As we enter a new year, I thought I would share a few self-imposed filmmaking rules that I am taking into 2023.
I hope these are helpful, especially for those with ambitious projects in the works, and who want to maximize creative output:
1. Always have 2+ projects on the go
2. Never go a year without making a film
3. Work on my craft every day
4. Never consume more than I create
5. Experiment more with each film
6. Finish everything I start
7. Be willing to fail
Let’s unpack each a little bit…
2+ Projects On The Go
I’m a big proponent of having multiple projects on the go at all times, ideally in various stages.
For instance, right now I have one feature film in post-production, another in development, and a third being written.
This makes it easy to get a lot done (at least in terms of creative output), by leveraging my time more effectively.
Every project inevitably has setbacks or hits a lull from time to time. But with multiple irons in the fire, that just becomes an opportunity to push another project further ahead.
Make A Film Every Year
If I were focused on making short films right now, I would set a goal to make at least 3 – 4 in a year.
Since I’m currently working on some feature projects, one film per year is an ambitious but reasonable goal for the time being.
There’s nothing wrong with taking more time off between films. Every filmmaker has different needs and priorities.
But I find it too easy to lose momentum. I once went nearly 5 years without making any substantial films, and don’t want to go back.
Committing to a film a year helps me maintain momentum, which is always my goal.
Work On My Craft Every Day
The best thing I’ve ever done for myself as a filmmaker in recent years is commit to just 5 minutes of daily creative work.
Some days I get in 5 hours or more. But even on off-days, even if I’m not up for it, as long as I can find 5 minutes to stay on track, I’m still making progress.
But more importantly, I’m kept in the overall flow of the project. Which makes it much easier to jump back in for a deeper creative session when the time is right.
Creating > Consuming
I watch loads of movies and TV and love to indulge as much as anyone else. But I have long had a rule to never consume more than I create.
If I can find 3 hours a night to binge watch a new show on Hulu, I should have no excuse for not working on my creative projects. So now, I keep tabs on how much I watch vs. how much I make, and try to ensure I’m always spending more time doing the latter.
Consumption has its benefits too. It just has to come second.
Experiment With Each Film
Every film I’ve ever made and will ever make will be an experiment.
What happens if I make a movie in 9 days?
Can I self-distribute entirely to my own audience?
How would I go about shooting a feature with no crew?
I not only want to tell a story and make a film, but I want to try something entirely new. And by doing so, find the best methods and tools to take with me to future projects.
If I’m not experimenting, I feel like I’m missing a huge opportunity.
Finish Everything I Start
Being an artist of any kind is an iterative process. You try things, create projects, put them into the world, learn from the response, and start all over again.
But you don’t get to grow as an artist without releasing (at least some) of your work. All work will ultimately be imperfect, but if you aren’t willing to face audience rejection, you can never become better at your craft.
A completed and released film that was poorly made is far more helpful to a filmmaker than a better made film that was never shown.
Seeing things through is one of the most important qualities to have as a filmmaker. Without it, very little can happen.
Be Wiling To Fail
Without an honest willingness to fail, I really could not commit to any of the other rules on this list.
I would certainly never want to experiment on a film project, let alone release it and risk rejection. Nor would I want to juggle multiple projects or be able to commit to daily work, especially during difficult times.
Risking failure is a non-negotiable for filmmakers. But when it’s seen as an opportunity more than an obstacle, great things can happen.
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