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Coping with fear and anxiety going into a new production?


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

In a few months, I'll be starting two documentary productions. Both for the time being are self starters, because I'm in that stage where it is difficult to fundraise because I don't have anything to show as a proof of concept, and the process of applying for grants takes so long, I'm just determined to go out and shoot something for once.

I've got two damned good stories to tell, and that's what scares me. In the right hands, they could be really oustanding....major film festival, awards caliber stuff. I believe they are that good.

But I'm terrified that I'm not the right person. I'm afraid I'm just no good, and I'm gonna botch this thing, and wind up ruining a good story because I just don't have it in me to make a good film. I wish I could surmount this terrible creative doubt I have, but after ten years shooting pictures and scriptwriting television docs...I just feel like I've gotten nowhere, while people younger than me are scoring huge successes. Just look at the year Lena Dunham has had. THAT is talent and business saavy.

I fear I'm just another hack, wannabee, never was, never will be. I have an obligation to the people who are involved in these documentaries I'm making, to make the film a success, so they wont' have wasted their time with me, but I fear I wil do just that. What if this films are a miserable failure, and I come away from it all knowing my life up to now has been a waste, that I've done nothing with my life? What if I blow it all?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 12:19 PM

If you're so obligated to making these films, why aren't you taking the time to apply for the grants? yes, it's a long process, but if you want to succeed you need that kind of dedication, or else a lot of luck.
And, the only way to finally answer your fears is to face them and do the projects. Succeed or fail it's of no matter so long as you come away the wiser and fuller because of it. No thing is wasted if you learn from it.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 12:46 PM

the problem is I'm stuck in a catch 22. Grants tend to go to people with a proven record of films. I've made plenty of films, but none that achieve any notoriety. I'm a nobody to them, and so they are not inclined just to hand money to me. Of course, until someone DOES give me a chance, how am I do build a proven record as a filmmaker?

I'm hoping once I have some footage shot, I can shape it into a trailer or a proof of concept reel, which could then make some inroads.

But that is it's own source of fear. If someone is willing to invest money in me, I would feel so terrible if I failed and their investment was for nothing. On the one hand, filmmaking is a deeply collaborative effort, yet I fear letting people down by not making a good movie.

Basically, what if my best isn't good enough, and never will be?
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

I think such worries are what drive us to always and continually strive to do better next time. I have never shot anything I have been completely happy with. I pray I never do because if I ever did shoot something so spectacular, so wonderful, I think I would loose a lot of that which drives me to continually try new things, and push new boundaries for myself. Such fears of failure, and the aversion to let-down are part of life. What separates those who are exceptional, I think, from those who are not is not that they lack fear, but rather that they face them; they use the fear as a motivation, and they take it upon themselves to see how they measure up. To quote from a film I really enjoyed, "It doesn't matter how hard you can hit, it matters how hard you can get hit." See how the punches land, and drive on. This whole life is a war of attrition, it's just about lasting long enough to sit back and say, hey, you know what, I did it.
And if it wasn't good enough for you, then it wasn't good enough for you, and you try it again. As for everyone else-- there is a point in which you have to divorce yourself from what others think, and instead do the work because it pleases you.

my 2 cents. And, don't forget, even the most accomplished peoples too, in those private moments, face the same fears and worries that you do.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 12:54 PM

The only comfort I can offer you is that if you are insignificant now, you're unlikely to be much more significant if the project doesn't do as well as you'd hoped, so the potential negative outcomes are pretty limited. People get far too worried about becoming famous failures. If we were that famous to begin with, things would look different in any case.

If it's any consolation to you, I've just been told that in no uncertain terms I have to start using facetube and twitbook, and since I am a nobody with no discernible personality, this is doomed to be a disaster.

If I kill myself, do I still have to get a youspace account? Probably: "Wow, it's hot down here! Smells of sulphur, too. Haven't met @beelzebub yet! @seventhcircle @screamsofthedamned"

In short: if you're screwed, think how screwed I am.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 12:57 PM

I'll be your face-space friend Phil! We can comment to each other about how much we loathe most people. (also great point about no one noticing too much.. hell I'm glad I made such crap work when I was in college... that is now almost entirely scrubbed from existence. )
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#7 James Compton

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:02 PM

Brian,

You can do it because it's YOUR creation and you have the skills to make it happen. It's possible to create a project and finally reach the starting line and begin questioning yourself. Trust in your experience, creativity, use of diplomacy and moxie. When all that fails, you say what Ol' Bill says, and all those attributes kick in when you need them. :



Stay in the fight, young fella.
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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

The only comfort I can offer you is that if you are insignificant now, you're unlikely to be much more significant if the project doesn't do as well as you'd hoped, so the potential negative outcomes are pretty limited. People get far too worried about becoming famous failures. If we were that famous to begin with, things would look different in any case.


This is spot on. In short if you are worried what people will think of you if you fail...Don't worry they aren't thinking about you at all.

You are nobody and nobody cares! :)

If it's any consolation to you, I've just been told that in no uncertain terms I have to start using facetube and twitbook, and since I am a nobody with no discernible personality, this is doomed to be a disaster.


This on the other hand is complete nonsense. One of the things I have always said I liked about you was that at least you have a personality that stands out. It's generally a quite depressed kinda personality but that doesn't matter. If you had no personality then some of the people who got angry at you for the way you are wouldn't have got angry at you.

Also I think what a lot of people like about you when they get to know you a little is that you have a kind of honesty about things as a rule and people respect that and like it. Those are the two obvious things off the top of my head. People also respect your knowledge about techie stuff too, less of a personality thing but what the hey!

Anyway you can overdo it with that sort of thing. People often say that things are character forming and I'm always like "I've already got so much character that people are scared of me, what do I want any more for!" ;)

If I kill myself, do I still have to get a youspace account? Probably: "Wow, it's hot down here! Smells of sulphur, too. Haven't met @beelzebub yet! @seventhcircle @screamsofthedamned"

In short: if you're screwed, think how screwed I am.


How many of these things do you need to be on? Will you be signing up for pintrest?

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 15 January 2013 - 02:13 PM.

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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:21 PM

What if this films are a miserable failure, and I come away from it all knowing my life up to now has been a waste, that I've done nothing with my life? What if I blow it all?


If you take the safe option and do nothing on the other hand, then things will just continue as they are and then what will you have done with your life?

I can tell you now that if you fail in this context, nothing bad really happens. You just fail. So that's nothing to be worrying about. You should instead be concentrating on making your works a success instead of worrying about how they can be a failure!

If you are having all this low self esteem type stuff going on, then why not surround yourself with the most talented people you can find to help you and then even if you can't believe in yourself, you should be able to believe in them?

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 15 January 2013 - 02:23 PM.

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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:34 PM

If you're so obligated to making these films, why aren't you taking the time to apply for the grants? yes, it's a long process, but if you want to succeed you need that kind of dedication, or else a lot of luck.


I actually think there is something to be said for getting out there and doing stuff rather than hanging around making grant applications. You can of course do both to a certain extent but I wouldn't let grant applications stand in the way of doing stuff.

An old saying: "An ounce of action is worth a pound of theorizing..."

Sometimes you have to spend time sowing seeds. Then later on you get to reap the harvest. Theres a season for each.

If you look at Lena and her career, she spent a lot of time sowing seeds too, while you are sowing seeds it is also an opportunity to learn things. It's all good as long as you are able to find the resources to sow the seeds but sowing the seeds is important.

Doing things leads to more things. Inaction leads to decay as entropy is a basic law of the universe.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 15 January 2013 - 02:35 PM.

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#11 Brian Rose

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 03:42 PM

thanks all for the advice. Luckily I do have a good crew helping me on one project. But the other, the BIG one, I'm going at it alone for the first part. It's a biopic, and the fellow about whom I am making the story lives in Hawaii now. I can only afford to fly myself out there, and even then I'll be staying at a hostel to save money. I've had to beg and borrow a camera to take along, which isn't ideal, but I've just got to get something shot. I've spent 3 years researching the story and I've got to get to work on something. In 2012, I made two shorts, and wrote one feature script for a documentary my company produced. It's not enough. I've gotta do more, and not waste any time on my personal life, if I'm to make any kind of lasting impact.

I really believe these films, these stories I'm going to tell, could be marvelous pictures. I just hope I'm up to the challenge of telling them myself.
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#12 Chris Millar

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 05:34 PM

Random thoughts typed too fast:

- firstly, DO IT

- You've got a rare quality amongst filmmakers - you're humble - hear that this once then forget it, or it might turn around and you'll fall into the rest of the fake-it-until-you-make-it puddle. I've watched so many architectural graduates do this and 'succeed' in terms of their career path compared to my own (I am a graduate), but once I see what they are working on/have designed I am somewhat internally gratified. I could however damn well do with the money they earn :rolleyes:

- Remember, your topic, individual or group may well be feeling the same thing themselves! They don't want to ruin your documentary so be mindful not to let a reciprocal fear build upon itself between yourselves. Be straight up about it, if you can be straight up then they'll feel more comfortable being straight up and true in turn.

- On the road doco, money, cheap lodgings etc… You'll be fine ;) I spent a few months chasing bands around USA and Europe, touring with them, not knowing where I was going to sleep on any given night until either that night or at most 2~3 days in advance. Slept in sub-zero northern states on the floor of an RV, no shower for around two weeks every night etc… I think it was Bloomington, at an aftershow party I sneaked into the shower and ended up on a couch, thinking they'd be WTF etc… but instead the housemates made me and the sound guy breakfast the morning after, we almost missed our ride, had to run in barefeet across an icey school yard just as school was coming in. Humans, they come to the party, especially if you're out there working (hard) as if it were one.

- Going back to that fear - I had the same feeling - and as it turns out so did the group I was filming. The project is on ice, I discovered I have a real drive to be out there on site but when it comes to editing I'd rather, well, to be less dramatic I'll just say its obvious I'd rather be doing what I ended up doing instead. To take a leaf from the fake-it-until-you-make-it crowd (retrospective re-framing) the footage I'm hoping if they become famous will become archival gold in years/decades to come so the 'failure' of my project to become concrete at the time (when it was hot) has simply been a change of spec. A cynical/mercenary type would note that it's now up top them to make it work :rolleyes:.

Reality is, I was learning and any future work will take these lessons into account - your lessons will be different.

The work led directly to one-man team documentary work through West Africa which went to completion and in terms of experience was a life changer.

Oh, did I mention I had the time of my life, made friends around the globe and had the pleasure to repay many of the favours years later ?

- Listen to some 80's power pop hi energy tracks whenever you have doubts (heh heh) - might be trivial, but thats exactly what those doubts will be (that is once you've justified them as you have done)

- and lastly: DO IT

Edited by Chris Millar, 15 January 2013 - 05:36 PM.

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