Top Ten ‘1 Minute Video’ Film Tips

This is a short list of basic ideas that I find useful when making a very short 1 minute film really effective. This was originally created for a workshop for teenagers but has been since expanded with more detail to suit a broader spectrum of budding film makers.


1. Have an idea of what you want to do BEFORE you shoot.
This might sound obvious but an important one, each video has a point it needs to get across, even the more conceptual ones. There is, however, something to be said for having a balance between knowing precisely what you want and allowing for new ideas and inspirations. If you know the point of your video then make sure it becomes your priority, the lead up to this can be flowered up and embellished as much as you like providing that by the end it your point is clear and understood.


2. Music
Get a great fun track, it’s easier to edit to and reigns you in a bit. Having a montage can free up narrative but music helps to pace your shots.


3. Storyboard
Not essential but it really helps with the above. A storyboard doesn’t have to be a work of art but it helps you work out shots prior to a shoot, saving time, it also helps you envision the film before you even pick up the camera with not only gives you an idea of pacing but also gets you really excited about the shoot.


4. Get extreme close ups of things as well as far shots.
Again, a seemingly obvious one but more subconscious, far away shots (Wides) are great for showing location but bad for character detail, unless that’s your intention for a scene, only ever cut to a Wide twice within a scene. Extreme close ups are great for drumming up suspense and shooting chronologically getting closer and closer helps build that up.

Stills from The Shining courtesy of Google Image search

Stills from The Shining courtesy of Google Image search

5. Get people DOING things – action IS interaction for the audience.
Of course there are exceptions and some scenes are about static silence but if your attempt is to make a narrative montage then the emphasis has to be on the characters actions with each shot helping to explain how they get to the end result. Make these actions clear.


6. Try to have a little story in there somewhere.
It’s only 60 seconds but having a beginning, middle and end is essential to show the JOURNEY and the result – and that’s what this thing is all about!


7. Keep the camera STEADY and focus on your subject!
It’s a silly and obvious thing but a shaky camera looks plain amateurish. Holding any shot for at least 10 seconds can be invaluable in the edit.


8. iMovie – it’s free, quick and SO easy.
These days companies tend to use Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere to put together an edit but for Apple users iMovie is free and does the basic job perfectly, PC users have Windows Movie Maker and if your style if good then there can be no definition between a seemingly professional cut and one made on free software. The 21st Century is a good time to be a film maker.


9. Stay away from over complicated effects.
These days movies are chocked full of visual effects which can detract from the story and emotion of a piece. They can be really fun to do and when they work they’re satisfying but almost always not needed, the only exceptions to these are Golum in Lord Of The Rings, Avatar and Gravity, these films relied on their visual effects but the core emotional thread was a human driven character story, the effects merely complimented it as a tool.

Jar Jar Binks. A character who needn't have been CG. Courtesy of Google Images

Jar Jar Binks. A character who needn’t have been CG. Courtesy of Google Images

10. Work with mates and be open to their suggestions.
If you’re enthusiastic about a project, even a small one, then your enthusiasm can inspire others to help, getting mates in to act, hold boom poles, do things in the distance of a shot can make it feel more like a movie set whilst not being too scary. Though the best outcomes usually happen when a director is open to other people’s suggestions, your ideas can work in your head but it’s always worth hearing someone elses’ as you never know if it’ll work better. Besides with video you can always shoot both versions.


If you have any film making tips that you’d like to share please comment below and, until next  time, happy filming.