1. Soak up as much as you can before you begin- Watch as many films as possible. Think about story structure, scenes which stand out for you and why. Look at how scenes cut together and shots which really stand out.
- Learn the basics of cinematography. If you have no money, odds are you'll be shooting the film yourself.
- The internet is incredibly useful, so use it. There's a plethora of information out there not being used such as E-books and online articles. Be sure to check out the website for NO FILM SCHOOL and search Google books for cinematography.
2. Make sure your idea is ready before getting started.- You can make a great film from a good script, but you'll never make a good film using a bad script.
- If there are no ideas, you don't know what you want to say, or how you're going to approach it, then you're setting yourself up to fail.
- Don't try and do something that you can't logically achieve. It's good to be ambitious, but If you're planning a war film set in a future Vietnam, odds are you're already setting yourself up for failure.
3. Utilize what you have around you- Props (got a cat? Use it) and locations (got friends or family with homes that have large bedrooms or living rooms that would be ideal to shoot in? Use them)
- If you are studying at college or university make use of the equipment (like I did with 'Ennui'). I cannot stress this enough. You will miss it when it's gone.
- Borrow if people are willing. Their camera perhaps. Tripod (most people have a basic one for personal photography). If you can't borrow one, they're pretty cheap.
- Use people you know who can act, people who can use the camera better than you. Odds are if you're making a film, your friends will be similarly creative, so make use of their various skills.
- Get your costumes from charity shops or use clothes the cast already have (ideally ones they don't normally wear as this will alter the way they appear)
- Keep it small scale. Do you really need 30+ extras? Probably not.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most people aren't nearly as cold and unresponsive as they appear. As soon as you mention you're making a film (and your willing to give a credit) most people will bend over backwards to help.
4. Get to grips with your equipment- You may have saved up a few hundred/thousand and got yourself a fancy new digital HD camera but it's no good if you can't use it.
- Someone who knows how to use a mediocre camera to its fullest capabilities is more likely to make a film which looks great than someone with great equipment who has no clue.
- This applies to sound also. If you're planning to use your built-in mic, think again. Bad sound is very distracting and can ruin any film. Most equipment is affordable now. Shop for Rode shotgun microphones and digital-recorders. They can be bought for £80 each (essential buys)
- Indoor work lights can be bought at B&Q £15 each. Be aware of health and safety. The lamps get hot and the bulbs are bright. Don't go gazing.
- Make your own equipment from what you have around you. I created a Dolly using parts from an old skateboard.
- Practice as much as possible. Just filming friends or whatever is in the garden.
- Think of interesting ways to film whatever is around you.
- Put together your practice work to get to grips with the basics of editing.
5. Casting- Be specific. Don't just pick anyone. The most confident person in the world can turn into a mumbling idiot when there's a camera in front of them so make sure you've made the best decision before you begin to shoot.
- Make sure you get people you can rely on; who want to help out or be in it. If you've forced someone or chosen someone unreliable, don't be surprised if they aren't there come the day you need them.
- Use www.castingcallpro.com - literally thousands of actors are out there looking for experience. The opportunities section acts as a notice-board where people can announce projects (You'll get a wider selection if you pay expenses)
Continue to part two