So You Want to Make a Movie? – By Aaron Macom

One of the things I like about Rogue Cinema is that it doesn’t just
focus on film reviews and cult films. Rogue Cinema also is about film
making. The site and the magazine covers the whole independent aspect of
films. Unlike other sites or magazines that cover either the
entertainment front or the technical front, Rogue Cinema covers both.
Reading the articles and reviews makes you remember why you want to make
films in the first place.

I’ve had many computers over the years and for as long as I can remember
I’ve always wanted to be able to make some kind of film with the
technology. Who among us didn’t want to either make our own film or edit
portions of our favorite film together to make something unique? It
doesn’t cost a lot to get started and I’m going to give you a rundown of
the minimum equipment you’ll need without getting too technical.

The first thing an aspiring filmmaker will need is a computer with a
firewire port. Firewire has become the standard for Digital Video. It is
also known as IEEE1394. Almost all digital cameras have this port built
in to them. By connecting a cable from the camera to the computer you
can transfer your footage into an editor.

The second thing you’ll need is a software editor. Now I know there are
a lot of these out there and some are pretty expensive. If you look
around, there are plenty of inexpensive options as well as free ones.
Avid has a free one and Adobe has an inexpensive package for Windows
users. My personal favorite is iMovie from Apple. You don’t need costly
film making software in order to get good results. As a matter of fact
if you’re just starting out I wouldn’t recommend spending the money on
an expensive editor until you get a feel for what you want to do. My
first movie making computer was an iMac 400 MHz with a whopping 10GB
hard drive. Using iMovie I made about 20 different short films without
any problems.

The third thing you’ll need is a digital camcorder. There are a lot of camcorders to
choose from. My first camera was a Sony Digital 8. Sony is pretty much
the only company out there still using this standard. Digital 8 camera’s
record digitally onto Hi8 tapes. The tapes are bigger in size than Mini
DV tapes and there are less lines of resolution recorded. What I like
about the format is that the camera’s themselves are more fully featured
than most MiniDV cameras of the same cost. My Digital8 camera can record
from the line in so I’m able to put old VHS tapes onto digital tape to
either archive or to edit. It also acts as a bridge which means I can
run an analog signal into the camera through the line in from my VCR or
Satellite receiver and the signal goes through the firewire cable and
into my computer where I can save the footage on my hard drive. I can do
this without putting anything onto the digital tape in the camera. This
is a huge timesaver if you’re transferring old VHS footage into your
computer to be edited.

The miniDV format is what most people use. The tapes are small and they
can record 500+ lines of resolution. The cameras themselves come in all
shapes and sizes. The price of miniDV cameras can range from $300-$3000.
Before buying research the features you want. Do you want to be able to
hook up an external microphone? How about headphones? Do you need a line
in? What kind of optical zoom do you want? Knowing the answers to these
questions before buying will help you make an informed decision and not
limit your creativity when it comes time to shoot your footage.

There is a whole slew of equipment you can purchase in order to enhance
the movie making process but these 3 items are must have’s in order to
get started. As you get more acquainted with your camera and your
software you may want to buy an external shotgun mike or a lapel mike.
Light kits can add a whole new variable when shooting. Make-up kits and
other props will eventually come in handy.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. My first film was a 5 minute short I made
of footage of my daughter and from that moment I was hooked. I sent it
out to all the Grandparents and or anyone else I could think of. My
second short was a stop motion I did using a digital camera and a jar of
Playdoh. I’ve made a summer vacation film complete with special effects
and photo transitions, anime music videos, video greeting cards, stop
motion with dolls, a horror film and many many more. All this was done
with iMovie and a 400Mhz iMac. With recent technology there seems to be
no limit to what you can do. There are programs designed just for stop
motion now, and with After Effects you can give George Lucas a run for
his money.

What do you do after you’ve completed your opus? There are a lot of film
competitions you can enter. Amazon, mymoviefest, and Computer Video
Maker are just a few places you can enter your film or place it to be
viewed. You can also organize an independent film festival in your area
or make a DVD of your film, complete with jacket, and take it to your
local video store. Many places will rent your movies out on consignment.
Host your film on the web and let people know where it can be seen. Use
the forums here to spread the word. There are a lot of tools at your
disposal and you should use them. Happy film making.