Filmmaker Richard Michalak, who has worked behind the camera for thirty years, offers concise advice that is broken down well and easy to implement for beginners.
Michalak recommends, for those not artistically inclined, to create storyboards by taking actual pictures. “It’s a great idea to make a storyboard before you make your film,” he says. “You don’t need to be a good drawer to make a storyboard. You don’t even need to draw at all. You can make one using still photos. You can get your friends, who are not necessarily the actors, and you can put them in situations that are similar to the set or the situation you’re going to film in. It doesn’t have to be the same situation.”
The angles that a filmmaker selects are crucial to how the story is told. “How you point your camera can tell a story differently. A high angle can make someone look weak. A low angle can make someone look dominant. An angle level with someone’s face will tend to look more normal.”
For those trying to capture a naturalistic handheld shot of a person walking, it is best to go for a wide lens. “If you try to do a handheld walking shot with a long lens, you’ll get a lot of lens shake. But if you widen the lens and get closer to your subject, you will tend to smooth out some of the bumps.”
When shooting outside, Michalak suggests trying to place your subject so that the sunlight is falling behind them. “If you’re filming outside and want to control the lighting, you can’t control the movement of the sun across the sky, but you can usually control where the person is in relation to the sun. If you film someone outside with front sunlight falling on their face, you’ll get quite strong shadows and fairly strong contrast and quite a hard look. If you film them with the light behind them, you will usually get a softer look and lower contrast, and you’ll also get the sun giving them a halo around their back.”
The video below offers more expert advice from Michalak.