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Want to get your child into filmmaking? Here’s how to start

By HT School Web Desk,

Here is a beginner’s guide to filmmaking with a smartphone.

Help your child choose a nice location for shooting his first film.

It goes without saying that filmmaking demands a lot of strategic planning and creative experimentation. Choosing an interesting theme and translating it into an engaging, cohesive visual story flex brain muscles for creative and critical thinking skills. It also boosts one’s observation power enhancing one’s attention to detail. So, it is a good idea to engage your kids in making a movie in their free time. Bonus: It will help them get rid of the boredom of staying locked up at home amidst the pandemic while giving wings to their imagination.  

Making a film, even a short one, used to be a distant dream for children before the digital era when the whole process required complex technology and expensive equipment. But now, a 10-year-old can also make a short film using a good quality smartphone and easily available video editing apps. While enrolling your little one in an online film direction course is the best option, it will be better if she tries her hands at filmmaking with your help before joining a class. That way, she will have an edge over batchmates too! Here is how to get your child initiated into filmmaking. 

Help your child choose a subject 
Your budding director may be enthusiastic about shooting his first movie but he may not know what to film. Here are some suggestions that both of you can discuss and choose from. 

Animal documentary: Capturing a family pet with the lens can be a good option. Dogs and cats have great screen presence.  

Music video: Discuss with your child and choose a song that she likes. Plan a karaoke with siblings and family members and encourage him to shoot the activity.  

Re-enactment: This can also be a good option. Ask your kid to pick up a scene from his favourite movie, arrange people to act it out indoors or at the backyard and have your child shoot it. Using props will make the video interesting.  

Do the homework together 
Watch a few short videos made with smartphones. You will find lots of them online. Vimeo.com can be a good source for mobile-shot videos. Study the usage of light, placement of the subject and props along with other details. This will make the task a lot easier for your kid.  

Prep a storyline and a script  
Strong storyline is a must for a quality movie. It is required in case of an amateur production too and script is the backbone of a plot. Have your child conceptualise the execution of the subject he chooses, create a storyline and jot down a short, crisp script. This whole exercise will boost his imagination, enhance word power and comprehension skills while revving up his ability to do logical sequencing.  

 Choose a location 
This is a very important aspect of a filmmaking project. The shoot can be done in an indoor or outdoor location. It can also be a mix of both. The choice should depend on these factors: storyline, availability of required light and background noise.  

Bring the characters together 
This is the next important step in your child’s filmmaking project. Every movie needs a few characters. So, have your kid involve siblings and neighbourhood friends to play the characters. Some of them may help her in other aspects of shooting as well apart from acting.  

Set a shooting schedule 
Shooting a short movie also requires more than one day. So, it is important to create a schedule based on the availability of everyone involved in the project. Also, different scenes and shots may need to be filmed at different times of the day, depending on the storyline or screenplay. The time slots need to be incorporated in the schedule too.  

Start shooting 
As already mentioned, a quality smartphone is good enough for your child’s first attempt at filmmaking. Here are some tips for filming with a mobile phone:  

  • Allow your child to use a tripod and a gimbal head while shooting. Attaching the mobile with a tripod will ensure stable shots while a gimbal head is an attachment with the tripod that allows the shooting device to move in different directions.  
  • The important rule of smartphone filming is that the camera needs to be in horizontal mode, technically known as the landscape mode. It allows the right orientation for viewing the video on the laptop, PC or television. The vertical mode, or the portrait mode, black bars on both the sides. These are known as pillar boxing.  
  • Using zoom while shooting with a smartphone is a complete no-no. Though most mobile phones have the video stabilisation feature, they are ineffective when the camera is zoomed in on an object. The vibration created while using zoom will create a blurred, shaky effect.  Even a slight vibration can leave the video all shaky and blurred. So, encourage your child to move closer to the subject while shooting.  

Spend time in editing 
Editing lends finesse to the final product. There are innumerable video editing apps available now. Help your budding director research on them and choose the one that not only meets his requirements but is user-friendly too. With the right video editing app, your kid can cut it to the right length, add sound and special effects.  

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