5 Tips on Better Filmmaking from Director Sean Baker

Want to start your filmmaking career on the right foot? Then take some advice from Sean Baker, the writer/director of "The Florida Project."

After garnering critical acclaim for his last two films, Tangerine and The Florida Project, Sean Baker is now one of the biggest rising stars in the independent film scene. However, his success didn't come overnight. In this BAFTA Guru interview, the writer/director discusses his journey as a filmmaker and shares some keen insight into what it takes to stay dedicated to and passionate about your cinematic projects.

Here are a handful of takeaways from the interview:

The middle can come later

When you sit down to write your screenplay, it's okay to not have it all figured out. That would be ludicrous—or a miracle. Instead, focus your attention on the beginning and the ending of your story. Nailing those two important pieces down will allow you to give all of your attention to that fussy middle part that is going to be giving you the most trouble anyway.

Make sure you're in for the long haul

It's really easy to fall in love with an idea in the beginning, but it's really a challenge to stick with it during the rough times when you experience writer's block or can't find funding or can't find anyone to distribute your film. Baker says:

It does take around three years for each film to be completed from beginning to end, so it's really about getting to that point where you are on board and you're dedicated for the long ride.

So, try to find ways to keep yourself on track and enamored with your project.

Sean Baker shooting 'Tangerine' (2015)

It's okay to embrace all mediums

If you're a devout fan of digital or worship at the temple of celluloid, guess what, it doesn't really matter. Film and digital are only mediums that can be chosen or not chosen for any particular project. In fact, Baker suggests embracing it all, because each one is going to give your film a different look and feel. So, it's not about which is better, it's about which tells your story better.

Learn the business side of filmmaking

I think it's a pretty fair assumption that most filmmakers would rather make films than make deals, but Baker says that becoming savvy about the business side of filmmaking early on can really help you get financing for your film, and then ultimately sell it once the time comes. It's not the most exciting part of the filmmaking process for a lot of us, but it's absolutely necessary if you want your film to reach a wider audience and, you know, potentially make some money. Baker says:

That's something I think you should tackle early on. Trust me, you'll need it. You'll need that business sense. I actually wish that I had a double major, one in film and one in business, or at least took business classes. I think that's a major thing.

Watch all films

We all love watching good films, but according to Baker, "You learn just as much, if not more, from watching bad films." So yeah, go out and watch some bad films and learn from them. Actually, go out and watch some mediocre films and learn from them. Furthermore, go out and watch films from every genre, time period, director, writer, cinematographer, editor, film movement, and country. Quite literally, watch all films—and learn from them.     

You Might Also Like

Your Comment