How To Get Into Filmmaking: Everything You Need to Know

Wondering how to get into filmmaking? There’s no single path that leads to success, so becoming a filmmaker often requires effort put forth in unique ways.

Before you move forward with your goals to work in the film industry, it’s helpful to ask yourself where you fit in the actual filmmaking process. Your skills and interests will certainly factor into the answer to this question, whether you’re interested in working in one of the film crew positions, sitting on the director’s chair and guiding the narrative, or standing in front of the camera as an actor. If your dream is to be the driving force behind films, you’ll need to break into the filmmaking side of the industry.

Film career opportunities are wide-reaching and extensive. Some examples of jobs on a film set include:

Get On a Film Set

The best way to get into filmmaking is to get experience on an actual film set. You may not qualify for a high-paying job right away, but you can start from the bottom and work your way up to gain experience and figure out what you like to do. Some filmmakers even started by volunteering on sets. Gaining hands-on experience is vital to your success in the film industry, so find a way to get that experience, even if it means not collecting a paycheck for a little while.

You can look for job openings on film sets on a number of websites, such as:

  • Mandy: A highly rated job platform for cast, crew, and other creative professionals
  • Shooting People: An online resource for independent filmmakers in the UK
  • Film & TV Pro: A helpful resource for TV and film professionals with job listings
  • Creative Cow Career: Job postings and the opportunity to post a resume to connect with possible opportunities
  • ProductionHUB: A way to connect with professional content creators

Make Your Own Films

Another aspect of gaining hands-on filmmaking experience is actually shooting footage, creating stories, and making films. You don’t have to invest in expensive gear or other tools or even have a massive Hollywood-level budget to start creating your own video footage either. The phone in your pocket may have a good-quality camera that allows you to shoot videos. Free or low-priced editing software, apps, and other resources are available to help you cut scenes and piece them together to start telling the story.

Cinematography tools and resources include:

  • RED Cinematography Tools: A preview tool to show how a focal length will look based on other settings
  • CameraSim: Online DSLR simulator to test lighting, focal length, and other settings

You can also practice shooting video footage for people in your life to get experience. Have a friend who is getting married? Offer to shoot their wedding video and gain valuable experience. Interested in breaking into the music video industry? Start shooting your own music video set to the background of your favorite songs, or offer to create one for a local band.

When you need to edit, affordable editing software is available, such as Hitfilm Express and Lightworks. You can always outsource elements of the video-making process, such as editing the final cut, to others. Other outsourcing resources include:

  • Freelancer: A forum where you post projects and freelancers respond with bids to handle the work
  • Fiverr: Global online marketplace for services and tasks

You can find assistance with getting the gear you need at Adorama, an online resource focused on the best photography and videography equipment. If you need editing resources, try these online tools:

  • FCP Effects: Plugins and effects for FCPX designed for ease of use
  • Red Giant: Production tools, Including editing and special effects add-ons for various software programs, including Adobe After Effects
  • Motion VFX: Plugins and motion templates for FCPX and other editing programs
  • Pixel Film Studios: Final Cut Pro X plugins, transitions, themes, and effects
  • Ripple Training: Online video training with plugins to add effects and animate videos
  • Larry Jordan: Digital media editing training resource

Your films need quality sound effects and music to feel authentic and engaging to audiences. A number of online resources are available to new and experienced filmmakers to get access to the files they need.

Films also need images and graphics, in addition to the video footage. Stock footage and photos, vector illustrations, and design templates are available to aspiring filmmakers online.

  • Pixabay: A repository of public domain (or free) photos
  • iStockPhoto: Royalty-free vector art illustrations, stock photos and footage, and audio
  • Unsplash: Free high-resolution stock photos
  • GraphicRiver: Layered Photoshop files, icon packs, vectors, add-ons, and design templates, offered at low rates
  • Pixelmator Pro: Professional image editing tools
  • Pixlr X: A free, premium online photo editor
  • Canva: Drag-and-drop tool for online graphic design
  • Crowdspring: Freelancing tool for logo design
  • 99Designs: Design competition site where designers submit competing designs based on details provided by clients
  • Camtasia: Tools to record on-screen activity and edit content
  • ScreenFlow: Screen capturing and recording resource

Watch Films

While creating films an important part of breaking into the industry, studying successful films is also an important step in your process. As you watch films from a range of genres and time periods, look for elements that make them great and what stands out to you. Most successful directors draw inspiration from other directors and apply their unique ideas to various styles and filmmaking concepts. In addition to watching films, make sure to utilize other resources, such as commentary from the director and other crew members, interviews from the actors, and analysis by experts.

Utilize Online Resources

In today’s tech-savvy world, you can find a number of online resources to help you get familiar with filmmaking and perfect your skills. Check out a few of the best options as you compile your list of helpful tools:

Enroll In Film School

A film school program can also benefit you as you embark on your filmmaking journey. As you consider the different programs and schools, look at several key features to make an informed decision. These include:

You may also consider a film immersion program, which is a shortened version of a film school program. In order to complete this type of program, you’ll have to commit quite a bit of time each week for the duration. Some programs require students to be in class for 30+ hours per week.

Understand the Business Side of Filmmaking

Filmmakers must be creative and innovative, but they also must understand that creating films involves working in business. You may have to pitch ideas and obtain funding for projects during your career, so understanding how to go about these processes is a must. Many filmmakers and people in the industry share their knowledge and information through online resources, including:

  • Think Outside the Box Office: A film funding resource that connects filmmakers to investors
  • Film Freeway: A resource to discover and enter film festivals and get tickets to events around the world
  • DocuSign: E-signature solutions for signing contracts and agreements remotely
  • LegalZoom: Online legal service for setting up a business, handling documents, and other legal needs
  • Yumpu: Digital publishing platform for catalogs, brochures, and magazines
  • Scrivener: Content-generation tool
  • Celtx: Online collaboration tool for screenwriting and pre-production support
  • Final Draft: Screenwriting software that allows you to format a screenplay based on industry submission standards
  • Evernote: Note-taking and content sharing app and site
  • Freshbooks: Cloud-based accounting software platform
  • Wave: Small business invoice creation software
  • Think Crew – Casper: Excel workbook with call sheet templates and contact management sources
  • Highrise: Contact management tool
  • Quickbooks: Bookkeeping software for small businesses
  • Prezi: Software to create visual presentations and pitches
  • PayPal: Secure payment and money transfer app
  • Stripe: Software to collect payments and manage finances

Many new and upcoming filmmakers have relied on modern methods to raise funding for films. You might consider running a crowdfunding campaign or reaching out to your social media followers to request donations in exchange for a first look at your feature film. Your audience is a key component of your business success, so connecting with people who will be interested in the work you’re doing can help you move up in the industry.

Advertising and marketing your films are important steps in the filmmaking process.

Collecting feedback on your films is also easier with online forms and surveys.

  • Wufoo: HTML-based form builder to create online web forms and surveys
  • SurveyMonkey: User-friendly survey creation tool
  • Leadpages: Opt-in tools and lead generation resources
  • OptinMonster: WordPress plugin that helps visitors to your site opt in for updates on your projects

You may also need to share files between members of the filmmaking team or with clients for review.

  • Slack: Real-time messaging and team collaboration tool
  • Skype: Videoconferencing and digital document sharing tool
  • GotoMeeting: HD videoconferencing software for collaboration
  • Vimeo Business: Hosting, sharing, and streaming platform for video footage
  • YouTube: Free video-sharing platform
  • Wistia: Video-streaming and -sharing platform
  • Mediazilla: Professional video-sharing platform with the option to create interactive menus
  • Google Drive: Secure cloud-based storage option for photos, files, and videos
  • Dropbox: Cloud-based storage solution
  • PBWorks: Tool for collaborating with potential clients and sharing files

A professional website is a must-have for every new and upcoming filmmaker.

  • Siteground: A web hosting company with more than 1.8 million domains
  • Weebly: An affordable and easy website creation platform
  • Namecheap: Easy and affordable tool for managing, registering, and hosting domains
  • GoDaddy: Domain name registration tool with additional online website resources
  • Hostgator: Professional assistance with website creation
  • WordPress: Software used to create a blog and website for free
  • ThemeForest: Premium website template resource with themes for various platforms and programs
  • Squarespace: Domains, galleries, support, analytics, e-commerce solutions, and other tools for website creation

If you need access to your computer while on the go, use remote computer access tools.

  • TeamViewer: Free remote control and access solution for PCs
  • GotoMyPC: Web-based remote access that gives you control of your computer from any browser
  • LogMeIn: Remote access to your online profiles and accounts

Manage Your Time

Managing your time is another important element of successful filmmaking. You must allot sufficient time to each step in the process. Online time management tools can help you stay on track.

  • Pomodoro Technique: Resources to work with time instead of struggling to keep up
  • Remember the Milk: Organization app that replaces sticky notes and to-do lists
  • My Life Organized: A tool for creating checklists and tasks
  • ClockSpot: Online time clock for payroll and time sheets
  • Harvest: Tool to track time across any device
  • RescueTime: Get insights into your habits to figure out where your time goes
  • Toggl: Time tracking that is easier and faster than other options
  • Asana: Project management tool with planning for projects, workflows, and tasks
  • Trello: Project management tool with boards for every task
  • Basecamp: Project management platform

Extend Your Reach

After you have started creating films, understanding the business side of the film industry, and utilizing the tools available, you can begin expanding your reach and getting your projects in front of an audience. Hosting webinars can help you get in front of a virtual audience as well.

  • Zoom: Scalable and reliable video-based webinar solution
  • EverWebinar: Automated webinar platform

Becoming a well-rounded filmmaker starts with knowing the best techniques used in the industry today. Apply for the Cinema Production Diploma at Nashville Film Institute to begin your career.