Top Filmmaking Excuses and How To Avoid Them

As a filmmaker, taking action is everything. But sometimes this is easy to say, but tough to execute. Over the past two weeks, I have been getting a bunch of emails from Hollywood hopefuls who want to make movies or write screenplays or do something. But for some reason – (insert idiotic excuse here) – these people think they need an agent or someone to give them permission.

One goal at filmmaking stuff is to remind you the whole point of independent filmmaking involves being a rebel. You don’t have to ask anybody for permission. You just need to do the WORK.

Top Filmmaking Excuses and How To Avoid Them

Many moviemakers incorrectly think that their ideas are enough to garner attention… That they don’t have to do the work. That Hollywood is a lottery, and all you gotta do is buy the bus ticket. Here are the types of filmmaking excuses I receive every week.

I have the most amazing idea for a movie. I just need to find someone willing to raise the money
and help me produce it.

Join the club. Everybody has an idea. Your ideas are probably good, but nobody cares. Unless you have a track record, selling a movie idea is nearly impossible. It is execution that matters. Are you willing to take action and make your movie now?

Then I get emails like this:

I can’t afford to make a movie. I don’t know anybody. Nobody will look at my work until I get an agent. Can you stop sending me filmmaking tips? I just need you to introduce me to an agent.

Quit crying. The thing you need to remember is everybody started from somewhere. And despite popular opinion, most successful filmmakers started from scratch. But if you really want an agent, here are some tactics my friends have utilized.

  1. One friend got his agent after his movie was produced. It is important to note that he was one of the producers. Now that he produced stuff, he is more valuable to Hollywood.
  2. I have writer friend who couldn’t get a break. So he started a screenwriting magazine. He leveraged his magazine to interview and build relationships with other writers. From these relationships, one writer introduced him to an agent. (He also sold the magazine, but that is another story.)
  3. My other buddy writes horror novels and screenplays. He started as a roller skate messenger in New York City (which sounds strange, but whatever). One day he delivered a package to a publishing company. Always ready to take action, he laid his manuscript on a pile of manuscripts.Then he got a call, which led to an agent, a book deal and screenwriting work.

All of these people had the guts and creativity to DO THE WORK and overcome obstacles. If you take action, you will increase your chances of gaining attention. Stop investing time in your filmmaking excuses!

I do not have a choice. If I do not find a producer, my movie doesn’t get made.

I understand why you might think this way. But you are only correct if you want to be. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s much easier to complain, make excuses and never action because you are terrified of rejection.

When we decided to make our first feature, we were scared too. But that didn’t stop us. And neither did the fact that we didn’t have a producer. We simply decided to become our own producers. This is the rite of passage for many first time feature filmmakers.

Think of it this way – if you were starting your own frozen yogurt shop, would you wait for someone to do it for you? Thank goodness Charlie Day didn’t wait around for permission.

Take Action and Make Your Movie

Look. If you want to make movies, you need to put blinders on and go for it. You need to produce the movie you can produce this year. If that means you make a three-minute YouTube short on your cell phone, do that.

A friend told me that YouTube is a silly way to test my ideas and build an audience. He said I should just focus on getting an agent.

I think you should probably find some new friends. While there are no guarantees in filmmaking or any business, YouTube offers a great way to have your very own portal to the world. If you are talented, you should be able to scale a few backyard indies to fit the format.

Quit waiting for permission. Hollywood doesn’t care about your ideas. Sorry. The people who run that town only care about one thing – making money. And in doing this, most Hollywood heavyweights are seeking people who are actually producing stuff, not just talking about producing stuff.

If you are sick of waiting for Hollywood, I recommend you check out some of my professional filmmaking tools.


  1. Samantha says

    I totally agree. Im 24 and I think Vimeo and YouTube, or a personal website are your best bets to garnering attention and showing off your work. Im writing a screenplay and planning to sell it. Sounds ridiculous, I know. I don’t care because all the jobs that I can get or work my way up to, wont provide me the job of sucessful spec screenwriter. I have no choice but to learn, write, rewrite and sell. Its vain to think an agent would just take a chance on me because of my ideas. I have to prove myself to Hollywood like everybody else does and should.

  2. says


    Tell those filmmakers that they have to work on every front. The have to write, direct, produce, find an agent, seek money from Hollywood and outside of Hollywood. This is important because one does not know where one will strike or develop a good contact.

    I have written just over sixty-nine screenplays. I have never sold one. One of those screenplays that I wrote was for a friend. That friend introduced me to a friend of his whom I intrigued enough that he expressed an interest in funding a project. The gentleman is as far away from Hollywood as one can get.

    So, far absolutely nothing has happened but the impetus has gotten me a bit in the mix. It is little moves that lead to the larger accomplishments.

    Finally, I would implore filmmakers to help others. There great benefits for assisting others in the procurement of their goals.


  3. says

    Great advice. I found myself constantly making little scenes for everyone else. I didn’t mind doing it and I quite enjoyed it – it was like making a little mini-movie. Now, I’ve taken the same concept and I’m making stock video and photos from my short shoots. Now, I’m making money as a stock photo/video shooter and I’m using the money to make a couple shorts this summer, I’ve made tons of great contacts, I’m affiliated with loads of local actors, I’m involved in the local film scene and, because of my new contacts, I may actually sell one of my scripts! Oh and I got elected as President of my local film non-profit for 2013.

    My philosophy has been: “If you’re not getting the opportunities you want, make them yourself.” Nobody else will make your dreams happen for you.

  4. says

    Hey,Jason Brubaker, David Yukon here. Good things happen when one cannot go to sleep late at night.
    It was awesome to read your article. You’ve nailed it. I couldn’t have explained it better myself. I do have a question regarding producing under the SAG-AFTRA contract short films documentary or ultralow budget terms to protect myself from being sued by actors or the SAG-AFTRA UNION. I basically don’t have a budget for any of my short films that I make. I have my equipment and I do the post myself. The way I get actors to work with me is because I have promised my talent to receive a copy & credit. Now some of my actors are SAG-AFTRA Union members. Some aren’t. SAG-AFTRA has gotten it’s tentacles all over looking to sue people who use Union talent. that’s why I need some expert advise as to what’s the best way to continue my filmmaking shorts or industrials where I’m not sued or prevent me from selling my film project if I get distribution from a film festival. I have another question, it’s kind of murky the term deferred payment for actors under the SAG-AFTRA contract? I don’t understand it. Can you give me some advise on it?
    Thank you
    David Yukon
    323 573 7162

  5. says

    Excuse 1. Money; Solution: Beautiful things make money. Create a film you’ll be proud of and forget about making something you can “sell”.

    Excuse 2. Agent: Solution: No agent can make your idea better,If your concept is great, contact producers. Take a chance on yourself.

    Excuse 3. Producers: Solution: Get a day job, save some money and invest in your movie. If you won’t, why would anyone else? Producers know all you want is money so show yours is already where your mouth is.

    Excuse 4. Audience: Solution: Expose yourself. Dig deep and become an overnight marketing savant. Blog. Speak. Knock on doors. Show your movie, concepts, script to anyone who wants to see it… and even to people who don’t. Throw a mini-premier. Start a YouTube channel; launch a site. Consider what gains traction these days as evidence that exposure is truly key.

    Magnefire Studios
    (We expect scripts to be sent with a fury to [email protected]; if we like it, maybe we’ll produce it.)

  6. Tom Haun says

    I couldn’t agree more, Jason! I have been unemployed since October 2009, and made my film from virtually nothing! You use what you have, and I am blessed to have had such a supportive and wonderful professionally-minded crew on board with “Curse Of The Rattlesnake People”!
    ALL you need is an idea to start!

    All you need from there is write it! A pencil and paper will suffice!

    My film came to life from such vision, literally! I had NO knowledge whatsoever regarding movie editing software, and believe me when I say post-production is what seperates the DO’s from the DO-NOTHINGS!

    It helped me tremendously that I actually wanted a film produced as a paen to early-70’s regional-based (usually southern) independent films, therefore I had no unrealistic, high-polished goal with regards to artistic creativity. We all get better, in time. You start somewhere. Start NOW!

  7. says

    good point. It seems unrealistic to me that my first work will be a feature film so I started off by making local tv over the internet. It is relatively easy to find sponsors locally and I can make all the mistakes I’m bound to make on small projects that will eventually be forgotten. Another good point: I make films that really matter to my audience. By and by my projects will be bigger. What I can say even now is that I spend much of my time shooting, editing and publishing. What else do I want?

  8. Stephen says

    Great stuff Jason! So often people who want to make films have a million and one reasons why it can’t happen. There is this huge sub-culture that is hung up on getting the BEST camera (I NEED a Red), the BEST lighting, the BEST microphone, and on and on…

    All of that stuff is irrelevant. Just make the film. With the camera you have, the lighting you have, with the mic you have. But make sure to take the time to create a killer script and learn how to direct actors.

  9. says

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for that information, and gentle kick in the butt to get on and do it……… agree with all that you say…. there is the other ‘but’ in there and I am trying to ignore it!
    What movie camera do you suggest ? I do have a Sony Handicam.
    Thanks for your enthusiasm and time ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Pamela

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