What You NEED to Know When Making Your First Short Film

When you first start making films they may look like this and you might be 10 years old and look like this.

Or you might start a little later, when you’re 21, and realise filmmaking is something you want to do.

Whatever age you start making films you’re going to have no experience, equipment, or money. None of this matters though, the only thing that does is going out there and shooting something cool with your friends.


These clips are from some of the first films we made when we had no experience, very little equipment and money.

These films were the building blocks and the testing ground to see if filmmaking was for us.

Without them, we would not have the experience we do now, filmmaking equipment, or money.

Well we still don’t make a lot of money, but we know making films is the only thing that we want to do.

So your first short films are going to suck, don’t worry about it, everyone's does. They will most likely not turn out how you imagined them in your head, but again everyone feels the same way.

For example, my short film Road, which isn’t technically my first short film, but a film which I class as my first proper short film, where I had a script and a clear goal.

Only 50% of it came out how I imagined it in my head, but I am proud of that 50%.

The poster still hangs on the wall and I see it every day.

Which is a little tip, make a poster for each one of your films, print it off, and stick it on your wall. It will remind you of what you have achieved.


If you want to watch the short film Road, you can find it here.

You will worry if the project is going to be any good, and have self-doubt. Can you do it? What happens if you fail? Well, you will fail, but so what.

Learn from that experience, the good and the bad.


Workout what you could have done better and build on that, but also work out what you did right  and build on that.

With your first short films, you don’t need to worry about getting everything right, 50% of a 7-minute  film isn't bad when you are making your first short films.


With every film you make, you will improve and learn from the experience, and this goes for whatever you shoot. Filmmaking or filmmaker is a broad term, and making films will allow you to work out what type of filmmaker you are.

Do you want to be a traditional filmmaker? Where you work from a script, have actors, a set, props. You might find you hate camera gear and like the producing side more than the technical side.

Or you might find out that you want to be a content creator, a vlogger, filming interesting stories about your life. They can cross over but there is a difference between the two.

You might find you like one more than the other, but the only way you are going to find this out is by making something and getting it finished.


Having a film finished so other people can watch it is the most important part of filmmaking. Even if you think it’s not perfect, finished is better than perfect.

Once people can watch it, you can receive feedback from the audience, good and the bad.

The good helps to encourage you, and the bad helps you to learn. You will get nasty comments, but no one likes those people, so don’t worry about it.

On the topic of other people, work with others to make to help make your films. Friends, Family, whoever is interested. They don’t need to be filmmakers, but having people to work with is a lot more fun. Plus you can’t make a lightsaber fight film by yourself.

When you make your first films you will be the writer, director, DOP, 1st AC/AD, sound Recordist, costume and props department, and do every other role. This is a good thing, it will allow you to learn the basics about each role, and work out which one you like the most.

Doing everything will also mean you will have to compromise when making your film because you will have to concentrate on so many things at the same time.

When I made my final year film for University, I didn’t get anyone to read over a draft of the script, help me shoot it, or look over an edit before I screened it.


At the time I didn’t want people seeing what I was making because didn’t think it was going to be very good.

This was a mistake I made. Working with other people will make your films better and you’ll have a lot more fun doing it.

Even though I might not like watching this film back, it’s finished, exported, people have seen it. Finishing this film allowed me to make the next film, the film after that, and the film after that.

If you are out there and you need some advice about your film idea, script, or short film, put it in the comments below or send it to us at thefilmlook@gmail.com with the subject line of Feedback.

If you send something the feedback might not be instant, but we will get back to everyone.

If I am giving advice on making your first short films, I have to talk about filmmaking equipment. The general advice on YouTube is to not worry about filmmaking equipment.

Well I can’t give that advice because it’s easy to say that when you have a good camera, lenses and microphones, like most other people who are giving this advice.

Over the space of about 5 years we’ve built up our camera equipment, but when we had very little equipment, we wanted to get a slider, a gimble, better lights. You will learn that the right equipment can improve the quality of your film and there is nothing wrong with wanting it.

What is wrong is not going out and shooting your first short films, because you don’t have the right equipment. We shot one of our short films, Corpse on a Canon 600D, 24-105mm lens, a tripod and a 5 in 1 reflector. Equipment which we still use.

Links to Corpse can be found here.

Not having a slider, gimbal, or better lights, actually made shooting Corpse easier, because we didn’t have to worry about setting up lots of equipment and making sure it was perfect.

Not having the right equipment allows you to learn about what equipment you could have used to make your film better.

For example if you’re shooting a walk and talk but you don’t have a shoulder rig or gimbal and you just have to use your hands. The footage is going to be shaky and distracting to the audience, but don’t worry about it It’s not wrong or a mistake, put it in your film and get the film finished.


Now you have the experience of shooting a walk and talk you now know something like a gimbal will help stabilise your camera. You will learn that the right piece of filmmaking equipment can make your film that 10% better, so get the right equipment when and if you can.

And if you just want to, don’t get into debt for it and have a good reason to buy it first, but buy filmmaking equipment if you want. Filmmaking equipment is super cool and there is no such thing as a minimalist filmmaker, you kind of need a lot of camera bits.

So remember when you are making your first short films they are going to suck but everyone’s does. Make shooting your short films fun and get it done, work with others, and filmmaking equipment doesn’t matter but it also kind of does.

If you have just started making films or you’ve made 50, comment below with some advice you would give to other filmmakers about starting out.

And if you want to see me watch my student film for the first time in 7 years let us know, Even though I really don’t want to.

🎬 In case you missed it

Road Short Film: https://youtu.be/f2FUmXcpoDE

Corpse Short Film: https://youtu.be/leZmhn6KWvE

The Key to Editing Suspense: https://youtu.be/NQOdd4kWSAo

Get CINEMATIC by Connecting YOUR Shots!: https://youtu.be/5Tkg2hwB3n0

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