Anyone can be a director, but not everyone can make a good movie. Here's a three-step guide for would-be Spielbergs to master the basics of filmmaking and create their debut masterpiece this summer. Step One: Get the Right Tools A cheap DV camcorder now costs about $2,000. Then you need the Premiere Elements software - about $600 - to edit your footage. All in all, you will need to set aside about $3,000 for the basic filmmaking equipment. If you are short of money, many youth centres now have filmmaking equipment for members to use. Also, InD Blue - a non-profit organisation in Wan Chai that promotes indie filmmaking among young people - and Media Centre Productions at the Hong Kong Arts Centre will rent equipment for editing or dubbing. Their rates are low, and they offer further discounts to full-time students. Call the Arts Centre on 2824 5309 or visit www.indblue.com for more information. Step Two: Know Your Story 'You must start with having a message that you strongly want to express,' said indie filmmaker Monica Lee, who won the first prize in the youth category at the 1999 Hong Kong Independent Film and Video Awards. Her film, 17 and A Half, is a fictional work that she shot when she was in Form Six. Don't pick a subject that you know little about. 'Don't be too ambitious and do a story that is not directly related to your life because, in the end, it will just not work,' said Lee. Joe Leung Hoi-tak, founder of the film website www.easy-film.com - a channel for young filmmakers to show their work - said he is often inspired by a piece of music or a set of images. 'It's important to let go of the [storytelling format] of a normal [feature-length] movie. You must set a length for your film, be it three minutes, five minutes or 10 minutes, and decide what you can talk about within that period.' Step Three: Build Team Spirit and Keep Experimenting When it comes to shooting, you must have a storyboard. It will remind you what kind of shots you need for a certain scene, thus setting tangible goals for the crew. 'Communication is very important. You must tell everyone in the crew very clearly what you want,' said Lee. All indie filmmakers work on a shoe-string budget, so you must use your creativity to make up for your lack of resources. Be proactive and keep experimenting. In order to do a track shot, Lee once experimented with tying the camera to an office chair and a supermarket trolley. 'The trolley works best,' said Lee. It is also important to make use of the qualities of the digital medium, said Lee. For example, a digital camcorder can capture images in low light, and this can convey a raw feeling. The medium is also sensitive to light, and you can create a wide range of colour tones for your work by shooting under different lights.