Learning Filmmaking, Part One: Introduction

I don’t know anything about filmmaking. I’ve been studying film furiously for the past six years and I know about 0.001% of what there is to know.

If I could be given a chance to go back to when I first became interested in making movies, there are book-loads of information I would want to scream at my younger self so he would get off his ass and work harder. These articles are directed at people who have recently discovered filmmaking and are wondering what steps they should take to chase their goals. Before I go on for much longer, I should tell you the most helpful advice you could ever receive about filmmaking:

Make a movie.

It seems an obvious enough thing to say, so allow me to elaborate. There have been many long stretches in the past several years of my life where I’ve been waiting for something to fall into my hands. I was waiting for a perfect movie idea or more money or more resources or any other lame excuse not to make a movie. The reality of the situation is you will not make a perfect movie in those first several years while you are learning. You will probably not make a cent. And your first few movies are going to be pieces of crap that, in all probability, you will be ashamed of later.

Those first several years are only about one thing: gaining experience. I’m from the school of thought that the best way to learn anything is by doing. Filmmaking is one of the most rewarding examples of this theory.

I want you to grab whatever consumer-brand camera your family owns or grab your uncle’s old 8mm film camera or grab whatever is at your disposal at the moment. Don’t complain about how it will look like crap – it’s your first movie, of course it’s going to look like crap. My biggest regret is that I didn’t make enough crappy movies.

The truth is, a few years from now, which is better experience: making ten crappy short films or waiting for more money and making two crappy short films? Remember that this stage is all about gaining experience. You have to make ten thousand mistakes and learn from every one of them.

You can only do so much by yourself when it comes to filmmaking. If you do not have friends who are as passionate as you are, you have an immediate disadvantage. I have been lucky enough to have a group of awesome friends this entire time, without whom I would have never gotten as far as the 0.001% point.

Always be on the look-out for people who have an interest in movies. Maybe they secretly wanted to be in the movie industry all their life but they need an extra push and a vote of confidence that it is worth their time. Be friendly and excited about filmmaking every minute of your day. Your enthusiasm might catch on with the right people.

Bottom line of this lesson: Meet people and never make excuses about why you are not making a movie right now. In this new information age, you have more resources and knowledge at your fingertips than any other young filmmaker in the past could have dreamed of.

This is an exciting time for independent filmmaking and if you are willing to be dedicated, ambitious, and a little insane, you can be apart of it. I know you have that itch sometimes; that itch where you would like to accomplish something that most people have never done. These articles are meant to inspire and strengthen that drive I know you all have.

Next lesson: Watching and studying movies themselves.

Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash