The Beauty in Starting Small: A Filmmaker's Guide to Chilling the F*ck Out
This is a major reason why so many people walk away from filmmaking.
Filmmaking is one of those careers that necessitates a dream. Seriously, nobody in their right might would brave this brutal gauntlet of an industry if they didn't have one. And that's all very good and very beautiful and relatable and all that—we've all been the starry-eyed individual whose newfound love for cinema has had us weak in the knees—but sometimes it's our dreams themselves that get in the way of making them a reality.
In this video, Darious Britt of D4Darious discusses this issue, providing a sober perspective on how to approach filmmaking in more practical, realistic ways so we can all chill the fuck out long enough to actually have a shot at turning them into a reality.
To be clear, having dreams isn't the problem, it's how you approach them. When I was 10, I told my dad I wanted a drum set, to which he replied, "Yeah, well I want a pony," and then sang the chorus to The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Again, the problem wasn't my dream of having a drum set, it was my approach to getting it.
We've all been there—our wild creativity bursting forth with millions of ideas so fast that our bodies and our bank accounts can barely keep up with all of their demands. We can't wait to make a movie—better yet—we can't wait to make this movie, the one in our heads that is as perfect as it is ambitious, that will require every fragmented piece of our blooming inner artist to pull off.
We are excited, we are dedicated, and we are so ready!
That is until our idea must be sent through the process of refinement and assembly. It is then that we remember, as the wind whips loudly over our bodies as we fall back to earth, that real life is the gatekeeper to film production and it doesn't deal in dreams. It deals in budgets, scheduling, permits, labor, and fatigue, all of the things you said would be no problem but quickly realize is a really, really big problem.
Soon, you run out of money. You run out of time, patience, and heart. Your film goes on the shelf and you go back to a waking life that, now, doesn't have filmmaking in it. Another dream broken, another day job filled.
But it doesn't have to be this way. If you temper your passion with practicality, then you'll be wise enough to know how long the journey is and how small your steps have to be in order to endure the entire distance. I spent a year dreaming of getting a drum set, but it wasn't until I decided to make some money by delivering newspapers that I started to understand that attaining dreams doesn't mean you dream harder, it means you work harder.
Sure, if you're lucky enough to make an Oscar-worthy feature film on your first try, then this doesn't apply to you—nor does gravity, physics, or any other law governing our natural world, most likely. Most of us, however, will have to make a bunch of 5-minute shorts for no money before we know anything at all about filmmaking. Most of us will have to beg our friends to fill roles, use our apartments as locations, and shoot on some dinky ass camera that, oh my god, only shoots in 1080p. Most of us will have to work a long time before anything of note really happens.
And you know what, that's okay. That's more than okay, it's smart. Most of the time, small steps will take you much further than giant leaps. We've all had that ferocious creativity that says, "I want the world," but anyone who's has, brick by brick, built a career in the industry has also had that steadfast sensibility that says, "Yeah, well I want a pony."
You can't always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you might find, you get what you need.