When I first started as a filmmaker, I wasted so much time thinking about the “right” way to do things.
Before long, it was clear that there was no such thing as the right way. No matter what you may be measuring –
There is no right way to study film.
There is no right way to direct.
There is no right aesthetic.
There is no right camera.
There is no right cut.
A decade and a half into my career this has never been more clear.
Yet many of us still operate with the assumption that there is some gold standard we all need to adhere to.
Maybe it’s because our industry is so chaotic and without structure that we latch onto anything that seems tangible. We think:
“If such and such filmmaker succeeded with X, that means I should do X too!”
But this is a dangerous path.
It takes the focus off the one and only thing that actually matters – creating your art.
Every filmmaker who finds lasting success ultimately does it their own way. They put their process first, not someone else’s.
You might feel like you need a Tarantino-level encyclopedic knowledge of film before you make your movie. Or like you need to work in horror because that’s what’s in right now. Or like you need to use the FX3 because that’s what they shot The Creator on.
But you don’t.
All you need is to find an idea you love and to get to work, using whatever means you have readily available.
I’ve met countless aspiring filmmakers over the years with a greater knowledge of cinematic history than me. They have MFA degrees from film school. They have studied thousands of films. They have written well reviewed essays on theme and meaning.
Very few of them have actually ever made a movie though. And those that did often struggled massively because their process was too cerebral.
Early on in my career I would meet filmmakers like this and feel intimidated. Who was I to make a movie when these more knowledgable would-be filmmakers weren’t even ready?
In time though, it became clear that everyone has their own thing. And if film class wasn’t for me – that was okay. That might even be an asset, in a counter-intuitive way.
No two filmmakers are alike. No two films are made the same way. There is no formula, and there never will be.
So whatever it may be that is holding you back, try to recognize it for what it is. Then move on and use that energy to create something instead.
It takes all the effort in the world to write a script, make a movie, and get it seen.
If the limited time you have is spent worrying about what anyone else is doing, you will never have the capacity to do what is right for you.
You are an artist.
And great artists blaze their own paths. They find their own sources of inspiration. And they operate in the ways that are most intuitive to them.
Not everyone will agree with your path or your methods. Most won’t, almost by default. But that means you are on the right track.
When you’re the only one running in the opposite direction you tend to discover more meaningful terrain.
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1. Make a feature film today: The No-Budget Feature Film Blueprint
2. Build your network and sharpen your craft in our community: The Backlot
3. Color grade & polish your footage with my post-production tools on: Cinecolor