Five Things I Didn’t Know Before Film School

5. Do not use guns on set.


Real or fake. Not even a SuperSoaker. In fact, no weapons at all…unless you have a permit, proper signage around the area in which a “PROP WEAPON IS IN USE”, have notified local authorities, and have one of said authorities on premises during production.

One time, I was working on a set where the Director snuck a prop gun onto set to be used in a single shot without the proper permits and signage. A few moments later, two police cruisers, lights on, ripped down the street towards us. As I assumed they were heading our way, I walked out into the middle of the parking lot with my hands up ready to explain that the weapon wasn’t real etc etc. Fortunately, they flew right past us. The point is: Don’t use weapons on set unless you’ve covered your ass first.

4. Projects fall apart all the time.


Don’t take it personally. Sometimes it’s because your lead actor catches the flu the morning of production. Sometimes it’s the rain’s fault. Sometimes the Director just isn’t feelin’ it anymore. There are many reasons why production halts on the Independent level, and even more on the big Studio level. In fact, only about 1% of all scripts in Hollywood actually get made. They don’t call it “Development Hell” for nothing. The struggle is real.

3. There is a plethora of free software out there for you.


You don’t need $1000 software to make a film. In fact, if you can wrap your production in 30 days, there are many programs available for trial. Your iPhone’s camera is actually a decent piece of recording equipment.

  1. Write your script in Final Draft.
  2. Hash out pre-production using Scenechronize.
  3. Plan out your shots on your iPhone using the app Shot Designer.
  4. Mix all of your sound using Audacity.
  5. Finally edit and color correct your film using DaVinci Resolve 12.

2. Filmmaking can kill you.


High-powered lights and equipment capable of killing a human in milliseconds. Cranes heavy enough to crush a skull like a boot to an egg. That’s why there are so many safety precautions in place. And why insurance costs an arm and a leg. The Producer is responsible for the well-being of his crew and that includes tending to any injuries occurred on set, documenting, and recording said injuries.

Some productions include pyrotechnics, stunts, and prop weapons. That’s why there are medics on standby at all times. Remember rule #1 – CYA.

1. Go make a movie. Right now.


Seriously. You can make a movie today instead of reading blog posts about it. Think of a story, write it out, plan it out, and shoot it. It’s that easy. I already told you how to make a film for free so go do it. Now. It’s the only way to learn. Break a leg, kid.

By Christopher Monaco and Panda Lord



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