Four Common Mistakes First-Time Filmmakers Make

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4 Common Traps that New Independent Movie Directors Fall Into

Many indie filmmakers make the mistake of relying on whatever lighting happens to be available when they shoot their scenes. Unfortunately this just tends to highlight the fact that they are using a video camera. It doesn’t need to cost a lot to achieve professional lighting results for any independent movie- even those with the lowest-of-the-low budget.

If you’re trying to stretch every dollar you have in order to just get your movie made, spending money on lighting can seem like a luxury that you just can’t afford, but the truth is that if you want your indie film to look anything like a ‘real’ movie, lighting is something that you can’t afford to live without.

Not Treating the Camera as a Film Camera

Because video cameras are lighter, it’s becoming a hallmark of television and ‘budget’ video productions to shoot very shaky on purpose. While this can add excitement to a scene (or cover up lack of budget), it reads to an audience as “using a video camera” unless it is used very purposefully, and very sparingly.

Your best bet is to treat your video camera as if it is 30 pounds heavier, and treat camera movement as a film camera crew would… Typically that means slowing movement down, using a tripod, and keeping shots as steady as possible with whatever bracing is available.

Not Planning What You’ll do With Your Film Once it’s Done

Many first-time-filmmakers don’t take the time to think about what they need to do with their film in order to make it successful. In some ways it’s understandable… There’s a lot to know, a lot to learn, and a lot to do! But knowing what you plan to do with your movie when it’s done before you start working on it is very important because it will inform your decisions throughout every stage of your production.

Not Surrounding Yourself With Like-Minded People

Making a movie is collaborative art. A director will need lots of other people in order to help get it done. Would you rather surround yourself with people who are going to need to be dragged along with every step forward, or with people who are gonna call you on it when you’re dragging them? Working with someone who has the same drive and determination to finish the film means that you can trust them not just to accomplish the task at hand, but to overcome any obstacles they may encounter without you needing to always hold their hand to get it done. It means one less detail that you need to personally sweat over because you know it’s going to get done, and done right.


Making a movie- even a very low-budget one- is a process where lots of things can go wrong without careful planning. Taking into account these four often overlooked items can make the moviemaking process go more smoothly.

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