My creative partner and friend, Brad Wise, frequently compares making a movie to kids building a tree fort in the woods. For so many reasons, this is very accurate—it’s a challenge, it’s collaborative, you don’t have many resources, it’s nearly always imperfect, and under the best circumstances it’s a ton of fun. But maybe the best parallel is that it is done by friends.
One of the most important steps you can take toward making your first movie is making friends. And I don’t mean pretending to make friends in order to get something out of the relationship. I mean go out and meet people, find ways to help them, figure out what you can offer them, and develop some genuine relationships. When it comes time to make your first movie, you will need everyone you can get. But the cool thing is, if you’re a good friend, most if not all of these folks will be more than happy to contribute to your dream.
When I began to share with my friends my desire to make a feature they rallied behind me in so many ways. You may be thinking, “That’s easy when you have a bunch of filmmaker friends.” But here’s the thing, over half the people who helped me pull it off don’t have anything to do with media professionally. They’re just good friends who thought of creative ways to serve another friend. Once you’ve made friends, it’s your job to ask them for help and help them understand the best way they can help. Just like building that tree fort involves no actual architects or construction workers, making your first movie will probably not include high level professional cast and crew in each position and role. So you will need to think about your friends’ skill sets and talents and identify the most advantageous role for them to play.
Keep in mind, as you move forward with your project, it’s your responsibility to remain a friend. I point this out because it will be quite easy for you to develop tunnel vision with the project and begin to neglect the very relationships that are making that project happen. Surrender to the reality that the people and the process involved in making the film are at least as, and I would argue, more important, than the film itself. If you truly embrace this approach, you will find yourself with a ragtag team of enthusiastic amateur carpenters ready to follow you into the forest of filmmaking.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Spencer Wright