As a new filmmaker I have often wondered how much of the process I would like to know about. I am familiar with what production is of course, pre, post and distribution obviously, but there is something that sort of eludes me.
Recently, as I mentioned in my blog issue from June 16, 2013 , myself and Seacoast Multimedia had submitted a project to a couple of film festivals including The Indie Fest and First Glance up in LA and have won an award of merit. I was ecstatic, stoked is more the word and was sort of a surprise! What I mean is that while in film school my instructor drilled in our heads that when making a film or even being in the industry to not focus on the prize.
So what does it take to make it from a beginner to good, to great filmmaker? That’s what I’ve wanted to learn most from my journey so far! I craved to learn as much as possible, other than from film school and my other productions. And, I also wanted to figure out as much about other parts of production that could teach me all the technical aspects as well.
So, here is what I did and how I approached the learning process of filmmaking from a wider perspective and asked myself and other professionals!
- Okay, what is it that I want to know? Everything! Or just enough about a certain part of production?
Well okay, here’s the problem with that. I figure I had a lot of knowledge stuffed in me in film school, pre-production, camera work, editing, scripting and blah blah blah. Even though all of it was great and I certainly gained tremendous insight. But when it came to starting my biggest production it wasn’t enough for me. I had to learn other elements to understand the scope and significance of the other parts as a director.
2. What is it I needed to know?
Here’s the sucky part about that question! What do I know, not really as much as I thought? So I know how to work a camera and I certainly know photography, as well as creating ideas, composition, mise en scene analysis and editing etc. But when it came time to design my shoot I really didn’t know all too much. So here’s what I did! Or at least what happened!
First the people who I work with, At Seacoast Multimedia, almost immediately started asking me about my history, work history that is! They were curious and inquisitive about what I had done and where I was headed. Of course I mentioned my experience and education as a filmmaker, and showed my enthusiasm and passion as well. Though the most important thing were the questions of what I didn’t know!
Q: Have you ever worked with After Affects?
A: A little… (Well, very little)
Q: Have you ever edited?
A: Yes! On Avid products and with Final Cut and mostly Premier Pro
Then as time went on more and more questions came. And my curiosity about other things became stronger. Each question challenged my aptitude, my perception of what a good filmmaker is! I wanted to know everything, every technical characteristic, part and phase of production. In the mean time, Dave, the most experienced of all, had me come over from time to time to teach me new things about production I didn’t know so much about.
He wondered and asked about everything that I could tell him I knew and didn’t know. He challenged my ability and skills with every question. The most important lesson I realized after all the questions and tutorials I was given is that it is important to learn different aspects of production. To be an even better filmmaker is to study and become skilled at editing, motion graphics, lighting and photography or whatever you feel is necessary. Not that you should be a complete expert in all things because it would be too much to know it all. However, to know just enough or the right amount so that your skills as a filmmaker/director become more knowledgeable so that experience and education help your creativity.
You must also get over your fears when doing anything creative! It is also all about the pre-planning and there are a lot of things people want to skip, especially budding filmmakers. Always, ALWAYS consider everything (as much as you can think of), new ideas, and different ideas when in pre-production. You may not see it all or get it all, but you will at least avoid production delays and your creative work will be at its height.
Joseph Clinton Peirce once said that “In order to live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” You want to keep things moving forward in a project whether it is the pace of the story or the story itself. I was also told that the greatest benefit from every project is fine tuning yourself and finding where you stand by putting your work out there. You should drop your ego and let people critique, consider what’s best for the project, by not getting the best shot in film history, but by doing what is best to make the whole film work in a seamless performance of art.
It is all an artistic development of yourself, your craft and your imagination. You can make better moves in the end of each an every next endeavor you take. Everything you do is experience related! The more you do the better you become.
So by creating and filming a project from beginning to end and submitting your work to various places, not just online but to film festivals you as a filmmaker can gain tremendous value from the experience.