Make Your First Short Film

Whether you are thinking of going into the filmmaking industry or just need to make a short movie for a class project, making a short film is a fun and rewarding experience. The best part is anybody can make a short.

All you need to make your very own short is something that can record video and audio, a place to film, people to film and an idea.

The best thing for filmmakers in this advanced technological age is that their cellphones can often double as their camera and microphone.IMG_3043

All smartphones and most cellphones have a decent quality camera that can record video and audio. The iPhone 6 Plus (pictured above) can record video at 1080p with 60 fps (frames per second), which is the quality of most videos you’ll find on YouTube.

If you decide that you want to purchase a camera, but aren’t ready to commit to an expensive, complex DSLR camera, a simple point-and-shoot camera is the perfect option for you.

Point-and-shoot cameras, like the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS pictured above, offer a higher quality image and a wider variety of uses. The zoom on these types of cameras are much more powerful and clear than can be expected from a cellphone. A point-and-shoot camera can also take just photographs, if you decide that film isn’t for you, but you still want to take nice pictures on your next vacation or family gathering.

Another thing that you’ll need as a filmmaker is an editing software. Most personal computers include a basic form of video editing programming already downloaded upon purchase.

Apple users, you have iMovie as your free video editing software.Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.40.40 PM

It has all the capabilities that a basic editing software will need for a beginning, or one-time, filmmaker to make their short: add and edit audio, cut and move video clips, overlay text and photo on top of video and add and edit transitions.

For all you who own a Windows computer, Windows Movie Maker is the free video editing software downloaded and at your disposal.

Image result for video editing software on windows*Image courtesy of Google Images*

Windows Movie Maker is the Windows user’s iMovie equivalent. The two editing softwares offer a lot of the same features: add and edit audio, cut and move video clips, overlay text and pictures on top of video and add and edit transitions. The only distinguishable difference is format and layout of the softwares’ display.

Now that the equipment is taken care of, you’ll need to find people and a place to shoot your short. Just like with the camera, there are a couple of levels of cost that you can go with. Since we’re talking your first ever film, I’m going to stick with the lowest cost level: free.

Finding free actors is easier than you think. More often than not you can ask friends and family that you don’t mind working with, and they’re usually pretty willing to help you out. If you’re friends and family are really against being in a film, there is most likely an acting or theatre club at the local college with students willing to help to gain experience. No matter who you use in your film, be sure that you get your actors to sign talent release wavers. This basically says that they’re consenting to being in your film and are okay with you distributing it.

Free places to film are pretty easy to find as well. Anywhere on a college campus is usually free game as long as its not disrupting the learning environment. Your private residence, or the private residence of a friend or family member, is free, too. Going off campus or out of your living space to a park or residential area might have different rules regarding filming in the are. Be sure to look up your local laws in regards to filming in certain areas just to be sure.

So now you have almost everything that you need to make your first short film: who (your actors), where (film set) and how (camera and editing software). All that’s left is something that no blog post or newspaper article will tell you: the what.

What will your film be about? Will it be a satirical comedy or a thrilling horror? Is it going to be a documentary-style short, or is it going to be stop-motion? That is something that you are going to have to decide for yourself.

So start brainstorming and get shooting.


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