5 Fantastic Filmmaking Tips for New Directors

Some filmmaking inspiration from Roger Marsh, Mary Janca, Matthew Sienzant, Adam Rench, and Chad Bell.
Picture above: photo by Colton Sturgeon, Photographer & Filmmaker, Kansas City. Follow @ColtonSturgeon. | coltonsturgeon.com


5 Fantastic Filmmaking Tips for New Directors


Tip #1

“I made an advance decision before directing one of my films to constantly shoot behind-the-scenes during production. Our main camera was designated as Camera 1 – and I asked the cameraman to keep shooting between takes. We also tried to have someone on Camera 2 and Camera 3, at different positions, while we were shooting each scene. My point is that I wanted to create two films at one time – the one we were trying to create off of a script, and a second film, which would document the making of the first film. I explored these ideas for three years while producing original stage shows in Chicago, where we gave each of the actors in the production an off-stage persona. When the audience entered the theater – they had no idea that the show was already in progress. We were still putting the set together, running around and sometimes shouting at each other. So the audience was pulled into a behind-the- scenes drama leading up to the house lights going down and the actual production starting. I wanted to do something similar as a filmmaker.”
~Roger Marsh

Read Roger Marsh’s article, “Independent Director’s Guerilla Field List.” Mix a tight budget with a narrow shoot window, and you can understand why an independent director cannot go into the field without back-up resources and a little ingenuity.

Tip #2

“Get tons of people involved in your project, no matter how the project is going, and allow people to take some ownership, even if it is just for the smallest thing, for they may give back tenfold for the glory of their being able to tell stories and share with others their filmmaking experiences. Being charming also helps – I credit Phoenix Mangus for that!”
~Mary Janca

Tip #3

“Try to familiarize yourself with the crew before the first day of shooting. Working with a new group of people often takes some time to get up to steam before all of the kinks are worked out. Taking the time to get to know everyone prior to being on set – even if it’s just having an informal meeting over pizza – should help everything move smoothly once you get started. If you do go in cold-turkey, make yourself open and approachable, no matter if you’re the director or the sound engineer.”
~Matthew Sienzant

Tip #4

“The best tip I can give for producing is pre-produce! By far the most important thing for production is a good pre-production stage. I have in the past underestimated the value of planning ahead, and I paid dearly for it. I cannot stress enough that planning your production is by far one of the most important things to do.”
~Adam Rench

Tip #5

“Plan, Plan, Plan. Planning your production is key to having the production become a success.”
~Chad Bell