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Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - Camera mounted on car windshield

Filmmaking Trends in 2020

Each year, we see new filmmaking trends in, or old trends making a return for a new generation. As a filmmaker, you can measure success in different ways, whether it’s commercial success, critical success, artistic merit, or purely self-satisfaction. If you are looking for commercial success, or in other words, if you want to make money, you should always be aware of the current trends. Financially speaking, it’s essential to understand early in your career that making a great film doesn’t always mean making a successful film. Coming up with an idea for a film that people want to see is the first step, and it’s easier said than done. Keeping up to date with current trends is a great way to start your project off on the right foot. But keeping on-trend doesn’t mean you can’t be different! It’s about knowing what to take from a trend, how to put your own spin on it, and when to be a trendsetter (someone has to be brave enough). Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent filmmaking trends of 2020.

Different Types of Trends

Before we get right into them, we want to take this time to say there are different types of trends.

We would categorize them as trending themes and trending techniques.

Videos come in many forms, whether it’s a feature film, marketing video, or anything else, so not every trend will apply to every video.

Also, some trends we mention will be trends on their way out, which is just as important.

A trending theme could be a movie genre, a storyline like boy meets girl or something even smaller like a character quality, funny best friend, for example.

It could also be something like making a comedic film from a serious subject matter or a dramatic from a seemingly lighthearted topic.

Whatever it is, it’s something that starts at the writing process and influences the plot to some extent.

Trending techniques are things that influence the look and style of your movie, but not the story.

These trends can be filming or editing techniques, new technology for effects, or a new way to mix music and dialogue, etc.

We like to think of these trends as enhancers; they enhance the core content of a scene to improve the viewer experience.

No matter how tempting it is, a popular technique/effect should never be used unless it’s relevant, and genuinely adds value to your content.

Audiences generally know the difference between something that fits and something that’s been shoved in for the sake of popularity.

Here are some of our top filmmaking trends in 2020.

Diversity is King

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Multiple Coffee Cups

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It’s difficult to call diversity a trend because it shouldn’t even need to be discussed.

Celebrating and embracing the differences from one culture to the next is the key to realizing we are all united as one.

It’s a topic that goes far deeper than the creative industries, but creativity has the power to make changes.

So, if we focus solely on the filmmaking industry, it’s not hard to find examples of talented people being passed over by award panels when they seemed a sure winner.

Many people believe that these omissions are made based on skin color, gender, sexuality, religion, and so on.

Far be it from us to turn this into a political debate, but what we can say is this; we are glad to see that the differences that make us human are being celebrated and supported more and more.

In the past few years, we have seen more critical acclaim for creators who would perhaps have been overlooked previously.

That’s not to say there isn’t still a long way to go; it has to become normal and not just a phase.

In your filmmaking, diversity can come from either side of the camera.

First of all, if you are someone who has doubts about putting your project out there because you feel you are different in any way, forget that.

It is our right to be different; it is our right to express ourselves creatively, whether male or female, straight or LGBT, whatever race, and whatever our faith.

We don’t mean to sound like a cheesy motivational speech, but in our eyes, a film is judged on its merit, not based on who made it.

So, if you are in that position, get started right now, make your film, put it out.

You’ll find support and encouragement from us amongst many others, and anyone who isn’t yet on board with diversity, let them miss out, not you.

OK, motivational time over and onto a quick reality check.

If you have doubts over your content being accepted rather than yourself, the only thing that matters is that it’s authentic.

When your content speaks about diversity directly, it’s a sensitive issue, and if your intentions are not as earnest as they should be, you’ll be found out.

That’s a polite way of saying don’t ever make a film about diversity just to cash in on the popularity, that’s not cool.

On the other hand, if you are passionate about your content/message, but worried about audience acceptance, just do it.

The worst that can happen is making a film you believe in, and that can never be bad.

As a parting note, we can’t comment on all you filmmakers’ ability out there, but we can promise you one thing.

No matter how talented you are, if you don’t embrace difference with open arms, you will never be as good as you could have been.

Empowerment in Movies

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Empowering Wall Art

Photo by Hannah Middleton on Unsplash

Empowerment is an extension of diversity, and it’s a theme that has been growing for the last few years.

In 2018, we saw the first black superhero movie with Black Panther.

Since then, films like The Green Book and BlacKkKlansman have dealt with racial and social issues differently.

If you haven’t seen them yet, we won’t drop any spoilers don’t worry.

What we want you to focus on is the different ways that empowerment can be portrayed in film.

The Green Book is a true story that centers around a perceived role-reversal, where an affluent black man hires a white driver in 1960s USA.

We chose this example because it deals with empowerment directly and indirectly.

Initially, it raises awareness of racial inequality in the 1960s and highlights how far we still have to come.

Directly, the movie shines a light on the discriminatory notion that a white man can’t work for a black man.

Furthermore, it shows how stepping outside social restrictions of the time enriches the driver’s life, and that’s the indirect empowerment we mentioned.

 

BlacKkKlansman is a remarkable true story of a black detective who managed to infiltrate the KKK and expose largescale racism.

We want to highlight this movie because it deals with racial tension and serious issues with humor.

Director Spike Lee is a master at using humor without losing the importance of the message.

It’s a technique that walks a very fine line, but we highly recommend that you check out his work.

 

Women in film, whether in leading roles or behind the camera, is another growing area.

It’s not just about having a leading lady; it’s woman playing the kind of roles that would previously be reserved for men.

The prominence of women in the superhero genre has seen a massive boost with the likes of Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.

There are too many movies to discuss, so check out some of the best examples of female empowerment in recent movie history.

Diversity in Music

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Various Guitars

Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t talk a little about your soundtrack, it’s what we do.

Following on from diversity in film, it’s now trendier than ever to experiment with music in film.

That’s not to say the music doesn’t need to fit the content perfectly; it does.

But audiences are more open to different genres, and composers have more freedom to express themselves.

It’s even cool to be an orchestral composer again, which wasn’t the case for years unless you were Hans Zimmer or one of a select few.

Here’s where we tell you that our library of royalty-free music from super talented composers has everything you need!

Find the perfect tracks and audition them with our exclusive video preview tool.

Horror Movies Get a Makeover

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Spooky Blacked out Windows

Photo by Setyaki Irham on Unsplash

Again, this is nothing new, but the horror genre has seen a recent revival and looks set to continue.

In a way, it’s not so much that horror films are making a comeback, the trend is in creators taking new approaches to make horror films.

To highlight this, we have picked out one example, The Lighthouse, written by brothers Robert and Max Eggers.

The first thing that you will notice about The Lighthouse is that it is shot in black and white with a 1.19:1 aspect ratio (also known as the Movietone ratio).

There’s nothing new about a black and white horror, but this one has nothing to do with the age of the film or period it’s set in.

It has an almost art-house look to it, without any pretentious overtones, which can be a pitfall of being visually artistic.

Instead, the lack of color adds realism to the repetitive nature of working in a lighthouse.

It immerses the viewer in the monotonous reality, where every day is the same as the last.

The aspect ratio being almost box-like enhances the feeling of being trapped with not many places to go.

The point is there are many ways to create atmosphere, tension, and sheer panic in film, don’t be afraid to get creative with it.

 

Musicals are Cool Again

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of a red Curtain in a Theatre

Photo by Gwen O on Unsplash

If you have seen Cats, you’d be forgiven for thinking we are mad to include musicals in our trends.

For everyone’s sake, we are going to forget Cats was ever turned into a movie for now.

La La Land was such a big hit with the box office and the Oscars that it became a springboard for saying musicals are cool again.

In 2020, we think that trend is still growing.

Much of this revival can also be attributed to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his Broadway sensation Hamilton.

The use of hip hop in Miranda’s historical epic was so fresh that everyone thought how can we replicate this on screen.

The Heights, another award-winning work from Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been adapted for the big screen.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, a smash-hit about a teen drag-queen, from London’s west end, will see a big-screen adaptation, too.

Even the mighty Steven Spielberg is taking on a refresh of the classic West Side Story, so it’s safe to say this trend has some merit.

For no reason other than a guilty pleasure, check out this famous scene from West Side Story.

 

No-Budget Filmmaking is Here To Stay

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Not too long ago, around 2016-2017, shooting on film rather than digitally, was the big thing.

The problem is that it creates a huge disconnect between big productions and the aspiring filmmaker.

Many aspiring filmmakers dream of shooting their movie on 35mm, especially those who geek out on the history of cinema.

Shooting on 35mm film is far too expensive for the first time filmmaker or most of them at least.

When that trend came back, it left a lot of people feeling like they couldn’t compete.

Thankfully for those people, shooting on film became a needless expense, even for those who could afford it.

Now, the trend is making films no-matter what your budget is.

You can check out our guide on the best budget cameras for filmmaking for some ideas.

Regardless of your budget, just make your film, if you have to shoot it on a smartphone, do it.

We never advise putting out poor quality material, but the quality of cheaper cameras is much better than ever, and if your content is amazing, it will carry the film.

Also, if you feel like you want the film look at a digital price, there are free grain overlays available to help you out.

Transitions Come Back

Transitions in video are the boomerang of film trends; you’ve only just thrown them out, and can already see them heading back towards you.

There are two critical things to keep in mind when it comes to transitions.

The first thing is that the old cheesy swipe or dissolve transitions aren’t cool, and they won’t be ever again.

The second thing is that no one wants to see a video with an uber-cool transition every two seconds, which is a headache, not good filmmaking.

With those two things in mind, cool transitions are back.

These are fantastic for online content creators and work exceptionally well with marketing or informative content.

If you are new to editing, you might have seen transitions on videos and loved it but thought you didn’t have the know-how to do it.

You can relax, there are plenty of awesome transitions available for download that fit right into your software, along with some great drag n’ drop ones.

Check out some of the best free Premiere Pro transition packs.

 

Photos Posing as Videos are not Cool Anymore

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Various Photos

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

We aren’t talking about showing one or two stills in a video; we are talking about the videos made up entirely of still images.

How many times have you been excited to click on a Youtube video to find it doesn’t have the footage you expected?

Instead, what you get is the pleasure of looking at a photo or multiple photos while a voice describes the content like they actually seen it play out.

We aren’t here to shoot down anyone’s content, but it can be insanely frustrating, and we are glad to say that it’s a dying trend.

You might look on YouTube and see channels that exclusively upload this type of content with millions of subscribers.

In all likelihood, these channels will continue to have success, but maybe not to the same extent year on year.

They built their subscriber base at a time when those videos were on-trend, we predict that most new channels following that path now will struggle.

Monochrome and Gradients are in

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Birds in Black and White

Photo by Ali Arif Soydaş on Unsplash

If you have any experience with editing software, you’ve probably been through the same phase I have.

When I first tried Premiere Pro, I watched tutorials on removing backgrounds or changing individual objects’ colors.

Although, what I was doing then definitely wasn’t cool, using similar techniques in the right way now is super cool.

Monochrome is the big one, and it’s an effect that can be used in any kind of video.

Technically, it refers to images that are purely one color, black with ink, and white with no ink. However, the term Monochrome is largely used to describe black and white, grayscale, and some other variations of those.

If it’s a feature film, it can give the vibe of a modern film-noir or even graphic-comic style when mixed with areas of color.

But, we see this technique now being used in things like promotional videos.

In that scenario, you often see the people in the foreground in monochrome with a colored background for contrast.

It’s a very striking effect, so it’s not to be used lightly; otherwise, it can look like you are trying to mask poor content.

Get it right, and it’s stunning, any video editor should learn how to use monochrome.

The kind of gradients we are talking about are backgrounds, mostly for marketing videos.

Again, this is something that most editors will have played around with early on in their development. Replacing your background with a color gradient is a great way to put all of the focus on your message.

It says nothing else is needed, just listen to what we have to say. It also works very well in conjunction with a monochrome effect for promotional videos.

As well as putting the focus on the message, it’s a great way to create the reality that you want to sell.

We mean by that, if you are trying to sell a product, bold color gradient backgrounds are fun, fresh, happy, and sell the idea that you too could be happy if you buy our product.

If you are going to use this technique, go big, use bold colors, or don’t do it at all.

Multiple Cameras When One Will Do (Just Won’t do Anymore)

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of Many Cameras

Photo by Christian Mackie on Unsplash

Unnecessarily using more than one camera is another trend that is on its way out, and not before time.

There are lots of videos that utilize multiple cameras and do it very well.

The issue isn’t in using more than one camera; the issue is whether it’s needed or not.

Like the videos with far too many transitions that we talked about earlier, videos that keep changing the angle for no reason are painful to watch.

You see it in big-budget movies also, you know the scenes where aging action stars beat up ten people, but the camera angle changes so fast and often that you have no idea what happened until the hero strolls off, leaving a trail of bad guys behind.

At least they have an excuse for the fast and furious angles.

We will assume most of you aren’t making blockbuster sequels with aging heroes, in which case, the problem mostly occurs in online content.

If you are creating tutorials of any kind that benefit from close-ups or wider angles, by all means, use multiple cameras.

If you are creating presentation content or interviews with one person only present on the screen, use one camera. It’s baffling why anyone, including large advertising agencies, ever found the need to start or follow this trend.

Does the viewer gain anything from seeing the side of the speaker’s face for a few seconds?

Does it look cool when the speaker awkwardly turns to camera two to finish a sentence?

If it’s done for comedy effect, then maybe, otherwise, the answer to both questions is a resounding NO!

The trend for 2020 is “Use one camera when one is enough!”.

User-Generated Content

Filmmaking Trends in 2020 - An Image of a Group Selfie

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This trend is one of the most important you will see in video for the next couple of years.

UGC is footage recorded by genuine users of a product or service that displays the benefits of the product/service. If you are picturing staged user testimonials with ideal settings and perfect lighting, you are way off.

The problem with those kinds of testimonials is that it almost doesn’t matter if they are genuine or actors paid to read from a script.

That might sound like a bold statement, but when you see testimonials from people who look like they are behind the scenes at a fashion shoot, don’t you ever question its legitimacy? (rightly or wrongly)

The key difference is that UGC isn’t people talking about how good a product is, it’s people using the product.

More importantly, it’s people using it in an organic way without any conscious staging.

Audiences, especially those that you want to buy something, need to see authenticity.

Nothing says authentic more than real people doing real things.

When your customers take it upon themselves to post content, that’s great, but it’s not where it stops.

They might not tag you in the post or name the product/service in the description, and that’s a missed opportunity.

You have to be proactive with this stuff, encourage people to tag you or post on your timeline.

Go even further and plan a campaign around it, as people to send you their content then put it all together to make an amazing advertisement.

If you don’t earn the trust of your customers and potential customers, then you have nothing, no matter how trendy your videos are.

Google harnessed the power of user-generated content perfectly in its Here To Help campaign.

 

Conclusion

Some trends are brand new, some you might have seen coming, and some are on their way out.

The main thing we want you to take away from this article is that following trend doesn’t have to mean copying.

It’s a double-edged sword; on one side, you can’t ever let staying on-trend become an excuse to be lazy or unoriginal.

On the other, don’t ever feel like following trends is inherently unoriginal and give yourself a hard time over it.

As long as you put your own stamp on your project, there’s no reason you can’t stay on trend and still create something unique.

Anything that helps you understand what audiences want to see is a good thing, so take advantage of it.

Happy filmmaking!

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