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How To Shoot & Edit Your First Short Film - Part 2

In the first part we looked at planning your film, how to use a story board and what goes on behind the scenes as well as arranging your cast and crew. Today let's look at what happens next and how to finalise and edit your film.

Hit me with your best shot

Well, nearly. There are still a few things you need to do before getting that camera out.

  • Book any locations that you need to.
  • Dress sets in advance as much as possible to avoid spending time doing it when your actors are waiting in the wings.
  • Test your equipment – on location, if possible. The very basics that you'll need include a video camera, tripod, lighting equipment, and microphones.

Now, you can get on with shooting. As a general rule, it's a good idea to film each scene in a wide shot, then a medium shot, then film close ups of anything that you find pertinent. The storyboard should take you through the angles that you want, but apart from the creative side of things, there are a few things to bear in mind.

  • Keep an eye on the sound levels to ensure that the dialogue isn't distorted.
  • Make sure you record at least 30 seconds of ambient sound with every scene – this could be a godsend in the editing suite later, as it can cover up sounds you want to hide without there being a noticeable total gap in sound.
  • Keep watch that any boom mics stay out of shot.
  • Keep actors motivated and focused on the scene, but bear in mind that they are only human – especially if they're working for free. Don't be too hard on them if they mess up their lines, or you could end up with a rubbish performance – or no actor.
  • Keep an eye out, too, for incongruous objects popping into shot, especially if you're filming a period piece.

Image credit: Kodak film

The final edit

Now, it's time to put all of your shots together and create your film. How you edit is really up to you and the type of film you're making, but here are some things to consider:

  • Do you want to jump between shots, or have a smooth transition? This will also probably be influenced by your filming style. Think about a film in a similar genre to the one you're making, and consider the editing techniques that it showcases.
  • Do you want to include music in your film? If so, should it be in the background most of the time, or do you want stand out songs to help tell part of the story, perhaps alongside a montage? Either way, a mixing board may be necessary to adjust the music to fit correctly - here are some options.
  • What sort of software should you use? Many Mac users get iMovie free with their computer, and this and FinalCutPro are both great. For Windows users, Avid Media Composer is brilliant, and Adobe Premiere works well on both systems. Lightworks is also a fantastic piece of software, though it takes some getting used to.
  • Don't worry if you don't have the most expensive equipment or software – remember, the stuff available to Hitchcock would have been less advanced than the stuff on many smartphones. The most important thing is shooting and editing well and thoroughly.
  • Finally, think about post-production; if you plan to distribute your film you may want to invest in a disc producer. This is a cost, but it is a good investment if you want your finished product to look and feel truly professional. The Microboards G4 is a great entry level model to start with.

Oh and don't forget to add credits for everyone who contributed to the film!
Good luck and enjoy working on your film!

Posted at 15:53

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