Filmmaking: Everything I Learned

I help people make better videos by showing what worked for me as an aspiring solo documentary filmmaker telling stories of my life.
Filmmaking: Everything I Learned

Like others, I doubted what I should call myself. Am I a:

  • Filmmaker? That sounds very pompous.
  • Videographer? Well, I do way more than operating a camera and recording videos.
  • Cinematographer or DP (Director of Photography)? Sure, I light and shoot a scene, but then I do preplanning, scripting, and editing.

So, I looked around and found this article with the best distinction between those three.

Based on that, and despite people searching more for videography and cinematography, I'll stick to filmmaking.

Besides, I like making documentary-styled videos, and I don't think documentary filmmakers would ever call themselves documentary videographers!

Why filmmaking?

An image is a thousand words. A video, a series of images glued together, is a million words. Instead of putting them on paper, I put them on the screen for a more enjoyable experience. Filmmaking is a significant part of my web publishing business, specifically in my content creation process, since video has taken over the online world.

If only I recorded and published a video that could change one’s life. That is my ultimate goal.

Check out what I recently wrote about filmmaking here.

My filmmaking journey

As a kid, people used to ask me what I wanted to become when I grew up.

An archeologist or a camera operator.

While I recall being inspired by the Indiana Jones films, I do not know how I'd come up with my second choice! And as I got married to an archeologist, I'm now on a path to fulfill my second dream (apparently)!

I got my first proper camera when my daughter was born in 2014. Surprisingly, it was my wife who prompted me to buy a camera to document our family's life. Little did she know how expensive this hobby would turn out to become and that, like every other man, I'd try hiding any new piece of gear I'd end up spending money on!

I didn't know that solo filmmaking would become such a thrilling and rewarding journey in my life. From capturing stories to beautiful imagery, every little part of filmmaking has taught me many lessons that I'm here to share with you.

Also, during this solo filmmaking journey, I've come across many resources that have been very helpful in allowing me to tell better stories. These tools and resources have not only simplified the filmmaking process but also helped me produce content that I'm truly proud of.

Filmmaking Resources

Whether you're a fellow solo documentary filmmaker looking to entertain and educate or someone just starting out in the world of video creation, the resources I'm about to share have been handpicked from my own experiences.

They cover everything from the essential gear that has become an extension of my creative vision to the software that brings my footage to life and even the little touches that add depth and emotion to the final piece. These resources are designed to help you in the filmmaking process, making it easier and/or quicker.

So, let's dive into the toolkit that has supported my solo filmmaking adventures, enabling me to capture stories in a way that's both impactful and financially sustainable.

Some links below are affiliate links. By clicking on them, you not only help me pay this blog’s bills, but you also show your appreciation towards any helpful tip you read on my website. Besides, you don’t have to use the links if you don’t like. The price is the same whether you use the link or not.

✔️ = I have personally used the service/software.

Gear I use to make my videos and films

Check out my filmmaking kit here.

My favorite video editing software

  1. Davinci Resolve ✔️: I hated editing until I began using Blackmagic's editor. It's also free (for the most part)!
  2. Handbrake ✔️: Converting video files efficiently for online use. It's free!
  3. Kyno ✔️: The best video management software. Stay organized and find the video clip among thousands in seconds!
  4. Audacity ✔️: Audio software that I mostly use for voiceovers. It's free!

Where do I find music for my videos?

  1. ✔️: Music licensing for video. My current music resource.
  2. Free Music Archive: The #1 resource for royalty-free music.
  3. Incompetech ✔️: We all used at least one track from Kevin MacLeod when we started filmmaking! Some still do!
  4. Jamendo: Free and commercially-licensed music.
  5. ✔️: Free sound effects.
  6. Audionautix Free production music by Jason Shaw.
  7. Music Vine: The music licensing platform created for discerning professionals.
  8. Premium Beat: Exclusive music library. Stress-free licensing.
  9. Filmstro ✔️: Adapt professional soundtracks to your video with the world's first dynamic, royalty-free music library.
  10. Epidemic Sound ✔️: Music subscriptions for content creators. Covered for social media, online platforms, and websites.
  11. SilvermanSound: Royalty-free music.
  12. AudioHero ✔️: Get a free subscription with Tubebuddy (below).

Video Effects, Intros/Outros, or Stock Footage

  1. VideoHive ✔️: Stock footage and video effects.
  2. NeatVideo: The best denoiser in the market.
  3. Storyblocks ✔️: I usually get stock footage to fill up my timelines from here.
  4. DigitalAnarchy ✔️: I use their Flicker Free plugin to remove flicker from night footage.
  5. RE:VisionEffects: Apply natural-looking motion blur on your videos (ReelSmart Motion Blur) or add artificially slow-motion (Twixstor) among other plugins.
  6. Rocketstock: Get 16 free 4K light and dust overlays!
  7. MotionArray: Templates, stock music, unique transitions, and effects for Adobe's software.
  8. EndCrawl: End credits made easy.
  9. Gyroflow ✔️: Stabilize your footage if your camera is capturing gyro data.

LUTs for color grading your footage quickly

  1. IWLTBAP ✔️: Affordable cinematic and GoPro LUTs.
  2. Vision Color: Get the Popular Osiris LUTs and the ImpulZ film emulations.
  3. John Rellis: Export your Lightroom color grades as a LUT for a coherent brand look in your videos.
  4. Paletton ✔️: A color scheme designer. Learn how to combine colors properly and why the teal and orange look is so popular.

Get the film look on your videos

  1. FilmConvert ✔️: The go-to software to get the film look and match footage shot with different cameras.
  2. FilmBrute: Visual workflow for getting a film look.
  3. Dehancer ✔️: Positive and negative films with a steep learning curve.

Filmmaking tutorials and educational content

  1. Mzed ✔️: Subscription-based courses. I learned a ton while I was a Mzed Pro subscriber.
  2. Video Compression: Guidelines by Vimeo.
  3. Filmmaking Tutorials for Stock Videographers: An excellent resource for those transitioning from photography to video.

Filmmaking tools that will make your work easier

  1. oTranscribe ✔️: A free web app to remove the pain of transcribing recorded interviews. I use this to transcribe my non-scripted films.
  2. Tubebuddy ✔️: A browser extension & mobile app that integrates directly into YouTube to help you easily run your channel.
  3. ✔️: Preview various sizes of your thumbnail before posting online.
  4. Subtitle converter ✔️: To import properly formatted captions/subtitles to my video editing program, I need to convert them usually in SubRip format (.srt) after downloading them from YouTube.
  5. PiliApp ✔️: Place a blue or green screen on a device (smartphone, tablet, TV, etc) to mask anything on it in post-production. I usually do this to show a screen recording on screen, avoid flickering or glares.
  6. Grau Video Repair Tool: Repair utility that may fix broken or damaged video files.
  7. Speechpad: Transcription and captioning service.
  8. TheFilmPoets ✔️: Fix barrel distortion on DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

Improve your story-telling skills

  1. James Harris: The periodic table of Storytelling.
  2. StoryMastery: Learn story structure, the five key turning points of all successful screenplays
  3. StillMotionBlog: A guide to building your story's plot.

Film Festivals

  1. FilmFreeway: Enter the world’s best festivals in a few clicks!