ISBF008 – 10 Mistakes New Filmmakers Make

Over the years I have read a lot of books and tutorials on filmmaking, I’ve help writers rework their screenplays, and I watched countless short films. I noticed there’s a few mistakes that we tend to make when we’re first starting out, I made a few of them myself, so I thought I’d share them with you so you don’t make the same mistakes on your next film. In no particular order they are:

  1. Having a bloated shot list.
  2. Not following the shot list or storyboards and just winging it.
  3. Not getting a master shot.
  4. Not allowing enough time for setups.
  5. Not shooting a safety.
  6. Not getting inserts and close-ups for cutaways.
  7. Trying to do everything yourself when you’re on set.
  8. Spending most or all of your budget on a better camera
  9. Not recording ambient sound for each location.
  10. Shooting too many close-ups and extreme close-ups.

We break each of these down to help you understand why it’s important that you don’t make these mistakes.




Filmmaking is not easy. It can be mentally and physically exhausting, but when you watch your final film and you read you fan’s comments, it gives you a feeling like no other. You get an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and a burning desire to do it again. It’s something you have to experience first hand to truly understand.

Image from the short film Winter's Hunt by Kenn Crawford

Mistakes are not uncommon on a film set. Regardless of how much planning you do, something inevitably goes wrong – either on set, or in the editing room when you’re trying to cut your film together. You can’t plan for every possible scenario and often have to make adjustments on the fly, but when you know what some of the more common mistakes are, you’re better equipped to deal with them should they rear their ugly head.

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Author: Kenn Crawford

author | filmmaker

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