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This is the seventh guest article in a series by filmmaker Brittany Nisco, where she's documenting the entire process of making and distributing her first feature film, Wandering Off. Here's the synopsis.

Wandering Off deals with family dynamics when faced with a crisis, specifically siblings who are still holding onto decades of tension. Their past continually creeps in while they try to understand not only what has happened to their parents, but who they are now and who they thought they would be. Their parents, on the other hand, are obliviously blissful… and nowhere to be found.

If you want to get caught up on the first six installments in the series, you can find them here:

  1. Starting Down the Road of Making Your First Feature Film

  2. The Super Important Logistics of Pre-Producing Your First Feature

  3. The Keys to Kickstarting Your Indie Film: Preparation, Hustle, & Heart

  4. Running A Kickstarter or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Movie

  5. Getting My First Feature Film from Planning to Production

  6. 13 Thrilling Days: Breaking Down the Production of My First Feature

You can stream the finished film on Amazon Prime.

Indie movie distribution. Seems like a unicorn: you want to believe it’s a real thing, but you’re not sure how to get it. That’s how I felt a couple years ago.

Let me back up first.

You may remember me from a bunch of guest blogs on here in 2016.

I documented everything from trying to find money for my movie, Wandering Off, to getting the crew, scheduling, all the way through to after we wrapped, and what the experience was like.

Now onto the distribution…

I was fortunate enough to talk to a couple filmmakers who had gone through the process of making their first feature and getting it out, and to learn how they did it.

I kept hearing about AFM and decided to look into it. For those who don’t know, AFM is the American Film Market.

According to their website:

“The American Film Market is the world’s largest motion picture business event. Over 7,000 industry leaders converge in Santa Monica for eight days of deal-making, screenings, conferences, networking and parties. Participants come from more than 80 countries and include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry.”

I heard you don’t know how to fully describe it unless you’re there, and never has there been a truer statement.

(Now, I can only speak to the distribution side of the Market, as that’s what we went for. While there are other things to go there for, I didn’t experience that, so I won’t pretend to know if that’s similar or different to what I was there for).

Prepping for AFM

About a month before heading to AFM, I contacted all the distribution companies that fit what our movie was.

Every company that goes to the Market lists what they’re looking for, so although time consuming, it’s an easy process to go through and see who fits.

I sent our trailer, as well as a few scenes from the movie, edited together so they had an idea of what the movie was like. Luckily for us, I was able to schedule a bunch of meetings, even up until we were at the airport heading to Santa Monica for the event.

There were 3 of us that went: myself and two of my producers, Connor and John.

The movie had been complete for some time, we knew what we needed to talk about, and we had prepared some questions we thought might get asked of us.

I will tell you now, that no matter how much preparing you do, there is going to be at least one question asked that you never thought of and you better have an answer on the spot.

“No matter how much preparing you do, there is going to be at least one question asked that you never thought of and you better have an answer on the spot.”

We had a private, password protected online screener ready to share with any distributors that wanted to see it. We were ready for our meetings.

Navigating the event

AFM is 8 days long. And they are long days. We had meetings scheduled for every day except for the last.

Walking into the Loews Hotel, you are immediately overwhelmed by the amount of everything; people everywhere, giant movie posters hanging from the railings, signage about events happening at all hours of everyday.

“The key is to reassess your strategy the entire time, because you immediately see what works and what doesn’t by the way the companies react to you and your movie. ”

I knew there was no way we could experience everything the Market had to offer our first time there.

The only thing I knew was we had to get distribution.

We had meetings by the pool, meetings in some rooms (they convert every hotel room into offices for each company, it’s quite a thing to see), meetings at the bar, meetings on the pier. It’s literally nonstop.

After each meeting, Connor, John, and I would talk about what we think went right and what we think we could tweak for the next one. Sometimes the next one was only an hour away, so we were discussing fast.

The key is to reassess your strategy the entire time, because you immediately see what works and what doesn’t by the way the companies react to you and your movie.

It’s pitching gone wild. And again, knowing your product inside and out is what will make you succeed.

In between all of this, there are also panels, discussions, roundtables, and parties. You are learning nonstop. You are networking nonstop. You are really worn out by the time 9pm rolls around.

But you keep going.

Getting the deal

We figured we weren’t going to hear from anyone until a few weeks after the Market was over, as everyone is in meetings and events the whole time.

So on our last day, I had just gotten back to the AirBnB from a panel that morning, and was trying to grab a quick nap before checkout.

“Getting that email was one of the greatest moments of my life. It meant that I didn’t waste anyone’s time in working on the movie, I didn’t waste anyone’s money, and we made a quality project that resonated with audiences outside of ourselves. I was elated.”

No sooner do I put my phone on the bedside table do I hear the email buzz go off. I check it before closing my eyes and see an email from a distributor saying they watched our movie and want to work with us. I jumped out of the bed and ran into the living room to tell Connor.

All of a sudden I wasn’t tired. We had accomplished what we went there to do: get distribution for the movie.

We knew we had to check everything out and make sure we were going with the best fit for our movie.

But the feeling of getting that email was one of the greatest moments of my life. It meant that I didn’t waste anyone’s time in working on the movie, I didn’t waste anyone’s money, and we made a quality project that resonated with audiences outside of ourselves. I was elated.

We flew back to the east coast that night in a great mood. Unbelievably tired from our red eye flight, but adrenaline is a hell of a thing and it really kept us going while we were on 24 hours of no sleep.

Lessons learned

So here are my takeaways for anyone thinking of starting their first feature or thinking about making a movie someday…

  • Do all of your work upfront in pre-production. Everything else will go (relatively) smoothly.

  • As I had talked about before, get releases from everyone, every place, everything that had anything to do with the movie.

  • Have a hard copy and a digital version of everything. Get another hard drive to put a million files onto for your distributor.

  • Know what is a reasonable place for your movie to be seen. Know the difference between theatre runs, SVOD, TV movies, DVDs, etc. in the way that would relate to your movie.

  • Have conviction in your project and if a deal doesn’t feel right for what you want, then it probably isn’t.

  • Do your homework on every single company you will meet with and who you’ll meet with from there.

And one more thing, if you run into Damian at the Loews Hotel, tip him well. He kept us going for those 8 days with his encouraging “Get those deals! Let’s go!”

Wandering Off is distributed by Turn Key Films and can be streamed on Amazon Prime now.

DVDs are on preorder and come out this fall to multiple outlets.

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About two years ago, I posted something on the site that seemed pretty insightful. These days, I'm pretty sure it was misleading advice. So let's set the record straight.

The article was a take on the old saying, "do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."

The idea is simple and attractive.

If you genuinely love the process of filmmaking, you'll stick with it and make more films.

And if you make more films, your chances of being successful go way up.

To take it even further, if you love the process enough, you'll be better prepared to deal with the adversity that come with filmmaking.

So not only will you make more films, but you'll be hardened against obstacles you'll undoubtedly face.

Makes sense, right?

So the advice was, learn to love the process. Participate in the process for its own sake, and try to divorce yourself from the results.

Because if you can learn how to do that (which isn't easy), you can reap those benefits, and the results will eventually take care of themselves.

Oh how naive I was.

How this advice sets us up for disappointment

I've since come to realize that there's a bit of truth to "learning to love the process," but the advice is bad in one key way.

It doesn't account for those times when the filmmaking process sucks ass.

It's such a ridiculous, unrealistic expectation to "love the process" at all times. Because no matter what anyone says, there are so many different aspects of making a film, and you won't love all of them.

Which has been a big realization for me, because I honestly felt broken for believing that I didn't love the craft enough.

I wanted to follow my own advice, but I just couldn't force myself to love every little piece of it.

Sure, parts of the filmmaking process can be super fun and rewarding and creative. 

But some parts of the process are downright painful, depending on your disposition.

  • Ask basically any writer ever, and they'll tell you they hate writing, but they love having written.
  • And I don't know about you, but I find most pre-production tasks to be tedious and time-consuming and frustrating.
  • Not to mention, almost every step of production and post is fraught with complications and obstacles and setbacks. (I find those fun, but there are still times where I want to pull my hair out and give up.)
  • And if you happen to finish a film or series, you can bet your ass that marketing and distributing it will be a painful process.

There are plenty more examples too. Maybe you like the idea of production design, but you don't much care for the day-to-day work of building sets and props.

Maybe you want to be a great producer, but you're such a creative introvert that dealing with people and money and logistics nonstop wears you down.

But you know what, we do these things anyway.

Regardless of how much or how little we "love the process."

Why?

Because stories are part of our DNA, and we're driven to tell the ones we care about, no matter the cost.

Because we're driven to create, to make things, to put our own little dent in the universe, no matter how small it is.

Because deep down we know that life isn't about comfort, and it's not about doing what's easy.

Instead, we intuitively understand that life is growth.

And the best, most meaningful growth comes from pushing through discomfort, through pain, and coming out the other side of it with something to show for it.

In that way, the films we finish and put out are like battle scars.

They're a piece of us. They show the world that we have what it takes to push through the pain and get it done.

So no, you don't have to "love the process."

You just have to have a deep desire to create.

There will be discomfort. There will be adversity. There will be pain.

But that's ok.

Because you're going to come out the other side stronger and more capable.

And you'll have some awesome scars to show for it.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. Each week, I share my latest writing, curated stories from around the web, a short film that I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

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This is a guest post from Nick LaRovere. You can find more in-depth articles on directing, producing, and entrepreneurship at his site Storyteller.

As filmmakers, our primary job is telling stories visually.

You might be thinking, “Duh, Nick. Obviously, that’s what we do.” And you’d be right. It's pretty self-evident. However, it's easy to get lost in the dozens of intersecting elements that make up a film, and miss something extremely important.

I’m not just talking about the fact that what you include or leave out of the frame affects your audience. Those considerations are extremely important.

I’m talking about a visual planning process that, if you neglect it, will create loads more work for yourself, cause much frustration, force you into editing decisions, and generally cause you to end up with a film less desirable than you would have hoped given all the sweat you put into it.

As a (mostly) self-taught filmmaker, I’ve had to learn many things on my own, and some of those lessons have been pretty rough, leading to a lot of unnecessary (or perhaps necessary) challenges.

I’d like to give you a head start; maybe you won’t have to deal with some of the issues I did. Let’s get started!

Do sweat the small stuff - your audience notices

Modern audiences are bombarded with visual content. Not only that, but they’ve had the past 100 years of moviegoing experience to—at the least—know when something ‘isn’t quite right,' or they ‘don’t like it,' even though they can’t articulate why.

Here's what I'm getting at.

If you do not deliberately design every shot and all the visual elements of your film—including what’s in them (aka mise-en-scène)—you are setting yourself up for failure with your audience.

So before we get into the steps I use to visually plan my films, here are a few mindsets you'll need to adopt.

(Assume) your audience is visually literate.

“Attention to detail is always the best policy. Your film is made of a thousand small details, and you should never leave any of those to chance.”

This means that your audience has years of film conventions to compare your film to. They can interpret many subtle elements, consciously and not, that audiences just wouldn't have picked up on in the early days of cinema.

That means that we Storytellers have our work cut out for us. You have to be very careful in how you piece together the visual tapestry of your film. If you leave an element to chance or neglect it, that is something your audience can pick up on. Sure, sometimes there are happy accidents, but you shouldn’t count on that.

(Assume) your audience is highly perceptive.

As a rule of thumb, it’s safe to assume that your audience will see that paper you decided to leave in frame. ‘Eh, they won’t see it.' Yeah, they will.

Attention to detail is always the best policy. Your film is made of a thousand small details, so you should never leave any of those to chance.

(Assume) your audience won’t be able to articulate.

This isn’t so much a tip as it is a warning for you to expect this sort of behavior.

Though on a subconscious level, your audience knows what to expect, most viewers won’t be able to identify exactly what about your film causes them to like or dislike it. They may identify a scene, but even that can be misleading.

“Pre-production is king. This is a pretty common thing for people to harp on, but the more I learn and the more films I make, the more I realize it is very true.”

The problem is that scenes and minutes blend together, and one scene may affect their experience of another. You or I may be able to verbalize exactly why we like certain parts of the film, why we don’t, and what stood out; we can compartmentalize the film into its elements.

But for our audience, that's generally not the case. Say you make a stylistic choice, but it didn’t elicit the desired reaction, or just didn’t work at all. Your audience can’t always separate that bad experience from the other scenes.

They are only left with a general sense of what they felt. Most viewers don’t see a movie to do deep analysis. They shut down and sit down to watch something that will take them on a passive ride; no work required.

With that in mind, let's dig into the steps for effective visual planning.

Thoughtfully "design" each element of your film

I used the word design for a very specific reason.

One definition is “purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.” We need to go into production with a precise purpose for each storytelling decision.

In fact, this mindset/approach is absolutely vital, as there are various ways the visuals of our film can impact the audience, both consciously and subconsciously. Let's examine both.

The conscious effects of content on your audience.

Sometimes, there are visual elements in your film that will obviously reveal things about the story, motive, and character. These are the elements that make up the common vocabulary of films and more clearly move the story along.

In this stage of visual planning, you should consider the information you want your audience to pick up. What do you want—and need—your audience, after watching a particular scene, to consciously understand?

One way to communicate specific information is by controlling what is revealed and how. This is very important when you are writing your script, and it will determine what approach you will take in a scene.

Say your film starts with a catastrophe. Will you reveal it to your audience through the view of someone experiencing the event? What about through the news on a TV in the background—with a character who's totally clueless? What if the main character opens his door to find a friend, bloody and breathless, just having experienced the event?

Each of these approaches will tell your audience something different; who the main character is, what is most important in the film, and more.

A famous example is the intro scene in Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Here's the scene in case you don't remember it.

Touch of Evil Opening Shot - YouTube

Welles begins by telling his audience in a very straightforward manner that there is a bomb and it plays a significant role to the story. He shows it in closeup, then being placed into the trunk of a car.

It's no secret how the scene is going to end. Welles could have allowed the explosion to be a complete surprise, but by intentionally focusing on the bomb, he creates rising tension (since you, as the viewer, know what might happen, while the characters are totally unaware), and tells you clearly that both the identity of the bomber and the bombing play a key role in the story.

There are a dozen ways he could have approached this scene, but he thrusts the audience right into the scene, watching as events unfold.

Conveying information effectively is the key. It is easy to simply show a particular event taking place as if you are documenting something, but you must be aware of how you are delivering information and what conclusion your audience will reach based on how and what you show them.

It is difficult to isolate exactly where conscious communication to your audience ends and the subconscious, subtle cues begin. In fact, it is difficult to write about the conscious effects without talking about the subconscious effects.

The subconscious effects of content on your audience.

One manifestation of these less obvious elements is the construct of genre, which is a familiar set of expectations from your audience that includes themes, visual styles, and messaging. People refer to this collective, subconscious effect as a genre because of the general emotions that type of film typically evokes.

If you asked a child what a ‘thriller’ was, they wouldn’t be able to tell you, but the concept of a thriller will elicit a reaction from adults that have seen many films in that category and understand the feelings and reactions they have associated with the genre.

More specifically, each visual storytelling decision you make as director is going to influence the audience in a number of subtle ways.

When you are making these decisions, you have to ask yourself a couple questions:

  1. Will this method evoke the reaction or emotion I want from my audience?
  2. Is this the most effective way to elicit the response I want?

Working through these questions will force you to grow as a director as you continually add to your directing tool belt.

There are a ridiculous number of subtle choices you can make that will have different effects on your audience. Some of these more obvious choices are lens and camera, camera movement, color grade, framing, and other common topics of discussion among filmmakers.

“Part of the reason storyboarding is valuable is because it forces you to spend time drawing a frame and considering all facets of your shots, and think, ‘why am I even doing this shot?’ It forces you to think from your audience’s perspective and adjust.”

This is a perfect segue to the next topic, all about why you need to make these choices ahead of time.

Director’s prep and the visual blueprint

Your best bet is always to plan these many decisions ahead of time—at least, as many as you possibly can.

It takes a lot of brainpower to work through these issues in pre-production, shifting yourself back and forth between the shoes of your audience and the hat of a director.

But the less of your brain capacity you have to use while on set, the more you can focus on creative problem-solving in the moment (oh, and it’s less stressful).

Directors prep is the cornerstone of the production.

As directors, we're often our own harshest critics, and we rarely hit the mark we aim for. I know that holds true for me. However, you always stand a better chance spending quality time in prep.

I’m going to address steps I think you should take when prepping.

Storyboarding is an exercise in visualization.

I know, not everyone can draw, but it only has to be good enough for you to understand, really. You will get better as you do it. Learning the basics of sketching, including perspective, can help you storyboard better as well.

As long as you and most others can tell what’s going on, you’re good to go.

Part of the reason storyboarding is valuable is because it forces you to spend time drawing a frame and considering all facets of your shots, and think, ‘why am I even doing this shot?’ It forces you to think from your audience’s perspective and adjust.

It forces you to flex your mental muscles, and over time, this will cause your visualization skill to improve.

Specifically, storyboarding helps in prep by forcing you to:

  1. Identify what you want to see in frame why.
  2. Consider from the audience perspective what the content of that frame conveys to them.

And while on set, your storyboards help you by:

  1. Providing a great blueprint to fall back on when it’s crunch time and you have to make quick decisions.
  2. Reducing your stress because you largely already decided what you need to capture.
  3. Allowing you to focus brain power on your actors’ performances and delegation of work to crew, since you did your mental gymnastics in prep.
Lookbooks and visual references

You should always create what’s commonly known as a ‘lookbook’ (I call it a visual design book) for yourself and your crew to reference. I'll go over this process briefly, but I provided in-depth look at how to create a director's visual reference in another article.

Crafting a visual reference forces you to consider every artistic element of your film. (Wardrobe style, color palette, environments, etc.). The process of making the reference forces you to make conscious decisions for those elements based on what you want your audience to experience.

The lookbook also does a couple other great things for you. Not only does creating a visual reference force you to dial in your vision, but the lookbook helps your crew be efficient by truly understanding that vision.

If your crew has an at-a-glance understanding of the moods and visuals you desire in parts of your film, they can then work more autonomously. You don’t need to micromanage them if they are on the same page with you and can act without needing your approval for everything. This, in turn, frees up your brain for other tasks and allows you to make a better film.

This is very important because being a good director is just as much about being an effective leader and director of people as it is being a creative.

Here's how I put my lookbooks together.

I create my lookbooks using Google Drive folders, organizing by topic such as ‘makeup,' ‘wardrobe,' ‘visual/lighting design,' and other categories. I also tend to break these down by scenes or parts of the film when those parts have very different styles.

Once I’ve created the folders for each topic, I place my specific references and inspirations in the folder.

Last, but not least, while going through the visual planning process is generally helpful, building a visual reference is an important step when you are trying to create a believable world for your film.

Planning for the edit

So, here you are, victorious! You’ve completed your film, and now it’s time to figure out how this puppy will go together—right?

Wrong. You may know this already (or maybe not), but it sure was a revelation for me when my short film Sacramentum gave me hell in the editing room, for this very reason...

I did not plan for the edit. Bad, bad Nick.

Well, believe me, I learned my lesson.

The processes I’ve lined out above will save you time and frustration in editing, and your film will turn out better because you anticipated the realities of how things will come together in post.

If you do the above things, and you’ve really considered your film from all angles, you won’t have the problem I had.

My problem when I made Sacramentum wasn’t that I didn’t consider many of the artistic aspects. I did. I spent hours preparing costumes, set decoration, props, and casting, among other things.

But I didn’t do any planning for the visual storytelling, really. I left it entirely up to my DP who (also) did not create a visual plan of attack, thereby not anticipating the edit. We just didn’t know. We had to learn the hard way.

“The processes I’ve lined out above will save you time and frustration in editing, and your film will turn out better because you anticipated the realities of how things will come together in post.”

‘Look at that beautiful art production!’ ‘Yeah, okay, but the film isn’t very good, so who cares?’

If you don’t plan properly, you will run into visual issues that you may be stuck with because you’ve worked yourself into a corner, having not anticipated a potential issue.

When you are doing your planning, focus first on getting the shots you need to tell the story, but try to allow some time for on-the-spot creativity and coverage to cover your butt in the edit. Stuff happens (like continuity errors).

Five vital steps of director’s visual prep

So let's recap everything we've covered here, because it's a lot to take in.

  1. Do sweat the small stuff - your audience notices when you get lazy.

  2. Thoughtfully design each element of your film so you have intention behind each decision and tell an effective story.

  3. Go through director’s prep and make a visual blueprint so you think through all facets of your film.

  4. Get your crew on the same page by making lookbooks and visual references.

  5. If you follow the above steps, you will have planned for the edit and save yourself headache.

Basically, to sum it all up.

Pre-production is king

This is a pretty common thing for people to harp on, but the more I learn and the more films I make, the more I realize it is very true. I used to think storyboarding is pointless, but now I’m a believer. Even if all these things are overwhelming, I encourage you to try at least one out on your next film and see how it goes.

Break a leg!

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Filmmaker Stories are crowdsourced articles directly from the worldwide community of filmmakers who read this site. To learn more about writing and submitting your own Filmmaker Story, click here.

FILMMAKER: Ryan OksenbergSTORY: How I Used Rhythm to Make Better Creative Decisions on My Latest Short Film

Many say it’s imperative for directors to be literate in the language of writing and editing. I could not agree more.

When you’re out shooting and a line doesn’t feel authentic, you may have to suggest a new line, or cut the line entirely.

When it comes to production, sometimes you have to make tough editing decision on the fly when running out of time.

But one thing I don’t hear about often is the need to understand rhythm, and how it influences all stages of filmmaking.

Rhythm played a major role in how I wrote, shot, and edited my latest short film, Damage Control. So let's add that one to the unofficial list of things directors should attune themselves to.

First, a little background. I’ve been playing percussions for a long time. Self-taught. It’s a hobby and also a release.

Oftentimes when I’m sitting on my butt all day tied to Final Draft or Adobe Premiere, I get up and play on my drum kit or djembe. I think about what I’m working on and translate it into beat and establish a pace. It’s a nice relief (and distraction), yet surprisingly helpful…

“There was something measured about it, something musical, and I just had to figure out how to hit the right notes.”

Even if you don’t play an instrument, you can tune your brain into the music you listen to, and discover the mechanics behind it.

Ask yourself, what exactly is it that makes a song catchy, or makes us dance or feel something? How do people talk and relate information to each other? How long do we take to process good news and bad news?

It’s all rhythm.

Sure, it’s an abstract concept, but I realized how much rhythm helped me wrap my brain around the execution of my latest short film, Damage Control.

The film is driven by its pacing and tone, and that's how it builds suspense.

The whole story takes places in a single moment. So I had to establish a rhythm that propelled the story forward and not lose momentum. It needed movement, which comes from whether characters onscreen were staggered, flowing, chaotic or syncopated.

Same with the camera. It could be slow, jerky, or prowling—as if the character was being followed. There was something measured about it, something musical, and I just had to figure out how to hit the right notes.

Don’t be afraid to read your script out loud to find its rhythm.

I know, I know... you’re not an actor, so why should you recite the words you’ve written? Because when you’re sitting alone with your script, the only way you know if the writing really works is by reading it out loud to yourself (or ideally someone else as well).

I was reticent to do this in the past, but ultimately, you can catch a lot of mistakes reading out loud to people. You'll find things like overly expository dialogue, dialogue that lacks a point-of-view, dialogue people would never speak, or in the case of rhythm, how people talk and process information.

Maybe the person you’re reading to gets bored or confused. That's when you know to take a beat, add, subtract or even add by subtraction.

Plus, by acting out your writing, you’re already giving yourself a leg up in the editorial process. You can imagine while reading how long the shot needs to last in order to register to the audience—or if it even needs to be there at all.

They say the golden rule is one minute a page but you’ll only know its true rhythms by reciting them out loud and imagining it.

With Damage Control, it’s only an eight-minute film, and I didn’t have enough time to flesh out the couple’s relationship However, I realized on set that we might have stripped away too much dialogue in the beginning. So I relied on the actors to convey the dynamic of the couple through their behavior.

Most actors love to play around and improvise so long as you create an atmosphere that makes them comfortable going off book.

Right there, I discovered what Drew and Alison’s relationship was. This yielded charming and funny dialogue that felt real. That stuff couldn’t be written. As the great Elia Kazan said, the directing is in the casting.

One word of warning while improvising: keep the ship on course. You know the material best, so if the actor is writing dialogue in the moment, follow their rhythms and make sure words don’t repeat with later or past dialogue.

That’ll be a pain to cut. If you like something they say, take mental notes—or actual notes—so you remember to tell the actor to repeat the line when it’s time to shoot coverage.

Shooting to the beat.

Each actor speaks in their own cadence and has their own unique flow when it comes to performing. Same goes with the camera. You have to find a balance and fluidity between these elements to match what you’re asking the audience to feel.

If you look at masters of suspense like Alfred Hitchcock, he uses long takes to create tension—there’s no cut to relieve us from what is brewing.

I wanted the same for Damage Control.

Since I was going to be cutting the picture, I foresaw how the tempo of the timeline sequence should be: long takes at first, followed by a series of edits that cut finer and finer, and then diced by the end.

There was something musical about the long mysterious build that intensifies and starts to reveal itself up until the climax.

You could equate the structure of it to an anthem or a drone.

“Think of it as an orchestra and you are the conductor. When do certain instruments come in, when do they come out and when do they all play together?”

The long takes were a challenge to pull off on a shoot that relied on available light during winter. Plus we only had two days to shoot. We didn’t have any rehearsal time with the actors prior—but we just went for it and even shot the blocking in case.

There are a few minute long takes that are handheld, moving along different parts of the property, where actors have to appear and disappear as if we were shooting live theatre. The camera, the performance and all the other moving parts had to magically dance in harmony for this one moment.

Think of it as an orchestra and you are the conductor. When do certain instruments come in, when do they come out and when do they all play together?

When we shot these long takes I wasn’t necessarily focusing on the actor missing a line or changing a line, but the time spent on each beat. The best acting I have realized is when the actor takes the time to go through the emotional logic of the character, the switches in their eyes or body language.

I forgot about that in the editing room. I had fifteen versions of minute long takes and I was looking out for best performance and best camera. I realized that I couldn’t have it all. What I needed to do was split the difference between the two and prioritize what the audience should be feeling and how they will be processing the information.

It could have been so easy to just chop up the take and try to hide the edits but then I would lose those long-gestating rhythms that I was going for. Edits obscure an audience's sense of time, but the real-time aspect of the long take makes you stressfully aware of the seconds ticking by.

One other noteworthy rhythmic choice we made was with camera distances.

For the first half of the film, when Drew is surprising Alison with their new home, we are meant to feel hopeful… until Drew’s sordid past catches up to him.

We chose short, wide-angle lens for these scenes to create an aloof POV, as distance can minimize the effect of movement and make them feel like they’re being watched.

This was later contrasted when the apparition in the shed confronts Drew. We chose longer lenses for close-ups, which heightened the impact of movement and drama when Drew is forced to confess his wrongdoings.

Editing to your own music.

Apocalypse Now editor Walter Murch has a really cool technique for finding the right moment to cut.

He lets the footage run and hits pause right on the exact moment to make the edit. He’d then put a marker down, and try again and again and again. If he was on the same mark each time, he knew that was the moment to cut.

Editing can be extremely delicate—a single frame can make or break a moment. It’s completely musical.

“Edits obscure an audience’s sense of time, but the real-time aspect of the long take makes you stressfully aware of the seconds ticking by.”

For instance, let’s say an extra drumbeat was added or subtracted from your favorite song. I bet you’d hear the difference, and it would be jarring.

It may seem antithetical, but Damage Control was the first time I edited without any music.

For past projects, I made the mistake of letting temporary music I wasn’t even using to dictate my edits. I’ve also become very attached to music I’ve edited to when I knew I wasn’t going to get it in the end.

There were also times when an edit felt off and I only realized when I muted the soundtrack that it wasn’t the picture that was tripping me up, it was the music.

This time around, I did all the dialogue editing and laying down room tone myself, and used that quiet as my own personal metronome.

Cutting this way allowed me to take my time holding on character’s reactions and consider what I wanted the audience to feel.

I was establishing my own rhythm and my own pace that my composer would later translate into music.

Then this whole other phenomenon occurs once we complete the score, where it’s impossible to tell whether I was cutting to the score or he was scoring for me.

I feel it makes for a more organic process for both editor and the composer, who now has the freedom to create from a blank slate. (But that’s a whole other article!)

Rhythm is your toolbox.

Rhythm is not limited to the aforementioned.

Look at any Kurosawa film. Within the frame, characters are staged in different areas of the focal plane, some moving, some static, and then in the background there’s usually weather, like rain, wind or a fire. It all works in tandem to create a singular feeling, a visual rhythm.

So what’s the lesson learned?

There are so many tools a filmmaker can pick up to convey something to the audience. In the case of Damage Control, the genre inspired me to try out new techniques this time out to best tell the story.

For each film I make and you make, we grow as directors and our literacy expands by finding new ways to convey feeling.

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In early 2016, I was taking inventory of my career up until that point.
  • I had started a production company with my friends back in 2000.
  • I had been a part of many cool film, TV and commercial projects and worked with lots of talented people.
  • I’ve met and worked with many celebrities.
  • I honed my knack for animation into a craft that I felt I had mastered.

When I went freelance in 2014, the winds of change brought many interesting things my way. I was freely able to command my work schedule and the projects I took on.

My work flourished and I got even better. I learned the power of saying “No” and was, strangely, financially secure because of it. I had just cut the best reel I ever made.

Here’s the “but..." 

There was always a lingering cloud of dissatisfaction.

I got into filmmaking because, well, I wanted to make films. And looking back at all of the years of work I had done, I never made anything that was mine and mine alone. My voice. My unapologetic, no permission needed from anyone else, voice.

“I got into filmmaking because, well, I wanted to make films. And looking back at all of the years of work I had done, I never made anything that was mine and mine alone.”

And I realized that I had spent all of those long filmmaking hours, days, weeks and months making other people‘s visions, ideas and dreams come to fruition. Even all of those cool commercial projects I did for less, or for nothing, were coming close to their expiration date.

And as an artist who was pushing 40, I, too, felt like I was approaching mine.

Something never felt right, to my personal interests, about making a “typical” film. I tried. I wrote scripts. I storyboarded. Designed characters. But I never got passed the pre-production stage. It just took too damn long!

So I resurrected an old idea I had that I called, “AREA 52” 

In short, AREA 52 was to be a weekly challenge to explore unusual animation and FX techniques, that could be utilized for other projects, in the form of micro-shorts. 60 seconds or less.

Things like “Make a film completely out of focus,” “Use only circles to tell a story,” and “Make eyeballs out of hard-boiled eggs” were on the list.

In this original form, they were never meant to be films that people actually connected with, that had a message, backed by my personal voice. Just some non-client-sanctioned fun.

So one day I said to myself, in my Bronx accent, “fuck it…I’m doin’ it." Those 5 words ended up opening the floodgates to a new era in my career and in my life.

By the middle of 2016, I had already announced to friends, family and colleagues that I was setting out to make experimental animated micro films every week for a year with no help and no money. By December, it was Facebook official!

Among the many well wishes, there were also chuckles. Lots of "good luck with that’s."

My family didn’t quite understand what the fuck I was doing. They also didn’t understand why someone would do all that work with no financial reward attached. “Oh ok… well that’s good. What else are you doing?” they said.

Even some industry colleagues asked, “How did you broker the deal?” I laughed. “What deal?” They laughed too, then lost interest.

“So one day I said to myself, in my Bronx accent, “fuck it…I’m doin’ it.” Those 5 words ended up opening the floodgates to a new era in my career and in my life.”

Now I HAD to prove, if only to myself, that I could do it.

Between the time of my announcement and the release of the first film, the project had developed into having a healthy layer of commentary. My own personal worldview paired with my animation over the course of 60 seconds.

Every week. For one year. I was to release films at a promised day and time each week on Instagram.

My first film, “String of Sound”, was released on Jan. 4, 2017. I made it with a piece of wood, two hooks and some white string. I strung along human mouth noises as my audio track and animated the string to fit these mouth noises.

All of my films since that first one were sort of an evidence of growth. Each one having utilized anything I’d learned from films prior. How far could I push this? What else could I dare to say?

I got better and faster at ALL aspects of this project, including the blog posts I’d write each week as companions, chronicling the why’s and how’s of each film.

I learned that I actually had a lot of things to say about a wide swath of topics. Things like:

We often get in our own way:

Most of our problems are really, really small:

Persevere all the way, or don’t even start:

I learned that I like making animated “portraits”, like this one about the Facebook comments section:

Some films were just pure, true experiments. Like this one I made with a flashlight and a scanner:

In June, I took on a long-term project for Netflix, which ate up most of my Mondays through Fridays for many months, so the films were relegated to weekends.

Relegated only by happenstance, that is. They were still first priority in my own mind. (SO IMPORTANT)

Making my own art the absolute, no questions asked, number one priority was the life-blood to this project. There were many times along this journey when no one cared about AREA 52 but me. Those were the hardest. And the loneliest.

I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that I pushed through and finished when I thought I was the only one who believed in it.

In the end, it’s what was got me to the finish line. Rather than go into long paragraphs on the successes, failures and things I learned after making 52 films in a year, here is a digestible list:

Some Failures:
  • I fell behind. I took brief breaks for a few weeks at a time after Film #23 and they ended up compounding. By December 1, I had only completed 37 films, meaning I had to complete 15 of them in December alone. With holidays to contend with. Oy!
  • Rejection after rejection from film festivals. I typically only submit to the free ones so that’s some consolation.
  • Too many emails to count that I wrote to publications and other online platforms to help push my project that got NO response. Crickets. Nobody cared.
  • Some films I started and completely abandoned midway through.

This obviously ate up valuable time.

Some Successes:
  • I finished. I made 52 experimental animation micro-shorts and released them religiously on Instagram, just like I set out to do. No compromises.
  • My films are actually starting to screen elsewhere and have a life outside of Instagram.
  • I’ve gotten the attention of really cool publications like Filmmaker Freedom to write articles about my experience and hopefully pass on some knowledge to other eager filmmakers waiting to take the leap.
  • I won an award for Best Experimental Animated Short at the Palm Springs International Animation Festival for my film “Bi-Polaroid”.
Things I’ve Learned:
  • Commitment Is Contagious. I’ve had many people, not just artists, who have told me that the commitment I made to finishing inspired them to do the things they want for themselves. If I could do it, they could do it! This was probably the most rewarding part of this journey.
  • You Will Make Bad Work. Unfortunately, this is necessary. Bad work, bad choices, bad art give way to MUCH better work the next time and the next time and the next. Mistakes are good for you.
  • Small Films Have Big Impact. I loved releasing on Instagram because people are already in the feed. You don’t have to ask them to go to a separate link to YouTube or Vimeo and have them invest time into watching it. And 60 seconds is a lot of real estate if you use it wisely. You can really say what you have to say, cleverly and clearly, by limiting yourself to a micro-short time length. Speaking of…
  • If Your Project Has No Limits, Make Them. Limit everything if you can. Set challenges. Create a short film with a limited color palette. Make a film with no words. Or no people. Or make it upside down. Make a film with a limited color palette, no words or people AND upside down. These limits are where the magic happens.
  • You Don’t Need Film Festivals. Actually, the converse is true. The festivals need YOU. Don’t ever worry about festivals not wanting to include your film in their program. Your films just simply aren’t going to always fit into a long list of a festival’s criteria, curatorial voice or taste. Make stuff and be strategic about which festivals you submit to. While you’re waiting on an answer, make more stuff.
  • Don’t Beg, but Borrow and Steal. If you must use a crowdfunding campaign, try to limit your goal amount to as little as possible. My advice would be not to beg anyone for any money at all. Go make a film on your phone. Find other passionate collaborators willing to buy in and do great work with you. Steal back precious time by skipping steps of the filmmaking process that might be unnecessary to you. Go to junkyards and thrift shops for props and wardrobe. Read or listen to interviews of other artists or anyone else that you respect talk about their work or point of view. Cannibalize it. Cannibalize everything!
  • When You’re Stuck, Find The Honesty. This is true in every aspect of making a film. Any kind of art, really. Dig within yourself first and always, because that well is endless.

So, what are YOU waiting for? Make your film. Make all the films! Find a way. Believe me, you don’t want to look back at your career and wish that you had done it sooner.

Get it. Do it. Jump.

Editor's note: Thanks a million, John. Not only for committing and following through with this rad project, but for sharing your wisdom here on this site. We all appreciate it.

Speaking of which, if you want to see more of John's films from 2017, be sure to scroll through the Area 52 Instagram feed. For even more good stuff, dig into the BTS posts on the Area 52 blog. Lots of interesting and inspiring stuff there, especially if you're an animation nerd.

And if you're super curious to learn more about the concept of micro films and why they might be the best possible thing for your career, check out my beefy micro film manifesto here.

-Rob Hardy

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If you’ve ever wondered what greatness means in the context of filmmaking, you’ve come to the right place.

Now a few words of warning before we jump into this topic. If you’re expecting an article about how many theater seats you have to fill or YouTube views you have to accumulate before you can start calling yourself great, you’re about to be sorely disappointed.

This article, like many of the ones I publish on this site, is about your mindset, your philosophy, and your spirit. It’s about introspection and individuality. It’s about finding your own path through the world of filmmaking and walking it proudly irrespective of what other filmmakers are doing.

I know that probably sounds a little "out there," like I’m advocating that we all live in a world where the cars are powered by unicorn farts and we sing kumbaya all day long. I swear I’m not. Just stick with me.

So let’s dive down the rabbit hole, shall we.

What does it even mean to be “good” or “great” as a filmmaker?

Before we get into this, I think it might be useful to clarify a couple of things.

First, this article isn’t about the technical, logistical, or craft aspects of filmmaking. It’s not about how good you are with a camera, your ability to raise funds, secure locations, and manage a set. It’s not about whether you’re a master at one aspect of the filmmaking process or a well-rounded jack of all trades.

Nor does it have anything to do with how mass audiences or critics feel about your films. That may seem counterintuitive. Many of us equate greatness with getting to Hollywood, making a string of popular and critically acclaimed blockbusters (or high-budget indies), and calling it a career.

But I think greatness goes much, much deeper than that. Let me explain.

So what’s the difference?

As far as I see it, both good and great filmmakers are technically accomplished. They’re both craftsman, using the many tools available to them to weave together compelling visual and auditory stories. They both understand film language intrinsically and use it to great effect. They both make work that engages audiences.

So the difference is this: Great filmmakers aren’t satisfied to do the same things as everybody else just because “that’s the way they’ve always been done.” They take risks and push boundaries. They cultivate a unique artistic voice and perspective, and they have the courage to actually infuse their work with that voice.

“Great filmmakers aren’t satisfied to do the same things as everybody else just because “that’s the way they’ve always been done.” They take risks and push boundaries. They cultivate a unique artistic voice and perspective, and they have the courage to actually infuse their work with that voice.”

Great filmmakers aren’t particularly concerned with what audiences and critics think because their source of validation isn’t external. They’re seeking to express something personal and intimate, yet universal and profound. Sure, they’re wrapping all of this in story and in the film language, but they’re practicing courage and vulnerability by putting very real pieces of themselves out into the world.

And subsequently great filmmakers are both the ones failing most often and they’re the most resilient. Just like in the world of entrepreneurship, failure in the pursuit of great filmmaking is a badge of honor. It’s a symbol of being one step closer to making something incredible and lasting.

Basically, good filmmakers leave behind good films, but great filmmakers leave behind their unique fingerprint on the entire craft.

Editorial side note: By this definition, it’s absolutely possible for a good filmmaker to become great or for a great filmmaker to be good. This isn’t some genetic thing where greatness is just a part of you. It’s something that comes from your beliefs and your actions. Basically, anybody can become a great filmmaker if they cultivate the right beliefs and follow through on them.
Why “greatness” is important for the future of film

You might be asking yourself why this approach to filmmaking should be classified as “great.” Well simply put, because this is how film will continue to evolve as an artistic medium. 

“If we want film to keep evolving and growing, that evolution starts with a few brave filmmakers here and now. It starts with challenging the status quo, innovating, disrupting, and moving forward.”

Like the novel, the play, and music, all of which have existed for many hundreds of years, film has a bright future ahead of it. However, if we want it to keep evolving and growing, that evolution starts with a few brave filmmakers here and now. It starts with challenging the status quo, innovating, disrupting, and moving forward.

Now I’m certainly not arguing that anybody reading this should take it upon themselves to go out and try to reinvent filmmaking as we know it. Instead, I’m arguing for individual boldness in filmmaking, small acts of defiance towards how films are traditionally made that will eventually add up into something profound when taken cumulatively.

I’m also not arguing that everybody should pursue this definition of filmmaking greatness, nor am I putting down anybody who chooses to walk the path of being a good filmmaker.

Even though good filmmakers tend to play it safe and make content they’re reasonably sure will be successful, the world is genuinely a better place when it’s full of good filmmakers. There are never enough first-rate stories, well told in film form. Never ever.

But we also need great filmmakers. People who are willing to say “fuck it” and push forward with whatever they’re doing even though it may seem crazy and delusional and impossible. That’s how change comes about. That’s how film will continue to stay powerful and relevant for centuries to come.

A recent (non-filmmaking) example of this principle in my life

As you might have guessed, this idea of pursuing greatness is applicable to just about any art or craft or creative pursuit. For a quick personal example (that is vaguely related to filmmaking), let’s reference an article I wrote and published a few weeks back about why I make a distinction between “films” and “movies” and why it’s important to me.

That was an article I had wanted to write for years. But I didn’t, partly because the distinction between films and movies is totally arbitrary (although it’s useful for me, hence why I wrote the article) and because I was deathly afraid of being called names and judged for wanting to hold myself to a different set of standards.

So instead of writing it, I put out nearly 800 other articles over at No Film School. Of those hundreds of articles, only about 20 weren’t generic and lifeless. To say that I phoned it in for a couple of years would be an understatement. I conformed to what people wanted instead of saying what I really wanted to say.

No bueno.

What really happens when you speak your truth

After leaving NFS and running this site for nearly a year — and continuously publishing stories that push farther and farther away from what other film blogs share — I went ahead and spoke my truth and put that particular article out into the world.

And you know what, it was easily the most polarizing thing I’ve ever written. 

I had people commenting on it to tell me that I was a pretentious piece of shit who should probably stop existing. But there were also people who personally wrote to thank me for putting it out there because it echoed their feelings on the subject and resonated in a meaningful way.

This is what happens when you speak your truth in filmmaking, writing, or art of any form. Instead of broadly and mildly appealing to most everyone, you alienate some people while connecting deeply with others. 

As far as I see it, this result is far preferable to playing it safe and being generic. It’s those strong, genuine connections that are worth more than anything else, and they don’t come from phoning it in. They come from being bold and courageous and vulnerable.

“Good filmmakers leave behind good films, but great filmmakers leave behind their unique fingerprint on the entire craft.”

All in all, this approach has put some newfound pep in my step. I genuinely feel like a happier human being than I was when I was crapping out gear articles and clickbait. These days, it feels like I’m grounded in a larger purpose that has nothing to do with generating pageviews or making advertisers happy. It feels like I’m helping to shape the future of truly independent filmmaking in my own small way.

Could this be totally delusional? Perhaps. But I don’t really give a shit. And neither should you.

Now go forth, my friends. Be open, curious, and courageous. Find your voice and develop your perspective, and be unapologetic when it comes to infusing your films with that individuality.

Pursue greatness, and strive to make films that turn the world on its head. Because with hard work and a little luck, you just might.

-Robert Hardy


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Today, Filmmaker’s Process is officially dead, a thing of the past.

But don’t worry. From the ashes, a new brand is sprouting up. A far more ambitious, meaningful brand: 

Filmmaker Freedom.

This is a hugely exciting change for me, and I hope it will come to energize and inspire you as well.

Because, if all goes according to plan, this will become the single most valuable place on the internet for independent filmmakers.

I know, I know. That’s a huge promise. 

But I’m confident that I’ll not only make good on that promise, but exceed all of your expectations for what a filmmaking blog can be.

What Filmmaker Freedom stands for, and what it means for you

Filmmaker Freedom stands for both artistic freedom and financial freedom. Not one or the other. But both, at the same time.

“I’m hellbent on creating a better way forward for indie filmmakers. Because our current system just ain’t cutting it.”

Put more directly, Filmmaker Freedom is the ability to make the films you actually want to make, and then earn a comfortable, consistent living directly from those films.

That’s right. No more day jobs you hate in order to subsidize your real passion. No more “working below the line” because that’s as close as you can get to your real dream. I’m talking about actually supporting yourself from your original films.

If that sounds like something you want from your life, read on, friend.

Why I’m staging a revolution, and how we're going to build a better system

Here’s the problem. The “indie film business” as we know it is a broken, frustrating clusterfuck of inefficiency and opportunistic middle men. It doesn’t serve filmmakers well, and it doesn’t serve audiences well. And that’s putting it gently.

Unless you want to be one of the small sliver of filmmakers who make $10–25 million “indie films,” this business ecosystem won’t continuously put food on your table. Instead, it’ll chew you up and spit you out and make you question why you got into filmmaking to begin with.

Yeah, I’m pretty cynical about this stuff. But I’ve watched countless friends give up on their filmmaking dreams because this business just isn’t worth the frustration. Hell, I nearly gave up myself.

That’s why Filmmaker Freedom isn’t about helping you succeed in the current state of the indie film business. It’s about fundamentally reshaping how the indie film business works from the ground up.

“Filmmaker Freedom is the ability to make the films you actually want to make, and then earn a comfortable, consistent living directly from those films.”

Yep, I’m staging a revolution, and you’re invited to tag along.

After all, we’ve got to be the change we want to see in the world, right?

And the world I want to live in is one where all indie filmmakers can thrive—both artistically and financially—if they put in the work.

But as things stand right now, your odds of financial success from your original work are dismally, astronomically, laughably low. 

Again, sorry to be so blunt, but we have to be honest and not delude ourselves. That’s the first step towards change.

So instead of creating another site that shows you how to beg for money or “pitch distributors,” I’m going to show you how to control your own destiny as a filmmaker. If you decide to stick around, you’ll learn how to…

  • Craft films you’re truly proud of, films you’re excited to put out into the world.
  • Build an audience who cares just as much about your films as you do.
  • Sell your films (even short films) directly to that audience. No middle men.
  • Create systems so that you can scale your indie film business and earn a comfortable, consistent living (both for you and your collaborators).

What’s even better, though, is that for all of this to happen, you don’t need to rely on film festivals or sales agents or distributors. You don’t even need to raise or spend crazy amounts of money. You just need a few things.

  1. The drive to keep making original films and creating intellectual property.
  2. An entrepreneurial sensibility and a strong work ethic.
  3. A working understanding of human psychology.
  4. The willingness to think outside the box, experiment, and do things differently than your peers.
  5. The dedication and grit to keep going, especially when things get hard.

Those aren’t easy requirements. And honestly, many of the indie filmmakers I’ve met don’t have them. At least not yet. 

So if you just want to make your films and never have to think about business stuff, I get it. That’s totally cool, and I wish you the best.

But if you’re open to creating a better future for yourself, and you want to start cultivating those traits I outlined above, this site will be there to guide you on your journey. 

Now here’s the best part. It doesn’t matter where you live. This business model will work for you if you’re in the US, Europe, India, Africa, or China.

Hell, it’ll work for you if you live in Antarctica. So long as you have an internet connection and the drive to make films, it will work for you. Pinky promise.

Fair warning, though. It’s not going to happen quickly. And it’s not going to be easy. In fact, parts of this journey will be just as frustrating as if you had gone the traditional route.

But in the long run, if you put in the work, you will earn your freedom, both artistic and financial. That’s my promise to you.

How will this site change, and what can you expect going forward?

There are quite a few changes coming your way. But the most obvious one is that I’m going to start talking quite a bit more about business.

Now, when I say business, I don’t mean it in a “Silicon Valley” or “giant corporation” sense. Nope, fuck that noise. That’s the antithesis of how indie filmmakers should approach their work.

Instead, I’m going to be talking about indie business. I’m going to show you how to build a small, but passionate audience of like-minded people. And I’m going to show you how to earn your living by producing films that make that audience (and you) quite happy. Plus, I’m going to show you how to make it all sustainable.

“Instead of creating another site that shows you how to beg for money or “pitch distributors,” I’m going to show you how to control your own destiny as a filmmaker.”

It’s a totally new take on how indie filmmaking can be profitable, but I’ve already seen in work in numerous other mediums, and I’ve seen it work for the handful of filmmakers who’ve been ballsy enough to try it.

Again, this stuff works. I’m not just pulling it out of my ass.

So from here on out, the content on this site will be divided into three distinct categories:

  1. Mindset: It doesn’t matter how good you are at making films if your mind isn’t in the right place. Luckily, no one on the internet is as good at teaching this stuff as I am. #humblebrag
  2. Craft: This is all about making quality work that you’re proud of with tiny budgets. That’s why there will be a huge emphasis on telling stronger, more engaging stories, because that’s the ultimate tool in the micro-budgeter’s kit.
  3. Business: The art of building an audience, then making your living from that audience. Plain and simple.

If you’re not already subscribed, these are the new categories in the weekly newsletter as well.

Beyond new written content and a new season of the Filmmaker Freedom Podcast, I’m also going to be building a few world-class courses to help you master these concepts. Anyone who’s taken the Filmmaker’s Guide to Success knows I don’t mess around when it comes to courses. I deliver the goods.

Right now, you can expect the following courses from me in the following 18 months or so.

  • Audience Building
  • Storytelling for Maximum Impact
  • Finding Talented, Dedicated Collaborators for No-Budget Projects
  • Focus & Productivity Strategies for Entrepreneurial Filmmakers

There will likely be other courses beyond that, but those are the only ones that are currently set in stone.

Lastly, I’m going to be offering coaching and consulting through this site. If you don’t want to wait for a particular course, or you just want to pick my brain, you’ll soon be able to do that for a reasonable fee.

I don’t know everything, but I promise to keep learning and growing right along side you

Ok friend, time to wrap up this little announcement post and get on with my work. But before we do, just a quick, honest note about who I am and what you can expect from me.

I wish I could tell you I had all the answers, and that achieving filmmaker freedom was as simple as following 7 easy steps.

But I’d be lying if I told you that. And quite frankly, I'd be a total douchebag.

Don't get me wrong. This site absolutely is a business, and I intend for it to help a lot of people. But if you think I'm acting like some stupid "internet success guru," please call me out and tell me to knock it off.

That's not who I am, and that's not who I want to be.

I’m just a dude who loves filmmaking, indie business, psychology, and who thrives on being rebellious and independent. And though I’ve learned a hell of a lot about business these past few years, I don’t know everything, and I probably never will.

Regardless, I’m hellbent on creating a better way forward for indie filmmakers. Because our current system just ain’t cutting it.

So my promise to you, dear reader, is that I’m going to dedicate the next few years of my life to figuring it out, putting the pieces together, and giving you the best possible information I can find so that you can earn your own sense of Filmmaker Freedom.

If that sounds good to you, I’d love it if you joined me. 

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Filmmaker Stories are crowdsourced articles directly from the worldwide community of filmmakers who read this site. To learn more about writing and submitting your own Filmmaker Story, click here.

FILMMAKER: Matthew J. ThorntonSTORY: How My First Feature Transformed from a Traditional Narrative into an Experimental Film

As the writer/director of SILVERFISH, I struck out to make my first feature in as traditional a way as one can when working with no budget.  But over the course of its six-year lifespan, the film has shifted from what I viewed to be a traditional drama during pre-production to an experimental arthouse film in post-production.

This is the story of how such a dramatic change can happen, and why it might have been the best possible outcome for the film.

From scripted beginnings

When the concept for SILVERFISH was spawned, I set about writing with Robert McKee’s story formula at the forefront of everything. I literally typed an outline that I took from his book, Story, and I started plugging my ideas into the model. 

Jump cut from 2011 to 2014, and I had a script—yes, it took me that long—one that followed a three-act structure and contained merging storylines, multi-dimensional characters, and a universal theme. 

The ball was rolling, and so I moved right into casting. 

“Though I could not have predicted that my inclination to experiment and break rules would entirely reconstruct the movie set out to make, I can say that I am pleased with the movie we are showing today. And in the long-run, I suppose that is what matters most.”

Of course, due to lack of money, casting was non-traditional by Hollywood standards. But in the Austin indie film scene, I was not doing anything revolutionary. I sent the script to people I knew and had worked with, and I got lucky. Every actor I wanted came aboard.

That said, I knew all along that I would not be able to pay the artists in more than booze and food for their work. However, because I have spent the greater part of my fourteen-year journey in film as an actor (on both paid and non-paid projects), I wanted to find a creative incentive that would lock the cast and crew into SILVERFISH as though it were their own passion project. 

An unconventional directing decision 

After casting was complete, I made what many filmmakers might consider a risky decision.

During our first full-scale pre-production meeting, I relayed to the entire cast that I would be turning their characters over to them during the production phase. I let them know that I wanted the performances to feel as authentic as possible and that I would not be directing their character work unless they needed an explanation about something specific that needed to be seen.

Without realizing it, the film began to take an experimental turn. 

Beyond making sure that we shot clean and usable takes, I did very little actual directing. Before shooting any scene, we discussed and questioned what we found to be important or relevant to the scene or story. 

Apart from our pre-scene chats, however, the actors had complete control over how they brought the scripted characters to life in front of the camera. They were free to choose wardrobe, tweak character motives, mannerisms, and behaviors, and even change and improvise the dialogue as they saw fit. 

For me, this became a crucial and helpful decision because I had also cast myself in a leading role and was trying to remain attentive to my own character choices. In hindsight, experimenting with a minimalist style of direction gave the scenes and the actors room to breathe new life into the story. The performances were unique, and much to my satisfaction, broke the feeling that every line had been written by me alone.

“The actors had complete control over how they brought the scripted characters to life in front of the camera. They were free to choose wardrobe, tweak character motives, mannerisms, and behaviors, and even change and improvise the dialogue as they saw fit. ”

As production got into a groove, the shoot began to feel as though we were all building the film together. As an aside, we did not allow the freestyle to break or change plot points and scene objectives. As a point of fact, the actors often chose to stick with the dialogue as it had been written. I found as we continued shooting that anytime the written dialogue was weak or unbelievable, the actors began easily sliding into an improvisational rhythm, freely employing lines that worked for them and improvising those that did not.  

I am proud to say that the backbone of our film is rooted in the viscerally authentic performances.

Smashing and sculpting the film in post-production

I have often heard that films are restructured and retold at least three different times before they are finished—the version that is first written, the version that is shot, and the version that is edited for the screen. For SILVERFISH, this concept held true, and when post-production began, the experimenting continued as I—with zero editing experience—chose to cut the film myself. 

Right away, I noticed that I was spontaneously making editing choices to piece the film together in a way that was totally different from the more traditional telling I laid out in the script. This scared me a little because we had a clear story with a calculated dramatic structure, and I was afraid if I started down a path of experimental editing that the whole thing may fall apart in the cutting room. 

I stopped working for about two weeks to take a break and weigh the costs and benefits of possibly cutting the movie in a non-traditional way. Finally, after a few in-the-mirror pledges of allegiance not to compromise the story, I allowed myself to scratch the itch to shake things up. It was as if I took my original formulaic McKee-model and smashed it into a thousand tiny pieces. From there, I picked each piece up and started putting them together in a completely new way.

At the time, I was watching everything from Oscar winners and classics to French New Wave and YouTube vloggers. As one might expect, a creole of these styles began to spill into my editing, re-sculpting the telling of SILVERFISH. I should note that this process occurred four different times before I settled on what I was doing and why. 

With scenes and plot points scattered all over my timeline like a jigsaw puzzle, I found that a certain free association began to take place. I found new ways to juxtapose and parallel the characters. I even discovered little running themes across different scenes, of which I had not been completely conscious when I wrote the script.

Split screens. Lots and lots of split screens

Though I am certainly not the first to do so, probably the most experimental editing choice I made was to use a split-screen throughout much of the movie.

Over the course of several years spent teaching film acting classes, I developed a joyful habit for watching people as they listen, which seems to be at the heart of this editing decision.  

In the beginning of editing, I split-screened all the shots so that I could watch the performances together. At first, this was nothing more than a cutting technique I used, one which I had no intention of keeping. After a while, however, I realized that the splits seemed to add new life to the scenes. It became increasingly apparent that the characters were diverse enough and the performances strong enough that an audience might like the freedom of being able to watch more of the character to which they were most drawn.  

I decided to keep the splits and use them to hold on the actors who were driving each scene. As of this writing, based on sneak-peaks and test-screenings, the split-screen effect is always a point of questioning. But, the general response has been positive.

“After a while, however, I realized that the splits seemed to add new life to the scenes. It became increasingly apparent that the characters were diverse enough and the performances strong enough that an audience might like the freedom of being able to watch more of the character to which they were most drawn.  ”

Looking back on the process of this journey, I am pleased to be able to say that it morphed into the most creative experience I have ever had as an artist.

I began with a clearly scripted plan for the characters, their conflicting journeys, and the big overarching themes I wanted to tackle with the story. But as each new phase of the process began, I found myself being more and more instinctive about the choices I was making. A sort of free association began to occur, and all the ideas I ever wanted to roll into this project began to merge along a single narrative path. 

Though I could not have predicted that my inclination to experiment and break rules would entirely reconstruct the movie I set out to make, I can say that I am pleased with the movie we are showing today. And in the long-run, I suppose that is what matters most. 

If you enjoyed reading about the evolution of SILVERFISH, please check back soon for Part 2 of this article, which will delve into the ongoing journey of marketing our film as an experimental through the festival circuit, and determining our best path for distribution.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love the Filmmaker's Process newsletter. Each week, we share our latest posts, a weekly filmmaking resource, curated stories from around the web, a short film that we love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

Are you ready to take your filmmaking to the next level?

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Music is responsible for much of what an audience feels when they watch a film. So if you’re truly serious about storytelling and moving your audience emotionally, the last thing you want is generic, boring stock music. 

Luckily, in 2017, there are more companies than you could count on five hands that aim to provide filmmakers with high-quality licensed music at legitimately affordable prices. And though I haven't used all of them, I have used quite a few. This post explores a few of my favorites.

1. Music Vine

Music Vine is among the newest licensing platforms out there, but it sets itself apart with a highly-curated selection of music from indie artists and composers around the world, and it makes that music available for more more affordable prices than you’d find with other licensing services. The founders at Music Vine are on a mission to democratize great music and make it legitimately affordable for everybody, and so far, the site is very much living up to that vision.

The good
  • Comparatively low prices for great music. Whereas most of the services listed here offer an independent film license in the neighborhood of $199 or more, Music Vine’s film licenses start at $90, and if you're just looking for web licensing, you can snag great tracks starting at $45. 
  • Similar music quality to what the other services offer for higher prices. Which is to say, the quality is objectively great.
  • Man oh man does Music Vine look beautiful. It’s got a lovely aesthetic to it that doesn’t get in the way of functionality. Plus I've seen peaks of their brand new design, and it's about to get a whole lot better.
  • While the library isn’t huge, it does have plenty of breadth. As someone who's both a musician and who really loves more esoteric types of music (gypsy jazz for the win!), there’s a diversity to Music Vine’s library that I find really appealing. While some music libraries cater exclusively to what's "popular," Music Vine doesn't shy away letting artists create unique and memorable songs.
The not-so-good
  • The music selection is limited at this point. What’s there is great, and more music is being added on a consistent basis, but here and now it’s just not a very sizable library.
  • The site itself is resource intensive on my computer. Whenever I dig through the Music Vine library for more than a few minutes, my poor little MacBook Air starts to get very, very overwhelmed. I'm not sure what causes this, but I haven't noticed this on any other music sites. Hopefully this will be fixed with the new version of the site, which expected mid-2017.
2. Artlist

Unlike the other services on this list, Artlist is a subscription service that offers unlimited access to its entire catalogue of curated music for a flat, yearly fee of $199. In addition to the unlimited access, all of the music is licensed universally so that you can use it in personal projects, commercial projects, and even broadcast projects without any additional fees. That’s really the main selling point of Artlist. You could download 10 songs during your yearly subscription, or 100 songs. The price would be exactly the same, which is just plain awesome for people who work on lots of projects thought the year.

The good
  • Unlimited music for as long as you subscribe. I can’t stress how huge this is, especially for corporate filmmakers, wedding filmmakers, YouTubers, etc. Basically, if you create work in high volume and want to license good music for everything, Artlist is a no-brainer.
  • High-quality music sourced from a growing number of independent artists around the world.
  • A lovely interface loaded with beautiful graphic design and plenty of attention to detail.
  • Ultimate simplicity in licensing. There is only one license, and it covers everything you’d need to do with the music. The theory here is that it prevents you from worrying about the intricacies of licensing and helps you get back to being creative. It’s a music service that gets out of your way and lets you focus on just the music, not the details and logistics.
  • Price. No matter what you do, the price of Artlist is $199/year. That doesn’t change even if you use the music in corporate videos for massive companies, or even in broadcasting (both of which are traditionally outrageously expensive).
The not-so-good
  • Right now, the selection of music is still relatively small. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still well north of 1000 unique tracks, but it lacks the breadth and depth of more established music libraries.
  • The site itself is still occasionally slow and buggy. They came out of their public beta a few months back, and a lot of the bugginess of the first version was fixed. Still, depending on what browser I'm using, the waveforms of tracks won't load properly, and sometimes new songs won't load when I scroll down. This can almost always be fixed by refreshing the page.
3. Musicbed

Musicbed is the gold standard for modern licensing services. It’s the one against which all of the others are judged, and for good reason. In the past few years, Musicbed has established itself as a leader in providing a highly-curated selection of emotive, cinematic music from independent artists. Its interface is very well-developed and designed, making it easy to find whatever you’re looking for. Basically, everything Musicbed does exudes quality.

The good
  • Like I mentioned before, the quality of their music is objectively outstanding. 
  • The pricing can be fairly reasonable (depending on how you intend to use the music).
  • The interface is clean and intuitive.
  • On top of all that, it’s a cool company that does a lot for both musicians and filmmakers alike.
  • Plus they have the classiest blog ever. Seriously, go check it out once you’re done with this article.
The not-so-good
  • Prices that rise very quickly. If you only intend to use Musicbed for personal or non-commercial projects, you should be able to snag some great music for a reasonable price. However, once you start delving into commercial territory, Musicbed’s prices start to climb quickly and dramatically. Depending on the scope of your commercial use, it’s not uncommon for a single license to hit anywhere between $200-$800.
  • Though I still like the interface, it’s gotten more and more minimalist over the years, and with the removal of the album artwork thumbnails, I find that it doesn’t have the same visual flair it once did. Also, those thumbnails served as a quick, visual way to spot artists you knew and liked. With them gone, it feels a bit more tedious to navigate through their library.
4. Marmoset

Marmoset is another of those companies that just exudes quality and coolness. Rooted in Portland, Marmoset maintains a handpicked roster of independent artists (mostly from the northwest), and makes their music available on the most beautifully-crafted licensing platform around. Seriously, I can’t stress just how awesome this platform is in terms of its usability, especially when it comes to its search functionality. Their story and character-driven search algorithms are truly a fantastic and useful alternative to searching by mood or genre.

The good
  • The control and depth with which you’re able to search Marmoset’s library are second to none. They have story, character, and project-driven search modifiers that make it incredibly simple to find something that perfectly matches the emotional tone of your project. And then you can stack a whole bunch of technical modifiers like track length, energy, arc, and instrumentation on top of those results to narrow the search even further. It’s such a powerful and intuitive search process, and I hope other licensing platforms take note.
  • Unique music of the absolute highest quality Thanks to the handpicked roster of indie artists, Marmoset might be the only service to offer better music than Musicbed, but that’s just a matter of taste and opinion.
  • Build yourself mixtapes within Marmoset’s library. This is great for saving music that you like for later, or just having playlists of really cool music that you won’t find elsewhere.
  • Marmoset is also the only place on this list where you can go for completely custom music for your projects.
The not-so-good
  • Price. Similar to Musicbed, Marmoset songs can get a bit pricey depending on how extensive of a commercial license you need. However, the rest of their licensing options tend to be pretty straightforward, and they even offer a podcasting license for a super affordable price.
  • That’s all I can really knock Marmoset on. If you couldn’t tell, I really dig what these folks are doing.
5. SongFreedom

SongFreedom is another major contender in the contemporary licensing marketplace. It’s the only service (that I know of) where you can legally license music from extremely popular artists — think The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Bob Dylan — for a legitimately inexpensive price. The catch here is that the music from these artists is limited in terms of what you can do with it. With that said, SongFreedom still has a ton of other music that is available to license in a number of different ways.

The good
  • Legal access to very popular music that would otherwise be inaccessible for content creators to license for personal and non-commercial projects.
  • A sizable library, full of new music, old music, stock music, truly one-of-a-kind music, and everything in between.
  • Lots of ways to sort said library, ranging from genre to mood to length to license type to intended use of the music. SongFreedom allows you to search for music on your terms, not theirs.
  • Affordable pricing for everything. 
The not-so-good
  • SongFreedom’s marketing pulls a little bit of a bait and switch on content creators. The service does, in fact, offer very popular musicians and bands at a reasonable price, but not if you intend to use the music in a film or commercial project. If you just want these songs for a wedding or church video, you’re getting an incredible deal, but if you get into SongFreedom expecting to license some One Republic songs for your debut indie feature, then you’re out of luck.
  • Convoluted pricing structure with strange, non-effectual naming of licenses. I don’t know what the hell a “Gold Commercial” or “Standard Platinum” license is without having to dive into the FAQ, and that irritates me.

That wraps up this exploration of 2017’s best options for licensing music that doesn’t suck. As you can tell, there’s quite a bit of my personal opinion laced throughout this piece. But music is a very subjective thing, as are our preferences for how to sort and find it.

Still, this should give you a great idea of the high-quality services out there that are serving the needs of content creators and helping musicians monetize their work.

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This is an excerpt from the Filmmaker's Guide to Success. If you want a ton of practical, no-nonsense advice to help you succeed as a filmmaker in the modern world, be sure to check it out.

We're all dealing with some level of fear as we make our way through the world as filmmakers. But that doesn't mean we have to let that fear get the best of us.

In fact, with a few simple mindset shifts, we can take back control and stop fear from messing with the great creative work we want to accomplish.

So let's dive into a few of the best tips and ideas I've found for how to keep your fears at bay.

What the hell are we afraid of?

In Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic (one of my favorite books ever), she does a great job at listing out the things that we’re typically afraid of as creatives. Here’s just a small sampling of that list.

  • You’re afraid you have no talent.
  • You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored.
  • You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
  • You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
  • You’re afraid everybody else already did it better.
  • You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously.
  • You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life.
  • You’re afraid that someday you might look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money.
  • You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of workspace, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration.
  • You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree.
  • You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist.
  • You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder.
  • You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder.

Yikes. I don’t know about you, but I’m afraid of all of those things. Hell, I’m feeling most of those things right now as I write this very lesson.

What’s even scarier is that Gilbert’s list continues on for another 3/4 of a page, and I’m just as scared of those things. I’m willing to bet you probably are, too.

Anyhow, let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that all of these things are genuinely scary. And now that we’ve acknowledged that, let’s do something about it and put those fears back in their place.

Our fears will never go away, but that’s ok

I wish there was some secret formula I could give you to completely get rid of your fear. That would be pretty neat, wouldn’t it?

But the truth is no such formula exists because fear is fundamental to our survival as a species. It’s hardwired into our DNA so that we can react appropriately when scary, life-threatening things happen.

And even though most of us won’t ever have to worry about getting eaten by a bear, that part of our brain still finds plenty of things to be afraid of (most of them emotional), and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Fear will continue to show up for the rest of your life, particularly when you’re doing something new, pushing boundaries, or facing uncertainty. That’s just how it is.

Once you understand that, however, you can start devising ways to operate in spite of your fear, or even transform your fear into fuel for your creative work.

Most of our fears are completely irrational and useless

There are a few simple questions that can help you reframe your relationship with fear. Here they are:

  • Is this fear rooted in anything rational?
  • Is there any legitimate danger if I keep taking action in spite of my fear?
  • Is this fear useful?

Most of us don’t take the time to engage with our fears on this level. We just think to ourselves, “Oh, I’m feeling anxious and fearful,” and we leave it at that. Then we take that fearful feeling at face value and let it derail our progress on projects we care about. I’ve done this more times than I care to admit.

However, when we pause for a moment and engage with the fear—asking if it’s rational, asking if it’s legitimate, asking if it’s useful—the answer almost always comes back as a clear and unambiguous no.

This is the main thing that will help you dance with your fear. Once you can re-contextualize it as something fundamentally irrational and useless, it loses much of its power over you.

Sure, it’s still obnoxious when it crops up (and it always will), but it won’t prevent you from doing your work. You’ll be able to see fear for what it is, nothing more than a neurological quirk of the human brain that doesn’t serve much of a purpose anymore.

What does this actually look like?

For instance, let’s say you’re terrified that a passion project you care deeply about will fail, and that no one (not even your friends or family) will like it. You might even be worried that failing on this project will cause people to lose respect for you. That might sound kind of silly, but I've heard it before. We tend to wrap up our entire identities in the films we make, especially once they get more ambitious and personal.

Anyhow, if you were to ask yourself if that particular fear is rational, you’d certainly find that it isn’t. You’d find that nothing bad is going to happen to you if your film doesn’t work out.

Sure, you might feel shitty for a little while, but your friends and family will still love you. You'll still have a bright filmmaking future ahead of you. And you might even gain some respect from people for having finished a film and put it out into the world, even if it didn’t live up to your expectations. Remember, most people don’t finish what they start, so it commands respect and admiration when you actually do finish and launch a piece of original work.

Also, once you asked yourself if that fear is useful, you’d see that it accomplishes nothing. In fact, you'd see that it’s actually trying to prevent you from doing something that fulfills you and makes you happy. In other words, your fear is trying to sabotage you.

And that’s not cool. So it’s your job to give stupid irrational fears like this the middle finger and then continue doing your work in spite of them.

In the words of Liz Gilbert:

“It isn’t always comfortable or easy—carrying your fear around with you—but it’s always worth it, because if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting. And that would be a pity, because your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here. I know that’s what you want for yourself, because that’s what I want for myself, too. It’s what we all want.”

My single best tip for keeping the fear at bay

Now that you’ve re-contextualized your fear and shined a light on how useless it really is (at least within the context of filmmaking), it’s time to take some action. And my single biggest tip for taking action is this:

Show up every day.

Don’t let yourself stagnate when you’re working on a project, or even when you’re between projects. Because if you do, the fear will creep in and just continue to get louder and louder, which will make getting started again more difficult than it ought to be.

Fear loves to crop up when we’re not working on something. Given too much time to think, our brains will start meandering into all sorts of unhelpful places. I don’t know why, but it seems to happen without fail.

However, if you can just do one small piece of work every single day—even when you don’t feel like it, even when you’re not feeling inspired, and even when you’re feeling like a fraud—then you’ll not only make progress towards your ideal body of work and your definition of success, but you’ll be doing something extraordinarily effective for winning the battle against fear. Fear hates it when you make consistent progress because that progress strips fear of the power it has over us.

The real trick here is to make creation part of your routine. Your daily practice doesn’t have to be anything crazy or elaborate. It doesn’t even have to result in anything good. It just has to be consistent, and it has to move you towards your goals.

So start playing with different ways to incorporate small bits of meaningful creative work into your daily routine. Maybe you write something small every morning or shoot one piece of random footage every evening, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Whatever it is, if you do it consistently, you'll be laying the foundation for bigger and better things.

If you get that piece of the puzzle in place, your creativity will eventually become a habit. And once your creativity becomes a habit, nothing can stop you, not even fear.

Interactive Workbook Questions To Help You Apply These Lessons

If you don't see an embedded worksheet below this, try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, you can fill out this workbook here.

Further Reading & ResourcesBook: Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert

The first section of Big Magic is all about dancing with your fear and cultivating the courage required to live a great creative life. It’s worth the price just for that section alone, but all the other stuff in this book is just as valuable.

Book: Body of Work - Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim also devotes an entire chapter of her book to a concept she calls “surfing the fear,” and it's full of all sorts of practical tips for doing just that. Again, the rest of the ideas in this book are worth their weight in gold, especially if you want to craft a great filmmaking career that's in line with your values.

Book: The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

This book is a classic amongst artists and entrepreneurs for a reason. It’ll help you defeat the forces that prevent you from doing your best creative work once and for all. I'm actually about to read it again to give me one final push so I can get these lessons finished.

Book: Uncertainty - Jonathan Fields

Why do some people fall apart during uncertain times while others find new levels of success? This phenomenal book attempts to answer that question, and it comes with an immense amount of practical tips that’ll help you turn fear into action.

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