How To Avoid Your Biggest Filmmaking Mistake

The biggest filmmaking mistake you can make is waiting for someone else to give you permission make movies.

Believe me. I’m speaking from experience.

After college, I was like a lot of people. I wanted to make movies, but I had no idea how to get started. As a result, I took the conventional route. I spent a whole lot of time sending out resumes to production companies.

I know what you’re thinking – Sending resumes to Hollywood from rural Pennsylvania was a huge filmmaking mistake. . .

Back then, I actually thought the only way I could be taken seriously as a filmmaker was to work for a major studio like Warner Brothers. And the problem was, none of the studios had heard of me. Nor were they willing to see value in my lack of experience.


Your Biggest Filmmaking Mistake

Back then, it was easy to make excuses. I mean, do you blame me?

Nobody in my small, rural, farm oriented hometown knew anybody in the movie industry. And every time I sent a resume to New York or Los Angeles, I was ignored.

I could have quit.

It would have been easy to get a job selling insurance. (But that would have been a blunder of a filmmaking mistake.)

And in retrospect, I realize my experience is like a lot of filmmakers.

Does this sound familiar?  You have the passion to make movies, but you have no idea how to get started. You don’t have a camera. You don’t have a Hollywood network. You don’t have money.

These excuses will stop you if you let them.

To be perfectly frank with you, these excuses almost stopped me. But one day I heard this quote from the famed success guru Brian Tracy. He said: “You can have anything you want in life if you are willing to pay the price.”

Quitting would have been a filmmaking mistake.

I wasn’t sure what it meant to pay the price. Again, like you, I didn’t have much money.

But what I had was time and the willingness to do whatever it took to get what I wanted. For me, that meant finding a local video production company. Since I didn’t have a business relationship, I cold called them. I got the owner on the phone – He said they didn’t have any availability. They were not looking to hire.

But that didn’t stop me.

Through sheer determination and boldness, I talked the owner into meeting me.

During our meeting, we hit it off. While they didn’t have the budget for a new production assistant, the owner offered to let me work as a janitor.

Imagine coming out of college and working as a janitor.

I could have rejected this job. Many filmmakers would be insulted at the prospect. Many would pass up the job. But that would have been a major filmmaking mistake.

I took the job because I saw it as opportunity. Cleaning the office got me in the room. And once in the room, I made friends with the production team.

In the weeks that followed, I started getting invited to set and was able to participate in productions. Months later, the owner of the company put me in touch with a former intern, turned New York producer.

This producer eventually hired me for my first job in New York.

From there, I made friends with a new production crew. Those connections led to an indie producer. I became his assistant and learned how to make movies. In the process, I learned how to stop asking permission. I learned how to make things happen. I stopped making excuses.

And that made all the difference.

It would have been a major filmmaking mistake to quit. And while nobody enjoys mopping floors and cleaning toilets – I found that if your vision is strong enough, nothing can stop you. The crappy jobs are stepping stones. There is no shame in doing them. The only shame is giving up. And giving up is your biggest filmmaking mistake.

If you’re ready to stop making excuses and start making movies, I invite you to explore these professional filmmaking resources.

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