Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Old Stuff: Be Prolific

If you haven't figured it out by now, filmmaking can be dauntingly complex - financially, aesthetically and in a practical sense. So, I understand why so much time can pass between filmmaking projects or before even the first filmmaking project.

But, paradoxically, if you want to feel less daunted and really come to understand your art/craft/obsession/etc., you need to engage in it as often as possible. Here's the good news: there is no paradox. There is absolutely no reason not to be prolific. Technology has completely caught up with the pervasive desire to make films. Films have never been about money, with great films always having been more about story and ideas than about production cost. But now, that has never been more true. I am seeing more and more films getting made, now, for under $1,000 (shorts) and under $10,000 (features). Granted, most of them suck. But not because they don't look and/or sound good. It is usually because they are devoid of ideas or any real aesthetic. But there's nothing wrong with that. You have to stumble before you can dance. Remember, failure is to be embraced. Even a horrific film is a step ahead of no film at all.

Often filmmakers with little experience and an underdeveloped creative voice, but lots of chutzpah, mount lavish productions using personal and/or family money that, ultimately, wilts under the harsh light of their lack of experience and ideas. Which is all cool (part of the growth process), if it doesn't wipe them out financially and spiritually - stopping them from ever making another film. But you never even have to risk that. Give yourself the experience first. As I've said many times, filmmaking is a complex art that demands experience and education - if not formal education, then "street" education. Pick up a camera - any camera - and make something! Explore/refine your ideas. Develop your voice and aesthetic. Almost anyone you know has at least a consumer DV camera. Aside from your ideas, that's all you need - along with a few friends and a couple of lights (a decent mic wouldn't hurt, either). Make films as often as you possibly can. And challenge yourself with each one. Detach yourself from any expectation of them (see enote) other than to learn and grow as a filmmaker.

Musicians practice. Painters paint. Sculptors sculpt. But filmmakers try to raise money, go to seminars, go to screenings, join organizations, network and do every other damn thing except make movies! Even if you have made several movies - MAKE MORE! Don't let weeks, months, years pass by as you wait for the "right idea", "the right time" and/or the "right money" to make a film. The right money is whatever you have, the right idea is whatever is in your heart/mind/soul and the right time is NOW.

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