5 Skills Every Filmmaker Needs

LAFS Film Student

Breaking Down The Steps To Success

Beginning your journey toward becoming a filmmaker is simple; building the skills necessary to make a successful break into the film industry takes much more time and commitment. While everyone will need different skill sets based on the position they’d like to have on set, for filmmakers, there are several skills that everyone – from directors to editors – must have. By fostering these 5 skills every filmmaker needs to succeed, you’ll be able to play a vital role in making films, no matter what that role may be.

1. Technological Expertise – or at the very least, a very solid working understanding of the latest filming technology and software.

One of the ways you can ensure you’re always wanted is to make yourself invaluable. As a filmmaker, that means having the technical experience required to do the job right and do it well. While you don’t have to be an expert on every element of filmmaking, it’s important to at least know what a good shot looks like and how to achieve it, including framing, staging, lighting, and the actual technology that should be used. As long as you know what you should be doing, you’ll have an easy time learning how to do it – especially when you’re learning by doing!
As a filmmaker, having some technical understanding of every piece of the filmmaking process is imperative; this includes camerawork, lighting, sound, special effects, design, post-production processes, and more. All of this is nearly impossible to learn on your own, but with the right resources and enough hands-on experience, you can prepare yourself for all of the technical aspects of filmmaking.

2. Flexible Creativity

It’s impossible to make films without creativity, and you can’t claim to be a creative filmmaker if you haven’t invested your time in understanding the range of filmmaking specialties. As a filmmaker, whether you’re hoping to work as a director, producer, post-production coordinator, or otherwise, you need the creative talent to be able to visualize the production of a film. From start to finish, filmmaking requires vision from everyone involved in the process – everyone feeds into and off of the ideas for a film, and no matter what you hope to be specializing in as a filmmaker, you should be prepared to contribute to the creation of a film in any way that’s needed; that includes working in positions that may not be your dream job but still require you to use your creativity to contribute to a film as a whole. If you’re both creative and flexible, you can always find a way to contribute as a filmmaker, whether you’re just starting out, or you’re running the show.

3. Written and Visual Storytelling

Although filmmakers can spend hours, months, and even years physically making a film, there’s no way to make a film – or at least a successful film – without the skills needed for both visual and written storytelling. Although not everyone is a creative genius and not everyone will be able to write the best scripts and create the best storyboards, everyone can foster the skills needed to understand, draft, evaluate and analyze stories, including written scripts and wordless visual stories. Even if you’ll have no role in writing a script or creating the artistic visuals, as a filmmaker, you will need to understand the story you’re trying to portray so that you can create a film whose story is portrayed well throughout every element of production. If you’re working as a cinematographer, producer, director, or otherwise, you simply can’t be successful if you aren’t always aware of how the decisions you make affect the story – and vice versa.

4. Decisive and Problem-Solving Leadership

Whatever role you play as a filmmaker, you must be able to be responsible for every task your position requires, and you should be able to contribute to the work of others by understanding how your work affects and is affected by the work of everyone around you. That means that whether you’re leading production, directing, working behind the cameras, or otherwise, you’re acting as an effective leader whenever necessary – and in any way necessary.
Filmmaking is not simple; you’ll run into problems that you don’t know how to solve, have dilemmas that complicate your vision, or encounter obstacles that will require you to make difficult decisions before moving forward. When this happens, you’ll need to have quick and decisive problem-solving skills to avoid delays in production and ensure deadlines are met. Without the ability to decisively lead, even a filmmaker with creative vision and technical expertise could suffer under the difficulties of filmmaking.

5. Communication

In any industry and any position, communication is key. But when you’re a filmmaker working on set with countless other crew and cast members, good communication skills are absolutely necessary. Without the ability to effectively communicate, you’ll find that no amount of experience or filmmaking expertise can help you bring a vision to life and effectively communicate a story. You’ll be working with directors, producers, cinematographers, screenwriters, editors and other filmmaking experts who each need to have a solid understanding of their roles in a film, their individual instructions, a film’s creative vision, how the work of one team will affect that of another, and more. The only way to be sure everyone is on the same page on and off set is to make sure you’re communicating effectively at all times, whether you’re explaining your own artistic vision, or you’re clarifying your role in creating a film.

To foster each of these skills, you’ll need more than an insatiable desire to make films; you’ll need up-close and personal experience working on your trade. Whether you’re interested in traditional or digital filmmaking, you can gain the experience you need to thrive with the Los Angeles Film School. Through our filmmaking programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Film Production, an Associate of Science in Film, and a Bachelor of Science in Digital Filmmaking, you’ll work every day toward finding success in the film industry by nurturing these five filmmaking skills.