How to Be a Filmmaker Without Losing Your Soul

Monday, January 16, 2012

preparing for indiegogo campaign
my fifth draft of the script, my memoir: volume one (moving onto volume two very soon), my seven year pen, sketchbooks for brainstorming and campaigning ideas, martin luther king, jr. artwork by faith ringgold

How many times have you been told "no, you're not good enough" or "no, you won't make it" or "no, it's impossible"? Everyday we're bombarded with the idea that we can't achieve our goals. No no no no no no no no no. I think we're so negative, because most of us have lost our fire, our drive, our will to fight. I also think that pessimism is the easier option. It takes a lot of courage to be optimistic and hopeful. The truth is we're all scared. We're scared of failure, we're scared of disappointing our loved ones, we're scared of disappointing ourselves, we're scared of eternal sadness and regret. I'm terrified. I am truly terrified and my fear paralyzes me. Then I stop for a moment and I want to slap myself silly, because I remember that some people have it way worse than me. Then I get upset at myself for being so scared, because there are people out there who are homeless, hungry, sick, on their deathbed and I'm whining about how scared I am.

It is unacceptable. This is why I decided to be a writer and director. It's simple enough. Write a script and direct it. What's the hard part? Producing it. Let me rewind back. I genuinely feel anger when I am told "no". It doesn't bother me in a way that I don't think I'm good enough, it just angers me when someone who doesn't even know me tells me I can't do it. I know there needs to be a balance of optimism and being realistic, but if I'm going to be realistic, I might as well just give up now. But is that an option? No. That's a good no. I have been dealing with the internal conflict of balancing optimism and practicality. I have chosen a path that is challenging and competitive, but what career path isn't challenging and competitive? It's a battlefield out there and I'm not just talking about the U.S. I mean the whole world.

I remember when I first knew I wanted to be in film; I knew it was the right choice for myself, because I couldn't picture myself doing anything else. But that was way back when I had no idea what that really entailed. When kids dream of being a director or working in film, they have no idea how stressful and competitive and toxic the industry really is. But now that I've had a taste of it, I still know with more certainty than ever that I absolutely want to do this for the rest of my life. The moment I realized my passion, I was told that I couldn't do it. I remember there was so much doubt about my dream, because it wasn't a "typical" or practical career. There was a lot of negativity and doubt, but I (now) understand where that doubt came from. I understand that doubt comes from fear and the fear is completely rational, because we're all scared of the unknown.

Now I have finally reached a point where I am ready to let go of the fear. Fear is not allowed to stop me from doing what I want to in life, because I deserve a chance. I think everyone deserves a chance to really pursue their dream. It's not fair that some people are more privileged than others. It's not fair that some people get lots of chances and some get none. I think it's all in the state of mind. Drive and passion come from within. We all have the potential to really strive and fight for our goal. I am sick and tired of letting my fear get in the way, because it has been in my way long enough. I am letting go of the fear and doubt and I'm going to put myself out there to be criticized. I'm ready.

To my second point: I want my voice to be heard through my movies. I know that's a lot to ask from a movie by an unknown like me, but I have something to say and I think I have a pretty valid voice and I want people to hear me. I want to say that I want to make movies for both selfless and selfish reasons. Let me explain. I want to tell stories that speak to people and I want my voice to be heard. That's a pretty selfish reason, right? And at the end of the day, the film industry is a business and not just an art form - so movies cost money. But as for selfless reasons, I want to make movies that can help at least one person, to comfort them or to somehow guide them. I hope that doesn't sound pretentious. If it does, let me know and I'll have to re-word that.

I watch movies to feel inspired. Or rather I watch certain movies to get inspiration. I watch sad movies, because I feel more grateful and hopeful at the end. I don't know if other people do that too, but I prefer sad and open endings. I love art, because I love the story behind the art and artist. I just love being inspired to be a better person and I guess that's why I chose a creative path in life. I just know that I have a lot to say and if one day I can be heard - that's all I want. I don't need to be the next Woody Allen (because I will be realistic, I won't ever reach his level), I won't be the next Quentin Tarantino, Michel Gondry, Darren Aronofsky, Sam Mendes, Alexander Payne, etc. But I just want to write stories and make movies that are truthful and honest.

I know I have to fight for what I believe in, because no one else is going to fight my battles. It is a battlefield out there, but I will fight for my dream. However, I absolutely will not compromise my integrity in order to get there first. I have my morals, I am super strict in that department, because I absolutely believe that if I ever lose my soul in the process of it all, I might as well just not try at all. I kind of love my soul. I think that some people can be so consumed with the idea of succeeding first, they end up losing their soul on the way and do some pretty regrettable things. I think that may come from a competitive nature. I am more ambitious than I am competitive. I have friends who also have career goals in film and I am completely supportive toward their goals, because there's lot of room for all of us.

I don't think someone deserves a better chance than someone else. I think we all deserve the same chance to go out there and fight for our dreams. I think soul is such an important part to creating art and unfortunately, some people don't have a soul anymore, because they forgot their original dream. This is why I am writing this, because I refuse to compromise my integrity, I refuse to lose my soul, I refuse to let this competitive industry ruin who I am. I'm not saying that everyone in Hollywood or the film industry have their lost souls, but I'm sure it has affected quite a few people. I want to be in an environment where everyone loves their craft. The film industry is a business, it is a job and when people are so stressed out, they end up resenting their job - just like any job. But I hope that I love my job every day, because life is too short to hate your passion. I know when you're working, time is money, lalala, but I think having fun is also really important, because we're human at the end of the day - we are not robots or zombies.

This also plays a huge factor of retaining your soul. We're human and we have to pay the bills, pay the rent, pay taxes and that means we have to find a job. If we end up working in the creative field, we tend to hope to do what we love, but chances are a lot of people have become jaded by the whole experience. I refuse to become jaded. I hope we can all work together, get the work done and have fun at the same time. I know I may sound overly and naively optimistic, but I think that I can find that balance and I hope other people can too.

I truly wish everyone success in their endeavors, because we all deserve to dream and fight for our beliefs. I believe that I can do this, because I have let go of the fear and inhibitions. I truly want this. To my third point, I am making my first film this Spring and I am truly excited (and yes a little scared, but go away fear). My IndieGoGo Campaign will be up and running by the end of the week. I hope I can interest you in making a donation of any size or just spreading the word would be amazing. Thank you so much.

To conclude, I would like to share Martin Luther King, Jr's famous speech about racial equality and civil rights. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

martin luther king, jr.


  1. This is so honest and beautiful. Embrace fear and believe in yourself. xx

  2. wow. im a filmmaker as well and you inspired me. i felt exactly the same as you did and still do. its really so hard to get motivated and just do it. im sad you live in ny. if you lived in la, id totally help with your film! good luck with all your endeavors.

  3. Sincere and inspiring. You'll go far, my friend!

  4. I like how you are sincere and honest. This is very inspiring. I feel like I'm living on mute sometimes, but I guess that is just me being not-positive.

    I hope you'll get there, and I think you will. You've got great character, I think you don't sound pretentious, you sound ambitious. Which I think is great.

  5. I can relate very much to all of this. From a young age, I just wanted to write and direct my own films. Throughout university I've been pushed into all kinds of directions and being told "you are good at this and this is what you should do".

    I let myself believe that and now I find it so hard to start again. It's like I've lost hope. I really feel quite lost and I find it so difficult to write anything because in my mind I don't think I'm good enough becuse I haven't dedicated enough of my time into writing and directing. And I'm so scared of failure.

    I'm really happy that you've taken on an honest yet optimistic approach. It motivates me to start writing again :)

  6. I think I love you omg.
    Honestly, this was exactly what I needed to hear. And it opened my eyes so much. From now on I will try to believe in myself more and not let fear get the best of me.
    I believe in you and I wish you the best of luck with anything you set out to do. You have an amazing blog!

  7. at the risk of sounding like a complete groupie - i LOVE your blog. and your posts :) please continue, eheh.



  8. we're scared of disappointing ourselves, we're scared of eternal sadness and regret. I'm terrified. makeup artist

  9. The film industry is a business, it is a job and when people are so stressed out, they end up resenting their job - just like any job. But I hope that I love my job every day, because life is too short to hate your passion. online makeup artist school

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