Filmmaking Tips

Media Production

In this unit, you will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other students to create a short film. This requires developing an understanding of the stages and roles in the film production process and developing specialist skills. Along the way, you will complete a production journal. The production journal is a record of the filmmaking process which should show an understanding of the collaborative nature of film production as well as the stages and roles you have undertaken.

The production journal must include: ideas, investigation, written planning documents (which may include treatment, screenplay, shotlist, call sheets), visual planning documents (which will include storyboards) and weekly journal entries.


A reflective journal is not just a record of what you did and when, it is a chance to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the media production process. Your weekly journal entries should include:

• discussion of achievements;

• explanation of problems you have encountered;

• possible solutions to these problems;

• experiments with technical equipment;

• a reflection on the roles you and your team have undertaken and the skills you have used.

• behind the scenes photographs and/or videos to demonstrate your understanding of the film production process.

Here is an example of a journal entry from a previous student:

At the start of the film production process I brainstormed an idea for the film. I then took on the role of scriptwriter and put my ideas to paper, producing both a screenplay and a treatment. I produced my screenplay on the ingenious program Celtx, which allowed me to easily manipulate my script. Deng helped at this stage to refine the initial film direction. Few problems were encountered at this stage as during the brainstorming stage I had fully mapped out the plot and resolved the ending. With the script complete, over the holidays I adopted the role of a location scout and took lots of photo’s of the locations for the film, such as in the mines and the bush. At the start of the term Deng began work on the shot list and I completed “The Pitch”. After presenting the pitch to rapturous applause I then helped Deng finalise the shot list. This was a tedious stage of the film production process, however it was not difficult as the script was very clear in its direction. When working on the shot list though some aspects of the script were changed, including how the film is resolved at the end. With the shot list complete Deng adopted the role of storyboard artist. Currently he is about a quarter of the way through adapting the shot list to a storyboard. This is a lengthy stage of the process that we envisage will be completed by the end of next week.

Here is another example of a journal entry from later in the production process as a student reflects on writing the music for their film.

This session I work in Garageband to create some eerie textures for the film. Creating an atmosphere of suspense is incredibly important to our narrative and audience engagement. To start off with, I explored some of Garageband’s packaged sound effects. There was one in particular that had promise but it sounded too bright for our film. Next I explored the software instruments. Using the synthesiser pads, I was able to create eerie, dissonant droning sounds using the lower octaves of the keyboards. These low frequency sounds help to create a sense of disequilibrium. I was deliberately playing sounds that weren’t melodic. Adding higher frequency notes created screeching noises that will also contribute to the eeriness of the sound. I principally used the instrument preset ‘Aquatic Sunbeam’ but it would also be interesting to experiment with the other presets, perhaps adding phasers or other effects to the instrument. Echoes and reverbs could also add an otherworldly effect to the sounds of the music. Adding low piano notes would also be a great way to add more texture and variety to the composition, I’ll experiment this next class. I’m going to prepare for next session by listening to the work of composers such as John Murphy, James Newton Howard, David Julyan and Brian Reitzel which are in the ‘Sample Horror Soundtracks’ folder. As a result of this research, I will consider revising the soundtrack to increase its eeriness.

You don’t necessarily need to write your journal entries. Your journal entries could, for example, be video blogs that are recorded on a daily basis. These could be packaged along with your finished film on a DVD. You could also produce a behind-the-scenes documentary to go along with your film to show your understanding of the stages and roles you’ve undertaken in the film production process. Whatever form they take, your journal entries should be a rich and detailed insight into the filmmaking process.


If you’d like to have a look at a detailed production journal, check out the examples below.

Forever Mine – Christian Slattery

Pandora’s Box – Simon Penno

First Encounter – Paige Langley

Assessment Sheet

Click here to download the assessment sheet for the Unit 2 Film Production.