frequent mistakes in filmmaking and how to avoid them

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frequent mistakes in filmmaking and how to avoid them

Some of the most common mistakes in filmmaking are the easiest to avoid.

While art and how it’s made is subjective, there are a few general rules on how to make the most of your creative time. When it comes to filmmaking, your creative decisions not only affect you but the people you work with as well. We’ve compiled a list of the most common filmmaking mistakes to help you navigate your next project. 

Don’t be an asshole

If you are in charge, be in charge. Your cast and crew are relying on you to make the production happen. Be prepared for too many questions, set drama, countless re-takes, and total breakdowns to happen, all of which you are expected to help resolve. Practice grace under pressure, cause’ that’s show business, baby! 


Be prepared for your shoot. Make a storyboard. Compile a detailed list of the cast and crew including contact information. Build a coherent schedule and clarify availability. Scout a location well in advance using our easy how-to guide. The more organized your shoot, the easier the workflow. 


There is nothing more unprofessional than showing up with a dead battery, dirty lens or no space left on your hard drive. Make sure you are on top of the basics, even if it means making a checklist the night before a shoot. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often the smallest slip up can lead to a full day’s work down the drain. 


Let’s face it, lighting is everything in filmmaking. You can really sculpt the mood of your story with a properly lit set. Understand continuity, the difference between natural and artificial light, and basic film lighting 101. Proper lighting can make even the lowest budget indie film look like a Hollywood blockbuster. Bad lighting will cheapen the final product and distract from the storyline. 

Set Design

Think of location scouting as one of the most valuable things you can do for your film. Depth, texture, and design of a space should not be overlooked. For example, if you use a friend’s basic white-walled living room for a house party, it’s going to make everything look flat and create distracting shadows. Look for locations with diverse and eclectic features, especially if you don’t have access to a studio or proper lighting. Natural lighting will compliment your shot if you give it something to work with. Think of light refracted through stain glass windows, or the light of a sunset hitting a rich cream wall: study color and how it reacts with its organic surroundings. You’re shot will be that much richer for it. For inspiration, check this out

Hair and Makeup

Don’t neglect your hair and makeup. If you can’t afford a professional, ask a makeup school for a student intern, or a hair stylist friend of a friend. There are so many benefits to making your cast look polished (or haggard) with a professional touch. It adds authenticity, which ultimately helps make your story all the more believable.

Unlimited Music for Filmmakers


Another detail you do not want to overlook is wardrobe. There are so many nuances to consider: do the stripes on your lead actor’s shirt read properly? Does the yellow skirt on your background actress unintentionally steal the shot? Are your wealthy businessman’s shoes clean and polished, true to life? Much like hair and makeup, your character has to feel authentic. Clothing often feels like an extension of one’s personality in real life. Make it so on film.  


Call us biased, but we think that having the right music is everything! Music can provide that extra bit of emotion you need to carry the scene through. Humour, irony, drama, melancholy: all of life’s major feelies are enhanced by the perfect song. Having trouble finding the right piece? Read our guide to picking the right music for your film here

One of the greatest music licensing decisions in the past ten years. 

Take care of your cast and crew

Treat your crew and cast with respect, because at the end of the day, everyone is just trying to do their job. Be extra nice if you aren’t paying them: it’s their time and energy, too. A happy cast and crew is an efficient cast and crew. As the old trope goes, there is no “I” in “team”.