After attending several film festivals in the Atlanta area I’ve come to notice that many filmmakers are making the same mistakes over and over again. These mistakes are relatively easy to fix but even easier to spot in a film, so make sure to pay close attention and keep these ideas in mine when you’re making your next film. Therefore, here are my top 5 mistakes new Atlanta film makers make and continue to do.
Crossing the 180 line
Many early filmakers do this unintentionally. It’s easy to forget or to even notice when shooting. However it can take the audience out of the scene very easily. The 180 rule is difficult to describe without an example but here goes; when shooting dialogue scenes you normally film 2 head shots, one on each character. If they are looking straight at each other then the “line” would go from one person to the other. Once that line is established you want to make sure you stay on one side of it, hence the term “crossing the line.” If you film one headshot on one side and one headshot on the other, when you cut them together in the edit they will be looking the same way, not at each other. This can distract the audience easily, even if they can’t identify why. This all being said, beginner filmmakers tend to make this mistake frequently, so avoid crossing the line in your next film.
Editing is the unsung hero of film making. When done right, it goes completely unnoticed, but when done poorly it stands out like a sore thumb. Many amateur film makers make simple mistakes when editing like not using an establishing shot or making abrupt cuts. This can confuse the audience on where the characters actually are. This in turn takes the audience out of the story. Many early filmmakers also like to use transitions between shots or scenes which does not need to be done at all.
Dialogue is, of course, very important, and making your characters say the right thing can be tough enough, let alone using subtext to make characters say one thing but mean another. This is what many short films lack. This can add layers to you film that would not be there otherwise. We’ve all heard, “show, don’t tell” but when you do have to tell, don’t be so clear with it. Most people talk in subtext and rarely say what they mean, so make your characters communicate in a similar fashion.
This seems almost mean to point out, however, I feel that I need to address it. Very few short films are original. Almost all of them have been done before, or they are simple stories not really worth telling. Take the time to make something new, and make something that really matters to you. The current flavor of the month is the, “addicted to social media” story, so stop making these. If you are going to, at the very least make it incredibly unique. I’ve seen hundreds of these films that all have the same basic story line. So, if you’re planning on making a film anytime soon, try to avoid this type in general.
Foley is much like editing in the sense that it goes unnoticed very frequently. The word Foley describes the sound from the environments and objects that is recorded and added to the film in post. When I started off making films, I didn’t even know what foley was, so it’s not super uncommon for films to not have foley. However, it can make all the difference and completely boost the quality of your film. Whether it’s adding it to a car that passes in the background or to a phone buzzing in someone’s pocket, it makes the film feel more realistic and not as artificial.
5 Common Mistakes New Atlanta Film Makers Make
There you have it. These are my top 5 mistakes new Atlanta film makers. I see these regularly in short films. So, if you learn from any of these, I’m positive your next film will be leagues better than the rest. Most importantly remember that everything is here to serve the story. Make a great story and improve the quality around it. Now, go make that film.