Secrets Behind Modern Filmmaking

Successful filmmaking is achieved through collaboration, with the help and support of other filmmakers. The film industry has multiple avenues to explore, including production, directing, crew member, or possibly in editing. Though there are those who get into filmmaking simply by luck, the vast majority of them practice hard work and a dedication to always improving upon their craft, planning to get what they want, and networking as much as possible on the road to success. 

Guest post by Donna Maurer. Photo by CineDirektor FILMS.


So what are the “secrets” behind filmmaking? How can you help use them to achieve your dreams of being a modern filmmaker?

Let’s explore some of those insightful methods, tips, and tricks that will help to help propel your filmmaking career.


Simplicity is Key, But Think Outside the Box

It’s important to be sure to always follow the “KISS” principle: Keep It Simple, Silly. When you plan out your shots to film scenes, having a great camera technique is only part of the expertise you need to demonstrate. Being able to come up with an innovative vision, as well as the solutions to achieve it, is the real bread and butter in modern filmmaking.

Be sure to start by identifying the type of filming you want to start with. Do you want to do a documentary, digital cinematography, or maybe shoot a stop-motion film? Narrowing down to fit your screenplay is the first step.

Another great secret here is when you are creating your screenplay, look to something that will fit inside a “one-liner” story. The storyline should be something that can be easily described in just one sentence. This will help with marketing without making your story too confusing for the audience. 


Creating Your Own Shot List

Develop a shot list of what you are looking to accomplish, describing each shot you’re getting in detail as much as possible including size, frame rates, and movements. Keep in mind, the camera needs to tell the story as much as the setting, and the actors within. Don’t get too swept up in creating the cinematography that you miss the mark and focus of the actual story. Make sure the camera choices you decide upon stay relevant and serve the story. 


Cinematography Shots – Be Unique

Studying cinematography and learning some of the well-kept secrets behind what makes great shots is imperative to your filmmaking. Some great tips that come from Roger Deakins include giving each film a unique style, so adding that element of something that hasn’t been seen before.  A second tip is using references for inspiration – such as reviewing other films that are similar and story to see what kind of mood and emotion they are going for.  Another tip that he explains is actually doing some of the camera work himself – it makes sense that you want to be in control so that you can achieve the shots you’re going for.


No Film is Complete Without a Great Music Score

Music in films is something that can easily be overlooked, and as a modern filmmaker, this is something you don’t want to do. Music evokes emotions and gives feeling to all film, creating and setting scenes in a way that the shot can’t do alone. Music licensing is the best way to get the music you want in your films.

Think of the music that you’re going for, and bring it to reality by working with a music licensing agency. Companies like Marmoset, for example, have a vast library of existing tracks to choose from, but they also provide professional music production for any creatives in need of brand new music for their projects. They can take any idea, any vision, and bring life to it, and the result is a custom-made musical piece just for your film.


Keep a Budget For Your Film

The reality of filmmaking is that everything in your screenplay is going to cost money. Make sure that your vision aligns with your budget. One of the secrets to filmmaking on a shoestring budget is to utilize and work with your current surroundings, so as not to be needing some kind of setting or specific weather, person, or animal that is going to be too difficult to shoot and/or pay for. Elements that are out of your control will not help you when just starting out. Write your screenplay based solely on locations within your own neighbourhood or somewhere that you know is easily accessible.


All of these secret elements will lead to great filmmaking. Outlining the project before tackling it and staying organized will aid you in the long run, so be sure to plan ahead. When you find someone to assist as another manager or director, have them read through the screenplay for your film and give you feedback. Keeping things simple to tell your story, creating your shots with paying special attention to finding unique and creative cinematography, using your own surroundings, and keeping within your budget gets you a finished product much sooner, so you can start on your next film.

Mark Munroe is the Creator and EIC of ADDICTED. He's ADDICTED to great travel, amazing food, better grooming & probably a whole lot more!