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Getting into short filmmaking


Not entirely sure where this post lives (film making or photography), sorry if I have misplaced it.

Lately, I've been playing with/teaching myself After Effects in an attempt to broaden the skills I can offer. This has gotten me interested, in turn, in boning up on my photography skills.

Ultimately, I'd really like to start getting into freelance film making (specifically music industry stuff, gig footage, music videos etc... instead of things like corporate promo films and indie movies).

I'm a total novice photographer, although I do have a decent Nikon D3200 DSLR which I am gradually learning to use properly. As all of my training has been in Graphic Design I feel right at home editing things in Photoshop, but I want to get to a stage first where the photos I am taking are already high, without needing too much post production.

The D3200 shoots relatively good HD video (though this is not really it's intended primary function, and eats the battery very quickly, I am hoping that I can get around this by either picking up a third party battery extender, or a bunch of extra batteries - opinions?). The quality of the video is reasonably high.

Ideally, I would like to shoot a few things to test the water - as this is an expensive field to fully commit to.

What areas do you think I could concentrate on (i.e. will I need more gear to continue? what elements of photography should I prioritise? how does one begin this?) - how does one crack into this creative field?

I'm naturally shy, so I think I'll be really stepping out of my comfort zone (which is good!). I'm just after suggestions for what my next steps could be.

All help would be appreciated.



Paul Murray

Staff member
Just do what you want to do, rather than what you think people want. If you enjoy abstract or experimental film-making, then focus on that and market that as your style. Photographers, film-makers and illustrators often have an individual style, and are hired for commissions purely based on their style. Focus on what you enjoy and it should come naturally. Get out there, test your equipment (and battery life), and just get making stuff.

Save your money and let your lack of equipment drive your creativity. Photography and film are notoriously expensive fields due to the high costs of equipment so I wouldn't spend more than you absolutely have to. Play around with different techniques and effects. I've seen really nice stuff using paint and ink in water tanks as masks for video. Gives a really trippy effect, looks great, and cost next to nothing to produce. Check out any behind the scenes articles about music videos or photoshoots. You'll often find that some really fantastic looking stuff was produced on a shoe-string budget, especially stop-motion work.

In terms of actually getting commercial work, I'd get out there and meet local bands and musicians. It's unlikely you'll just fall into commercial work straight away, so you may find yourself working for little or no fee, so make sure you're retaining as much creative control as you can in order to build a decent portfolio of work.

I used to make music videos years back, often based on images or ideas I had whilst listening to a particular song. I'd recommend you start there, pick some songs you like, make some videos for them that capture a theme or idea. Just try an learn something new each time, either about the process, or about what you enjoy and areas you are strong/weak in.
Excellent advice, thanks.

I find a lot of the gear/technique/budget snobbery you see in photography (among other disciplines) to be a little intimidating, I'm dead excited to get cracking with it though. Even if it's just a hobby to begin with.

Watch this space!


Well-Known Member
As usual.....like Paul says. (bloody know it all). ;)

Thing is, with the improvements it tech we have access to gear at an affordable price that film makers could only dream of not too long back.
I've just bought my son a Nikon D3100 for Xmas and it rocks.

You have Ae so there's nothing to stop you now.
Maybe start with making something that's a bit gritty and choppy which doesn't rely on big scale, sweeping cinematography and pick a track that suits it.
It's amazing how combining images and the right music can make it all pop.