7 Filmmaking Lessons You Might Want to Learn This Year

We're almost halfway into the first month of 2016, which means 90% of us have forgotten about our New Year's resolutions, while the other 10% still don't really know what we're doing. But don't worry -- there's help!

If your resolution was to become a better filmmaker in 2016, you might want to check out this helpful video by Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter, in which he lists 7 things he's learned about making films this last year. Serving as a great checklist of sorts for the rest of us, Pike mentions things that will help all types of filmmakers, whether you're working on a solo project or shooting something for a high-profile client. Check out the video below:

In case you aren't able to watch the video, here are the 7 lessons Pike mentions: (For a more detailed explanation of each, head over to his blog post.)

  1. The Importance of Mastering the Art of Producing
  2. Finishing/Shipping is More Important Than Achieving Perfection
  3. Embracing/Working Around Obstacles
  4. Know Your Motivation
  5. What Got You Here Will Not Get You There
  6. Be Comfortable and Honest About Who You Are and What You Do
  7. Find What You Love to Do and Do It!

All of these things are important to grow as a filmmaker, as well as find joy in using your craft. However, one thing that I think is particularly important to learn as a filmmaker, artist, human being is the 5th thing Pike talks about: "What got you here will not get you there."

Believe it or not, failure is not the most painful thing to experience as an artist -- it's stagnation. There's nothing worse than looking at your work today and realizing that you're making the same 1.) creative choices, 2.) mistakes, and 3.) excuses as you were at the beginning of your career. 

So, maybe you broke into filmmaking by taking a gamble by spending your savings on camera gear, or moving to L.A., or quitting your day job to write a screenplay (me), and that's fantastic and brave and good job, but as you progress in your career, you're going to be challenged to make more (and different) decisions that get progressively more mature as time goes on -- and you've got to be ready for that.

Of course, if you're satisfied with where you're at, kudos! Relax and enjoy the ride. But if you want to grow and evolve as a filmmaker, if you see yourself in a different place creatively and professionally than where you are now, just keep repeating Pike's words -- all together now: "What got me here will not get me there."

What filmmaking lessons did you learn this last year? What are some things you're trying to improve on as a filmmaker? Let us know below!     

Your Comment


the cardboard cutting sounds in this video are cringe-inducing

January 12, 2016 at 12:08PM


I really enjoyed this. A lot of these "lessons" are the ones that seem really obvious, but for me, this back-to-basics stuff is the first thing that flies out of my head when I start to get career/gear/talent/courage envy. This was a great reset for me for the beginning of the year.

January 12, 2016 at 12:19PM

Bryan Howell
Screenwriter, corporate videographer, and indie filmmaker

Really solid advice, simple but so true

January 12, 2016 at 11:10PM

Stephen Herron

Good advice.

January 13, 2016 at 2:06AM

John Stockton
Filmmaker, Editor.

Hey V Renée - I like your writing style. Short and to the point. It has a human element to it. We all need to be reminded that we are only human and full of faults and that it is "ok". But there is always plenty of room for improvement.

January 13, 2016 at 7:43AM

Tom Brown

Great points, especially on producing.

January 13, 2016 at 2:07PM, Edited January 13, 2:07PM

Sean Voysey
Creative Director

I shot a film more than one year ago, independent, no budget and the only thing I regret or will change for my next film is #2 "Finishing/Shipping is More Important Than Achieving Perfection", it kills me that I had no time to shoot how I wanted and I ended up rushing everything to have a finished product, i do have a finished product but as a filmmaker I can not film again the same way, I will work harder to get the extra money i need to take my time and make everything as perfect as can be because that's my motivation.
Other than that i pretty much agree with everything else.

January 13, 2016 at 6:00PM


Simple and sound advice.

January 16, 2016 at 2:27AM

Emeka Akwuobi
Filmaker/Editor and other stuff

Lessons from 2015 for me: plan, shoot, edit, repeat.

Really, just doing it is the most important thing. Yes, after every project there are things I'd do differently. But I can only work through those "I'd do it differently" if I DO IT the first time (even if it's wrong). Damn the procrastination, full speed ahead.

January 16, 2016 at 9:27PM

Erik Stenbakken
Videographer & Photographer