Confessions Filmmakers Never Admit To | Raindance

As someone who has been making films and working with screenwriters and filmmakers for over a quarter century my own personal experience is that for most the fear of making or writing a movie is real. In the early years of Raindance my own fear held me back. And it still does from time to time. I must admit there are confessions filmmakers never admit to.

I’m not alone. Most filmmakers can tell you at least one or two things that cause sheer anxiety. Here’s five:

1. Can I actually make movies?

Many I know spend their time reading filmmaking books, watching Youtube tutorials and taking endless filmmaking seminars. and they still don’t know believe they can make a movie or write a screenplay.

Others develop very specific below-the-line skills like camera, sound or post-production but they still feel unsure of themselves. Lacking confidence is one of the biggest career busters.

It’s so easy to get stuck into the learning cycle and hang on to the latest words of wisdom from yet another guru.

No one learns to drive a car by sitting in a lecture or from reading a book. You learn to drive by driving a car. You learn to cycle by riding a bicycle. and you learn about filmmaking by making films.

2. I’m a spam artist

We all know the spam artist: she or he who relentlessly calls and emails trying to get noticed. There is nothing that irritating to me more than this. And the weird thing is, I have been known to spam a lot myself! To be honest, when I spam it is out of insecurity.

Repeatedly chasing down a potential cast or crew member can be called persistence. But carry on too far and you get known as a pest.

Constantly spamming is also a sign of basic insecurity and lack of belief in yourself. Do cut out the spamming. If you want to rise to the next level plot a strategy that includes a huge dose of patience. And fill your universe with positive energy. Then they will come to you.

Here’s a nifty tip. If you want to get noticed, comment on other people’s blogs. If you allocate just 15 minutes a day to this you’ll soon get know as a trusted expert! I wrote one called  16 Ways Filmmakers Annoy Filmmakers – and wow! I got a lot of comments back!

Here’s the Golden Rule: Attract, don’t chase. Chasing is what you do when people are running away from you. Chasing is what causes us to look for excuses to cover up our mistakes. Chasing makes us want to take shortcuts.

No social media followers? You don’t need a post scheduler or other expensive piece of software. You just need to start talking to people

3.I just need this new tool to do my job

I know so many filmmakers who say things like: “I’m saving up for a new camera”. Or screenwriters who ask if they should use Final Draft or Celtx writing software.

It’s really easy to get distracted by the latest advertising campaign for the latest widget.

Late last year I was in our office talking to the brilliant Director of Photography who teaches our Basic Cinematography Class – Zoran Velkovich. Coincidentally a Raindance student came in with a £17,000 ($29,000) camera his wealthy father gave him. He announced that he could take great pictures because he had the new-fangled and expensive tool. Zoran replied that great pictures are made in the head. The tool that materialises the dream doesn’t really matter.

My point is this: Don’t get flummoxed and discouraged because lack of kit.If you do, you are falling down into the “I need this tool” rabbit hole.

4. I’m just making movies to make money

I’m Just Selling This To Make Money for marketing confessions

Here’s one of the most awkward confessions filmmakers never admit to:

It’s totally cool to be a screenwriter or filmmaker and make money. Where the trouble set in is when you look like a money grubber. Rather than someone who has the smarts to monetise their time, effort and ides.

Here’s the trap: you can easily lose your passion for your project if the money doesn’t happen on time. This disillusionment will totally affect the way your project heads, and likely will cause your dream to smash on the rocks of a hostile beach and be blown to smithereens.

The broke filmmaker can fall into self-pity which is inexcusable. Or you can come across as insincere – which is deadly. Or you might simply not have the passion it takes to ‘kill’ a project because you are so distracted by the money side of things.

The harsh reality is that life in the creative industries is fiercely competitive. Making it critically doesn’t mean you make it financially. and vica versa.

Whatever you do, do what you love. Then money will follow. Start with the money first and certinly you will fail.

5. I wouldn’t watch what I’m making

The landlady always needs her rent money on a Friday night. And sometimes you need to work on films or projects that fall below your normal high standards. Maybe you are making corporates. Or cutting tasers at a TV station. Or making educational videos for a charity. And sure, th work you do is neat and tidy – but nothing you want to put on your showreel. But your landlady is happy, right?

Or maybe you are undervaluing yourself – both commercially and in what you are truly capable of in a creative capacity.
Have confidence in yourself!

Fade Out

Its easy to be scared when starting out as a filmmaker. Here’s my tip: Don’t let the filmmaker with previous experience out there intimidate you with their swagger and bluster. They are simply trying to maintain their job security. Just like any skill, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

The marketplace is very overcrowded. Technological advances have enabled many to make films. These films have flooded the marketplace. The challenge is to develop a strong and distinctive style that no one has thought of yet, but which everyone wants. These are the sort of film we endeavor to show annually at Raindance Film Festival.

My grand-dad gave me great advice: continue learning, and try what you learn.

As for these confessions remember that someone out there is looking for you skills and talent. The brilliant Japanese director Kosai Sekine has a feature film in Raindance 2018 Love At Least.

I first met him in 2005 when he made a brilliant short called The Right Place which should make everyone feel better about their career ambitions. Watch it here:



Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

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 Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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