“Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.” – James Cameron
I remember a Saturday morning, several short years ago. It was sunny, the air was warm and birds were chirping. A typical nice, summer day in Minnesota. And there I was, basking in the air conditioned atmosphere of my shared apartment. The couch seemed way more exciting than being outside that morning. Could’ve been the hangover. Or lack of gumption to be productive. Either way, it felt like the perfect day to sit and do absolutely nothing.
On my to-do list was a simple thing: catch up on my YouTube. I had recently gotten an apartment with a buddy who had an Apple TV, a convenient little device that allowed us to use the internets with a big TV. With this, he showed me the wonderful world of Youtube Channels. Though I knew they existed, I never really grasped the concept until they were shown in a list fashion of all of his subscribed content. I became a fast fan of FreddieW (Now RocketJump) Corridor Digital, DevinSuperTramp, the list goes on.
As I watched all three channel’s epic content in all their own glory, I suddenly had a thought come to my mind: I could do this. I could make videos like this. Why aren’t I making videos like this? This “I CAN FILM TOO” mentality didn’t come from nowhere, however. Not only with my acting background in play, I’ve actually already have two feature films and loads of smaller time videos under my belt. Yes, my friends and I made two full movies in high school, and even showed one of them in the local theater! Parents and friends, thanks for watching and supporting. My point is – I’ve done this stuff in the past, why wasn’t I doing it now?
So that day, I said to my roommate: We should make a webseries of some sort. And he immediately agreed, saying the same thing was on his mind too. So, we got some friends together, filmed a couple of shorts, and debuted our YouTube channel, 7-bit Productions. For months, nearly every week, we filmed, edited, and released a new video. It was crazy, fun, and amazing. So many wild ideas captured with just a DSLR in the beginning. We made everything from comedies, to actions, to music videos. Although pretty rough in the beginning, we started to get pretty good at it…
Gotta focus that energy…
Nearing the end of the year, I started thinking bigger. After grinding for several months on shorts, it was time to put all those hard earned filming skills to the test and do a big, ambitious project. I was watching a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, TomSka, and got a wee little bit of inspiration: what if Santa Claus was a badass superhero who fought crime like Batman? And with that, Direct Action Santa was born. Since then, we’ve made three DAS videos, and we’re working on the fourth as I write this article! As 7-Bit evolved into what it is today, Rivet City Limited, we’re still cranking out videos, albeit at a slower pace than before. With each release, we’re upping the game in some way, from different equipment to tight budgets and crazy challenges. Every time we do a new video we’re trying to push our envelope, ever climbing the steps to greatness and hoping that one day we can stand among giants with our art.
We’ve been doing this now for almost four years. It’s been a wonderful and exciting journey. RCL has turned into something that I never even dreamed of, and it all started with a lazy Saturday. But it wasn’t just a “let’s point this camera at stuff and hope for the best” sort of situation. Over the course of the first six months, and over the last four years, a lot of work went into making production better. Speaking for myself, I spent countless hours researching and learning how to properly film, write scripts, edit videos, the list goes on and on. Indeed, I’d work all day at my day job, and spend all night editing, researching, playing with the camera, or just watching behind the scenes videos on my favorite channels, hoping to spot a new technique I could incorporate into our schedule. It takes this kind of dedication to really build something like this up from nothing. I’m still learning today, and will always be on the hunt for new and better ways to do things.
Yes, those are Christmas brass knucks.
So, do you think you want to start making videos? Awesome, hang in there! Making videos can be fun, exciting, and surprisingly easy (especially with smart phones nowadays, yeesh!). With this series of articles, we’re going to teach you the best ways we’ve found to get you down the right path and hopefully help you avoid the same pitfalls that we went through in our process. We’ll go over some filming theory, techniques, script writing, casting, characters, editing basics, and much more. Now that you know where we came from, are you ready to know where you’re going to go?