How to Make a movie: Announce yourself

It’s official, my friend and I are making a short film! If you asked me a year ago what I thought I would be doing now, I never would have guessed this. Life takes you on a bizarre and awesome path when you follow your interests.

making a movieIn my continuing effort to share what I’m working on while still keeping my posts helpful and accessible, I now introduce a series of broad lessons I’ve learned from the process of making a movie. These lessons are helpful to anyone who’s trying to make something bigger than themselves.

Step one: Announce yourself

During the last writer’s conference, I asked my audience if they consider themselves to be writers. I was surprised that most of them said no. They believed they needed the external validation of an MFA or a publishing career in order to use that title. I shared with them that my life was never the same after I started describing myself as a writer.

  1. I felt encouraged to write every day because I wanted to live up to my title.
  2. It was easier to invest in my writing career once I was a self-proclaimed writer. It seems crazy to spend $400 on a writing class if I’m a web designer with an interest in writing, but it makes perfect sense if I’m a writer with a side job.
  3. People started connecting me with other writers because they know me as the writer. This helped me make connections for my conferences as well as the movie project that I’m about to get into.

So, yes, first things first, let everyone know what you consider yourself to be and what you hope to do. I made it very clear to everyone I know that I’m a writer. For the last few months I’ve been letting people know how much I enjoy writing screenplays and that I hope to develop a project.


That brings us to the lovely Ashley H., who you might remember from when I dyed my hair purple. Ashley knew that I was interested in screenwriting. She also knew that her friend, Caroline, was interested in screenwriting. With this simple email from Ashley: “I really think the two of you should meet and discuss things!” we were off!  It was a match made in movie-making heaven.

Do you see how important it is for your friends to know what you are interested in doing? If I had kept my ambitions a secret, if I was too embarrassed to say what I wanted, Ashley never would have thought of introducing us. If you want to start an ice cream company, start telling everyone you know. If you want to put on a one-woman show, start talking about it now. After you share what you’re passionate about, you’ll be amazed at the connections that start popping up!

So what is your dream? What do you want to do that is bigger than yourself? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below!

Stay tuned for the next step in making a movie!

Editing the Image of an Artist

One of my greatest pet peeves is the way artists are portrayed in movies. I’m not even talking about the consistent characterization of artists as bitter, emotionally distant, often abusive alcoholics. I’m talking about the way art is made in movies. In a spark of creative passion, the artist character, always with mad eyes and frizzy hair, stays up all night and completes a novel, painting or song.

I almost walked out of the theater during this scene of The Words when the character stays up all night writing his novel. One pack of cigarettes later, he comes up with a masterpiece that takes the literary world by storm and he never even picked up a bottle of White Out. Come on!

What these movies seem to forget is that art is work. Sometimes there is a spark of inspiration, but it is followed by long hours, weeks, months or years of hard work and self-doubt. Yes, there was one time I had a brilliant idea and stayed up all night writing it down, but that was two years ago, and since then I’ve written four versions of it and I’ve done countless edits (see the picture below). This part of the process would be too boring for a movie.

A random sample of the edits I make on a draft.

A random sample of the edits I made on that draft.

These movies do art a disservice. They marginalize the effort it takes to make great work. I wish just once, a movie would show an artist as someone who stares at her computer for hours on end, someone who takes classes to improve his craft, someone who reads over a sentence twenty times and then ends up deleting it. I know it wouldn’t be as interesting to watch, but I know a lot of artists who would enjoy it.

So now I leave you with a scene that helped me realize how ridiculous art scenes are in movies: