Want to make a movie? Go to Hollywood, or maybe Toronto. You could always try New York City. But what about all the storytellers across the country in smaller towns? How do you become a filmmaker if you live in a place where movie-making isn’t an everyday job? You do what others before you did: you tell stories everyday.
Filmmaking can start with your parent’s handheld video camera and the neighborhood kids acting out the latest Disney story. Your sister can be Rapunzel and your buddy can be Flynn Rider. Good luck finding a Maximus. Horses are not easy to work with (I hear). Or you can set up your Legos or other dolls and try for the stop-motion effect. You can also take a camera and go for a documentary, like how crazy a mid-American family really is. The point is that there are stories all around you waiting to be told. You just have to make time for it, and execute the plan.
Creativity is like a muscle. The more you exercise, the stronger you become. It works the same way with writing and filmmaking. Don’t be afraid to fail a bunch of times before you come up with a good product (or settle for adequate until you get good). This lesson also comes in the form of the cliché “practice makes perfect.” While you may not be the next Peter Jackson with a huge trilogy making millions of dollars off your recent backyard film, you can still tell a story with what you have. Even if only your immediate family sees it at first, you’re still telling a story, and that’s really what’s at the heart of filmmaking. Start with shorter (5-10 minute) films and go from there. A feature (90 minutes or more) is a huge undertaking.
Use the resources around you. Whether it’s a high school drama club or a local theatre troupe, you probably have a community of people around you who want to tell stories, too. Look around for writers groups if you’re not a writer and want to put words to film. Ask at the surrounding schools if there are drama programs in which you can involve yourself. Film festivals are great places to network. In Michigan, the Waterfront Film Festival is a terrific event to meet people and eventually submit your work (especially short films). Look for a festival in your area to connect with and begin networking.
Don’t be afraid to work hard. Filmmaking is difficult work, and often will not pay much, if anything. Work hard and work well, and you will begin to build a network of trusted people to help make your dream of filmmaking come true.
Want to read more about this? Subscribe to this blog to follow us. You can also check out this article we found about making a low-budget movie. You can find some good ideas in there.
(photo: gd586 on Flickr)