Independent Filmmaking – More of what not to do!

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes”
Oscar Wilde

You said it Oscar!

On location, Lancaster, CA, Cold, early and miles from anywhere, having the time of my life…

Since there are rather a lot of mistakes to make, and while I feel from time to time that I have made more of them than most humans on this earth, I thought I would continue along the oddly popular theme of my failures, just for a little while longer…

So let us see what other mishaps and disasters I have unique and invaluable experience in and go from there shall we!

My number one mistake made while making a film, or doing anything else for that matter is:

trying to not make a mistake….

Yes, you read me right!

Making mistakes is how we learn, whether we are toddlers taking our first steps or filmmakers making our first film…it all good!

If you are in too much of a panic and so worried that you will do the wrong thing or make the wrong choices you will undoubtably make even more mistakes than you would without all the stress.
But you will make mistakes, everyone does.

Even the most seasoned of filmmakers screws up, repeatedly, just read their biographies, but that should inspire you!

It should also be something that you build into your productions schedule, its always a good idea to figure in some ‘cock up time, ’ as we say in England.

Expect and accept that you will do something wrong, or some disaster or another will befall you.

Accept it and move on….and learn from it!

Once you get over yourself and assume that what can go wrong sometimes does, then you can move on to the next potential pitfall.

Rushing it…

Easily done, especially when you are all inspired and stuff!

But if you rush it you will definitely regret it. This is something important and it deserves the consideration and the planning and the rewrites and the workshopping and the additional rewrites. It is true that some things are done best off the cuff, in mad passionate creative fervor, and with little to no preparation. But making a film is not one of them.

Especially a film made with hardly any money where everything you put on screen counts more than ever.

So please don’t be afraid of waiting until you have everything you need and want and the time is right, the cast is right and the location is right.

All this preparation will pay off on the day of filming and most especially in the editing room, where you will congratulate yourself time and time again for being a ‘cautious Nancy’ and for ignoring all that told you to just go out and “shoot the damn thing.”

And finally, the mistake all filmmakers make, whether they be students, novices or the most experienced on the planet, being overly cautious and therefore boring.

Imagine the world out there, the world we have to work with. Full of wonder, stories, drama and amazing possibilities. Then remember the last student film or short film you saw. Everyone thinks that the story is the most important part of filmmaking, and they would be right, of course it is.

But its also incredibly important to tell the story well, and interestingly and with vision and drama and style and a certain amount of risk.

Not to mention the effect all of that has on the production value of your film. Take yourself out into the world around you and film your story there. Don’t worry about permits or insurance or getting in the way. You are an artist for heavens sake, your supposed to get in the way!

One of the biggest mistakes I see made over and over again is to limit yourself by the locations you choose. Never ever stay home and film your friends in your apartment and think that is enough. Go out at night and film from your car window on the freeway, on a bridge, up a tree, on the beach, on top of a building. Anything you can think of that makes your story more compelling and more astonishing. If it doesn’t work out then you can chalk it up to one of your mistakes to learn from, but try…

You will find, I can promise you, that this expansion of your storytelling horizons will not only add depth, pathos, style and daring to your film, but it will inspire the crew, the cast and most definitely you, the director, to expect more from yourself, and therefore more from your audience.

And as a member of your audience I can tell you most assuredly that I respond particularly well to someone with high expectations of me, in fact, I am sick of filmmakers having low expectations of their audience and therefore themselves.

Film is art and art is revolution, and although some revolutions I am sure started in someones apartment, they didn’t stay there very long, they went out into the world and showed themselves, and changed it.

Expect that of yourself, after all, whats the worst that can happen?

We are all used to disappointment, but real failure is not to try at all.