How Gratitude can help you as a filmmaker.

There are lots of challenges independent filmmaking, and you have to keep your eye on the ball. But is obsessing on the mountains of hurdles healthy for your filmmaker career?

In a filmmaking metaphore, sometimes you have to change your framing, to remember why you’re doing this stuff in the first place. Or change your lens. Or your tone. You get what I’m saying.


Look, the tools to make films are more available than ever. Isn’t that great? And if you’re reading this, you’ve got access to the internet and the world can see your work! This is your license to get out there and shoot something. Even on your cell phone!

Youtube’s full of tutorials on how to do it right. Step by step instructions on everything from cheap lights you can find in your home for free to how to build your social media profile around a film.

Especially when you’re wearing too many hats, it’s easy to loose sight of how much support you have just with google! For less than $100 you can get a light, or a tripod, or a microphone. And that’s before you get on craigslist. I’m not talking about the best, professional brand name thing… but something that’ll work a couple times until you can afford better. If you’re shooting every day, you need high end gear. A dozen weekends a year? Just take care of your stuff. Just take a deep breath and realize you have choices.


You may not have access to a sound stage, A-list actors or even have 30 days you can just check out of life to shoot a film (and still expect to have a place to live.) But if we contemplate, in gratitude what we do have available to us for free, the challenge suddenly becomes, how to use that stuff to tell a story.

Does the story have to be 90 minutes? No. But if you wanted a feature length film, just plan it well and shoot it on the weekends. That’s what I did.

Starting from a position of gratitude, you to recognize what you have, as opposed to looking at the hurdles and challenges because of what you don’t have. We all have tons of resources if it isn’t a farm down the road, it might be a gritty tenement hallway. A thicket that looks like a deep dark forest from a certain perspective, or a pile of junk that might be a throne for the king of the homeless guys, who are really a spy agency that run the city. It’ll work if you work it!


Look, we’re talking about making movies here. If you’ve gotten to this point, you have a roof over your head. You can get a meal if you want a meal. You’ve got internet access. You may not rank in the top 1% of the United States, but you’re sitting pretty in the top 20% of the World.

If you look at the topics of Liberty and Opportunity and say, “Yeah but…”, I need to take a step back and remind you, this isn’t heart surgery and no one is going to die if you do or don’t make a film. Stuck on the idea that, “sure, I can make ‘a movie’ but I can’t make ‘my movie’? That might be true. But between you and me, if you can’t make, ‘a movie’,  ‘your movie’ will probably suck and have lots of problems. Even Jesus used to say, “If you can be responsible with a little, you can be responsible with a lot.” Beyond that, one day you might see the irony of your ingratitude while reading an article on gratitude. But I digress. It’s a good time to be alive, and want to be a filmmaker. I’m grateful.

I was inspired to write this blog by an episode of Freakonomics.


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