10 Most Common Mistakes Made By Filmmakers

Top 10 Mistakes Made By Beginner Filmmakers

In today’s video Tom and Raafi Rivero discuss the ten most common mistakes made by beginning filmmakers. Here’s the video.

Be sure to check out Raafi’s YouTube channel Rum Punch Films.

Here’s a quick summary of the mistakes covered by Tom and Raafi.

  1. Gear Geeks – spending too much money and time on filmmaking gear; you don’t need the latest equipment with the best specs to produce outstanding work
  2. Mental Barriers – creating psychological barriers for ourselves by believing that those who produce great work do it thanks to: a) money and/or b) innate talent (that cannot be developed through practice); in fact, experience accumulated through years of hard work is the biggest factor in making a great film or video
  3. Untrusting – being competitive and untrusting towards other filmmakers (not wanting to give away one’s “trade secrets”, techniques, or share one’s hard-learned lessons); but filmmaking is about cooperation, not competition, and so being honest and generous with other filmmakers is the key
  4. Passiveness – learning about filmmaking through reading, watching and listening should take up a small part of one’s time; to learn we need to do; so film a lot, write a lot
  5. Fears – succumbing to our fears; it takes courage to be a filmmaker; from a financial perspective, it’s a very risky business and career; it’s also an artistic endeavour that easily attracts criticism and ridicule; whether the reasons for our fears are internal (our insecurities) or external (people around us who discourage risk-taking), we often quickly give up or only go through the motions of being a filmmaker – we do just the minimum to make ourselves feel like we are filmmakers (ex. do a lot of reading, watching, etc., but not actually producing original work)
  6. Mishandling Criticism – it is a hard skill to develop but filmmakers need to invite criticism, while, at the same time, not let it bring them down; you will learn a lot from your critics, so listen to them; but don’t dwell on their words; take out of the criticism whatever is useful to you and move on
  7. Cinematography In Post – trying to do the cinematography in post-production; looking for that special filter / colour-correction profile to get the professional look; the truth is that if you don’t light it properly during the shoot, there is little that can be done in post through colour correction alone
  8. Slow Editing – it’s rare to see a video from a beginner that is overcut; the opposite, however, is very common; beginning filmmakers have the tendency to keep their shots too long, perhaps believing that the audience needs long shots to respond emotionally to the content; at other times, the editing becomes slow because the filmmaker stretches the film or video to some predetermined length that he/she deems appropriate (as opposed to letting the content dictate how many minutes the film or video should have)
  9. Bad Sound – the audiences are a lot of more forgiving of poor visuals than sound; sometimes, low-quality footage is even part of the style of the film, like in the “The Blair Witch Project”; but poor sound is never justifiable; it only ruins the magic of a film
  10. Bad Casting & Acting – it is hard to get talented actors when you don’t have a track record or money (although all major cities have many young aspiring actors); but do take the time to pick the people with the right look, including their body language and mannerism. You can also work with people who don’t have much acting talent if all you ask of them is play themselves (or something close to them); also, give yourself extra time to work with inexperienced actors; this is actually easier to do on small shoots than on large Hollywood productions with huge and expensive crews. So, rather than being frustrated by actors who don’t give you the performance you want right away, welcome the chance to practice directing actors; this is a skill that goes often undeveloped by indie filmmakers

Here is an extended version of this video with even more points that were not included in the official video

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Mistakes Made By Beginner Filmmakers”

  1. Very good and informative article. I must say I’m guilty of a couple of points you have raised. Especially point number 5.

  2. Very educative. Still learning the basics on filmmaking but after reading this article, discovered I’m already making some mistakes. Thanks for this.

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