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Digital Filmmaking Guide - which type to choose?

Welcome to the world of film production, or as some call it, digital filmmaking. This handbook will help you make your film dreams come true, whether you enjoy the thrill of watching movies or the challenge and excitement of creating them. This handbook will be a reference and primer for anyone starting out in making movies. It can be a narrative or a documentary, or a simple home movie. This handbook is perfect for beginners using a digital camera or smartphone, or for professionals who want to create an independent film. It contains many new ideas and lots of advanced technology.

Technology Has Revolutionized the Digital Film Industry

The filmmaking industry was small once upon a time. Most of it was concentrated in Hollywood. The studios created an extraordinary workflow that could track large amounts of data using only trial and error in the days before digital technology was invented. Modern technology has made it possible for filmmakers to access a wide range of digital tools, both hardware and software. The old studio workflow is still valuable but needs to be updated.

This handbook will guide you through digital filmmaking and the tools (and toys!) that will make it easier. While I'll show you how to navigate the constantly changing developments of digital technology, we will also help you keep the bigger picture in mind: storytelling. The heart of filmmaking has not changed despite all the technological advances since Hollywood's golden age.

The Ultimate Film Production Handbook will motivate you to achieve your filmmaking goals. It will also be an exciting adventure! This handbook is the result of my filmmaking successes and failures. It's brimming with useful information and tips that will help you make your own movie.

The advent of new technologies has made it possible for anyone to make a movie with their smartphone. Independent filmmakers can now afford stock footage. dollies, drones, and camera-stabilizing devices that cost thousands of dollars.

Our first documentary, Murder on the Reef was about nature – human nature – and its flawed tendency to greed over truth, conflict over unification, complacency over action. It revealed how brawling on land has never worked. And above all, it raised urgent questions about how we can turn the tide. The premise of this documentary was that knowledge is power.

How you use the secrets and information in this handbook will determine whether you are a great filmmaker. This edition contains all the latest information and techniques in software and gadgets to make your film. It also includes tips and tricks, including how to work with actors and how to tell great stories. Whether you are holding this handbook in your hand, or viewing it on an electronic screen, it is sure to be your ultimate guide to making your own film.

About this Handbook

We’ve written this handbook with over 20 years of practical experience, so we have the knowledge and experience of what we present here through trial and error. Because we have been there, we can save you time, money, and trouble. This handbook will make your first time on the set feel more familiar.

This handbook provides valuable information about how to:

  • write or find a great screenplay,
  • raise funding for your production,
  • budget and schedule your film,
  • find the right actors and crew,
  • choose the right camera and medium,
  • plan, shoot, and edit your film,
  • find a distributor to get it in front of an audience, as well as
  • enter and win film festivals.

This handbook has been written to cover the most common film production terminology. The terminology used in different countries and companies may vary, so you will see that some expressions are marked with parentheses, which contain terms used in Europe or the United Kingdom.

The Ultimate Film Production Handbook is nonlinear, it means you can begin anywhere and learn what you need in whatever order. Unlike watching a film from the beginning to the end, you can just open this handbook at any point and get right into making your film. You can begin any chapter and then move on to the next chapter without restriction. This allows you to still learn how to make movies. If you wish, you can read the book from front to back.

The Ultimate Film Production Handbook covers everything you need to know about making a film, whether it's a short topic for your website, an industrial project, or a full-length film for a festival.

Assumptions About You

When we wrote this handbook, there were some assumptions that we made about you.

You are familiar with the Internet and have access to the sites we list. You will find some really cool sites that offer free downloads and special software deals. Be aware, however, that web addresses can change and become obsolete, so you are prepared to stumble upon some that don't exist anymore.

You enjoy watching films and want to learn how they are made. Sure you will be able to use this handbook to make home movies that are watchable and professional. It doesn't matter if you are a novice with a smartphone or digital camera or a professional who wants to make a film on your own.

If you are not in the mood of making films, then you are a film buff and want to see what happens behind the scenes.

This handbook cannot cover all aspects of making a film and/or running a camera. If you don't understand the differences between the lens and the eyepiece of a camera, or which end to look through, there are many books that can help you, even if you're a beginner.

PART 1 GETTING STARTED - Digital Filmmaking

Motion pictures can be a powerful medium. You're ready to embark on an exciting journey with the right script and a team of enthusiastic players. Passion to tell a story is the most important ingredient in making a movie. Pictures are the best way to tell stories.

Moviemaking is visual storytelling through the use of scenes and scenes to create a movie. You have the ability to change people's minds, create new ideas, encourage them, or simply provide a safe place for them to escape. Also, you have the audience's complete attention in a darkened cinema. You have their undivided attention. They are yours to entertain, move, make them laugh, and make them cry. There is no better medium for expressing yourself than the film.



Chapter 1 Filmmaking - Which type of digital film should you make? 


No matter the project's type, every project will face its own set of challenges. This is part of the excitement of filmmaking. Each film is an entirely different learning experience with different variables. Every project is an opportunity for you to learn something, no matter how much you know.

These are your options if you're trying to decide what kind of project to start:

Short videos for the Web

YouTube and other websites allow anyone to create and distribute short videos that can be viewed by millions. There are also many other sites that offer more niche content, such as travel videos, sketch comedy, and music performances. To promote their feature films, even the major studios make short films for the internet in the form of trailers or film clips.

Every filmmaker will discover that he or she must create at least one video for the Web related to their project. This could be a trailer, promotional clip, or the entire thing. To help you get your video online, we included a part entitled "Finishing Your Film in Post Production". There are very affordable searchable video platforms with high-quality footage, which will help you create your trailer.

Films of a short duration

A short film can be a great first film project for many. A short film has all the same elements as a feature film but is much shorter. The process will be explained from screenwriting through shooting, editing, and finishing. However, it won't seem as overwhelming and won't take as much time.

This is the best place to start if you have never directed a scripted movie. Do your research first. Short films are popular in festivals and on the internet. Sometimes, they also appear on cable TV networks.

Short films should be under 30 minutes long, but most people believe that they work best when they last between 5 and 10 minutes. The average sitcom is only 20 minutes long, so a short film should not exceed 30 minutes. However, a short film can feel more like a story than a full-length movie. Creating a great, short film requires unique skills. If you decide to make a shorter film, each chapter in this handbook will be applicable to your project.

Industrial and corporate projects

Although these types of projects might not be what your dreams were when you first decided to make a career out of filmmaking, let's face the fact that they are often lucrative and almost always require you to receive a salary for your work. This is something you cannot count on with any of the other types of projects. These projects will require the same skills and problem-solving abilities as any other personal filmmaking projects. Your boss usually gives you an agenda to drive corporate videos. Although they have a story, it is usually about a product, a company, or an event and not about a person. Each chapter in this handbook is applicable to industrial and corporate videos, but we recommend the chapter called "Scheduling and Budgeting", which focuses on the details of these types projects.                                                                            


Webcasts are usually a continuous story that is told in short segments of less than 10 minutes. These segments can sometimes add up to a longer story, while other times they feel more like a sitcom. However, the format of "webcast video" is still being defined. This is a great opportunity for filmmakers. Each new form of storytelling opens up the possibility of creating a new generation of successful stories. Although there aren't any real rules, writing, shooting and finishing webcasts, however, they involve all the elements covered in this handbook. We also have a section below on finishing for internet distribution that will be of great interest to webcast filmmakers.

Pilots for television

All television production would have to be ordered and paid for in advance by the network in a perfect world. However, this is not always true for non-scripted or innovative TV series. Producers take a chance and film their own material and present it as a pitch reel or a first episode. They call it a pilot because it leads the series unless it crashes or burns. You'll be amazed at the variety of TV shows available, from daytime talk shows to reality shows, sitcoms and hour-long dramas. This handbook will help you to create a TV pilot regardless of the genre. It explains how TV production differs from film production.


Documentaries are the filmmaking equivalent to "nonfiction" and "journalistic" writing. They have a strong and growing audience. Documentaries are often the basis of some of today's most controversial and exciting films.

Films such as Official Secrets (2019) and Tower (2016) have shown a strong effect on how we perceive the world. This is the power and potential of documentary filmmaking. Documentaries are shot in a way that is very different from scripted films, but they share many of the creative challenges, such as structuring a story, crafting a style in terms of how the film is shot, refining the structure in the editing room, designing the sound, intensifying emotions with music, and enhancing the film with graphics.

Documentaries require all of the same skills as scripted films. Just because something is "real", doesn't necessarily mean that it's not art. We've included special sections for documentarians in this edition. You'll find a chapter entitled "Shooting” which covers the unique issues of filming documentaries. In part "Finishing Your Film in Post Production" contains a special section about editing documentaries. These are two areas that make a documentary film significantly different from a scripted movie.

Scripted feature movies

Scripted feature films, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it, are still at the top of the entertainment industry pyramid. Although they might not be able to hold this title for very long, at the moment, the feature movie is still the king. What does this mean for you? This means that, if you're a director who has directed a feature film live action, you can now direct any other project on the Hollywood pyramid.

We didn't say that you have to agree or like it! The same applies to writers, cinematographers, and actors, as well as editors, directors, producers, visual designers, and visual effects artists. It is a guarantee that having a feature film credit will open many doors. Your talent will be what keeps your career moving. That's the main reason you should make a feature film. There are some other reasons too.

The scripted feature movie is the filmmaking equivalent to the novel. The feature film is for you if long-form storytelling is your true passion. A feature film will take a lot of resources, especially if it is being done independently. It will, however, be rewarding.

Final Verdict

There are both benefits and drawbacks to making an independent or studio film. Independent productions allow you to design your movie exactly how you want it to look, but your budget limits your options. Studio pictures have greater financial backing and can pay the high salaries of actors, as well as the longer shooting schedules and seamless special effects. However, the final product will be the same as what the studio envisions, and it is likely to be commercially profitable. Studio's focus is on commercial viability and not creativity. Independent filmmakers often discover that making money is not the best way to tell your story.

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