How To Learn the Technical Side of Filmmaking

November 28, 2023


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10 Tips to Get You Started with Learning Filmmaking & Cinematography

Written by Colette Nichol, Solo Filmmaker and Story Strategist

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Filmmaking is an art and a science.

If you want to learn the technical side of filmmaking, be warned, it does take some time. You can learn the basics of filmmaking pretty quickly. But to become a master at the technical side of filmmaking is not an overnight activity. That said, anyone with dedication, passion, and persistence can learn filmmaking. 

This short blog post will explore essential filmmaking techniques and tips and address some common questions about learning filmmaking.

10 Essential Filmmaking Techniques and Tips

1. Mastering the Camera

Understanding camera operations is fundamental.

Learn about different types of cameras, lenses, and the principles of composition and framing. Get started by using a DSLR or mirrorless camera and learning how to use all the settings in manual mode. From there, you can graduate to a cinema camera, which is typically more challenging to use. 

I love the BMPCC 6k and the BMPCC 6k Pro.

These are the cameras that I use for formal shooting on a budget, and I recommend them to anyone who has an intermediate level of experience. 

2. Lighting Skills

Lighting is vital in setting the mood and atmosphere.

Experiment with key, fill, and backlighting, and understand the interplay of shadows and light. Lighting is painting with shadows. To make beautiful imagery, you must understand cinematic lighting techniques.

3. Effective Sound Design

Sound is half the experience in film.

Grasp the basics of on-location sound recording, microphone types, and post-production sound editing. You can get started by downloading our Sound Buyer’s Guide which also has tips on how to get clean audio.

4. Learning Editing Software

Editing is where your story takes shape.

Familiarize yourself with editing software and techniques to tell your story cohesively. I recommend getting started with Premier Pro or DaVinci resolve. Premiere Pro is best for beginners because it’s easier to learn. So while you do have to pay a monthly subscription, it’s worth every single dollar. 

5. Understanding Cinematography

Cinematography is visual storytelling.

Study shot composition, camera movements, and color theory to enhance your narrative. Learning how to create a shot list is a critical filmmaking skill. You can practice creating shot sequences with any camera you own. You don’t need the best camera to get started with this key part of filmmaking. 

6. Scriptwriting

A strong script is the foundation of a good film.

Even if you’re not a writer, understanding script structure and character development is crucial. To be good at scriptwriting, you need to understand the elements of a story. So spend time reading books on story craft and pulling apart movies. 

Related Post: Learn about the Story Circle method of breaking down a story >

7. Production Design

This involves creating the visual world of your film.

Learn about set design, costumes, and props to create an immersive environment. Production design is critical. It also happens to be where independent and low budget films fall short. Study the look and feel of your favorite films and assess how the set, costumes, makeup and props added to the story.

8. Directing Techniques

Directing is about communicating your vision.

Learn how to work with actors and crew to bring your idea to life. It can help to take a couple of acting classes if you want to learn how actors think. 

9. Utilizing Special Effects

You may wish to understand the basics of practical and digital effects and how they can enhance your storytelling.

However, if you’re entering a genre that doesn’t use special effects (like documentaries) then you can skip this.

10. Continuous Learning

Stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in filmmaking.

Always be willing to learn and adapt. 

Learn about different types of cameras, lenses, and the principles of composition and framing.

Addressing Common Questions

How do I start learning filmmaking?

You start learning filmmaking by shooting.

So you need to grab whatever camera you have and plan a teeny tiny shot sequence. Use the people you know as subjects. Say your friend likes to play the guitar, plan a shot sequence of them playing the guitar. Then film them. 

Next, take it into the edit suite and cut it together.

This is important! You need to start shooting and editing if you want to learn filmmaking.

There is no other way. 

On top of this, immerse yourself in the world of film. Watch tons movies, read books on filmmaking, and take online filmmaking courses or workshops. Just go for it and be dedicated to learning. 

How can I understand the technical side of filmmaking?

The technical side of filmmaking involves the use of technology such as cameras, lighting, sound equipment and editing software and hardware in the service of storytelling. You have to understand how to use these tools to convey a narrative effectively. Get started by shooting silent films and then go from there.

Can filmmaking be self taught?

Yes, filmmaking can be self-taught.

Use online resources, practice with personal projects, and learn from feedback. However, collaboration and networking with others in the field can also be immensely beneficial. And at some point, most people either take some filmmaking classes or just read filmmaking books like crazy. You can teach yourself, but you still need some guidance if you don’t want it to take a million years to learn. 

What is the technical analysis of a film?

This involves examining how the film was made – the cinematography, editing, sound design, color grading, and how these elements contribute to the overall impact of the film.

Filmmaking can be self-taught. Utilize online resources, practice with personal projects, and learn from feedback.

Final Thoughts

Learning the technical side of filmmaking is a long journey.

You don’t master this craft in a day. But if you love movies and videos, this is a great path for you. 

Remember, every great filmmaker started somewhere. So no matter how old you are or where you live, just go for it! 

More Filmmaking Articles

Filmmaking Basics Every Beginner Needs to Know

Cinematic Lighting: Epic Film Lighting Guide for Beginners

iPhone Filmmaking Tips for Beginners

About the Author

Hi! I’m Colette Nichol. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been making videos and micro films for small businesses and global brands since 2014.

Plus, I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you gain the knowledge you need to become a filmmaker.

If you want more, get on the waitlist for the Story Envelope Academy Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program. It opens up one time per year and is the best way to become a filmmaking or video pro fast!

CLICK HERE to get on the solo filmmaking mentorship waitlist.

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