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making a movie


Question: Isn’t making a movie really hard?

Yes. But … so what? Making a movie is indeed challenging, but it is currently easier than ever before. The technology might be in the palm of your hands.

Keep in mind, the equipment is not important. Your technical skills are not important. How much and what kind of resources you have available is not important. With a little help and determination, you can overcome all of that. Do not let yourself be intimidated by the equipment, the technical skills required or your lack of any of it.

The STORY is what’s important. Your IDEA and the STATEMENT you make about your subject matters most. If you have that, you can succeed even with very little else.

Forest City Youth Film festival award

Don’t Own a Camera?

This used to be a massive problem as cameras, for the longest time, were very expensive and difficult to get. With the advancement of smartphones, you have a capable camera right in the palm of your hand.

Many Film Festivals are taking place all over the world that only accept movies shot on a smartphone. These festivals are celebrating how accessible filmmaking has become and hope to encourage more people to start making movies who may otherwise not think it’s possible.

Don’t Own Any Lights?

Use what you have access to. Use flashlights, shop lights from a parent’s garage, or simply shoot where you have the amount and quality of light you need to create the look you want. Get creative at using whatever lighting you have available.

CAUTION – Avoid backlighting – especially if you are using a smartphone. Backlighting is a situation where the light source is BEHIND your subject and the camera is in front. This creates a bright “halo” around the subject but leaves their face dark. A sophisticated film camera can compensate for that, but a smartphone cannot so make certain we can see your subjects’ faces by having them face the lighting you have available.

Don’t Own Any Sound Equipment?

SOUND quality can create a bigger obstacle than even picture quality. In this day and age, we’ve all become used to grainy, shaky videos on YouTube and other amateur video platforms, but what people can’t forgive is bad sound quality.

If you do not have access to proper equipment such as a BOOM MIC, a LAV MIC, or a secondary device such as a ZOOM RECORDER, then do all you can to shoot in quiet, controlled areas, with your camera close enough to your subjects to record their dialogue effectively. Another idea is to put a cell phone in the pocket of your actor close to their face and use a sound recording app.

Experiment first and do all you can to ensure the audience can hear everything as clearly as possible.

If sound remains a major obstacle for you, consider creating a ‘silent” film. Shoot everything without the use of sound effects or dialogue and then lay music over top to complete the effect. Watch the films of Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton for inspiration.

Want to Use Music in Your Film?

DO NOT use popular music from famous artists that you can hear on the radio/online. That music is called “licensed” music and you need to PAY for the right to use it. The Forest City Youth Film Festival will not accept any movies with popular music without proof of a license agreement with the license holder. And that is most often very expensive, so …

Use music that you or your team create yourselves, or use ROYALTY FREE music from online libraries such as EPIDEMICSOUND.COM, PREMIUMBEAT.COMBENSOUND.COM, or AUDIOJUNGLE.NET. There are plenty of other options as well. Be aware that most will require you to credit their website in the film’s credits and in the description of whatever platform you use to share your movie (such as YouTube or Vimeo). If you do not, your film may be taken down.

Want to Use Something That Already Exists as Inspiration?

You can do that – but only with some conditions.

DO NOT simply recreate something that already exists. DO NOT try to recreate a scene or part of a film or TV series that already exists.

You can, however, use a movie, TV show, book, comic or even the lyrics of a song to create something NEW AND UNIQUE.

Consider that the popular young adult Netflix drama “RIVERDALE” is a re-invention of the classic, cartoony “ARCHIE” comic books. It is not completely original, but it is significantly different in tone and look than the source material.

Now that you are ready to make a movie – go and check out our Categories for High School Filmmakers at the Forest City Youth Film Festival