UMBC’s skylight lounge hosted a night for the arts on Wednesday, Nov. 15, . Adan Rodriguez was invited to speak about guerrilla filmmaking, a form of independent filmmaking utilizing low budget, skeleton crews and simple props. Guerrilla filmmaking is all about using whatever is available to make art in the form of cinematics.
Rodriguez is a graduate student here at UMBC. He studies in the Intermedia and Arts graduate school where he is encouraged to pursue his cinematic dreams. Rodriguez has been making films for about seven years, but confirmed that he has watched and loved movies all his life. That’s all one needs to start a career in film: passion, persistence and some strategy to pursue the art.
Rodriguez explained there are five very broad stages of filmmaking: idea, planning, filming, post production and distribution. When pursuing an idea, he suggests to consider what’s familiar. In other words, draw inspiration from stories and surroundings. Always think about what is feasible and aim to bring to life ideas which you can film in accessible locations that don’t require you to obtain a permit which can be costly and time-consuming.
Rodriguez’s number one tip for a new filmmaker is to keep an idea book. He recommends jotting down any ideas your mind develops in a document on google drive, an app on your phone or simply in a notebook. This gives your mind creative freedom to draw inspiration from daily life without forgetting what you came up with.
Every idea should have some type of purpose. Rodriguez reassures aspiring filmmakers that purpose doesn’t always have to be deep or symbolic. Sometimes a film’s purpose could simply be to entertain an audience. Rodriguez reminds filmmakers, “Not every film has to have a story, but it has to have some kind of meaning.” It’s important to keep that in mind when deciding what idea to transfer to production.
When it comes to the act of actually filming, it’s important to first visualize the entire movie, and then aim to recreate that idea. Using a storyboard, a template that assists filmmakers create a visual to do list for their productions, could help you organize your ideas before filming. Even award-winning films such as Lord of the Rings started out as drawings on a storyboard.
As for filming locations, Rodriguez heavily recommended that filmmakers consider what’s accessible. Scout locations before filming and make sure you are legally allowed to hold production there. You could even film in your average living space and “dress it up,” as Rodriguez stated, to fit your vision. There are plenty of options.
The most important part of film is the camera, so you need an expensive, high-tech camera, right? Not necessarily. Rodriguez said, “The best camera is the one you own.” It’s best to use a camera you are already familiar with. For filming in public locations, smaller cameras are perfect for keeping your production discrete. Even your phone is a perfectly equipped candidate for filming.
Anyone who wants to be a filmmaker can be. Everyone has the simple necessities to create an entertaining motion picture. All you need is your phone, a location, perhaps a few people and a bit of creativity to transfer the movies in your mind to reality.