This Video Will Make You Feel Better About Not Making Good Films

'Fear and Desire'
There's no such thing as a born filmmaker.

If you're a filmmaker, whether you've been at it for 20 years or 20 minutes, you most likely have some serious doubts about your ability to make quality films. It's understandable; we watch the movies of our favorite directors, compare them to our own and get bummed out that we weren't born film prodigies like them. But this video from the Royal Ocean Film Society wants to assure you that there is no such thing as a born filmmaker and that even the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Richard Linklater, and Martin Scorsese struggled just like we all do at the beginning of their film careers to close "the gap" between their abilities and their ambitions

The lesson of this video might be one of the most important you'll ever learn as a filmmaker because it combats the very thing that drives people to quit the craft all together: self-doubt.

At the beginning of our film careers, we're passionately in love with cinema, churning out work like it's going out of style, not really thinking a whole hell of a lot whether it's good or not. And then, a few years pass and that passionate love matures, opening the door for our inner critic to come out, judge our films, and make us question if we really have what it takes to be a filmmaker. 

I've heard it a thousand times, young filmmakers despondently comparing their amateur work to the masterpieces of veteran directors: "I'm never going to be as good as Kubrick." Well hey, young Kubrick wasn't even as good as Kubrick! He developed his skills over years and years of practice until his abilities eventually caught up with his cinematic vision. 

This comment from Richard Linklater sums the whole point up perfectly:

The biggest misconception is people see someone's first film and they think that's what they did on their first day as a filmmaker...I've been at this years and years at this point. There's no overnight success. There's no idiot savant filmmakers. It's not gonna work like that. It's a lot of work, and people don't want to hear that. They want to think, 'Oh, he just did it! Wow!'

Many of us, if we could, would lock up our first attempts at filmmaking in a vault and throw it into the ocean so we could sleep soundly at night knowing nobody will ever lay eyes on them, but those first films are so important. Instead of thinking of them as failures, think of them as your first love notes to cinema. Instead of thinking of them as evidence of your inability to navigate this creative terrain, think of them as your first steps as a cinematic baby.

In the end, it's not what people are born with that makes them good. It's the years and years of dedication and practice.     

Your Comment


This could not have come along at a better time. I have a lot of students beating themselves up as they try to apply to film programs and festivals. And teenagers can be merciless toward themselves too, so this should help them understand when I say it's okay to fail at this phase.

January 19, 2017 at 2:12PM

Scott Napolitano
Screenwriter/Video Production Instructor

January 20, 2017 at 1:08AM

khalid alghamdi

To their credit, PTA and Wes Anderson both have amazing short films with C&C and BR. Even Day of the Fight by Stanley Kubrick as well as his short about the traveling priest (I believe it's called Padre?) are fantastic first films. Fear and Desire may have been a case of biting off more than he could chew script-wise.

PTA's below.

Perseverance though. I pull up this speech often.
"I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating, I don't care if it's a book, a film, a painting, dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music... anybody... anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us I think this world would be un-liveable without art and I thank you, that includes the academy, that includes my fellow nominees here tonight. Thank you for inspiring me, thank you for this. (Steve Soderbergh)

January 20, 2017 at 11:46PM, Edited January 20, 11:54PM


so true. filmmaking is just a medium for expressing and storytelling. lot of people fall in a trap called 'good' & 'bad' films. but this merely exists, its all about embracing the flaws and learning from them. we develop everyday, so do our skills to express through films.

January 21, 2017 at 12:15AM

Anant Vyas

"Cinematic baby ;)"
I agree that it is all about practice.
1 out of every 10 films is good,
1 out of 100 is excellent and
1 out of 1,000 is unforgettable.
You always have 10% of talent and 90% of hard work.

January 26, 2017 at 7:29AM

Film maker

Good post. Good reminder. I need to be reminded of this.

Another great way to see it is as Ira Glass puts it in "THE GAP"

January 26, 2017 at 2:58PM, Edited January 26, 2:58PM

Erik Stenbakken
Videographer & Photographer