In light of having another birthday to celebrate this Friday, I'm sharing 30 things I've learned while working on Abandoned Allies in a three-part series. My hope is that sharing these lessons will help another indie filmmaker complete their first project with, perhaps, a little less stress.
Here are the first 10 things I've learned, in no particular order.
1. Make a plan.
If you don't know where you're going, how will you get there? Make a plan for making your first film. It may change regularly, but that's to be expected. Having a plan will keep you focused on the tasks at hand so you can finish your film.
2. Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint.
Making a film often takes lots of time and effort. How long do you think the project will take? Multiply that by three. Now you have a more accurate picture of how long you'll likely spend on this film. Prepare for the long-haul, then be pleased when you finish it sooner.
3. Find a way to pay the bills.
If filmmaking is not paying your bills then find a good way to earn an income while working on your first film. Seek a job that eases your financial burden, helps you learn about filmmaking, and gives you the peace of mind to finish the project you started.
4. Downsize your monthly expenses.
Depending on your plan and financial situation, you may need to downsize your monthly expenses. Take stock of your spending, create a budget, and iidentify luxury items you can cut. You'd be surprised at how much you can save.
5. If you want to do it, you're more likely to get it done.
Things you want to do tend to get done faster and with greater ease. Pay attention to these things as you work. Focus your energy on the things you enjoy.
6. Even if you don't want to do it, do it anyway.
We can edit out boring parts in films, but not real life. There are plenty of things you would rather not do, but sometimes you have to do it anyway. Do it and move on.
7. Guard your time.
There are only 168 hours in a week, and how you use them is up to you. Guard your time and don't waste it. Meticulously count how you spend these hours each week, and find ways to use them more efficiently.
8. Guard your energy.
Just as you guard your time, guard your energy because you'll get burned out. Learn what drains your energy. Then find someone who enjoys that work and ask them for help. Similarly, figure out what gives you energy and do that frequently.
9. Prepare for chaos.
Making your first film will be challenging. Prepare for the chaos you've just invited into your life. Remove distractions, decrease stresses, avoid nay-sayers, organize your personal space, etc.
10. Enjoy the ride.
Making your first film can be really stressful, but enjoy the journey. You'll learn a lot, make new friends, challenge yourself, and accomplish something quite big. Don't be so focused on the future that you miss the present. What you're doing is pretty amazing, so be sure you pause to enjoy it.
The series continues tomorrow with another 10 things I've learned while working on Abandoned Allies. Stay tuned, and share some things you've learned in the comments below.