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Top Tips for Young Filmmakers by Danny Stack

Top Tips for Young Filmmakers by Danny Stack

I thought it’d be useful to break down our top 6 tips for the younger filmmakers in your life who are interested in making their own stories. Anyone from 6 years or older can follow these top tips…

1. Call your friends!

It’s hard to make films on your own. We had up to 30 people on the set of Nelson Nutmeg. And we were a very small film. But you don't need that many people. 3 or 4 friends is enough. They may change over time as people get different hobbies or go on holiday. But that's OK. For a quick short film, you can get everyone together and shoot something in a single day - lots of fun!

2. Planning is free

When you first pick up a camera, the temptation is just to get out there and shoot stuff! But if you do that, you end up just filming anything and everything. The end result usually isn’t very good. To avoid this trap, have a plan. It doesn't need to be a script or a storyboard or anything professional that takes ages. Instead, write down a general story or a list of shots or at least have the ending decided before you start.

3. Don’t worry about equipment 

It can be easy to think that your film doesn't look as good as other films because you don't have the right equipment. It’s true, better equipment can help. But it’s not an excuse not to be filming. Maybe someone will eventually lend you their better camera - but only if you show how great you are already. Framing, telling a story, good shots, good editing can all be done on the simplest camera, including the camera in a phone or tablet. All the equipment you need is already in the palm of your hands!

4. Edit

If you like comedy, editing makes the jokes snappier. If you like action, editing makes the scenes more exciting. If you like drama, editing helps the viewer to focus on the story and characters. All types of films benefit from editing. The good news: you can get free editing software for your computer, phone or tablet. So dive in, play around, get used to basic editing techniques, and you’ll start to realise there’s even bigger potential for your story.

5. Watch ‘behind the scenes’ clips

'Behind the scenes' clips from big movies are fun. And you can learn quite a lot about how to make films from watching them. But don't feel bad if you make mistakes when shooting your own movie. Remember, Hollywood make the BTS clips to try and advertise their films - they want to look good. However, the big Hollywood films make mistakes too (sometimes reshooting entire scenes or sequences in a film, or more!). But you WON’T see these mistakes in their official behind the scenes clips.

6. Keep going!

Director Tim Clague made 50 short films before he made Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? And he even got nominated for a BAFTA for one of his short films (Eight, directed by Stephen Daldry) back when he was starting out. But he wasn’t ready yet to take the leap into making features. So he kept on making short films, and learning more about filmmaking. And having lots of fun, too. You should do the same. Just keep at it, have fun, and you’ll naturally get better over time. When you have your first film ‘in the can’, you can have a show or screening on the big TV at your house or a friend's house.

YOU’VE MADE IT. CONGRATS! Now… what’s next?

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