Making a comedy movie may seem like an impossible task. What many people don’t realize, however, is that just because you don’t have access to Hollywood, you can make your own movie. As technology continually improves, all you need to make your own side-splitting comedy film is a camera, a location and actors. Everything else is up to your imagination.
Write a script. All movies begin here and a comedy is no different. It is at this stage that you will determine the logistics of your film: the length, the number of characters and sets required and the type of comedy you are going for (slapstick, gross-out, satire, etc.). The key to writing great comedy is misdirection. Take mundane, ordinary things, build your audiences expectations and then take them in a completely different (often ludicrous) direction.
Scout locations for your film. With a smaller production, the less locations used, the better off you will be. Remember that outside of family and friends' homes, you will likely need to get a permit to film in other locations. You can contact your local municipality as to how to obtain a permit, as it varies from state to state.
Obtain equipment. A camera and lights is the bare minimum you will need. You can shoot on film or video, but video is a cheaper alternative, as it is less expensive to purchase and does not incur high developing costs. You can purchase or rent these from different companies. Perform an Internet search and compare prices before making a decision. Depending on the type of camera, you may need to obtain separate sound recording equipment as well.
Hire actors. You can put an ad in the paper or one of several trade magazines such as Backstage. Indicate a description of the role, the shooting time and how much, if anything, the actor will be paid. Make sure that the actor is appropriate to the role not only in terms of appearance and age, but also in terms of comedic style. A rubber-faced Jim Carrey impersonator will seem out of place in a satire and a dry-witted stand-up actor won’t work in a slapstick comedy.
Shoot the movie. You do not have to film the scenes in sequence. In fact, you are better off filming all the scenes in a particular location before moving on to the next. Make sure to shoot multiple takes of one scene. Even if you think you have it perfect on the first take, you may find out in the editing room that the second or third take was better.
Edit the film. Most newer computers come with video editing software pre-installed. This software allows you to edit your film by importing the scenes you’ve shot and cutting and pasting them together in the order you desire. Unless you’ve shot directly onto a DVD, however, you will need to either connect your camera to your computer via a USB or firewire cable, or take it to a lab to be transferred to the proper medium.
Add music. You can also use the editing software to add the tracks you want to use. If you recorded the dialogue separately, you will need to add it in this step as well. Just make sure that the music fits the tone of your comedy. You don’t want dark and ominous unless your making a dark comedy. If you are making a dark comedy, you don’t want light and goofy. This final step can make a huge difference in the impact of your film.