Darious J. Britt takes the newbies to school in this informative and essential video outlining the mistakes that beginner filmmakers make. His instructions range from correcting essential writing mistakes like story and structure, to technical mistakes like sound and shot composition. 

Having just started our festival circuit, and having gone back to edit pieces we'd assumed were polished fifty times, it's been a hard lesson learned; film making requires a lot of attention to details. 

Films are in essence a journey for their audiences. When you watch critically-acclaimed films, rarely do they tear at the fabric of the film. Seldom do you miss lines due to bad audio, or miss scenes entirely due to poorly lit shots. At that level, there's just a bit too much dough on the line to be making rookie mistakes. 

But you can't afford Brad Pitt and Julianne Moore, and you probably won't shoot your first film on an Arri Alexa. But if you're like most beginners, there are probably small things you're doing wrong that distract from the end goal of making a good film, and there's a lot you can do to fix it without spending a dime. 

Here are our list of 3 things you can do to dramatically improve your film quality.

So much of the filmmaking process is in the details you iron out before you go to camera. Succinct shot composition and seeing how those shots come together in the grander scheme of things is something you can do beforehand using storyboards. While they cannot replace an ironed out script, they can tremendously aid DPs and actors in understanding angles and blocking. 

Sound Counts 
I can't tell you the number of shorts I've seen on youtube which might have been watchable if not for their horrible sound quality. Great sound is dependent on far more than investing in a great mic, but the problems are considerably less glaring if you've got at least a semi-professional shotgun mic and at least one person on set who understands what to do with it. Film is after all an audio-visual experience. 

Gear Ain't Everything 
The Sundance film Tangerine was shot on an iPhone. While you can't get away with terrible audio (ever) audiences will forgive limited lens choices and a less than stellar camera provided you find ways around it. If your camera isn't a low-light magician, light your scenes a little better and darken them in post. Far too many filmmakers spend years waiting to make their first film because they've falsely come to believe that you need a RED EPIC or Blackmagic 4K to make a film that'll get into festivals. Cameras and jibs are just tools. Roger Deakins with a Panasonic AF100 would be 100x more likely to give you an Oscar-caliber film than someone shooting with an ARRI ALEXA who doesn't understand shot composition and camera movement.


So much of the low budget film making game is about understanding your limitations and acquiring just enough knowledge to offset them. So the long and short take away from this is to go read and learn as much as you humanly can in a day, and then repeat that process for as many days, weeks or years necessary until you feel you're ready to create the next Godfather trilogy. 

Top 15 Mistakes Beginner Filmmakers Make
Robert Misovic | December 2, 2016