Filmmaking Lessons Learned

  • Realism is not imitating the world objectively – it is using the world as a canvas for the art of cinema.
  • And it’s a great and often necessary style for low budget filmmaking!
  • Representing culture realistically requires the insight of the culture itself. (Nanook of the North)
  • “The task of cinema or any other art form is not to translate hidden messages of the unconscious soul into art but to experiment with the effects contemporary technical devices have on nerves, minds, or souls.” (Maya Deren)
  • Editing is the process in which reality is filtered into the filmic world – in essence, editing allows seemingly unrelated images to be combined into something meaningful, either with a narrative or emotional impact or both. This is a concept originating from soviet film (Kinoglaz)
  • The audience is prepared to accept the reality presented to them as long as it is consistent. (The Blair Witch Project)
  • In the end, it is the story that matters more than the quality of work – and any story can be made with little more than a camera and pennies.
  • One personal thing I have discovered – making a documentary or found footage film is often the best way to incorporate realism into a film while lowering its budget (often to almost nothing; this is what I was able to do this summer)


Found footage style of The Blair Witch Project. This film was so successful in this technique that they were able to convince their audience that the film was a recording of true events.

  • Realism is a combination of seeing and perceiving. It is up to the filmmaker attempting realism to impact the perceptions of the viewer; to convince them that what is being shown is real.