by Contributor

(Mar. 11, 2021) — So you want to be a filmmaker. You’ve got big dreams and big plans, and you’re ready to make them happen. You’re going to tell unique stories in a groundbreaking way, making a name for yourself around the world.

The only problem is that you’re just starting out. There’s one steep learning curve in front of you, so how can you navigate it without falling into the traps and pitfalls just waiting to trip up any unsuspecting newbie?

There’s no guaranteed way to ensure a completely smooth and stress-free start to your new career — things will go wrong and you will make mistakes. But if you nail the knowledge below, you’ll already have a headstart on the competition.

Here are five key things you should know as a newbie filmmaker in NYC.

1. It pays to be detail-oriented

If you’re the type of person who can honestly list “detail-oriented” on your resume, you’ve got one of the key skills you need to succeed as a filmmaker. The key to a successful shoot is the work that’s done before the cameras even start rolling; it’s all about preparation.

Cameras, sound, lighting, crew, actors, makeup, venues — the list of stuff you need to organize can seem never-ending at first. But if you can plot out every little detail from your project from start to finish, you’ll be well placed to ensure it runs a whole lot more smoothly. 

You’ll also be better prepared to deal with those unexpected setbacks that inevitably occur, such as if a venue is double-booked or an actor doesn’t show up. It can be painstaking, time-consuming work, but it pays off in the end.

2. Finding the perfect NYC film shoot location matters — a lot

From investing in the right gear to casting the on-screen talent, there’s a lot that goes into creating each and every scene in a film. But you should never underestimate the importance of choosing the right filming location. NYC is a world-famous filming destination for countless reasons. Despite that, you should take your time scouting and choosing your locations.

Where you shoot doesn’t just dictate how your movie will look, it also plays a huge part in determining how it feels. The right location will help you create that perfect atmosphere, not to mention satisfy practical needs by offering easy access and all the amenities you and your crew require.

The good news is that there’s no shortage of diverse and beautiful New York film shoot venues available. In fact, the hardest part is narrowing down the myriad options to that one perfect spot.

3. Film isn’t just a visual medium

If you’ve ever watched a low-budget production with shoddy sound, you’ll be well aware of just how big an impact sound has on the quality of a film and the overall viewing experience. So whether you’re scouting a location, casting talent, or the cameras are rolling, the audio aspects of a scene should never be far from your mind.

It’s quite easy to get swept up in the visual beauty of a shot and neglect the practical considerations. Quality sound equipment is a must, and remember to always use your ears (as well as your eyes) when working on any aspect of a film.

4. Be ruthless when editing

This is a piece of advice that every filmmaker will do well to remember, no matter whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro. You wouldn’t be in this line of work if you didn’t adore the beauty of film, and we know just how easy it is to fall in love with particular shots and scenes.

But when you’re putting together any project, you can’t afford to be sentimental. Sure, that particular scene might be one of the most visually stunning shots you’ve ever created, but if it’s not important to the story, you need to cut it.

This can be one of the most painful parts of the filmmaking process, but remember that the sacrifice will be worth it.

5. Expect the unexpected

In filmmaking, as in life, nothing ever goes to plan. Equipment breaks, the weather turns nasty, and not everyone follows through on their promises. On some projects it can feel like Murphy’s Law is in action from start to finish with unnecessary delays, budget cuts, and all manner of potentially costly disasters.

It’s incredibly frustrating, but there’s often not a whole lot you can do about it. Sometimes when things go wrong, all you can do is find a way to make the best of a bad situation. Remember, you’re not a Scorcese or a Spielberg yet. You don’t have an unlimited budget and a whole studio ready to jump when you say how high. 

So keep that chin up, keep your vision in focus, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box to overcome those unexpected setbacks. If you can do all that, you’ll be ready to make a name for yourself as the next big thing on the NYC filmmaking scene.

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