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On the A train headed back to Williamsburg after a full day of Emerging Visions, Andrew Bird playing on my iPod.

The day began with breakfast at Lincoln Center’s new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. One of my favorite moments of the day was at the breakfast when each of us had to introduce ourselves. We had to say what our craziest moment as a filmmaker was.

I was reminded of the time I took the G train in the middle of the night wearing a prom-style dress while shooting a music video. The ultimate destination was Coney Island, and we had to get there before sunrise (somehow all my Coney Island experiences involve a camera and getting there before 5:00 AM). This particular time, I was the DP and the director, and I was armed with two cameras — a Flip and a Panasonic DVX. The other crazy moment that came to mind was the one when I decided it would be a fantastic idea to shoot a film on an island during hurricane season. Or was it the time I shot a night scene on a shady Chinatown block — on possibly one of the coldest nights in New York’s history — with a prop gun that looked a little too real? Finally, I decided on the prom dress/G train experience.

To recap and give you an overview of the day (more reflections to come soon):

Before and during breakfast, I immediately started meeting other filmmakers, and I saw my friend Will who’s just finished editing his first feature. After breakfast we heard Doug Liman speak about his filmmaking experiences. One of the many things he said that sticks with me right now was the importance of taking big risks and how the biggest risks in filmmaking aren’t necessarily the physical ones, but rather the emotional ones. Some of the biggest risks and challenges he talked about have come from trying to achieve emotional honesty in scenes he’s directed. Making scenes (and the whole movie) feel their most honest is not about crafting in the editing room but comes from directing those scenes to be as emotionally authentic as possible on-set while you’re shooting them.

Next were our mentor sessions — I loved meeting Lisa Cortes who had lots of great insights. At lunch I got to catch up with my friend Lauren (who’s also developing her first feature) before we all headed to a master class with Joe Berlinger. The discussion was about Berlinger’s Paradise Lost documentaries and how his vision of his own storytelling has changed throughout the process of making the films.

A cookie break preceded the next talk, which was with Jon Kilik. He had so many admirable things to say about his passion for films and his own journey to becoming a producer. Like Doug Liman earlier in the day, the discussion came back to trusting that something will work in a film because it works on an emotional level.

The last session was one where five filmmakers pitched their projects to a panel and got immediate feedback and advice. An interesting session for all of us, especially because everyone is at such different stages of development with their projects.

All in all, it’s been a packed and exhilarating day that’s given us a lot to think about. If every speaker (and every filmmaker I met today) has left me with a common message, it’s this: to keep trying to make your film, even if it’s hard (we all know it is) and there’s more rejection and uncertainty than anything else. You have to accept rejection and keep going.

And a song by the band Woods on my iPod completes the day.

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