Both amateur and trained filmmakers make mistakes at first. The problem comes when they don’t realize what they’re doing is not right, and develop a habit of doing it all the time. While there are certain creative liberties that most people agree can be taken in any sort of audiovisual production, there are also some choices that generally are not regarded as best practices of the medium. Below, we will go over a couple of them that you might want to avoid going forward.
Placing the camera at odd angles and levels
As a rule of thumb, you want to keep your camera at eye level most of the time when you’re shooting traditional scenes with subjects. Some filmmakers shooting dialogue scenes will often play with different angles and camera positions, hoping to make the sequence more dynamic. This can end up being disorienting for your audience if you don’t combine your shots right and just do it on a whim.
Not minding the the background
Most people don’t have a problem with camera placement and subjects in frame, but they do sometimes neglect the background of the shot. The background is part of the image you are trying to compose each time you plan and shoot a shot, so you should make sure it doesn’t make your characters blend in, or that it isn’t too crowded with other distracting elements that may deviate the attention away from the focal point of your shot.
Making poor use of your light sources
Whether you’re shooting in interiors or exteriors, you need to take advantage and be smart about the light sources available at your locations. Outside, for instance, you don’t ever want to have the sun behind your subject since it will make it harder for you to balance the shot in terms of lighting. The same goes for scenes that you plan on shooting inside, in which there might be lamps directly above your subject that can cast unwanted shadows on them. In both cases, you want light to hit at an angle that works for contouring and complementing your light setup.
Locking yourself into place with your camera
Unconsciously, we tend to choose the most comfortable position possible when we’re sitting behind the camera. However, functionality needs to trump comfort and most filmmakers learn this soon enough. If you need to move and follow the movement of your characters, being locked into place because it’s comfortable can be very limiting in achieving the shot you want. Being able to move and change is important, as long as it is planned that way and there is an intention behind the shot.
Changing shooting styles because you’re in a rush
Every filmmaker ever has found themselves in a situation in which they need to rush because they ran out of time at one of their locations, they are going over budget, or they just need to be done with the sequence they’re shooting. Rushing things out tends to cause chaos on set, which often leads to decisions like taking the camera off the tripod and going handheld for speed’s sake. Remember your shots, movements, and choices must be motivated by well-thought intentions rather than restricted by the limitations of the production.