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Art on Film: How to make your own movie

If you have always wanted to make a movie yourself, there are many great ways to do it. Because I’ve worked and still work in the movie and TV industry, I have gathered a lot of great experience through the years; either hands-on experience or people in the industry  showing me all the ins and outs.”

If you just want to start your own movie, with your friends and family, I have a great way to help you out with it and you don’t need fancy expensive cameras to help you. You can use the cameras you already have, like the cameras on your smart devices, the old consumer cameras that you have stored or your VHS cam corders, if you still have them.

If you do want to use VHS cameras, the best place to find great ones are on eBay. Now, if you want to get retro, you can find film cameras like 8mm, 16mm and 3mm cameras for a great price.

The thing with film, though, is that it’s expensive to get film and to process the film. And then you have the thing where you cannot see what was filmed, so you may never know if the film was captured right or wrong. That is where you’ll need professionals in the industry.

Let’s skip film cameras for now, until you’ve become the Tarantino of El Paso.

Okay, let’s start off with what you first need. You NEED a story. You can find stories anywhere. There’s always a tale to tell. One of the best ways to get some ideas is going to a crowded place, like a mall, and sit yourself down with your pencil and notebook or an audio recorder.

Watch what goes on around you, listen to what goes on around you and you’ll be amazed at the stories. Everyone has a story to tell, even you. You just need to dig deep enough to get it. It’s like a buried treasure chest that you heard around the campfire, and now you need to find it. BOOM! There’s a story right there that practically wrote itself. A pirate buried a treasure and left a map with clues and centuries have passed where this map resurfaces into your hands, or something like that.

Let’s go to finding a genre, you NEED a genre. You just can’t go out there with your friends and make a movie on the whim and expect to make a movie. You need a story and you need that script for your actors to, well, act and the director to direct. When you narrow a genre down, you’ve gotten closer to coming up with a story.

Now, if you’re making a horror movie, you need to think horror. Is it going to be about werewolves, zombies, witches, Halloween, etc? That’s a sub-category, all genre’s have them. Just pick the ones that best suit you.

Once you’ve gotten an idea down, it’s time to start writing. Now, you’ll need a program to write your award-winning script and don’t worry, there are plenty of FREE software out there that you can use. Here are a few that I’ve used in the past: CELTX, Adobe Story, Templates for your Word Processor and then there are APPS for your smart devices.

I found one called WRITER. Just look online, search for LIST OF FREE SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE and you’ll get a list.

Now that you’ve written your script and your actors have rehearsed and your locations have been found to shoot at, it’s time to start making your movie. There are three important things I need to tell you about making your movie to stand out from the rest.

YOU NEED GOOD LIGHTING. Don’t go out there and expect to make your actors look good without lights and reflectors. You can get cheap lights from your nearest hardware story. The basic lighting system is called the THREE POINT LIGHTING system.

You need your KEY light, which basically is your main light that lights the talent on screen. You can have that on either the right side or the left side of the talent.

You’ll need the FILL light, which basically fills the other side of the actor’s face, but softer or diffused lighting than the stronger KEY light.

Then you’ll need a BACK light. The BACK light goes behind the actor to make the talent stand out. You can position this BACK light on top of the talent to make that “halo” look around the hair and shoulders. Once you’ve gotten a good feel for lighting, you’re closer to becoming a renowned director for years to come.

The second most important thing you’ll also need is AUDIO! You cannot make a movie with audio being recorded by the microphone that comes with your camera. Your talent will sound like they’re in a tunnel or you’ll probably not be able to hear them clearly with all that wind passing through your microphone.

Simple ways to fix that: you can either go to your nearest electronics shop and buy an inexpensive lavalier microphone or a regular microphone that singers use and use that as your boom mic. Where you just have your friend hold up the microphone as close to the talent as possible without the camera catching it. If you’re going with the lavalier mic, just hide it under the clothes with tape as close to the collar as possible.

Now that you have your lighting set and your audio checked, it’s time for the most important and last thing to making movies, TRIPOD!

Don’t always go off handheld, because then you’ll get shaky video. If you’re filming a dramatic moment where someone is crying and the camera is shaking, you’ll lose that moment of drama because everyone is focused on if there’s an earthquake occurring. Get a tripod. All the professionals use it. A tripod not only steadies your vision, but it makes for great cinema.

Shaky cam is used when you’re trying to convey an action scene or a suspenseful moment in your scene. So, start making plans for your award-winning films. Of course, you’re going to come across many obstacles where you can’t use a tripod and all I can say is, steady the camera as much as possible.

As you continue to make your movies, you’ll not only get better at it, but you’ll find your niche to filmmaking where you’ll have your own style like the greats out there: Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Cameron Crowe, James Cameron, etc.

OH! One more important thing, you NEED music! If you have a friend that makes music, ask them for help to compose music for you. You can always use music from your favorite musicians, but then you’ll get sued if you try to sell your movie.

And if you’re trying to submit it to film festivals, you can forget about submitting it, because most film festivals ask for written letters saying if you have permission to use their music. Just compose your own or have your musically-talented buddies to do it or look around the Internet. There are many musicians out there who would LOVE to help out a filmmaker, because they TOO want to get noticed.

If you’d like to see some of my short movies, here they are. You can see the differences in each one. Hope you enjoy them and I hope that it sparks some ideas in your films.

Kosmikophobia: Click Here

Not Human: Click Here

Madness: Click Here

About Arturo Portillo

The Art on Writing and Movies Arturo Portillo was born in Illinois in 1979 and moved to El Paso when he was 11 years old. He wrote his first story when he was in third grade, winning an award for best children's fable. That was the day that got him on his way to pursuing a career in the film industry.FULL BIO

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  1. danielEt@gmail.com'

    This book is your reference guide for creating the perfect pitch, inspiring your winning application, finding and connecting with funding organizations, making a successful “”ask,”” and landing the money to make your film. This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

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