feature film blog

How to make your first feature film to #MakeTheCut | Tips for first time Filmmakers

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Stanley Kubrick

Directing your first feature film can sound daunting and difficult – and no doubt that it is. Filmmaking is a world full of challenges and long hours of working hard, but at the same time it is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.

If bringing your first feature film to life has been on your mind, WWI Virtual Academy has got you covered with these tips that will help you #MakeTheCut:


1. Be clear of your concept
What is your feature going to be about? Establishing a concept and building your premise from there will lay a strong foundation for your feature film. Your basic concept will act as a guideline later on for you to decide important things such as the tone of the film, the storyline, the way you want it to be rendered, and the leading cast.


2. Plan one step ahead
Setbacks are a given in any project one will ever lay hands on. It’s the nature of business no matter how much you plan ahead. However, being aware of what could possibly go wrong will help you stay prepared for alternatives when a crisis takes place. Remember that challenges make great filmmakers!


3. Storyboard your entire film
You don’t necessarily have to be an illustrator to create a storyboard for your film. Start with creating a detailed shot list of all scenes in your film. Delve into the tiniest of details from your script and see how you can place each element in your storyboard to make the shot appealing. Your storyboard will help the teams stay in sync with your goal.


4. Hire a great crew
Behind every great filmmaker, stands a remarkable team! The size of your crew will depend on film size, but what is important is the quality of team members you choose to work with. A natural synergy between the entire crew will contribute towards bringing your true vision for your feature film to life.


5. Collaborate
Good collaborations can take you a long way, especially when it comes to making a feature film. Make the most use of the readily available resources to you.-. The right collaborations will not only contribute towards easing the budgets in case of limited resources, but also challenge your ideas to bring out the best possible outcome for your feature film.


6. Draw inspiration from the best in the industry
Studying other filmmakers who have established themselves in the world of filmmaking will act as a roadmap for your first feature film. You can watch interviews of successful filmmakers, read books, watch critically acclaimed films, and if you have access, then even have a direct conversation with successful filmmakers to draw your inspiration. Our online filmmaking courses enable students to gain access to specialized workshops and mentorship programs by industry experts.


7. Own the script, direction, and the characters
As a filmmaker, it is your responsibility to take the lead and ensure utmost creative output when faced with resource constraints. Try to get a hands-on experience at everything whether it is budgeting, scheduling, technicalities, editing and even casting. Working with every department personally will help you motivate each team to work towards a singular goal.


As a first-time filmmaker, it is important that you go with the flow, and discover your personal filmmaking style through your journey and its experiences. Let’s take Jim Cumming’s ‘Thunder Road’ for example – The movie started as a 12-minute award-winning short film and turned into a full-length feature that delves deeper into the journey of the protagonist character. The in-depth production meetings helped bring the best out of the written narrative visually whereas taking the path of self-distribution led to a global reach for the movie. From getting funded via a Kickstarter campaign to managing between writing-acting-directing, this comedy-drama is a showcase of Jim’s true passion.


WWI Virtual Academy’s Advanced Certificate Program in Filmmaking helps students of filmmaking build a solid foundation and get certified while learning at their own convenience and pace. Learn more here.