Shooting Tips for Indie Filmmakers

Directors-Chair-616x313All-time great films, like Psycho, manage to tell a visual story well. Good writing breeds good performances, just as great camera work gives way to great editing. Editing is the unseen process of post production. Some of the best directors in film shoot their footage with an understanding of what’s going to happen in the editing room. Experienced directors have vision for a particular shot or scene, especially in action sequences or sequences that require heavy movement.

You don’t have to be quite so hands on, but there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as your shooting.

Prioritize Your Camera Work

There is an app that tells audience members when there is dead space in a film, which would be the best time to go to the bathroom. Try to imagine everyone watching your movie is using that app when you’re doing your editing. You don’t want a movie with constant action, that would be mind numbing, but you need to be mindful of pacing and fill those quiet spaces with something the audience will find compelling.

Other Tricks and Tips

Camera cuts are powerful tools, so use them to add some extra emphasis to more important scenes. We’ve all seen a horror film where the actor steps forward to reveal the killer behind them in the camera’s frame. That’s called a “cross frame” and it’s extremely effective in dramas and horror films.

Empty frames can also be effective, especially at the beginning of the scene. This is most common when someone is walking and the audience can hear footsteps from off camera, or when someone is waking up and rising into the frame.

Experiment with some of these techniques and you might surprise yourself in the editing room.


Bio: Charles Matthau will direct and produce the upcoming television series “Mexican High,” but Charlie Matthau is best know for his adaptation of The Grass Harp by Truman Capote. For more information about Charles or the Matthau family, visit the Matthau Company online.