Once upon a time, if I decided to become an amateur, I’d spend years researching how to become an amateur in order to avoid the many pitfalls experienced by the people who just decided to start working on the road with an unlimited budget. I could have spent hundreds of hours on that kind of study. Then, when I graduated from that level of preparation, I’d probably have no idea what to do next. But that wasn’t the case for filmmakers.
The best way to avoid that “what’s next” trap was to make a film with the intention of making films.
Now, some directors think that by becoming a filmmaker, they will be able to “break free” from the constraints of the professional world and make whatever projects they think are most important. The idea is that you want to make films that really make or break you, that have the power to be part of the change you wish to make in your career. You get all the creative energy of an amateur working on a shoestring budget in hopes of making a movie and eventually a career that will pay the bills and give you a platform for your work. A better idea may be to become a film instructor or some other non-profit that gives you the tools that you’ll need to have a real impact on the world in your own hands.
There are two main pitfalls to this path: 1) The idea that you will be able to make a film regardless of whether the funding comes in or not and 2) the belief that you will do whatever it takes to get the funds to make that film.
If that is what you believe, the worst that can happen is you will spend the majority of your money on making an incomplete movie. No director makes films in a vacuum. They do whatever they have to to make the film that inspires them. In my case, I saw a movie in which I had a huge part like that — Ingrid Goes West.
I know that my goal will ultimately be to make films that really make or break me. That doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t work on films that simply come out of no other option than to make one. In fact, I’ll probably be working on a few of their for the duration of this project, as long as it makes sense to do so. It certainly wasn’t an accident that I was working on a film that has the power to change the lives of hundreds or thousands of people. The other films you’ve seen are just
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