Have you ever tried to shoot an interesting scene but it comes out looking like a terrible Vine shot on someone’s iPhone 4? Making a film isn’t easy, and making sure it doesn’t look like garbage is even harder. But it isn’t impossible. Don’t settle for less than your vision. Here are a few tips for making your amateur film look more professional.
Having high-quality equipment is a no-brainer if you want your movie to look good. Not everyone can afford professional equipment but there are a few things you shouldn’t skimp on.
Bad sound is distracting, and can really ruin the entire movie-watching experience. The microphone on your recording device is probably not going to be up to snuff if you want good quality sound. Rent a professional mic for the duration of your shoot. They’re surprisingly cheap to rent, and will make a huge difference to your sound quality.
Unless you’re making another Blair Witch sequel you probably want to keep your camera steady. Invest in a tripod to avoid the shaky cam look. You can also search for tutorials online that tell you how to make different kinds of camera rigs for cars and other spaces in which it may be difficult to film.
First, match the lighting to the genre of film you’re making. Horrors don’t take place on sunny streets and well-lit buildings. Before anything else your lighting will set the tone for your film so be aware of what you’re shooting, how its lit, and whether it gels with the genre of film you’re trying to create.
Don’t wing it when it comes to blocking. Draw out a storyboard you think will work, then have a few rehearsals beforehand to make sure it works. Getting it done fast won’t mean anything if none of your shots are useable, or what you shot doesn’t form a cohesive story.
Get multiple shots
Always shoot at least two different angles or widths for each scene to give you options when you’re editing. A scene of all closeups gets a little monotonous, and not seeing how the characters are playing off of each other can just be confusing. No matter how detailed your storyboard is you’ll still want to give yourself a few options.
Be wary of the zoom
A zoomed image loses quality. If you’re looking for a closeup there’s nothing wrong with just having your camera close to the action. Your picture and sound quality will both be better for it.
Every amateur filmmaker tip list will have this on it. Don’t just cast your friends. Or, if your friends are all you have to work with, at least audition them first. You’ll make sure they’re right for the part, and that they can actually act.
There’s nothing more distracting in an otherwise powerful film scene than something small changing every time you cut back to a certain angle. Every detail is significant, no matter how small. Make sure your actors are picking up and holding objects with the same hand every take, clothes are positioned the same way, drink levels are consistent, and so on. Continuity is key!
Don’t just jump head first into making a movie. Even if you’re short on time your final product will be much more professional looking if you take the time to get everything in order. The above tips are a great place to start.