There's a Reason for All Those People

Do you stay for the credits at the end of the movie? Why does it take all those people and all that money? And why with all those people and money do even good directors make bad films? They have studio backing and releasing organizations, professionally written scripts, trained actors etc. and still no one has all the right answers to make a good film every time.

So the would-be filmmaker has to ask himself what skills that HE has that the studios don't? Yes there have been a few successes shot on DV, but they could be counted on two hands and one foot. So the would-be filmmaker should carefully think about what he can accomplish. Some recent books and 2-day film schools say, "Just do it." It's true there is a lot that can be learned by trial and error, mostly error. But a whole project is doomed if just one element is marginal, often the photography or sound or anything else.

I believe that a strong cameraperson willing and able to run a low budget crew is the most important ingredient. Is there money for a competent cameraperson? Good ones can do wonders with simple equipment and a less experienced crew eager to learn. To go in with dreams of Hollywood type production without money or skilled technicians is dumb.

What can the would-be filmmaker do to get there? Practice their skills on project within their ability. Simple projects. No effects, kids, dogs, car chases, big night scenes, fancy dolly and crane shots, etc. Keep it simple and try to tell a story that an audience will understand and relate to. Do a story about one's own experiences that a writer/director can make real.

I mentioned the necessity of good camera work. I believe that camera and directing are two different skills and very few people can master both and the directors that are good cameramen still use a cameraman. There is too much to do to worry about both jobs. So I recommend that people specialize in one field and master it.

THE BEST WAY is to learn the process is doing little projects just to learn and not spend money and try to shoot an epic before they know how.

I have watched many low budget projects that have failed mostly because one or more skills were missing or the projects were too ambitious for the people involved.

So, I highly recommend learning to drive in the parking lot before getting on the freeway.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.