Making your own movie can be a fun way to spend a weekend with your friends, a great school project, or something you want to dedicate yourself to. To make your own film, you can use simple equipment (for example, your phone or a digital camera) or more advanced equipment that includes lighting and sound. Making any movie involves many things, including cost, writing the script, and getting cast, filming, and production. Even if you're not making a big-budget Hollywood movie, you can make your own movie with ease.
Part 1 of 4: Planning the Movie
Step 1. Determine the budget
Determine how much money you can and want to spend on the movie. In case you are going to make a film that you intend to send to festivals, you will have to spend some money even if it is a film with a micro budget. In case you are simply going to make a fun movie for yourself and your friends, you can spend little or nothing.
- Budget contributes to many factors when making a movie. You can spend that money on lighting, sound, equipment, locations, costumes, actors, promotions, and more.
- If you're using professional equipment and staff, even movies on a micro budget can be quite expensive. A film with a micro budget can cost almost $ 400,000, although it is still possible to make your own film for a much smaller amount.
- Determine a set amount that you can spend, and then make a list of what is most important to your movie. You may have a camera and you don't need to buy or rent one. Also, you and your friends could make the decision to be the protagonists of the film, so you will not have to pay the actors. You or your friends might know how to light a shot and already have some equipment so there is no need to buy or rent more.
- Making a movie on a very low budget is not difficult, but you can greatly increase the quality of your movie by investing some money in the right areas.
- Two of the aspects of making a movie that can really have an effect on quality are sound and lighting. With proper lighting, you can counteract a cheaper camera. On the other hand, sound is one of the most important qualities of a movie. If the actors cannot be heard or there is too much background noise, this will detract from the entire movie. Consider investing in lavalier microphones and stereo equipment. Lavalier microphones are wireless and clip onto actors to pick up clearer sound.
- In case you decide that you need to earn a little money to make a movie, you could raise funds by starting a crowdfunding campaign.
Step 2. Come up with a plot
After you know what your budget will be, you can start thinking of an idea for your movie. You should come up with a plot that is realistic to be able to shoot within your budget, which means you may not be able to include a lot of visual effects (e.g. explosions), but the script you write can bypass this. To begin developing the plot, consider the who, what, when, where, and why.
- Make a summary of the plot in two sentences. The first must address the protagonist and the conflict and the second must cover what happens.
- For example, this might be the first sentence: "Daniel has been in love with Laura since freshman year of high school, and now that prom is near, he has one last chance to show her his feelings." This sentence explains who the main character is, what he wants, and the reasons why it is important.
- This could be the second sentence: "When he finds out that almost every other boy of the year plans to invite Laura to prom, Daniel enters a race of epic proportions to be the boy Laura says yes to.". This sentence is like a summary and explains in greater depth what will happen in the movie.
- Then develop the rest of the details. Determine who the supporting characters will be, where the movie will be set, and other details.
- Divide the plot into three parts or acts. There must be a beginning, a middle, and an end. Continuing with our sample movie, the beginning could be the spring of the senior year of high school. Daniel's character decides that he must finally summon the courage to invite Laura to the prom. The medium can be about Daniel carrying out the plan and trying to win over Laura's other suitors. The end will be when Daniel finally wins and goes to prom with Laura.
Step 3. Write the script
Once you have a complete idea of what the movie is about and what the budget is, it's time to write a script. In a movie script, about one page of text corresponds to one minute in the movie. You must determine the length you want the movie to be. If you're doing it for a school project or festival, there may be a specific time limit, but if it's just for fun, you could stick to a shorter script so that the movie is easier to produce. Several important aspects of script writing will help you produce a great movie.
- Start with the preamble. The first 10% of the script focuses on attracting the viewer to the world of the film. You must establish the characters, the main location, and daily life. In the case of the sample movie, you could show the character Daniel at school, either in the hallway or in class. He could be walking down the hall talking to Laura before Laura is taken away by her friends. Later, Daniel's best friend walks over and the two discuss Daniel's feelings for Laura. A few moments later, in class, the school announcements inform everyone about the upcoming graduation party. Then we look at something that shows the audience how everyone intends to invite Laura to the party.
- Make a transition to the new situation. The next 15% of the script addresses how the character reacts to this change in the world. In the sample movie, Daniel decides to get a group of friends together to come up with a plan to invite Laura to the party.
- Then follows the change of plans after about 25% of the script. Something must happen that makes the character adapt and change, adopting a new way of proceeding. This is a movie and it should be fun, so feel free to experiment a bit with fantasy in this part. In the sample movie, Laura might make the decision that the one who makes the most creative prom proposal for her will win and it will be her partner. This makes Daniel have to come up with a new and grander proposal than the previous one.
- Advance the script by making the events go seemingly well until you reach the middle. There you will have reached a point of no return. The character must make a decision that is similar to a transformation. For example, Daniel could face another more popular boy who intends to invite Laura to the party. Perhaps the other boy humiliates Daniel and warns him to give up or steal his plans. Now, Daniel must decide if he will retaliate against this new enemy or focus more on Laura. In any case, Daniel now faces being the laughingstock of the school and possibly getting beaten up by the other boy and his friends.
- The next 25% of the movie should involve making this new goal increasingly difficult to achieve. Daniel could start to do poorly in school. Thinking of this great gesture of love could have hurt her grades. If you can't do better in school, you won't even have permission to go to prom.
- Keep escalating the issues the character faces until the last 10% of the script. In the sample movie, Daniel could fail another exam that not only means that he may not be able to go to prom, but it could also prevent him from graduating. Perhaps Daniel's friends abandon him and stop helping him, which could make Daniel question whether all those efforts are even worth it.
- The moment it seems that all hope has been lost, you will climax. This is the most important part of the movie, where it all comes together. Daniel focuses on improving his grades, and in the process, he learns something from a class that inspires him to come up with the ultimate proposal. Not only does he manage to convince his friends to come back to help him, but his grand gesture simultaneously exposes the other boy as a bully and gets Laura to go with him to the party.
- Finally, you come to the repercussions. This is where you explain what happens after the big event. Daniel goes to the party with Laura. They both graduate and have a wonderful summer together.
- Depending on the length of the film, each section can be several minutes long or consist of a quick scene. In case you are going to make a short film, it doesn't matter if you cut some of the parts in the middle.
Step 4. Assemble a team of people
Once you've got the script and the budget set, it's time to gather all the people you want to use to shoot the movie. Look at the equipment you are going to use and determine who will operate each piece.
- Do you need someone to operate the camera or will you do it yourself?
- In case you have bought sound equipment, it is best if there is a person with the sole function of operating the audio equipment.
- In case you are just going to make a movie with your friends, the different roles can easily be divided between you.
- It is important to be careful to have everyone gathered before you actually start shooting the movie so that it can run as smoothly as possible.
Step 5. Find a location
Once you've written the script and know how many characters there will be and the people who will work on the set, you need to find a location. You must be careful that you have permission to film in the location of your choice and that everyone can fit there.
- In the case of lower-budget films or those that you are simply going to make with your friends, you should first look for locations that you know are possible to use for free, which could be your house or that of your friend, school or to a park.
- If filming is required in a location such as a restaurant or store, this could be more difficult. You will need to ask the owner for permission, plus, in places like these, you will have to pay them to film.
Step 6. Choose the actors
After you've arranged everything and are almost ready to shoot, you'll need to find actors. If you're making a movie for school or for fun, these can be your friends, while if you want to make a more professional-looking movie, you could hold auditions for the actors.
- Consider holding auditions at school even if you are making a movie for a school project. You can ask your teacher or the head of the theater department to let you hold auditions.
- At the time of the auditions, you should record them so that you can view the tapes later in order to make a decision. This will also help you to see how well the actor performs on camera.
- Give the actors a few pages of the script ahead of time to read at the audition. You should look for the parts of the script that don't reveal much about the movie, as you want to see the decisions that the actors make when the subject matter is imprecise. The best parts of the script are those that show a relationship between two people.
Step 7. Make a schedule
Once you've got everyone together, you can come up with a schedule that works for everyone involved. You must be careful to give yourself enough time to set everything up, film, and clean up.
- It's imperative that you have a schedule to keep everything on track, regardless of whether you're making a movie for fun and don't have to follow a timeline. If you have a deadline, this will be even more important as this will affect everything from the mood of the cast and crew to the possible budget.
- For a well-developed high-budget movie, a maximum of 6 pages of the script can be shot for each 12-hour day. Chances are, you don't have this luxury and therefore need to scale down. You can try shooting 2-3 pages a day.
- In case it's a shorter movie and only one or two locations are used, you can do more than this. You should plan to film all the locations together. In the example movie, the locations could include Daniel's house and school. You should film everything that takes place at school at the same time and then at home.
- Even if the movie is short, plan to spend a couple of hours a day filming. You must have enough time to arrange everything, rehearse and take several takes of each frame.
Part 2 of 4: Shooting the movie
Step 1. Use a good team
Using very good equipment can easily cost a lot, but it is possible to make a good movie without using expensive equipment. You can even shoot a great movie on your cell phone in case it's a newer one and you have a good camera.
- It is good to have an appropriate camera and if you have the budget for it, you could rent it before you buy it. Ask people you know if they have any cameras you can use. In case you are going to make the film for a school project, you can check if the school has any equipment. If all else fails and your cell phone is newer, that camera might suffice.
- Get a tripod for the camera. You will need something that can stabilize the camera so that the shots are not shaky or blurry. You can even get cell phone extensions that enhance the lens and tripods that you can attach your phone to.
- Try to get audio equipment of some kind. A low-budget movie will improve if the sound is clear and crisp. You could get lavalier mics for the actors or, at the very least, a giraffe to record the sound.
- Use lighting equipment. Lighting plays an important role as does sound. Film will look bad if the lighting looks bad regardless of how good your camera is. In case you don't have the budget for lamps and other lighting equipment, you can get a white umbrella with which to reflect the light and soften the harsh fluorescent lights. Cameras do not visualize light the way our eyes do, but instead observe a higher contrast, so if you illuminate a scene in the right way, the shot can look more natural to the eye.
Step 2. Follow the schedule
Sticking to the schedule will help keep the movie moving forward. When filming, many things can happen and adjustments may be necessary.
- The timeline will help you focus on getting the shots right and shooting the right scenes when you need to.
- Also, with a schedule, you can make sure you shoot every scene. You don't want to start editing the movie and find that you are missing a scene.
Step 3. Use a clapperboard for the takes
Regardless of the scale of the film, it will be very helpful when editing to use a clapperboard for each shot. You don't need a fancy board for this either, as you can just use paper or a white board.
- It is better to use a whiteboard than to use paper, since you should be able to mark the shot that you are going to take.
- For each frame, you should take note of at least the number of the scene, the shot you are in and even the page you are going to shoot. Using this information, you can easily know what the content is when editing.
- You should also clap your hands in order to sync the video and sound. By clapping your hands, you'll know where to start cutting footage in editing. You will be able to hear the clap both in the video file and in the separate audio file.
Step 4. Take enough shots
When filming, you need to be careful that there are enough shots of each frame so that you have options to work with when editing.
- You may find that changing the lighting in a shot or telling the actors to do something different had very good results.
- In some cases, directors only take one shot, but this is rare. Also, you don't need to take three or four takes for each frame. However, you must be prepared to do so so that you have options.
Step 5. Improvise
The process of making a movie should be fun, and while you should stick to your plan as much as possible, you may find out in the process that there is a new location that works better. Also, the actors could make a joke that you think fits the movie. You must learn to let yourself go.
If you can improvise, this will also make the experience that much more enjoyable for everyone, as no one likes a director or a person who is not able to listen to others and make changes
Part 3 of 4: Edit the movie
Step 1. Transfer all the files to your computer
Once you have all your camera and sound recorder footage, it's time to transfer it to your computer. Move the files to the computer via the SD cards where the footage has been saved.
- The easiest thing is to create a folder on the desktop of the computer with the title that you have given to the movie and then create a folder for the video and one for the audio.
- In case you have shot the movie on your cell phone, you can connect it to your computer and transfer the files directly. As another option, if the phone has an SD card, you can remove it from there and place it in the computer to move the files.
Step 2. Use editing software
You need a program to which you can load all your files in order to edit the movie. There are some paid applications (for example, Adobe Premiere Pro) with which you can do a lot of advanced editing, but generally your computer will have its own free-to-use editing software.
- In case you have a Mac computer, you can edit your movie using iMovie.
- In case you have a Windows computer, you can do it with Windows Movie Maker.
- In case you have audio files, you must align them with the boxes to which they correspond. It might take a while to get used to doing this. The best thing is that all your video files are in place and arranged before adding the sound. After each of them is paired with the frame, be careful to join the files so that when you move one, the other moves as well.
Step 3. Follow the script
You can help with the editing of the film by following it with the script so that its flow is continuous. While you might think that you remember every part and every scene, it is possible to lose the thread when working with a large number of files. Scroll page by page and find the corresponding scene.
- Enter the scenes first in the chronological order of the events in the movie. After each scene is in place, watch the movie. You may notice that a scene that you thought worked better later in the movie now makes more sense near the beginning.
- Eliminate empty space in scenes. As you progress, you may find that certain boxes or lines of dialog don't contribute a great deal of value. You should eliminate those extra and unnecessary parts so that the flow of the film remains captivating.
Step 4. Get a second opinion
After you've edited your movie, show your friends and others who have worked on the product. Getting a second opinion can help you find parts that you might change but have missed.
- It is not necessary to show the movie to everyone before it is completely finished. However, it can be of great help to have another trusted person see it.
- You could also hire an editor or give the footage to one of your friends who is skilled in editing. Perhaps someone else can work more with color correction and sound mixing to further refine the movie.
Part 4 of 4: Launch the Movie
Step 1. Export it to a video file
When you are finally done editing, it will be time to export the movie. Consider where you want your movie to be viewed, as this could determine how you export it.
- You have several options when it comes to exporting and file types. There are some better quality codecs than others, and they may vary depending on the application. Consider the device the video will play on and where.
- In case you want to upload the movie to the Internet through Vimeo or YouTube, a good codec (that is, the format in which the video will be encoded) is H.264, which is a high definition file format that it will look great online and will produce an mp4 file.
- In case you are going to export the movie to burn it to DVD, you must export it as H.264 Blu-ray. This way, you can easily burn the movie to DVD.
- If you intend to submit your movie to festivals, you may need to export it as a DCP file, but generally, to export it, you will need another program (for example, OpenDCP). This file is really only for professional movie projectors in theaters.
- If you intend to view the movie on your computer or via an HDMI cable, you can opt for QuickTime or AVI output files.
- Before exporting the entire movie, you need to export a small sample so that you can see what it looks like and what it sounds like. This way, you can make the necessary changes to a smaller file instead of spending hours exporting the entire movie and then realizing that you have to do it again.
Step 2. Create a page on social networks and generate expectation
In case you are going to release the film to the public in any way, you must generate expectation. Even if you are doing it for a school project, you should create a social media page on Facebook to promote it and provide information about the date and place where it can be viewed.
- Create a profile on Twitter or create a tag that you can tweet with news.
- Create a trailer so that your audience can see something before you release the entire movie.
- In case it's not just a fun movie to enjoy together with your friends, you should treat it like a Hollywood movie. Publicize it and raise awareness.
Step 3. Design a poster
If you are going to show the film somewhere, you should create a poster that informs the public of the place and the date on which you will show it. The title should feature prominently and you should use a compelling image that shows what the movie might be about.
- Check out the posters of some of your favorite movies to compare. You can take inspiration from these posters and get a template from them to build on.
- Don't use too many colors to make the poster. With a few colors (for example, in the title and in the image), you can attract the eye to the right place, but using too many colors could be distracting.
- You could use a work of art and not a photograph. Illustrations can sometimes be more intriguing than photos.
- Ask an expert for help. If you need a poster for something like a festival, you could hire someone (for example, a graphic artist) to design the poster.
Step 4. Conduct a screening
Celebrate the fact that you made a movie, whether it's at school, at a festival, or at home. Run the screening with at least the people who have worked on the film so that everyone can enjoy their work.
- If it's at home, they can bring some snacks and turn off the lights to pretend they're in a big movie theater. Try to experience your movie the way you would if it were a Hollywood blockbuster.
- After the screening, you can ask people who have seen it for their views on the film and then, if you wish, edit the film before the final version.
Step 5. Upload the movie to the Internet
In case you are proud of the movie, you can upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. You can always set it to private if you don't want the public to see it.
- Uploading your movie and promoting it is a great way to build your portfolio and resume if you're trying to break into the film industry.
- If the movie you made makes you very proud and you intend to share it or send it to festivals, a very easy way to do that is to put it online.
- In case you don't want to share your video with everyone, you can set it as private and share the link only with people who don't mind seeing it. It might be fun to come back to see him after a few years.
- Ask others for help. Even if you're just making your own movie for fun, having the help of others will make it more fun and easier to pull off.
- Adopt what you like from your favorite movies. Get inspired by the movies you love to watch, whether it's the type of shots you use or the genre as a whole.
- Look online for tutorials and opinions on the best software and hardware to use. There are a myriad of options and rarely will one of them always be the best.
- Keep things fun. Movies should be fun. When making yours, don't forget to enjoy it.