My experience and advice as a first time director… It’s hard to really put into words the true experience of making a film from start to finish. I’ve been involved in MANY Indie Film projects…either in acting, writing or producing roles. But, I’ve never experienced the role of Director. What I wanted to do was pass along some of the many lessons I learned during the experience of a becoming first time director and maybe help get you in the starting position for directing your first film. First things first…DON’T DO IT. Seriously! Don’t make a film!!! Walk away. It’s not worth it. You chances of succeeding are few to none. You will hit many roadblocks and have to overcome many obstacles. Your relationships with your friends and family will be tested as you will have many commitments with them that you will have to break in order to see your film through to completion. And since chances are that your film will most likely never see the light of day, you will also be a disappointment to the MANY actors, crew and producers you worked with during the process when you just end up walking away from the project. So, I say this with all sincerity….don’t make a film.
Ok….now that that’s out of the way…if there are any of you who ignored that warning, the rest of this is for you.
First, a bit if background on me so you can see where I am coming from. I am, by trade, not a filmmaker. I have a normal day job. I have been working in banking and finance for the past 20 years. I have a wife, two kids, a dog and a mortgage. I have no formal or professional training or schooling in acting or filmmaking of any kind. About 6 years ago, I had a silly idea to just start auditioning for acting gigs around the area. I had no idea where to start…so like most in my shoes, it was a slow and bumpy process. Being very new to the local Indie Film scene, I made my way onto all sorts of different types of sets. Some sets had very experienced filmmakers and some sets had filmmakers with very little experience. But I have learned that, for me, being on those sets that were shakier than the others proved more valuable than any training or schooling could offer. You learn….really learn…what NOT to do. Seeing what doesn’t work on other sets has been one of the greatest learning tools I have been given.
So…how do you get that invaluable tool of learning what not to do? For starters, get involved in as many projects as you can behind the scenes. Look for local films that need PA’s, or offer to be an extra set of hands in any way you can. Take on the grunt work. It really doesn’t matter at first what kind of project it is. Every Indie Film set needs help. Cheap (free) help is preferred. But you can’t look at it as free help. Like I said, the experience of on the job training is completely worth your time if you are serious about growing as a filmmaker. The other HUGE benefit for offering help on sets is the NETWORKING. Networking, in the Indie Film scene, is the greatest commodity you have. And it offers you valuable insight on who you may want t