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  • Andrew Pritzker

Resolutions for Filmmakers, 2017

The word “Filmmaker” is both a noun and a verb describing what we do, the actions we take as professionals, as artists. We’re active in the craft physically and mentally. When not making films we’re watching films, critiquing films, streaming films, thinking about films. We’re a passionate and invested audience. There is no off-switch on creativity. When it’s on, take note. You might be hatching a gem.

Film is a learning process, a continuous need to hone your skills and technical savvy. And yet there are times…more often than we’d like to admit…that we fall into a filmmaking rut.

Maybe your beloved project has been delayed or scrapped. Maybe you’re going at it hard burning the foot candle at both ends. We’ve all seen "the look," the dull, lifeless stare, the sad, lackluster shuffle. The same can be said for any artist, any art form. All work, no rest, zero time to reflect, can wear anyone down to a stubby blunt pencil.

So what’s the solution? With the New Year approaching, maybe it’s time to take stock of your creative self and leap into the future. Consider these 8 Filmmaker Resolutions.

1. Learn Something New

Ever had the desire to record sound with a lav, shoot with a RED, write a script, act in a short, or produce a film? What’s stopping you? Borrowing the lauded motto of Faber College, “Knowledge IS Good.” It’s not just about acquiring a new skill, it’s about seeing and experiencing filmmaking in a whole new way. It’s about rejuvenation and fun. Why not take a chance?

2. Film for the Fun of it

The 48 Hour Film Project, and contests like it, offer an excellent way to work on something new, exciting, experimental and different. There’s really no time to think about perfecting the process. It’s hurried, frantic, and mostly joyful. It’s a great way to recharge your batteries. But if you want to go off on your own, shoot something just for you, something unexpected. Take out a camera and venture forth. Shoot something weird and cool. Don’t second guess yourself during this spark of creativity. (There’s plenty of time for that in post.)

3. Volunteer Your Skills

Indie filmmakers are always looking for skilled crew mates to shoot a worthy project, some labor of love they’ve been planning for months. Maybe they need a mentor and a steady hand. Budgets are usually microscopic, payment usually a distant reality. However, this is a chance to work with new faces, to work outside of your comfort zone, to work with young, passionate talent. What not help out? Try a new crew position. It’s energizing.

4. Go Back To The Drawing Board

Almost everyone has a list of projects tucked away in some folder on their desktop. It sits there gathering cyber dust just waiting to be opened. Let’s call it a List of Dream Projects that you’ve been meaning to produce, direct, shoot, or write. What are you waiting for? What’s the hold up? Here’s a cool idea… PICK ONE! Take it out, freshen it up, kick it around, think about how to get it done before the end of the new year. Ask your friends to help out. Bounce ideas off of them. Get proactive. If you were waiting for the right time to make a film, this is the time. Now. Today. It’s a great time to start.

5. Upgrade a Piece of Gear

We tend to get overly familiar with our own rigs, cameras, gear, perhaps too familiar, a tad too comfortable. There’s no guesswork with comfort, no surprises, no out of the box thinking, and no learning curve. Maybe you’re in a gear rut? Maybe you’ve been denying yourself something new, something you’ve been wanting, something that might up your game? Have you’ve been babying some piece of junk? It’s frustrating. It’s an obstacle. Isn’t it time to change that tune? Buy something new, something different via retail, trade, or eBay, anyway you can get it. Feel that anticipation and tingle, the sheer excitement of a budding Tarantino on Christmas morn. If you need a quick shot of creative adrenaline, get a new piece of gear.

6. Revamp your Resume and Reel

Have you updated your resume or reel lately? It’s not just an important show piece for potential employers, it’s also a great way to recall your own skills and creative path. When you’re in a rut and feel stunted, it’s important to recall your own creative history and accomplishments. It’s empowering and boosts self confidence. You’ve come a long way. That’s a good thing.

7. Read Screenplays

There are a number of websites offering free feature script downloads. Many offer shooting scripts or early drafts of produced theatrical films. It’s hard not to visualize a script based on a film you’ve already seen but what about a film still unknown? Screenplays are written to stir the visual imagination of the reader. For a filmmaker, it’s a truly creative experience, to imagine how scenes might be shot or a story edited. It gets the neurons firing in every direction. How could this film be made? Who should we cast? How might you direct it? How would you light it on a budget? Reading screenplays is more than just entertainment. It’s a way to flex your creative muscle.

8. Read Books About Filmmakers

Want to sweep off the cobwebs and ease self doubt, read a filmmaker’s bio. Read an exploration of their approach to film. Get out of your head for awhile. Learn about somebody else’s way of thinking. Discover how they problem solve. See the world with new eyes and benefit from their wisdom and mistakes. You might even discover something about your own life. You might even spin yourself in a positive new direction.

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