What are the biggest blocks filmmaker have in getting their film made?Jun 28, 2023
Overcoming starters anxiety for filmmakers
Are you having trouble getting started? You’ve got a great idea but you just can’t seem to pick up your pen and write it down. You just can’t open that doc and start filling the blank page, or perhaps you’re so deep in your fantasy of the completed film complete with an imagined Oscars speech…ahhh memories…, and that feels like such a rewarding safe space that you don’t want to come back to the real world where you’ll have to start at the beginning.
Here’s the thing, filmmaking is a rewarding career, but it is not an easy one. It takes tenacity, courage, and relentless persistence to get a film made. And if you are having trouble getting started then you are not alone because many filmmakers struggle with starters anxiety. And if left unchecked it will prevent you from getting your film made.
So, is the idea of being a filmmaker more exciting than just doing the work? Or are there some other factors at play that are preventing you from getting your butt in gear and making your movie?
This issue is more than just fantasy or procrastination. Starters anxiety is a real thing and I’m going to walk you through some of the common reasons it strikes followed by some strategies to overcome it.
One of the biggest blocks filmmakers have in getting their films made is rejection. Filmmakers often get turned down over and over again, which can be disheartening. However, it is essential to remember that it is not you, the filmmaker getting turned down, it’s the film idea.
It is crucial to separate the work from yourself when it comes to rejection. Some common reasons for a film pitch being rejected include the film not fitting the box that the broadcaster is looking to fill. Or not ticking enough of the right boxes for film festivals or screen agencies. They might tell you the topic is too hard for an audience (I’ve heard this one A LOT). But it’s essential to remember that rejection is not personal, and it’s crucial to keep pitching ideas until one is accepted.
If rejection is the first reason for triggering starters anxiety then funding is a close second.
This one is a big one and it will be a stopping force if you let it. In my early career, I used to dream of the day I’d have all my finance lined up ready to go and then roll camera. This was a fantasy and has never happened on any of the 7 impact documentary features I’ve produced or most of the short form documentaries either.
We are usually kicking off with some seed funding to create a proof of concept that will get people excited about the possibilities and that is followed by raising the bulk of the finance during development and into production. Often the outreach funding doesn’t come until we’re very close to launching the film.
You simply can not wait for funding to get your project going
Another reason for starters anxiety is procrastination. Many filmmakers struggle with getting started on their film project. They may have an excellent idea, but they struggle to get started. To overcome procrastination, it is essential to break the project down into smaller, more manageable tasks. By focusing on one task at a time, filmmakers can make progress and overcome their starters anxiety.
I go into much more detail in this episode of the Moonshine Moonshot podcast so please listen in.
So what can you do about it?
Start despite rejection and funding.
It’s really that simple - just start.
Break your film project down into smaller tasks. This can help to make the project feel more manageable and less overwhelming. For example, if you are producing a documentary, you could start by filming a short sizzle reel or a powerful interview. This can be used to pitch to potential funders and get seed funding for the project.
If you’re creating a narrative drama, then start writing the script. Set yourself some manageable targets like a goal to write 5 pages per weekend. It might take 6 months but you’ll have a first draft! And that may seem like a long time but it’s is a long way from the not started place you’re in now.
Or perhaps start smaller and write a scene, then get some mates together and film that scene. Then do it again, and after a few weekends, you’ll have a short film or at the least a proof of concept film you can use to pitch for funding.
It’s small steps but put them together over a few months and you’ll have progress. And you will have started! Yea, go you!
It is important to remember that you do not need permission to make your film. You do not need a film festival, a film fund, a broadcaster or any other gatekeeper to green light your project for you to be able to start. They are not the ones who give you permission to start- you are.
In conclusion, starters anxiety is a real thing that many filmmakers struggle with. However, by understanding the common reasons for this anxiety and using strategies to overcome it, you can get your film made.
So kick that starters anxiety to the curb and make your film a reality.
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