Even if you can’t buy expensive gear, there are cheap options that provide far better sound quality than relying on the camera’s microphone.
Beginner filmmakers might never have thought about this, but cameras don’t see things the same way the human eye does.
So when you see all of those big lights on a movie set, they are there to help the camera see things more as we do.
Meaning all of that artificial light is there to make the scene look natural, as counter-intuitive as it might sound.
Budget restrictions might play a part in the lighting sources that you have available, but there are always options.
Rather than go on about it here, you should head over to our quick guide to lighting in film, once you finish reading this post, of course.
Say the Right Things and Know When to Shut up!
What we mean by this is to be careful with your dialogue, and there are a few ways you need to do that.
First of all, let’s briefly return to an earlier point, and keep everything period-correct.
Being period-correct goes for dialogue too.
Some words and phrases come and go over periods of time, and to ring true, you need to use a suitable vocabulary, especially when it comes to slang.
If you are making a modern-day film, and most of you probably are, you need to think about local dialects.
It’s not enough to have the right accent if you are saying the wrong things.
To give a simple example, think of The Dark Knight’s Commissioner Gordon, played by Gary Oldman.
If Oldman suddenly burst into some cockney rhyming slang exclaiming we need to get Batman on the dog and bone asap, even with the American accent, it wouldn’t work, would it?
If you are the curious type, like us, you can check out some actors who do accents very well or hit up YouTube to find some who don’t do so well.
Sometimes your story can take place anywhere, and if that’s the case, you should stick to what you know.
Although he’s laughing all the way to the bank, Ben Affleck comes under a lot of criticism at times for not being convincing in the role.
It’s no surprise that performances that get him the most praise are the ones where he plays a guy from South Boston; in other words, he plays what he knows.
We should say, as a filmmaker/director, Ben Affleck is far less criticized and has a stellar reputation, we aren’t anti-Affleck.
Most of the dialogue will come directly from your screenplay, but things change when filming, so be careful not to go down the wrong path while experimenting.
That brings us to the ‘know when to shut up’ part.
The best films are ones that make the audience think and feel.
Do you know when you get someone who makes a witty comment, then explains it afterward?
They assume the audience missed the cleverness of the comment, and lose any appeal it recently had.
You don’t want your movie to be that person.
As we said earlier, filmmaking is art, and art is open to interpretation.
Ultimately, the story starts and ends wherever you say it does.
Between those two points, you should never take away the audience’s ability to think for themselves.
The viewer should be able to put themselves in the situation they see and set their own expectations for what’s coming next.
That way, if there is an unexpected twist, it hits much harder, and viewers relate to characters in a more human way.
You don’t want to explain every feeling and emotion the character is experiencing through dialogue.
Not only will it become boring, but it will also make your characters less believable.
A good film will guide the audience without them knowing; it won’t draw them a map straight to the finish line.
Maintain Momentum, Don’t Become Stagnant
This advice is a continuation of knowing when to shut up.
This time it’s not just about dialogue, it’s every aspect of your film, and knowing when enough is enough.
It’s easy to see when a story has been rushed; it’s underwhelming and, most likely, a result of poor writing.
Even with a fantastic screenplay, there is always a risk of losing the story if you let individual acts or scenes drag on too long.
If it takes 90 minutes to tell your story on screen, don’t tell it over 180 minutes because you want it to be an epic (unless you’re Tarantino, of course)
Movies like The Godfather are so long because they need to be, and the story is deep enough to hold an audience for that length of time.
When you have a much thinner script and stretch it out because you want to, rather than need to, you can expect a harsh response from your audience.
It’s not easy to get the balance right, it can’t be rushed, and it can’t drag on.
Plot-lines and characters need to develop naturally, so think more about momentum than pace.
Whether your film moves fast or slow, make sure it moves steadily.
Don’t Forget About Continuity
Continuity mistakes are perhaps the most common mistakes, even in big-budget movies.
They are certainly the funniest!
Continuity is making sure things remain consistent from one shot to the next for the film’s duration.
For example, if an actor in full makeup has a scar above their left eye in one scene, they can’t go home and return the following day to have the same scar applied above their right eye.
It can be even more straightforward like if a character is seen drinking a Coke, it can’t suddenly be a Pepsi when the camera pans and returns.
I won’t blame you if you think you’d never be stupid enough to let something like that happen.
You don’t even need to be a filmmaker to find it ridiculous that these hilarious mistakes are missed.
The fact remains, it happens, and it happens in films made by talented and experienced filmmakers.
It may happen on large productions because the director is trusting a team of people to deal with the smaller details.
If that’s the case, it should still be caught by someone at some point in the chain.
For smaller productions or first-time filmmakers, you might not have a team of people, so the responsibility is yours.
From my experience, when you work on any creative project, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and charge on to the end.
Like I said earlier, it’s essential to take a step back regularly and give yourself some breathing space.
If you don’t, that’s when the small details are missed, and millions could see your film on YouTube.
Well, at least the scene with the glaring continuity error!
Check out some of the most unbelievable continuity errors from major films.