1. Not Being Prepared
Being prepared for a shoot is bigger than simply double-checking camera equipment. Bringing undercharged or forgetting backup batteries can delay a shoot and waste time. Remembering extra memory cards, or wiping the ones already used will keep the memory cards organized and save time in post-production. Utilizing shared spreadsheets or a one-liner will keep the whole crew up-to-date, and will be an easy way to manage scheduling. One-liner software options:
2. No Pre-Production
Storyboarding is your friend! Sure it takes more time to plan out each shot, but you at least need a shot list for a general idea of what to film. Planning will keep you more efficient and save you time and money later on. Also, keeping track of what to film will keep you from forgetting that special shot to make it Oscar-worthy. For storyboarding ease, check out Scrivener, the outline software for authors.
3. Bad Casting
Yes, your friends are free and hilarious, but they may not be the best option for your next film project. When on a tight budget, it can be hard to find talented people to bring your film to life, but the actor really carries the project. If you can’t afford to pay an actor, try finding a theatre major at a nearby college, or a starting actor who can use your film to promote his or her own portfolio. It’s a win-win! For professional actors, check out Talent Fusion, Artistic Enterprise, and Helen Wells.
4. Weak Acting
Bad acting, poor setting, or shoddy lighting can all be excused if the story is compelling enough. The story should be the driving force. Push the characters to their full potential. Make sure the story you’re telling actually needs to be told. Share your script with editors and trusted mentors to gain general feedback. For more help on the script, take Aaron Sorkin's Masterclass or a class at the Indiana Writers Center.
5. Bad Sound
As stated above, the story is the most important part of a film. If no one can hear the story, what’s the point? The quality of the picture can be overlooked, but bad sound shows a real amateur. Once sound clips, fixing in post is almost impossible. Keep on your editor’s good side, make sure you get quality audio during filming. For best sound, contact Earshot Audio Post to finalize your sounds or find a music composition major at Butler University to score your film.
6. "Fix it in Post" is Not a Strategy
You've heard someone say it. You've probably said it: "Oh, we'll just fix it in post". A good editor can make a film amazing, but not every problem can be fixed with editing software. Instead of torturing yourself trying to salvage unusable shots, save yourself the trouble. Don't touch-up lighting or sound later, focus on getting the best quality while filming. Light the shot properly and make sure the sound does not clip while filming. Try holding each shot for five to ten seconds longer than you need it for a smoother transition. For the best possible post-production finish, hire an Indianapolis-based company such as 12 Stars Media, Vanguard Media & Entertainment, or Pascarelli Productions.
7. Spending Too Much on Equipment
Filmmakers can easily fall into the trap of needing the latest, greatest equipment. Yes, I know it’s pretty and shiny, but at what cost? Better equipment produces better, clearer, and higher quality footage; but it isn’t necessary for a good film. Renting equipment is cheaper and can give you better upgrades for less money than purchasing. Roberts Camera and Hammer Grip are all great places around Indy to rent equipment from.
Surrounding yourself with a community of filmmakers will not only support you with your vision, but can also provide opportunities for networking. It’s much easier to call in a favor with a friend than a random stranger. Filmmaking is about cooperating and trusting one another. Check out the Indiana Filmmakers Network to get connected to people with the same vision as you.
9. Limiting Yourself
Even though producing a low-budget film is about remaining cost-effective, do not place yourself in a box. Make those big phone calls for your dream location. Contact bigwigs for financing. If you don’t ask, nothing will happen! For inspiration, check out these ten TED talks.
10. Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
At the end of the day, you’re bringing a story to life, not curing a disease. It should be fun! Include talented people you like onto the project. If you spontaneously think of a creative shot while filming, take the time to set it up. It could be your favorite part! If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Sometimes the worst mistakes can be the best part of a film. See how some of your favorite movies' bloopers made it into the final product: