10 mental habits of the professional filmmaker

To be a professional filmmaker, you have to think like one. Here are some ways that you can start thinking like a professional and you grow as a filmmaker.

There’s more to being a professional than having expensive gear. You have to know how to think and act like a professional to be a professional. When people hire or work with a professional, they expect a certain maturity and know-how that comes with experience. The more you know, the more professional you will become. Here are 10 ways for you to become a more professional videographer:

1. Understand that problems and technical issues are unavoidable

Things will go wrong. It isn’t a question of if, but when. The majority of videography success is from pre-planning. Pros working on big movies spend years planning out details before they start shooting. But when it comes down to it, life is unpredictable and so is video production. You just have to roll with the punches.

2. Don’t be shy about calling attention to issues

If there is an issue, it's the director's job to address it
If there is an issue, it’s the director’s job to address it. Image courtesy Unsplash.

Being a professional means you need to call out things that aren’t working. If something on a costume piece is too bright for your lighting setup, say something. If your actors aren’t acting out the scene the way you imagine, let them know. You might even have to jump in and show the crew member how you want it done. You may be the director, but you have to be able to jump from role to role. If you don’t call out problems, your final product will suffer.

3. Keep the big picture in mind

Getting lost in small details will hurt the larger project. It is good to work on small details, but never forget how they are affecting the larger project. The project as a whole should always be top priority.

4. Keep managing the crew and talent

When it comes down to it, the director is the boss. They need to rein in the crew and keep them working to the same end goal. Make sure your crew can follow directions, actors show up with their lines memorized, and camera operators can safely be sent to a second location to come back with great footage.

Also, be sure everyone is managing their time wisely. You don’t want to spend too much time focused on the small details that don’t matter.

5. Keep a level head

You need to be the captain of the ship in the storm. When things go wrong, you’re the one everyone will look to if there’s a problem. No matter what, always keep calm. Breaking down won’t solve the problem and it will make your cast a crew have less faith in you.

6. Admit when you’re wrong and give credit where it is due

Always admit when you are wrong and praise those that are right
Always admit when you are wrong and praise those that are right. Image courtesy Unsplash.

Over your entire career, you will be wrong about a few things. This is okay. People aren’t perfect. Make sure to admit you were wrong and to praise whoever showed you the right answer. This will make the person you are praising work harder and help you make the best film you can.

7. Always have a positive attitude

Keep things positive on set. Never tear anyone down and instead offer constructive criticism. If there is negative news that has to be said, then you have to say it. However, you can always offer a light of optimism with it. For instance, you might need to tell your crew your finances are running low, but you can then offer solutions and changes you all can do to continue work on your film.

8. Make your cast and crew work for their wage

You are paying your crew, so don’t be afraid to put them to work. Now, don’t unrightfully overwork them. You don’t want them to hate you. Just know that they should earn their wage.

9. Understand retaking shots is a routine business

Shots don’t always go right the first time. Retakes are not uncommon, even for big Hollywood directors. So don’t be frazzled if you have to reshoot things.

10. Know when to fix it in post

Fixing footage in post is a viable option, but it should be used as a last resort. If you can fix the shot on set, do so. Don’t rely on your editing software to fix everything. If you do, it will dump a lot of work on your editor and it creates less work for the crew you’re paying.

As a professional filmmaker, you have to steer the ship of the entire production. Becoming a pro comes with time, but to become a professional you have to start thinking like one. Memorize these tips and you’ll be on your way.

Read “10 Ways to Think Like a Professional Filmmaker” to have a more in-depth look at this topic.

Image courtesy Unsplash

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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