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Rated 4.7 out of 5


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Start Making Movies is a step-by-step illustrated guide to filmmaking by experienced film teacher Tom Barrance. Aimed at beginners, it explains the filmmaking process, what you need, and how to use images and sound to tell your story.

Start Making Movies is written in clear, easy-to-understand language with over 400 illustrations: photos, screenshots, film stills and diagrams. It includes a glossary, links to online short films and downloadable templates to help you plan your film.

“Gives you everything you’d need to begin making films” (JD, USA)
“Amazing…extremely useful, concise and complete” (JM, UK)
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Filmmaking ebook - closeups Filmmaking ebook - 180 degree rule Filmmaking ebook - explanation

You’ll learn about

Filmmaking step by step

  • The five stages of filmmaking
  • How to plan, organise, film and edit your movie


  • What you need to get started
  • Should you use your phone?
  • How to choose a camera for filmmaking
  • Types of camera and features to look for
  • What else you need: tripods, camera support, lighting and audio
  • Editing programs and apps

How films tell stories

  • Anatomy of a short movie
  • The key elements of film language: shots, sequences and sound

Picture: Planning and Filming your Shots

  • The three kinds of shot you need to film
  • Using different shot sizes
  • How to use camera position and angle
  • How to arrange things in the shot
  • Checking the background
  • How to frame people
  • How composition can help tell your story
  • Eyeline: where should people be looking?
  • Using different lenses and zoom settings
  • Understanding focal length and aperture
  • Using focus: shallow focus, deep focus, pulling focus
  • Light: how the position of the light affects the shot
  • Hard and soft lights
  • Managing and combining lights
  • Working with available light and DIY lights
  • Using lights safely
  • Types of video light and lighting modifiers
  • Different ways to use colour
  • Using movement in your movie
  • Basic and advanced camera movements
  • Movement and mood
  • The right way to move the camera
  • Screen direction and storytelling


  • Different kinds of movie sound
  • Using sound to tell your story
  • How to add sound
  • Using music in your movie
  • Recording sound
  • Which microphone to use
  • Recording sound on audio recorders or your phone
  • Starting with sound: adding video to audio


  • Using shots together
  • Coverage: getting all the shots you need
  • Simple shooting patterns
  • How filming extra shots can make your movie easier to edit
  • The Continuity System: how to film sequences that look natural
  • Using an Establishing Shot to show the whole scene
  • Match on Action: joining different shots to show continuous action
  • Shot-reverse shot: why you need to film in opposite directions
  • The 180 Degree Rule: why your camera should stay on one side of an imaginary line
  • Different ways to use and work with the 180 degree rule
  • Eyeline match: how to make sure people are looking in the right direction
  • Why each shot should be different
  • Why consistent sound is important
  • Montage: Combining different shots to create an impression
  • Using montage to sum up a story
  • Soviet montage: connecting and contrasting images
  • Using montage to convey ideas or link scenes


  • Different kinds of film time: how you can shorten or extend time
  • Using fades and dissolves to show time
  • Parallel editing: showing action happening in two places at once
  • Time shifts: flashbacks and flash forwards
  • Time effects: slow motion and timelapse

Essential scenes

How to film six different kinds of sequence:

  • Piece to camera
  • Interview
  • Demonstration or explanation
  • Journey
  • Dialogue scene with a single camera, or two cameras
  • Live performance or event

Editing and sharing

  • The editing workflow
  • Saving and backup
  • Editing programs
  • Getting ready to edit
  • Making a rough cut
  • Adjusting your edits
  • Editing sound and image together
  • Adding transitions, effects and titles
  • Sound editing workflow
  • Planning your soundtrack
  • Colour correction and grading
  • Compositing: combining different layers of video
  • Is your movie finished? What to check
  • Sharing your movie


  • Fifteen ideas for fiction movies
  • Links to downloadable templates
  • Glossary
  • Index

About author Tom Barrance

I’ve been teaching filmmaking for over 25 years, and I provide filmmaking training for individuals, organisations and businesses. I run the popular filmmaking website

“Tom Barrance understands how to take the mystique out of film making and make it accessible to all”
Chris Whitney, Literacy and Film Education Consultant

“One of the most experienced film and media educators in the UK”
Mark Reid, British Film Institute

ISBN 978-1-9164073-1-2


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