10 Helpful Filmmaking Tips from Award-Winning Student Filmmakers

“If you have a crazy idea you want to try but are too scared to do it, do it anyway. You want to film an action scene lit only in green, with psychedelic music as a score? Sure, why not? Or you’re thinking your favorite TV actor would be great for your student short and wanna send it to their agent? Go for it! I’ve found that, in general, people are more willing to help, and to forgive, someone just starting out, because they think, ‘Oh, they don’t know any better.’ Use that assumption in your favor! Besides, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen? People say no, or they criticize you? That’s gonna happen anyway. And (very) often. Sooner you start getting rejections, sooner you start building the super thick skin you have to have to survive in this business.”
~Sabina Vajrača
www.sabinavajraca.com

“Location! Location! Location! I think if you have an interesting or sometimes a breathtaking location, it inspires you. It gives you an idea about a look and a first concept of lighting. It gives your protagonist or performer an atmosphere so they can react to it. And sometimes it gives you even an idea. From a production point of view, it helps you to save money in the Visual Art Department, technical equipment and in Post-Production. So, if you invest in research, and sometimes money in your location, it is the best investment you can do. Even when it seems a pain or super expensive, at the end of the day it, it pays off.”
~Alicja Pahl
www.alicjapahl.com

“Do a short film version of the feature you want to make. This has been crucial for my career, as all my feature projects relate to shorts that I’ve done. That way it’s much easier for people to understand your vision.”
~João Dall’Stella
www.joaodallstella.com

“Be Bold! Don’t be afraid to try something that you [or your professors] have never seen before!”
~Jumai Yusuf
www.jumaiyusuf.com

“Always believe yourself, believe your talent, believe your instinct.”
~Yubo Song
www.imdb.com/title/tt12631496

“Learn the storytelling rules, and then, BREAK THEM.”
~Alexa Velasquez
www.alexavelasquez.co

“Fail forward. You will fail. A lot. As a director, you will have great triumphs and failures. Allow them to both be epic. But when you fail, mourn, make it quick, and move on. The success you will find at the end of the journey would not be possible without the defeat. Learn from your mistakes, and you must be resilient and fearless to move past your failures.”
~Addison Dlott
addisondlott.com

“Be practical and try to dig deep to the essence of the story before shooting. It’s important to use your resources on things that matter to the story.”
~Jing Ai Ng
www.jingaing.com

“Always thank your crew and everyone you’re working with. From crafty to the producer to the grips. Everyone. Even if they’ve been difficult to work with, thank them. Individually and personally. I feel extremely lucky to be able to call myself a director; it’s a true privilege. And it’s all due to the people who have donated money, crewed on my films or offered words of advice. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind to those around you. I think if we, as directors, practice this we will create an environment where everyone will feel appreciated and where everyone will excel and do their best work.”
~Darius Dawson
www.dariusdawsondirector.com

“Enjoy the learning journey.”
~Curry Sicong Tian
www.currytian.com