Posts Tagged ‘Master’

Learn Film Making – Be A Jack-Of-All-Trades and Master Them All

March 5th, 2021

When I began my filmmaking career I was only about 10 years old. My father saw to it that I had an 8mm movie camera, a film splicer/viewer and access to his projector.

While my father certainly taught me a lot about the filmmaking process (being a member of a local movie club and making film commercials for the television station he worked for), I found that I had to learn a lot of it on my own. Which, throughout the years since, I have. I never had the opportunity to go to a film and television school.

I guess that’s why I could be called a “Jack of All Trades” in the business of audio visual media and filmmaking in particular. I’d also like to think that I’ve mastered a few of these skills.

Over the years the technologies have changed (Power Point presentations instead of slide shows and overheads, for example), client’s needs have changed and I decided to specialize in my first love – filmmaking… the main difference being that today we do digital video production instead of film and edit on a computer with non-linear editing software.

While I do hire crew as necessary to help me shoot video programs I usually try to do as much of the rest of the technical work myself as I can. The reason for this is three-fold. First, it allows me creative control of the whole project (within my client’s guidelines of course). Second, I think of my projects as artistic endeavors and myself as the artist. That just makes it darn fun! Third, I’m a cheap son-of-a-gun! Why pay someone else to do something I can do quite well?

So, over the years I have honed some very specific skills that allow me to take on all or most of the roles involved with producing a video program.

Recently I produced a freebie documentary for the Richmond Artists Guild, documenting their efforts to create large paintings of speed skaters to become part of a display at Richmond City Hall during the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was my contribution to the Richmond Artists Guild, the City of Richmond who hosted the display at City Hall, Speed Skating Canada and the Olympics themselves. Also – not bad for the old portfolio.

My job was to concoct a documentary showing the process from sketching, through painting in the studio, to the judging of the paintings to making the final selection of paintings that would be part of a display which also included antique and modern skates, skating suits and historical information.

To get back to the “Jack of All Trades” theme, here are all the hats I had to wear to complete this project:

1. Production coordinator (consulting with Speed Skating Canada and members of the life drawing group, lining up shooting dates in artist’s studios, determining who needed to be interviewed on camera, getting all those pesky release forms signed, etc.).

2. Script writer (because I was alone with this project and I’m experienced enough to do so, the script was never written down. I designed the flow and kept that in mind while shooting).

3. Camera operator (mostly hand-held and fortunately I’ve developed enough skill with a hand-held camera that most shots looked quite stable. I did, however, use a tripod for interviewing the artists in their studios as I thought the least shakiness would be distracting to the audience.)

4. Interviewer (from behind the camera).

5. Lighting technician (only one light was used in the artist’s studios – the rest was shot under available light, so this wasn’t much of a challenge).

6. Sound technician (again, not much of a challenge as most sound was recorded with the on-camera mic. and only a few interviews were done with a single wireless lapel mic.).

7. General editing (including standard editing with transitions, titles, lower thirds, etc.).

I don’t want to make it sound too easy. This was the lion’s share of the work done on this program and is where all the creative decisions are made.

8. Animation (keyframe animations of still images and titles).

9. Music composition and production (OK, my mother was a musician and music teacher. I have that advantage and I’ll often compose, arrange and perform my own music – because I’m a cheap turkey who doesn’t like to pay anyone for things I can do myself).

10. Voice-over narrator (my father was a radio personality before he got into TV. He had a great voice and he taught me to use my voice when I entered radio as a young man. I’ve narrated literally thousands of television and radio promos, educational and corporate programs and live events as MC. It’s a very useful skill to have).

11. Designing graphics for the DVD label.

12. Authoring the DVD (this one was fairly easy, but sometimes they require chapters, multiple programs and lots of menu links).

Boy, did my head get hot under all those hats. As this was a freebie I had no choice… I had to do it all myself. It was the most fun I’ve had in years!

I’m currently learning all I can about 3D illustration and animation, the creation of motion backgrounds and other special effects and, with an ex-student partner, expanding my knowledge of the documentary genre.

If you really want to become a consummate filmmaker you must learn all you can about every aspect of the filmmaking art.

I’m Mike Hughes and I’m about to enter my fourth decade as a professional producer of film and video programs. I make corporate videos, commercials and documentaries. I’ve also worked on dramas and music videos.

In addition, I have been teaching eager students how to make videos in film schools for over 30 years.

I have written a textbook on how to make videos which has everything you need to learn how to plan, shoot, edit and package exciting and stimulating PROFESSIONAL digital video programs.