Everyone wants to be a great director when they get behind the camera. There is a strong urge to tell people what to do, where to stand, and how to act. Try to avoid that tendency as you film your family’s holiday events. Instead, take a back seat to the action. That is not to say that you can’t manipulate some of the events, but let the actions of your guests and family tell your story rather than giving them direction or even a script to tell your story.
Start simple and keep it that way
Set up the story with the arrival of friends and family. Ask them to introduce themselves and how they are related or close to the family. This makes it easier for those older family who may have difficulty remembering faces and names. It will also help years down the road when you may not remember yourself who everyone is in your story.
If you want it to be more interactive, ask questions of your subjects or ask them to share a memory of their favourite holiday. If you have a small camera, video activities on the sly and piece it together later to get more candid video. Some people are camera shy or freeze up when a camera is pointed their way.
Family Traditions are precious
Each family has its own traditions. When families blend through marriages traditions change or new ones are made. Keep a video record of those traditions. If your family enjoys a game on the field nearby, take your camera to record the game. If the youngest child is the one designated to put on the final decoration, show that child’s honoured role in the family. Everyone wants to be a star, but no one will appreciate it as much as a child in their special moment.
Respect everyone as you create your video
As mentioned before, some people are camera shy. If a family member or guest would prefer you not include them on the video, you should respect their wishes. You should also respect the special times when family gathers at the dinner table or attends church ceremonies. It may be best to put down the camera and simply participate in the event yourself.
As a burgeoning filmmaker you may want to play with your camera by getting close ups, or playing with the lens to create interesting cinema effects. Sadly, the only effect you will get is close ups of people’s noses and eyes, or your viewers may become ill with the lens changes and “wacky” effects you attempt. Instead, save special effects for the editing stage. You will find plenty of editing ability with various computer programs so that you can get those fun effects to make the film visually interesting.
Most importantly, have fun!
If you find that you are not getting into mix and enjoying the fun you see through the viewfinder, it’s perfectly alright to put down the camera and join in. You can also hand over the camera to get into the scenes that look like fun. Some of the greatest producers and directors also starred in their own films. You can be a star in your film, too.