First Post: Obvious Advice

I wanted to start this blog with a point I keep making to people, and to be honest probably need to follow more myself.

If you’re trying to move forward in the creative sphere, particularly in film or video, always do what you can be doing. If you wait for the perfect opportunity to make your film or video, it will never come, and time will slip by so fast you will look back years from now and wonder why you haven’t established a body of work.

The biggest excuse is cost. Perhaps you have a vision that you can’t afford to make right now. But what can you afford to make? Is there a cheaper and more creative way to tell the same story? Is that crane shot really essential? Or effects, location, or ridiculously large set? What’s the point of the story and what is window dressing? Because truly the prettiest window dressing does not make a bad film good. And if the story and performances are engaging, the window dressing doesn’t matter. Sometimes it can be a distraction, or a waste of precious resources like budget and time. I’ve supervised hundreds of short films and a few feature length ones in my career, and this is a mistake that is made with a tedious regularity. I’ve made it myself, stubbornly holding onto parts of a story that were ultimately unnecessary. Lost the momentum and let the project wither until it was no longer fresh or relevant. The term often used is “kill your darlings.” Such a hard lesson when learned by experience. 

Work within your means. The best film you can do right now is the film you can do right now. Do your damnedest with the team you have, the gear, the locations. Trim the fat. Restrictions make for the most creative solutions. Would “Jaws” have been a better movie if the shark worked? Of course not. Look at your challenges. Limited locations? How can you dress the set to make up for it? Or block the scene? Or compose the shots to enhance what’s happening to the characters or the film’s themes? I’ve seen people double the cost of their education on films that got them nowhere, and others succeed on no budget through creative use of limitation. I’ve also seen films shot on a Red that look like cellphone video, and others shot on a DSLR that were award worthy. Cost is never a guarantee of quality.

What if even this is beyond your reach? What can be told by animation? That can be done on your computer with free software. Or photo sequence? Think “La Jetée.” And when everything is stripped away, you can always work on a screenplay. Find an hour a day and get started. I intend to. Completing something, even on a small scale, impresses people. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to get started, it will never come. Don’t even wait for inspiration if you’re stuck. Work through it and revise. But get started now.

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