With cheap DSLR's, open source CGI programs, and even camera phones that can shoot video that would have been unimaginable to the masses just a decade ago, making a film has never been easier. Yet, for all the great opportunities open to even novice filmmakers it seems we're overwhelmed with poorly shot videos that don't have to be as bad as they are. Like anything in life, when you make great tools available to a large number of people, even Uncle Tom will think he's Spielberg before he's learned to properly use what he has. The results will almost certainly be cringe worthy. The good news is they don't have to be, and there are tons of great resources online to help you out.
What most people don't understand is that there is a lot of work that goes into making a film. While half of the battle is grabbing the camera and shooting anything at all, the other half of the magic happens once a video is shot. There's the color correction to give your film a certain look, cutting the different clips together so the pace never gets too boring or extreme, tinkering with the sound, and maybe even adding in some extra sound effects that weren't there while you shot. There's even music to consider and any special effects that may give it an extra punch.
For even the seasoned pro, without a crew this can be overwhelming. For a novice, there's a question of where you should start. So we've put together the 3 best websites we could find that cover everything from basic filmmaking information to special effects and even distribution. For old pros these can serve as a great refresher, and for the novice filmmaker you'll find a ton of great information to get you started along with techniques that can inspire even more ideas.
Film Riot is a great place for any filmmaker to start learning the craft. While their website has some great plugins and products for filmmaking, their Youtube channel is where you want to be. There you'll find tutorials on the basics of using your camera, lighting and DIY setups, all the way up to creating special effects in After Effects software for those that want to go a bit further. There's something there no matter what level of knowledge you're at. If you're feeling brave, you'll come across their Monday challenges where amateur filmmakers can submit their videos based off of the contest rules for a chance to be mentioned on Film Riot's channel. Finally you can see some of the films they shoot themselves. These guys are obviously not amateurs, not to mention the fun back and forth you'll witness between Ryan Connolly and his brother Josh along with the rest of the crew.
Video Copilot focuses more on the great special effects one can create in After Effects, including getting into more complicated and expensive programs that handle CGI such as 3ds Max. While the CGI in some tutorials may scare some people off because of the software's price tag, the techniques that he uses can easily be applied to Open Source programs that handle CGI such as Blender. Not only are his tutorials easy to follow, the results are amazing and will open up a whole new realm of what filmmakers see as possible. Andrew Kramer, who does the tutorials, is also the man who worked with J.J. Abrams doing the Star Trek special effects. One of his tutorials even shows exactly how they did the opening Star Trek sequence.
Filmmaking Stuff focuses more on distribution for filmmaking instead of the actual shooting of the film, which is the goal of most filmmakers. Shooting films may be fun, but there's a lot more fun to be had when you can sell them and make a living from filmmaking. Jason Brubaker, who runs the website, takes you through all the ins and outs of the business side of filmmaking. There's a lot of great info to take in, along with several free ebooks and checklists covering the different parts of the filmmaking process. It's definitely something every filmmaker should look over before starting a film if their hope is to find distribution because the business side of film and how it's viewed can sometimes differ greatly from what the artist imagines.