In this day and age, cameras come in all shapes and sizes. Even some feature films are being made on smartphones. The script, and being creative when using the camera (using different angles and frames), is far more important than what kind of camera is used.
Regardless of what camera your students will be using, take the time to familiarise yourself with the manual and the camera’s functions. Understand the settings (pulling focus; zooming in and out; setting white balance) and don’t use in-camera special effects while filming – these can be added in post-production. Practice filming freehand and with a tripod, and ensure you know how to load a memory card and charge batteries.
Students will need some time to become comfortable handling the camera before they shoot their films. They can shoot some footage, screen it and learn from these practice exercises.
Ensure students understand how carefully they need to handle the camera and to be careful of keeping the lens clean.
When beginning recording, always leave a few seconds before calling ‘action’ and again after calling ‘cut’. You don’t want to lose the beginning and end of a scene because the camera was still ‘taking up’.
Once the camera is rolling, the director calls ‘action’ and once the scene is finished the director calls ‘cut’.