*NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING – William Goldman
But here is what I know.
Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance
The five P’s. Do your research. Put your idea into a log-line, synopsis, outline, and card form – put the cards on the wall and look at them. See if it works. Saves time editing later. You won’t get lost in the woods writing crap off on some tangent that you’ll have to nix later. You won’t be looking at a blank page in horror after you’ve written “FADE IN:”
Buy Final Draft
And use it properly. It’s the industry-standard software for a reason. Your line manager will thank you (and want to work with you again). Because it saves so much time they’d otherwise spend going through your word document with a fine tooth-comb.
Filmmakers are pack animals
Find your pack. Most directors you want to work with work with the same group of people over and over again. That ship has sailed. Find a young up-and-coming director who wants to make the sort of film you want write. Make a few shorts together. Find good crew. Be good to them. Find good actors. Be good to them. There – you have created your own Scorsese/De Niro/Paul Schrader partnership.
Be nice to everyone
Ellen Sandler tells the story of how an assistant, who also happened to be an out-of-work actor, at NBC that she used to make light conversation with while a young writer on TAXI… became LES MOOVES – head of CBS, where she worked on “Everybody loves Raymond”.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
And the best people to meet are not the ones who are working. They are too busy. You want to meet people like you, trying to get into the game (and actually have the motivation to be doing something about it). Make your own group. Start doing good work, and then people will want to work with YOU!
Nobody wants to work with a Diva
Basically, once someone is a big enough star, everyone will be prepared to work with you. But once you fall out of favour with the public, no-one will want to know you. Do great work, and be great to work with, and you will never be out of work.
No-one makes it by playing it safe
You read articles about B-actresses who lament the lack of good roles (you know who they are). Often they are where they are because of bad representation, or because they themselves, only go for the safe option. True stars take risks.
True Stars work bloody hard
Back to the DIVA thing. Once they start working, you will be astounded by their work ethic. Adopt a similar work ethic.
Hurry up and Wait
The development process is like trying to warm up a frozen hot-dog by breathing on it. – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
But when it’s on, holy crap, you’ll be glad you had all that preparation time, because – my god – production goes fast. And once it’s over – it’s over.
Don’t look down on films that have multiple re-shoots.
Classic films like Pretty Woman, A Fish Called Wanda and Fatal Attraction were reshot. After making my first music video, I wanted to use that experience and go back and shoot the whole thing again.
There is never enough time, money or talent
Speaks for itself really. But that is the holy trinity that you search for. You must have at least two of these for the film to work.
God makes fools of the best made plans
Barbara sang, “Don’t Rain on my Parade”, but when we hoped for fog and rain on the shoot of our horror short…. well it just was sunny, wasn’t it?
Filmmaking is all about compromise.
You have to cast for the character, not the looks you wanted. You have to edit out scenes you love, because they don’t work. You have to write around actors who can’t act……
If it can happen – it will. So be prepared.
Thank everyone who has helped you. Both publicly and privately.
So what have you learnt along the way? Would love to hear your thoughts!