April 25, 2016 at 11:19AM


Developing a filmmaking "habit" / 10,000 hour rule

Hey guys! I'm new to the boards, super excited to dive in and meet all you awesome people.

I'm in the middle of reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" and it has me thinking about how to cultivate a filmmaking habit. I'm big into systems/habits/personal development in general, but I'm a bit stumped as to how to incorporate this when it comes to filmmaking.

Basically I'd like to know if you have suggestions for a good habit to start. Could it be writing one scene every day? Writing one synopsis a day, and filling out a beat sheet? Simply working on a screenplay for a specified time?

The reason I ask is because I'm interested in both writing and directing, so I'm wondering if there's an area I should focus on more in terms of a daily habit.

I'd love to know your thoughts!


Hi Savanna, welcome!

I was actually contemplating the same thing for the last few months. Eventually, after a horrible day and a massive creative block, I decided that I'd first start with just making. So, for the last week or so, I've been trying to put out some little piece of video content every day. There's no real story, or format, but it's my little corner of the internet where I just create whatever video I feel like making. It also makes it easy for my friends, loved ones, and other people in the business to comment and give me feedback.

Because I'm essentially doing a complete video, I get to practice every major department. As I go along, I've found a couple little areas that I needed more work and discipline in, so now I've started planning some of those little videos to "stretch" that muscle. For instance, coming up soon is some more laser-focus on exposure (my camera is slightly "unforgiving" when it comes to getting a perfect exposure). And given your preference of writing and directing, you'll want to be at least competent in all departments.

So, my suggestion is: make, make daily, vary what you make, and get feedback. You don't have to put it out on YouTube like I did, but just start making. You'll see before long what you need to work on. If you want to come check out what I'm doing, link is below. If you do post some of what you start making, I'm sure there's a few of us here (myself included) who'd gladly come check it out and give some feedback.

Hope that helped!

Mike from CMR Studios

April 25, 2016 at 12:21PM

Mike Racine

Thanks so much for the insight and thoughtful reply, Mike! I've considered making my "habit" a complete video as well, but wasn't sure how that would work; I'll check out your link to get a better idea. Thank you for the words of encouragement!

April 25, 2016 at 7:34PM

Savanna HR
Graphic designer / aspiring filmmaker

For writing you may want to try a tool like "Flowstate" http://hailoverman.com/flowstate
Once you sit down & start typing, you won't be able to stop for whatever time period you've set, unless you want to loose your work! Write for 15 mins. a day.

I would also recommend at a minimum putting out weekly content somewhere online, whether that is shooting a vlog or writing a blog, etc. If you keep trying you will eventually find what works for you!

Hope that helps,

April 26, 2016 at 10:47AM

Derek Armitage
Filmmaker & Vlogger

I had seen Flowstate before but have yet to try it, it seems really cool. Yes, I agree that putting out some type of content is a good idea - thanks Derek!

April 26, 2016 at 7:01PM

Savanna HR
Graphic designer / aspiring filmmaker

On an episode of Scriptnotes (a popular podcast on screenwriting done weekly by two working, Hollywood, A-list screenwriters) the hosts talked about the 10.000 hour rule. Both of them were in agreement that it didn't fully apply to screenwriting - not in the same sense as practicing, say, your piano-playing or carpentry.

If someone hasn't written something good by the time they've spent a 1.000 hours - let alone 10.000 - actually writing, of putting pen-to-paper, then they're probably never going to be good writers. Partly this is because there is a lot to writing that's hidden - a lot of it is just thinking while you do other things. Even more important is honing one's powers of observation. Observing art by other's - watching films and reading books - but also just observing the world; of making a conscious effort to notice people. A big part of writing is becoming someone who sees things, either differently or more clearly than others.

Of course, that's not to say a writer doesn't need to practice, or that style / form is inconsequential (and don't think you will get away with clunky language because you're a screenwriter, not a novelist). There is a lot of stuff you only realize once you actually try to phrase your thoughts and ideas.

I think a rule of thumb more applicable to screenwriting than the 10.000 hour rule, would be:

In order to write a good screenplay, you need to have written at least one screenplay before - not a synopsis, not a character description or outline or treatment - a full screenplay, where you got to the end of your story, ran into all the structural problems, stylistic deficiencies, faced your own stereotyping and cliches, despaired but kept going. You have to care deeply about it while writing it - but will probably come to see it as (best case) a deeply flawed attempt or (more likely) a deeply embarrassing attempt, down the line.

Most storytellers have this kind of major "juvenilia" project in their pasts - even savants like Tarantino, who's sold or shot almost everything he's written since, made an embarrassing false start. Some famous novelists have bought back the rights to their first novels and taken them out of circulation.

Of course, one lousy script before a good one is the MINIMUM - probably it's more like five scripts... or never, because writing is too complex and too much a reflection of yourself, to master it like a tool or instrument. But the only way to find out if you can do it, is to write your way past that first, inevitable disaster.

April 27, 2016 at 6:54PM


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