Become your own Indie Film Studio

So you want to study BFA Film at QUT? Welcome to the totally unofficial, probably mildly (perhaps even wildly) inaccurate guide of what I wish I had known three years ago.

FIRST UP: PROGRAMS YOU WILL USE

I can almost hear your shouts of joy.

But this is important- this will set you above the rest. Lights, and cameras and other QUT specific equipment are tricky to learn until you get here and get your grubby little hands on them. Programs are not. They are available and the sooner you learn them the more time you have to learn the expensive equipment.

Below is what you will definitely use. Learn ’em if you can get access to them. Otherwise don’t worry- they will be taught. Spend your time learning other stuff.

  • AVID Media Composer 5
  • ProTools (Sound)
  • MovieMaker (1st years only)

PROGRAMS YOU’LL WANT TO CONSIDER LEARNING (NOT EXPECTED HOWEVER)

Be competent in at least one of these. It will set you up above the rest.

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe AfterEffects
  • Cinema 4D
  • FinalCut Pro (or similar second editing program like Premier or Vegas)
  • Maya (if you have the hardware to power it)

SOME SITES YOU’LL WANT TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH

Filmmaker IQ    – Great for general all around articles on film making, interviews, equipment roundups and just plain old inspiration

Video CoPilot       – If you can use Adobe AfterEffects or have the patience to get better at it, this is your site. The great thing about special effects is that they cost nothing but time (and the initial cost of AfterEffects- but QUT has it loaded on most of their Z block computers). Also Aetuts + is great for AfterEffects Tutorials.

Scriptshadow – Awesome resource for aspiring screenwriters. Scriptshadow dissects and reviews Hollywood screenplays that have just been bought or are going into development, giving you an inside scoop into what ideas are selling in the big leagues right now.

Philip Bloom– Everything you will ever possibly want to know about cameras on the market. And then some. Pretty useful when you’re wanting to buy a new camera but don’t get sucked into the never-ending camera fanboy wars. You’re here to tell stories, not buy equipment.

Vincent Laforet’s Blog– Again, great for  equipment guidance, new stuff and some DSLR tutorials.

Hurlbut Visuals – The pioneering DSLR Director of Photography. Loads of great articles for all you aspiring cinematographers out there!

NoFilmSchool – All around excellent site for keeping up with all the tools and technologies available to the DIY creative film maker.

Withoutabox – Now that you’re geared up and pumped to make some movies- here’s the ultimate site for all competitions film happening around the world. Subscribe to the newsletter- you won’t be disappointed.

STANDARD HOME EQUIPMENT FOR AN AVERAGE QUT STUDENT

If you can’t afford all this- don’t stress. I didn’t get my own camera until this year (which is my final year where we actually spend most of our time with the F3 and the P2s).

We do have an Equipment Loans Center with some nifty gear no student could ever afford BUT it pays to own a camera setup that’s like an extension of your body, that you can reach for for practice, assessment and paid work.

CHEAP ONLINE RETAILERS FOR GEAR

For the cheapest warranty covered camera bodies, filters and Rode microphones- Kogan

Trawl through Google, Amazon and eBay to fill your needs. Everybody wants to film different things and work within a different budget. The best way to find out is to familiarize yourself with the specs of equipment I’ve pointed you towards. Having a understanding of what does what, what’s excellent and what’s crap is the first step to professional film making. The $25 cowboy mount is available on Amazon and for some amazing DIY rigs check out this article

For just some fun cheap film effects check out IndyMogul’s Youtube Channel (seriously if you watch and understand half of this channel’s videos you will be set to be a really damn impressive first year)

And last but not least:

A MINI-LIBRARY OF FILM BOOKS TO GET YOU PUMPED

Writing Screenplays That Sell- Michael Hauge: What? But you want to be a filmmaker not a writer. Well guess what buttercup, a filmmaker is just a writer with a camera instead of a pen. Storytelling is always key and this book will shake up your skills.

The DSLR Filmmaker’s Handbook – Janie Geyen : Great if you’re just starting out with DSLR gear.

Rebel Without A Crew – Robert Rodriguez (of Sin City and Grindhouse fame) inspiring, frightening and all around excellent account of how he made a feature film for under $7,000 during his summer holidays and sold it to a major Hollywood distribution company.

There’s other lists out there like Vincent L’s, but I love these three books and they are the ones that got me shaking and baking in the film world.

Questions? Concerns? Disagree? Obviously there’s a lot more to filmmaking at QUT but these are just the things I wish I’d known. Hit me with a comment 🙂

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