Filmmaking: Behind the Scenes

In a modern world of smartphone videos posted to social media in seconds, nearly everyone is familiar with film. Few have an understanding of how to do it well. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg to produce great video, but you surely can take some hints from the pros. Todd Chappell‘s filmmaking guide, “Video Production Primer,” will fill us in.

Have A Strong Start

It is easy to become camera-eager; don’t just run out and start shooting video. This is the biggest mistake you will make. Chappell calls the first step of filmmaking pre-production. It is the most important step and should take the longest. Pre-production consists of planning out everything from the shoots to the budget. Write the script: whether it will be a screenplay for fiction filmmaking, or a two column AV script for documentaries and other nonfiction film. Another frequent mistake is basing your story too heavily on interviews. Films are visually-based, therefore you should be leaning on images just as much as voice-over.

There are two main types of film scripts: screenplays and two column AV scripts | Collage by Casey Ryan


Getting Down To Business

Cameraman at work. Shallow dof effect.
Taking time to record film properly can save you time when editing |

The most well-known element of filmmaking: the actual shooting. Chappell calls this step production. Some basic do’s and don’t when you are behind the camera:

  • Compile a list of the shots you will need to capture at each location.
  • Evaluate each location and be aware of factors such as lighting and sound. Background noises such as the hum of fluorescent lights or the wind can have a big impact on recorded audio.
  • Be sure to allow enough time for shoots, remember that setting up and breaking down equipment can take awhile.
  • Interview shots should include head and shoulders only.
  • Study the frame before you begin shooting, especially the background.

Finishing Touches

Once the actual video is captured, there is still much to be done. The last phase of filmmaking, according to Chappell, is post-production. This consists mostly of editing and exporting. You’ll need video editing software. The Video Production Primer shares the four most common programs: Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, iMovie, and Windows Movie Maker. When editing, Chappell suggests three steps:

  1. Cut down interviews
  2. Order interviews to tell a story, try to avoid fancy transitions
  3. Leave important moments in interviews, but cover the rest with B-Roll, or extra footage

Videos are typically exported are for web or DVD. Export at the highest possible resolution, and if you are exporting for web keep file small.

As always when producing for digital media, show your project to others. Ask them if anything is confusing or if any of the transitions are abrupt.


Photos for film script collage | Video Production Primer by Todd Chappell

One thought on “Filmmaking: Behind the Scenes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s