“To make a film is easy; to make a good film is war; to make a very good film is a miracle,” said Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the man who directed movies like The Revenant and The Birdman. As you can see, making a good film isn’t easy rather a miracle, and to perform a miracle in this superficial era, you have to be well prepared.
If you’re into filmmaking, then it’s needless to say that you love films. Over the years, movies have progressed from being just entertainment, to one of our most meaningful art forms.
But it not only entertains you, it also teaches you, it can inspire you, motivate you, make you forget your surrounding and takes your minds off of stressful thoughts and the conundrums of life.
Making such a film that makes the audience go ‘Wow’ is also a dying art. The box office is flooding with commercial movies which is a whole another debate.
My point is, filmmaking is also an art. An art that you don’t master through learning theories. You learn it through actions, by doing it. Also, when you do it, if it’s true and inspired by the love of film, then it’ll start to change you too.
Let’s say you’re thinking of learning filmmaking. Naturally it can be pretty daunting at first for this world has gobbled up many amateurs who didn’t know from where to begin.
But have hope and courage my friend. In this article, I’ll try my best to lay out the necessary points that you should know if you want to learn about film and filmmaking. Let’s get started.
Watch to Learn
Quentin Tarantino said in one of his interviews, “When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them ‘no, I went to films.” So, the easiest way to start is to watch a lot of movies.
Let me give you another example. Sattyajit Roy, one of the finest directors in the history of cinema watched 95 movies in just three months during the year 1950.
Watching a lot of movies can enrich both your mind and soul. But don’t just watch them casually. No matter what you watch, try to watch with it with your heart, breathe in the framework, and embrace the color. To be able to do that, you can practice this following method:
When you start to watch a movie, keep your notebook close to you. Closely observe it. If it touches your soul, try to think what parts of the movie did that. Pay attention and look for the small details that made the movie unique than the others.
As Jim Jarmusch once said, “The beauty of life is in small details, not in the big events.”
Apart from the specialists, I got a lot of useful instructions from the guys at LivingBridge. When you finish the movie, write down your thoughts and comments. Go over them and again watch the movie to see if you’ve missed anything or find anything new that changes your first impression about the movie.
Explain how these inputs affect your movie watching experience and further the film’s theme. Try to turn this into a habit. Trust me, you’ll benefit from this a lot. For instance, it’ll help you grow in terms of understanding the movies better, it’ll develop your movie sense and your observational powers altogether.
Learn from the Masters
In this age, learning something has never been this easy. If you know where and how to look for, you should find more than enough materials. This also doesn’t differ in case of learning filmmaking. You want to learn? You have access to thousands of materials throughout the internet.
If you’re concerned about How to Learn Filmmaking, first thing to do is to read. If you want to be a successful filmmaker, you have to learn to read a lot. Read what the masters have to say about filmmaking and its craft.
You can begin with the book, “Something Like an Autobiography” written by the legendary director Akira Kurosawa.
He used science, math and the language of cinema to completely alter the way we humans view the universe. To fully understand his films, you have to read this book.
It’ll give you the insight into what it means to be a director. What it means to live that life beyond the business or the craft. Most importantly, how it changes you as a human being.
“Rebel without a Crew”, written by Robert Rodriguez is another great book that you should read. It provides undoubtedly the best practical guidance for filmmakers who are just beginning to peak in to this world.
Written as a diary, it’ll take you into one director’s journey to make a low budget, debut film. Nonetheless, you’ll get a clearer perception about how difficult it is to finance a film and what can you to do to overcome them.
I want to mention another book that might come handy. That is, “Hitchcock/Truffaut”. It constitutes a series of interviews and conversations between the master of suspense and revolutionary French New Wave filmmaker Francois Truffaut.
There’re other good books that you can get your hands on and enrich your wisdom with the knowledge extracting from them. Such as, “Making Movies” by Sidney Lumet, “Signs and Meaning in the Cinema” by Peter Wollen, “On the History of Film Style” by David Bordwell and many more…
The more you read, the more you’ll know about this particularly mysterious world of filmmaking. There’re tons of materials out there for you to discover. Get out there and learn!
Hands on learning is the best way of learning, especially in this field. Don’t just stick to reading or listening to interviews. You need practical knowledge before you start working. Books can’t give you that. To do so, always be on the lookout for available workshops that are in your vicinity.
For studying directly from the people of film industry is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Reach out to people who keeps tabs on these workshops. Join groups on social media and meet people that have similar interests like you. If anything comes up, you’ll know through them or the groups.
If anything pops up, latch on to it.
The basic-pragmatic skills that you require to learn filmmaking are usually provided in workshops like that. These crash courses will help you get really acquainted with the structures and procedures of filmmaking. They will increase your skills on areas like, writing, production, shooting and how to edit efficiently.
You can’t learn them all by yourself. Besides, when you attend such seminars and courses, you find more people like you. You can establish a healthy network and learn a lot from each other. You can share experiences, thoughts and ideas about your passion.
Filmmaking can seem overwhelmingly inaccessible. Getting your hands on to high-end expensive gears is an obstacle that’s pretty hard to tackle. But this isn’t the case anymore…not in this era of modern technology.
When you’re just starting to learn and get the idea of this industry and the art, straightway you don’t need expensive gears to portray your vision on the screen. If you don’t have the best of everything, you need to make the best of everything.
Take advantages of the technology that you have at your disposal. It’s more affordable, convenient and accessible than ever. Let your creativity run wild. Use whatever device that you have already and start shooting.
The beauty of filmmaking lies not necessarily in the equipment but the minds, the hearts and the brains. It won’t matter if you have a Panasonic Varicam 35 and still can’t portray your ideas through the frame.
What matters is, when you’re looking through the viewfinder to frame an image, can you interpret what you want to say to your audience.
Moreover, can you point your audience where you want them to look to get the emotional or psychological point, which you want to get across to them? See? The fancy equipment isn’t primarily in the equation.
Use any camera that you can afford, it can be a mobile camera as long as it works… Don’t have a dolly? Use skateboards or shopping cart… Use the free software to edit your shots! Get creative!
As long as you can create a pure artistic work that tells a captivating story with the equipment you have, it’s fine. Learning shouldn’t be expensive all the time.
Volunteer on Set
This is a fun yet one of the most important aspects of learning filmmaking. You got to have whole idea about what’s going on around you. To get the idea, you have to be accustomed with them properly. How can you achieve that? Well, it’s simple… through volunteering.
Being behind the camera is a divine feeling, no doubt about that. But there’s also a plenty of value in assisting others with their tasks. You shouldn’t be afraid of more work. By assisting other members on the set, not only you can establish a good relation with them but also you get to learn a lot.
In addition, when you assist others, it pays you back generously with experience. Gather experience and throw yourself to the front of filmmaking. Learn every tips and tricks. Fill your pouch with them. They’ll always come in handy in some point.
By helping others in their task, you also get to learn their task and their purposes from a very close range. If you only remain at your fixed position, you’ll have difficulties understanding the full picture.
The rush, the tight schedule that needs to be maintained to run everything smoothly…you need to learn them closely.
Whenever possible, lend your helping hands. Do it out of sheer joy of learning the beautiful- sophisticated craft of filmmaking.
Do Some Networking
To get a good project going, your own knowledge will not always be enough. It’s important that you know the right people and they know you. So, creating a network among the filmmakers and people that are regular in that world is very crucial for you, if you’re just starting out.
At first, it would be difficult…well not that difficult if I may say. Because in this age of social media, you can easily form a strong-useful network. They’ll help you find work by providing information.
To create a group like this, or to be a part of such group you can’t just rely on social networks. It has its perks but you have to actively give effort to be physically involve with filmmakers. Go to their interviews, talk shows or hang out with them to know them better.
Walk Before You Run… Start with Making Short Films
It’s sad to see that now a days, there’s not much consensus on the purpose of the short film format. It’s true even among filmmakers, festival attendees, and students. While people think of them as merely a warm up, others as artistic achievements.
Nonetheless, short films have the ability to tell a great story and can create a big impact if made properly.
Why should you start with shorts rather than features? Well, you can put your stamp on something to make an impression. It’s a must and people often struggle creating it. To complete your toolbox and to realize things clearly, you must develop a habit of making quality shorts.
On top of that, shorts enable a rookie filmmaker to find his voice…his own style. Only through trial and errors you can furnish and fine tune your own unique way of storytelling. Don’t go for big budget projects straightway, rather make shorts and sharpen your skills as a filmmaker.
You can explore the techniques you learned so far and apply them while making these films. There’s less pressure and nothing much at stake which give you a breathing space to create your work. Find and explore yourself to discover your very own way of telling your story. Shorts are a great way to just that.
Indeed, even veteran filmmakers see the benefit of using shorter format pieces to tighten their skills and perfect their craft. The big guns of film industry like Ridley Scott, Scofia Coppola, Spike Jonze and David Lynch have all made television commercials.
The reason I’m giving this example is this, television commercials have an unexpectedly demanding task given that one has to tell a story and make it interesting in a very limited amount of time. The pros’ advise to hone the amateurs’ storytelling skills by learning to make every moment count.
So, make shorts with whatever you got in terms of budget and equipment. When you finish your work, get as much critique as you can. Slowly increase your caliber and scale up for bigger projects.
Finally, submit your works to festivals to build your brand. Create a reputation and keep working towards the bigger picture.
Study Film Theories
What is film theory and why do you need to study them? To begin with, you can consider film theory as a range of different tools that you can use to explain how film actually works. In other words, it’s a scholarly pursuit that attempts to explicate the essence of what film is.
Film theories, although, seem very difficult and complicated to make sense of, still they can assist you in a number of ways, once you learn them. You’ll see, how it reflects and provides commentary on the society it came from.
Now, in the beginning theorists broke down movies to analyze them according to their place in society.
By studying these, trust me you’ll get better at reading films. The more you get better at reading films (which is a must if you want to become a better filmmaker) the more meaning you’ll be able to implement in your own work.
If you come to think of it, you literally can’t create a unique film without the basic understanding of what came before you. So, where do you start? First of all, you can start with the book called “Concepts in Film Theory” by Dudley Andrew.
This book focuses on the key concepts in film study: perception, representation, signification, narrative structure, adaptation, evaluation, identification, figuration, and interpretation.
The writer also builds an overall view of film, presenting his own ideas on each concept, and giving a sense of the interdependence of these concepts.
The next one you can read is “Men, Women, and Chain Saws” by Carol clover. Here, Carol Clover has offered a radical perspective on the creativity and influence of horror cinema since the mid-1970s.
Another book that you can digest is “Film Form” by Sergei Eisenstein, the father of modern film theory. This book is his collection of essays where he attempts to create a set of tools that film enthusiast can use to read film as texts.
Bear with me as I mention one last book that may help you understand the theories a bit better. That is, “Sculpting in Time” by Andrej Tarkovsky, the genius of modern Russian cinema. He has left his testament, a remarkable revelation of both his life and work, and explored the problems of visual creativity in this book.
Try different roles and embrace diversity
Once you find your footing on your local film community, don’t get stuck on one thing only. Always be open and curious to try different roles in the set. The world of filmmaking is also a great way to explore yourself.
Switching roles will not only make your creative repertoire, but also make you a more complete professional. You never know what might suit you better.
Once you start trying different things, you’ll start to see that, every single role has its own world of experience and opportunity, no matter how small that role is.
It can be lighting, make up, props, acting or even editing. Try them all. But be careful not to be too hasty about this. Trying lots of things doesn’t necessarily mean jumping from one thing to another. Take your time, learn the details of different things and these knowledges come in to play to filmmaking.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll automatically know whether it’s a thing that you want to do or go back to whatever that is you wanted to do at the first time. It’s a win-win. Knowledge is permanent. Nobody can take that away from you.
Or who knows…maybe you’ll end up finding editing more fun than directing? So, don’t stay in one place. Try different things but take time to learn them properly. This industry is too huge and diverse to do one thing only anyway.
Making your First Short Film
It’s a good way to start your career in filmmaking. Keep it simple and not extravagant. Now, keeping things simple is the hardest thing to do in the world. That also makes it more interesting and challenging. Short films make you think more as you have to tell your story within a very tight time space.
As you’re left with limited time, you’ve to learn to plan your project more properly. Try to make it shorter than it needs to be. To get your message across your audience in a short time period, is not an easy task at all.
That’s why, making this will prepare you for the longer journey up ahead. So, keep your story short and engaging, that’s it.
Some Gentle Tips
Here you’ll find some tips that might help you create a better short film. Chances are you probably know most of them already. Still, read them if you like. Who knows, they might be useful sometimes?
Get Their Attention Early
When you’re making your short film try to capture the audiences’ attention right from the word go. Because if you fail to do so, you won’t have much time to make it up, given the short amount of time left.
Try to unsettle the viewers with the very first frame. Once the viewers are hooked, they’ll be engaged in your work.
Keep it Pacey
Slow isn’t the word that you’re going to keep in your brochure of the film. Not that it’s bad, but come on, it’s a short film that you’re making. Keep the plot moving at a nice speed and the tension rising.
Make the audience think of what’s going to happen next. Keep them engaged with a fast paced and invoking storyline, that’s it.
Avoid Redundancy by all Means
To maintain such engaging and fast paced story, it’s needless to say that you don’t have any place for clip that hasn’t any real value that can add up to the main story.
They might steer away the audiences’ attention and hamper the integrity of your work. So, exclude the unnecessary bits and keep your story airtight.
The simpler the best
Generally, when you’re making a short, you can’t cover a huge plot which would include more characters and more places. You’ll have a hard time achieving something like that. Instead, keep it simple. Don’t over complicate your story with multiple plots and keep the character number to a bare minimum. Keep it tidy.
Show… Don’t Tell
Now, this is the fun bit of making a short. Use all your creativity and skill to make it an artistic piece of film that screams class. To be able to achieve that, don’t point directly to your audience what you’re trying to portray. Rather, do it passively yet not too vaguely.
The fun part among them is that, this is where you get to spread your wings of creativity. You can use anything to set the mood. You can use imagery, metaphors, lighting techniques, color, sound effects and editing to portray your thoughts and emotions.
Make Your Audience Think
Last but not least, get your audience more engaged. You can do that, by letting them use their imagination. In this age, people don’t like to think too much. Pretty much everything is self-explanatory and rather straightforward. Today’s films can make the viewers go wow. But very few can make them think.
I know all the things I’ve said so far are pretty difficult to execute in a short film. But you’d be surprised to know that there are so many quality short films that are racking up praises from all sorts of film festivals and around the world of general viewers like you and I.
Because in the end, when you meet your friends at the pub, they’ll mention that 4-minute short film that made him/her to hit pause on their life for a bit and think. For a short filmmaker, that is an achievement.
It’s very likely that you’ll use the online platform to publish your work. It’s easier to reach a lot of people. But there’s another possibility that people won’t watch the whole thing. Let’s face it, we don’t stay still…it’s true. We keep scrolling unless it’s something striking or out of the ordinary.
Which is why, a good opening is so important. The one and only purpose is to get your viewer, who is just scrolling and scrolling, hooked. How can you do that? With a nice and unique opening. You can achieve that in a multiple way.
You can use unusual framework or very good camera movement which will make the audience think, this piece of work is not like other. It also helps your work stand out in the crowd. To get them more engaged, you can use evocative sound and music.
Another thing can be very useful but only if you play your cards right. The opening doesn’t necessarily have to be the beginning. You can start from the climax of the story without revealing more. But just enough to get their attention.
The Structure of Your Story
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to the structure of the story. It completely depends on you. Now, you could follow the story structure that you grew up watching in feature films that have a beginning, a middle and end.
In this structure, you introduce the characters and the place. Later on, work towards the plot where they are met with certain problems or challenges. It’s called a set up. The later part is called development. Here, the characters work to resolve the problems or overcome the challenges.
Finally, the resolution, where the story comes an end.
Now in terms of short films or any films, you don’t necessarily need to follow this. You should always tell your story in an interesting and unusual way so that it brings the audiences closer to your work. You can experiment with the story structure in any way you can, as long as it has a certain appeal.
Which brings the matter of twists… How can you implement them in your work? What most people do these days when they’re making a short film, they surprise the audience by revealing something unexpected or intriguing at the end.
Please be advised not to take that approach always. Instead of making one bit of the film interesting try to make the whole film full of twists and turns. Keep untangling the story the whole time. In that way, the viewers will be more engaged to your film.
Be careful not to butcher it though. Or maybe you can. If… it makes sense. So, you can see there’s a lot of scope for you to be creative. Being creative will let you discover the new and interesting ways to tell stories that haven’t been discovered before.
Especially those Christopher Nolan movies… See how he doesn’t tell his stories in a parallel way. Instead, he experiments with them and still make them interesting.
Now, you can take inspiration from directors like him and study them to implement or invent new ways…your own way to tell your story through camera.
Here your studying will come in handy. Ideas are hard to come by, not to mention good ideas. Creating a short film that engaging is also very tough. So, what can you do? The easiest way is to read the famous writers’ short stories.
You can read Anton Chekov or Edgar Allan Poe for example. But when you do, you have to keep in mind that, they are famous and there’s a good chance that someone else has already done it.
Hence, think outside the box. Take inspiration from those famous stories and create your own. Or you can tweak them in such an unusual way that completely unsettle the audience.
Outside classic literature, there’re a number of ways you can create good-captivating stories. For starters, you can play with the time frame. Like, how would Don Quixote behave in today’s world? The possibilities are endless.
You can also experiment with point of views and change the narrative of the story. Even a dull story can become rather intriguing with changes like that. You can work with a constrictive space or bring famous historical character to life from completely different timeline and place.
Learning the Filmmaking Process; Step by Step
In this part of the article the whole filmmaking process will be discussed. I’ll try to cover pretty much everything step by step, from how to plan and shoot your movie to how to edit and share them. So, read on…
This is also called the development and pre-production stage. Here you’ll work out your filmmaking idea. You have to decide how the story would unfurl itself. This part is hugely important as you have to think all the way through. Only after that, you should get ready to film.
In a broader sense, what exactly do you plan and more importantly, how do you plan on making your movie after you’ve established the way you’re going to tell the story? Well, you have to spend much time on your story, then you have to plan your shots, how to organize them, think of the locations, staffs etc.
The story: portrayal of the idea
To be captivating, your story must have a splendid idea. No matter how hard it’s to grasp, you have to make sure that it’s not that difficult to understand. In the end, people go to theatres to have a good time with their friends. You don’t want them to spend one and a half hour, and don’t understand a thing.
For example, Interstellar. A movie tried to define Black hole! I don’t think anybody fell asleep while they were in the theatre as they jabber about science. Instead, the movie was made in such a way that, it touched everyone, both in terms of head and heart.
So, simplify your idea. Once you done that, you can think about how you can turn this idea into a movie. There are a few ways of doing this. For one, you can use mindmapping. Here you can jot down all the ideas that might come in handy. It’s a start!
Another thing you should definitely consider when learning filmmaking is write a treatment. A treatment is a detailed description of the story. This is written mapped out version of your film where it includes information like, how it would look and sound on the screen. You can look up James Cameron’s original treatment for The Terminator.
Planning the shots
Always make storyboards to plan how you’re going to film a scene. Organizing things like these would be a huge help to you and your crew.
When you plan your shots in advance, it’ll give you multiple advantages. Your work will make more sense, you’ll waste no time and you can have a clear idea what equipment you’re going to need on the day of the shooting.
Now, if you’re not good at drawing you can always use a digital still camera. You can also make a shot list and check them off as you shoot. To make things more convenient, you can download free storyboards and shot lists from internet. Trust me, they’re a great help and make life much easier for any filmmaker.
One other thing that you could try is that, you could draw plans of the locations where you would shoot.
It’ll provide you a nice organized mental image of where you’re going to put your camera. So, when you set foot on the set, you won’t waste time wondering how to shoot a scene. Also, when you plan, remember to follow the 180-degree rule.
What is 180-degree rule?
The chances are you already know this…but we’re going to discuss it thoroughly anyway. You can check if you’ve missed something. Alright, so what 180-degree rule does is that it gives you control over your images and invites you to think visually.
It’s a filmmaking guideline for spatial relations between two characters on screen. It sets an imaginary axis, or eye line, between two characters or between a character and an object.
By keeping the camera on one side of this imaginary axis, the characters maintain the same left/right relationship to each other, keeping the space of the scene ordinary and easy to follow.
This rule establishes orientation and breaking it will disorient and signal unease. On the other hand, bending the rule signals a gradual change in your scene. Let’s see how it works.
Just imagine you’re looking at a scene from the side and you can see the whole scene, right? Now, look at one character, they will be on the left-hand side of the scene facing right. The other character would be, naturally, looking at the opposite direction.
The problem about this is, the viewers won’t be able to see any sort of facial expression of your characters. They will also be unaware about what the characters are doing. So, the details of their action and expression won’t be visible from such shot and it would also be quite boring. How to make it interesting then?
The answer to this question is rather a simple one. Get closer and use separate shots, such as mid shots and closeups. It would be much better if you move the camera around so it’s almost full on to the characters making all the little details of their expressions and actions visible.
A perfect example of a scene like this would be the scene from the movie Inglorious Basterds. Where a German officer interrogates a farmer. The interrogation is a pretty long scene. Still the director, Tarantino keeps the audience hooked. Study this scene, you may learn a lot of cool stuffs.
Now, back to the discussion of using separate shots. When you have to shoot like this - first in one direction, then in the other direction – is called shot reverse shot.
The shots work nicely together because the camera is still on the same side of the character as it was in the long shot. When you edit them together, the viewers will easily understand that they’re looking at each other for they’re looking in the same direction as they were in the first long shot.
To ensure that it works, you have to imagine a line between the two characters which is called the axis of action. So, keep the camera on one side of that line and if you break the rule, you have crossed the line.
This is called the 180-degree rule because the camera can’t move more than 180 degrees (half a circle) around the characters.
Crossing the line
When you cross the line that means you’re breaking the rule. So, if the camera swaps over to the other side for one of the shots, the pictures won’t work together. Instead of facing each other, the characters will now look as if they are facing in the same direction.
Interesting thing is, you can break the line to indicate that something’s wrong about to happen. However, that should be done intentionally and thoughtfully. Lots of successful movies broke this rule, such as, The Shining, Requiem for a Dream, American Beauty, Hulk and many more.
Eyeline match and looking space
While joining shots together using shot reverse shot, be careful about eyeline match. This basically means that the gaze of the character in one shot has to line up with the person or thing they’re looking at in the next shot.
So, if one of your character is in a higher place than another, then the taller character should be looking down and smaller character should be looking up. In this case, frame the shots with looking space or nose room.
Changing the line
What do you do, when you need to change the line? Like, if you have to say, more than two characters or you need to show the other side of the scene to establish something else. Well, actually there’re couple of ways to achieve that without messing the audiences’ perceptions.
You can either take a long shot or a wide shot of the whole scene. You could also insert a cutaway or B-roll shot. There’s also closeup shot to show details or you could simply add a shot where the camera itself tracks or moves in an arc across the line.
In other words, this is where the audience get to see the camera move across the line during an uninterrupted shot within a scene.
Here, the viewer is aware of when you cross the line, and their orientation within the scene is maintained, not messed up- carried over from the previous 180-degree line.
This rule is perfect for shooting interviews. You can cut between interviewer and interviewee. But you might face some issues with eyeline, just in case you’re filming up close and wide angle. Here, the interviewee may seem to be looking off to one side that might seem a bit evasive.
You can handle this issue by keeping both camera positions really close to the axis, and moving back to reduce the angle between the interviewee’s eyeline and the camera.
When your character is on the move, the axis is the direction they are moving to. If you cross the line they’ll look as if they’re going in a different direction.
Let your main character move from left to right and antagonist or people who are going to obstruct the main character right to left. This rule is used in most of the films.
The 180-degree rule is part of the continuity system, the standard way of planning, shooting and editing a movie, so it makes sense.
This is a very important subject in filmmaking. What continuity means is that it ensures all the details in a film are consistent from shot to shot and from scene to scene. If a scene maintains the standard of continuity, each shot feels as though it seamlessly flows from the previous shot.
It reinforces a sense of realism in the story. It’s a way in which you can persuade the audience that they’re actually watching a real story with real characters. When continuity is maintained it’ll keep the viewers immersed and engaged in the film.
With so many days of filming and so many details in every shot, it can become extremely difficult to maintain continuity on a set. To make it work, follow the continuity system.
A system that constitutes a set of rules about what to film, where to put the camera, how to frame your shots and how to edit them together.
Match on action
Try to shoot at least two versions of each action, with different camera positions and framings, then cut between them when you edit. If you have only one camera which is very unlikely, you’ll have to repeat the action. Now, remember, when you edit between the shots, it’ll look smoother if you edit on the action.
Don’t cut during a movement, cut between the movements. However, don’t cut too many times. Remember the movie Taken 2? They cut at least five times for Liam Neeson to jump over a fence. That’s ridiculous.
The establishing shot
One of the core shots in cinematography is the establishing shot. It establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects. It shows the whole scene, generally, by taking a long or wide shot at the start of a scene.
It shows where, and sometimes when, the remainder of the scene takes place. While this seems like simple information to convey, there’re several ways to employ an establishing shot.
I’ve already mentioned the wide shot, you can also do this by taking a classic shot. Sometimes rather than using a wide shot you can simply shoot the particular place where the story will take place in a scene. It keeps things compact.
For example, rather than showing a whole cityscape, show the designated building where the action takes place or you can only show the floor. These shots were used in older movies. However, they can slow the pace down in some case. But if used correctly, it can fulfil the purpose.
More modern version of the establishing shot is to incorporate the story within the establishing shot itself. It can also convey time to the viewers. Some filmmakers don’t like to include text like ‘One year later’.
What can you do is that, if possible, return to a previous establishing shot and film in the same location but at a different time in the day or later in the year. By doing this, you can subtly indicate the passage of time.
This shot is instrumental for classical editing style in dialogue sequences. Film historian David Brodwell defines the film technique “wherein one character is shown looking (Often off-screen) at another character, and then the other character is shown looking "back" at the first character.
Since the characters are shown facing in opposite directions, the viewer unconsciously assumes that they are looking at each other.” This is one thing people learn at the “Advance” stage of “How to Learn Filmmaking” courses out there on the internet and in the institutes.
This needs a three-camera set up. The shots you should have for a basic shot reverse shot are: a two-shot of the characters usually in wide or medium shot; an over the shoulder shot on one character; and an over the shoulder shot on the character that the first character is speaking with.
It maintains continuity in conversation with characters filmed at eye-level. It draws the audiences in the dialogue as well as the story. It serves this type of invisible editing and helps to stay within the bounds of continuous time and space.
Besides shooting a conversation, you can also use shot-reverse shot to show where your character is going or looking. You can cut between closeups of people who are facing each other, filmed from almost in front. This feels more engaging than just filming from the side or in long shot.
If you have only camera you can still sustain such continuity. Shoot the sequence several times: one with both characters in the shot, then with mid shots and closeups of one character, then with mid shots or with closeups of the other person.
You can then alternate between the characters when you edit. In case, you’re filming someone moving, shoot some of the shots from in front and some from behind.
The 30-degree rule
To maintain continuity between different shots within a larger sequence of shots, filmmakers use the 30-degree rule. The thing is, it isn’t a scientific standard. A number of directors use an “Anything more than a 10-degree change in angle” while others say no less than 25 degrees.
It simply implies that, when you move your camera between shots, the camera should be moved a minimum of 25 to 30 degrees.
By doing this, you can avoid jarring transitions which are known as jump cuts. What this will do is, it’ll help you seamlessly piece together a larger sequence of shots in a manner that would be harmonious rather than jittery and incoherent.
Between the shots you can change your camera’s depth, perspective and angle. You have your freedom. But those changes should be made for the artistic integrity of your film, that don’t go against the pace or flow. Just don’t completely be oblivious about the technical fundamentals of each change in position.
The Point of view shot
This incredibly powerful shot offers the viewers an immersive cinematic experience. These types of shots are used to put audiences directly in the shoes of a given character. It also allows a director to shed light on a new perspective or highlight the important emotions of the world.
It is usually achieved by being positioned between a shot of a character looking at something, and a shot showing the character’s reaction.
This is a simple editing technique that delivers a big dramatic punch and greatly improves the quality of your work. So, what is cross cutting? To simply put, it’s about taking two or several film sequences and cutting between them as they progress.
It requires a firm grasp on pacing and timing even it looks simple to do. It establishes action occurring at the same time, and usually in the same place. In a cross-cut, the camera will cut away from one action to another action, which can suggest the simultaneity of these two actions but this is not always the case.
Now, before you start to construct your exciting sequence of cross-cut events, think about how each scene will affect the others around it. On the other hand, it’s an excellent way to speed things up or slow them down. Each little vignette you cut to can be as long or as short as you want.
Although, hanging on any given shot for too long could slow down the momentum. Conversely, if you cut away too quickly, it might be confusing for the viewer. You’ll need to use your best judgement.
The editing will be pretty obvious if the sound changes or disappears when the shot changes. To tackle this problem and maintain continuity, you can use diegetic sound that carries on from shot to shot. Also, you can add continuous background sound, such as wild track or ambience-when you edit.
With this point it brings us to the end of the topic continuity. It’s absolutely crucial that you maintain this while you’re making your movie. So, shoot and edit carefully, otherwise the integrity of your film will be lost.
It’s very important to make sure that you have enough different shots at your disposal to show everything you need to show. Getting all the shots you need for edit is called coverage.
The thing is, if you don’t have enough footage, you are restrained when you edit. It’ll have the probability that the sequence might not make any sense.
Wim Wenders said, “Before you say ‘cut,’ wait five more seconds. Especially when you’re filming an action sequence, begin recording a few seconds before the action starts. When the action ends, don’t cut immediately. Wait for a few seconds and then cut. Trust me, it’ll help you a lot when you edit later on.
So, it’s actually very efficient and convenient at the same time to shoot more than you think. Say, you need three shots of a single sequence, get five or more. The more coverage you have, better the end result will be when you edit.
Ways of getting coverage
There’re a certain number of rules and patterns that will help you getting enough coverage. This will come in great help in situations where you can’t plan your shots in advance.
The first way is to move in. To set the scene, begin with an extreme long shot or wide shot. It’s a great way to introduce the people. You can also use mid shots to do that. After that, use closeups and show their expressions.
Now, it’s very important to use different camera positions. Set them around, above or below the subject as well. Don’t shoot everything from a same position. Getting shots from different angle will get you enough coverage and make your editing easier.
Interestingly, you can approach this the whole way around by starting with closeups or a series of closeups. Maybe then you can add mid shots and wide shots. What this’ll do is that, if you start by taking closeups of a particular action, it’ll create drama and anticipation to the shot.
Finally… when you use the wide shot, it’ll release the tension and reveal what the action is about and where is it happening.
Then there’re three and five shot rules. Three-shot rule is very simple. Film your subject, then what is it that your subject is doing. Then film your subject and the action again. On the other hand, the five shot rules were devised to help TV journalists who were starting to shoot their own stories.
Other means of getting coverage
You can either use shot B-roll or a master shot. The first one refers to shooting plenty of necessary details, or shots of another part of the scene that add up to your story. These work extremely well for covering edits that don’t go seamlessly.
The second one refers to wide or long shot of the whole sequence from start to finish. The beauty of this shot is, you can get back to it whenever your others shots don’t cut together properly.
Always check your location where you’ll film your movie. Get all the information about it. Like whether you need permission to shoot there or would you have to pay? You don’t want to show up at a location and later find out that you can’t shoot there because you lack proper permission.
Hence, when you visit your desired location there’re couple of important matters that you need to be careful of. For starters, would you be able to put your cameras into positions where you need them to be.
Besides, does that place possess any threats and if it does, what measures can you take to reduce them?
Next thing you want to check is the light condition of your location. If there’s enough light, you needn’t bring lighting equipment with you. Also, will there be any interruptions while you film your sequence. Now, in case you want to record live sound, make sure there aren’t any distracting background noise.
If there are, then you have to prepare yourself according to that. Besides, if the location has hard walls and floors which cause echo, bring soft furnishing, rugs or curtains. Hence, check your location carefully and make sure it doesn’t halt the progress of your work. In short, be well prepared.
Coaches or teachers will tell you, “You’re a newbie. There’s still room for mistakes when you’re doing courses on how to learn filmmaking. Take it easy when selecting actors.”
Yes, I agree. Yet, being cautious hasn’t hurt anybody till this day, right?
I’d advise you to choose your actors wisely. Audition them and see how they perform in front of the camera. Be absolutely sure whether they’ll be able to portray the characters that you want them to. In case of documentary, work out who to film or interview. This will be a good prep-work for a beginner.
Before you start filming, make sure you get everyone to sign contracts or release. Don’t leave this task for later. It’s unprofessional. Having a compact contract with the people you’re working with will save you from unwanted issues.
Organizing the shot
This is a very crucial part if you ask me. Organize your shots. Have as much as detail and information you can gather. Then use them to plan in detail what you’re going to film and when, and what equipment will you be needing on each day.
Shooting a film is a very complex thing. So, it’s better if you schedule your shooting. In this way, you’ll know exactly which gears you need and most importantly what you need from your crew. There’s no point of bringing everyone to everywhere, right?
Planning factual films
The whole thing about organizing your shots are a bit of different when you’re shooting a news coverage or documentary item. There’s a kind of uncertainty - you don’t know where exactly what’s going to be there.
Still, you can and you should plan ahead. Try to find out as much as possible about the place or story. When you have that information create a list of kinds of shots you’re going to use in your film.
Let’s say, you’ll be interviewing people. Contact with them and make sure they’re available. Also, draft some questions to ask them. It’s even better to let them know what you’re going to ask before you shoot to avoid any embarrassing moments.
When you can’t visit your locations in advance, you still can organize how you’re going to make it work. You might be covering a news story in a different part of the country or abroad. In this case, study your location by collecting materials from books or internet. Try to get in touch with someone local if you can.
Storyboarding the whole thing before you get to your location will be a huge help. In this way, you’ll be mentally prepared and have a clear idea of what sort of shots that you’ll have to work with. When you organize things like that, you should face less difficulties getting your job done in time.
For any sorts of commercial movies, planning has two stages. One is called Development and the other is Pre-Production. The first stage covers the idea, getting the necessary rights and funding, and writing a screenplay. The latter part is the detailed planning and preparation for filming.
Filming Your Movie
It’s been already discussed that if you plan well ahead, filming your movie will be a lot easier. So, let me remind you once more, plan very carefully.
Shooting Simple Films
Shooting a record of a place or an event might not require to follow a storyboard or script. But having a clear concept of what you’re going to film, doesn’t matter if it’s a simple shot or not, will help you immensely on the spot.
Also, when you’re working on your sequence, try to get as much as shot you can. From extreme long shots to show the surrounding, long shots and mid shots of people, and plenty of closeups of people and things.
Are you ready to Start Filming?
Set up each shot carefully. If you’re not careful enough, or even worse, if your shots aren’t well thought out that’ll make a stain on your work…trust me. So, even before your start filming, find the perfect position for your camera by moving a bit.
Oh, and remember to take matters like, framing, the light and the correct background into your consideration.
Let’s discuss those matters with slightly more details. Firstly, you want to check your framing. This is the most vital thing in filming. So, make sure not to cut out anything important. Also, be careful not to add anything that might distract or confuse your viewers.
Then, it’s the light. When you look through your viewfinder, check if it’s too bright or dark. Change the exposure level according to your need if the natural light isn’t what you want for your shot.
Now, focusing. Check it carefully. If it’s a shallow focus shot, make sure your camera is in the right place and the right part of the scene is in focus.
Next, check the sound. Make sure you have a totally quiet set, then listen for half a minute. Try to spot any sound that might come out on your film. If you can spot it, look for ways to stop it. After stopping it, check the sound on headphones again.
Finally, check that every single person of your crew is ready. Say ‘standby’ or just tell people that you’re about to start filming.
Getting everything you need
While filming, make sure you have everything you need. Get maximum coverage for your project. Take time to get all the shots you need or may not need. Don’t leave anything to chance when you’re editing. When you have enough shots at your disposal, you won’t face any issues like, awkward jumps or gaps later you when you edit.
Follow the rule of thumb when you’re shooting factual items. For example, if you’re showing a character doing something, at first introduce the setting with a couple of long shots or extreme wide shots. Then get shots of the person, the thing and the person with the thing.
Filming extra shots always going to be helpful when you edit. Another way to ensure you’ve maximum coverage is to film a master shot. It’s a long shot or very long shot of all the action. Don’t forget to shoot cutaways-details of other parts of the scene. You can then cut back to these shots to cover any problems or gaps when you edit.
You have to work a little hard if you’ve got only one camera. But you can still make it work. Especially when you’re shooting a drama scene, set up the camera for a master shot in a position that will cover the whole action. Once done that, film the characters doing the whole scene again, before you film the mid shots and closeups.
In case of live events or performance, a second camera is a must. Set that up on a tripod from where it can cover the whole action. Don’t worry about it anymore, just start it and leave it running. One thing though, if it’s a SLR camera that you’re using, you won’t be able to record for long. So, if the event lasts longer, you’ll need to use a camcorder instead.
If you’re going to cut between closeups of two actors talking to each other it’s better that you film the whole scene with the camera on one actor. After that, move the camera round to face the other actor and film the whole scene again. You can then cut between these shots, and the cutaways and master shots, when you edit.
When you’re shooting interviews, you can use this exact same technique. Follow the rules of continuity so that the shots will go seamlessly with each other.
The importance of rehearsing is paramount, if you want to take your film to another level. The more your actors rehearse the better their performance will be on the film. When they rehearse, you can work out where to put the camera for each shot. This process is called blocking.
But be sure to give the actors a little bit of freedom so that, they can improvise. Sometimes the best moments in movie occur when they do something that’s not in the script. As you know the history of film is full of magical moments that weren’t even on the scripts.
For example, in the movie Django unchained where Leo cut his hand and kept on acting with real blood on his hand. Another famous scene is where Heath Ledger claps sitting in jail was an improvisation. The point is, rehearse and leave a little space for the actors to be creative.
How much to film
A good director always knows how much to film. For stationary subjects, or general shots of scenes or people, shoot at least ten seconds of each shot. On the other hand, for scenes where people are talking or acting, you need to ‘top and tail’ your shots.
This basically means starting the camera a few seconds before the starting of the action and leaving it running for a few seconds after it ends. So, don’t say cut right away.
When you’re working alone, start the camera and check whether it’s recording. Then count slowly to five, and then give the actors a signal. When they are done, wait for five more seconds before you stop.
There’s a drill which you can follow, that’s very effective if you’re working as team.
Set up your camera and get the actors in their place. The camera operator will say ‘Camera Set’ when they’re ready. Then the director will ask everyone to be quiet. Once everyone’s quiet, say ‘Standby’ and then ‘Turn over.’
After that, the camera operator will start the camera and check whether it’s recording. Then the/she’ll say ‘Camera Rolling.’ Hearing that, the director will count to five and say ‘Action.’ It can also be done with a hand signal.
Normally, the actors or presenters will do their thing and when they’ve done that, the director will count to five again and say ‘Cut’. Then the camera operator will stop the camera and the production assistant will make necessary notes of the shot and take on the shot list.
Get the Location Sound
Always record at least half a minute of background noise from your location. Don’t include dialogue while you do this. Recording this kind of background noise is called atmos, wild track or room tone. They’ll be of great use in times of editing.
To do this, ask everyone on your unit to be quiet, then just leave your camera or audio recorder running for thirty seconds. Now, if by chance, the location where you’re filming has interesting or distinctive sounds which might help you tell your story better, then record them separately as well.
Before you leave
It’s better if you check what you’ve filmed before you leave the set. It might not be possible always for a number of reasons. But, if you can, do. Otherwise, at least check that you’ve filmed everything on your storyboard or shot list.
Editing and Sharing
After shooting your film, you need to get it together in one single piece and have it ready for sharing. This is a crucial stage in the process of filmmaking and it’s called Post-Production. Usually there are a number of professionals involved in this stage. They work as the vital element that holds the movie together
In this stage, the editing of the visual and audio materials starts. In other words, cutting raw footage, assembling that footage, adding music, dubbing, necessary sound effects and other magic that make those shots into a movie happen in this stage.
The task of editing will be much easier if you’re well organized, before you start. So, try to formulate and follow a definite plan.
Basic Editing Principles for Filmmakers
Every film enthusiast will agree that film editing is an art. It requires top tier skill, artistic mind and most importantly, practice of assembling shots into a coherent sequence. It’s the key that blend images and sounds, and if done correctly, it possesses the quality of connecting the audience emotionally with a film.
It’s unarguably the most important and interesting job in the film industry. Because the decisions you make about which shots to use, how you put them together, and how you use sound will definitely make a huge difference to your film.
In this part of this article, I’ll try to lay out some basic editing guidelines that might help you when you’re working on your project. So, read on.
Shoot for Editing
Professional filmmakers always encourage to think about editing when you shoot your film. With that in mind, your editing will be more flawless and also, the end result will be as exactly as you pictured in your head.
Previously when I talked about continuity and coverage, this is exactly what I meant. Following those rules and advice will help you to film shots that will edit better together.
Be economic: select only what your story needs
It can be a little difficult for directors from time to time. Let me tell you why. Sometimes you can’t put your favorite shots in your film if they don’t help tell the story. It will happen and you have to let them go. I may sound dramatic, but it’s true. So, you have to leave out some good stuffs if they don’t fit in your story.
So, choose only the clips that show essential action. Leave the clips that don’t add anything to the story. Besides, when you cut, try to show a different subject or a new view of the same thing. You can do that with different shot sizes or camera positions.
One thing though, avoid cutting between two same shots of the same thing. But if you want a ‘jump cut’ for effect that’s different.
Step between shot sizes
Hope you aren’t getting bored with these DO’s and DON’T’s. Just bear with me. Now, consider mid-shot as an in-between to bring the viewers with you. Because if you cut straight from an extreme long shot to an extreme closeup, naturally, your viewers won’t understand where closeup fits into the main sequence.
Hide Jumpy Edits
Use cutaway shots to hide jumpy edits. This important tool offers you to get creative and fix any sort of continuity errors. This refers to a shot that cuts away from the main action to any shot that adds visual information, and then returns to the original shot with new meaning.
These aren’t always easy to shoot, remember that. So, they can serve as already mentioned a band aid for shooting mistake and often happen in editing room.
Using a master shot
Often paired with a wide shot, a master shot helps the viewer to remind them where everything fits into the scene. They have the ability to immerse an audience into the cinematic experience like no other shot due to their realism and action.
For example, think of the series Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. They are both full of incredible master shots that set up the mood and tone of a sequence. So, remember to use them properly.
Maintain the pace of your movie. It’s crucial for both the artistry and integrity of your film. So, how do you maintain the pace of your film?
Be very careful of how long a shot should be on the screen for people to understand it. Don’t keep it on the screen longer than it needs too. It might result in boredom of audience. The duration for closeups, simple shots, and stationary shots will be short.
On the contrary, long shots, extreme long shots, and shots with details will be on the screen for a longer period of time. Keep a consistent pace. Don’t change shot too suddenly. It might look clunky.
Transitions are known as the ‘joins’ between two shots. These, however, aren’t used in films too often due to their jarring nature. Don’t use transition if your scene has continuous action or one short space of time.
Instead, use cuts. Because, transitions are much less organic than a pan or a cut. Using fades or dissolves, may confuse people. But you can use these to show that you’ve left out a short space of time or part of a journey.
However, when used properly, transitions can actually serve a purpose that other editing techniques cannot fulfill. Especially in movies like, Ocean’s Eleven and Red, you could see some really good work of transitions.
So, try not to overuse them. But if you do use them, use them in a way that it feels like they’re embedded in the film naturally.
Edit on the Action
We always see this in movies and shows. They cut while an action is happening. So, rather than cutting at the beginning or at the end of an action, cut while it’s happening. It’ll add spice and flavor to the scene and the shot will look smoother.
Don’t Cut Moving Shots to Still Shots
It’s a common sense that, if you cut something that’s moving in one shot and it’s static in the very next shot…it’ll be jarring. Let the movement flow in a natural way, let it come to an end before you cut to a still shot.
It’s jarring if you know something moving in one shot and it’s not moving in the next shot. Let the movement come to an end before you cut to a static shot.
Pay Attention to the Sound
Unless you’re trying to shock the audience, don’t make sudden changes in sound level, or dead silence. Also, it’s very natural that you’ll have more than one audio track. In this case, you have to balance the sound levels carefully.
If the dialogue is buried under the background sound, or music, then the viewers will not understand the story. Another thing is, you can keep things smooth by adding wild track, room tone or ambience. It’ll help you create another level of authenticity to the environment of your movie.
Use split edits for dialogue scene. This is where the sound changes at a different time from the picture. They are also known as J-cuts and L-cuts. Use J-cuts as a sound bridge between separate scenes, where you hear the sound from the new location before you actually see it.
Another important thing is, while editing people lose track of how it fits into the sequence. It happens more than we like to admit. So, it’s better to play several shots together. In that way, you can always check how it all works together.
Before you begin
There’re couple of things that you need to check before you even start editing your film. Let’s discuss them one by one…
Save and Backup
Use autosave. Trust me, it’ll save you a lot of trouble. Because no matter how good your rig is, video editing programs are prone to crashing from time to time. Which is why, there’s a chance that you might lose hours of work if your program crashes before you save. So, set your software to autosave or save manually. Make it a habit.
The next thing is having a solid backup plan. You can’t possibly take the risk of losing your original video files, or project files that you’ve spent days working on. Be extra cautious to avoid any unwanted circumstances and have backups.
Keep your backups on different rigs. If one crashes, you can always use the other one. Try to back up every hour.
Speaking of which, find out where your program keeps the files to know exactly which files you need to back up. Don’t just back up the project files only: you need backups of the media as well.
Most editing programs don’t include the actual video file into the project file that you imported from your camera. Usually, they’re stored somewhere else on the computer or an external drove. Besides, don’t move your files because if the originals are moved, the project file won’t be able to use them. As a result, your film won’t play properly.
Choose the stuff you’re going to use
If your project is rather small, load all the clips onto the computer. Then work your way to the finish. But you’ve filmed lots of materials, check each clip first. Use a logging sheet for doing this. While checking, make little notes about each clip and import the good ones.
Don’t delete rest of the clips unless you’re absolutely sure that you won’t need them later on. Here’s an advice: don’t get rid of them. You never know…they might be useful later. Start by creating a project after opening your editing program. Give your project a name.
Get your videos into your editing program
These steps are very basic. Connect your camera to your computer with a USB cable, or slot the memory card into the computer or a card reader. Import the clips using the program. However, if you’ve recorded your works with a tape camera, you’ll need a Firewire (IIEE1394) lead.
As it happens, you can lose track of stuff on bigger projects. In that case, it’s wise to organize your video into separate ‘bins’ or ‘folders’. Later give those folders specific names, so you know what they have in them.
Form a plan and follow it
Planning your edit and executing them will be pretty easy, if you’ve already planned your film with a storyboard.
But, projects like documentaries and events hold a bit of a challenge. To edit these type of projects, you can work out the edit on paper first. Once you lay out a sketch of your plan, start editing. Trust me, it’ll be much easier and convenient.
If it’s too long, make it shorter
Films generally have lot of separate sequences and they can be pretty complicated too. The best possible way to edit them is to start by dividing them into shorter sequences. Work on them and assemble them all together into the longer film.
When you’re editing drama or action, begin editing by putting the shots in order. Then trim them casually which is called the rough cut. After that, begin editing, adjust sound levels and add sound and visual effects. By doing so, you’ll have a clearer idea of how the sequence will work even before you start fine-tuning it.
In case you’re making a music video or a ‘digital story,’ import the soundtrack and then fit your shots to it. You can also put ‘markers’ on the timeline to see where the cuts should go. Some editing software might not have marker option. But, you can still use the audio waveforms to help you edit your shots.
Go back and review
Every time you finish editing some part of the film, always go back and see what you’ve done so far. Measure your work in a frequent manner. If the finished work needs more adjustments, you’ll see them when review them over and over.
When you adjust them, keep going back to see if they’re working seamlessly together. Watch the whole sequence every now and then.
Beta test your work
If you feel like, you’ve done a good edit, show it to other people. Ask them to give educated feedback. Study them. If the feedback demands something to be changed or modified then revise that part of the sequence again. After making the changes show them your work again.
The final touches
In this step, just fine-tune your work. Smooth out the sound and ensure that the colors match from shot to shot. Fine-tune the sound levels. It shouldn’t get too loud or vary too much. Make sure there’s no dead silence and the dialogues are not buried under the background music.
Color grade your video and give your film a consistent style. This has much deeper effect on the story. Proper color grading can motivate the viewers and make them more engaged to the movie. Last but not least, add titles and credits.
Export and distribution
Simply save and backup your work on different devices. Export your project at the highest quality. If needed for video sharing sites like Vimeo or say YouTube, export lower-quality copies. On the other hand, if you want your movie to be screened in front of audiences, better work out a distribution strategy first.
Normally this is the task of a professional film distributor who would also determine the media by which the film will be exhibited or made available for viewing. This also includes setting the release date and other matters.
In the end
Thankfully, we’re at the end of this article. I hope I was able to give you some insights that you were looking for. Now to end, all I have to say is that, learning never stops. It’s like a journey that has no fixed destination. All you can do is keep moving and moving.
To really learn the art of filmmaking, you have to be a lover of cinema first. Love it enough that it itself guides you and shows you the path to where you should tread on to learn it. Once you begin to walk the correct path that you chose to walk out of passion and love, what could go wrong?