Make Your First Movie Now

In Make Your Movie by Isaac Stambaugh

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I’ve been putting off writing this blog for quite some time. “I’ve been very busy. I have more important things to do. And who really cares?” are all excuses I’ve used for my procrastination. To some degree, those excuses are valid. However, they’re not really the reason I have delayed writing. The real reason—I don’t want to suck.

Fear of not being good enough and fear of failure are very powerful tranquilizers. And the only remedy is trying. Over the years, due in large part to improv comedy training, which forces you to embrace the unknown and wave goodbye to hesitation, I’ve found myself “trying” more and more.

Four years ago, while participating in a self-improvement group study, I was asked the question, “What dreams do you have that you have not pursued and why?” One item on my list was “Make a movie.” By make a movie, I meant write a screenplay and direct it. After giving it some thought, my answer to the second half of the question was, “I’m afraid it will suck.” More than the difficulties of finding the right people, finding equipment, making time, having enough money, and a list of hundreds of other logistical challenges, was really the fear of not being good enough. I was at the point of recognizing the truth and was left with one more question, “Will I surrender to fear, or will I try?” That’s really THE question that so many dreamers and creators face on a daily basis.

I decided I didn’t want to live with the regret of not trying, and once I had committed to saying “yes” to my dream, I began replacing excuses with creative solutions and set sail for my dream.

Setting parameters and further defining my goal was my first step. I identified four benchmarks to aim for while pursuing the goal of making the movie.

  1. Finish. The ultimate way to try is to try until you finish.
  2. Don’t suck. Only until you have committed to trying can you think about not sucking.
  3. Make it into a film festival. To me, this seemed very improbable for a feature film with no money and very little experience. But I wanted to challenge myself and my team.
  4. Acquire distribution. Honestly, this was laughable, but I thought, well, if I’m dreaming, why not? Let’s make the final benchmark a big one.

Four years later, I can say that the project far exceeded my original expectations and all four benchmarks were reached! We finished. It didn’t suck. The movie was an official selection to two film festivals, and through a digital distribution partner, the movie is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu. It was a long, hard journey with many obstacles, but it was quite worth it.

I’ve now produced five feature films ranging in budget from $2,000 to $500,000 and have more in development. Over the weeks to come, I’m going to share with you the steps to making your first feature film. Be warned, after we’ve gone on this journey together you will have no more excuses, and you will have to answer the question, “Will I surrender to fear or will I try?”

You can preview or purchase my first movie, Smells Like Community Spirit, here.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Joe Haupt

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Isaac Stambaugh

Isaac Stambaugh

Isaac is an award-winning producer and videographer who began his career writing and producing 144 episodes of television before transitioning into feature films. While producing feature length movies ranging in budget from $2,000 to $500,000, Isaac has become a leader in creative and efficient low budget filmmaking. Most recently Isaac produced A Strange Brand of Happy which released in 45 theaters nationwide, and the upcoming drama Hope Bridge with Booboo Stewart (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Twilight Saga) and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, God's Not Dead). Isaac currently serves as Producer for Rebel Pilgrim Productions.
Isaac Stambaugh

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