With nearly 50 years of experience in the entertainment industry, director Mike Newell surely has plenty to say and plenty to share in terms of how to make and keep making films. Newell has helmed a variety of different genres, from Donnie Brasco to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and one of the most important lessons he shares in an article for MovieMaker Magazine is how to obtain an unwavering resolve when times get tough while making your film -- no matter what the genre.
Establish a clear and inspiring idea -- a spark
This "idea" doesn't necessarily mean a good overall story structure or single plot point. It may not have anything to do with the story in a straightforward way. Newell explains grabbing hold of something that gives you an "immediate little jolt of excitement". For me, it has been a single line of dialog that encompasses the whole film, a pivotal scene that expresses the despair that fuels my character's change.
When I first read a script, book or treatment, I’ll get an immediate little jolt of excitement if the thing has something to say to me. I have to nail that idea before anything else. If you have a big, clear idea of what you want your audience to feel and think—and above all, what you want—then, even in the times of darkest chaos (which will quite certainly be upon you), you have a rock to hang on to.
Hold on to the spark
The process of making a film is a strange animal. It's a lot like a romantic relationship. In the beginning, you're so excited about learning and growing with this new idea, but as time goes on, issues start popping up that you never expected to experience. You start to wonder what attracted you to it in the first place, and unless you have a firm grasp of what that was, you risk trashing a perfectly good project.
The process of making a film feels like being pecked to death by pigeons. A thousand tiny bites will slowly remove your reasons for starting in the first place. You will forget why you are there. That’s when you must fall back on that initial spark of excitement to get you through.
Wear comfortable shoes
This is one of those things many of us, myself included, have learned the hard way. Since most of us aren't making films from a cozy director's chair, you're going to be on your feet the majority of the time. A good pair of socks and shoes can go a long way when hour 11 or 12 starts rearing its ugly head.
Be sure to check out the MovieMaker article and read the rest of Mike Newell's filmmaking advice.
What do you think? Do you have any advice to share? Let us know in the comments.