One of the most famous 21st-century filmmakers, Casey Neistat, has never made a feature for the big screen. He’s an online video content creator, i.e. filmmaker who has made thousands of short films. He’s also made a TV show for HBO. But it’s his short online films that have made him a household name in the US.
When we think of the word filmmaker, the image of a man running a large crew (probably wearing a baseball hat) often pops into our heads.
Because, yes, there is a gender assumption too.
This imaginary filmmaker is huddled with his DP (Director of Photography) and AD (Assistant Director) knuckling out the next shot while a busy crew buzzes around him like a horde of technical bumble bees.
Let’s expand the definition of filmmaker to include people from all backgrounds and genders who create stand-alone story-based moving pictures.
Your headlines need to be as enticing as an offer of free, freshly made cookies.
Your reader is always filtering through information with the question: Is this for me? The only way they can decide if something is right for them is if there’s a clear benefit.
Yet, when we write our websites, we biz owners are often self-centred.
We don’t put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and write for their problems, dreams, fears, and needs. We don’t offer up cookies. Instead, we write about how awesome we are and give a million esoteric details about what we do.
Often, we don’t even use headlines. We jump straight into shop talk without flagging our client down in the first place.
It’s like trying to leap into a moving taxi. You’ve got to flag that taxi down first before you can open the door and get in.
Your about me page should make the RIGHT people fall in love with you and roundly turn off the wrong peeps. Wait, what do you mean the wrong peeps? The nightmare clients who aren’t the right fit, of course!
When you’re learning filmmaking, it’s easy to get caught up in the endless rabbit hole of YouTube gear-review videos.
Hell, I know I did!
But here’s the truth: most of those videos won’t make you a better filmmaker. They’ll make you a better gear head for sure. But if you’ve watched a few Oscar Round Tables with well-known Directors, Cinematographers, and Producers, you’ll notice the marked absence of gear discussions.
Okay, it’s true that Cinematographers do go ape-shit over a nice lens.
But other than that, the thing that’ll make you a better filmmaker is an understanding of the basics.
I don’t consider myself an email list-growth expert.
But I am an expert at struggling with list growth and avoiding list growth like it’s my end-of-year taxes. Thankfully those are two issues that I’ve now overcome.
Where before, I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to decode the key to driving traffic and bringing in new subscribers. I now have a system that helps me grow my email list by more than 200 subscribers each month. My goal is to continue improving that rate by adding one new strategy at a time and finessing it until it works well.
In addition to the list growth strategies I’ve used for my own business, I’ve helped my clients grow their lists.
One client went from zero lead capture system and relying on just word of mouth to capturing and nurturing over 100 new leads per month. (For perspective, each lead had a value of over $1000.)
I’ve just spent the last two days doing something I never (in a trillion years) thought I’d be doing: taking grad portraits.
Yup, those cap and gown pictures that mark a teen’s entrance into the big wide adult world and the end (thank god!) of high school.
Why was I doing this? Well, one of my clients is a school. Since the photo studio, they typically use is closed right now, they wanted to host the grad photos themselves. Side note: it’s actually pretty easy to do physical distancing when you’re using a 100mm lens!
There’s one lesson I’ve confirmed and re-confirmed in the past two days of knocking out portraits that I want to share with you.
Lighting is personal.
Nope. Lighting is exceptionally personal. If you’re actually trying to shape light, your set up will need to change with each subject. You’ll create a lighting set up that makes one person look like Kate Moss.
—Really, what do YOU want to be KNOWN for?
So many small businesses and service providers never actually figure out what they want to be known for. Instead they let everyone else decide what is arguably the MOST important thing in a business.
Another random thought: villains would be terrible at SEO.
Aside from the fact that most villains are impatient and reactionary, they also don’t think about their people’s needs and wants too much (duh-that’s why they’re villains).
Normally I avoid the word “very.” But today it’s necessary. I can’t name all the very weird details, but my world has gone topsy-turvy in the last 9 hours.
My main filmmaking gig is for a school that I absolutely love. But let’s just say we’re going through tough times. Well, I guess that’s the case for everyone these days.
I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor, laptop in lap, the music in my headphones giving me a sonic hug, wondering what the hell to write.
My head isn’t in the game.
Distracted by a blur of high-speed motion on the edge of my patio, I glance over quickly. It’s a green and gray hummingbird.
Not once in 8 years of living in this apartment have I had a hummingbird visitor on my patio.
The bird buzzes around my geraniums then pokes her nose into the begonias and flits away. In less than 10 seconds, my mood has been transformed from worried to delighted.
All because of something so SIMPLE.
It works the same way in filmmaking. It’s the simplest things that’ll transform the quality of your work from so-so to professional.
So let’s look at three incredibly simple rules of filmmaking that’ll change the way you think about setting up a shot.
20 percent rule
As you can see, in filmmaking, we like to keep the names of our rules simple too.
Find out the top things you need to know about filmmaking, from shot sizes and angles to the three stages of production.
I’m in the breakroom, eating an Ikea cinnamon bun when my boss approaches. He’s got a book in hand, which he reverently passes to me.
“This is for you. Give it a read. I hope you like it.”
That’s all he says. No big build-up. Just…read the book.