would have been to give everything from the get-go. To put 100% of my energy into filmmaking, making connections and shooting as much content as possible and to not be distracted by everything else that most teenagers get up to. To not hold back in investing in good but expensive equipment, especially as I was living at my parents’ house rent free back then. Most importantly I would have said to follow my heart and to not be influenced by others around you. You can create your own unique path this way that will separate you from the rest of the crowd.
My advice to young filmmakers would be to spend as much time as possible filming and editing a wide range of different projects as possible and learning your craft. We all learn by making mistakes so the more you create the more you will learn. Be adventurous, have fun and explore different techniques and styles in a wide range of filming environments. You will learn something new from every different scenario. Be considerate and personable with everyone you work with and meet. You will develop your own style and specific filming interests over time.
Getting started as a wedding videographer was a big challenge. Having a background in photography, was like learning things all over again. Even though we talk it’s still image-making, the film has a language of its own. Making films is about bringing together moving images that tell a story and symbolise the feelings and emotions you want to bring to your audience. To get started, you need to master a camera. It’s very easy to get caught up in a kit, but learn it and forget about it. The best piece of advice I can give you is to make a few (you’ll know the number) of wedding films for free, as a trial, to see if you like it. If you do, just keep doing them and charging for it. Give it time and – ultimately – things will fall in place. It takes time but they always do. Hang in there and keep shooting as much as you can.
Your primary goal as a filmmaker is the ability to tell stories well. Remember you’re not the finished article and you might never be. But to be a filmmaker, you have to make films. Don’t wait for the perfect brief. Just make. All the time. Lots of it. Try new things, like how would you tell the same story if there were no words. What if there were no soundtrack at all? What if you had to tell the story in 1 minute? Learn how to communicate narrative with framing, camera movement, actors, audio, light, focus, and in the process make as many mistakes as possible. If you’re not making mistakes, if you’re not having to start again, if you’ve never ripped up a final edit and started from scratch, then you probably haven’t taken enough risks. Do it! It’s the fastest route to knowing who you are as a filmmaker.
Don’t be afraid of making ugly things, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I know you strive for perfection but this way of thinking will limit you and hold you back both financially and creatively. You need to just make things as often as you can with whatever resources that you have and see the beauty in everything you create.
The goal when you begin is to put yourself out there, to find your style/aesthetic and to get noticed so that you can finally make those pretty things you’ve always wanted to make and they’ll look better too because you’ve learned from previous mistakes.
First up, start where you want to be. So start as a VAT registered company, start as a Ltd company. It’s so much harder to make that switch later once you’re all settled.
Don’t skimp on the branding. We all start with no money and think we can do it ourselves but the truth is your brand defines who you are. Invest in some proper branding and don’t think you can do everything yourselves.
Its very easy to get a cough up in the latest and greatest gear you wish you can have, or chasing that new creative shot and surprising yourself and everyone with the super awesome camerawork you just managed to pull off. This can be a potential risk and likelihood to neglect some of the more boring stuff.
I certainly wish when I started I paid more attention to my business and management skills and keep up with learning more about how the tax system works, investment, financial planning and running the business. Making some essential financial and business planning would certainly pay dividends in the long run and once you reach a certain level you are able to expand and hire a team of great creatives like yourself to help.
The second important piece of advice I would recommend to everyone starting and picking up that first camera is to remember the great story is what makes the film and not the tech or latest cameras, so practice your storytelling and learn about the basics of what makes a great film. Once you get this wright the equipment just becomes a tool.
Stay clear of the current trends as they can quickly become a cliché instead find your unique style and stick to it -of course evolving it and perfecting it all the time.
First of all, forget all the fancy kit and gimmicks, you need to surround yourself with like-minded, talented and passionate people. People make films, not cameras and lenses. They’re just tools, remember that.
Never stop shooting. Use every possible spare minute you have to work on passion projects. The more you shoot/edit/direct/produce, the quicker you’ll identify your weaknesses and more importantly, where you excel.
Finally, and by far the most important one (IMO); appoint an accountant ASAP. Don’t do your books yourself. Pay a professional to do it. They’ll save you far more money than you’ll be paying them.
When covering a live event, stop moving the camera! Instead of chasing action, look for movement within the frame and most importantly, where movement is likely to happen. Wait, watch and anticipate. When nothing seems to be happening, look away from the subject and study your surroundings, capture B roll, environment, wildlife, traffic, clouds, pedestrians, as all this is useful in the edit. And pack light! Ask yourself what equipment you absolutely need to bring and leave everything else at home – your back will thank you later.
At the early stages of your career, you typically tend to not have enough time or money. However, you need to deliver projects that have an original voice and demonstrate your ability as a filmmaker. I would, therefore, suggest keeping things simple. Try to create ideas that are simple to execute, so that you can focus on creating your vision.
I’d probably tell my younger wedding filmmaker self not to worry about what other people are doing! It can be so easy to compare your work to other videographers, and whilst at the beginning I admit it can be helpful in providing ideas and inspiration, it’s important not to let it drive where you take your personal creative style. Ultimately people book you for your unique style, and the more you can feel free to explore your creativity and experiment with what works for you, the happier and prouder you’ll be of your work. Let’s celebrate our differences!