As a kid, movie-making can be so much fun. We all know Spielberg made his Super 8 shorts as a kid, and today he is what he is because of his early filmmaking days. But how to make a movie as a kid? Let’s Answer it.
How to make a movie as a kid? First, grab your folk’s video camera or a cell phone, write a story, get your friends to act in it, dress them up, and shoot. Use an app to edit, put music, and upload it to share it with the world.
Earlier times, we as kids used to shoot our toys with the VHS camcorders, which barely used to sit on our little palms, and that’s where the movie-making story ended. Why? Because we couldn’t assemble and edit the clips, forget about the music. Those days, if anyone told you that he could shoot a movie on his phone and instantly publish and share it with the world in no time; You will probably think he has lost it.
In this day and age, digital technology is revolutionizing every minute. With the advent of smartphones, anyone can make movies. If you are a kid with movie-making dreams, you got your smartphones and tablets right here. The little grown-ups can even grab their digital cameras.
Today, as a kid, you are fortunate because making movies is incredibly possible. Amazingly, a smartphone today is the smartest tool for filmmaking. It can do as much as an expensive movie camera. Though this little gadget has given them access to all the necessary filmmaking tools but to be a good filmmaker, tools don’t matter. What matters is your story and how engagingly you tell it.
Essential Steps Involved in the Movie Making Process:
The process of filmmaking doesn’t change, even if you are a kid. Every movie needs a story, actors, locations, and a camera to shoot it. Only the scale differs. Big movies involve huge budgets and equipment, and you have none except for your camera and your gang of buddies.
So let’s go through the essential steps you must know to make movies. If you can go through each one, you will have a great film, and you will be known as a good filmmaker.
1- Write a Story Idea:
When I saw Steven Spielberg’s ET, I, too, wanted to make films on Aliens. I would write about these creatures whose heads resembled dogs’. They descend to invade our planet. I will then share those ideas with my friends. This idea basically can be a story idea of a film.
If you can grab their attention, you can go ahead and make that movie. A story needs engagement. As a kid, I loved adventure, fantasy, action, science fiction, mystery, and comedy. My eyes won’t blink when I watched those movies. Storytelling is an art that can spellbind the audience if you narrate it well. So, You too must have a story idea. So, Go and write it now.
But, if you don’t have a story idea, borrow it from your friends or books ( as long as you are making it for yourself). Or, pick one of your favorite movies. Write on similar lines. Ideas are endless.
But you have to put it on paper first. Why? Because, when you write a story, the writing will help you to keep your focus on the main idea and also help you later on production.
2- Define your Hero
Every story has a Hero. So while writing, first, you have to create your Hero or define the lead character of your story. People always watch the film from the hero’s perspective. Is it about a boy who wants to break free from the bullies in his school? Or a girl who is afraid of the mysterious cupboard in the bedroom.
Every story should have the lead character who has a challenge in front of him. Either it is an impossible dream to chase or escape a situation that is causing harm. The more you raise the tension, the more people will want him to overcome it. They will empathize with his emotions and situation at every level.
As a writer, you should try to throw extraordinary dangerous situations at your hero. To tell a good story, the hero should find better options to overcome those challenges and come out victorious in the end.
Identify his strengths and weaknesses. How does he react to love, anger, loss, etc.? Is he lonely or friendly? For example, Superman was alone, and kryptonite was his weakness. Every description of him will open up new possibilities for the hero to explore that path, and it will take the story forward.
3- Identify the Villain
The villain is the adversary and quite the opposite of what your Hero is. He is the Nemesis of the Good. He is also known as the Antagonist in the film language. He is the one who throws the challenges at the hero and makes his life difficult. Why? Because he wants quite the opposite of what the Hero wants. The Villain is the one who creates the conflict and makes the story interesting.
But you should write about villains very carefully. They may be wrong and evil, but you should also write why they have become so. It adds flesh to your characters and makes your story believable.
Always identify who can be the Villain pitted against the Hero. Is he a rich guy if the hero is poor? Or, the gangster if the hero is a cop. Think about him as the other side of the Hero.
One big Tip: Always make the Villain think he is the Hero from his point of view.
4 – Plot :
Once you have thought of the hero and the villain, now you can write the basic story in a few lines. It is what is known as a plot that usually drives the incidents taking place over a period. These few sentences will form the basis of your story.
For example, a private investigator is all set to solve the mystery behind the series of crimes in the town. Or, a boy along with his friends, discover a medieval sword with mysterious carvings in it. He decides to find the rightful owner of the sword.
The above couple of sentences form the plot of the story.
To make the story interesting, the journey of the investigator or the boy should be full of adventures. Adventure or thrills will derive from its highs and lows. If you don’t have it, the story will derail itself from the engagement angle and will disinterest the audience in no time. The entire thrilling journey leading to an exciting climax is what plotting a story is all about.
5- Story Structure:
Every story has three necessary parts – the beginning, middle, and end. It is also known as the three-act structure. The beginning part of the structure is where we introduce our hero. We expose the audience about an initiative the hero takes, which occurred from some incident that raises the stakes, and our hero has to overcome them to fulfill it. In our plot, the investigator wants to solve the crime, and the boy wants to return the sword to its owner.
The second act is the middle, where the hero places challenges on his journey to achieve what he had thought in the First Act. The last act is the climax, where the main character finally wins against all the odds, or he sacrifices for a bigger purpose. It should always be the highest point in your story. What I just told is present in all the movies or stories you have seen or read so far.
6- Create a Screenplay
Slowly, you are now entering the realm of filmmaking. Now your story is taking the shape of a script or the screenplay. But how does one write a screenplay? The screenplay is nothing but a lineup of several scenes. Scenes are small incidents that happen in your story. It is like several chapters of a storybook. It is a breakdown of your three acts as well. For better understanding, you should start with the 1st act and break down the plot into several scenes. Likewise, you do it for the rest of the structure, and you get a script.
Filmmaking involves people like actors and technicians. They need a story to know what they are doing.
7- Scene Creation:
A scene is a formatted text which includes a brief heading about the location and time of that incident. It also describes in sentences about what we are going to see on the screen.
8- Screenplay breakdown:
The next step is to break down the screenplay into a list of locations, characters, and props. Now, based on the list, you can go and scout locations. You can shoot in your house for interiors and your neighborhood outdoors. But you should pick a place which suits your script.
You can draw the scenes of the film in a comic book format called a Storyboard. Storyboards work as a useful reference during the shoot.
For casting, you can request your friends and family members to play the parts. But you should rehearse with them before the shoot. First, you should share the script and make them memorize the lines, instruct them on how you want them to act. Make sure they don’t freeze in front of the camera.
Conduct auditions accordingly, and once you finalize the cast, you can rehearse the scenes with them beforehand. You can also approach theater actors or aspiring actors to play characters.
You can always use your friends and families to assist you behind the camera as well. While shooting the scene, you can also work on staging the actors and the camera blockings. The rehearsals can save you a lot of time during the actual shoot.
9- Decide on your shooting camera:
For a kid, it is not very difficult to find a camera to shoot your film. Smartphones and digital cameras are at your disposal. They do a pretty good job when it comes to quality. They record sound as well, but it is better to grab some microphones to record audio. Make sure you have enough memory cards as high definition videos suck out a lot of data.
For lighting, you can use the available lights. But to make your cinematography look good, you can use external lights, especially the inexpensive LED lights to illuminate your scene.
The production design is nothing but the set design in the background and costumes worn by the actors. For a kid, it is challenging to create sets; instead, you can get some props to place in the background that is relevant to the scene and the character.
For example, a baseball player will have a lot of trophies, posters, baseball bats, and gloves in his home. These are the props you require for the production design.
Based on the number of scenes, you can also breakdown your character’s costume and makeup (if there are any special makeups) and finalize the look of the characters.
11- Start shooting:
When you are ready with all the above things, and everything is organized well, it is time to shoot a scene.
How to Shoot a Scene?
First, set up a camera and lock your frame. Place the actors as per your Staging plan. Put on the lights and microphones and say, “Action.” Press the record button, and the actors move and deliver the lines. The camera captures it all.
Say “Cut” the moment the shot ends or the actors goof up their lines. Shoot till you are not satisfied with the take. You just shot your first shot of a scene.
Now go on shooting the next shot until you finish the whole list of scenes for the day. You can scream “Pack up,” and that’s the end of your shoot for the day. After the shoot, review your shots and make notes on which ones to keep in the movie. If the need arises, reshoot the ones that didn’t satisfy you.
The next day, try to improve upon your process and directing actors so that they can give the best in their performances. Don’t shy away from shooting more footage as today, and digital footage is no more expensive like films.
After the whole movie is shot, the post-production of your film begins.
The first part of post-production is editing. There is a lot of free software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker with which you can edit videos. To edit your movie, we first need to grab and transfer your footage to the computer on which you are going to edit.
Now grab all the shots which you found right during the shoot. Input all the footage into your editing desktop and create separate bins for separate scenes. Pull the desired clips into your timeline and arrange them one after the other.
When the lineup is ready, play from the beginning and see how the scene unfolds. Review each scene very critically. Then play with the cuts to make the storytelling crisper. You can use transitions and effects to make the storytelling seamless. Always remove or shorten the clips that are not working in the scene.
Storytelling is something you will improve with time, but when you are editing, use your favorite movies as your reference. See how they have edited their scenes. Use their techniques, and you will see your film slowly coming to life.
Music is the soul of your film. Never ignore it. It sets the tone and the mood for your scene and takes the story forward. Music also helps in hiding a lot of blemishes in acting and technical mistakes.
Adjust the sound accordingly. You can play with the amplification and always make sure the music doesn’t muffle the dialogues. You can use software like Audacity to tweak the audio and the music.
14- Titles and Credits:
Once you are ready with the finished product, the next step that takes place is to introduce titles and the closing credits. Opening titles are your choice. Either you can open the movie with the titles or introduce the titles in one of the opening scenes.
Use an inbuilt tilting of the editing software or create with design software. Similarly, create the closing credits. Usually, they come in the end when the film is finished. These are the end rolling credits on a black screen. To make them attractive, you can overlay them over the off takes like the Jackie Chan movies.
15- Transfer your Final File :
Wallah! Your movie is done, and it is ready to be tossed to the world. For that, you need to make copies of your film. So the last stage of the filmmaking process is to export the final file to AVI, MP4, or MPEG format. You can either burn a DVD or upload it to Online platforms (Youtube and Vimeo) for others to view your movie.
Congratulations Kid! You are now a Filmmaker.
Things to remember while making your film:
- Avoid the camera shakes. Use a tripod, gimbal, or any stabilizer for smooth movements.
- Shoot movies horizontally. We are used to watching movies with a horizontal screen. Any other layout may disturb the viewer.
- Keep your sound quality crisp. Excellent sound quality enhances your storytelling. Use recorders for close-ups.
- Maintain Continuity. The scenes should flow from one to the next. It happens only when the edits are correct, and the costume, lighting, movement continuities are maintained.
- Actors should not look into the camera unless they are speaking to the audience.
It is more than enough for a kid to grasp. But I made it a detailed one so that you understand the process of filmmaking. But first, tell a story and keep it simple. The rest will get better with time.