If you’ve never made a movie figuring out exactly what tools you need to make one may seem pretty confusing. The process of filmmaking can be pretty simple and at it’s most professional level, pretty complex. But what do you need to make a movie?
Obviously you need a camera, but what do you need outside of that? Actors, check.
How about location permits or transportation. Didn’t think of that? No worries, here are the basic tools (and a few more) you’ll need both in the studio and on location:
A Video Camera
For filmmakers just starting out, there are a whole range of handheld, consumer (and prosumer) cameras that will give you really impressive HD images. HD video cameras are pretty much the standard now, and for the most part, the consumer level versions can be as simple as pointing them and pressing record. Most of these cameras record footage to memory cards.
A camera is key, but so is a workstation. Think of it as your production office, where you’ll not only develop a script but handle the business of making your movie. It’s also where you’ll edit your film. When selecting a computer, make sure your computer has enough memory to handle your editing and effects software (if you’re planning to use effects in your movie). Final Cut Pro and other editing software require more robust processors and digital video takes up a lot of space too.
Digital Media Academy gives students the opportunity to learn how to edit films using the latest version of Final Cut Pro. FCP is on of the industry standard tools for film editing and has been used to make movies like True Grit (2010) starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and Zodiac (2007), starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo.
FCP’s interface is very intuitive (which makes it maybe the best editing software on the market) and because most of the editing is done on a timeline—editing clips and moving them to where they belong in your story—it’s easy to create a movie in no time. Final Cut Pro also includes a color correction application and other editing and film making tools, that if purchased separately could cost you up to $500.
A Cloud Service, and/or Blank DVD
One you’ve captured your footage, you’ll want to archive it. That’s where a cloud service like Dropbox comes in. Blank DVD’s can also serve the same function, but then you’ve got to worry about carrying around a piece of physical media. However, with physical media like a DVD, you don’t need an internet connection to access your content. On the other hand if you’re using a cloud service, you can access your content from any location you can get an internet connection.
Getting Ready for “Action!”
Now that you’ve got the basic equipment covered, you’re going to need a few more things if you want to be a serious filmmaker. Professional film training is at the top of that list, and DMA provides beginner and intermediate film camps that can get you started.
But equipment isn’t all you need to make a movie, remember to put these items on your checklist, too:
Actors You can cast actors using a professional service, gather some friends or place an ad in a local paper. No matter where you find them, these are the people that will make up the characters that will tell your story.
A Crew Any good filmmaker knows the process of filmmaking is a team effort. Plus, things will go smoother when you have people to help you produce your film.
Permits If you’re shooting on location it’s highly recommended you get permission. That can be as easy as contacting the building manager in the location you want to shoot or as involved as contacting local agencies to get a film permit.
With today’s technology it’s easier than ever to produce a good quality film with something as simple as a smartphone and a few apps. But the equipment is just one of the parts of movie-making—Writing and being a good storyteller also play key roles. You’ll need to master them all to really take command of the craft.