Viewfinder: Make a Movie

Many beginners come to Videomaker when they want to make a movie for the first time. Kids, young people, middle aged and retired folks who have never used video gear but want to know how to make a movie, pick up our magazine or visit our website. Many people are inspired after they watch a great flick and believe that they should be in the movie business. These people all have to start somewhere and after reaching for their camcorder they realize how much there is to learn.

Making good movies costs money. Even short movies require many hours of work and dedication, in addition to funds for equipment, travel, props or manpower. Many of the least costly films still have budgets exceeding $10,000. A noteworthy example is The Blair Witch Project produced in 1999 for $25,000*. And one of my favorite ultra-low budget motion pictures had a budget of just over $200. Tarnation is a documentary film by Jonathan Caouette. He created it from more than 20 years of hundreds of hours of old Super 8 films,VHS videotape and photographs which represented the story of his life. Tarnation‘s, expenses ultimately came in post-production. It was initially made using a free video editing package (iMovie) but was reproduced at a cost of over $40,000. Among many awards, the film won the Best Documentary from the National Society of Film Critics. At the other end of the spectrum, with a budget of over $300 million, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is one of the most expensive motion pictures produced.

When people first consider how to make a movie, most may not be ambitious enough to devote $25,000. Some of these people new to the industry are perhaps pursuing movie making as a recreational project or simply as a vehicle of self-expression. Those set with their sights on a major Hollywood blockbuster can easily produce a pilot (or even a pre-pilot) so they can show people their idea without being limited to describing it orally, writing about it and/or showing storyboards.

Filmmaking can be an enjoyable experience, even for those using the video camera feature of their mobile phone and a tablet for video editing. Along the way, many people learn the basics of storyboarding, scriptwriting, casting, cinematography, editing, screening and distribution. When they make a movie with little or no budget, beginners will get exposed to these phases of video production, but many may not initially recognize these important movie making tasks as phases of video making.

If you have been thinking about making your first movie, now is the time to start. It is affordable and achievable. If you don’t know many other people skilled in making video you can get your friends and family to help. Even if the first screening of your flick is only on the TV in your living room, it is still worth doing. You may not win an academy award but you will have lots of fun along the way.

* According to ( the budget is estimated at $60,000. According to ( the budget has been stated as being anywhere from $20,000 up to $750,000.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

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