Thinking about making your first short movie? There’s no doubt you’ll have fun doing it, but if you want to do it right there are a few tips you should keep in mind as you start the movie making process.

1. Develop a good story.

The plot of your movie is the most important part. Take the time to develop your characters and establish a whole story telling arc. Remember, your plot should start out easy with an introduction, then rise to a climax and finally end with resolution.


2. Make your dialogue natural.

Sometimes dialogue can ruin a movie. (If you’ve seen the movie Hall Pass, you know what I’m talking about.) Make your dialogue very natural. The way your words flow should be representative of how your characters act. And remember, sometimes silence is just as affective as words! Take some pauses in there, too!

3. Don’t ignore lighting.

Even if your set is limited to your grandparent’s basement, don’t let yourself be confined by the terrible florescent lighting. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment! Just borrow some of those old aluminum scoop lights that your dad uses in the garage to set up three point lighting. You’ll see a drastic difference in the quality of your video!

4. Don’t ignore sound.

Just like lighting, the amount of attention you give to the audio in your movie can make or break the overall quality. If you can get your hands on some external microphones, use those! You can rig up your own boom stick and have a friend carry it around for optimal sound quality. Don’t forget music, too! Adding sound beds and production music is an easy way to change the tone of  your movie. (Need some free production music? Click here to visit our friends at Free Stock Music!)

5. Make sure all camera movement has a purpose.

Sometimes we get so excited that our camera has a smooth moving zoom that we try to incorporate that feature in every shot. Don’t do it! Every time you use camera movement you should have a solid justification for doing so. Instead of thinking of zooming and panning all the time, experiment with creative angles and interesting points of view!

6. Get organized.

Making a movie is a lot of work, so you’ll need to be as organized as possible! Have your script written, your shots planned and your set locations scouted all before you begin the shooting process. Use a story board template to help yourself be as organized as possible! You can download one from us here!

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Making a movie is definitely not a solo activity! Ask friends and family for help with shooting and acting. Need more cameras or equipment? See if a local school will let you borrow some for a weekend. Not sure how to pull off an effect you really want? Take advantage of online forums and ask the professionals directly! The resources are abundant, so make sure to reach out and use them!

8. Be mindful of other people’s time.

Now that you’ve asked Cousin Kathy and Uncle Herb to star in your movie, try to be respectful of their time. Have scripts prepared and a clear vision in place so you can do as little takes as possible. If you do have a long day of shooting planned, make sure to be appreciative and consider paying for some pizzas, too! This way your friends will be more eager to help out again when you’re ready for movie number two!

9. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

This is one of your first movies, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Try to stick to a story that doesn’t require exotic or multiple locations. Limit the amount of characters that are featured in the story so you don’t have a scheduling nightmare when it is time to get all of your actors together. Feel free to experiment with some special effects, but remember that your first short movie probably isn’t going to turn out like the latest Harry Potter film. If you feel yourself getting too overwhelmed, just step back and reorganize your priorities.

10. You’re only limited by your creativity.

Amazing movies can be made on even the smallest budgets. Get creative with your ideas and look for outlets that might help you stretch a dollar. For instance, you may want to set your movie in New York, but you live in Denver. No problem! Use some stock footage to help establish the outside of a building in New York, and then shoot your interior shots in Denver. This simple trick is used all the time in Hollywood and it will really broaden your movie making horizons. Want to try it? Here’s a free seven day trial to VideoBlocks so you try using some free stock footage in your movie!

Good luck with all of your movie making endeavors! And remember, if you need some stock footage, production music, sound effects or graphics, we’re here to help! In fact, just click this button below to download a free stock footage clip that you can use, royalty-free!

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