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GLOBAL – Movie making is a noble art, and – despite the evidence to the contrary on some amateur video sites – just pointing your Nokia N8’s camera at something funny isn’t going to win you an Academy Award. Here’s the top 10 tips for creating better videos.

  1. Record multiple takes: Even if something seems perfect, it can’t harm to have a back-up recording. It could well be that your second take is even better!
  2. Use close-ups: A 20 second shot of someone getting out of a car is boring. Use close-up shots of them grabbing the car handle, putting their shoe down in the dust, undoing their seatbelt, and locking the car. The rapid-fire editing keeps things interesting.
  3. Show, don’t tell: Seeing a character doing something (say, shaking their head) is more powerful on-screen than hearing them say something (like “no, I didn’t steal that car”).
  4. Pay homage: Nothing wrong with seeing a music video, news report or a movie scene that you like, and borrowing parts of it. Lighting, camera angles, or a snippet of dialogue are all fair game, as long as you are able to make it your own and integrate it into your own style.
  5. Find a tripod: There probably isn’t an official way of mounting your camera phone on a tripod, but that’s no excuse: get creative. A park bench and some Blu-Tac or a broom handle and a rubber band is a lot sturdier than your hands, and will instantly make your videos look more professional.
  6. Leave your camera zoomed out: Camera phones have great zooms these days, but it’s usually better to leave your camera fully zoomed out, and then move closer instead. You can practically taste the drama!
  7. Make a storyboard: Create a comic-book version of what you are hoping to shoot before you start filming. Visualising it in advance helps getting a uniform “feel” for your movie. You don’t even have to worry about being able to draw. Stick figures are better than nothing!
  8. Three-act-structure: Your film needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s not hard; Just set the scene for what’s about to happen, make it happen, and then round off by lingering on what just happened. You get bonus points if the end ties back to the beginning.
  9. Make the movie for you: You don’t have to worry about box-office success or what your mum is going to think. Make a movie you enjoy making, and would enjoy to watch.
  10. Continuity: No matter if you shoot over several days or over half an hour, keep an eye on continuity. The red car in the background vanishing and re-appearing between shots looks silly, and can easily be avoided.
A close-up shot of a fork cutting through a cake is more interesting than a long shot of someone stuffing their face

Imitate! If you're a big fan of Robert Rodriguez' contrasty style, then try adding it to your own movies, too.