Filmmaking is a very technological art. There are many skills to learn and master. Camera, Lighting, Sound, Writing, Acting, and many more. However I think that there are some ideologies which are even more important than the technical skills. There are two. The first is "Story Comes First". The second is "Hierarchy of Command".
Story is the most important part of a film. It is the plot, theme, conflict and characters of your film. Without these, your film is just a test video. Test videos may be cool to filmmakers but the average person won't care. Story should be a key thing that helps you make every decision. For example which shots you want. If you are filming a fight scene, a handheld look might increase the tension. However if you were filming a beautiful dance, a handheld look would make the dancers look less elegant. A steadicam shot might be more appropriate.
Hierarchy of command is a very important concept that many beginning filmmakers do not grasp. On many beginner sets, everyone tries to direct the film. They try to decide what should happen and even important details like which shots they should have. But on an experienced set, everyone follows a single vision of the director. Everyone else is focused on their specific task.
On beginner sets, the sound guy might suggest a shot. Many beginners welcome this because they believe that more input creates a better film. This is wrong. By suggesting a shot, he is taking his mind off of sound and may compromise the film's sound. They also may be inputing the wrong vision. Instead of shooting one vision, you may end up shooting 1/3 of one person's vision and 2/3 of another's. So you really don't end up with a whole movie.
It may be hard to create this on a set where everyone is on similar levels of experience and all working for free. The best way to off balance this is prepared-ness. If the director is the most prepared, he will be able to command his crew into the best direction. However a lack of preparation will likely lead to everyone trying to throw in advise and thus a slower shoot. But also each individual element will not be as cleanly executed.
Hopefully these ideas will help you on your next shoot.
Zachary Will is an Award-Winning Filmmaker creating short films and content for the Internet as the owner of Riverside Studios. He has a Bachelor's in Film from Full Sail University. He has worked on productions for companies like Webmd, Sears, Home Depot, Six Flags and more!
"the trick is to never give up... I think the secret of success is not how little you get knocked down but how often you get back up." - Gareth Edwards