How to make a short film: 11 pro tips for movie-making

Kit list

All you really need is a camera of some sort – there are some film competitions where you shoot on a single Super 8 film cartridge, editing in-camera. It's even possible to make your film on a smartphone. 

Phocus 2 case for iPhone 5s

You may not have a RED Epic, but film-makers are increasingly using DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III. You can even kit out your iPhone 5s with lenses that use a 37mm screw-on mount using the Phocus 2 case

"I have seen many films shot on smart phones that look fantastic," says Jason Wingard. "There are some real benefits to shooting on a phone – and the microphones in smart phones are also very good. Essentially a smart phone can also be used as a radio mic."

And if you do got he smartphone route, you're in good company; both Oldboy director Park Chan-wook and Dead Man's Shoes director Shane Meadows have shot films on phones.

To give your film a professional gloss, you'll want a tripod and lights, sound recorder and some sort of editing software. 

"Make sure you record good sound – it's just as important as the pictures," notes Mat Whitecross.

More after the break...

Use what you need

Don't go hiring kit on the off chance that you'll need it. Work out what you need to achieve the shots you want – like a dolly for tracking shots, or a macro lens for close-ups.

And don't be afraid to improvise. Sam Raimi famously stuck a camera to a plank for tracking shots in The Evil Dead. Nowadays there are lots more low-cost options for film-makers – like the Parrot AR Drone 2.0, which now features a Director Mode for sweeping aerial shots.

Network!

You'll need a crew – the absolute basics are a producer to handle the budget, a director to spend it, a cinematographer to light the scene and operate the camera, a sound recorder, and an editor to cut the film. Of course, you can double up on these roles. 

Fortunately, it's easier than ever to find fellow film-makers. "Film events are great to meet other film makers," says Jason Wingard. "In addition to that there are loads of forums and web sites that allow for film networking.  Above everything else though, if you really want to meet like minded people get on a film-making course or just nab a camera and start shooting. It won't take long before you meet like minded people." 

Websites like shootingpeople.org and raindance.org are a good starting point – with the help of the internet, you should be able to assemble a team in no time. So get out there and make your film – and, as Mat Whitecross notes, "Don't forget to take the lens cap off." 

Jason Wingard is a previous winner of the Virgin Media Shorts short film competition. The 2013 winners will be announced on November 7th at the BFI IMAX, for more details, visit: virginmediashorts.co.uk

Stephen Graves is putting his money where his mouth is and is making a short film, Fred's Shed. Find out more here.

You have to login or register to comment.