Top One (1) Beginning Filmmaker Mistake(s) - Basic Filmmaker Ep 150


     It may not seem like it, but I spent a lot (LOT) of time on this video, not only coming up with it, but taking the 30 minutes of footage and b-roll and everything else and cutting it down to ten minutes.

     At the end of this post, I've included an additional 2 minutes that I cut out with an additional drill that really is a lot of fun to do!  I wish I didn't, as it really works.

     When I started the idea for this video I thought to myself, "I have about 1,000 mistakes that beginning filmmakers make. How the hell do I share these and get them into a form that is watchable and usable?"

     So I made a big long list.  I made a list on a plane.  I made a list on a train.  I made a list on my brain.  I made a list in the car.   I made a list near and far.

     Despite my terrible ode to Dr. Suess, the list kept getting longer and longer and longer.

     The thing I DIDN'T like is the thing I DON'T like to do - point out all the things that can be wrong or incorrect or bad. I'd rather point out all the things that are good or correct or right.

     In a fit of self-made insanity, I thought maybe I could watch some other people's videos and see what they were saying, not so much for what they were presenting, but HOW.

     So I searched filmmaker mistakes video and got quite a few, all very legit videos, trying to show beginning filmmakers some common mistakes that can be made on their filmmaking journey.


     I came across D4Darious and his "Top 15 Mistakes Beginner Filmmakers Make" video. It's really well done and by the 300,000+ views, it's obviously popular.

     I watched a WHOLE lot more of these, almost 50. They're ALL very good, legit, make sense, and are coming from the voice of experience, which means they've made these mistakes too, and are able to talk about them with certainty.


     But I kept running into this problem that I couldn't grapple with. Filmmakers watch these, yet, they keep making the same mistakes!

     Maybe experience will bring about the common sense. Maybe you "have to learn from your mistakes" to learn. Which means you have to make the mistakes to learn something?

     That's not really a solution, as it says you have to have YEARS of experience messing up enough things until you don't mess them up anymore.

     Huh?  I don't buy it. 

     If I put that into the real world, that says people learning to drive cars have to bash their car into enough things, enough times, to fully understand that bashing your car into things is a bad idea - so now they have that "experience" and can learn from their mistakes of bashing up their car.

     It doesn't play out when you start applying it to real world situations, and I most certainly DO NOT ever believe that a problem is unsolvable. Maybe not understood, maybe made too complex, maybe this or maybe that, but NOT unsolvable.

     Experience has told me time and again that the solution to a problem is ALWAYS simple. And that tells me when something is complex or "unsolvable" then I haven't really got at the basic root of the problem.

     Like having to bash a car up to gain "experience" in not bashing a car up.


     To SEE a problem one has to be able to LOOK at what the real situation is. THINKING a problem doesn't usually solve it. It's takes some ACTION. LOOKING at the problem and seeing what's actually there is always the first step.

     I didn't want to use any of my videos, as it would be too close to home for these filmmakers, as I was there.  That's why I decided to conduct an experiment to SEE what is happening, using D4's videoThe results were pretty startling.

     I had them watch the video, and sent them out to do one simple thing with no direction other than, "Go shoot a person in a room with your phone or something, and bring your footage back so we can take a look at it."

     What they came back with was good stuff - they are filmmakers, BUT, it was in stark contrast to the BASIC mistakes covered in D4's video, specifically, people shot in a white walled room, up against the wall - no depth.


     When I pointed out the contrast between what was in the video and what they did, I got a lot of blah-blah. "You didn't say that's what you wanted", "We didn't know it was a test" (it wasn't - I don't "test" people), "That was the only room available" (it wasn't - it was the closest), and so on.

     I'm not banging on these awesome people, I'm just pointing out the reactions that occurred - they went into HIGH DEFENSE MODE.

     I got really curious about this. I know people get really defensive when you start pointing out things "they did wrong" which is why I don't usually do it. The thing that happened was they didn't LEARN from the video, even though they already "knew" about depth.

     What's going here? 

     Well, it's pretty simple actually when you back it up and LOOK at what happened.

     These filmmakers (they were NOT beginners) were not watching this video thinking, "Maybe there is something to learn here."  They assumed they already knew what was going to be covered - basics they ALREADY KNEW.

     Because of that, the filmmakers were being spectators.   In other words, they weren't watching it to learn anything, they were watching it to be entertained.


     When someone decides they already KNOW ALL ABOUT a subject, trying to teach them something about the subject is nearly impossible. It's like this big giant iron curtain has dropped over their brain that says, "ACCESS DENIED - ALL DATA KNOWN."

     The bad thing about this are those few people who spend their life showing everyone else how great they are, then use it to show everyone else how THEY DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, and how they should show up like a dry sponge and hinge on every valuable word they say.  Yuck!

     Here's a truth. You know what you know. You don't know what you don't know. AND there's all shades in-between.

     When I see someone who is trying to CONVINCE people they don't have the wisdom and knowledge THEY have, I see someone who is not trying to train or teach - they're trying to be right - showing how much better they are than everyone else.   It's actually an insane compulsion that they don't even see, and quite sad.

     Best thing to do is ignore it, as talking about it just rams their assertions about this into play even harder.


     I never ever ever ever ever work off the premise that someone doesn’t want to learn, is stupid or incapable.


     Don’t care who you are – if you are watching one of my videos, or reading this post, or I am drilling you on some aspect of filmmaking, I ASSUME YOU ARE CAPABLE and want to learn something.

     Don't EVER let anyone convince you, that you are dull or stupid or slow or whatever.

     That’s the line people use on you when THEY fail to properly teach you something.

     It never occurs to the person trying to teach you something, who then treats you (or overtly calls you out) as dull or slow or stupid, that THEY failed, not you.

     THEY know the subject THEY are teaching (or should) and you do not.  So if you don't get it, it's THEIR responsibility to figure out what you aren't getting and why, because whatever THEY are doing isn't working!

     THAT'S THEIR JOB.  If it's not, then they shouldn't be trying to teach you.


     I digress for a moment to say the following.

     Who came up with this law that something has to be someone’s fault anyway?  Can we just cancel that shit?

     Back to our regularly scheduled programming. :)


     As a human being, you have one of the most coolest super power ever invented - YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND!

     Really, you can.  Practice it - it's really easy. 

     "I don't like people with glasses."   Cool.   Invoke super power.  Ready?   "I like people with glasses!"  Done.

     The way this applies to filmmaking, and education in general, is you can walk into a class room or watch a video or someone demonstrating something, and without chucking the fact that you already KNOW a hell of a lot, you can watch it or view it with the attitude, "let's see if I can learn something here."

     That allows you to posses your own knowledge - it's yours, and add to it, and discover FOR YOURSELF something new. In other words, you told that iron curtain to go f**k itself.

     You may find the only thing you learn is the person teaching you doesn't actually know how to teach people.

     Don't get me wrong, I admire the HELL out of teachers and people who do their best to try and pass knowledge and skill onto others.

     I just don't like people who are more interested in asserting how much more intelligent they are than others, and constantly reminding all us "dumb asses" about it.   I consider them so unsure of themselves and frankly, cowards, as their real intent is pushing everyone else down into the mud.


     Really, the point of this entire video is to pay attention to learning, practicing, and drilling those things that you do, one at a time, until you are a ninja at the skill.

     When that happens, you can move onto other things.   In short order, you have all the MECHANICAL things you would do down, and can concentrate on creating those things you wish to create, instead of fumbling around with other stuff.

     If you're diligent about doing this with all the mechanical actions you go through before you film something, you'll find yourself in a position of creative freedom like you've never experienced before!

     If you like fumbling around with stuff and always missing the mark on what you are trying to create, then don't.

     It is, after all, always in your hands and your choice.


     I'll leave you with this final part of the video that was also cut out due to timeThe video was already too long in my opinion, but I think you might benefit by this additional 2 minutes.

     I'm still considering re-shooting this into a full episode with demonstrated examples, as I think it's a really an important first basic step to being able to handle your camera, or any gear for that matter.

     In closing, thanks for hanging out with me, and I hope you enjoy these posts - they do take a lot of additional time to create.

                         My Best,

                         The Basic Filmmaker


  1. great video/post man, im a beginner (15 years old, bought my first dslr camera less than a year ago), but i think if i start "drilling" now i wont have much troubles in the future.


    1. Perfect. It can be a painstaking process to drill something over and over, but I really believe it is the key to becoming competent and being able to do the craft.


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