Fear in many forms, is one of the major factors involved in the death of the filmmakers dream to make movies. In order to find success in our chosen paths as movie makers, we must recognize our fears and conquer them to achieve the goals we desire.
Dream of being a Filmmaker? Conquer fear and make your movies
Many of us had an epiphany at some point or another and realized that being a filmmaker is what we wanted out of life. Some of us needed to tell stories so desperately we convinced our parents to send us off to film school. Some who couldn’t go that route might have begun working on sets figuring they would make their way up from the bottom.
Whatever scenario this might be, many who begin the journey to directing or screenwriting, perhaps even dabbling in cinematography, never quite make it. Something usually “gets in the way.” For some it may be that there is too much competition. Some feel like they don’t have enough money. Some feel as if they just had a camera then maybe…
Whatever the reason, or as I like to refer to it, the excuse most people use, is actually grounded in something else they may not actually realize. Simply put, it’s fear. Now, fear is a tricky thing because it can manifest itself in many ways. I know first hand because I’ve fallen prey to it myself. The trick is in recognizing it, and striking it from existence. Then, make your movies.
I have great ideas but I can’t make movies because (insert excuse)
I got into the business like many because I wanted to direct movies. Write a few as well but mostly direct. When I graduated from the School of Visual Arts, I felt like I was ready to take on the world. Four years of watching and analyzing movies culminating in a thesis film where I had the chance to tell a real story! Surely I’d be hired right away!
Not quite. No one was knocking on my door. Not to mention shortly after graduation, many classmates decided that seeing how hard making movies might actually be, they decided to do something else. Not very motivating for the rest of us.
But I wasn’t going to allow a few people who gave up affect me. So I began applying for jobs on Mandy.com. My first real opportunities came as free labor. I had a bit of experience with electricity having worked with my uncle for a few summers wiring private homes, and decided I would apply for grip/electric jobs like crazy.
I learned a lot while doing the free jobs. But I also used up a lot more time than I realized. Weeks on a job become months. None of the work I was doing was bringing me any closer to directing. I decided to get into the Camera department and work as a Camera Assistant. Surely that’s a crew position that’s always close to the actors. Makes sense!
After ten years, with 4 of them in Local 600 (the camera union), as wonderful as the experiences were, none of them brought me any closer to my real dream of being a filmmaker or writing and directing the movies I wanted to make. What stopped me in the end was fear. Fear of failure, the unknown, lack of experience and money and many other excuses. How does that make any sense?
Fear no more, the dream is alive in all filmmakers
Film school left me in debt. How do you clear debt? You get a job and make an income. What job could I do? Well I’ll be hired as a crew member but not as a director was my logic. Fear of not being hired as a director or thinking my ideas had any value is what stopped me. Instead it was easier to be hired as a crew member. Mistake number one. If you want to direct, then do it.
I was paying off my bills. Surely I couldn’t leave working in the Camera department! I just needed to make more money! So I joined Local 600. Mistake number two. I let fear of not having an income drive me. While making a living is important, I let the job become the priority and lost sight of the career. Money can be made many ways, make sure it doesn’t stand in the way of the real goal.
Truth be told with the 12 hour a day minimum commitments that working on a set demands, versus the average 9 hour day working almost anywhere else, working as a crew member was costing me dearly. Mostly in time which is incredibly undervalued. I just didn’t have enough time, (excuse) to write my own material. Ten years was enough. I had to make the change.
How to take back control and make your movie
I sat and thought about what my real problem was. The list of excuses were as follows, not enough money to make a film, I don’t have a good enough script, I don’t have enough time, my ideas are just too big so I can’t do it. There were many more like this. Sound familiar? The truth was I feared not knowing and was afraid to fail miserably.
“Give actors permission to fail”
– Judith weston
Not just true for actors. It’s truth in life. If we give ourselves permission to fail at whatever we do, then it is no longer an obstacle to worry about.
“Do the thing and you will have the power.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Finally, a reality check with a great friend of mine Martin Bayless, helped to get my sights back on course. We sat and talked about what I was doing with my life. He recommended a book that changed everything. After reading it I spent two days angry with myself for not making smarter choices. And within 2 months, my entire life changed and progressed by leaps and bounds!
Martin recommended Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind. Buy it and read it. It talks a bit about money, but it’s truly more about providing ones self with the tools to take back control. The principles in that book that could be applied to ANYTHING in life.
Since reading it, I changed my job and make more money, work less hours allowing more free time to develop my own work. I’ve directed several music videos, begun writing another feature screenplay and am in the process of writing another book. (First book here) Many other good things came as well and all because I decided to change my thinking and not let fear be an obstacle.
My advice to anyone who has a dream of being a filmmaker is to not let fear stand in the way. Identify and remove the excuses you may have for NOT doing what you want and it will unmask what you’re afraid of. Confront that fear by doing exactly what it is you’re afraid of. (provided no serious harm will befall you or others of course)
So what comes next?
I’ll say it again. Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind changed my life. I highly recommend reading it. Maybe more than once. Then go out there and make your movies. Write your screenplays. Create what you were meant to create. If this has helped and you’d like to learn more from myself and some other great folks, make sure you subscribe below. A great filmmaker series is coming!