How to Improve Your Filmmaking

Lars Wagoner's picture

There are many ways to share your life experiences - you could post a picture on Instagram of a market in Thailand, or write a blog post about your favorite restaurants in Rome. Really, any form of communication can be used to share whatever you are passionate about. 

One of my favorite ways of sharing experiences, opinions, etc. is through online video. With video-sharing websites such as Youtube (youtube.com) and Vimeo (vimeo.com) getting more popular every year, publicizing a video for thousands (or millions) of people able to see is super easy.

I started making videos in May 2013; they are totally different from the films I make now. My style has changed and it keeps on changing, as I’m always learning new things about the art of filmmaking. Naturally, due to my full-time-travel lifestyle, I currently focus on making travel videos.

Screenshot of my first video ever! From How to Improve your Filmmaking

A screenshot of my first video. The video is cringeworthy, but it’s amazing to think how much I’ve improved as a filmmaker in 2 years!

 

This playlist contains some of my favorite travel videos of mine, feel free to check them out

When I started out, I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know how to find the right resources for learning or where to get inspired. Today, I am writing this post for those who are in the position I was in and who want to start making travel videos: for the beginner who wants to learn but doesn’t know where to look, for the filmmaker with whatever the filmmaking equivalent to ‘writers block’ is. 

This post contains 5 useful articles full of information about filmmaking… and some notes from me. Each post covers a different subject (filming, editing, lighting, etc.) with many pro tips hidden within the paragraphs. Whatever your filmmaking subject, you are sure to learn a lot from these authorities.

1. Five Tips for a Successful Video Shoot 

This post by Emilie DeLong has a lot of information about planning your shoot, and preparing for the unknown. Although it does give tips for a producer and more professional audiences, the same info still applies for beginners or indie filmmakers.

You can write a script and plan, even if you have no budget, which is often my case. Sometimes I just get lazy and barely do any pre-production, so I, too, have much to learn from this post!

I highly recommend this article because organization is key, and this post does a great job of conveying that.

 

2. Three Point Lighting 

Moving on to the beginning of production: lighting. Izzy Hyman created a fantastic article about lighting. Not many beginners realize the importance of this part of production, but with decent lighting, average footage can look great! 

I love this article because the info ranges from what gels are to how you can use inexpensive foam boards to enhance your footage. With techniques, diagrams, and cheap alternatives to lights (like the sun!), this is a great post that I wish I had discovered sooner. 

Note: When I lived in Spain, we would use the white walls on our terrace to reflect the sunight  onto the subject, usually my sister and/or me (demonstrated below). This makes the shadows much softer, its great because it’s a free alternative to reflectors! 

using reflectors. From how to improve your filmmaking

As you can see, there are no harsh shadows on the subject and there is a light white outline around her face; this helps separate her from the background.

 

3. How To Shoot B-Roll

B-Roll, the frosting that tops the cake. It’s not the main shebang, but an important part of almost any video. It establishes location, introduces subjects, and is great for adding some personality into a film. 

In this article by Slavik Boyechko, you can learn almost all there is to know about b-roll. It covers numerous tips about b-roll, angles, and lenses that are very useful to keep in mind when shooting. It does specifically talk about b-roll for an interview, but all of the tips and tricks can be applied to any project.

My favorite piece of advice from this post is to always shoot for longer than you think. I already knew this from past experience (I learned the hard way). There is also a video that shows examples of all of the tips mentioned in his post. I highly recommend you utlize his knowledge to improve your filmmaking. 

 

4. 6 Tips For A Better Edit

I’ve met so many people who hate post production. They say it’s boring, and that editing drains creativity. I think the exact opposite: I love post production because it’s when I can see an unorganised mess of shots transform into a wonderful film. I get most of my ideas for interesting shots or cool transitions while editing a video…that’s why I think learning how to edit and improve work flow is so important!

Jake Foster shares some great tips in this article, like the importance of fixing continuity, or keeping organised as you go. The first tip he shares is to ‘cut tight’ - this is a very important technique because it can help improve the pace of your video without deleting any important information. This applies to any video, whether it's a 2 hour long blockbuster or a 90 second skit.

I have followed Raindance since the first few months of being a filmmaker. They are a great resource for pretty much anything film related. This is one of my favorite filmmaking websites and I highly recommend them to any filmmaker. 

Note: Your editing software does NOT matter -  don’t get discouraged because you might not have professional software. The software doesn’t make the video, you do. So create whatever you can with the resources available. 

 

5. Ten Tips For Video Post Production

The final article in this post is a fantastic one. Alastair Humphreys’ blog has so many top-notch posts it was hard to choose one; every time I visit this website, I get sucked in by all the interesting articles and amazing stories.

Showing editing techniques and tips to keep in mind while shooting combine into a clever post. Alastair talks about only showing what needs to be shown, how music can make or break a project and many other informational tidbits that can change your filmmaking game. 

He runs an excellent site. He uses his amazing experiences, like cycling around the world or racing a yacht as a way to give tips and valuable information, including what to film (or what not to) when you’re traveling, some storytelling tips, filming mistakes he made as a beginner, along with other fantastic posts. 

Lars Approved! how to improve your filmmaking
This blog is Lars Approved, not that that means anything.

 

These are my top 5 articles for improving your filmmaking – and I thank each site and author for contributing to my knowledge base. Please share your tips and experiences in the comments. Who knows…you may be the next Hitchcock.

 

 

 

 

Lars Wagoner is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Lars Wagoner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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