How to be a Filmmaker (Part Two)

In Part One we looked at the definition of film-making and how, to be a film-maker there are 10 superpowers that one needs to accumulate over the course of a career. We also thrashed out the first two superpowers.

In this part we’ll look at the next four superpowers. Ready for the barrage?


Superpower #3: Know your Tools

Gear you’ll need:

Google, Wolfcrow.

What it costs: The price of broadband.

How to use this gear: Search, read, find newer keywords, search, read…

Time this will take: A year or four.

I’m sure there used to be an age where tools were few, and you could spend a lifetime perfecting your craft with just one tool. That age is gone.

Today, tools come and go on a monthly basis. Look at the speed with which mobiles and apps are coming and going. Technology is cool, but don’t trust it.

Questions to ask yourself:

Do you want to spend most of your time with tools and technology, or your art and craft? How much time can you realistically spend before you’re spending too much time learning? How do you learn, and how good a learner are you?

Are you ready to read about new technology on a monthly basis? Can you handle jargon, charts and math? Do you want to? If not, whom will you trust for guidance?

Is a camera your tool of choice, for life?

Why should you tell your story through the medium of cinema or video? Why not pencil drawings, music, dance, sculpture, paintings, poetry, literature, rap music, plays, oratory, politics, charity, journalism, gaming, software, business or just living it?

What makes moving images so powerful? Is it too powerful for the stories you want to tell? Ever wondered why paintings and computer games are more profitable than films? How do you know you are right? What are the signs?

Is art the activity of articulating thoughts and feelings in a way that can be communicated between humans? What is art? What has it got to do with you? Can you project your thoughts, jokes, fears, horrors, optimism, cynicism, love, joy, pain, anger, sadness, logic, or feelings through images and sound? How will you juggle so many things, while juggling your own life?

How well can you use the one tool that you already have: Yourself? Can you wake up on time? Are you punctual for appointments? Are you a person with integrity? Can you hold your ground in a stampede? How do you know?

What has the inner working of a camera got to do with your vision? Have you read Driving Miss Digital? Have you tried reading it? If you don’t think it’s worth reading, then do you think you’re ready to face a future of greater technical complexity and speed? What are your priorities?

Do you know what you need to get started? Do you know the difference between the tools you really need, and the ones that are just holes in your bank account? Can you afford these tools? Did you know you can rent tools, and still have the satisfaction of using them? Did you know you can produce an entire movie with nothing but a laptop?

If you’re absolutely new to all this, don’t you think it’s high time you read the following?


Superpower #4: Take a Decision

There are no small decisions in film-making – Sidney Lumet

The first decision – one of millions you’ll take in your career – is the decision of whether or not you’re a film-maker.

You are. No matter what you own or don’t own. Pick up a camera, shoot a few scenes and edit them together on a computer. You’re a film-maker. Now all you have to do is do it tens of thousands of times more.

You are a film-maker. It’s nobody’s decision but yours. Say it is so, and thy will be done.

Gear you’ll need: Resolve (No, not Davinci Resolve!)

What it costs: This one’s free.

How to use this gear: Build confidence. This is your license to go forth and conquer!

Time this will take: As low as you want it to be. Why don’t you get it over with right now?

Questions to ask yourself:

Are you a film-maker? Who says so? Why should you care about what others think?

Did you know film-making is a series of decisions, each leading to the next? Did you know a decision is a commitment? Do you know it is final? Do you know that if you’ve decided, but later want to backtrack, the world doesn’t play fair?

Are you a strong decision-taker, or do you look for assistance whenever you’re asked a direct question? Are you feeling comfortable with this interrogation article? Do you have the answers? Did you know that while on a set people assume you know the answers? Do you?

How responsible are you? Can you stand by your decisions, or do you prefer to blame someone else for life’s vagaries? Do you expect the world to kneel and bow to your command? Will you break down and cry when you discover your expectation is ludicrous?

Do you know you have to finalize a script before anything can commence? Have you read the article on pre-production and post-production? Do you realize that mere words on paper have the power to bring your cherished vision crumbling down? Do you realize a small decision today can impact what happens two years from now?

Do you agree there are no small decisions in film-making?

Superpower #5: Gather Facts and Opinions

Gear you’ll need:

Google, Wolfcrow, Forums.

What it costs: The price of broadband.

How to use this gear: Search, read, find newer keywords, ask, read…

Time this will take: A year or four.

Questions to ask yourself:

You realize this section is about questions to ask yourself, and not others, don’t you?

Can you differentiate between fact and opinion? Do you know basic sales technique? Do you know how Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) works? Do you know how marketing works? Do you know how scarcity works?

If you have answered yes to all of the above, do you know when these work on you? Can you resist the chaff and go for the wheat? What makes you so sure?

Do you know why opinions are important? What will you do if you receive many conflicting opinions? Do you realize the importance of knowing yourself and your circumstances? Do you see now that if you know your boundaries, likes and limitations, it is much harder for others to sell you stuff that you don’t need?

Do you see how learning is a commitment, and you should learn systematically? Do you see how laziness will only harm you down the line? Do you see how failure to ask a question or discover as much information as possible will come back to haunt you later? Do you have enough knowledge to take an informed decision about anything related to film-making? How do you know when you have enough knowledge?

Do you know how to sort fact and opinion in order of importance? Will you be able to find the right path from this mess? Have you trained yourself to ensure this? Have you looked in the mirror so hard that your instinct becomes in tune with your dream? Do you trust your instinct? Why, or why not? What can you do to correct it?

How do you form a advisory committee that has your best interests in mind? Do you know such people? If not, how long will it take you to form such a circle? What value do you expect from them, and what value can you provide in return? Are you the parasite, or the giver?

Superpower #6: Make Friends

Gear you’ll need:

A smile.

What it costs: Friendship.

How to use this gear: Ask, receive, provide and share.

Time this will take: Your life.


Questions to ask yourself:

Do you know what a synergy is? Do you realize your friends and family can provide moral support, but aren’t likely to know the first thing about film-making (unless they’re film-makers themselves)?

Does it matter that somebody else is doing it for ‘so and so’ reason? Would you follow ‘so and so’s’ advice on food, fashion, real estate or your love life? Do you realize the difference between stories, make believe and reality? When was the last time you met a person who was too good to be true? When was the last time you met a person who is always right? When was the last time you looked into the mirror?

Do you realize that filmmaking is only one-thirds storytelling, and two-thirds hustling, managing and running a business? Do you realize you’ll spend more time in meetings than on perfecting your craft? Do you realize your goals, vision and love can be obliterated by a single fool you chose to be part of your team? Do you realize you could be that fool?

Do you know the value of friendship? Can you network and find friends? What will you offer as friendship? Are you reliable? Are you dependable? Are you likeable? Do you have integrity?

Can you multi-task? Can you concentrate? Can you at least commit to getting better at what you lack? Are you capable of improving? Are you capable of believing? Are you capable of changing? Are you capable of moving others? Are you capable of doing?

Take a breather. In Part Three we’ll look at the last four superpowers.