I wrote this blog post way back in 2012 when Andy Murray first made it to the Wimbledon finals – and lost. Of course, he’s now become a household name and is ranked #3 in the world – an amazing achievemnt.

Andy Murray was just 5 years old when I started Raindance in 1992. In 2012 he became the first British man in the Wimbledon finals in 74 years.

His career has been a series of up and downs. He has endured disappointment, rejection and physical injuries.

There is much that independent filmmakers can learn from Andy Murray in his long climb  to the top of the heap in tennis.

1. Passion

Scottish born Murray started training seriously for tennis at the age of five. Even then he was noted for his strong competitive edge. Leon Smith, his coach from the ages of 11 – 17 commented that he had never seen a 5 year old with such a strong will to win.

Filmmakers need to have the same degree of passion to ‘win’ – to get their films made – as Andy Murray has to reach the top of the tennis world.

2. Overcoming adversity

In order to reach the top, Murray has had to deal not only with the likes of top opponents (like Roger Federer today) but his own body. At the age of 16 he was diagnosed with bipartite patella, where the kneecap remains as two separate bones instead of fusing together in early childhood. This was likely caused by playing too much tennis at an early age.

His knees still cause him extreme pain to the point where he is sometimes unable to walk. Murray has developed his own approach to dealing with his physical problem and has turned a potential career threatening physical condition into one that is manageable.

Writers and filmmakers know how difficult it is to get a movie out of the typewriter and onto the screen. Murray turned a potential career threatening handicap to advantage. Filmmakers need to realise, as Murray has, that adversity need not be a problem but a series of challenging creative opportunities.

Andy Murray of Britain reacts during his men's singles final tennis match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London July 8, 2012.          REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN  - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)   ORG XMIT: WIM

3. Dealing with criticism

Murray’s undoubted talent and passion had made him prone to considerable criticism when he fails to win major tournaments. Comments like “Nice guy’ but a quitter when it counts” is something that Murray has had to deal with his entire life. Even his own brother questioned his commitment when Murray withdrew from the 2008 Davis Cup.

His playing style also draws criticism. Murray tends to sit back and wait for unforced errors. His ability to read the game and anticipate the next move enables him to hit winning strokes from defensive positions.

Independent filmmakers know all too well how criticism can sting. Here in the UK back-biting is a national sport. Cry after cry about the ‘sad sad state of the British film industry’ regularly fills the airwaves. Like Andy Murray, filmmakers need to learn to ignore criticism and remember there are 9 common lies about british film.

4. Study and learning

Andy Murray works his ass off. He has also engaged some of the world’s top tennis coaches. Currently he is working with Ivan Lendl – himself a past master of Wimbledon.

Learning from past masters is a key ingredient filmmakers can learn from Andy Murray. At Raindance we have created a revolutionary training programme that combines the best of cinematic tradition with the new advanxces in digital technology. If filmmakers are really sincere about their careers they will, as Murray does, learn from the professionals.

A few fortunate filmmakers will benefit from the Raindance Postgraduade Film Degree and earn an MA or MSc in very specific topics that will enable them to acquire the mastery to make championship or award winning films.

5. Practise makes perfect

I was astounded to see that Murray has played in over 500 tournaments since he turned pro in 2004. Add to that figure hundreds of tournaments he played in as a junior player. That is a staggering total, and explains how he honed his craft.

A Raindance the successful filmmakers we notice are the ones that are always shooting: shorts, docs, web series, music videos and low budget features. If you want to get good you have to be doing it all the time. You don’t need money these days. You just need to get a camera even the camera on your phone) and expose image capture technology to actors.

When you are happy with something, you can send them into film festivals (like Raindance) and get feedback.

6. Overcoming fear of failure

This is a toughie. Can you imagine how Andy Murray felt  right before his match for the 2012 Wimbledon final? Add to that the pressure of being the first Brit in the final in 74 years? It must’ve been fierce.

British filmmakers know this feeling all too well. especially when we are up against the big budget American studio films at the Oscars. But look at the success of Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech? Us filmmakers showed ’em. Now Andy – you can too!


7. Luck and coincidence

Do tennis players and filmmakers need luck?

I personally don’t believe in luck. I think you make your own luck by good living, hard work and constant personal development.

Come on Andy! Come on filmmakers!

Play a good game. Write a great script and make an excellent film.

Yours in filmmaking,

Elliot Grove


Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over hundreds of short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and 130 Projects to Get You Into Filmmaking. In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.