The Five Rules Of Filmmaking - Raindance

I’m sitting in the Raindance Toronto office this cold, grey November day.

In a couple hours this studio will be full of filmmakers and screenwriters attending the monthly Toronto Boozin’ N’ Schmoozin’ networking drinks. Earlier this week over 200 people attended the same event at Raindance Vancouver. Everyone I meet in our regional hubs are bubbling with enthusiasm.

I also hear story after story from filmmakers who have had to give up their dream. Just last week I was at our hip and cool Raindance Montreal hub  where I met an absolutely charming and lovely film funder. Something struck me about her – she seemed unbearably sad. I asked her how long she had worked there, and she told me she was really a screenwriter who had started a family ten years ago and thus had to give up her screenwriting ambitions.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Here’s five things I think you need to remember when pursuing your dream.

1. Everyone has a landlord

This is one that I used to ignore until I realised something my wise farmer grandfather told me:

Son – you need three things nailed down before you build something: Food. Clothes. A Roof. Russell Grove – Elliot’s grandfather

So figure this one out. If you have a dull and boring day job, if you are raising kids AND you want to pursue a dream, you just need to manage the basics and use your leftover time to work on your passion project(s).

2. The 25 hour rule

Procrastination. The evil weakness of filmmakers trying to make it. Everyone procrastinates. Me too! If you want to pursue your  dream you need to find that extra hour a day to work on your passion. I know it’s tough with the boss yellin’ and the kids screamin’. But you have to do it. Day after day.

The 25th hour is a bit like going to the gym. You don’t like doing it, but you are really glad you have after it’s over. Stephen – Elliot’s personal trainer

3. The seat of the pants to the seat of the chair

It’s about discipline – it’s not about how or what you do – it’s the fact that you do it. A bit every day is better than nothing for months and then a bank holiday weekend blowout.

4. It’s about quantity, not quality

I once knew a talented filmmaker who stopped shooting when her mother told her from her deathbed that if she was going to make it as a filmmaker, her next short needed to be nominated for an Oscar. She totally clammed up under the pressure.

Don’t worry about how good it is, just get it out and remember – you are slowly and surely building your skill and craft.

5. There really is only one rule: Persist

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I wouldn’t do anything, I’d be a millionaire. Remember that a film career is a bit like a marathon. It’s the long haul. Prepare.

What have I forgotten? Please add into the comments box below.

Now – take a deep breath and let’s make movies.




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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