Little Ryan’s Film School #1

Editing off iPhone footage

In this new series Little Ryan aims to show you what you need for a low budget film.

So, in this first edition, let’s start it off with making a film without having to go out and buy any equipment.

There are a lot of aspiring filmmakers out there, especially in Bristol and most of you want to get into the film industry, but feel you can’t, due to the lack of equipment. Don’t worry, you don’t need the best equipment. Yeah it helps to have decent shiny expensive cameras and a massive film crew, but you don’t actually need it, especially if you don’t have any money or have a funded budget. All you really need is a good idea, a camera and an understanding of lighting, sound and editing software.

What most of you don’t realise is, you probably have a really good camera in your pocket – your phone. It’s best to use a smartphone, as they tend to be the better phones for cameras, every thing is automatic, you literally take the phone out of your pocket and press record. The majority of smart phones are packed with 8MP sensors or higher, which can record in full HD, 1080p.

Some smartphones, like the newly-released Samsung Galaxy S5, have a whopping 16MP sensor and it can record in 4K, which is amazing…but completely pointless at the moment, since you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the 4K footage, because 4K displays cost thousands of pounds, and you, me, friends, family and your potential audience, we don’t have access to a 4K TV/display. So, unless you are insanely rich… or if you went to Currys, and plugged your footage into a show floor TV to view, stick with recording in 1080p or lower.

If you don’t have a smartphone or a camera, the next best thing is your eyes, imagination, pen and paper. It’s good to visualise your film and write your ideas down for the future. Trust me, it will come in handy if you’re serious about making short films in the future. It’s not nice having the best equipment to use, but not having a clue what to film, so get that pen to that pad.

It’s important to network and experiment with different projects until you finally get noticed to do paid work and gradually upgrade your kit. Yeah that’s right, you’re going to have to do things for free at the beginning. Don’t expect to get paid work instantly, unless you have some really good connections already. It may take time to get paid work and you will probably need to develop your camera skills first.

So, here is the equipment you will need to get started. Remember, this is based on not having to buy anything and you should have most of these things in your house already:

1) Pen & Paper: it’s good to plan your films before getting out in to the field, such as a storyboard (a step-by-step picture-based plan for your story), script (dialogue for your character/story), story synopsis (describing your story in four lines) and story (Describing the story in depth). It’s also handy because you won’t forget a certain shot you have in your head for days. For example, a extreme close-up of a flower. There is nothing worse than going into postproduction and forgetting that extreme close-up of that flower, because it might be a vital shot for your story.

2) Camera: a smartphone, or if you have a better camera, use that.

3) Lighting: I strongly advise natural sun light to get the best quality out of your phone’s camera. Worst case scenario, you can use the built-in flashlight on the smartphone or you can use a desk lamp to direct/control the lighting.

4) Sound: you can just use your phone’s default sound recorder, but if you’re going to do this, make sure the area you’re recording in is as quiet as possible, unless you need a recording of traffic, wildlife, shouting etc.

5) Postproduction (editing): if you have a Mac, iMovie comes as default and is more than capable for post, so use that. If you have a Windows laptop/computer, Windows Movie Maker is sadly the option… I’m sorry… However, there is a free alternative to download, Lightworks, you might get a little further with this software.

Here is a beginners guide for iMovie:

Here is a guide for Windows Movie Maker:

These are the main things you will need in order to make a decent film. So what are you waiting for? Go out and record your first film.

If you are feeling confident, why not apply for a film competition. Try Depict. Good luck.

Check out my film with no budget: The Allotment