Question Spotlight: Is Filmmaking Fun? Is it worth it?

Ally sent the following question:

Hi! You should be very proud of yourself for fixing this article up (7 Basic Things All Future Film Directors Should be Doing Right Now), it’s very well done. Thank you for the tips!

I am fifteen and have an interest in this career. If all else fails, plan B is psychology. I love movies a lot and have grown to love them this past year and look deeply into them. I use it as an escape from my anxiety. I mostly love 80s and 90s movies.

Here are my questions…

1) My anxiety can get pretty bad and hold me back from trying new things and make me insecure. Would this mean that I shouldn’t go into this career?
2) I really love 80s movies, but would focusing on those movies blind me from what the general public wants today?
3) My Dad wants me to be a doctor or a lawyer while my Mom wants me to do this. Is it worth it? Is it a fun job, like do directors have fun making movies? Is it worth trying?
4) Is screenplay writing necessary? I’ve written books before on WattPad, but most of them are Fanfictions. I have a hard time coming up with my own stuff, but if I do, it’s normally based off of dreams I’ve had because I write my dreams down every morning.

I really love movies and want to be a part of the creation. I love them so much, I get depressions after watching them because I’m so sad they’re over sometimes. I make movies at home and got hired to make a commercial for a volunteer system for a contest. My Mom says I have talent, but she’s my Mom. I just really want to know if this is for me because I may only be a sophomore, but I hate not knowing what I want to do because I like having a plan. This caused a lot of my anxiety problems, which have actually been getting better. I hope they stay that way.

 

Hi Ally, thank you so much for your message. Let’s see if I can answer your questions:

1) My anxiety can get pretty bad and hold me back from trying new things and make me insecure. Would this mean that I shouldn’t go into this career?

I understand career anxiety. My wife and my brother — even me at times — feel a lot of it! I would say that most careers have to deal with some kind of anxiety. Definitely, being a lawyer or a doctor is NOT any easier in this respect. Especially if you are a director, you have to deal with a lot of pressure and deadlines, but this is true for any facet of filmmaking. From writing to editing, everyone has to deal with anxiety. If you really love movies and see yourself as a part of the process, my suggestion is that you take steps towards managing anxiety as much as you can, for this will help you regardless of the career path you take.

2) I really love 80s movies, but would focusing on those movies blind me from what the general public wants today?

You know, when I first fell in love for the movies and filmmaking, I was very focused on older classics, anything from the 1920s to 1980s. For some reason, I had the desire to know, understand, research and love the movies that came before me. At some point, however, I realized it could mean trouble for me. I’m not gonna lie to you, knowing and ENJOYING recent movies is probably mandatory because you have to know what everyone else is doing. Not only for the story in these movies, but also for the techniques being used. Also, you should know how the market works. Once you establish yourself, you can then try to make the movies you want, even if they defy common sense.

3) My Dad wants me to be a doctor or a lawyer while my Mom wants me to do this. Is it worth it? Is it a fun job, like do directors have fun making movies? Is it worth trying?

Make no mistake, there are moments of grief and struggle when everything goes to hell. The actor is late, the camera is acting up, the location manager wants you out by 5pm, a production assistant tripped on a cable and injured himself. And then, it starts raining! It happens. It can be soul-sucking at times. But the people that persevere and continue working on films do so because, at the end of the day, the joys and fun outweigh the heartache and the pains. It can be especially hard when you are starting out, and you have to climb the rungs of the industry till you find yourself in that dream job. But people still do it. So yeah, it’s worth trying!

4) Is screenplay writing necessary? I’ve written books before on WattPad, but most of them are Fanfictions. I have a hard time coming up with my own stuff, but if I do, it’s normally based off of dreams I’ve had because I write my dreams down every morning.

Screenwriting is NOT necessary. But a sense of good storytelling is. Films are narratives, and if you can’t distinguish a great story from a bad one, you’re in trouble. I definitely recommend you read books on screenwriting, but also read movie reviews and join discussions about the craft of storytelling. Ask yourself why does this work or doesn’t, and debate it with friends. You’ll see everyone has a different opinion and interpretation. Even if you don’t wanna be a screenwriter, you still need to understand screenwriting, so read screenplays. Probably start with the scripts from movies you like. Here’s a bunch of them: http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/free-script-downloads/ (Sorry these are mostly recent movies.)

As for  inspiration for coming up with your own stuff, know that it’s always a challenge. One technique that works for me is this: every time you have a movie idea, write it down. Don’t over analyze it. Sometimes the wackiest ideas are the best ones! Think of BACK TO THE FUTURE or JURASSIC PARK. In my head, they are almost laughable as concepts, but they work fantastically well on the screen because their execution is top-notch. The other side of this is is when ideas don’t feel complete or coherent. Even if they are fragments, write them down. Make that a habit! Get a notebook or a binder just for ideas. Later you will combine stuff and make two little ideas into a big one. Believe me: it happens. But first, you must. Write. It. Down!

Did I answer everything?

By the way, it’s awesome that you already started working on commercials at age 15. To answer your other question regarding what you can do at 15:

My suggestion is to continue filming as much as you can. Acquire (or borrow) a camera and start shooting. Do as many projects as you can and focus on completing them. It’s easy to, say, lose motivation after recording something. But, unless you have a good reason, you must force yourself to edit each project to completion. Learn from your mistakes. If you can’t finish a movie for whatever reason, understand what went wrong and do what you can to prevent that from happening again.

I’m not sure where you live, but some high schools have media programs that give you access to some equipment like cameras and editing suites. It’s always a good idea to look into it. If your school offers no such program, I also recommend you look into a local TV station, inquire if they have internships or courses you can take. These are usually  inexpensive (or free) if you can find a public program or institution. Be sure to ask around! Yet another option is to attend a community college in the summer. Because you are young and not really a full-time college student, you can just take whichever fun classes you want.

Thank you again, Ally! Comment below if you have any questions! Have a great day!

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Anyone else interested in this topic, refer to this page for more tips:

7 Basic Things All Future Film Directors Should be Doing Right Now

 

Comments

  1. Ally says

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I try filming and making short movies normally whenever I go on vacation as like a memory thing for my family or just remakes of other movies with my sister, like we made our own Star Wars movie. I was working on a Goonies remake, but my friends weren’t that up to it. Do you know of any good video-editing websites or apps? I’m pretty much stuck with IMovie and WeVideo, but those don’t do a lot effect wise. I have a Windows computer and an IPhone.

    The TV internship sounds like a good idea. I am taking a filming class next year as an elective and my school as a media club I’ll probably join. Other then that, I’m able to go to another small school and my school as the same time. This small school used to be for kids who didn’t want to go to college, but they are changing it. This school covers more electives my original school doesn’t have, so if I went there I’d take main courses at my high school then electives at the other one after like noon. I’m not sure if I want to go there yet, since going to High School already messed me up bad anxiety wise. Maybe I’ll try it my Junior year.

    Anyway, thanks again! You really know your stuff! You’re helping a lot of people with your words.

    • Gabe Moura says

      Hey, Ally! You’re very welcome!

      Funny thing is that I also had my first hands on a camera while shooting family stuff during vacations and whatnot. Eventually, I graduated on to film a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remake using my brother and parents! (Well, at least a few scenes from it.) But even in these little “hobbies”, there’s also a lot of learning that happens naturally in the process. And like I said, whatever you do, strive to complete it, so don’t neglect editing. It’s all part of the process.

      As far as software goes, the beginning is tough until you’re able to afford Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. When I started out, my only option was Windows Movie Maker. It was awful, but it got the job done (sometimes). The important thing is to note that at this stage, you’re learning the essentials, the fundamentals. The emphasis is not on software and all of its bells and whistles, but the technique and craft of structuring a video and knowing when to cut! That’s basic stuff that you get to learn now, so don’t worry too much about which program you work on. That said, always be on the lookout for new deals and software that you can afford.

      One program that doesn’t receive much attention, but that is well-reviewed is the BlackMagic Da Vinci Resolve editing and color correction suite: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/edit

      Here’s a review of it: https://www.videomaker.com/article/r01/18231-blackmagic-design-davinci-resolve-12-review

      There’s a free version and a paid version. If your computer meets the requirements, let us know how you like it. Otherwise, just work on the software you have.

      And because you mentioned effects, allow me to remind you that most movies don’t have any editing effects. Think about it. 98% of all editing is just knowing what to cut, what to show, how to show it and which take works best. Occasionally, there will be a dissolve. But all that fancy stuff such as multi-cameras, split screens, wacky texts flying around, slo-mo, etc. don’t belong in most films. I know you probably want to experiment with as many tools as possible (as did I) but all those effects are secondary to film (you’d see that stuff more in TV commercials and the like). Eventually, you will get access to better programs and you can take it out of your system!

      Good luck on your media club and film electives! All that is tons of fun!

      And thank you for your kind words! Film on!

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