Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Filmmaker Is...

We may be in a video/film revolution, but that encompasses all kinds of filmmakers and attitudes.  Here's a definition of filmmaker: 
Also called moviemaker.  A producer or director of motion pictures, esp. one working in all phases of production:  "...the leading young filmmakers of France."
Does that sound like you?  If you shoot video, you are making motion pictures.  You are a filmmaker.  You just want to create something that somebody will watch and hopefully benefit from in some way.

A filmmaker is...
  • a director - you decide what happens and when it happens
  • a cinematographer - you take an idea inside your head and turn it into a tangible image that an audience can view on a screen of some sort, whether it is an iPhone, computer, TV or theater screen.
  • A creator...
One attribute we all seem to have in common is an interesting combination of creativity and technical curiosity.  One minute we obsess over "artistic" shot composition and lighting, the next we pour over the tech specs of the latest camera and sort through dozens of lens reviews to find the "best" possible equipment.

Don't get lost in all that stuff.  Remember, if you are a filmmaker, then you must make films.  A creator creates.  You gotta make stuff.  The best equipment in the world is useless if it isn't used or if you don't have it.  I would argue that a movie that is made with "cheap" equipment is better than a movie that isn't made at all.  I'm not saying to be cheap -- I am saying to get the best equipment you can and use what you have.  While we all love squeezing every last drop of quality from our HDSLR's with alt glass, who wouldn't jump at the chance to use a Red Epic or Alexa?  When Robert Rodriguez shot Desperado, he didn't go back to the old borrowed 16mm camera he used on El Mariachi.

A filmmaker is...
...someone who uses the best equipment their budget allows.  But you gotta use it.  If you have no budget, that is where the revolution comes in.  If all you have is a T2i, a kit lens, and a mostly decent audio setup, then go for it.  Don't wait to have that perfect L lens or a better mic.  Instead, use what you have creatively.  You can always add more pieces later.  Since everybody seems to be joining the revolution, you should also have no problem selling off old stuff when you upgrade -- or just keep it for backups etc.

Sure, you want that really cool f/1.2 lens.  But if you only have the kit lens, then just find a way to make it work.  Maybe you try out some vintage lenses and find out that f/1.4 can be pretty sweet, too.  Heck, who knows, by the time you can get the f/1.2 lens, you might be directing a studio film and the DP already has a full set of Zeiss primes :)

But even then, as a big time director, at heart you are still a filmmaker, and...

A filmmaker is...

...someone who makes films no matter what...


  1. I actually agree with all of this. I first started doing videos on my old compact camera's video setting back in 2001.

    You gotta shoot with what you got.

    *nerd stuff* There's something cool about most kit lenses for canon: they come with built in IS. This is really cool videography, it makes the camera shake, even from a tripod. none of the above mentioned expensive primes have this feature.

  2. err, by "it makes the camera shake" I meant "it makes the camera shake go away".

    Even if the camera is on a tripod, when you press buttons or touch the focus ring, the camera shakes a little bit unless you got those $1000 tripods.

    Haha... cheers.

  3. Hey that's a very good point! IS is definitely worth having...