As of right now, it is six weeks until the completion of the first short film that I wrote and directed, entitled Avarice. It has been a project that has taken 2 and a half years to complete, and it will only be about 15 minutes in its entirety. It’s crazy to think that 2 and a half years of a person’s life could be defined by 15 minutes, but that’s kind of how it feels.
It has been the most challenging thing I have done, which I’m sure will be followed by even greater challenges. It’s been a long journey, and I walk away with so much more than I had ever expected to. My only hope is that I can pass on valuable information to other first time filmmakers.
One of the most important things I learned as a Director is to trust your team. Choose competent people who are both talented and trustworthy and then give them space to do what they do best. People work best when they are given the opportunity to pour their talents into something and take responsibility for it.
A movie isn’t made by one person. It’s made by many. And as a Director, I realized that I am only as good as my team. I may have the best ideas in the world for shots and for my characters, but without the people who know how to execute those ideas well, it won’t mean anything.
Hold To Your Vision
I have heard stories about how a film almost didn’t get finished or about all the ridiculous obstacles that got in the way. But I never realized how draining that can be when it lasts for several years.
The hardest part of making this film was just getting it done. Obstacles come, and they have to be dealt with, but I think the real test is whether you can fight through the test of time. Are you committed enough to fight for your project when it feels like it’s hopeless?
I definitely learned that a good film has to be earned. If you think it’s easy to make a good film, you might be doing something wrong.
Making a Film is More About the Journey Than the Film Itself
This is a lesson I expect to be constantly learning throughout my career. Filmmakers tend to be workaholics because you have be willing to devote most of your life to a project until it’s done. While making it, everything is about the movie, and so many sacrifices are made by so many people to see it to the end.
I know I went into this project wanting nothing more than an awesome finished film for my resumé. However, as I take a step back two and a half years later, I see that so many more important things went on around this film. I’ve gotten to be part of people’s lives and experience their ups and downs and even see some of them grow into young adults.
To me, that has been one of the most meaningful experiences that I will take away from this project. It’s something I want to pour into all of my projects. It’s always about more than just the film.
So if you’re venturing into your first project, my best advice is to enjoy every moment of it. Enjoy the frustration and exhaustion that you feel. Enjoy the fight to finish it. It’s worth it all. Don’t complain about how hard it is. Of course it’s hard! If it wasn’t hard, everybody would be doing it. That’s what makes it all the more exciting that you are one of the few who actually can.
What kinds of lessons have you learned while working on a film?