Very Independent Filmmaking >> Trust your instincts…

“Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s.”

Billy Wilder  (1906-2002);
filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist

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Beautiful Sexy Funny Evil, 52 Films/52 Weeks, North Hollywood, 2011

 Well, I agree whole heartedly with Billy!

If there is one skill that can’t be taught it’s to trust yourself.  That’s something you have to learn on your own.

Mistakes, I’ve made a few….I’ve travelled each…don’t worry, this article doesn’t sing at you like one of those very amusing, and very quickly, very annoying greeting cards.

But you get the idea.  Everything I have ever really learnt about filmmaking, including writing, lighting, directing, editing and especially casting I have learnt through making mistakes.  And sometimes, though not as often and after paying close attention to  my own instincts, I have made the right decision and learnt that way.  Hopefully,and at some point soon, that will happen more often than not.

Everyone has an opinion and when you make films you want to surround yourself with good people who have great opinions.  But eventually, you are going to have to make decision about stuff all on your lonesome….petrifying I know.

Mostly because you don’t have anyone else to blame but yourself, of course.

But think of it this way.  When the choices you make are the right ones, you will have only yourself to thank!

Great for the ever present, although furiously denied, ego.

If you want to make films, big budget or no budget, you have to be able to make choices…..all the time.

Which location, which crew to hire, which actor to hire, which time to schedule everything, which scene to shoot first, and on the day of shooting, which scene to scrap because of some kind disaster which, somehow, was also something you chose.

In the world of very independent filmmaking the buck starts and stops with you, the buck being the actual dollar amount of the budget that is…

In the context of full disclosure and because I trust you all not to spread this around, I have myself, very recently, chosen to go against my own instinct and my better judgement, several times and with the same person in fact, to very nearly disastrous results.  Although they of course will never be made aware just how very nearly.  It wouldn’t do to admit just how crushed certain people can make one feel, even at my ripe old age, experience and couldn’t care lessness.

The fact is, if I had just trusted my instincts early on, things would have been very different.  But of course, I let the lure of the work and the prospect of promises fulfilled lull me and consequently I was screwed…. 

So, we can all make mistakes and these mistakes can floor the best of us.  In fact, in retrospect, I think I have learnt far more from this than I would have if things had worked out the way I thought they would.  At least that is what I keep telling myself when my mind invariably strays in the direction of second guessing.

But that was working on someone else’s project, at someone else’s pace and with someone else’s agenda…too many ‘someone else’s’ that’s for sure…

So I guess that’s what I learnt from that fiasco.  Be careful how many degrees away from being in control of the project you truly are.

If you are used to being the one in control of pretty much everything, then working with other people, or on their ‘team’ can sometimes cause a problem.  If not for them, then probably for you.  Its frustrating to not be helming the ship, even if the ship might be bigger and on a longer voyage, taking on a position of less control might be one compromise to many for you.  Watching someone else steer, especially when you know they’re getting into treacherous waters and they just don’t see that giant sea monster up ahead, no matter how hard you shout and wave your arms at them, is something I feel I am not cut out for.

Can you guess I used to work on boats?

But seriously folks, this is probably one of the biggest reasons I like to stick to my own projects.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a control freak, nor do I enjoy micro-managing.  I like to work with a team, amongst people I trust and enjoy spending time with.  I like to be in charge, but not in a cult leader sort of way.  I think I like to be trusted, we all do, that’s no big surprise.

Trust is something that comes naturally to me and in the project that shall remain nameless, from which I am still smarting, just a little, the trust I had in the project, myself and the boss was not reciprocated, in any direction I discovered, not just mine.  But since I was the one dealing with that lack of trust and therefore respect on a daily basis, I got the brunt of it.  Maybe thats why I over compensated by trusting too much in their direction, who knows, I’m no expert on my own psychosis, even after having lived with it for this long…..I wish I was!

In any case, what came out of it, within a couple of weeks of quitting, were two separate and equally fantastic new projects that I feel completely involved in, and with people I adore and trust, and some new people, friends of friends, that seem to trust and respect me.  So I guess that’s filmmaking and regular karma furiously at work!

These two projects are far more up my alley as well, so the universe really was telling me over and over again to stick to my own path and not be drawn into someone els’s, however seemingly worthy.

How easy it is sometimes to convince yourself to fulfill certain peoples misguided dreams, in place of your own….hey ho….

Again, stick to your instincts, believe in your own mojo….it will steer you right, unless you’re a bit drunk, then you should probably check with someone else before making any life changing decisions.

And we’ll save misogynists for another day, shall we?

Because in the world of the very, very independent filmmaker we can, and do, tell them all to sod off, and quite rightly!

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.