Shooting a cinematic movie
Need help making your film look like a film? We'll help you make your film look more cinematic. Image courtesy Pexels.

You can have everything right: a good script, great actors and crew. But if your movie doesn’t look cinematic, your audience will tune out.

So, if you want to make your films more cinematic, we’ll tell you how you can do just that:

Begin with the composition to make the footage more cinematic

This one is huge. Always start with the composition of the scene. Know where to put your camera and get your framing right. The best way to know how to compose a scene is simple to study composition. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Try to stay away from flat shots, unless super intentional
  • Give your shot some depth — foreground, middleground and background
  • Use the rule of thirds
  • Physically move around the space, looking for the best and most attractive angles

Lighting

Obviously, you need to have control over your lighting to get a cinematic look. Sometimes you can’t control your light as much as you want. In these situations, you can still choose angles that use the light you do have to the best of your ability.

Color

It’s not enough to just shoot whatever colors you want and throw a grade on there in post. Colors need careful planning. Particular colors give stories a specific tone and some colors don’t work together. Study your colors. You can start by watching your favorite movies and focusing on the colors of the character, environment and lighting. Also, pay attention to the colors used based on the emotions and moods of the character and story.

Scene from "Up in the Air"
Strategically chosen colors work together throughout “Up in the Air.” Everything, from lighting to wardrobe to background, has been carefully selected to complement the overall color scheme.

Know your camera settings

We know that there’s a lot of you that would rather focus on the story of your film and not have to worry about your camera’s settings. However, you still need to learn how to set your camera to the right settings if you want to tell a good story. Learn the language of your camera like the different f-stops and ISO settings, experiment, and find what works best for you and your shot.

Finish it off in post

The movie isn’t done after you finish shooting. There’s still a lot of work to be done in post. While in post, you need to cut your scenes in the best way to tell your story.

Also know how to use color grading. Remember when we said that colors are extremely important? Color grading can make corrections and really take your film’s look to the cinematic levels if you know how to use them.

Last, but still very important, we have music and sound. Sound and music alone can turn a boring scene into something magical and cinematic. Still, don’t rely on the music to push the story forward. Rather, use it as an icing on the cake. Your story should be strong without music.

We hope that you have a better understanding about cinematic movie making. If you want more in-depth look at making your movie more cinematic, read “How to Make Scenes Cinematic.”

Image courtesy Pexels

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