Have you ever had a serious case of the blahs about 3:00pm? Have you ever watched the typing swim on the page? Have you missed a deadline because you crumpled with fatigue at the last barrier to completing a crucial project?

Could it be that you are starting the day wrong? I don't know about you, but the first hour when I wake up is kind of magic.

Here's some advice I thought I would pass on, based on what I have gleaned from filmmakers, writers, directors and producers since I started Raindance back in 1992:

7 Things Filmmakers Should Eat For Breakfast

1. Make a plan

No one becomes successful without a plan. First thing, when your head is still clear and your eyes are slowly adjusting to the daylight, is the perfect time to reflect on the day ahead.

Make a note of what you need to do, try to prioritise and then plan how to use your time effectively. If you are like me, it doesn't always work - but it does work most of the time.

Lo To No Budget Filmmaking

2. Eat

It's strange to me that Westerners don't know how to eat. Our diet is filled with unhealthy fats and chemicals that sap energy from the body and clarity from the mind.

Isn't it all about energy? And isn't energy all about health?

I don't want to sound like a nutbar, but my life totally changed three years ago when I ditched dairy products and started eating a breakfast of raw oat flakes, nuts and fruit. I find it gives me boundless energy all day and night long. Even the right wing American Fox news channel wrote an article on the benefits of an "uncooked" diet.

My recently departed mama gave me a terrific health tip I still use every single day: she taught me to take a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water each morning. WOW does that clean the pipes and fill you with energy. In fact, Roman soldiers sipped the same before battle way back then. They called their drink 'Vigor'. When Jesus was given vinegar on the cross, the soldier who gave it to him was actually doing him a favour.

Isn't it peculiar how we so easily forget these ancient tricks?

I am not going to harp on about addiction to nicotine, alcohol or other substances. We all know these are wrong, don't we?

3. Indulge your personal life

The morning is the perfect time to spend a few minutes with those closest to you. It's so easy to forget the ones that offer you the most support when you are in the thick of battle. A message, a call, a few minutes of your undivided attention, a thoughtful gesture will make you look to the ones you share your life with like the person you'd like to think you are.

The time and effort you spend on this area of your life will pay back huge dividends should you ever slip or fall: these are the ones who will catch you and get you going again. But only if you treat them properly.

4. Exercise

A healthy body means a healthy mind. Don't ignore it. It's not just about going to the gym either. Learn some of the stretching exercises like Yoga or Pilates. Stretching exercises release energy, keep you supple and healthy and fights aging.

5. Think creatively

Each of us are faced with a series of demanding situations which many call 'problems.' If you start to think you have problems, you will soon expose yourself to discouragement.

Try to think outside the box and view each situation, not as a problem, but as a series of challenging creative opportunities.

One exercise you can try is to learn how to strengthen your Alpha State.

6. It's all over at lunch time

If anything is going to happen to you, it usually happens by lunch time. After lunch, people are merely catching up on their admin.

Hence the basis of that old, time-worn adage: early to bed and early to rise - makes a filmmaker successful, award-winning and wise.

7. Mow the grass

My grandad - the one with the one arm and of the Amish persuasion - used to chide my mum back on the farm. My mum was always planning new flower beds and vegetable gardens at the expense of mowing the lawn. As a result our homestead sported the most amazing gardens, but the worst kept lawn until one day my grandad said: 'first you need to mow the grass'. After that essential job is done, everyone will respect you because the lawns always look neat and tidy. After that, decide how much time you can afford to decorate.

This is pretty good advice for filmmakers too. One needs regular income to pay the bills. Get that over with as soon as possible each day, and work on your career for the rest of the day.

Fade Out

I find it difficult to follow my own advice. But on the days I do, I find that my cup runneth over.

Hope this helps,

Elliot Grove

Elliot Grove


Jack Morgan sends this comment:

7 Things A Film Director Has For Breakfast After A Wrap Party (apparently)

1. Make an apology- Drink is not an excuse. Last night it may have been. It may also have been the cause. Sheesh.

2. Eat- French cuisine is renowned as the world's finest. Plump for 'le fry-up', naturellement. Avec le café et cigarettes.

3. Indulge your personal life- Have sex. Or 'sex with yourself'.

4. Exercise- See above. Or crack one off. Again.

5. Think creatively- Where might you have put your keys? (And whose apartment is this?) It's all over at lunch time.

6. Hangovers- That's the beauty of paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine & a healthy 'Bloody Mary'.

7. Mow the grass- Get rid of any remnants of the pot smoked last night. Do Not Shave Your Head!, as was mooted last night, alongside the prospect of 'opening a bar with your best friends' and 'standing for office so someone will actually do something courageous'.

- Jack Morgan

Elliot Grove
Elliot Grove founded Raindance a quarter century ago as a thought experiment: Can you make a film with no money, no training and no experience, he asked? When people like his first intern Edgar Wright started making movies he founded the Raindance Film Festival to celebrate their work in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998.

Here you can see Elliot with a very happy Slumdog Millionaire crew at the British Independent Film Awards

Elliot has produced over 700 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 (1997) was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America. In 2006 he produced the multiple-award winning The Living and the Dead.
In 2013 he relaunched the production arm: Raw Talent with the cult film director Ate de Jong. Their first venture was the psychological thriller Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. finished late 2013.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008), Raindance Producers' Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). He was awarded a PhD in 2009 for services to film education. His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Elliot teaches several courses at Raindance including Lo To No Budget Filmmaking and Writer's Foundation Certificate.

Read articles by Elliot Grove.