Filmmaking is a $130 billion industry. The average film has approximately 588 people from cast, crew, payroll, craft services, lighting, marketing, casting, etc. Each cast and crew member must possess specialized skills and knowledge to do their job well. Even with all of the money, experience, and talent, a lot of what Hollywood makes isn’t all that good. So why should you make films if you have no money, no experience, no idea what you’re doing, no equipment, and no budget? Because the experience of making a film (even a short one) will be one of the most cherished memories of your life.
When I was in the 8th grade, my friend Keith Wells got a hold of his dad’s camcorder and some of his sister’s wigs. My other friend Keith Visser had a styrofoam wig head, a $2 plastic hockey mask, and his dad had a mechanics jumpsuit. We were all huge horror fans, and we decided we just had to make a Friday the 13th movie. We quickly brainstormed a plot, which was little more than a series of murders hastily strung together. We would just talk about what we were going to do in the scene. Since we had no concept of editing or post-production, we edited in-camera (i.e., we would start recording, do the scene, and then whoever was working the camera would simply stop). If we messed up, we’d just do the whole thing over, or often we liked the mess-ups, so we kept it. What was fun about the whole thing was all the problem-solving we had to do. “How are we going to cut off his head?”, we’d ask. And after thinking about it, we decided we would raise the machete, stop recording, show the victim screaming, stop recording, show the ax swing, stop recording, put the styrofoam head in a shirt, and cut it off. We weren’t going to win an academy award for visual effects, but it kind of worked, and the cheese factor made it more fun. We spent the day, each taking turns playing Jason and various male and female victims.
I’ve worked on dozens of sets professionally as an actor, writer, director, and producer. Still, I’ve never had more fun than I did making our version of Friday the 13th. When you create something, there is a part of you in that creation. When you create together with friends and family, it’s something that you can go back and watch again and again and again. Every time it gets funnier and brings you closer together. So do yourself a favor and make a movie. I promise you it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Tools to Help
Still worried about what to do? The following tutorials will help you use the phone in your pocket, which, believe it or not, is a powerful HD camera and editing tool all in one!
Editing on Your Smart Phone
Turn Your Android into a Professional Video Camera
Master Your iPhone Camera
Basic Plot Structure
All you need is a character in pursuit of a goal. The basic plot follows the following structure. Don’t worry if you have a complete story; just pick some scenes that you’ve seen and make them your own. Don’t worry about a script or if it makes sense. Don’t reinvent the wheel, don’t worry about creating something completely original; just start with what you already know really well and make it your own. Seen Harry Potter 100 times? Make another movie about a wizard boy. Seen Nightmare on Elm Street 100 times? Make a movie about a killer who stalks kids.
|Once Upon A Time||Exposition, introduce the hero. Once Upon A Time, there was a plumber named Mario.|
|And Every Day||Exposition, introduce what your character wants by showing what they do. And Every Day, Mario would work in the sewers with his brother Luigi, secretly wishing he could do something more than unclogging drains and pipes.|
|Until One Day||Something happens that puts our heroes(s) on their quest. Until One Day, Mario and Luigi got sucked down a magic drain pipe and found themselves in the Magic Kingdom.|
|Because of That||Things get bad. Because Mario ended up in the Mushroom Kingdom, he met the beautiful and enchanting Princess Toadstool, and fell in love.|
|Because of That||Things get worse. Because Mario fell in love, when Bowser attacked and his army of Koopa Troopas and kidnapped Princess Toadstool, and turned the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom into bricks and horsehair plants, he had to rescue her because only a plumber with Mario’s skills would be able to navigate the complex underground pipe systems where Bowser was hiding.|
|Because of That||Things get worst. Because Mario had to rescue her, he had to travel across the entire mushroom kingdom fighting entire armies and mini-bosses; along the way, he changed and learned how to smash bricks using mushrooms, shoot fire using flowers, and become invincible using stars. Still, after traveling across 7 worlds and 5 bonus worlds, alas, his princess was in another castle.|
|Until Finally||The final battle, the climax, the do or die moment where the hero wins or loses it all in the final showdown. Until Finally, Mario found himself face to face with Bowser; after dodging flame after flame, hammer, after hammer, he jumped over his head, grabbing the glowing ax and cutting the bridge supports and Bowser fell into a lake of lava.|
|And Every Day Since Then||The new normal, now that our hero has transformed from ordinary person to hero and saved the day, rescued the girl, what is his life like now? And every day since then, Mario lived happily ever after as prince, with the beautiful princess toadstool, and he never unclogged another drain again.|