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7 Reasons Why Your Creative Vision Isn’t Translating to the Screen

Caleb Ward

Here’s a few tips for translating your creative vision to the big screen.

Have you taken a film or video project from conception to completion…only to find yourself unsatisfied with the end result? Here’s a few reasons your projects may be falling flat.

1. You Focusing on the Details, Not the Big Picture

Checklist

When it comes to filmmaking there is a lot to remember and we are afforded the opportunity to learn something new every time we shoot. In a way, creating a film is a lot like a flexible checklist. While you would never say it out loud, the thought that’s probably going through your head on-set is something to the effect of:

  • Composition, Check.
  • Depth of Field, Check.
  • Continuity, Check.
  • Stabilization, Check.
  • Focus, Check.
  • Actor’s Delivery, Check.
  • Motivation, Check.
  • Etc, Etc, Etc, Check, Check, Check

It can be easy to compartmentalize the production process and fall into a series of checklists, but this can be extremely harmful to your end result. The beauty is not in the details, it’s in the finished project. If you’re busy focusing on small stuff like script formatting, and not the script itself, you’re going to be disappointed.

2. You’re Putting to Much Emphasis on the Craft Instead of the Story

Filmmaker with Camera

We talk a lot about gear here on the PremiumBeat blog and rightfully so, it’s fun to follow gear. New cameras, lenses, and equipment releases are exciting. But one rut that new filmmakers tend to fall into is focusing way to heavily on the gear and not the story at hand.

Sure having an impressive 2 minute long tracking shot is cool, but how does it fit into your narrative structure?  Have you spent more time focusing on the gear than the characters in the film?

Having cinematic quality footage is important for keeping your audience engaged, especially if you are trying to prove your legitimacy, but we live in an age of progressing technology. If you want your film to have real staying power, focus more on the story. It’s easy to forgive a film with average cinematography if the story is solid.

3. It Wasn’t Feasible Given Your Constraints

In a perfect world you can simply come up with any idea and have the tools available to see that idea through. Realistically there are many limitations to an indie-film budget. Recognizing these limitations, and creatively working around them, is vital for creating a believable film.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Sure, you should push your creative limits every time you make a film, but have reason when considering a new idea. This is a tough pill to swallow especially if you are a passionate filmmaker, but setting unrealistic expectations will only leave you disappointed.

4. You’re Not Hiring the Right Crew

Film Crew

Having a solid crew is vital for creating a good film. If you are forced to pick up the slack from other crew members it’s going to show in your end result. One of the biggest things to look for when choosing a crew is attitude.

It’s not uncommon in this industry to work with people with pride issues. Avoid them like the plague! Ultimately poor crew members will distract you from the story at hand. To learn more about this check out our ‘Traits of a Good Crew Member’ post.

5. You’re Not Communicating Well

Communication is your most powerful tool as a filmmaker. How well your creative vision comes to life depends in large part with how well it is communicated to your talent and crew before, during and after production. Spend the time before the camera rolls to make sure that everyone involved is ‘in-the-know’….and this isn’t just limited to just the story and how you invision the final product. Communication around the logistics of production can make or break your project. Use a call sheet, use a camera log, and stay organized.

6. You’re Skipping Over Pre-Production

Script Screenshot

There’s nothing sexy about pre-production – except storyboarding (I love a good storyboard!). It can be easy for filmmakers to skip over this aspect of the filmmaking process and into production. Create a detailed shot list, storyboard scenes if necessary, set realistic production timelines and finalize your budget.

Take the time to personally visit all the locations you’re planning on shooting. Did you obtain any necessary permits or forms to shoot at that location? What is the lighting situation? Where is power located? You must know these things well in advance of your proposed shoot date to allow time for change of location if necessary.

7. Your Creative Vision is Muddy

Is your idea fully baked? It’s easy to fall in love with a story idea, but you need to validate it early.

How well vetted is your script? Is the story confusing in any way? If you’re too close to the project and story you may not recognize it’s weaknesses. Seek brutally honest feedback.

Successful filmmaking is collaborative filmmaking….nobody wants to work with a dictator. Settle on a vision early and then have others poke holes in it, finding flaws with the story, the production plan and the overall vision. Revise the plan and repeat. Your creative vision may not be the same as it was when you started, but you’ll be the better for it.

Want more creative inspiration? Check out a few of the following links here on PremiumBeat:

  1. 5 of the Greatest Cinematographers for Creative Inspiration
  2. Feature Filmmaking: Creative Problem Solving
  3. Stop Being Original and Start Being Innovative

Have any tips for seeing your projects through? Share in the comments below.

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