Filmmaker Process – Be a filmmaker

“You wanna make a picture kid?”

One of the most straight forward pieces of advice I’ve read in regards to becoming a filmmaker was in one of Robert Rodriguez’s books. It was something to the extent of, “Go online, get some business cards with your name, number, email address and “Filmmaker” or “Director” or “Producer” as your title. Then start handing them out to anybody who wants them. And like that, you can call yourself a filmmaker!”

See how easy it is?

The only problem with that is, anybody can call themselves a filmmaker. The difference between those that say they are and those that actually are is a lot of hard work. Nobody is going to knock your door down and grab your butt off the couch and say “You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread! I want you to work on my film!” just because you THINK you are good. You have to get out there and and actually do something to prove it.

It takes, on average, 10,000 hours to be an expert at one thing. That’s 5 years of working 40 hours a week to become an expert at that one thing. 5 years! That’s a long time. It also means you have a lot of work ahead of you. So, figure out what part of the film industry intrigues you the most and learn as much as you can about it. You should be trying to do something everyday to make yourself better at your craft.

Writers, read screenplays on your lunch break. See how different writers draw you into their story.

Directors, watch tons of movies. Notice how the actors, camera, lighting, dialog, props and location all work together to tell a story in each scene. It’s your job to make sure everybody on set knows how to get that scene just as you see it in your head.

DPs, Shoot everything you can. Make notes on how each lens, fstop, shutter speed, lighting and camera give you different footage.

All that being said, most films are not made in a vacuum. Of course, you could write, direct, shoot, act, edit, score, color and promote the entire movie yourself. But then thats 80,000 hours to be an expert at each one of those things. Since this really isn’t the best way to go about it, you will definitely need to know other people. So get out there with your freshly made business cards and start networking. Meet as many people in the industry that you can. Join local groups. Log into Google and Yahoo! groups and join plenty of those.

There is also a website called that has online forums as well as local meetings for their groups.

The more people you meet, the more you will see that there are tons of like minded people in your area who are filming movies left and right.

Once you have these connections, ask to help make their movies. I highly doubt anybody will mind free help on their film. I know we didn’t and still don’t. And yes, I said “Free”, unless you are networking with people like Michael Mann, you will most likely be talking to people who barely have enough money to get their film made. So, don’t expect to get paid with anything other than food, experience and a credit in the film.

Meeting all of these people and helping them out on their film is going to be good for you in the future when you are making your movie and you need their help.

Networking is a HUGE part of the film industry. It can help you get jobs, funding, actors, meetings, distribution and a myriad of other things. The quicker you learn how to do it, the better off you will be. For now, though, the main objective of doing all of this is so that you can know as many people as possible to gain great experience while helping to make their movies and to have great connections to make your film.

Whichever one it is.

Now go out there and make a bunch of friends and get some good experience, you filmmaker you.

You only have 9,999 hours and 55 minutes until you’re an expert.

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