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Advice Sessions: Just Start

One of the great benefits to a hybrid festival in 2021 was that we were able to stay in touch online, even as pandemic restrictions ease. This year we caught up with 30 of our filmmakers with Instagram live interviews to talk about their films, their process, and advice they’ve received while starting their careers. This week, we’ll be sharing their words of encouragement and advice on how when it comes to making your first film... just start.

Don’t wait for permission to start

As daunting as taking the leap on your first film production may feel, the filmmakers echoed the need to just get started. Nay Tabbara, director of Frayed Roots acknowledges that “we’re always waiting for permission to make our movies and our projects” but encourages us to “stop waiting for permission [...] if you wanna make something, make it, because no one’s going to greenlight things. Everyone who was able to make it at some point just did what they wanted to do.”

Georgia Madden, creator of Divination Dave tells us “the main thing you have to do is get started and get stuck in. No idea is a bad idea and I think if you spend too long trying to accomplish something perfect you’re never really going to get perfection. So I think the best way is just to get stuck in, even if it is just lego mini figures to start with.” Aella Jordan-Edge, director of Do You Remember That echoes this: “if you want to make films, don’t feel the intimidation of a big budget, and ‘oh I need a big set and a big crew’. I think, just make stuff. And I know that can be unhelpful and it can be hard to start with a blank page and everything but I think that’s my biggest thing is to just go out and make stuff and don’t let anything stop you.”

They say perfection is the enemy of progress, and when it comes to taking the reigns on work that you're accountable for, feeling like you're not enough, or seeking permission and validation that you're ready from others, is derailing. Putting yourself on the line and being an advocate for your own work and innovation becomes easier, so swallow any imposter syndrome and just start something.

Develop your own expertise

There can be a lot of reservation around trusting your own vision and ability, but these filmmakers show how expertise and advice is not inaccessible. Josh Pickup describes how he would be up late the night before filming Gates, watching videos on colour grading and sound so he could direct. He says “I sounded like I knew what I was doing! And they all thought I knew what I was doing! Really I didn’t.” Josh shows how there is no need to come to a project as a full-formed filmmaker with all the skills in your toolkit. Instead, he truly treats it as a process, and an opportunity to unearth this knowledge that is not just consigned to film schools.

Josh focuses on the need for passion and determination: “I think that’s probably the problem is that I spent a decade believing that being a film director was an impossible task, that was like being a doctor, that you’d have to train for seven years, you would have to work in the industry, you’d have to be a runner, you’d have to build yourself up, you’d have to know all these things. I could write, and that’s something anyone can do, that’s all I believed was possible. And that’s a problem because I now know that that’s completely not true and what you need is a passion and determination”. This is so encouraging for those who have a story they are determined to tell but are held back by the feeling that they have to earn their place in the industry before being a creator.

Don’t be afraid of failure

They also remind us not to be disheartened by this learning curve. Reece Lipman admits, “I’ve made a lot of rubbish before we got to this point,” it’s about, “having the confidence to know what you want when working on a film”. Gillian Harker also reminisces, “I’ve failed a million times. You just have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going.” Hearing about the importance of failure in the learning process is encouraging; if something goes wrong it’s best to take it as a sign for how to work differently in the future.

So be brave and create! As Rebecca Murray (director of Pointe Black) says, “just grab a camera and film. Don’t put any excuses in your mind because half the time you can do it! Don’t think too much and create.”

There are a wealth of resources online for anyone looking to get into filmmaking, and sharpen their skills and industry knowledge. One of our projects moving forward is compiling and updating these lists so we can continue to share the information, and access to education and opportunities, that can get you on your way tp creating. Keep an eye out for our new recourse list undertaking that we'll be sharing with you soon. If you're interested, sign up to our mailing list to be the first to know when we've launched, and if you missed our first three posts on filmmaker advice, just head back to our main News Page.

Good luck, and just get started!

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