Behind the Camera

Film is a highly competitive business to try and break into, but an incredibly rewarding and exciting one too. If you’re passionate about building a career in film, then it’s crucial to give yourself the best chance of success. Learning everything there is to know, from the world’s greatest cinema, to important technical knowledge, will put you streets ahead of your competition.

To celebrate this year’s International Film Festival India, we take a look at some of the most exciting behind-the-camera roles, and bring you our best resources to get you started on following your dreams.

To get started, have a read of Opportunities in Film Careers, which you can find in a library near you

DIRECTING

Film directors are seen as visionaries, as it is their artistic vision and need to tell the story that drives the film. It is the director who puts his or her artistic stamp on the film: just think about Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron or Sofia Coppola. Their films have a distinctive personality, aesthetic and feel to them.

If you want to become a director, it’s crucial that you develop your own artistic vision and voice. As a foundation for this, you must have a sound knowledge of where your work would sit in the canon of film. Have a look at books like Cinema India: The Visual Culture of Hindi Film, the Journal of British Cinema, and Cannes Cinema: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Cinema in our catalogues. These will give you a rounded knowledge of the medium and how film has developed and evolved over the years.

It's also vital to know what the current landscape in film is, by reading magazines like Total Film and Empire. These will keep you clued in to who is making exciting work and what you need to go and see as it comes out. By equipping yourself with a vast knowledge of film, from classic films to what makes a story gripping for an audience, you will be in great stead to become a film director.

More reading in our catalogues:

Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen

Fifty Contemporary Film Directors

SCREENWRITING

The art of screenwriting is one that can take years to master. When writing for the big screen, it’s crucial to think about how you can tell your story visually, rather than just focusing on dialogue. The best way to get perfect is to practice, mapping out your ideas and working through a first draft of your screenplay. Doing this again and again, redrafting and interrogating your ideas, will help your writing to become robust.

If you need some help getting started, take a look at Teach Yourself Screenwriting, which will guide you through the planning process through to editing. For a sense of how to break into the business as a writer, then read The Screenplay Business. Of course, just as with directing, it’s vital to know the history of the medium, so make sure you take a look at A History of the Screenplay too.

More reading in our catalogues:

Basics Film-Making 02: Screenwriting

The Art and Science of Screenwriting 

EDITING

It’s all in the editing, as they say, and this is never more true than in film. Editing is a crucial part of the film making process, ensuring that the story is told clearly and cohesively. Editors have control over the pace of the film, what the audience see and when they see it, and the overall feel of the film. Editors need a great deal of technical skill and a good eye for detail. Take a look at The Technique of Film and Video Editing to get an idea of just how much a good editor can do for a film.

The next thing is to get to grips with editing software, so that you can start to practice editing on your own projects. We’ve got brilliant training resources and tutorials for library members at Atomic Training, where you can learn to use Final Cut, to After Effects, Premiere Elements and plenty more. 

SOUND DESIGN

Sound Designers are some of the unsung heroes of film, since brilliant sound design is so crucial to how a film holds together. Sound design has a huge effect on how audiences experience the film; the entire tone of any given film is captured in the sound design. Sound design covers everything from acquiring sounds, to manipulating sound and generating audio elements as needed. 

To get a better sense of how sound works in film, take a look at Sound for Film and Television. Atomic Training also has plenty of tutorials on using sound design software, from Audacity, to Creating a Video Sound Track

More reading in our catalogues:

The Audio Mastering Handbook

PRODUCING

The producer is the mastermind behind a film project. Producers do everything from getting the rights to the literary property, whether this is a novel or original script, to hiring the director and creative team, to raising the money to fund the film, and more. The producer is the person at the helm of the project, making sure all the wheels are well oiled and everything is going smoothly from start to finish. Producing is a huge job with huge responsibility, but also incredibly rewarding and ideal for those who are highly organised and effective fundraisers.

Learn more about producing with The Film Handbook and our guides to the Basics of Film Making