There is one unbreakable rule of filmmaking; if you want to be a filmmaker, you must make films. You can study books, films, and videos, but if you don’t put all that knowledge into practice, you will never know what works and what doesn’t in the filmmaking process.
Luckily, we live in times with easy access to equipment, software and learning resources, lack of equipment is not an excuse anymore for not producing your work. Just start shooting and experimenting; learning how to tell visual stories is going to take time, possibly a lifetime. With each production, however, your craft will grow and advance, allowing you to tell better stories.
So, if you are new to filmmaking and planning to make your first film, make sure your script isn’t too complicated and complex. If you have too many scenes in too many locations and with too many characters, it will be very difficult to pull that off, especially if you are working on a tiny or no budget at all.
The more characters you have in your story, the more actors you will need, which in practice means trying to align everyone’s calendar. If you aren’t paying your cast and crew, the odds of suddenly having 10 actors available on the same day(s) are slim. The majority of the cast and crew will choose paid gigs over unpaid ones.
Make your first film compact, easy to shoot, without complex scenes, expensive costumes and locations that will make it impossible or at least very hard to complete your project. When you start, simplicity is the key. You will always be a winner if you can tell compelling stories on a small budget and with minimalistic resources.
Big-budget Hollywood productions spend a ton of money on cast, crew, locations, re-writing the story, which for indie and young filmmakers can be pretty intimidating. Making films requires money, but it doesn’t have to be over the top expensive endeavour; stories can be told by using simple equipment, with natural light, modern costumes and two actors in one location. At its basis, movie is always about the story and the characters; the emotional connection audience will have with that story and the enjoyment and reflection they will carry with them once the movie ends.
If you are new to filmmaking, make sure your focus is on the story. Learn how to tell captivating stories within the resources you have access to, don’t be ashamed or shy away from small budgets. The beauty and the skills are always in creating something out of nothing, not throwing money at problems.
Go out, make your first film and shine.