The Dazzling Journey to Self-Production Video

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by Shannon Breen

Self-production video:

Three daunting words that would stop any sane person in their tracks. From having to remember every small detail such as knowing a character that you created inside & out to knowing how to export a video properly; self-production video is a completely different world, and one not for the weary. When it comes to self-production, there only seems to be one thing that I have noticed among the untaught that stops them from producing work. They don’t lack the stamina, the will, or the want, or have a problem envisioning their piece; they simply lack the know-how. One of the most beautiful facts about the video/film community that keeps artists creatively alive, is that everything is taught through trial and error. So when you’re producing your video by yourself in a small broom closet with mops as c-stands and a stack of books as a tripod, believe me when I say, all filmmakers have been there.

So you still want to make the next amazing short video, guess what? Your new best friend is now your notebook.


Organization is the #1 key to your success

Think about it, you’re about to put together a whole video that will not only involve multiple hours/days of your life, multiple meetings and discussions on what’s right/wrong, good/bad but it also entails the use of multiple channels of software and hardware usage, multiple rounds of shots/scripts/video edits and not to mention, the whole video has to make sense to someone who knows nothing about it.

No pressure, right?

Pre-Production / Delusion & Bliss

You have a story you want to tell? Congratulations, you are about 5 steps further into the process than those who still need to think of an idea…Deep breath, and time to dive in!

First things first, making sure that your script that has been torn apart and put together again. Doing so will ensure that you are 100% happy with your idea to the point of you 100% hating it by the end of this project. Some of the basic essentials on a production to start considering at this stage would be:

  • Storyboards
  • Scene breakdowns
  • Character rankings
  • Releases for any location/actor you are using
  • Budget laid out
  • Equipment bought or reserved for the day(s) of shooting
  • A production team locked down that you are ready to work with for an extended length of time. (Seriously, get comfortable with them, they’re your family ’til you’re done filming.)

With these only being a few of the hurdles one must endure at the beginnings of production, it is quite understandable to go bananas and collapse into fetal position at any given moment.

However, there are many amazing websites that will guide your to the path to success, such as Not only will this site help with budget and storyboarding, it also breaks down your scripts so intently, you’ll discover small details you forgot you even wrote.

By the end of pre-production you should feel so involved with your video that people tend to not even talk to you anymore because its all you seem talk about now. So before taking that giant leap into production remember these 3 things:

  1. Surround yourself with inspiration to ensure the best results for your video.
  2. To-do lists will never let you down.
  3. Caffeine; in any way, shape or form.


Production / Denial

It’s the morning of your shoot – the butterflies are fluttering, not very much sleeping was accomplished the night before, and there seems to be a neverending list of things to do before the day has even begun. It’s important to remind yourself that you’re creating the most amazingingly/cool/fantastic/stunning/astounding/shocking/stupefying/breathtaking video. If you don’t, what’s the whole point of doing this? Creating something from nothing is a beautiful sentiment and having the ability to do so is a powerful tool.

When shooting your video, there should be a certain etiquette that should be maintained throughout the shoot. Yes, you are shooting this amazingingly/cool/… you know how badass it is, but remember that it will go by in the blink of an eye! Luckily enough again, there are resources out there for everything, such as Communities of artists come together and share information that was personally useful for them in those moments of need on a production. From shooting a video with just a point and shoot camera by yourself, to having 15-20 people on set helping you, there are a few things you should remember no matter what:

Understand that set-ups take time. If you want to get that badass Michael Bay shot with amazing lighting, realize it will take time. Make it a point to schedule in that extra time.

Direct your talent. Don’t think the actor can read your mind and know what you want from them. An actor is only as good as their director.

Media management is beyond important. Keeping everything organized from step-one will eliminate so many issues throughout your post-production process that you and/or your editor will go coconuts with how smoothly things are going in post!

Delegate if you can. If you have crew members that want to help, let them help! Everyone who’s there is there to help you along the way – take advantage of it. (Seriously, how often do you get a group of people at your personal disposal to help create your artist’s vision?)

There are definitely moments where you will find yourself thinking what did I just get myself into? But one of the magnificent things about that is that you’re not alone. Every artist must go through self doubt, without it we wouldn’t question every step of the way and we’d miss out on opportunities that lead to self-growth. Remembering that you are creating something from your own world, a sliver of your own personal being, simply for the world to view on display will help you realize how big of an accomplishment this small project actually is.


Post-Production / Self-Loathing & Rehabilitation

After the huge undertaking of pre-pro & production you’re burnt out, tired of even thinking of the project, and just want the damn thing to be done with. For others, post-production is the most electrifying, exhilarating, most useful stage of filmmaking… this coming from an editor. But entering a realm of complete control and power to alter whatever you wish, post-production allows you to explore ideas that you might not have even conceptualized during pre-production. With an abundance of powerful programs now readily available to artists, you can now flap your little wings and fly from the sweet nurturing nest of production and into the world of post-production; whether you have someone helping edit your piece or you’re put it together yourself, post-production allows you to mess around with music, color, graphics, style, timing, tone, and so many other aspects.

Post production, being such a unique process for every artist, isn’t an exact science. Again, trial and error are key elements especially in post, trying new techniques and taking advantage of online tutorials and blogs are vital to success.

Eventually, the day will come where you click that little ‘export’ button and everything that you have been working on for days/weeks/months will pop out as a small video file, and thats it. The grueling, creative journey of production ends there. Whether you want the world to see what you have created or you simply want to have it for yourself, determines your next step in the process. Sharing your video opens up a whole other realm of online streaming and film festivals. With sites such as,,,, etc., sharing your video will be the easiest part of this entire process. Taking on film festivals can be a hurdle, but with sites such as you can stay up-to-date on what festivals are happening and are currently taking submissions, gather all the necessary information needed to submit a film and have easy access to submit it to festivals. Nearing the end of your journey, it is important to not let the project fall by the wayside. All of this hard work should pay off if you are truly invested in what you do and following the tactics that helped you throughout this whole process should always stay in play:

  1. Organization is key.
  2. Surround yourself with inspiration to ensure the best results for your video.
  3. To-do lists will never let you down.
  4. Caffeine – in any way, shape or form.

There will always be moments where you’re beat, everything just sucks and can’t even remember why you’re doing this project in the first place! In those moments, artists reveal their true colors and the ones that persevere are the ones that find success in all their hard work. You have to start somewhere to get to where you want to go and there is no shame in starting at the bottom. Being a self sufficient filmmaker is a high commodity in this town and taking the time to learn how to become one is the beginning of a magical journey for you as an artist. Cue the cheesy music and walk away in slow motion from an explosion, not even looking back.

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