I’ve been in the business 22 years.
I’ve seen filmmakers come and go, and they always seem to fit into 4 categories.
#1. I’ve seen talented filmmakers succeed with their first or second films and not know why. So they get arrogant. They get stupid. They’re the one hit wonders.
#2. Then there are filmmakers who have the talent to create the art and the maturity to understand that making Filmmaker movies is a business. They stay on top. They learn. They change. They improve. They succeed. They are the filmmaking legends and giants.
#3. Next are the filmmakers who have 50% – 100% talent but zero work ethic. They are the lazy. They expect opportunity to fall in their lap if they keep hanging with the same group of loser filmmakers, making worthless short films to be discovered on YouTube or at stuffy worthless local or regional film festivals that no one’s ever heard of and no distributor’s acquisition exec will ever attend.
They reject any form of criticism. You’ll find them huddled together in online forums where they can pat each other on the back – blind leading the blind – and snicker at any producer who has the nerve to ask them create a movie that must work within specific parameters. (I’ve been on the producer end of that stick, and believe me, these people get nasty.)
They want education for nothing and at seminars, they’re the ones who fold their arms and look down their greasy little noses at professionals who try and teach them how to succeed. But they won’t succeed.
Because these filmmaking wannabes espouse the attitude of,
“They don’t understand my art.”
“My films mean something.”
“They’re cutting edge.”
“I can’t compromise the artistic integrity of my creation.”
“Now why won’t anyone give me money to make my movies?”
They reject professional criticism and instruction because then they would have to admit they have invested time and money in their own failure, admit they were wrong, and to proceed from that point would require change, and change would require…you got it…work.
It’s laziness disguised as arrogance, or confidence without a cause. Converting raw filmmaking talent to pure filmmaking talent requires honing, focus, discipline and education from both books and experience.
These filmmaking wannabes, who assumed from the womb that it would be easy because the director’s commentary on the DVD made it seem so, then return unmoved to their local circle of losers, trying to be the big fish in a tiny pond, hoping to become Independent Filmmaking’s next “Cinderella” story, all the while living their own “Emperor’s New Clothes.”
#4. Finally, you have the filmmaking wannabes who want no part of the typical loser’s circle. They may have attended a 2 or 4 year film school hoping to gain the upper-hand, but graduate with a head full of theory and a pocket full of debt.
They hear the success stories of other filmmakers and become frustrated as they still wander in the darkness of ignorance. “What do they know that I don’t?” “Was it just luck? It has to be.”
They spend their days working for peanuts on film crews, waiting for a break. Or they start different careers altogether, keeping the dream flickering in the back of their mind, all the while saving money and searching for books, videos, something, someone, anything in the endless maze of online and offline resources that will finally put the puzzle together so it all makes sense and they can begin living their dream.
It is this filmmaker who is ready to learn. It is this filmmaker who is teachable. They are the next generation of filmmaking giants and legends…once the are finally able to put 2 and 2 together.
Are you a Filmmaker class 1, 2, 3, or 4? If you’re a 2, then you’re probably not reading this. Good for you!
If you’re a 1 or a 3, I pray you graduate to a 4.
IMPORTANT: If you’re a #4, please study, work hard and take advantage of legitimate online and offline resources. The Internet is flooded with #1’s and #3’s so be careful when searching filmmaking forums for answers. 1’s and 3’s question any information outside their own experience and are unwilling to try anything unless someone else they know does it first. They are ripe with skepticism, bitterness and write and speak with whining overtones. They blame circumstances and other people for their inability to “break into the business” and fail to admit it’s their own negative mindset that keeps them from breaking out of their box.
And they’re the very filmmakers that will be infuriated with this article. (That’s right. I called you out. Let hate mail roll…)
Once you identify these people, disregard their comments and try not to engage them.
Being positive and humble is harder than being negative and cocky. Stay strong my dear #4’s. There are inexpensive educational opportunities out there that can launch your filmmaking career.
For all you other filmmakers out there, attitude is everything. Keep yourself in check and self-evaluate often. A willingness to learn from other’s filmmaking successes and mistakes will put you on the right path to success