First Time Filmmaker

I'm starting off making my first movie, which will be suspense. I will be doing a lot of it myself with very little budget. I plan on renting a few lenses and lights, but is there any huge pointers for me? I really don't want this to look like a low quality production.
Yes, a vague and all encompassing question, I know.

Brian Alan DeLaney

I may be biased, but sound. Not just music, but the audio quality of dialog, background sound and foley can really make or break a film. There have been studies that have shown that people perceive a film with good audio quality and sub-par video as being of higher quality than those with good video and poor sound. I don't know if that helps, but that's really all I know about.

Bethany Brandt

Exactly what I was looking for! I will be sure to schedule in some time for ADR and a few days of sound.


JD Hartman

Recording sound on camera all but useless. Get a sound guy, buy a H6N zoom and rent mics., etc.

Mark Ratering

Yes, here is a huge pointer. Get a DP/Camera Operator that knows what they are doing. Cook em dinner watch his kids something. Two audio...make sure it's good or do not waste your time! Good Luck.

Martina Cook

As above, sound is so important...but don't forget lights! They can transform your movie in ways that I couldn't believe. Great job on filming all by yourself, I did it a couple of times, hard work but the adrenaline goes on for weeks after wrap up! Good luck!

Vanessa Bailey

All of the above - yes! Sound is so crucial and it's true the audience will subconsciously forgive a lot of other issues if the sound is excellent. Bad sound = no film. Good lighting lifts your film's production value immeasurably. And if you have an experienced DP on board they'll bring ideas to the table that you won't have yourself and if you have a good chemistry and shared vision they'll enjoy the creative freedom of that too. Well done on getting this together Bethany :D

Bethany Brandt

Thankfully, I have plenty of lights between my husband's photography job, work lights, and stage lights from my band. One of my big concerns is that there will be a few exterior night shoots and making them look realistic. The other is getting an investor or two. Do you think it is unrealistic to get an investor for my first film? I've got about 2k marked for it right now...

Bethany Brandt

I guess the investor question is how/where do you approach people looking to invest?

Doug Nelson

Bethany; let's put the cold hard realities on the table. It's your first attempt at filmmaking (from what you said) - at this point you have no financial credibility. Forget about investors now. You didn't specify if it is a FL or short. (Hopefully, it's a short - if you have a $2K budget - you're talking a short.) Investors expect to be re-paid and at a profit. The facts of life say that there is no/very little income available from shorts so there is no investor money available and a $2K budget isn't going to even get you started on a FL film - that doesn't mean that family and friends won't help. (just renting a few lenses and lights will blow your budget.)

It sounds to me from what you've said that this will be a DSLR project - and, yes you can get some pretty good HD out of modern DSLR cameras. Someone mentioned sound. Yes, sound is very important but relying on the camera mic is totally worthless and if you use a separate sound recorder - you will have problems in post with syncing. A decent quality mic running directly into the camera is a better solution, but it's not that great. Using an off camera video/audio recorder helps greatly - something like a Ninja.

Ext night shooting can be daunting but it's a wonderful learning experience.

All the best wishes on your project.

Rajjat R Kaul
  1. Learn Editing and Sound basics.
    2. Understand the importance of Silence.
    3. Never Underestimate the Power of Background Score.
    4. Great Movie doesn't require good camera, gear etc. Its the vision.
    5. Lastly don't over do, Be natural and be Honest about what you intend to show not what eventually make it successful.
    All the best. if you ever want to do a foreign language Project please feel free to message me.
Vanessa Bailey

Hi Bethany - no one will "invest" money and films generally cost you money to make, but with a well-organised campaign and clear vision you could run a crowdfund to raise the funds for your film. I've run five for my short film and they are incredibly valuable on so many levels. But it can go wrong REALLY easily, so I wrote this (amongst other articles) to help filmmakers not make the basic mistakes that are so common. It may be of use to you :)

Doug Nelson

Bethany - take a look at the short film posted on my profile. It was shoot on a CANNON T2 DSLR with an absolutely $0 budget. Best wishes on your project.

Lou Di Giorgio

Look at if you don't want to compromise in quality for your low budget film project and If you may consider to shoot your movie in Europe: specifically in Algarve, the southern province of Portugal which is known as the California of Europe.

Nicholas Jordan

take some issue which interests you and make a minor docu on it

Doug Nelson

Great advice guys: A first time filmmaker, recently out of school, wants to make a low/no budget suspense film. Certainly flying herself, crew & equipment to Europe should be within her budget - yeah? She wants to make a suspense film - no, she shouldn't do what she wants - you think she should make a documentary instead - very helpful advice guys.

Let's help her rather than hinder her - okay?

Bethany Brandt

I have been talking to my local film commission and they have been pretty helpful in credits, locations, and resources.

Bethany Brandt

Doug, I tried to view your video, but it was down at the time. I'll take a look again in a bit.

Doug Nelson

Bethany - I just checked - it's still there. Diana (about your age), made this with her sister & friend, I promoted it in some festivals and showed it to some folks I know. She is now a working actress in Hollywood with a role in a substantial new project.

Andrew Pallett

Hey Beth, always exciting to meet someone venturing into films for the first time! I don't think this has been mentioned and, although it may seem implausible, it's definitely possible - forget fancy equipment and all that jazz. Shoot it on your phone! Take a look at this article:

It's definitely possible. As Rajjat R Kaul said, it's about the vision. Focus on the story, then figure out how you're going to shoot it. Best of luck!

Cheers, Andrew

Robert Franklin

Hi, I posted a link with some videos to watch and learn from. Best to you!

Doug Nelson

Robert- you seem to want to send folks off to view other's work. That's all well & good to a point but what can you learn without being able to discuss the work with the creator? Just my pov but if you really want to learn - get involved, be active in the process. You'll learn much more by doing than watching.

Robert Franklin

Doug Nelson Thx, Doug! I am doing a lot of things!

Rent A Space Creative Locations
Rent A Space

Peerspace provides space rentals for creatives like you. Find a creative space near you.

Other topics in Filmmaking / Directing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In