9 of the Very Best Principles For Taking Your Filmmaking Skill To The Next Level

MattFilmmaking3 Comments

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I like talking about mindset when it comes to filmmaking and business. We need to get clear on a few essential distinctions that will enable you to navigate your filmmaking and your business more effectively.

I like to call these Core Principles. Before taking on anything as ambitious as getting extremely good at filmmaking, it’s critically important to understand and adhere to certain core principles. The more clearly you define the guiding principles of what you’re doing, the less you need to sweat the small decisions and roadblocks along the way.

For instance, when it comes to tasks like learning to capture great video, getting awesome with editing or getting good at self promotion, it’s entirely too easy to get stuck – unless you’re led by guiding principles that enable you to move forward. Our goal is not to become robots or mindless, soulless marketers – instead, our goal is to evolve into talented filmmakers and business-people through a carefully designed set of processes and actions.

Knowing this tells us very clearly what things are worth investing our own energy on as compared to things we should avoid focusing on – fear, past failures, procrastination. In short: the more you can rely on governing principles, the less you have to sweat over the small stuff!

Consider this our Constitution, governing all the small (put often paralyzing) decisions and behaviors that lay ahead. What follows, in no particular order, are the principles of Filmmaking Lifestyle.

1. THE BATTLES WE FIGHT ARE ON THE INSIDE

The first Core Principle and the first point I want to make is this: The Battles We Fight Are On The Inside! In his seminal novel Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman, through his character Socrates, wrote: “I call myself a Peaceful Warrior… because the battles we fight are on the inside.”

I absolutely believe that we are only competing, even fighting, against ourselves. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “your own worst enemy,” well this is what I’m talking about. We’re all our own worst enemies. No one can hurt you like you can hurt yourself! If you think you’ve been hurt by someone – man, stop and think for a second; that hurt was fleeting compared to the hurt we cause ourselves by carrying it around with us.

2. THE ENEMY WITHIN

It’s also time to recognize our real competition. It’s not the filmmakers who have “made it” in Hollywood. It’s not the outrageously talented person who we knew at film school. And it’s not your parents, your teachers, those bullies from high school or the guy who seems to be able to promote everything he does, even though you think he’s a douchebag!

The competition is…that’s right, you.

We all play games with ourselves in our heads. We can create massive positive change in ourselves, or we can allow ourselves to be held back by our past, letting perceived failure live on our backs like a quasi-Biblical cross.

Self-talk. There, I said it. Massively important. We’ll cover that in more depth below.

But for now, remember: The battles we fight are on the inside.

3. FORGET THE LINGO, MAKE MOVIES!

I’ve already mentioned my own personal struggles with getting too bogged down in the language of filmmaking and how it can be detrimental to your progress.

I refer here to all the latest buzzwords and fads in the filmmaking industry. I’m not talking about knowing your craft and being proficient behind the camera. Both of those are very important things.

Look, the lingo won’t get films made. Going around speaking in “filmic” might be cool with some of your (filmmaking) friends, but it’s not going to get that movie made or get you hired. Focus on doing your thing and don’t worry about the latest buzzword or fad.

This lingo is without a doubt a marketing brainwave from the big companies who are constantly trying to sell you the next filmmaking gadget. It’s aimed more at getting your wallet out than filling your wallet. These guys know that creating an obscure language is a great way to create mystery, which plays into the ideals of an underground, esoteric community. All the lingo does is allow the marketers to create a brand that they can continuously add onto in order to saturate the market with yet more.

4. DON’T DRINK THE COOL AID

Following on from the previous Core Principle, this one is equally as important and runs hand in hand. Don’t Drink The Kool Aid. The Kool Aid is not cool. Has that one ever been done before?

As mentioned above, the marketers are of course in this for profit, not necessarily for your betterment. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great products out there that have helped me out (and I’ll always be transparent about mentioning those on this blog if I think they can help you too). However, none of them are products from so-called filmmaking gurus who’ve never shot a film or owned a business before.

We need to separate the guru from the method. We need to do as Bruce Lee once proclaimed and “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”

One more example of this phenomen. I don’t want to be negative, but here you go:

A few years ago, I purchased the book of a young woman who was following her dreams. She’d marketed the book soundly and it was built around her need to find an alternative source of income after she was let go from her job. So she writes a book detailing her experiences through the process of “building a business” and the like.

Well, I brought the book and let me tell you: it was appalling! It was like reading the blog of a 13 year old girl who’s just discovered The Secret! It was just the same ditzy language over and over again – “so now I’m eating a lovely big bowel of salad and I’m thinking that my dreams are getting closer and closer, and I can just feel the lovely warmth going up my feet and into my body as I dictate these words into my dictaphone ready to type into my book!”

Alright, that isn’t an exact quote. I’d probably get into trouble if I did quote it exactly. But the point is, don’t be so quickly drawn into these so called gurus. I fell for many of them. And, yes, she was dictating the story into a dictaphone (and she made reference to said dictaphone throughout). Further, the story had nothing to do with creating a business (as it was marketed as), but was instead a lame way of her making her living by talking about how she’s going to make her living – unfortunately, an all too common occurrence in the world of internet marketers and gurus.

Truly scary stuff.

I’m not trying to be horribly negative here, guys. I’m not one of those people who thinks my way is the only way. There are many ways. This is what worked for me. I urge you to question things and don’t always take my word for it – try things out and see if they work for you.

I’m a guy just like you trying to make this work, and I’m reporting back on what works.

This is an ever-evolving industry and we’re dealing with stuff that is often confusing. Maybe you’ll get to a point where you make a crazy breakthrough and decide something I write here is wrong. That’s cool, too.

5. YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE…AT ANY MOMENT

This isn’t some self-help, pick-me-up stuff here. This is darn true. At any moment, you have the power to turn everything around. Your life is your life. You can choose to sit on the fence, or you can choose to jump off and land on one side or the other.

It’s up to you. No one’s going to come round to where you’re reading this, slap you around the face, scream at you like some drill-sergeant on crystal meth to change your life!

I wish I could – I would love to be able to reach out from thisscreen and grab you, shake you and shout, “Wake up!”

You have everything already within you to be a success. You just need to realize it and start taking advantage of it.

principles-filmmaking-next-level

In an ideal world, we’d all have the right people around us at the right times – those people would tell us exactly what to do whenever we needed them most. They call those people mentors, and only the luckiest of the lucky get to have those people in their lives regularly.

Instead, think of me as your mentor as you read this blog. Believe me when I say that these words will stick with you.

It was Theodore Roosevelt who told us about “the man in the arena.” He declared, in the Cliff Notes version of that rather long quote, that essentially the critic won’t be remembered and respected like the man who takes action will.

You have the power to choose a better thought. What was your last thought? Positive or negative? It was negative, right? Probably something along the lines of trying to figure out why I included a random Theodore Roosevelt quote at this juncture? Or maybe it was something a little more malicious and self deceptive? Thing is, you can change any thought at anytime for something more productive and self serving.

You have the power of choice when it comes to your thoughts and you can change what you’re thinking. That’s powerful stuff.

6. AY PARETO!

Let’s talk about a nineteenth-century Italian economist. Don’t fall asleep, this one’s important.

Vilfredo Pareto was famous for declaring that for the majority of events, 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. “Events” sounds pretty hazy, but countless studies and folks with imporatant combinations of letters after their names have told us that this is true in every field of human endevour.

Let’s take this field, for example, seen as it’s the one we are currently engrossed in. 80% of the success you get with your filmmaking business will be a result of the important 20% of action you take. We’d all like to think that everything we do is as important as everything else, but we all know that isn’t true.

Even if you were somehow able to painstakingly synthesize everything down into exactly the things that work and get maximum results, there will be things that work on a more maximal level than others. This is a natural part of any work such as this and it’s a key part of what this blog is all about. Finding what works.

Also, we have to consider the fact that everyone is different and some things work better for some than others.

Still, 80% of your results in your filmmaking business will come from 20% of…you guessed it, action.

There really is nothing better than action.

Let’s look at a couple more examples.

Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% of the most popularly reported bugs, 80% of the errors and crashes could be prevented. Whilst in business, many managers and entrepreneaurs have noted a few truthitudes: “80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers, 80% of your profits come from 20% of the time you spend, and 80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff.”

When I market this blog, I know that by appealing to a small segment of the target audience, I would attract the kind of people who would really get this stuff and make improvements in their lives. If you’re here reading this, then you already have my enduring appreciation and respect. However, our friend Pareto’s law would say that only 20% of the people who read this blog will actually follow through and do all the actions that are required for success. But that 20% will attain 80% of the potential results.

I want to believe that Pareto is wrong in this situation, so feel free to send me a message to tell me that Pareto may be wrong on this account.

7. BE POSITIVE, DON’T BE…

…Negative.

Alright, that’s the last time I’ll use the n-word. I’ll try my best to avoid it from now on.

8. YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS…YOUR BEST DAY EVER!

There’s a terrible mentality in filmmaking circles that goes something like this: Guy comes home from a tough day on-set/on a shoot/on a job.

He writes to some friends or posts on an message board. He’s pretty critical about himself and even goes as far as listing his failures.

The next morning, he logs back into the message board to check out how his report was received. Sure enough, he’s got some replies! Cool, he thinks as he opens the post. Someone responds to our man’s report and writes:

“Dude, you got no clue. You’re only as good as your last job! You gotta start out all over again!”

This guy is wrong and he’s inflicting his poor judgement and insecurites on our message poster!

Let’s get this out of our heads right now. You’re not “only as good as your last job.” You’re as good as your best job…Your best ever job. Those are the ones that people hear about.

See, people have bad days. I have, you have, we all have had nightmare days. But we bounce back. We pick ourselves back up and get back on the darn horse!

If we were to get depressed everytime we have a bad filmmaking experience and then, to top it all off, declare ourselves only as good as that crappy experience…well, my friend, we’d be neurotic basketcases who never leave the house.

Remember, when you have experience a bad job, the bad job isn’t you. You’re as good as your best job!

9. ACTION, ACTION, ACTION

I’m sure you’re used to seeing that word a lot on my blog. Action makes the world go round. If you’re not taking action, then you’re letting chances slip by. Taking action is central to everything we’re doing here.

Filmmaking and business isn’t just something you can sit back and read in your easy chair, and this blog isn’t here to encourage you to lay back and take it easy. I hope this blog gets you out there and taking action – a kick up the rear to get out there, get things done and come away with some measurable results!

Sometimes we all need that.

It’s all about the hustle. This is another theme we’ll be coming back to again and again. Just like you can’t achieve filmmaking success whilst sitting in your house, you also are extremely unlikely to achieve success by putting yourself out there and then just sitting there watching the world go by you! You have to interact and get involved.

Sure, you may get the odd random good-luck break, but that’s all it will be – luck. Don’t live your life relying on luck. Get to a point where you’re making your own luck and taking life by the horns.

Action.

Did this article inspire you to take action? Here’s your first action – write a comment below and let us know what you thought.

Photo credit: peaceittogether

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3 Comments on “9 of the Very Best Principles For Taking Your Filmmaking Skill To The Next Level”

  1. Hi MATT,
    This is my first here and in as much this blog is dedicated to film making, what yiu shared in this post isn’t just limited to film making but instead cuts across with all sphere of life.

    This still re-echoes in my head. ‘I have the power to change my life’. Thanks for the insights shared and do have a great week boss!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Emmanuel.

      You’re right – some of my posts here go beyond just filmmaking and tackle all aspects of life. I try and write lots of articles that touch on mindset and personal development, especially areas of those that impact filmmaking and business.

      I’d love to hear what your goals are in filmmaking?

      Happy Shooting,

      Matt

  2. Ah, Matt, that was so much fun! 😀 I’m still laughing… I can almost see the army guy on crystal meth (hahahaha), and I spat a little of my coffee at the part “Don’t to fall asleep”… so funny!
    After that I’m done wiping the keyboard clean – just want to say that it’s refreshing, to read about the depth of it. That it’s not just business or film making, for that matter – but also about the thoughts in your head, the positivity that you can choose and the aim bettering your life. Really cool stuff.

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