Making movies is fun! As a kid you’ve probably got a smartphone, which is all you need to start telling stories. Practice is great way to improve. What works even more is learning from real filmmakers from the industry. Perfect your craft and take your movies to the next level under the guidance of industry professionals. Young Film Academy has you covered with our filmmaking courses ranging from one day, to a two-week all inclusive residential summer camp. Filmmakers and actors on our courses learn movie-making skills under the guidance of industry professionals and make friends with other movie-mad young people! Read More
As a kid, you’ve nursed the idea of making your own film for long enough. It’s in your head all day, at breakfast, in class, at the movies. You see yourself in the director’s chair, you see yourself with one eye pressed to the camera, the movie set coming alive in front of you. It’s something you’d love to do but you’re just a kid and how’s that ever going to happen?
Well, it can happen and you don’t have to wait till you’re old and grey. You can make movies just as you are and you’re about to learn the tricks to doing it.
Like anything else, if you break down making movies into little steps, it turns out to be quite easy and enjoyable too. So whether you’re trying to make your action figures fight each other or telling the tale of how your hero will stop world evil, the following steps can be used to make your movie.
Just kidding. For the most part, find a decent camera device and you’re good to go. As you’re just starting out movie making as kids, you don’t need a ton of high end equipment to tell your story. Your smartphone or your dad’s digital camera is fair enough.
Sure, as you’ll find out from this article, there are lots of things that make filmmaking easier including some special software for video editing but simply use what you have. You’re a kid, so no pressure. You have plenty of time to eventually get the fancy tools you want (or at least convince parents to get them for you).
You’ll need time to create and work on your movie project. Maybe you could put in an hour or two after school and even more hours on the weekends. The wider the scope of the movie you want to make is, the more time you’ll need to put in. If it’s simple enough, you can do all of it within a day or for more extensive work, you’ll have to shoot over the entire summer holiday!
In any case, remember that you don’t have to rush it (except you’re trying to beat the deadline for a film competition or something like that). So stop, breathe in, take all the time you think you need and enjoy every part of the process.
Think about your favorite movie. Have you ever wondered why it is your favorite movie? More likely than not, the reason is because something cool happened in it. The superhero stopped the villain, the lovers eventually got together or torn apart, the wonderful pet died, the pirates found the treasure.
Whatever it is, whether happy or sad, the movie used a good story. And that’s what you want to do the first time around as a movie maker. Just tell a simple, good story that you think people will enjoy seeing.
Now you know you have to tell a good story to make a fine movie. But what will it be?
Ideas and inspiration can be drawn from sources all around you. Your movie could be based on your favorite book, your summer holiday, stories you’ve heard from friends and family or anything from fantasy to science fiction.
That said, it might be a smart move to go with ideas that are easy to turn into a movie with the limited equipment and resources you have as kids. It’ll take a lot to create the type of magic scenes from your favorite Harry Potter book.
Whatever story you decide to use, you’ll first have to build it into a plot: A few sentences to summarize what it’s all about. It’s how you’ll present the story to other kids and anyone else when they take an interest in what you’re doing.
Let’s say you want to make a movie about a boy looking for his pet. Your plot summary could be something like this: Dicky and his Labrador, Caesar go everywhere together but one night, Caesar jumps over the fence. So Dicky sneaks out into the cold, lonely night on his bicycle. Will he find his pet, or will he go missing too?
Sure, you’re not making a movie that’ll play in cinemas around the world, but your story must have a plot that is intriguing, at least to you. And the three act story structure is good enough to be used if you’re just starting out. This means that the story you create has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Try to make your characters, or at least the main character also called the protagonist, undergo changes that play out across each act.
You have to flesh out the details of your plot in writing. This is called a script and doing this makes you a scriptwriter. In the movie making industries, there are people who write scripts as their main job.
You can use a small note book. If you can’t write it alone, don’t worry. Ask a friend or dad or mum to give you some pointers. And luckily, there are film making workshops for kids that help you understand what this is all about.
Your script will contain the description of each scene in your movie. Write where the scenes take place, what happens there, which characters will be in them and the things they say. To put it another way, the script is a skeletal novel about the movie you are making. The simpler and shorter your proposed movie is, the more skeletal your script will be. Look at it several times to make sure everything fits the way you want it to.
While we encourage you to go all out and blow some minds, for your first film, try having only a few scenes, say three or four, with a few characters interacting with each one. This way, when you start filming, you’ll be able to focus more on the fine details of each scene. This eye for detail is one of the marks of a great film maker so just because you’re 7 (or 17) doesn’t mean it’s too early to develop that magic.
Way to go! Think about how far you’ve come in the process from having just the slightest idea of what movie you’re trying to make as a kid to the point where you start looking for actors. Actors who will bring to life the exciting story you have in your head.
The first and easiest way to round up your cast is to ask your buddies and family members if they would like to play a part in the movie you’re making.
Be polite, sound excited as you tell them about your plot and how much fun they’ll probably have. Chances are, they’ll be delighted to be in it. But in the event that they turn you down, maybe mum has a cold or your best friend, Jess, is too shy to be on film, shake it off and ask others. As young kids, this might be tough. Asking them was hard enough, and now you have to deal with rejection too. You thought movie making would be all fun. That’s okay. But if you’ve asked them nicely, and they understand what it means to you, they will probably say no only if they really have to. And that’s okay too.
Besides, there’s a ton of other things they could help you do behind the camera which is just as important as acting. They might even have suggestions about who would be perfect for each role. As you learn more and more about movies, you’ll see how hundreds (or thousands) of people work together just to make great movies. It’s not just the directors and actors.
If the project you’re working on is big enough, you can put out a casting call and have auditions. Fascinating right? It is. Be sure to keep the auditions simple and pick actors that come the closest to what you’re looking for. This means that you might have to turn down a few others so be polite when doing this. It’s good practice to be respectful of others.
When you’ve put your cast together, book a session for rehearsals at least a couple of times so everyone has a good feel of what their lines are and how they’re to act. Who knows? You might even catch some lines that don’t work in a scene and perfect it long before the start of your shoot.
Here’s some film industry term for you: Location scouting. This means searching, figuring out the best setting or places to be used in telling your tale.
Depending on the movie you’ve chosen to make, you could use any place- your bedroom, the basement, your neighbor’s garden, the shopping mall. Just ask nicely for permission.
If you’re still new to movie making which you probably are, stick to locations that are nearly set and won’t require too much alterations to fit your scenes and have enough light to work with. It may not be the greatest idea to shoot your first film at night on a busy road.
This is probably what you had in mind when you first started thinking of movie making. To snap that clapperboard and sound those words like the great director that you are now or shaping up to be. And now you get to say it (with or without the clapperboard) and watch the action unfold.
Be sure to have your camera rolling. You and your friends will have a good laugh if at the end of shooting a difficult scene, you realize you never hit record on your smartphone video. And speaking of smartphones, while it’s more than fine to shoot with a phone camera, there are some hacks that will help your video seem more grown up than it already is. One, capture the video in landscape or horizontal mode as this gives the sensation of width and when the audience, or just your friends and parents, watch your film, on a TV or laptop screen, it’ll come close to what they’d see at the movies.
Two, keep your filming hand steady. A shaky camera will hurt the quality of what’s happening on screen. Avoid this by staying still during shooting, balancing your digital camera or smartphone on a sturdy surface that still gives clear view of the scene in front of you or better yet, buy a tripod stand. If your lunch money doesn’t cover that, maybe mum or big bro could chip in.
Each character should act like you’ve written in the script book so look through your camera closely to see how things play out.
Stop the shoot and share thoughtful suggestions to the actors where you think they are needed. Always be polite and remember to add in short breaks during shooting days.
There should be snacks and drinks handy to keep things light through out production. Remember the whole idea about making a movie as kids is to have fun while making great movies. Never forget that.
Shoot each scene two or three times and from different angles. The idea is to have more video footage than you really need in editing. This will give you a lot of options when you finally put the film together with an editing software.
The recording device used should be good enough to capture speech clearly. A separate microphone might be some added advantage but if you can’t get one, have your actors say their lines a little louder or film them at a closer ranger. But neither of these tricks should be used in a way that mar the scene’s look and feel.
Try, on your early projects to have shooting as short as possible. You’ll find that it makes people more likely to participate in your next film.
If your film is one long scene and you’ve managed to capture it perfectly with no goofs, great! You’re nearly set.
But chances are you have multiple scenes and you have to cut out unwanted or poorly done parts and piece the good ones together in the right order and get them to transition seamlessly from one to the next. And add in other stuff too, like music (because some scenes are so much better with appropriate music), title cards usually at the beginning stating the name of your production company (you can come up with something hilarious or profound, just for kicks). And also the end credits where you acknowledge everyone who worked on or helped with your movie, even that neighbor that let you use her beautiful garden. To do all of this, you’ll need to use an editing software.
Most computers come with an inbuilt movie editing software. For Windows, there is Movie Maker and on iOS, there is iMovie. Both of these are fairly easy to use and will do just fine for a beginner film maker like you. Transfer the videos from your digital camera or smartphone to your computer to edit them. WeVideo and Magisto are available on smartphone or tablets so you can edit on the go.
It’s possible that you might get stuck as you use the editing software but there are many how-to videos on YouTube to help you use them . To add, there are also videos on how to make a movie as a kid.
This is it. You’ve made your movie. Well done! Now go ahead and share it with friends and family or your class or even the rest of the world using online sharing sites like YouTube.
Be proud of your effort and be open enough to receive both praise and thoughtful criticism. You’ll only get better at making movies if you keep at it.
Young Film Academy organizes several film making workshops in different formats throughout the year. In these courses, award winning film makers will share with you the basic and even the advanced skills, from scriptwriting and shooting to using editing software, all you need to know on your quest to make a movie as a child. Check them out and book any that suits you.
Dear YFA team, Thank you Young Film Academy for giving me the opportunity to work with so many people who are as passionate about creating films as I am. I can honestly say that the last two years of YFA summer camps combined have been the best four weeks of my life. You have helped me learn so much about myself and realise that creating films is what I love doing!
I tried each of the roles discovering that there isn’t a dull second in making films!
“I just wanted to say a great big “thank you” to all the staff who made the YFA Summer Camp happen. My son Jalaal said it was the best week of his life and he wants to go back next year. I see such a difference in his confidence, his self esteem, and his aspirations for the future. We will be back next year…for three weeks this time!
Thank you so much for everything!