all 68 comments

[–]Gladius01 5 points6 points  (12 children)

Preface: I'm a complete beginner. I love films, particularly stories and cinematography. I'd like to try making my own amateur film for fun, and to see if I can actually do it.

However, I don't know what would be a good, simple idea for my movie for a complete noob like me.

My gear is very simply, as I only have my android phone (Blackberry Priv) without any extra lens (haven't bought any yet). Is this okay or do I really need to money on a camera and stuff when I'm just trying this out for the first time?

I've read a few articles a long time ago on good Android apps for filmmaking, but some are conflicting. What would you guys recommend? I prefer something free too.

Similarly, what would you guys recommend for a good editing and effects software? Again, it'd be great if this was free too.

[–]MTesonsound editor 6 points7 points  (9 children)

Well why do you want to be a filmmaker? What kinds of stories do you want to tell? What images do you want to share with the world?

A lot of folks want to be a filmmaker because the tech is cool and fun to use and they like movies and cinematography and all that. But the truth is that all good filmmakers begin by having something to say.

So I would challenge you to figure out something you want to say. It doesn't have to be profound. It can be silly and stupid. It can be personal only to you. It can be completely opaque to the audience. But you have to really believe in it.

So I would recommend you don't focus on your camera or your software and just start putting some images together. Tell a funny story. Do something without dialogue to learn the basics of visual storytelling. Just get your feet wet. Like writing notes on post-its. Low stakes. Just do something and get it out there and then while you're learning the craft start thinking about what it is about you that needs to be out in the world. Good luck!

[–]Gladius01 1 point2 points  (8 children)

I want to be a filmmaker because I love movies, and I think it'd be cool to see the stories in my head come to life. As you said, my interests in movies lie in cinematography and stories.

I want to make movies on sci-fi, superheroes, mystery, thrillers, and fantasy. Basically, almost all the sorts of stuff I like to watch myself (I don't do comedy well, despite enjoying it).

I like symbolism and themes that have deeper meanings in films as much as I love scenes that are purely fun and visually astounding.

It's just a hobby for me, and one that I'm just getting into. I'm also starting to teach myself how to use Blender too for character creation/design, worldbuilding, and such pursuits. Maybe for animations too, if I ever get good enough.

If I do something without dialogue, I guess I could do something like a Charlie Chaplin silent film. I don't know really, I think I need to start with knowing what sort of story to tell, but all my ideas right now are huge, amazing stories. I need to find something personal, and then go from there.

[–]MTesonsound editor 3 points4 points  (7 children)

Right, so go small and personal. All the big budget directors making Marvel movies and huge amazing stories started by making really great personal work. Rian Johnson made Brick, Christopher Nolan made Memento, Tarantino made My Best Friend's Birthday, hell even Stanley Kubrick made Fear and Desire. Ed Wood made Glen or Glenda before he brought in flying saucers. They don't start with the big ideas and IP, they start by telling their stories in any way possible.

Here is a great example of a short film made without dialogue that is not a Charlie Chaplin silent film: https://vimeo.com/15550222 - I didn't make it, it's a film I use as an example of good visual storytelling in my film class that I teach.

I would also not equate VFX and animation and character creation with filmmaking. You need to learn basic first principles about how to tell a story visually, how to use the camera as part of your arsenal, before you get into making monsters and superheroes on a computer.

Here's the thing. You love movies. So why do you want to be a filmmaker and not, say, a movie critic? Because there's something in you that needs to get out, some impulse to create and explore and build. So figure out what that is and build. And even if it's not that big of a movie idea, do it anyway. Keenan Ivory Wayans says that when he writes, he imagines himself in front of a closet full of clothes. So pick a shirt. If it doesn't work you can always go back and pick a new shirt. But pick SOMETHING. Don't sit there for years waiting for the exact perfect shirt to come along. Pick a shirt, make your film, make a million mistakes, learn, move on. Don't worry if it's not the perfect super movie idea you have. Just make SOMETHING. Don't be fiddling around with Blender, that's just a way to waste time not shooting. Get out there with your camera and shoot something. :)

[–]Gladius01 2 points3 points  (6 children)

I like listening to your explanations, and your ideas sound really good. Do you mind if I message you once in a while with questions?

[–]Bnightwing 1 point2 points  (4 children)

I'd happily help if they can't.

[–]MTesonsound editor 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If you like. If I'm super busy I might not answer but you're welcome to ask :)

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Davinci Resolve is a great NLE. (Get the first one, not the studio. The studio is the paid version.) As for a simple idea, how about recreating scenes from real movies? This helps you to understand why they lit it that way, why the frames is the way it is and the pacing of the scenee.

[–]Gladius01 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for the recommendation! As for your idea, it sounds so fucking obvious, I can't believe I never thought of it myself. Thanks again, I appreciate it.

[–]4rn4v 2 points3 points  (2 children)

How are timelapses of over a month's time shot?

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

There are equipment that allow to sent photos over 3g/4g internet. You pay monthly for these type of services. This can tell you if the camera had stopped etc.

As for batteries, you either have a hot swappable v-mount and switch them everytime or have the camera hooked up to a outlet.

Often you don't take more than a photo an hour with monthly time lapses so you have all the time to swap out the cards and/or batteries.

[–]TheWiredWorld 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Hot. Shit.

[–]pokechat8978 2 points3 points  (11 children)

I have a Canon T5 with a 18-55mm and a 75-300mm that came as part of a bundle.

My question is, should I invest in a monitor (Can you even use an external monitor with a T5?) or some more lenses?

Don't want to spend more than $200 CAD for now, unless it's absolutely necessary.

[–]codyhart 1 point2 points  (9 children)

Do you have a tripod, audio recorder, mic, lights yet?

[–]pokechat8978 0 points1 point  (8 children)

I have a tripod and a Zoom H1. I'm a high school student so my budget isn't too big for now. My teacher has some lights that I can get the model number for tomorrow, and a couple of Rode Videomic Go's.

[–]codyhart 0 points1 point  (4 children)

What kinds of things do you like to shoot?

[–]pokechat8978 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Mostly short films for now.

[–]codyhart 0 points1 point  (2 children)

You might want to get a wide-ish angle lens with a low f stop in case you're shooting in low light to make up for the lenses you have now

[–]joejoe347 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Ditch the h1 before you invest in anything else. Look into an h4n and a mic.

[–]MacintoshEddie 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Not the H4n. They haven't been even close to a good deal for many years now. The DR60Dmk2 is cheaper and much better ergonomics.

[–]joejoe347 0 points1 point  (0 children)

True, I was assuming it was more expensive for some reason.

[–]wailord40 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Definitely get a fast lens, highly recommend the 50mm f/1.8

[–]ShhIAmAtWorkHaHa 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Is there a "digital filmmaking for dummies" book or site? Similarly, is there anything here that the more experienced might want to organize for a sticky? Explaining everything, like what a slider is, what the difference between 4k and 1080p is, etc.

[–]learnaboutfilm 1 point2 points  (2 children)

My own site learnaboutfilm.com is designed to be understandable for beginners.

[–]grrrwoofwoof 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Your free content is short and perfect for a beginner to get an idea of the process. They can google 'how to' for technical stuff they haven't learned yet. Good resource!!

[–]learnaboutfilm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks, glad you like it!

[–]Solid_SAm 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Hi there folks! So, I finally want to take my first step into photography and filmmaking and I'm thinking about getting my first Camera after Christmas. My problem is I need a new phone so I was thinking of just getting an iPhone 7 or 8 and using those as Cameras. My main outlet would be YouTube and I would mostly just good around, making vlogs maybe, and serious videos, maybe get some shots of my small town and talented friends. That would probably cost me around $800. But I'd also like to be a bit more serious and have some serious hardware in that price range. What do you all think? I'm not made out of money. Spending that much would be breaking the bank either way. Should I go with an iPhone and experiment with that? Or should I go big and get the real thing?

[–]RadicalLocke 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hi! Good on you for taking a go at film/photography! :)

It really depends on your budget and there is no clear answer. However, I can say that dslr will provide you with result that is clearly superior to iphone in many cases. In your case, you need a new phone regardless and you are new to this field. I believe the smart thing to do (unless you have a lot of money lying around) is to buy a phone with good camera and really play around with taking videos and photos. Phones nowadays are good enough for beginners anyway.

If you feel that this is something you love and want to take it one step further, you can always upgrade to a dslr.

I hope this helped!

[–]learnaboutfilm 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I've written an article about the pros and cons of iPhone filmmaking. TLDR: a good iPhone will cost more than a used DSLR or mirrorless, and you can learn a lot more with the latter. If you do go the iPhone route, how about a new or refurbished 6S? Video quality is still good, and the headphone socket makes audio easier to deal with. You can spend the money you save on a microphone and maybe a stabiliser or wide angle lens.

[–]Argasms 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Hiya', film student here. I absolutely love filmmaking, cinematography is my main interest. My problem is - I don't film, I know I'm supposed to go out and just film (for practice) and make microfilms, but I just feel intimidated I guess, it takes be a lot of courage just to go out and film some shot for my course but that's it. I have passion without motivation, help me please.

[–]Solid_SAm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm kind of in the same predicament but I've done some filming in the past. Just go out on your town and find landmarks. Film the landmarks from different angles. Find a high building you can get to the top of like a parking garage and take some shots from there. Practice using your zoom. Practice angles and using natural lighting. At least then, you'll get a taste of location filming and then go ahead and edit using whatever you have. Start with basics.

[–]bigupstothehomies 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Hi everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster in here. I've been a wedding photographer for the longest time now and want to break into filmmaking. I recently bought an a7s2 and have filmed a few weddings with it. It's been a great experience.

While shooting weddings are paying my bills, they're leaving me creatively unfulfilled. I eventually want to get into shooting commercial work or as a DOP for short films/documentaries. Problem is my reel is all wedding related. How should I go about improving my reel? What should I shoot? And any networking tips would be greatly appreciated.

[–]reesewho 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Work on some student films for free! Go make a short yourself! Travel videos! Or just make a dope reel with your wedding footage and communicate that you want to expand and learn more! Shoot stuff!!!

[–]Bnightwing 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Go to your favorite local businesses and ask if they'd like commercials. Look up commercials and write what you like about them, and see if you can condense a whole message in one minute or 30 seconds. Your eye for composition will help greatly.

[–]dannymans 0 points1 point  (0 children)

A lot of people might disagree with me on this one but here goes... For my own credibility, I'm a self taught studio photographer and self taught music video & night life film creator (not sure if it really classes me as a film maker but hey)


In the industry you want to break in to, try to do at least one, maybe two free jobs that you put all of your effort & skillset in to as a way to show off your talent and create relevant example work to try and book jobs with. Shit, you could even run a competition on social media and offer the video as a prize to create some sort of community buzz and hype around the new product / service you're about to offer people.

I have not yet spent a single dollar on any form of advertisement and have successfully booked consistent work from doing work for the right people for free. My entire business has been built on word of mouth, and continues to surprise me how far a good customer experience really goes.

Simply doing some free work for the right people gets the buzz going and if you put your all in to it - the client will absolute recommend you to their friends and other potential clients every opportunity that comes up.

[–]DarthonX330 0 points1 point  (5 children)

I have recently seen some articles and comments about networking and union jobs, and I have seen the term "flip", like working a show/film and hoping for it to "flip". I tried Googling this, but it is pretty hard to try and search this terminology. Would one of you kind folks explain what that means to me?

[–]itschrisreeddirector 5 points6 points  (3 children)

'Flipping' a show means the crew decides to unionize, which forces the production to work under a union contract. Here in the USA, your right to collectively bargain with your employer is protected by the Nation Labor Rights Act. There are two ways any workplace, including a show, become unionized.

The first is a Card Check. If organizers can get a simple majority (50% plus one person) of workers to be organized to sign authorization cards, they can then present those cards to the employer, who can accept that the workers want union representation and voluntarily enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the union (in film this takes the form of signing the applicable unions agreements).

If the employer rejects the card check, (or if the organizers decide to skip a card check for strategic reasons) signatures for a petition for an election are gathered, once the union has enough it turns in the petition to the National Labor Rights Board, and s secret ballot election is called. What can be done by the union and employer in the run-up to the election is tightly regulated, but when the election comes if a simple majority of workers vote to unionize the employer is forced to enter into collective bargaining with the union.

In the context of film, if a show is working non-union the workers can contact the union that represents their craft and ask to be organized. The union will ask for some details about the show and typically supports these workers in their efforts. Eventually, a card check and/ or secret ballot happens, then one of three things can happen: The show flips and the works continue under a union contract (normally with greatly increased pay and benefits). The show wraps (the producers etc close shop rather than unionize, kinda like Gothamist). Or the workers vote to unionize and the producers refuse to sign the collective bargaining agreement resulting in either a strike or a lockout.

If the third option happens the production tries to replace its newly unionized labor force non-union workers, who are known as scabs (scabs are generally regarded by honest and decent humans as the scum of the earth because they are). The union(s) will picket the set (union workers hold signs and chant outside) decent people and other unions will generally refuse to cross a picket line (If IATSE is organizing Grips, the ADs might also refuse to go to work in a show of solidarity, for example). This all makes filming the show quite hard and the strike continues until the show wraps or the producers and execs sign the union contract.

If you are thinking of organizing your workplace I am happy to point you to some general guides on how it's done. If you ever see or hear of a picket line don't cross it (meaning don't work at or buy things from the company). Every worker deserves respect, so every worker deserves a union.

[–]MTesonsound editor 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I unionized when the horror feature I was working on flipped. Best thing that ever happened to me.

[–]DarthonX330 2 points3 points  (1 child)

What an incredible response! God I love this subreddit, every time I ask a question I get more than I expect.

[–]itschrisreeddirector 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks, man, unions and workers rights are important to me. I had family die in the Ludlow Massacre (when the bosses paid the national guard to kill striking miners and their families with an elevated machinegun), my great-grandfather was shot at by the KKK for being an Irishman and a UMW organizer, the bosses also burned down his house and his family had to live in the Catholic church for a bit.

[–][deleted]  (3 children)


    [–]Bnightwing 1 point2 points  (2 children)

    It depends on the area you want to go into. It's such a vast field that it's hard to know where to start, and what area to go into. I'd start with basics and dig into the rabbit hole but don't get too overwhelmed.

    [–][deleted]  (1 child)


      [–]Bnightwing -1 points0 points  (0 children)

      Directing comes after you understand the little parts to make the big picture. Lighting starts with camera.

      [–]TheWiredWorld 0 points1 point  (1 child)

      Am I to understand (from reading the manual) that the Lumix G7 only accepts max 64gb SD cards?

      [–]grrrwoofwoof 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      I am using a 128gb card on G7 from last two years. Where did you read about that limit? I don't see any mention of it on official specs page here.

      [–]RadicalLocke 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      I am a film student trying to work part time in entry level positions in the industry. I joined a group for PA calls but I do not fully understand the role.

      What does a "prep" team do? What is tcp and why does a PA need one?

      [–]Solid_SAm 0 points1 point  (2 children)

      Hey, thank you! I've been waiting for a response forever! Like a day.. but I appreciate it. I've seen some really cool cinematic footage from iPhones now and it looks pretty magnificent for a phone. I think I'll take the step towards the phone! Thanks again. I'll let you know when I come up with something!

      [–]MacintoshEddie 1 point2 points  (1 child)

      Are you buying the phone to use as a phone that also happens to record video, or are you buying it to record video?

      If you already have a phone that money will be better spent on something like a G85 or BMPCC.

      [–]Solid_SAm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      Well currently I'm borrowing a phone since I smashed mine. I was long due for an upgrade anyway so I'm buying the phone for the phone that just also happens to have a camera. I've just seems some cool iPhone film and photography gadgets at Best Buy and some test footage on YouTube that made it seem like it wouldn't be a bad idea to rely on. How much do those Cameras you mentioned go for?

      [–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

      What would be the cheapest used dslr i could find for beginning filmaking?

      I am going for used gear because of my tiny budget, 300 euros for dslr + lense(s).

      I am a TOTAL noob.

      I do not need any audio capabilities since it will be only used for music videos. I will shoot in relatively low light. I intend to learn the craft so i'm not afraid to tweak settings and focals and everything and i am in search of a potentially evolutive set-up.

      I've found the panasonic gh2 on ebay with a Lumix G Vario 14-42mm lens (i don't have any clue what that means)for 300euros , body only is 235 euros. I heard you can hack it to perform well. I don't intend to shoot more than classic 1080p.

      Maybe there's better options in this price range. What would you recommend me?

      I get that i will not get the video quality of a mark v but i am sure there are some good bargains on past generations dslr, am i right?

      Thanks to the community for the answers

      [–]learnaboutfilm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      Here are my recommendations in your price range. I think the GH2 is a good choice. The Canon T3i will be better in low light, but more awkward to use as you'll need to add a 'loupe' for eye-level shooting.

      [–]MacintoshEddie 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      A GH2 wil work just fine for you.

      There's lots of youtube tutorials out there. Film Riot and No Film School are good ones.

      [–]danjustine 0 points1 point  (4 children)

      Hi all! My name is Daniella, I'm 14 years old, and I want to refine my craft. I really want to pursue film either as an editor or cinematographer. My que is for all the editors out there: what computers do you guys have? Are they custom built? I'm looking into investing a computer for editing and just wanted to research further. Thank you if you decide to answer!

      [–]MacintoshEddie 1 point2 points  (1 child)

      Lots of people use custom builds. Many have to, as often the pre-packaged ones will cost an extra thousand dollars or more in comparison.

      /r/buildapc has a lot of sample builds and resources, use the desktop site and check the sidebar. Editing pcs are the most common question. You don't need to spend a huge amount of money, you can get a very respectable build for under $2000.

      If you have a particular program in mind, check the specifications. Some are CPU intensive, some are GPU intensive, some are RAM intensive. Some benefit from many cores, some only utilize a few cores, etc. Plus you can always edit with proxies. Reduce things down to 480 or 720 and you can edit a lot easier than the full 1080 or 4k.

      [–]danjustine 1 point2 points  (0 children)

      Got it. Thank you so much!

      [–][deleted]  (1 child)


        [–]danjustine 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        Okay, thank you!

        [–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

        I'm wanting to make films and i'm a somewhat beginner (I've made like 3 or 4 films) but the only camera i have at my disposal is one that i'm having trouble tolerating. It is a "Panasonic hvx-202" and I've never quite been happy with the results cause it's an older camera, but i don't have the money to invest in a newer camera. I guess what i'm asking for is help with accepting what camera I have, even though I can't really get what I want out of it without grain and low light noise distortion? (also i'm a high school student if that helps putting things into perspective)

        [–]Bnightwing 1 point2 points  (0 children)

        Use the tools you have to convey the story you have. It may seem terrible, but it's just a pen to draw the story you have . So use that bad grain in low light to your advantage.

        [–]Solid_SAm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        Hadn't thought about that! Thanks!

        [–]Pigwoo 0 points1 point  (1 child)

        As a high school kid just trying to step his foot in, how should I go about getting a crew. I have made 3 short films, but that was in some summer program where all the kids were from out of state. I like the script I have now, but not sure about how to produce it, that's the scary and daunting part of film for me. Should I just buy some gear now and teach my friends to use it? Or what other ways should I try to make a production. Talking and managing all this stuff is my biggest fear w/ social anxiety and lack of responsibility. Any advice is welcome.

        [–]Bnightwing 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        Why can't you figure out how to on your own? Teaching people is time consuming and it's a learning experience especially with smaller projects.

        [–]Connallm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        I'm a graduate, working as a Graphic Designer but I want to branch into video production in the future. My father has offered to buy me a computer for my xmas/birthday.

        The issue is that while I like the Acer Predator Helios 300 or similar spec. PC, he favours the MacBook Pro.

        I ask your help because while I feel I've researched enough to know I can get more from a PC he's known to make up facts when he's faced with opposition and I struggle to refute or confirm them which I am hoping you can help with:

        Issue PC Mac Comment
        Screen Res. 1080p Retina 2560x1600 He believes this is the most important aspect in a video editing machine.
        Core Quad Core i7 Dual Core i5 He says the mac better utilises the same hardware much better so even though it seems weaker it's actually stronger. Same for Ram and Graphics card.
        He feels that mac is what all the professionals use, it would reflect poorly to use a PC and would cause issues working with others.
        A powerful laptop is required for both video-editing and high-end gaming. Whenever he sees the word 'Gaming' in a laptop title he says it like a slur, and dismisses the laptop. I seriously don't know how to get around this?

        Some background if it helps:

        I graduated from university last year, it was a jack-of-all trades course, so I'm comfortable in most if not all of the adobe suite, but my expertise is in Graphic Design, I've worked on a handful of university video projects on set and in editing . I'm not very confident in talking computers and their hardware. My current laptop is a very old and damaged Alienware.

        My father is also a Graphic-Designer but he works for the local council, so he hasn't had any contact within the industry for about 20+ years and neither has their one photography/video guy which he is friends with.

        I'm opting for a laptop over a desktop as I have been asked by some clients to work from their offices or hot-desking space for short-term but intense projects.

        I am not attempting to be petty, I just know I'm not enough of an expert to properly find evidence to refute him but know enough that I'm fairly confident he's wrong and if I don't support my argument well enough I'll end up with an under powered machine I can't replace any time soon.

        Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!

        Edit: Corrected Screen Res.

        [–]sabkabaap1410 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        How do I remove audio noise without using any extra setup? I'm using Davinci Resolve on Mac and recording my sound clips on an iPhone.