Happy new year! You’ve made it to 2018. Now, what are you going to make?
Whether you’ve made a specific New Year’s resolution or just want to keep your filmmaking momentum going, we’re here to help and support you as you achieve your filmmaking goals in 2018. Here are our tips for making the most out of the new year.
What were your favorite films of 2017? Which lessons can you learn from them? Did a film use an unusual structure that can inspire your filmmaking goals? Was there a performance that blew you away? How about a twist ending? A complex tone? An insightful theme?
We all borrow from our heroes. It’s all right if you haven’t had time to watch every film or TV show that earned rave reviews in 2017. You can still catch these projects in 2018. This might even be the perfect solution if you need a jolt of inspiration in March or April. You can also look for inspiration in books, TV shows, and news articles. Liz Hannah, co-screenwriter of The Post, found inspiration in the memoir of Katherine Graham (played by Meryl Streep in the film). “I read Graham’s memoir, Personal History, and I absolutely fell in love with her,” Hannah told Vulture.
Meanwhile, Dee Rees, the co-screenwriter and director of Mudbound found inspiration in her own family. “For me, it was a shameless way to delve into my family history and add all those details,” she said in an interview with The Independent. “I wanted to bring forward from my grandmother’s experience of living on a farm; to bring the idea that there is grace and luxury in the smallest things.” Rees also read her grandmother’s diary to get more authentic details.
Expand your network
Nobody makes a film completely by themselves. Reach out to film professionals — perhaps a mutual friend or someone you admire — and ask if you can shadow them or invite them out to coffee to learn more about their craft. Whether that’s directing, editing, screenwriting, you can gain valuable insight by asking questions. However, if you don’t know any film professionals, don’t fret. You can begin networking with FilmUp. Filmmaking is a skill that you learn through practice. You don’t have to be an expert to dive into filmmaking or become part of someone else’s crew.
Don’t think of networking as simply asking experienced people for favors. You should also try to meet people who have the same level of filmmaking experience as you do (or perhaps less). Together, you can learn the ropes and help each other along the way. You never know who might end up making an exciting project or getting an influential job.
Consider how your experience can help others as well. Support independent filmmaking projects and spread the word about films that inspire you. Networking also doesn’t have to be about specific job opportunities. You can enjoy special screenings, Q&As, workshops, or other film events with like-minded film enthusiasts.
Embrace the process
If your intention is to finish a project in 2018, we want you to achieve your filmmaking goals! But we also want you to be prepared for unexpected setbacks. Sometimes locations fall through, permits get delayed, and crew members drop out or have scheduling conflicts. Many people refer to directing as “putting out fires,” and it’s easy to think of all the things that could go wrong as you try to achieve your filmmaking goals. However, all of these things can teach you lessons and help you grow as a filmmaker. They can also lead you to new ideas or relationships that will end up paying off later. As long as you’re learning and growing, the experience is worth it. Don’t worry if things don’t fall into place exactly as you hoped they would on January 1st.
Don’t let fear hold you back
You might not get the job. Your first film might not be perfect. But these are not reasons to give up on your filmmaking goals. Take that first step. Make that profile. Apply for that job. Send that email. Write that screenplay. Attend that screening. Just don’t be the person who tells yourself no. Star Wars director Rian Johnson told Deadline, “The danger was in me self-policing out of fear of, Am I allowed to do this? When I would check in with the story group at Lucasfilm, really what I found is that they would be the ones encouraging me to go for it. They would say, ‘Oh that’s really weird; oh my god, you have to try that.’ If anything, they were protecting me against self-editing or holding back out of fear.”