Monday, July 07, 2008

Finish What You Start?Other Stuff

Your Angry Filmmaker Tip.

One of the great things I learned in film school is that you always finish what you've started.

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming really soon)

I see this all the time. People think it would be cool to make a movie and they tell their friends, maybe they even go out and raise some money. At some point down the road they realize that this isn’t as fun or as easy as they thought it was going to be and they walk away. And that’s fine by me. A lot of people aren’t cut out to do what we do and the sooner they learn that making a film is hard work and they want to do something easier, the better.

We had roughly a 50% drop out rate when I was in film school. Of the 20 people in my section that started about half were gone by the end of the first year. It was a great way to weed out the wannabes.

And my feeling is if you don’t finish your movie and you decide never to do it again, then you are one less person that I have to compete with for money and screen time. Nothing personal, there are limited resources out there and if you’re not serious you’re just wasting people’s time.

The people I really don’t have any respect for, are the people who start a film, realize it’s not very good and don’t finish it. Then they start working on another one. What’s up with that? As I’ve said many times, filmmaking is an art form, it’s a business, and IT’S A CRAFT! The more you do it, them more you learn and hopefully the better you get.

So why should you finish a movie that you don’t think is very good? Because you can learn more about filmmaking from a movie that isn’t very good then you can from one that is perfect. You can learn a lot about your limitations. What are you good at, what are you not so good at? Maybe comedy isn’t your thing? Maybe you can’t communicate with Actors, or maybe your friends who are in it really aren’t very good. Maybe those special effects you tried copying from Hell Boy don’t look anything like you thought they would?

This is one of the reasons why I always tell people to make short films first! Don’t start with features because even a really bad feature is hard to make. And features take a lot of time and resources, both time and money.

If you make a short film and it’s not very good, you don’t HAVE to show it to people. You’re creative, come up with reasons why they can’t see it. But you need to watch it and analyze what went wrong. Why isn’t it good? I believe that you should show it to some people. Get their opinion. Maybe it isn’t as bad as you think, or maybe it just needs more work. You’ve made a 20 minute film that should really be 10 minutes. Maybe if you cut it down you’ll see that it does work better.

Most films are too long; especially the ones made by first and second time directors. Sometimes professional directors make films that are too long as well.

The point I am making here is that it is hard to make a film, but you’ll never know if you’re any good at it until you finish one. Look at it and say, “You know, it’s not very good, but I see where I screwed up.” And then if you really have to make films, make another one. And another one. Hopefully they’ll get better.

Now I know some of you are saying, “Oh yeah, what about your Kay Boyle film?” I have been working on this film for 20 years, but I haven’t stopped because it’s not very good. I am still trying to raise money to finish it. I have well over $100,000 of my own money wrapped up in it and years of my time. I shot the whole thing in 16mm film and had a work print struck. I cut the work print, but apparently funders and others aren’t used to seeing a work print with all its dirt, grease pencil marks and uncorrected images. They want to look at things that are on tape or were at least transferred to tape from the negative. When I started my film, video didn’t look as good as it does now, and shooting analog video was impractical for me. So now I am trying to raise about $10,000 to have all of the negative transferred so I can rebuild the story in tape.

Will I ever finish the Kay Boyle film? (A question I am asked often.)

YES! I always finish what I start. I am limited at this point by my finances, but this too shall pass. Remember I have made and finished over 15 films and countless works for hire since I started the Kay Boyle film. If you want to know more about Kay and are interested in helping me get the funding to finish it drop me a line.

If you want to be a filmmaker, make movies. And finish them! No one really wants to keep helping you if you never finish what you’ve started.

Other stuff.

Internet Special!!!!

Go to and check out The Angry Filmmaker Work Books. They are packed with lots of good info and are a real bargain at a mere $10 each or the set of three for $25 (plus S&H). If you order all three work books, (Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production) before July 15th, 2008 I will send you a free DVD copy of Kicking Bird. That’s all three books plus a Kicking Bird DVD for $25 + $9 S&H.

So what are you waiting for?

I am finally on Facebook and I am doing more stuff on LinkedIn. So if you want to be my friend at either place just look for me.

My Masters Class, Making the Extreme Low Budget Film has been re-scheduled for August 18th thru September 5th in Franklin, Indiana. Check out for more information as it becomes available.

As always, feel free to link to my site and subscribe to my blog.

Talk later,



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