You Are a Filmmaker. Say it now. Don’t say you want to be a filmmaker, you ARE a filmmaker the moment you start wanting to become one. Your mind and heart goes into it, put your name and the job title “Filmmaker” on your business card and pass it to friends and other people whom you think care or can help.
Be Creative and Technical. You‘re lucky and born creative, but in filmmaking business that’s not enough. No matter how creative you are if you’re not also technical then you become dependent on technical people. But, if you’re creative and technical, you become unstoppable.
Get Filmmaking Experience. You watched many movies, but now you need to have movie experience. Pick up a camera and make your movies. You will make mistakes, but mistakes are subjective and you will learn a lot more by making mistakes than tons of expensive film classes. In Filmmaking, mistakes can be art to someone else. If you make mistakes and they complain, tell them its art. You’d get away with a lot.
Start With a Screenplay. Can you write? No? Put all the sitzfleisch you can muster and start writing. Don’t worry about formatting, if you want, click here for some tips. Look around you, pick a subject and write movie about it. Your friend has a restaurant, write a movie about a restaurant. Don’t waste money on expensive writing courses now, you probably can’t afford the time or money. You heard of a an interesting news story? make a film about that. Start writing in your unique way, create your own your style. Get inspired by great screen writers but have your own style.
Visualize Your Movie. How? If you can draw pictures, get a sketch book and storyboard your key scenes. If you can’t draw, use your mind: hang a big blank cardboard, pretend it is your screen, fill that empty space in your mind with your movie, shot by shot, cut by cut. Pay attention to the pace of your mental movie, see if it is too fast or too slow, funny, sad, silly, would it make sense to many people? As you go from one scene to another, takes some notes and when you’re finished your notes can help you remember your vision and serve as a draft our outline for your screenplay. Once you got your shots in your head, go out and shoot them.
Rule the Equipment. Get a light camera that helps you move around quick and setup shots fast. Don’t buy, borrow or rent as much as you can. Search online, ask friends, ask anyone, chances are they already have the equipment, they hardly use it, borrow it, use it, when you’re done thank them with a note or a sandwich. Don’t use much camera stands or tripods, you don’t’ want your shots looking stiff all the time. Films are about motion. Films are moving pictures and pictures are all about light. Don’t make your shots all too light or all too dark.
Editing, Music, Sound: Post-production. Unless you have a millionaire uncle, do not cut on film. Editing on film is slow and expensive. Digital, non-linear editing software is cheap, powerful, and available. If you look at film making history, you will see that for many years now filmmaking is like a subway sandwich, the bread half on top (principle photography) and the release on the bottom (projection) are getting increasingly thin. All the stuff in the middle is done digital. Steroids are not good in sports but in filmmaking music, sound, and other post-production elements can boost your movie’s appeal through the stratosphere. How many times you left a movie theater humming a song or melody you heard in a movie, let alone a great line of dialog?
Get An Agent. As soon as you got a movie that people like, get an agent. Filmmaking business can be extremely lucrative and very few people can make good movies and this makes the industry vicious, extremely competitive, and Hollywood is an ocean full of sharks. An agent can get you a good deal, a better price, connections. There is no such thing as a bad publicity; the more people that get to know your work, the better.
Be Independent. Start with low-budget movies and make them look big-budget. The less money you take from other people, the less control you have to give up. What’s the point of taking big budget but not having “final cut’ or much creative say about your film? Of course, the more money your movies make, the more respect you will get, but money is not all. The money is just a means to an end. Look around you and you will that the best movies made have been those where the filmmaker had independence, final cut, and/or control over the artistic value by minimizing dependence on other people’s money.
Stop Aspiring, Get Doing. Go out there and make your movie.