View Full Version : I'm no good...What they say is true...Independent features

08-16-2005, 08:57 PM
Okay so I'm stubborn, I thought I didn't need to listen to everyone and now I don't know if I'd say I regret it but I feel somewhat dumb. They all say not to try a feature till you've had much more experience than I have, I didn't listen to them. Today was the first shooting day of my feature and well now I understand why people say not to try it. I planned everything out, I wrote, edited and tweaked the script(although I'm not the best writer), I got ahold of actors and had/still have 40 of them lined up, I even got them in to do sceen tests where they read lines and showed me their acting skills. 9:30 this morning...everything caught up with me...and everything went wrong. People didnt show up when they were supposed to, we realised that we didnt have one of the 6 main characters(and just had to work around her lines), one of the actors left before he even said one line, setup took way too long to do and five minutes after starting the shoot the technical problems started. We almost immediately fryed a breaker and that took about a half hour to work around(during this time the cast got very uncomfortable because they were all sitting in the dark tied up and had their mouths taped shut).....All along through this process there have been major problems such as our lead actor quitting and needing to find another one, and its because when we're shooting independent movies we cant pay actors and cant afford the best equipment and these things start severely impairing our creativity. It is really hard to make something without the right tools unless you have lots of experience and i simply dont have it!

I know this is a rant but i hope it can help others in my situation because from all this i have learned something. If you want to attempt a feature you should definately know what you are getting in to, its no walk in the park(and i never thought it would be) and you need to be ready to accept failure unless you are highly prepaired and/or experienced. But if you are willing to accept failure and willing to spend a lot of time at failing go for it! You WILL learn a lot doing this and be a better more experienced filmmaker because of it.

Right now I'm pretty confident that my feature which i put soooo much time effort and money(not a lot, but a lot for me) into will SUCK, maybe its because i just suck, who knows. But i do think that if i bite my lip and do my best with what i have and i manage to pull this thing together enough to produce a mediocre(but finished) final project It will have been worth it. I've already learned so much and will learn so much more in the next week. And if i can pull out of this with that mediocre product I will have more people and be able to get more and better people for my next movie. NExt time I'll have more experience and maybe just maybe I can make something decent.

So go ahead and laugh at me...the dumb 17 year old who doesnt know his limits and is in way over his head with this project. But maybe my little rant will help some people out who are trying to decide what to do next. I guess now I'll be one of those people who say, "you're not ready yet, practice more, do a short" :undecided

08-16-2005, 09:25 PM
LOL!!! No, I'm not really laughing at you, I'm just laughing because I have twenty years on you and I can.

Do you have any idea how many folks on this board would love to have had the experience of shooting a feature at 17? Hell, even a decent short at 17? Will it suck? Comparatively speaking, probably so. But so what? You're not doing this to get a distribution deal at 17 your doing this to learn. And you are giving yourself one hell of an education - a REAL education. They don't teach you in a book what to do when half your cast fails to show up for a call. Or when your only lamp breaks to a light you planned to use for a shot and you don't have a spare. Or... or.... or..... These are things you learn by doing, regardless of profession. This is why experience is so valued by people who have a few more years on you - they know that to get good at something you have to suck at it for a while. It's the law of nature. And my god man, if you can't take chances and fall on your ass for the sake of learning when you're 17, you'll never be able to. Take a deep breath, relax, kiss a girl and smile - you're making a movie!!

When I was your age I wrote a short symphony (still relatively long). I was a hotshot young composer studying with the head of Yale's comp department. I wrote a bunch of small things and received praise, so why not a symphony? I soon learned why not and wanted to quit. My teacher wouldn't let me. I didn't understand why at first. When I was done and heard it performed and analyzed my score, I went off on a tear. Pounding my fist against my head, going on and on about all the things I did wrong or should have done differently, the whole time my teacher sat there smiling at me. "Why are you smiling, I just wasted three months of my life!!" He then told me "three months ago if you heard this symphony or analyzed this score you wouldn't know what was wrong with it." So you see? I had learned something - a lot of somethings. Those lessons made my next one better. Still not great, but better. And then you learn some more.... This is how we learn to master something. So many times people focus on the end result, they never master anything. Mastery comes by focusing on the process, the little things, the details. Forget that you're making a feature - FORGET it. When it comes time to light a scene, light it. Focus on lighting that scene. Shooting that scene. Making that day's schedule. If you focus on the process the results take care of themselves - for better or worse.

There's a great exchange from "A league of Their Own":

Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard.
Jimmy Dugan: It's supposed to be hard! If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great!

Good luck to you!


08-16-2005, 09:45 PM
Well I guess you have to learn some things for yourself--especially when you're 17. :laugh: Maybe you should try to scale down your film on the fly and go for a tight 25 minute piece rather than an unwatchable feature. Indie casts and crews can usually smell blood in the water and people will start to bail if they think you don't know what the hell you're doing. Consider yourself lucky that the scales fell from your eyes on the first day of the shoot. The kinds of problems you experienced aren't that unsusual, but you need to be able to quickly problem solve and prevent situations from damaging the production. The fact that you seem to have lost confidence in your production after one day of shooting is a bad sign. I'd question why you want to continue with the feature if you think it's going to suck. As a director, if you can't covey a genuine sense of confidence and authority--all is lost. So you might want to carefully consider how to move forward.

08-16-2005, 10:57 PM
i suggest scaling it way back to a short. then hit it hard. full on. see what happens.

08-16-2005, 11:31 PM
I agree - regroup, scale back and remember ... people much older and (supposedly) wiser than you have run into the same troubles, other troubles, and more! So keep plugging away at it and don't give up!

Jay Rodriguez
08-17-2005, 05:43 AM
agreed..... with everone that is....

There's two side to my story here for you.

1. Maybe you should scale it back to get a tight short but........ see #2

2. Who says you can't shoot a feature for your 1st project? Go for the gusto homie!

David Jimerson
08-17-2005, 06:55 AM
Keep something in mind.

The problems you faced Ė unreliable people, unreliable equipment, unexpected things going wrong, people disagreeing (even in good faith), delays, plans not standing up to practice . . .

This is just the real world. Itís not exclusive to filmmaking. It happens in any endeavor involving people. True, filmmaking naturally attracts *flakier* people than some other types of efforts, but people are people and thatís what youíre experiencing.

How you cope with it has as much to do with simple life experience as it does with movie-making experience.

08-17-2005, 07:49 AM
Take a deep breath, relax, kiss a girl and smile - you're making a movie!!

That is outstanding advice!

Nobody356, I say press on. In two days I wrap filming on my first feature film and what I've noticed is that each time it felt like the entire film was slipping through my fingers, what rose out of those ashes was better than what was crumbling. I watch the dailies now and am shocked because what the camera captured is better than I could have ever hoped for. And that excites me to continue the daily struggle of making a film. Even if it turns out to be junk that's banished to the attic only to be pulled out at picnics and family reunions, it's still my first film, and the things I've learned here will make the second film all that much more.


08-17-2005, 07:58 AM
the fact that you went out to do a feature is admirable. Some people don't get the experience you just did with a year in school. Your limitations and mistakes may pave the way to something different and interesting. Be thankful that you had the courage to learn and take that knowledge with you to the next. If you're dedicated, there will always be a next...


Neil Rowe
08-17-2005, 08:18 AM
... yes your right.. what they say is true.. for the most part anyway . there are always exceptions to the rule, but better safe than sorry. anyway .. im sure weve all been there at one point. just keep on going through it, becuase the ability to finish what youve started is most of the battle for filmmakers. teach yourslef how to do that now and youll grow immensly more ..ionce upon a time i personally had to learn that the hard way after scrapping my first feature film.

08-17-2005, 09:22 AM
I'm laughing with you brother - even though you're not laughing yet. You will be. If you're going to get anywhere with this avocation you'll have to. Buy me a beer sometime, and I'll tell you about how roosters react to HMIs at 2:00 am. While you're rolling sound.

Don't think of this as a film. Think of it as film school. Treat the whole thing as a learning experience, do the absolute best you can and, most importantly, have fun with it and I bet you'll be surprised at how well you did when the dust settles.

If you can easily scale it back to a short, that's not a bad idea. Most of the things you'll learn don't coalesce until the whole process is over, so if you cut back your shooting days, you wont spend as much time making the same mistakes multiple times. You can get right to the next project and make all new mistakes.

Making movies is fun. It damn well better be because, no matter how much you get paid, it's too damn hard of work to do if it weren't. Do don't forget to keep that attitude, and infect your crew with it as much as you can.

Congratulations on getting such a jump on us old farts. Get this one done and then make the next one.


08-17-2005, 09:46 AM
Nobody356 before you began this project you weren't a director, now you are. Congratulations!

When you are 35 and making great films you'll appreciate this difficult experience as one of the best, maybe not the easiest or most pleasant, but definitely one of the best experiences of your life.

Revsion, as others have suggested, may be helpful.

Which scenes really convey the essence of your story and move the piece along?
Figure this out off-set. You will go nuts if you try to screenwrite (or major script revision) and direct simultaneously.

Imagine you've shot everything, then ask yourself the following:

- If I had to make a 1 minute trailer, which scenes would I include?
- If I had to make a five minute short... which scenes?
- 20 minute short... etc.

This should help you prioritize scenes in the revised product.

Evaluate what you putting on the screen as you shoot. If you were walking by a TV set with this (what you see in the viewfinder) on, would it catch your eye? Would you stop and watch?

Tell your story visually - do it with images you'd want to see again and again (when you edit them you will) if those images appeal to you, then they will appeal to others too.

Pat Matheny once said he makes music that he'd want to hear.

Francis Ford Coppola said that he learned that generally when he finds something he is passionate about there are others who are passionate about it too.

You have a unique perspective to offer, with what you have, make a movie you'd want to see.

Very best of luck.

08-17-2005, 11:03 AM
Wow a Pat Metheny quote! Pats a local hero here in Missouri. I don't have any sage advice on making movies but this thread is fantastic and informative for all who are trying to get it done.

08-17-2005, 11:12 AM
Lots of excellent advice which I can't better, but when you get some time watch "Lost in La Mancha":


Even the best and most experienced still go through hell to make films! You will be in good company with Terry Gilliam!

08-17-2005, 11:12 AM
That's actually a good Metheny reference. I like some of Pat Metheny's music; some if I don't like at all. But I always dig the fact that he tries different things and doesn't necessarily do the same thing over and over again. That keeps him interested in the music and is ultimately a great thing for art.

08-17-2005, 01:06 PM
Right now I'm pretty confident that my feature which i put soooo much time effort and money(not a lot, but a lot for me) into will SUCK,
This demonstrates wisdom WELL beyond your years.

Almost without exception, all first-time films (and, indeed, all first-time endeavors in any discipline) will indeed stink. Obviously. Practice and experience are what lead to skill and quality; a first-timer doesn't have that practice or experience yet. Most first-timers are so in love with their concept and what they've done, they can't see that it's actually pretty awful.

The fact that you're mature enough to recognize it speaks very, very well for you. It gives you the capacity to grow, to see what you did wrong and to fix it. First-timers who make awful films (and then convince themselves that the film is really good, and it's just EVERYBODY ELSE who's wrong) don't ever get that chance to grow.

Think about it this way -- the first film is kind of like a baby's first steps. A baby's first steps are exciting, exhilirating, and all that -- but as walking goes, it's pretty lousy. Babies stink at walking. They're terrible at it. But with a little practice, and learning what not to do (from falling down, etc) they soon get pretty good at it. And the ones who stick with it can be Olympic gymnasts who leave us all jaw-dropped at how awesome they are. But it takes 14 years of intense practice and study to get to that level.

Starting with a feature is rarely wise. My advice to anyone is to make at least a dozen short films before even thinking about making a feature-length production. Walk before you can run, run before you can tumble, tumble before you try vaulting or parallel bars, etc. Win at the local level before you enter the state. Win at the state before you enter the regionals. Win at the regionals before you try for the nationals. And win at the nationals before you try for the Olympics. Making a good feature film is like competing at the Olympics.

What you are experiencing is not unusual. What you do about it -- how you respond to it -- that's where they separate the men from the boys. Sounds like you're on the right path.

08-17-2005, 01:15 PM
Wow just got home and checked this thread, thanks for all the great responses and advice. I just finished with the shooting for day 2 and it went a whole lot better. We are still far from a finished product but we're making ground. Originally i scheduled out 6 days for shooting this movie but now i think it will most likely take quite a bit longer than that. The acting is still poor, the people are still somewhat impatient and the script hasnt gotten any better but I had my act together better today. Possibly the most important thing I learned is my limits, I learned how much I could do at once(although I'm still doing too much) and what I needed other people to do and I worked at giving out some small duties that I just couldn't afford to do myself.

I think that for other beginning filmmakers i can pass on some advice that I gained today.

1) Never underestimate the importance of having people to do technical things when you're trying to film. I have one camera and I am the only operator of it so It would be too hard for me to do everything else. Today and at the end of yesterdays shoot I put people to work, I gave each person who wasnt acting a simple job such as adjusting the boom, working the lights or giving the actors their lines.

2) One camera shoots are very difficult because you do lose some of the dynamics between the actors when you're constantly yelling cut. Try to get two cameras but if you can't, it doesnt hurt to have the actors read their lines together once just so they can picture the other persons response and make it sound more like a real conversation.

3) Don't be too attachted to the script, dont be afraid to change things if they dont fit or look or sound funny. And actors will always change whats on the paper when they say it, so let it fly unless you really need specific dialogue. You have to be flexible but also need to know where to draw the line, because sometimes you need the actors to say specific things.

4) Cater to your actors. If your actors arent happy you wont get good results from them. In my shoot some of the actors go for a while without a line and since they are sitting there chained up and under the hot lights they get very uncomfortable and anxious. There were times when i switched to a different part just to give different actors a chance to act so they didnt go crazy. Also there were a few times that I gave the actors breaks even though we were somewhat rushed for time....This made them work a lot better after the break was over

Unfourtunately (I guess) my script cant really be made into a short, well at least a real short...maybe an hour long short if i cut a lot of scenes but its not totally worth it.For the most part its a short feature thats pretty packed with plot. And you ask why I keep going if i know its going to suck.....because if i quit now i look like a failure and people are let down and lose faith. Everyone who is a part of this thing knows the kind of problems we are having and the difficulties we are facing, pulling it out here will gain me support for nesxt time and more experience. Plus i do believe i can still wow them with the final edit(they'll say ... thats better than I thought ... and ....Thats good considering). It is dissapointing but I'm not giving up or losing faith, I know I'm starting early and I'm glad I've been givin the oppurtunity to try this. Next time will be so much better......

08-17-2005, 01:54 PM
Try to get two cameras

But two cameras causes problems with lighting and setup. Remember that most big budget films are still only shot with one camera. Unless you're blowing up something expensive. Then get as many cameras as you can. :laugh:

It sounds like you're going to be fine.


08-17-2005, 02:35 PM
But two cameras causes problems with lighting and setup. Remember that most big budget films are still only shot with one camera. Unless you're blowing up something expensive. Then get as many cameras as you can. :laugh:

Two cameras are important tho for dialogue in my oppinion. With two or more cameras you can get multiple angles and do scenes all at once. At least with the actors I work with, doing things all at once works betteter....the actors can play off eachother and create the feel of a conversation much easier. This might just be because most of my actors are theater actors :shocked:

08-17-2005, 04:19 PM
I've had the same things happen to me, but it is a part of what goes on and there isn't really anything you can do except roll with the punches.

Question: Are you paying your actors? If not, I've heard that actually paying your actors is one way of keeping them from going AWOL. Gives them an incentive to actually be on time. To stave off mutiny, provide good food (a cheap craft services, if you will) and thank them for taking their own personal time to come out and do this.

Evan S
08-17-2005, 04:56 PM
I'm same age as you, I'm a cynic - So I always plan for the worst whenever I make a short film or any kind of "product", and I found that - people DON'T trust you, they think you're STUPID. They think you're a "dumb" kid. (Depending if your actors are older than you are not.) People are afraid to waste their time on something they are not getting paid a lot for. One thing I learned - when they get antsy. Take a few days and give them time off, and edit a scene you shot. one whole scene - and screen it for them.

and if it's good. They'll get excited :).

08-17-2005, 05:18 PM
its funny you said that about the scene because i just did a test edit of a scene and sent it to my actors over the internet. Those who saw it really liked it and it got them excited again. And no I'm not paying my actors but I do buy them donuts every morning...bought a cooler full of drinks and order them pizza for lunch, also have some random snacks for them too.... I wish I could pay them but I dont really have any budget :(

and id love to post the clip but it happens to be the last scene of the movie and kinda give stuff away haha. If the movie isnt too embarassing maybe ill post the whole thing on here when im done

J.R. Hudson
08-17-2005, 05:31 PM
Two cameras are important tho for dialogue in my oppinion. With two or more cameras you can get multiple angles and do scenes all at once. At least with the actors I work with, doing things all at once works betteter....the actors can play off eachother and create the feel of a conversation much easier. This might just be because most of my actors are theater actors :shocked:

What is this non-sense? This 'Whoa is me' spew.

"I succckkk..."

"Laauugghh at meee"

"I'm dummbb"

You sound like Nancy Dawson.

First of all, I wouldn't even consider doing a feature without at least 3 of the following 4 following positions filled (dedicated)

Production Coordinator
Assistant Director (1st A.D.)

That's just me. It takes some nerve to jump into a feature without experience but it's been done (Anyone remember Shane and Primer?) and let's hope you achieve your goals but you're right; it probally is going to suck; but the knowledge you gain will be extraordinary

2 Cameras? If your crying and moaning about it now, imagine throwing another camera in there; that would definatley create some complications; energy and time wasted.

08-17-2005, 06:47 PM
Hey Nobody, where are you from? I'm trying to set up a filmmaking community of kids around our age in my area (there's not too many...not too many at all....50 maybe...4 of which have any knowledge of filmmaking beyond acting...). If you live somewhat close, maybe we can help eachother on our work. Right now, I've got a feature going, and it's going very well (slowly but surely).

A lot of people also told me to start with a short, but I can't ever get myself interested in a script to only be a short. I'll end up loving one line in the script. I'll build the script, add themes, make the plot more complex...Before I know it, it's a feature length movie.

One thing I learned was finish a script before anything. Think of how each shot will be executed and create a seperate list of possible problems as you write. You'll come up with (probably) a couple hundred. Pick the biggest of these problems (as many as you can considering the time available to you) and experiment with these first. I wouldn't even do any casting yet. You're not paying your actors, if they're not close friends (and I mean very close) they can easily lose interest in the project. Experiment with all the possible problems first. When everything goes well, cast and shoot as fast as possible (while still maintaining decent quality, of course). Be familiar with how you'll set up each shot. Before you go to sleep, draw diagrams of how you'll accomplish each task. Trust me, it doesn't sound like much, but when you're new it'll save you about 3 hours each day (I'm basing this on about an 8 hour day). If you want someone to say a line a certain way say something in a casual manner like, "That was alright, but try it like this (explain how). It doesn't really matter either way. It's just something I'd like to try. So we can see how that works and then we can try it again your way if you'd still like." That has never failed me...It makes the person want to try it your way and become less defensive. In one case, I even found the other person's way to fit more with the characters personality....Even though it didn't really matter ::winky eye::

Contact me on AIM at Burnababyforfun. It would be awesome to talk to another filmmaker my age (anyone else can also feel free to chat).

08-17-2005, 07:36 PM
I'm going to echo something Barry_S said, namely that your ability to stay focused and display an outward calm in the face of complete chaos is paramount. Even if *everything* goes wrong, you as the director need to keep your composure. You'll get through it, you know you've learned a lot, and chances are that if you don't get it in the can, you'll forever regret it...

...so grit your teeth and keep moving forward!

08-17-2005, 07:41 PM
What is this non-sense? This 'Whoa is me' spew.

"I succckkk..."

"Laauugghh at meee"

"I'm dummbb"

You sound like Nancy Dawson.
This is true, I've learned a lot from John over the years...(it has been years now probably)

The attitude in your post represents an underlying feeling of insecurity...and it'll come through in your directing...Trust me...I've been there and back and there again!! But all you can do is grab your **** and man up...Keep fighting! what you're going through is only the beginning...

of life, women, work, filmmaking...it's all the same...You just gotta keep plowing ahead...

Because all we do in life is learn how to live. In between is the magic.
Take confidence that you're 17, and making films...and that if you keep at it, you'll only get better...
But it's up to YOU...to have that confidence and show it...

Like John said, not coming here and us giving you praise and advice for being 17...We all need that sometimes...

but in the end, it's up to YOU!

(I gotta take my own advice.)

08-17-2005, 07:47 PM
I'm about your age too, (16 and half actually) and I've been doing this whole film making thing for about 2 years now. Anyway, it's gonna suck. It always does but like everyone said, have fun with it. I just watched some of my old films that I thought were total shit but guess what, like Matt said, I learned from it, and if I use one thing I learned from my old mistake in my next film I feel like I've learned something, even if it has taken two years. We're lucky. For the next few years were at an age where our only real responsibility is school. I use all my free time for film and just do what I can.
As for features, -insert evil villian laugh here- I've got something up my sleeve for next summer that may or may not happen, but I've got to thank you because you just stirred up a great dialog on the boards. Thanks to everybody and for what it's worth, good luck


08-17-2005, 09:21 PM
well im glad i stirred up a good discussion i guess. I really just wanted to talk about what was going on and let others learn from my mistakes and such. I know I have learned a lot from things others have posted and now that I have something to post about I figured I'd try and return the favor.

As for me whining, I don't think thats what I'm doing. Maybe it sounds that way from my post but I'm not the best in conveying things on a message board :( o well. And I know another camera would make some things more difficult but it would make other things soo much easier, especially for the actors I have. I dont really think I suck but theres a good chance my movie will, that doesnt bother me right now because I've accepted that and am just tring to do the best I can with what I have. Sorry if you guys think I' a whiney bitch, I'm really not. I have a good idea of what I'm doing and I'm pretty sure my cast is at least reasonably happy with the job I'm doing

And John... I always respect your oppinions and I admire you so I feel kinda bad that I have none of those positions filled :) o well thx for the advice

Daniel Skubal
08-17-2005, 10:46 PM
This is a very good discussion. MattC's post inspired me.

As far as the whole learning experience, you'll probably learn more from making one full length feature, than you would from making 100 shorts. It's a whole different ball game, and the fact that you're still willing to tackle it, will make it even more rewarding.

Even though you KNOW it won't be your best piece, still act as if it were going to be. Do everything to the best of your ability, improvise, and most of all, get a reliable crew together... even if they are your actors who can double up as crew when they're not on screen.

J.R. Hudson
08-18-2005, 12:00 AM
And John... I always respect your oppinions and I admire you so I feel kinda bad that I have none of those positions filled :) o well thx for the advice

No no no

That's just me

Props to you for jumping into the water; I havent made a feature and am not sure my E.T.A. for doing so; still so much to learn and accomplish. My whiney comments? That's just me saying 'Put your head down and go head on into it' There is no time to complain and sides it'll just breed negativity.

I don't know; I always expect the worst so I can be pleasantly surprised.

08-18-2005, 10:00 AM
As for me whining, I don't think thats what I'm doing.
And John... I always respect your oppinions and I admire you so I feel kinda bad that I have none of those positions filled :) o well thx for the advice
man, i love how i get no respect around here...I totally tried to give you a "pep" talk or whatever, letting you know you can do it if you believe in yourself...
Don't worry though, i don't mind that you hate me...or took what I said to be negative...everyone else does...

08-18-2005, 11:27 AM
I dont hate you at all hehe, I actually respect you and all others oppinions on this board

J.R. Hudson
08-18-2005, 11:32 AM
Phil, I respect you!


08-18-2005, 11:43 AM
BTW I put up a few grabs from the shoot in the grabs section...here:


08-18-2005, 12:48 PM
Phil, I respect you!

:rollseyes: thanks! :) haha

08-27-2005, 10:07 PM
Hey, I come from a town (L.A.) where everyone calls themselves a 'filmmaker'. It's 99% bullshit; it's all talk. You, my friend, fall into the 1% making movies. Keep it up.

Ramon Boutviseth
08-28-2005, 02:00 PM
@ 17 ur at a good start. gl with the film.

09-01-2005, 09:46 PM
I had this same problem when I rushed into my first attempted feature. My solution was to rewrite the film to simplify the process. Less actors and fewer locations are a start. One thing you said though bothers me. You say "get ready to fail," but then you followed with " you will learn a lot." I think everyone will agree that if you are learning from it, you are never failing. I scrapped my first attempt and I wish I had just sucked it up and went with it. Now I'm getting ready to try again. The worst thing you can do is give up.

Chance White
09-05-2005, 09:44 PM
You just had a bad day, happens to everyone, even Spielberg (well maybe, ha ha).

You have to fight through it. Hardest thing you can try to do. Just keep fighting. I've had days where I thought I was going to shoot myself in the head but you get through it.

One of the hardest things as a director is keeping it together on those bad days, cause as the ring leader, you have to at least appear to have things under control or everyone's confidence in you will waver and it will get alot worse.

Stop worrying about sucking and just do the best you can. Your first is certainly not going to be your best work, but you have to start somewhere...

09-14-2005, 08:08 AM
Keep up the fight! I am currently shooting my first feature as a director. There will always be unplanned near disasters that will happen. That is just part of it. What is important is how you handle it. The key to being a good director is keeping things moving. Keep your head held high till you make it across that finish line. Will there be things that you wished you could have done better? I'm sure there will be. I look at some of my stuff, and wish I could have shot it a different way, but you do the best with what you have to work with. Like cyclone said there are so many more people that talk about making movies, than actually make them. Good luck with your film.

09-14-2005, 03:56 PM

At your age doing a feature was quite an undertaking andI think it showed a lot of courage! While most don't recommend it the first time around I am sure you have gained a lot of knowledge. Good for you!


09-14-2005, 04:00 PM

I don't agree what others have said stating shorts are easier. Whether you do a short or a feature both will be a lot of work and a learning experience. In a short you still need to know what you're doing. You still need an experienced crew etc. and cast carefully. LOTS cn go wring when doing a short. It's just a short has a much lower time commitment.


09-14-2005, 07:25 PM
shorts are much harder to make interesting.

you have far more time for character development in a feature and plot development.. cramming a good story into a 10-25 min time period isn't easy..

09-15-2005, 08:54 AM
You're not alone on this one man i'm the same dumb 17 year old, with our film club last year, against my advice, we tried to make a feature film. I said we should at least do some planning, but to them it didn't seem as important. We ended up wasting an entire year on doing pretty much nothing I learned a lot though! Especially how hard doing a feature would be. This year we're spending all of our time making shorts and I think it'll go quite nicely. Just learn from your mistakes, thats all you can do.

And macminialacool its not that shorts are easier, but rather you may learn a lot more a lot faster since you see your finished product a lot faster than you ever would with a feature. Thats my take on it at least.

Jay Rodriguez
09-15-2005, 11:28 AM
shorts are much harder to make interesting.

you have far more time for character development in a feature and plot development.. cramming a good story into a 10-25 min time period isn't easy..

Yeah tell me about it, especially if the short is only 5 minutes!

09-18-2005, 11:11 PM
Keep swingin' hard, bro. One of these days maybe it won't suck and everyone on this board will be dying to get in one of your movies...

Till then, perhaps a nice 5 minute short will work for now.

09-29-2005, 04:51 AM
Okay so I'm stubborn, I thought I didn't need to listen to everyone and now I don't know if I'd say I regret it but I feel somewhat dumb. They all say not to try a feature till you've had much more experience than I have, I didn't listen to them. Today was the first shooting day of my feature and well now I understand why people say not to try it.

Man go easy on yourself wow! Listen, fortune favours the bold. Taking risks like that is what will eventually get you the big prize. Let me tell you this right now. You are ready when you feel you are ready. I did EXACTLY what you did. I had ZERO experience and didn't even own a camcorder. Hell, I hadn't even made a family home movie before LIMBO. I wrote a script, co produced and directed a feature from scratch when EVERYBODY said don't do it. I can't even begin to tell you how many things have gone wrong, but I perceviered and great things happened in the end. Got into HUGE festivals, getting distribution and have (most importantly) a finished film. Look, just do it and get to the end. You should be proud of yourself for taking the chance. Learn from the mistakes made and go harder next time. If you want any pointers, message me. Also, my movie site is www.limbomovie.com

Trust me, it can be done. I've been down the very same road and am still in debt as we speak, but happy as can be. People who say don't do it are people who are too afraid to do it themselves.

Congratulations are in order to you.

09-29-2005, 04:54 AM
ZIG_ZIGMAN that avatar is absolutely classic. Did you make it or did you get it from the web?

09-29-2005, 11:43 AM
this sounds alot like chris. haha. stick with it. even if the movie ends up sucking finish it anway for 3 reasons
1. its the worst feeling to fail. especially when your in charge of what failed
2. it sounds better saying "ive already done a feature" instead of "i already kinda, almost, not really made a feature" :)
3. you already put alot of effort in it so finish it no matter what the outcome, youll feel better about your filmmaking abilities when you finish it (kinda like number one)

i was in the same position with my first, Forgiven, but i finished it and even though its awful im really proud of it. its my first born.....yeah thats a lil odd but i dont care. :laugh:

fellow local fimmaker, Matt

10-03-2005, 06:13 AM
Hey go easy on yourself if it was easy everyone would do it it took me a year to shoot my feature every other weekend or sometimes every third weekend (only on Sundays too) because everyone could pretty much get that day off just keep plugging away rewrites are part of it someone quits? write them off - kill them off off screen - are you as good as you'll ever be right now? hell no, next one will be better and floe easier,, the one after that will be even better because of your experience points and the next one? academy nomination baby,, fast cars chicks blank production checks implied drug habit yee hawww

10-05-2005, 01:15 PM
Stay strong, Nobody. Making movies is a hard, hard thing. I don't think filmmakers have a patron saint, but if we did, I'd think it would have to be Saint Jude, who is also the patron saint of lost or impossible causes. And yet we still keep at it. Because it's what we love.

You're out there making something. You've taken the step when most people just say they will and don't go beyond that. The heart of filmmaking is finding solutions to an almost never-ending series of problems. It's your character and drive that will see you through. And if the result is less than stellar, so be it. Learn from it and move on to the next project.

If you need inspiration to stay the course, watch Hearts of Darkness. It's about the making of Apocalypse Now. Or rather it's about everything that went wrong making it. In dark times, I just conjure the image of a chubby, pretentious Marlon Brando saying "I swallowed a bug." or "I don't have any more dialogue today." to make me feel better.

I wish you success.

10-21-2005, 12:05 PM

I've been reading this thread, and it brought back some really bad memories of my first attempt at filming. I thought I was all that, knew what I was doing, etc... I wound up getting cussed out by my lead actor, missing a HUGE chunk of vital footage, and all sorts of wonderful stuff like that.

Not so much laughing at the story as I am at remembering how inept I was on a 3 minute film. But getting to the core of this thread: Don't sweat it, man. We've all been there at least once. You only suck if you don't bother to learn anything from your experience. Live, learn, laugh it off, and keep moving forward; that's about the best advice I can personally give.

Stay groovy.

Luis Caffesse
10-21-2005, 04:45 PM
I wish I had the experience of shooting a feature under my belt, even if it was a failure.
You are 17, and trust me that years from now you will look back on this project as an incredible learning experience and you'll realize that you didn't lose nearly as much as you gained from it.

This is the time in your life to take the wild chances that you're taking.

Granted, you probably won't sell this film when you're done and you may not even be content with how it turns out (much less happy). But you will learn volumes.

You are 17, you can afford to have failures right now.

Whether you finish out the feature, or scale it back to a short is up to you.
I think either one is fine. At this point you should view this project as your film school.

Here's an idea for how to get some good things out of this - Keep a journal.
Keep a list of everything that goes wrong, every problem that you have, and try to figure out WHY it happened. What could you have done differently? There is always an answer... and I guarantee you that the answer is NOT that you "suck."

At 17 you already have more experience than many people much older than you.
When you lament your lack of experience, make sure you're comparing apples to apples.
You can't be expected to have as much experience as people who have been shooting for as long as you've been alive.

If nothing else, congratulations on realizing that there are problems.
A common problem I've seen is a sort of 'emperors new clothes' mentality that develops on indie movie sets. No matter what goes wrong a lot of the time everyone wants to pretend that everything is great and the movie is perfect. You at least sound grounded in reality, that's a step in the right direction. Now just make sure you take this experience and learn from it.

Be happy, be proud, you told yourself you were going to put a movie together and you at least got to the first day of shooting - most people don't even do that.

You have an entire lifetime to get experience, and you've started early.
You're on the right track.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

11-06-2005, 11:31 PM
Goals always help.

The reason evolution works in the minds of people is that they understand the concept of starting small and working to something so intricate in detail we can't even understand ourselves to our fullest extent.

But then again, there's God, who started out with EVERYTHING so complicated right in the beginning.

So, if you want to be God, do something big right away.

Hehe, that's really a random and bizarre philosophy of things, I know, but it may be a little closer to the truth than we realize.

So, in other news, I'm 16. I started the whole videography thing when I was 13. Bought my first camera when I was 13 and a half. I thought I knew everything, and I started at LEAST 10 feature length scripts that were going to blow Lucas and his boys outta the water.

Well, on September 1'st of this year I finished my second short film. I was 15 and a half when I finished my first 17 minute film, and I thought it was a major accomplishment. Then, my second short film was 40 minutes.

Big jump. The quality was about the same.

Some people think I'm gonna start a feature now. Uh uh. I know how much I don't know, if you know what I mean, ya know?

So, I'm going to work in the less than an hour range until I've built up my quality considerably, then move on.

To you sir, I have a lot of respect. Already getting actors lined out, scripts finished, etc.


I'm very impressed.

Keep it up, and you'll have a name. Verdi was just 17 when he joined a group of young hot-head composers convinced they were going to blow beethoven and mozart away with their quality.

Well, maybe he didn't blow them away, but his name will be remembered with theirs for all of history now.

Luis Caffesse
11-09-2005, 10:14 PM
Verdi was just 17 when he joined a group of young hot-head composers convinced they were going to blow beethoven and mozart away with their quality.

Well, maybe he didn't blow them away, but his name will be remembered with theirs for all of history now.

Thanks for making me feel older John

I used to tell stories like that...now I talk about how Renoir didn't make his first film until he was in his 60's.


Point is, it's not a race. It is a marathon.
Everyone at his/her own pace.

11-10-2005, 06:15 AM
I made my first film when I was 48.

11-10-2005, 04:10 PM
Itís the journey, not the final destination.
First Film - 30

03-22-2006, 10:04 PM
dang! 17 and making a feature film! it didnt turn out the way you tought it did, but dont worry, you learned thats what counts, im 22, i was 21 when i directed my second music video, i didnt know how to use the camera i used and it came out to grainy, i wanted to die...people tought it was on purpose, and i shot it in 4 hours, everything went wrong, i hit record when i wanted to pause, i wasted 25 minutes thinking the camera was off! total chaos...the customer loved it, the band loved it, ohh and the lense was really dirty(it was a really old camera, not mine), anyways, mi point is, maybe someone will like your first feature:D ive seen first features that have bad image quality(shot on a 3ccd camera) that looks like it was shot on a 1 ccd camera, the sound was recorded using the camera mic(big no no), horrible editing, but won some award at a New York festival, so, maybe you dont like your first movie or think its not decent but someone may love it you never know;) good luck and no matter how bad your projects end up, they will always be better than the last proyect:D

03-24-2006, 05:59 AM
I always try and turn a negative into a positive, if you do get a problem like grain bring it out and highlight it, then keep your mouth shut and every one will think your a genius!!

03-29-2006, 01:45 PM
This is a great thread, very, very long. But that just shows the amount of support that is generated on this forum. It warms the cockles of my heart, to see so many people with messages of good will, and practical advise:)

Nobody, I'm about to do exactly what your doing, and I'm ALOT older than you, (I come to film making late in life)

I've only done music vids before, not even a short, and I'm starting out with a feature.

Will it stink - yes
Will things go wrong - constantly
Am I prepared - no way
Will anyone watch it - my wife might
Will I get stressed - yep, and lose my remaining hair

But will it be FUN - YYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS. Why? cause I'll be making a feature and thats well cool. Try not to get down about stuff, although your later posts are a bit happier. Everyones advice is great but I'd add, try to enjoy it!!, even when stuff goes wrong, infact especially when stuff goes wrong.

I try to take this attitude in every aspect of my life, I work as a Sound Engineer, recording bands day in day out. I have no qualifications in it whatsoever, and basically blag'ed the job. A lot of my first recordings were a bit naff, but through time and experience I'm alot better.

Also don't worry, I'm sure it'll turn out fine, when I listen to early recordings I made, yeah they aren't great, but there not bad, and I've heard worse. So you'll probably be pleasently suprised once its all wrapped up.

I've taken your advice onboard by the way, I won't be shooting till later this year, so around september I'll probably be back saying, 'you're right it's totally hard, but also woo hoo I'm totally doing it, it might be awfull but a least I'm doing it' - I think that's the attitude you should take, don't just plod on. Think about it this way - hundreds probably thousands of people dream of doing stuff like this, but just never get round to it for whatever reason, your actually doing it!!

I hope it works out for you,

good luck.

04-05-2006, 07:41 PM
Get that nonsense out of your head man. Don't beat yourself up, you have a lifetime and the rest of the world to do that for you. So don't give them any help. Shooting a feature at 17 is an awesome challenge. You've earned my respect. Press on if you can. If not, regroup, do the short and keep learning man.

Good Luck,