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Need Advice: How do you deal with anxiety before a big shoot?


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 10:18 AM

Guys and Gals I could use some sage advice and wisdom from experience. I'm about to go on another research trip for a documentary I'm working on. The film, in case you don't know, is a biopic about the ups and downs of a child prodigy Olympic athlete, over the course of 60 years. I've posted in the past about it, about how at this point I've got no funding so it's pretty much me alone on my own dime with a borrowed camera going out and trying to get the best stuff I can. I've already interviewed the film's subject, and now I'm going to talk to three of his closest non-familiar associates.  These people have been so kind to me to open up time in their schedules to speak to me candidly and on the record, and I so want to make it worth their time by doing the best work I can, and making the best film I can. But I fear that, because I don't have a crew or a budget or a big camera like a Red or something, that I'm somehow not a real filmmaker, or that people won't take me seriously. I worry that no matter how creative I am, it still won't be good enough, and that I'm cancelling out any chances of this film finding success or an audience because it was made by one guy on a shoestring. There are plenty of stories to the contrary, yet I still feel insecure, like, because I don't have a battery of kino flos and a grip truck, and a crew of a half dozen, that I'm somehow not a real filmmaker, that future potential funders or distributors will look at me and the limited scale of production and say, "Get outta here kid, come back when you've got a real production."

It's all so absurd, I know.  I keep trying to tell myself that all that matters is 1) The content is stellar 2) the audio is crisp and clean, 2) The video is solid, with room in the edit suite for color correction.  I'm trying to be as creative as I can, and the result I think will be a neat one.  I can't afford lights, so i'm doing the interviews outside, filming them as "walk-and-talks," suing my glidecam.  I try to tell myself that this is what matters, how to do the best with the resouces one has, and if the result is a good one, it shouldn't matter whether it took one man or twenty to accomplish it.  But still, these nagging voices remain in my head. No doubt many of you have been in this situation, working on a shoestring and a borrowed camera, working with limited resources.  Maybe you've even had to be a one man band like I am.  Have you all dealt with pre-production jitters? Have you felt insecure, like you don't have all the answers, like you don't know what you're doing, and you're just waiting for someone to say, "You're an amateur get outta here?" How do you cope with these performance anxieties, in order to do the best work you can under whatever the given circumstances may be?

BR


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 10:34 AM

That sounds like me before and during many a shoot-- and after as well. Embrace it. Remain humble to yourself, but honest in that you can do it. I almost always say, others have done it, there's no reason why I cannot. But, I think that worry inside myself, and it seems you, is what drives one to continually learn, to continually try harder. Whether you succeed or fail in the film is almost inconsequential, I think. Rather, I find it is much more about whether or not you gave it honestly all you could.

 

Now go out, work yourself to the bone as hard as you can. Do the best you can with what you have. And remember, the moment you picked up that camera and started making the film you became a legitimate filmmaker. Stop caring whether some stranger you may tangentially meet one day agrees with you. What matters most is how you square with yourself-- or at least that's how I look at things.


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#3 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 02:07 AM

There are so many great documentaries (and narratives for that matter!) That were shot with very little money/resources at their disposal. I would not be concerned about what you are shooting on. I just finished a feature length documentary with what I had--not much--and it's liberating. It reminds you in this technologically obsessed age that stories are stories. Whether it's with an Alexa or a canon Vixia HSF10, you're telling a story. Sure if you can get the Alexa then great... But I think especially with documentaries, there's a greater allowance for visual imperfection because it reminds the audience that what they're watching is real.

 

I don't believe in the wait-until-somebody-gives-me-millions-of-dollars-to-be-an-artist method of being a filmmaker. You be a filmmaker by making movies however you can. Many many great filmmakers--the vast majority I'd say--proved they were great before anyone gave them money. Why else would someone give them money later?


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#4 George Ebersole

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:51 AM

No offense, but you might want to consider why you're there, or maybe another line of work.  The only time I ever felt any anxiety was when I was fresh out of high school and on my first studio shoot.  After that it was all about getting the job done.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 04:47 PM

I feel anxiety before a job all the time (my wife, seeing my distress, sometimes pats my hand and says "poor David..." sweetly, which helps) but honestly as a shoot grows closer, the list of things to keep track of grows exponentially.  The trouble is that you are dealing with a lot of hypotheticals, so the best way to reduce your anxiety is to eliminate as many of them as possible.  A room that looks too large to light and shoot may be fine once you realize that there is only one wide shot from one corner, a couple of close-ups, and a medium reverse angle.

 

But it's not possible to eliminate all variables or plan for every contingency, there are acts of God that happen on a film shoot that defy imagination sometimes.

 

Obviously you develop the ability to handle a crisis on a set and think fast on your feet, or else you wouldn't get very far in this business, but that doesn't mean you worry less about things that can go wrong.

 

My only solution -- besides being well-planned -- is to force myself to get plenty of sleep the night before the shoot begins, simply because its easier to control one's emotional state if one is rested.


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#6 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:26 PM

there is a thing called "autogenic training"

 

http://en.wikipedia....ogenic_training

 

there are many different methods to relax. one of mine is to go behind my house which is build directly on a huge river, i put some relaxing music on my iPhone 5 and sink my feets into the cold water. just upon the ancles. AND most important i do that in the golden hour. i just did today.

 

https://www.facebook...&type=3


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:37 PM

Since I'm a nerd, my relaxation technique is to lay down in the dark and either listen to the soundtrack album for "Space: 1999" (Year One, of course) or the expanded soundtrack release of Goldsmith's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" score. Or the "2001" soundtrack. I also like to listen to sound effects tracks of wind, light or stormy, it reminds me of growing up in the desert and hearing the wind howl outside my window at night.
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:49 PM

That is by far the nerdiest thing i've heard in awhile. . . though I must admit my own "reliever" is no better. I often play the computer game Civilization. I suppose it's nice to feign control right before going into, as mentioned, an uncontrollable situation.

 

I save my star trek scores for long cross country drives.


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:07 PM

Forward, my tiny minions!

 

Total-Annihilation-Might-Get-Modern-Rema

 

On the other hand, a degree of tension can be useful. The evolutionary purpose of it is to make us careful, in order to avoid problems.

 

 

Being too relaxed before doing something potentially difficult can have a very deleterious effect; it can encourage sloppiness and poor preparation.


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#10 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:36 PM

 

No offense, but you might want to consider why you're there, or maybe another line of work.  The only time I ever felt any anxiety was when I was fresh out of high school and on my first studio shoot.  After that it was all about getting the job done.


George, you need some special pills that will enable empathy.
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#11 George Ebersole

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 01:04 AM

 

George, you need some special pills that will enable empathy.

 

I may sound heartless, but when I started out it was with quite a few old school Hollywood types who routinely flew up from LA, and to be brutally honest, they didn't give a flying-f how you were feeling.  I guess things have changed since then, but I got yelled at more than my share of times--oddly enough that was mostly by teamster crews; set builders and grips of all sorts.

 

Not once did I ever feel self conscious about being out among the public with a camera.  There was usually fascination coming from them instead of ridicule.  It neither made me feel important nor ridiculed.  I was there to help shoot something; a model, store product, B-roll material....whatever.   It was a job.


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#12 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 01:09 AM

I may sound heartless, but when I started out it was with quite a few old school Hollywood types who routinely flew up from LA, and to be brutally honest, they didn't give a flying-f how you were feeling.  I guess things have changed since then, but I got yelled at more than my share of times--oddly enough that was mostly by teamster crews; set builders and grips of all sorts.

 

Not once did I ever feel self conscious about being out among the public with a camera.  There was usually fascination coming from them instead of ridicule.  It neither made me feel important nor ridiculed.  I was there to help shoot something; a model, store product, B-roll material....whatever.   It was a job.

 

Sounds like a real dream come true. :blink:


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#13 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:09 AM

HA HA Phil, i like that. My Favorite is "The Settlers" or "Age of Empire"

I see i am not the only one here who plays Computergames.

 

@David: know what MY fav relaxing music is? Honestly, it's on my iPhone and it's the Soundtrack of Blade Runnder AND Red October. Both are Masterpiece.

 

Have a nice Weekend everyone

Randy


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#14 Rick Cook

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:04 PM

Learn to manage your anxiety all together. If your continously get it before shoots, then Its likely that you get anxiety at other times as well. Look up some ways to combat that, and just relax.

I just always allow myself the time I need to prep for a shoot. Leave yourself enough time to do whatever needs to be done. I also like to just sit down and think about the logistics of every day the night before, you can reassure yourself that the day will (logistically) go smoothly.
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#15 Bruce Greene

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 12:25 PM

For me, the best way ovoid anxiety is to be well prepared. Works every time.

But there are times you can't prepare and must face the unknown. You prepare for this through...experience.

To get this experience, you need to practice throwing yourself into the unknown, with whatever equipment and crew are available. You will probably do some if your greatest, and sometimes least great work in this fashion. But you know what? Everything will be ok.

Remember this: no one shot will make or break your career. And there is always the cutting room.

That scene that didn't work well? Don't worry. You won't put it in the movie.

So, to learn not to worry, make the movie!!!!
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#16 Dino Giammattei

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 04:26 AM

You have a story to tell that you feel passionately about. You wouldn't be feeling the anxiety if you didn't.

You have something to record it with. This is a documentary and your capturing it. You are a film maker.

No lighting equipment? Table lamps, Home Depot quartz utility lights.  Bed sheets, and aluminum foil for reflectors. 

Car headlights pointed at a window. Anything that works...Anything. 

Focus on the story you're trying to tell and enjoy the process. Solve problems as they arise, and be happy with yourself when you do. Try smiling. Without any reason, even if it's the last thing you feel like doing. Just do it. 

You and I may never get to breathe the rarified air that most of the folks on this site do. That doesn't make us any less of a film maker than they are.  For myself, the more obstacles, the fewer resources I have just means I get to prove to people once again what a clever little bugger I am. The feeling of satisfaction I get when I can save a shoot that has gone terribly wrong is my drug of choice. Take a deep breath and jump into the fire. Always remind yourself that this is the most fun you could possibly be having.

If you ever need a pep talk, send me a PM. Never give up.....olduncledino 


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#17 Lee Tamer

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 01:28 PM

No offense, but you might want to consider why you're there, or maybe another line of work.  The only time I ever felt any anxiety was when I was fresh out of high school and on my first studio shoot.  After that it was all about getting the job done.

 

You dont want to be over confident about a project either, its good to have some anxiety 


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Visual Products

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Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

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