This filmmaking article is challenging to write. The reason for this is simple. It is tough to admit that a movie you made (that you once thought was brilliant) totally sucks.
Cringing at the sight of your old work is a good sign. The emotion means that you’re growing as an artist. But I don’t know. After having made a few feature films and prior to that, a whole bunch of shorts – I can tell you that many of my movies are embarrassing.
Don’t believe me? Check out this little gem I produced over a decade ago:
Watching this movie makes me queasy. Aside from the fact I once thought it was brilliant, poetic and profound… Full transparency here – I actually sent this out to people. Hollywood people. And worse, I was convinced that having such a great movie would assure my success in the movie industry.
As you can imagine, my big break did not come. Nobody wrote me back. Nobody cared about my movie. And I had to go back to my crappy day job with hope no-longer springing eternal. I was discouraged. I thought my career was over.
What To Do When Your Filmmaking Sucks
Luckily I had a group of filmmaker friends who encouraged me to keep going. So I kept making movies. Through the process, my friends reminded me not to worry if my filmmaking sucks. One friend even told me to make as many bad movies as possible – That way I could get all the stupid ideas out of my head.
Thankfully I kept going. Over time, I successfully produced my first feature. And after that, a few more. So in the event your filmmaking sucks, I want to share the following tips with you:
- Accept the fact that your first five movies are going to suck, no matter how brilliant you are. Make your first five movies so you can get past the suck.
- Surround yourself with a team of good people. You cannot attain filmmaking success alone. You will need the support, feedback and collaboration of other like-minded creatives to keep going.
- Realize that some sucky movies still make money. I include this tip to remind you that sucky movies get produced all the time. Many of these movies find an audience. Many of these movies make money.
Here are two examples of movies that should not have worked (but became successful!)
Birdemic: Often referred to as the worst movie ever made, the story reveals what happens when you screw with nature. This movie was so successful, they produced a Birdemic sequel.
The Room: I don’t know what to say about this movie. I have seen it and it frankly makes very little sense to me. But the movie is remarkable. And special props to Tommy Wiseau – He now describes the movie as a “quirky black comedy” as well as “the best movie of the year.” (Adding to this, Tommy must live close to me because I saw him in the local YoguartLand. I was actually too shy to say hello.)
It is important to remember that every filmmaker starts somewhere. Maybe your first movie won’t win an Oscar. Maybe your third movie will have poor lighting. But sooner or later, if you keep working on your craft – you will learn from your mistakes. You’ll get better. You will achieve great things.
If you are interested in learning how to get your movie made, seen and sold, you might want to check out my professional filmmaking tools.