T. S. Eliot once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” It’s as true in life as it is in creativity. Like in any great story, we only find out who we really are when we’re put to the test. The catch is, as filmmakers we often have to put ourselves to the test. Nobody else is going to do it for us.
Learning a craft is never easy, and there aren’t any shortcuts. As we’ve talked with filmmakers over the past few months, one question we always ask is “How did you learn how to do what you do?” Sometimes it feels like that’s the only question that really matters, and yet it’s usually the most difficult one to answer. While only some of the people we interviewed attended film school (and even fewer finished), all of these filmmakers are self-taught in their own way. Meaning, filmmaking is something they internalize—they’re constantly learning, discovering, and working it out for themselves. Just in time for the holidays, we’ve compiled a smorgasbord of insights into the benefits of a formal versus a not-so-formal film education. Salud!
If there’s one thing filmmaking is not, it’s not a solo act. Sure, every once in a while you can go off on your own and create something beautiful; but for anyone who’s wanting to make a career of their craft, collaborating is nonnegotiable. You’re going to end up working with a crew. You’re going to end up working with actors. We’ve talked with dozens of filmmakers over the past year of the Community, and one topic that almost always comes up is collaboration. As you’ll see, it cuts both ways. While collaboration can be frustrating at times, it’s also almost guaranteed to improve your creative game.
Since launching the Musicbed Community, we have interviewed dozens and dozens of filmmakers and artists from all around the world. We’ve flown to Paris. We’ve Skyped to South Africa. We’ve G-Chatted to Spain. And during all that time, we’d like to think we’ve not only gotten better at interviewing people, but that we’ve learned a few practical lessons along the way. We’ve written them down here.
Our recent conversation with Philip Bloom got us thinking: How do other artists find balance in their lives? We scoured our archives and pulled out the best pieces we could find. While a lot of the thoughts here are consistent, they’re certainly not uniform. Balance is something everyone has to find for themselves — and usually through a painstaking process of trial and error. There’s not an easy answer.
Something weird can happen when you start making a film (or start making anything, really). You can get too close to the project, lose perspective, and start writing things that sound good but aren’t actually true at all. It happens so easily, and you often don’t realize it until you look back. For Douglas Gautraud, the filmmaker behind the My RØDE Reel 2014 award-winning short film My Mom’s Motorcycle, telling the truth in his projects is the most important thing.
You can always tell when someone makes something simply for the love of it. It has this quality that can’t be manufactured. That’s been our driving idea since the beginning of Musicbed: Let musicians make music they love, and filmmakers will want to license it. And also since the beginning of Musicbed, we’ve wondered how we could do the same thing for filmmakers.