Tips for Student Filmmakers

Amovie comps a former filmmaker-in-training, I know how difficult it can be shooting that first college short without the proper knowledge and guidance. Sure, I picked up a thing or two from watching movies in my spare time, but the rest I had to learn through months of trial and error. In an effort to reduce some of that burden, I’ve written five helpful tips to get all of you future Steven Spielbergs on the right track. Enjoy!

Nick Klinger | co-founder, JohnAndNick.com

Always film on campus.

Your college campus is extremely versatile. Is your opening scene at a swanky restaurant? Toss a bed sheet over a table at the cafeteria. Need a dark alley for that drug deal gone wrong? Try the back entrance of the auditorium. Heck, you can even pass off the school library as a regular library. With a little imagination, there’s no end to the possibilities! And you can’t beat the convenience of filming five minutes from your dorm.

Don’t be afraid to cast one of your teachers.

Believe it or not, they’re excellent actors. Whether you’re looking for an overbearing parent or an uptight boss, your school’s TV/Film faculty are the right folks for the job. And be sure to stay in touch after you graduate. It’ll make casting your first feature that much easier! Hello, Oscar? It’s the teachers’ lounge calling. Yes, we’ll hold.

Use really obvious symbolism.

If your protagonist is at a crossroads in life, put him at an actual crossroad. Need something a bit more introspective? Film him staring into a mirror. Audiences, especially critics, eat this stuff up. Plus, it makes you look like a total pro.

Hire that student who brings his acoustic guitar everywhere to score your short.

No doubt he’s been toying with something filmic for a few years now. Don’t know him very well? That’s okay. Next time you two pass on the quad, say something like “Wow, cool guitar!” or “Pardon me, are you a musician?” You’ll be swapping favorite Zeppelin tunes in no time. If you play your cards right, he may even invite you to his next open mic!

Write, direct, edit, produce, and star in everything you make.

Collaboration and compromise will get you nowhere. Hollywood is a cutthroat industry, and the only way to survive is by putting yourself ahead of others. Who’s the best man* for the job? You, that’s who.

*Can also apply to women.