July 22, 2015

The Painful Truth About Filmmaking No One Tells You When You're Just Starting Out

YouTuber and independent filmmaker Darious Britt is back, this time with some hard truths about independent filmmaking that are sure to be painful to hear for anybody just starting with making their own films. Despite the bleak outlook, this video is one of the most inspiring things you'll see this week. Take a look.

The painful truth is this: filmmaking -- particularly the independent variety -- is an uphill battle, and that's putting it mildly. For most of us, every step along the way will be fraught with unforeseen obstacles, most of which we won't have the proper time, money, or physical resources to solve. Some of these obstacles are technical, and can be solved with some ingenuity and a few healthy strips of gaffer's tape.

However, many of them are far more debilitating, especially from a psychological perspective. When financing falls through, when crowdfunding campaigns fail, when important actors and crew members seemingly disappear off the face of the earth without so much as a text message, when you finally finish your film and nobody watches it (or worse, people watch it and tell you it sucks), and when all of these things are piling up, and it feels like you've seemingly wasted months or years of your life on this project, it's pretty easy to wonder whether or not it's prudent to consider a different line of work.

Painful truth about independent filmmaking

On top of all that, the business of independent filmmaking is perilous -- cutthroat even. And again, that's putting it mildly. If you get into independent filmmaking because you think it's a viable way to make a stable living, you're in for a rude and upsetting awakening. Though the internet has democratized the distribution process, and filmmakers can now distribute their own films, the chances of making your money back and turning a profit are bleak. Honestly, if a payday is your goal, you're probably better off spending your budget on a pile of lottery tickets.

Where's the upside in all of this doom and gloom, you ask? Well, the upside is this: for people who are intent on making films -- people for whom filmmaking isn't just a hobby, but a calling, people with something important to say and the desire to say it through film -- for those people, filmmaking has never been more accessible. The technology is getting less expensive and more powerful every year, and the internet makes it possible to get your films in front of the people who want to see them.

All of this is to say that if film is your passion, you can make it happen. There will be obstacles, and overcoming them will probably suck. But in the words of a fictional football coach with a penchant for inspiring speeches, "Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose."     

Your Comment

28 Comments

Filmmaking is a good slap in the face.

July 22, 2015 at 4:14PM

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Edgar More
All
1140

thats is a good quote :)

July 22, 2015 at 9:07PM

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An idea he touches on briefly has been a philosophy of mine for years. As filmmakers we have a responsibility to lend a voice to the voiceless. It's not all doom and gloom, but a reality. Good stuff. Thanks for finding this.

July 22, 2015 at 4:21PM, Edited July 22, 4:21PM

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Bryan Tosh
Director of Photography
606

Watch the video! Great work Mr. Britt.

Expect great things from him. Behind that "doom and gloom" is his unrelenting drive to finish the film.

July 22, 2015 at 4:37PM, Edited July 22, 4:42PM

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Can't finish your script? Cliche, stop fucking complaining and finish.

"Boring stuff like paper work." Wow big surprise? How much do you really wanna do this that this is even brought up?

How much financing do you really need for your low budget project? If you keep getting "stood up" by people with green maybe you need another plan. I don't want to hear about it, that's life.

Heckling your family for money to make a film. To each his own...

Maxing out credit cards. Emptying bank accounts... Again maybe you should reevaluate the cost of your project.

If the crew is just you or you can't get other to crew, then your not pitching your project successfully, you have poor people skills / personality, or your project sucks. Of course a combination of those three is possible as well.

Why be so concerned on whether your film will be deemed "good" or "bad" ? If you are there are tried and true formulas if that's your concern.

Shot list, storyboards, location scouting, auditions, call sheets, production meetings, camera testing, rehearsals, logistics. Wow sounds like you are revving up for production! That shit is fun. Why is it listed in such a depressing way? If it's not fun to you maybe you should consider another "career" path and stop bitching.

If your actor bails on you right before shooting starts. That's part of the game.

The weather, really? If you're losing a location before you thought you would then you probably didn't pay for it. So that's a given that that's a possibility.

Random equipment failure, again, a given. So why complain?

You are stuck doing everything yourself. Good! At least you are doing it. What is there to complain or "truth" about?

Jesus nowadays EVERYTHING is a "struggle"?

I got other shit to do and I can't go through the rest of the video

but shit like this is annoying, just be happy you are in a position in this world to be able to make films, even if it's as a one man band

If you are making things over and over again and continually the only crew member that's your own fault no one elses, people will gravitate towards a project that is good or that has a good leader even if the pay is minimal or non existent

July 22, 2015 at 5:21PM

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Brian Anthony
Student
373

If you had watched to the end you wouldn't have missed the point. He's saying that despite all of these headaches that we have all experienced being on set, it's still worth it to get your story out there. All of these annoyances appear infinitesimal compared to the gratification of finishing a project. Basically everything you just wrote but in a much more uplifting and positive way.

July 22, 2015 at 9:29PM, Edited July 22, 9:30PM

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Ian Mora
Writer, Director, Editor, Camera Operator
233

Thanks Brian... for typing out what he covered in this video...

July 23, 2015 at 10:23AM

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Dre Kahmeyer
Director
321

yeah, some of his negatives were just the reality of filmmaking. I love being a one man band. probably a bit easier not to have a bunch of crew, actors, or money that you owe. Making films is a lot of work and a lot of fun but probably not the best career these days.

July 23, 2015 at 4:09PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
727

Had some extra time finished the video

My opinion is unchanged, the videos tone is depressing, pretentious, and annoying

To all my haters more is coming when others post shit like this, nofilmschool seems to be a haven for stupid shit like this

July 23, 2015 at 5:22PM

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Brian Anthony
Student
373

Such a GREAT f***ing post, dude.

July 24, 2015 at 1:19AM, Edited July 24, 1:19AM

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I think your title of "Student" is totally apt. You have a lot to learn.

July 26, 2015 at 4:07PM

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Jake Gorton
Producer
373

Arrogant Fuck face like you sometimes get preference @Brian and that's the sad part.

May 4, 2016 at 2:46AM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2382

All of that just pumped me up... Bring it on.

July 22, 2015 at 5:37PM

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Franklin Carpio
Filmmaker/Director/Editor
289

The perception of many but not all. Still awesome though.

July 22, 2015 at 10:16PM, Edited July 22, 10:16PM

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Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
819

Whew! I watched that just in time! It really makes one think, do I push on or quit and fall back into the safety net of not trying? Wether success or failure awaits at the finish line, I think I will push on with the comfort of knowing that I can blame it on my insanity with either outcome.

July 22, 2015 at 11:52PM

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Benton Collins
Camera aimer
284

Oh do I wish I could obsess about something else. It must be lovely.

July 23, 2015 at 10:26AM, Edited July 23, 10:26AM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
970

Love this video. Does anybody else find it hard to stop booking the paying jobs to set aside time for your own film endeavors? I feel like the great commercial directors and most likely the music video directors have scripts and films in their back pocket, but when do you decide to shoot those instead of the 4-figure video that someone wants you to do for them?

July 23, 2015 at 10:30AM, Edited July 23, 10:30AM

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Dre Kahmeyer
Director
321

Of course its hard because you need to do those paid jobs to keep things moving, but we should find a way to work on our passion projects as well. its difficult but ultimately it will depend on what you got going on in life at that given moment!

July 24, 2015 at 8:21AM, Edited July 24, 8:21AM

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Luis Garcia
Director/Editor
366

Terrific video. 6 months into the edit on a first feature...lot of truth in there. :)

July 23, 2015 at 12:12PM

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So filmmaking equals no money , long hours, hard work, rejection for a project you probably don't even like when it gets done? Probably not a good mindset for filmmaking. I use my spare time and money from my day job to make movies. I limit the debt and limit the actors and crew, then just keep at it for years until it's done. My first film "Space Trucker Bruce" took six years. An interesting thing was that I found making it was more fun than showing it. The Q&A's and radio interviews were repetitive and the showings were mostly the same with a few compliments and the audience reacting the same ways each time. People watching your film is so passive and mostly unrewarding. I'd much rather be creating something new. So now I don't think about it as a struggle to get a finished product but as a fun adventure. The joy is in the process not the result. It's so cool to set up everything just right, say action and watch the scene take shape.

July 23, 2015 at 4:28PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
727

It's definitely not easy but the feeling of completing a project no matter how big or small is like no other feeling in the world!!

July 24, 2015 at 8:19AM

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Luis Garcia
Director/Editor
366

What a great video. I experienced a lot of what was mentioned minus maxing out credit cards but it still hits close to home. The biggest one was getting 5 rejections in a row from film festivals.
In the end it is all summed up. We do it because we love it.

July 24, 2015 at 12:15PM, Edited July 24, 12:15PM

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Matt Spade
Director / Editor
86

Film making tells you who you are and in ways you would have never wanted to be told.

It is a hard life, but I can say it has made me a much better person in the last ten years.

July 26, 2015 at 2:30AM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
656

You gotta focus on the learning - with every downer comes learning. And the fun of film making; learn to live in the moment and appreciate that you're doing what you've dreamed of doing. Otherwise your own chosen negative thinking will suck the life and motivation out of you and ultimately your production.

July 26, 2015 at 3:42PM

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The perils of the film industry is exactly why I studied journalism instead of getting a film degree.

July 27, 2015 at 3:27AM

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Charles Duoto
Studio Floor Director
1479

A terrific true, for a beautiful art D:

August 2, 2015 at 10:18PM

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Victor Hugo Muñoz Herrera
Director, Writer, Producer, and VFX Artist
167

Bob Dylan once said "I'm just a song and dance man". Films are just entertainment. Try to think back on the 3 or 4 best films you have ever seen. They were enjoyable to watch, maybe enjoyable to remember, but that's all. They didn't change lives, they just made them more enjoyable for a time. If you enjoy making your film, and a few people enjoy watching it, that's as good as it will get for the 99.99% of people making films. If doing it is it's own reward, then you can't lose. If getting fame and fortune is your goal, you are almost sure to lose, whether you get there or not.

August 4, 2015 at 11:58PM, Edited August 5, 12:00AM

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bobspez
Retired unix sys admin
182

I'm not sure where the images are from but when I see, what I presume, are first time feature makers using Reds, gimbals, trucks full of gear and large cranes it just looks wrong. Design a simple film and shoot it with 5 people. If you're clever enough, it will look great. And if you want to do a successful indie, you'll have to be clever. You'll be the guy who can direct, edit, do sound design. Or have very talented friends who'll work on your stuff like it was their own for free. Don't go Hollywood style and throw money at everything - be brilliant instead. Cause you'll have to be.

August 1, 2016 at 7:01AM, Edited August 1, 7:02AM

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