The difference between an amateur and an experienced filmmaker isn’t always expensive equipment or the number of awards in the shelf. Most of the times it comes down to something that has a lot more to do with the emotion of the film than the quality of the images.
Many films can come across as a shallow pretentiousness disguised as intellectualism whether they are professional or amateur, but the latter is often the worst offender even if the filmmakers were looking for just the opposite effect. Movies are hard to make, and very few are born with natural storytelling gifts. It’s only normal for newcomers to have a hard time being able to handle the emotions and the tone necessary to connect with an audience. This results in a movie that while not technically bad, is clearly the work of an amateur. If you can’t quite pinpoint where’s the line between a professional looking result and something that came straight out of the first semester of film school, make your way through this list.
Not Taking the Time to Write a Story
Turning on your camera and recreating the time you went to the movies and found your boyfriend cheating on you with your best friend, does not make a movie. Your life, or anyone else’s, is not camera ready. Stories need to be translated into a visual language, you need to figure out a plot, a timeline, a setting. Regardless of how universal you think your experiences are, you need to work on them thoroughly before hastily creating a storyboard and getting to work. This is key to making sure an audience connects with the material.
How many times have you listened to a line and thought “no one ever talks like that”? Probably thousands because dialogue is damn hard to write even for professionals. A good line, or even just believable dialogue, it’s what can make an audience feel drawn into what’s going on in the screen. A wrong line can take audiences out of the story and ruin a scene’s emotional gravity in just a few seconds.
An inexperienced filmmaker will be obvious by the quality of his or her dialogue. If you want to make sure your dialogue doesn’t come off as cartoonish or ridiculous, try reading it out loud to someone that’s not involved with the project. If they can’t avoid laughing at parts that are most definitely not comedy, you should think about a rewrite.
Not Making the Why Clear Enough
Audiences should not be leaving the theatre asking, “what was the point of all that?” after watching your movie. It should be clear that you had an intention, even if that intention is not clear itself. Think of Aronofsky’s films, they might not be immediately understandable (especially his more experimental work) but is clear that he’s got a message, regardless of how contrived it might be.
Casting the Wrong People
Don’t cast someone just because they look good on screen. Always go for talent over looks. No matter how hot an actor is, if they can’t act, you should not be hiring them at all. Eye candy will not make your movie bearable if the acting is stiff or if you have no storyline at all.