If you are a cat parent who blogs or loves sharing cats on social media, or who wants to help your local rescue get cats adopted, making the perfect cat movie to impress people or grab a share of media for rescues must be one of your goals.
Let me get you started with sensible and simple tips that focus on making a movie. A movie that you make using your own smartphone can get you plenty of attention, or maybe get that hard to adopt kitty into the spotlight.
So, what do you do?
OK take a breath! I realise it all looks complicated and the tech can seem intimidating, but with a little help you can have lots of fun and do a lot of good!
Can I Really Make a Cat Movie?
Can you make the ‘perfect cat movie’ for social media? I know, you will need some convincing but I believe, you can make a movie you can be proud of. One that tells a story. That sounds awesome to me.
- I believe every one of you can make movies you will be proud of.
The most important thing for every new movie maker to remember is this:
You are not making a big-budget Hollywood movie with fancy production values and perfectly framed shots.
Your first step is to get into the movie-making mindset. Be focused and have a plan, or a rough outline to start you off. Start thinking. What is your movie going to be about?
- If you are still learning how to use your smartphone camera check out basic smartphone movie making skills. too.
The Perfect Cat Movie – Your Equipment
I suggest using a smartphone. Why? A smartphone is the one thing you usually have in your pocket and it does everything you need it to. If you do have a DSLR or even a cool little video camera like a GoPro – learn it, use it and enjoy it. These tips are great for you too.
You don’t need the latest model smartphone like an iPhone 12 or a swish Samsung. The smartphone you have, if it has the capacity to record video, is enough to make simple movies.
- TIP The best smartphone for filmmakers is the one you have.
- My Blogpaws® Finalist movie was shot on an iPhone 4S.
How Do I Start Shooting Video?
You develop some basic skills so you feel more confident. A bit of preparation can make a big difference to your first cat film. These are skills that will make sure that your video clips will be better and less unsteady from the very start.
Practice These Basic Skills
- Make sure you can open and start your camera app smoothly. How? Have the app on your home screen where you can easily find it.
- Hold your smartphone as steady as you can. Viewers don’t expect perfection but they need to see what is happening, so don’t disorientate your viewers with sudden movement.
- Know how to turn your video camera option (if you have one) on and off reasonably quickly. An iPhone has a camera app and there are options for photo and video formats within that.
- Practice shooting lots of short video clips. Look at these later and see how you might do something better next time.
These are all you need to make a basic movie, but the more you use your camera, the more confident you will become and the better your results will be.
Movie Making Apps
I use an iPhone, but whichever device you have, your video clips will be shot using the camera app built into the ‘phone. The Apple App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android) have software options to help you edit and create movies with the video clips you shoot and with new and improved apps are coming on to the market all the time I recommend looking for a ‘top 10 movie apps’ search. These will give a fair assessment of the software you should consider.
What kind of cat movie do you want to make?
Know the story you want to tell. Here’s some ideas to help you focus your storytelling:
- Informal family video with cat toys, pet treats galore, opening a pet gift.
- A specific theme. Cats around the Crib: my cat’s Easter gifts: a cat out and about.
- A rescue promotion to help a cat in need?
- A movie expressing how much you love your cat.
- Cats going crazy with snowflakes, Kong toys, in the water.
- Family disasters with my cat(s).
TIP Keep it simple and use good light. You are celebrating your love for your cat not aiming to win an Oscar® for best movie.
Setting the cat movie scene
Once you have worked on your basic camera skills you will be keen to get busy planning your first movie.
Nothing high stress, with to-do lists and must-have’s but you will need a focus, an idea to kickstart the story you want to tell. This basic plan means you will be ready to start filming as soon as you need to.
With your own idea in mind:
- Tell your story in broad strokes. Keep it simple. Have a plan, or a story in mind this ensures you take the right kind of video clips.
- Don’t want to talk on video? Easy. Use text. Keep it short and informative. Add basic online and ‘phone contact details for a rescue.
- Find a suitable location. This might be your living room, kitchen, garden or rescue. Adventure cats might go further afield.
- Collect any props, coloured paper or fabric for your background.
- If you have a patient cat and have plans for presenting them in an outfit, be ready with the outfit but don’t force your cat into something that worries them. Feline distress comes over in a movie – loud and clear.
- ADOPTIONS: Take close-ups and full-body video to show the cat’s physique. Add cute chin scritches or something that shows your candidates personality.
- Tell the story of your candidate either with speech, or text on the screen. Any special points you need to point out? Tell the audience what they are. FIV+, Senior, Cerebellar Hypoplasia kitty who is feisty and keeps it real. People need to be interested enough to meet your candidate for real.
If you think telling the full story about a cat might put people off you are wrong. It will deter those who want a hassle free, agile and (relatively) care free cat, BUT you will also reach the cat lover who wants a senior, who has experience with Diabetes, who is prepared to take on a disabled cat with a happy heart.
Know how to turn on your camera quickly.
As you are dealing with cats you might find your model doing what you want to sooner than you expected. You need to be ready to shoot fast.
A good way to do this is to make sure your camera app on your home screen. You will know exactly where it is and can tap it quickly to open it.
Smartphone Movie Software Tips
You will find plenty of short filmmaking apps to download to make your first movie. Some are free, but the apps with better features are usually ones you invest a small amount of money in. Here are some of the apps we have on our iPhone:
- iMovie – Standard with all recent iPhones (so it may be already on your ‘phone)
- Musemage – Has the option to incorporate a blue screen! Filters. Image stabilisation. Plenty of great features. Currently, free but has a steep learning curve.
- Videoshop – (Google Play) Has a wide range of features to keep a newbie happy buy is becoming a bit ad heavy.
I am not an Android expert but I advise that you look for apps with 5-star reviews. Google Play will help you narrow down your choice of filmmaking apps. You can also ask movie-making friends for recommendations.
One of the most informative exercises to try as you look for an app is to look at the low score reviews. There is a reason for this. People usually have one issue that really bugs them about an app, and they will have complaining about this one issue down to a fine art. If this is the only thing that bugs them and its not a big thing for you, try the app.
On the ‘up’ side for iPhone movie makers, Apple has begun to allow developers to respond to queries and criticisms. This means buyers can often get helpful answers to frustrated feedback so you can see that issues are being noted and acted on.
- TOP TIP This may be the most important piece of advice we give in this post.
Know How Your Smartphone Movie App Works
Movie making on smartphone device has undergone huge development in recent months. Mobile software now does so much more than it did even one year ago. The sophistication of your device and its apps is keeping pace with smartphones themselves and the range of options in every movie app means you can’t just pick one up and use it – you need to practice!
Developers know that not everyone is a tech wizard so they prepare how-to’s on YouTube like the one below for MuseMage. Sites will often have operating tips and videos online. Use these to learn the basics.
Key Skills for Your Cat Movie
- Load video clips into your app
- Edit/Trim your video
- Adjust your volume (remember that noisy TV in the background last year?)
- Add a little text (optional)
- Add music (optional) and remember © Copyright. Apps may include royalty free or copyright free tunes for you.
A reminder. If you have people who are not big on social media make sure you share a link via email. Or when you visit family who are not online, remember to sit down and show them with their own personal movie premiere! This kind of share might bring a real touch of magic to someone’s day.
Social Media Sharing Tips
If you are a big Facebook fan, remember you can upload your movie direct to FB. Your video will be shorter than the time recommended in our quote but, the larger the file size the longer it will take to upload. The quality might also be affected.
“Keep in mind that videos must be less than 45 minutes long and smaller than 1.75 GB. The longer your video is, the larger its file size will be. This may affect the quality of the video – Quora“
Sharing and watching videos on Twitter is not done on such a generous scale, but might be a good fit for your movie. Twitter welcomes videos that are a couple of minutes in length and this might increase soon to match their increased 280 character tweet limit. Uploading a video is done via the Twitter app.
If you are a big Instagram fan you are challenged to tell your story in under a minute. This might be perfect for a one-off quickie event, a cute kitten story or sharing a positive rescue or feral report.
“Increasing video length to a minute took quite a bit of effort. ……. Instagram surprised its users by increasing the 15-second limit of its videos to… 60 seconds, a full four times longer than before – engadget.com“
After You Have Shot Your Video
What the heck do you do? Now you refine your story by editing.
You know what kind of movie you decided to make. Now you keep your focus. Your movie an aims are simple. Stay on course and tell your story.
Review the video you have saved. There will be good stuff and bad stuff. Don’t cringe at a wobbly shot, or groan that something ‘didn’t work’. Your story can be captured with a squeak and people will laugh with you, not at you. People still smile at the videos I created of Dusty’s travels. They are special memories, and you can make your own.
The K.I.S.S. acronym is the only one you need to remember. Keep It Simple Silly.
Bloggers Sponsored Video Tips
For blogging movie makers, a couple of extra tips to make your movie-making life easier.
If you have a sponsored post post is wherever your social media following is strongest, for maximum impact.
- Sponsored posts must have an FTC disclosure statement clearly displayed. No exceptions.
On Instagram this might be hashtags, on Facebook or Twitter the words #Ad or #sponsored are clear indicators. Whatever it is, it must be clear and unequivocal.
The caution about FTC applies to all of your social media outlets. Leaving off a formal disclosure when you receive recompense for an item shows a lack of respect to your fellow movie makers and anyone who makes a living in social media.
Things to Remember
- Be honest and recognise that your time might be limited.
- Learn to operate your movie app. Confidence = success.
- Keep it short and simple.
- Keep calm and don’t stress.
- Realise your movie may be less than perfect
- Remember this doesn’t matter.
- People will love seeing your movies.
What starring roles will your cats take in your movies?
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