How to Shoot Film: A Beginners Guide to Capturing Great Video and Audio

How to Shoot Film: A Beginners Guide to Capturing Great Video and Audio

Have you ever seen an amazing movie and thought to yourself, I wish I could bring something like that to the big screen? Plenty of people have, and for a good reason, as learning how to shoot film is one way to transform your creative ideas into a reality that everyone can pointing your camera at a subject and recording their every move.

How to Shoot Film

If you’re trying to understand how you can shoot a film at home or on your own, consider these important things to pay special attention to when you’re trying to capture great audio and video.

DOF (Depth of Field)

Every single director that you ever speak to will say one of the most important things you need to look out for is your depth of field, as this will set an overall look for the specific scene or the entire short film you’re working on. You’re going to need to dive deep into your pockets for this one, as you’re going to need to have access to an assortment of lenses that can be easily interchanged on your camera.

Your depth of field is essentially how much of the image is in focus, for example, you’ll be working on the focus to draw the viewer’s eye to a particular area of the frame. If you’re trying to insinuate that a particular item is important in advance (foreshadowing), you’ll be working with depth of field. Even if you’re trying to make one character stand out for another, you’ll have to work on your focusing as well.

Frame Rate

When it comes to choosing the right frame rate, it might not always rely on the rate that makes your film look better, but that instead is easier for your audience to get accustomed to. Since the beginning of film, cameras have always captured images at 24 frames per second, and as such, viewers have become accustomed to this filming style. When you’re first starting to learn how to shoot film, it’s best if you have your camera automatically set at 24 FPS.

But, it is important to consider what it is you will be filming, as a higher frame rate might be preferable for certain scenes. As an example, if you’re trying to capture slow motion you’re going to want to shoot at a higher FPS, such as 60 frames per second. This will allow you to slow the video down into slow motion, which will come out at 24 FPS, which is still viewable for audiences.

The most important thing to know about your frame rate is that it helps to blend all of your scenes together as stock recordings are far too perfect and sterile, which doesn’t help to blend an entire film together. At 24 frames per second, you’ll be able to create a realistic scene without having to worry about a lack of motion blur.

Moving the Camera

As arguably one of the biggest things the majority of filmmakers don’t pay attention to, camera movement is important to achieving a particular look for your film. Your camera movement will be dependent on what you attach your recording device to and how you make your way around a room. For example, affixing a tripod to your camera and capturing a still shot, or using the camera on your drone to get a moving shot.

There aren’t specific types of camera movement that will make your film look more or less professional, as this is up to the filmmaker and the general feel of your film. For example, if you’re shooting a traditional western you’re not going to need an aerial drone shot to add to its appeal.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that camera movement is a necessity otherwise your film is going to be boring. Just consider action movies which have incredibly high rates of camera movement, they are quite honestly one of the more exciting genres of film to watch. Ideally, you should take the time to move around with the camera instead of relying on a stable shot on a tripod.

Shutter Speeds

Choosing the right shutter speed is another important factor that will determine whether audiences will enjoy watching your film or not. A shutter speed that is far too slow is going to create ghosting trails behind characters in a scene as if they are moving around and leaving dust behind them. On the other hand, shutter speeds that are far too fast will force characters to look like they’re moving in fast forward and it can be difficult for the eyes to keep up.

The best tip that you can use when choosing the right shutter speed is to choose a setting that is twice your frame rate. For example, if you’re shooting at 24 frames per second, your shutter speed is supposed to be one/forty-eight.


No matter how professional your filming set up is or how many enhancement features you use in the editing booth, your lighting is one of the most important parts of learning how to shoot film. However, it is important to note that some mediums allow for a little wiggle room when it comes to lighting, as some digital cameras perform well in low lighting as well as bright lighting.

There are plenty of beginner filmmakers that assume they can just pick up a camera and start shooting, no matter whether it’s inside, outside, bright, or dark, but that is simply not the case. It’s important that you pay attention to any areas of a room that are dimly lit or that might make it difficult for the audience to see what’s happening in the scene.

It’s important to do a substantial amount of research on lighting alone, as there are dozens of different rules you’ll need to follow to capture the most stunning imagery possible.

How to Shoot Film: Is It Easy?

Although we would all like to assume that learning how to shoot film is as simple as picking up a camera and capturing video, that’s not the case. There’s a reason as to why it’s a highly paid career that people spend years studying towards, as there are hundreds of intricate details put into making blockbuster films. However, as a beginner, shooting film can be relatively simple as long as you pay attention to the five important features on this list.