August 31, 2015

5 Psychological Mistakes that Beginning Filmmakers Make, & How to Avoid Them

Simon Cade's 5 Psychological Filmmaking Mistakes
There have been plenty of lists about the mistakes that amateur filmmakers make on set. But what about the more insidious mistakes, the psychological ones?

Our friend Simon Cade, who has been knocking it out of the park with his educational videos lately, recently shared another video that covers this very topic. But before we get to that, let's talk briefly about why psychology is important within the context of filmmaking. 

Like most endeavors in life, particularly the artistic ones, success in filmmaking is tied closely with whether or not we're able to conquer our fears and doubts. It may sound corny and trite, but when it comes to creating work that we are proud of on a consistent basis, more often than not, we are our own worst enemies.

So here's Simon Cade with 5 mistakes that he's been making lately, most of them psychological, and what he's doing to overcome them:

Here's the list of psychological mistakes mentioned in the video: 

  1. Too much typing: Getting off of the computer and working with your hands as much as possible can really benefit your creative process.
  2. Caring too much about what's popular: It's important to create things that you care about, rather than give in to fads.
  3. Not making enough narrative content: Story is everything. Make sure you're making it a priority.
  4. Worrying about failure: Failure is inevitable, but if you focus too much on it, the fear will keep you from creating.
  5. Practice humility: Simon shares a quote by Ze Frank: "Let me be not so vain to think that I'm the sole author of my victories and a victim of my defeats."

The mistake that resonates with me the most from Simon's list is #4, or being crippled by the fear of failure. It's something that I'm pretty sure most of us have dealt with to some extent. We start thinking about a new project, and we imagine how great it's going to be when it's finished. And then we think about what it takes to make that vision come to fruition. And we worry that the project won't live up to our expectations, that we're not experienced or talented enough to make it great, that we don't have access to the proper budget, equipment, or crew. We worry so much about these things that we end up doing very little, or worse, nothing at all. 

Like many of the psychological problems that we encounter throughout our lives — and I know I'm being incredibly broad here — the solution lies in learning to find joy in the process and not getting wrapped up in the desired result. This is something that I intend to write about in-depth at some point soon, but suffice it to say for the purpose of this article, if you enjoy filmmaking as a process, including all of its odd little sub-processes and intricacies, then nothing you make will have been a waste of time.

What are some of your biggest psychological barriers when it comes to making films? Share them with us down in the comments!      

Your Comment

34 Comments

Seriously, why so many posts of this guy?

August 31, 2015 at 4:55PM

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Panos Karachristos
Director - Filmmaker
283

Considering his age, what he says is pretty accurate, and I like how he is very subjective about his thoughts, so I don't see why this wouldn't be shared tbh.

August 31, 2015 at 5:24PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

How old is he ? He looks young, but he could be 26-27 & I woudn't be surprised by it. I also woudn't be surprised if he was 17.

September 1, 2015 at 4:05PM

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Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist
1306

Because he makes informative and insightful videos that all of us can learn from, and he does it on a consistent basis.

August 31, 2015 at 5:36PM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4214

He's doing a good job and knows a lot for his age. I like his posts.

August 31, 2015 at 5:51PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
526

My mistakes making Space Trucker Bruce: I spent too much time dwelling on what the finished product would be like. I stressed out on the shoot making may actors uncomfortable and the experience less enjoyable. I also thought I could market it better than anyone else making tons of money on VOD. My Marketing Ego was way too big without any knowledge or experience to back it. When you're a one man filmmaker you have to handle a bunch of things at once. You need to be able to answer all questions but sometimes a pause if you don't know the answer is better than a quick bad answer. I over-scheduled shooting days adding to my stress.

August 31, 2015 at 5:49PM, Edited August 31, 5:49PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
526

It feels pretty good to let it out, right? I can totally relate to stressing out on set & ruining the vibe for everyone so thanks for highlighting that, something to remember for my upcoming short. Always helps to hear that we all make mistakes.

August 31, 2015 at 7:01PM, Edited August 31, 7:01PM

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Simon Cade
Filmmaker
228

It's scary to see so much untested advice held up as unquestioned truth. Where are these mantras coming from? Are they true just because they sound true? The Vince Gilligan quote was a nice attribution. Apart from that, there is no sense that these 'answers' hold any weight in practice.

I'm not trying to be cynical. This video/article is harmless. It's a nice, positive video that might inspire some struggling filmmakers. But in general, this trend of inexperienced, idealistic people (no offense; I am one too) offering advice might be saturating the internet, and this site, with the light, comfortable advice that leads to quiet failure.

Imagine that I am a lost tourist. If I ask for directions, and you do not know the way, please tell me that. I'll ask the next passerby. It will save us both time.

August 31, 2015 at 7:42PM, Edited August 31, 7:43PM

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I have to agree. Cade is interesting, and amazing for his age and lack of real experience. I follow his blog mainly to watch a very young film maker grow. I'm far more interested in (and take much more seriously) advice and opinion from actual experience, though. It's easy to regurgitate advice and platitudes learned from a million other blogs. Another to live it.

I am infinitely glad that I'm old enough that episodes of my youthful exuberance and advice was not preserved in video on the Internet for the present me to have to confront.

September 1, 2015 at 2:50AM, Edited September 1, 3:14AM

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He found a way to build a following by telling others what to do when it comes to filmmaking :P
He seems to target the beginners, the 'wannabees' and that is perfectly fine: in the land of the blind, one eye can really be king ;-)
In the mean time he's making a lot of videos compared to a lot of other people, so when he has a large enough fanbase, I expect him to start a crowdfunding campaign with a pretty good campaign video :-)

And his advice is not that bad: drawing and writing is more fluid in my experience than typing (although less readable sometimes when the flow is going faster and faster). Fear of failure, often dressed up as perfectionism is indeed a paralysing trap: I've seen it around me, I've experienced it myself.
Humility will make you able to listen to others and weigh what they say, while a big ego might run run towards an abyss and disregard all the warnings.

PS.
I always wonder where people find the time to make all those videoblogs... Am I just working too much?

September 1, 2015 at 4:36AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9019

I've started to make videos myself and honestly the process (regular vlogging aside) is like making 2-3 short films per week. I usually work on them when I get off from work. It's not a terrible quick process if you're making worth while content.

September 1, 2015 at 12:35PM

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agreed

September 2, 2015 at 11:02PM, Edited September 2, 11:02PM

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Einar Gabbassoff
D&CD at Frame One Studio
1001

If i see him eating one more frikin apple....

September 1, 2015 at 4:57AM

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Vladimir Miketa
Cinematographer & Editor
42

He's mostly parroting what can be gleamed from numerous other blogs, books and conferences. Its not coming from actual experience of course=) He's 17, hehe. Its good advice, but its not really HIS advice. Kudos for putting in the effort at this age to do it. Like a kid reading from a medical journal telling a room of doctors how to do open heart surgery...

September 1, 2015 at 8:36AM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
744

Or, maybe he's a keen observer who can adroitly summarize larger topics.

Feel free to assume it is not his advice. How do you know that without talking to him?

September 1, 2015 at 10:20PM

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Charlie K
1251

room of "doctors"

September 2, 2015 at 3:43AM

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Vladimir Miketa
Cinematographer & Editor
42

It's all cuz of his accent. Without it, I doubt anyone would watch.

September 1, 2015 at 9:07AM

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Corey Machado
Video Editor
149

Yeah, right. No one cares about content.

September 1, 2015 at 10:09PM

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Charlie K
1251

my greatest fear is just and only that of not having chosen the best movement room. It would like a list that describes the thousands of situations and how to choose the best movements to take place, if with gimbal, steady, crane, manual etc ..

September 1, 2015 at 9:10AM

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What stood out to me in this was not his age or whatever he's done, because I've never heard of him before this video. What stood out to me was the fact he said 'Here are some mistakes I'm making right now, and hopefully we can both learn from them.'
That's powerful, relatable, and humble, and made me pay attention to the rest of the video, which I really liked.
- s

September 1, 2015 at 9:55AM, Edited September 1, 9:55AM

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syd wachs
Writer and Storyteller
81

10 Years of production on TV shows, commercials and documentaries here's my approach:

Personally I flip the concept of fear and failure around. I want to fail fast, I want to know what doesn't work and I want to figure that out fast. If i'm wrong about a lighting set up or camera move, I don't fear the sense of failure from it, I want to know quickly so I can move on and try something else. I'd rather have rolled on something bad then rolled on nothing because I was afraid of failure.

Failure is good, it lets you know what doesn't work and I personally want to know that sooner then later. You just need to see it as a tool not a mental block.

Want some examples of good and bad failure and a new approach to it? Read this great freakanomics transcript of "Failure is your friend"

http://freakonomics.com/2015/05/20/failure-is-your-friend-rebroadcast-fu...

September 1, 2015 at 10:46AM, Edited September 1, 10:51AM

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Lauchlan Ough
C.S.C Associate Member
28

I'd love to have such a healthy attitude to failure, that's something we can all work towards. Loved the Freakanomics book, very interesting guy.

September 2, 2015 at 7:33PM

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Simon Cade
Filmmaker
228

A lot of comments strangely want to put Simon down for putting something out there for us to enjoy, or not enjoy, as the case may be. A lot of our own fears, I think are exacerbated by this ever-present peanut gallery of internet commenters looking to diminutize others' efforts at every turn. In reality, there's a streak of jealousy there that is obvious to the reader of the comments even if the writer themselves is not aware of it. Considering we are all in the same boat, trying to blaze our own trail in this over-saturated, increasingly cliched world of young video creators, wouldn't it be nice if we could stop begrudging others' success and realize that one persons' achievements don't prevent our own. This kid is obviously working very hard to bring you something of value at absolutely no cost to you.

September 1, 2015 at 1:23PM

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Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
534

Took the words right out of my mouth, although you used a lot more of them.

That moment when this 17 year old, "newbie" is getting recognized for his content and having it posted on nofilmschool.com and everyone who is dissing him hasn't had theirs posted.

Just sayin...

September 1, 2015 at 2:07PM, Edited September 1, 2:09PM

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Jerald Roberts II
Filmmaker
328

The problem isn't jealousy or ill will --- it's the fact that this is a website devoted to solid advice and help, and it's only fair that we, the readers, can insist that the advice come from a place of experience and practice.

I don't think anyone here is watching this video to congratulate its maker. We're here to learn. The fact is, the videos he makes are for you and me. They are advice videos. And the first priority has to be making sure they will benefit the audience.

This is the first time I've posted comments on an internet article. I'm not usually a cynical person. I don't begrudge his success. I'm placing a value on the content of his videos, not his exciting, new career. What he's saying is pretty big. If people react to these videos the way he intends, they will change their entire outlook on the writing / filmmaking process. He's trying to change the way people work. These aren't lighting tips. These are career tips. These are life tips. "Don't have an ego." That's a pretty large piece of advice, isn't it? Should I change the way I am, how I feel? Is that the answer? Maybe it is. Maybe I place too much value in advice. But I just can't stand to see big, unearned mantras spoken so lightly, especially on a website I usually look to for help.

By the way, it isn't about his age. It's about the fact that he's starting on his first film project now. He's going to learn a lot. When he finishes the project, his advice will be well-earned and honest.

September 1, 2015 at 3:36PM, Edited September 1, 4:12PM

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I don't want to chip in too much here, because I don't want to try and undermine anyone else's opinion. However I would like to reassure you that the video came from this perspective: "here are some of the mistakes that I'm making right now, and hopefully we can both learn from them". It's completely open ended meaning that you could hear my views and then decide to do the complete opposite.

However, I would just like to clarify that I have made a number of other narrative projects (I'm not saying they were any good, but I did make & learn from them). You can learn about my full story in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhX06VroP48

September 2, 2015 at 7:31PM

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Simon Cade
Filmmaker
228

Orson Welles made Citizen Kane when he was 24 years old, but some people still look at age. Guy is legit & some of his advices are as good or even better than veterans. He is also very good at communicating stuff, which is not a common thing nowadays.

September 1, 2015 at 4:08PM

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Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist
1306

I see that some "bichches" (am being politically correct) are sulking over our young brother Simon's video posts...but why ?

September 2, 2015 at 2:09AM

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Arun Meegada
Moviemaker in the Making
447

Because they all want to be successful, but not support anyone younger than them on their success.

September 8, 2015 at 4:51PM

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Personally I really like this guy's posts. There's so many people on the internet making guides for reasons I can't discern, but he regularly provides insightful views on learning to make stuff. More focus on the creative process than technical.

Also, the fact that he is younger than me doesn't change the fact that he obviously cares about what he is doing, and there's an honesty about him. I wish some older guys who I have worked with shared that! I bet in 10 years he is doing some interesting things.

September 7, 2015 at 10:25AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
687

A person who has no films to show. No projects but these advice videos. Giving the keys to success and handling failure. He hasn't even put himself out there to fail yet. He's giving pretty over fed information to the everyday wanna be filmmaker. It all just feels like a compilation of info from around the net. I can't take him seriously because he's not serious himself

September 8, 2015 at 12:12AM

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Aaron Miller
Boom-Poll Operator
87

By the time I reached the bottom of the comments I felt extremely sad.

Some of you people are just plain weird. "Bitches" is too kind a word for some of you losers.

October 5, 2015 at 5:14PM

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James Manson
Photographer
187

Excellent vlog. All these points are terrific to keep in mind. We're our worst enemy sometimes, aren't we?

August 9, 2017 at 11:56AM

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Greg Green
Producer/Director
110

When I'm shooting, I starting with fear... which comes from the embarassing situation, that I'm doing some unusual thing. After I come over this, I fell into some other mind-state, similar to FLOW. No fear, just big enjoy. (like adrenalin at extreme sports)

August 10, 2017 at 9:45AM

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N. Peter
Community / Filmmaker Website leader
72