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Tips for Making Your Own Film from Sam Weston

The Fantasy Network recently chatted with Sam Weston, creator of the short film The Swordswoman during the 48-Hour Film Project. He shared some excellent tips for those who want to get started making their own indie films.

We want to share these ideas with the indie creators in our audience, especially those who are just starting out on their filmmaking journey. Here are some of Sam’s suggestions.

On what gear to use…

Obviously, my advice will be different depending on a person’s experience level. But to someone just starting out, I’d say — don’t worry about gear. Your phone already has a camera that filmmakers in past generations would have killed to get their hands on.

If you do buy gear, the first thing you should spring for is a field audio recorder. Good audio gear is insanely durable and versatile and can last you a long time.

When it finally comes time to get a new camera, remember that good camera bodies will get replaced every few years, while a good lens will last your whole life.

Sam Weston, creator of The Swordswoman on The Fantasy Network
Writer/Director Samuel T Weston shot his earliest films with a jury-rigged boom pole and a DSLR.

On computer programs to use…

If you have a computer from the last three to five years, go download a copy of DaVinci Resolve. It runs on MacOS, Windows, and Linux. It tackles the entire post-production process. Filmmakers who used to swear by Adobe Premier Pro are switching to it, and it’s the top recommendation for anyone with a brand-new setup. And, most importantly, it’s free.

On storytelling techniques…

Absorb everything you can. Watch movies. Read books. Study the behind-the-scenes bonus material on DVDs. TV Tropes is your best friend if you’re a writer looking to learn from other stories.

On learning the filmmaking craft…

YouTube has a lot of great channels with tips and tricks for new filmmakers. Start with Every Frame A Painting. After that, check out The Nerdwriter for more general-purpose videos on film and art, and Film Riot for weekly on-set and low-budget tips and tricks.

Sven, the guy behind This Guy Edits, is a Hollywood editor with some great insight. Accented Cinema has a unique perspective on Asian cinema. Sideways talks about film scores while also making everything super easy to understand. David F. Sandberg, the director of Annabel: Creation and Shazam!, has a channel where he dives into Hollywood-level filmmaking.

On the fantasy genre…

For the fantasy-minded creators out there, Brandon Sanderson and Christopher Paolini have active YouTube channels, along with independent fantasy authors like Kat O’Keefe.

Then there are people who read and review books, like Merphy Napier, who has a “Dear Authors” series that every fantasy writer should study.

Hello Future MeArtifexian, and WASD20 dive into fantasy worldbuilding from different angles. Ginny Di and Nerdforge are great resources for cosplay and prop design.

Lindsay EllisSarah Z, and Patrick (H) Willems are great resources for general film criticism.

And finally, just because I want to pressure them into putting their stuff on The Fantasy Network, Kaiser Cat Cinema has this cool alt-history project that imagines what the world would look like if Germany had won World War I.

For more, connect with Sam directly on TikTok at @awsamweston, or visit the Battlemage website and YouTube channel.

About Michele

Michele has been writing and editing professionally since 1997. In 2017, she launched full-time into her own copywriting and editing business, serving marketing firms, service businesses, nonprofits, book publishers and consulting firms, as well as indie authors. She serves as Editor of the science fiction website and The Fantasy Network News. Michele is also co-founder of Writing Well Creative Writing Workshop and a partner in Three Point Author Services.

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