When I started this experiment, I had no idea the journey I would end up taking. Looking back, I learned a lot. To simplify my post, I made a list of the 15 most important lessons I took away from this experiment.
Top 15 Lessons I Learned:
- Don’t assume you’re better than anyone else. Chances are, you aren’t.
- Always feed your crew meals, always have snacks and always have water.
- Give your crew breaks! The fastest way to lose friends is to mistreat them on your set.
- Plan a budget and stick to it. Short filmmaking is all about how far you can stretch your budget.
- Don’t let lazies on your set. I don’t care if they are your best friend. If they take up space and don’t do work, don’t invite them to set.
- Be prepared to give up your free time. Filmmaking (and blogging) are two things that require daily attention. If you can’t dedicate yourself to giving 100% the entire time, it may not be for you.
- People will let you down. No matter how much you trust them or how willing they have been in the past, there is always a chance they will bail or disappoint you.
- Not a lot of people are willing to give up their time for free. If you can pay your crew, pay them. If you can’t, like we couldn’t, feed them and be prepared for crew members who bail last-minute.
- Not every film you make needs to be shown. If your film is terrible, don’t post it online.
- Set the bar high, but realistic. We set our bar very high but it became unrealistic which lead to disappointment.
- Be honest with yourself about your film. Not every short film will be a runaway hit. Some of them will suck, and that’s okay.
- Learn from your mistakes. Accept what you cannot change. Create better content the next time.
- Understand and realize that not everyone is for you. Surprisingly, a lot of people will be against you. Realize who those people are and don’t let them get you down.
- Allow yourself to improve. No one is “the best”. Even the greats still have room to learn.
- Write down your goals, then achieve them. It is possible.
One of my main goals with this experiment was to become a better writer by the end. I can confidently say that I am better and I have learned valuable lessons from writing 10 short scripts.
Top 10 Screenwriting Lessons Learned
- Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances let anyone read your first draft. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite and then show a few trusted friends.
- Find your writing voice/structure and stick to it.
- All scripts need work. Learn to decide when to write another draft and when to call it complete.
- Good characters in a bad script is nothing more than a bad script.
- At some point in your writing process, you will start to hate your story. Figure out how to deal with those emotions, then finish your script.
- Commit to writing daily. Even if it’s just one note card. Put time into your story every single day.
- Writing can be lonely. Writers give up a lot of ‘fun’ time working on their scripts. Surround yourself with people who understand and respect that.
- Learn how to let go and move on from scripts. Especially the bad ones.
- Not everyone will like your story. But if everyone who reads it doesn’t like it, consider making significant changes.
- Learn how to accept feedback. That doesn’t mean you need to make every change someone suggest, but learn how to listen.
After all is said and done, I’m so thankful to have completed this experiment of making 10 short films. Some of what I learned could never be taught in a classroom. I appreciate Kelanie for taking this journey with me and for everyone who helped us along the way. I’m truly grateful.