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Make Better Videos, Part 3: Remember The Passionate Beginning

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Ask any working filmmaker a simple question: “what movie would you make if you could, right now?” After a second or two, you will most likely hear an accurate and intricate description of the movie that plays in his or her mind. A glimmering glow slowly erupting from the depths of forgotten passion, showering you with excitement and energy, capturing a glimpse of the original desire to make movies. Somewhere along the way, filmmakers inevitably forget about their specific origin of filmmaking passion. They get caught up in the professional pursuits of their career and over time lose their excitement. Regardless, as long as filmmakers desire to learn, grow and make better videos, they must continually remember the passionate beginning of their movie-making career.

Taking Your Pulse: Where Are You At Today?
Filmmaking is demanding, time-consuming and expensive. Creatively speaking, it’s hard to keep the juices flowing day after day, year after year. The little experiments that once brought tremendous joy, gave way to minimized risk, lessened satisfaction, and a deep-seated desire to escape the burdens of professional filmmaking. This is a critical part of the unfortunate, yet necessary, journey of the artist (yes, filmmakers are artists). If you can make it through the severe times of drought and doubt, you will become a stronger and more devoted filmmaker.

So, where are you at on your journey? For myself, I have been making videos for about ten years and I am coming to a point where I need to empty myself of all that I have learned, so that I can reconnect with why I initially wanted to make videos: To tell stories that matter.

Over the years, I have grown in my technical abilities, but I daily struggle with maintaining my passion and excitement. The stories became less about subjects that mattered and more about making sure that bills were paid and obligations maintained. Not the greatest ingredients for filmmaking success. So, how do you rediscover your initial enthusiasm for filmmaking?

How Far Away Are You From When You Began?
The first step in connecting with your passionate beginning—–why you make videos—–is identifying where you are at. This will help you to identify and strip away all of the baggage that has piled upon your foundations of passion and desire, things like:

  • Comparing ourselves to other filmmakers.
  • Lusting after the latest and greatest equipment.
  • Arguing about editing software changes.
  • Wishing that we were better at our craft.

As you purge these distractions and de-motivators from your creative process, you will actually see that you are closer to your passion than you realize.

Recapturing The Creativity And Passion Of The Early Years
The next step in recapturing the passionate beginnings of your filmmaking career is to make the film you want to make. Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Make a one to five minute short film about whatever you want regardless of budget, equipment and talent. Break out your cell phone, your home video camera or your professional gear and experiment with new styles that you normally wouldn’t think to utilize. If you are a fan of structure, play with cinema verite or non-linear storytelling. If you don’t like structure, try to be as structured and specific as possible. Essentially do the exact opposite of what you would normally do.
  • Return to the “lab” and experiment with the tricks of the trade. Rent a super wide-angle lens, go handheld, try a dolly-zoom horror/suspense effect, play with focus and composition. There are unlimited tools at your disposal, have fun.
  • Feed your creative soul by reading, watching movies and connecting with others. Need some suggestions? Read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud or Story by Robert McKee. Watch something funny like Monty Python and The Meaning of Life, a classic like Citizen Kane, something you normally wouldn’t watch like The English Patient or your favorite movie, mine is Time Bandits by Terry Gilliam. If all else fails, call up a friend and have coffee and listen to them talk about their job in cubicle world, that alone might just trigger an amazing surge of creativity and desire to make better films.

By letting the naïve filmmaker within emerge and run free, you might just make better videos that surprise even the internal critic. But in order to do that, you must never forget the passionate beginning to your movie-making career.

Chris Martin is a documentary filmmaker, photographer and writer in the Portland, OR area. While he enjoys being a one-man film and photography crew, he does play well with others. Connect with Chris on Twitter (@cmstudios) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/chrismartinstudios).


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