Recently I launched a newsletter called micro-budget weekly, in which I send out exclusive articles on micro-budget filmmaking to subscribers every week on Sunday. These articles are independent of the content that I have on my main blog here, and for the most part are only ever going to be seen on the newsletter.
That said, every once in a while I will re-publish an article from the newsletter on my blog, as I am doing today. I only plan on doing this once every month or two, so if you are interested in more content like this on a regular basis, be sure to sign up for the newsletter using the form on the right panel of this page, or at the bottom of the article…
Since I’ve launched the newsletter, thousands of readers have already signed up – so I thank all of you that have jumped on board so quickly, and been so enthusiastic about the content!
Without further ado, below is one of the most recent articles from micro-budget weekly –
YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME TO MAKE YOUR FILM
“I don’t have enough time” is probably the most common objection filmmakers give when asked why they haven’t made or finished their films.
And I can’t say that I haven’t made that excuse myself on many occasions. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that the illusion of not having any time is one of the biggest reasons I haven’t been able to get certain projects off of the ground.
You may be thinking –
Actually, No. I really don’t have enough time… It’s no illusion. I have a day job, social obligations, bills to pay, family commitments, and all sorts of deadlines to hit.
And I don’t doubt that you do. I also don’t doubt that the weight of all of this probably sometimes makes you feel like you barely have enough time to brush your teeth in the morning or go to the gym, let alone make a movie.
And while your day-to-day work, family, and social commitments may be very real, the time that you may spend watching tv, surfing the web, browsing social media, and otherwise wasting precious time is just as real too. I know because I do it too! I think we all do…
But we need to recognize that filmmaking is an art form that requires a lot of time over a long haul, and calls on us to prioritize our artistic responsibilities above all else. If we can’t do that, we can’t make our films. Period.
I heard a TED talk recently in which the presenter made a profound point about time management. She said – and I’m paraphrasing – “we always have enough time to accomplish our goals, but most of us simply do not prioritize them.”
I couldn’t help but think about how relevant that statement is. Especially for many of us filmmakers that struggle to find the time to bring our art to life.
While I’ve never put it so eloquently myself, I have come to this same realization over many years of trial and error. I’ve learned that the only projects I will finish successfully are the ones that I consciously make time for at each and every stage of the process.
So, let’s take a beat to consider each of the three big stages (writing, production, and post), and briefly imagine how we can fit each of them into our daily lives. We’ll start with the script –
If you’re writing your own screenplay, chances are you can get a whole lot done with just an hour of time, every day. Whether you are coming up with concepts, writing a treatment, or banging out a few pages of your script, a lot can be accomplished in a single hour.
If anything, when it comes to writing, sometimes less is more. As I mentioned in this recent podcast, we need time away from our creative work in order to gain perspective, and many of us really shouldn’t be writing more than 1 – 3 hours a day anyway, at least as far as our sanity is concerned.
So you don’t need to feel bad if all you can find is one hour a day to write your script. That’s plenty of time over the long run, as long as you commit to that hour every day.
Post-production falls into the exact same boat. In just an hour or two a day, you could easily prep, edit, or polish a scene or two of your film. You don’t necessarily need all day to work on it. If you have some “spare” time once in a while to put in some more hours, that’s all the better. But even if you just stick to a single hour a day, every day, before long you will have a finished product to show for it.
There is a whole lot that can be accomplished in just an hour, and how many of us truly don’t have one hour to spare? How many of us don’t spend an hour watching TV or scrolling through Instagram every day? As long as we are willing to make some sacrifices, and prioritize our artistic endeavors by putting them before leisure time, we will be on the right track.
Production can be a bit trickier as most shooting days are going to require far more than an hour of time a day, but the same basic principles I outlined above can be applied. Finding production time really just starts with taking a good hard look at your working schedule, and seeing where you have some gaps.
Are weekends generally free for you? Great. Schedule in a weekend shoot for 6 weeks in a row, and you just bought yourself 12 shooting days. You can make an indie feature in 12 days or less with the right script and crew.
Or maybe your weekends are filled with family obligations, but your day job gives you Tuesday and Thursday mornings off. Perfect, schedule your shoots then. It might not be easy to pull it together, but if you truly want to make it happen, you will find a way…
So, before I let you go, let me leave you with one last piece of advice –
Always aim to schedule your creative work before anything else.
In other words, set aside time to work on your film very early on in the day, well before you get caught up in the minutiae of your daily grind.
It’s going to be tempting to schedule time for your film at the end of the day, after you’ve completed all of your other daily work, family, and social obligations. You might even tell yourself this is the best time to get down to it, as you’ll know you got your “real work” our of the way, and now you can work creatively without having a guilty conscience.
But don’t fall into that trap. Your film is your real work. Part of prioritizing your film means that you literally put it before everything else.
Before you work on a project for your client or return last night’s e-mails, do whatever it is that you need to do to further your film. Doing so will mean you’ll spend the rest of the day in a better state of mind, knowing that you’re one step closer to achieving your goals. And this will inevitably inspire another productive day tomorrow, and the cycle will go on and on until your journey is complete.
I know how hard it can be to “find the time” to make a film. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and tell you it’s easy – because it’s not. I’ve struggled for years to find the right balance, but if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that there is always time, we just have to stop telling ourselves it’s not there, and just go out and find it.
Stay tuned next Sunday for another installment of micro–budget weekly.
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