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in Filmmaking
on Jul 26, 2011


There’s a lot of filmmaking advice out there, but as you know from reading this magazine and website, I favor instruction from people who are in the trenches themselves. Director Seth Fisher sent me an email about his movie, Passing Harold Blumenthal, a while back, and I’m only just getting to it now. Consequently, I missed the chance to plug his Kickstarter — not that he needed it, though, because he successfully raised $50,000. But it’s not too late to plug his blog, which I’ve just paged through. At Watch Me Make a Movie, Fisher is walking you through his process, step by step from development and financing through pre-production all the way through post and, presumably, distribution. (Right now he’s editing, having just added an external monitor to his Macbook Pro set up.)

What’s good about the blog is how practical and direct Fisher’s comments are. He offers tips on using ProRes in one post and then, in another, tells you things like to never leave a fundraising meeting without a new lead. And then occasionally the advice is more abstract, but equally valuable. Here he answers an 18-year-old reader of his blog who wants to know how to take his project to the next step. Fisher’s advice here is not new, and it’s been in the pages of this magazine many times. But it’s always worth repeating:

There are a million ways to make a movie. A million ways to finance it, write it, shoot it, edit it, and sell it. None of them are easy or predictable. I have found that simply stating out loud that you are going to do something goes a long way. So long as you don’t get hung up or stalled by any of the obstacles of industry standards, you can get your film made. You just have to be prepared to do it regardless of how difficult it might be or how small it might be.

If June would have come and I hadn’t raised any money, I was prepared to make this movie for whatever I had in my savings account. It would have been a different movie. It wouldn’t have looked as good and would have been a hell of a lot harder and I would have slept even less. Nevertheless, I was ready to do it that way. That was all the empowerment I needed.

If you have a script you love and believe in, pick a date and mark it on your calendar. Give yourself some time, but not too much time. Keep the excitement as fresh as you can. The way you keep yourself excited is to talk about it. Tell everyone what you are doing. Once you’ve told everyone you know, go and find people you don’t know who might be interested. Every time you talk to someone, have them make an introduction to someone else who might listen to you talk about your movie. Talk talk talk. You never have to beg anyone for anything, because you don’t really need them (remember, you are prepared to do it by yourself right?).

The specific path is always different and unpredictable, but so long as you have the constant backup plan of doing the movie with your Canon T2i and shooting in your mom’s house, you will speak only with confidence. Once you declare your intentions to make the movie, the train has left the station. Once that happens, people will want to get on the train with you. Why? Because your making a movie and movies are awesome.

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