A Beginners Guide To Filmmaking

Filmmaking is an exciting field, but it can be difficult to get started. Whether you’re fresh out of film school or looking to create a film adaptation of your favorite book, you need to grasp filmmaking basics.  This guide to filmmaking will help you understand the filmmaking process and launch your career.

The Basics of Filmmaking

The filmmaking process encompasses several phases, each one distinct and important in its own right. Before you can start a career as a filmmaker, it’s important to understand each of these stages.

Story Development and Screenplay

In the very first phase of filmmaking, the story and screenplay begin to take shape. You’ll begin to plot out your film and start the first few drafts of your screenplay. It’s okay if the screenplay isn’t perfect yet; most screenplays go through several revisions before filming starts.


The pre-production stage of filmmaking is all about planning. In this stage, you’re making sure you have everything established and set before filming begins. This includes:

  • Screenplay. While changes to your screenplay can still happen while you’re filming, during pre-production, you should be solidifying your screenplay as much as possible. This includes planning out what the script, photography, and all shot sequences will look like.
  • Budget. During pre-production, you should be researching how much money you think you’ll spend and creating a budget. Your budget needs to include everything, from cast and crew to equipment to catering to special permits.
  • Hiring. Now that you have your budget established, you need to hire your cast and crew. The number of people you hire will depend on the scope of your project.
  • Securing equipment. Whether you plan to buy or rent, you need to know where your equipment is coming from and how long you can use it.
  • Locations. Are you filming on a soundstage or on location? A mix of both? It’s important to establish where you plan to film so you can pull permits or build set pieces as needed. This is usually the job of your production designer.
  • Production schedule. You’ll need to create a day-by-day production schedule for your project. This tells everyone what’s being filmed on what day, who needs to be on set, and what time they need to arrive. A detailed schedule keeps everyone on the same page and ensures you don’t go over budget.

The pre-production stage is the buildup to filming. Essentially, during this stage, you want to have everything prepared so that filming can start on time without any problems.

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Filming, also called principal photography or the production stage, is the phase when all the shooting and recording happens. This is the stage most people think of when they hear the term “filmmaking.”

This is, for all intents and purposes, the point of no return. You’ve already spent your money. That’s why this phase is so crucial. It’s time for all that planning to come to fruition. 

To do that, you want to make sure your shots are as perfect as can be. Before rolling the camera on each scene, you’ll want to check:

  • Audio
  • Balance
  • Exposure
  • Focus
  • Lighting

The last thing you want is to film a flawless scene, only to discover something was off with the lenses or something strange was in the background.


The post-production process is the stage where all your film is edited, adjusted, and put together to become the final product. This is the phase where things like visual effects and sound effects are added in as well.

The post-production part of the filmmaking process often includes:

  • Cutting and editing video clips
  • Creating transitions between scenes
  • Correcting color and adjusting color grades
  • Adding animations and simulations
  • Mixing audio
  • Adding background music
  • Creating movie credits

The post-production phase of your filmmaking is what turns your raw footage into a masterpiece.

Release and Distribution

In the final phase of the filmmaking process, you will release and distribute the finished film. This is your crowning moment, your chance to show the world what you’ve created. 

Major motion pictures usually partner with a distributor who markets and shows the film. The distributor is in charge of releasing the film, setting the release date, and advertising the film. For worldwide releases, the distributor will usually tackle things like alternate language subtitles as well. The four top film distribution companies are Disney, Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers. 

The rise of streaming services has also created a new platform for film releases. Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix don’t distribute films on as wide of a scale as Disney or Universal might, but they still provide a massive audience. 

While major distributors and streaming services may not be an option for novice filmmakers, that doesn’t mean your finished product can’t be seen. Services like YouTube and Vimeo are great ways to showcase your film and gain an audience.

Filmmaking Tips, Techniques, and Advice for Beginners

Filmmaking is exciting but can also be stressful. To help things go smoothly, consider the following tips:

  • Master your camera. Knowing the right way to capture scenes and understanding different photographic techniques will help you create the film you’re envisioning.
  • Keep it professional. By maintaining a professional atmosphere on set, you’ll help production run smoother and create a reputation as someone others enjoy working with.
  • Choose the right people. Put together a cast and crew of professionals who can help bring your vision to life.

Essential Equipment To Get Started

You can read a filmmaking guide over and over, but you can't start filming without the right equipment. If you’re just starting out as a filmmaker, chances are you don’t have a huge budget to work with. That’s all right! While there’s a benefit to higher-end equipment, you don’t need it to begin your filmmaking journey.

For basic filmmaking, you’ll need:

  • A camera. At a minimum, this should be a mid-range DSLR camera.
  • Digital storage. Multiple SD cards will work, but a portable hard drive is better.
  • A prime lens. This is the best way to get a good shot, especially a close-up shot.
  • A tripod or monopod to steady your shots.
  • Lighting. This can be as simple as a DIY lighting kit or homemade bounce board.
  • Microphones. You’ll need a directional microphone, cables, and adaptors at the very minimum.

As your budget expands, you can add higher-quality equipment and additional equipment to aid in filming.

Enhance Your Film With Emotion-Evoking Stock Music and Sound Effects

During the post-production phase, you’ll add music and sound effects to enhance your film. No film is complete without these. For all your music and sound needs, StockMusic.net offers an extensive library of royalty-free music and sound effects. With multiple price options, you can choose what works best for your project and budget. 

Contact us today and find the perfect music to finish your film.


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