23 February 2022

10 Tips To Improve Shooting As A Film Student

By Performance
The perfect, smooth steady-cam shot

If you have a sturdy belt, you can make beautifully smooth steady cam motion shots with no expense! Simply tie the buckle end of the belt tightly around your camera and hold the opposite end, dangling and swinging it through your shot to create seamless motion shots. 

Be careful and make sure you move fast enough to create a good swinging motion – it wouldn’t be very budget-friendly if you had to replace your camera!

Cheap diffusion paper alternative

White baking paper or parchment paper works fantastically as a budget-friendly alternative to proper light diffusion paper. Using clothes pegs to secure the paper around your light source works well to ensure the paper will stay on so you can get the perfect shot. 

Another great option is a white show curtain for large light setups! Household LED light bulbs or bright laptop screens can double as a budget-friendly light source.

Keeping track of your film equipment

A reel of white sticky labels will become your new best friend if you’re new to filmmaking and trying to save money while doing so. Labelling your batteries so you know how many you’ve used up and how many you have left will stop you from fishing around a bunch of half dead batteries or giving up and buying an unnecessary supply. Another top tip is to label your lenses with their sizes so you can grab them quickly from your bag.

Cheap slider alternatives

If you are shooting something at desk-height, then a piece of cardboard or kitchen roll will do wonders for getting you that smooth across-the-desk slider shot. Just don’t go too fast or your camera might topple over!

Sitting on a rolling desk chair with your camera in hand can also create some fantastic shots without the expense of a fancy camera slider. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other items around your house, but be careful of your equipment and when in doubt always get a second opinion before you try something new.

Pre-production lens flare hacks

Attach a torch, CD, or anything with a reflective surface in front of your lens to add and experiment with different lens flares for your shots. Be sure to experiment with these in the right lighting for your shot so you know if it produces the results you want.

A classic motion shot hack

It’s a classic, but definitely worth mentioning; the skateboard is great for getting cheap motion shots. If you know how to ride a skateboard, or even roller skates, you can hold the camera for a bit of height. Make sure you can almost guarantee that your equipment can stay safe whilst doing shots like these – and you need to be safe too, of course!

Sound panels on a budget

Eliminating background noise and echo can be tough without the proper equipment. But thick blankets (or any blanket) will do in a pinch. Try to drape these as close to your audio source as possible whilst remembering to keep them out of shot.

Macro lens DIY

Of all the hacks on here, this one is easy and will save you a tonne of money whilst you’re still in film school. Detach your lens and place a toilet paper roll between your camera and lens. There are also some fairly inexpensive lens extenders out there, but this will work wonders as long as you can hold it steady!

Free foley 

Platforms like freesound.org have a huge database of free sounds and foley that you can use for your filmmaking to add sound dimensions like that of a professional filmmaker. Be sure to test the sounds compared to what’s happening in your shots and don’t be afraid to keep browsing until you’ve found the perfect sound. Don’t settle for the first one you land on!


Look at how far you’ve come

This one isn’t really a ‘hack’ but we love the idea of creating movie posters for each film you make, so you can look back and see how far you’ve come! One day you might not need budget-friendly hacks anymore, and instead will be able to recall the days when all your shiny equipment was naught but your camera and a shower curtain!

If you’re starting at a film school, or are already a seasoned film student, then you need to know you can try these hacks with the proper cover. 

Learn more about film school insurance

For more information on film school insurance, please get in touch by calling us on 020 8256 4929 or emailing gareth.graham@performance-insurance.tv