Editor’s Desk: Go Make Your Damn Movie!

I remember a bunch of years ago when the Sony vx1000 3ccd miniDV camera first came out. People were floored by this thing. The image quality was like nothing that had ever been seen before on a camera of this nature, and it was pretty much the first serious camera that utilized the “new” miniDV technology, taking advantage of a firewire transit system that just about any computer (especially macs) could connect to and use. Combine that with the relatively low cost desktop video editing programs that were popping up (Final Cut, Adobe Premiere) and it became obvious that a revolution was on our hands.

Just as the web democratized the sharing of thoughts, ideas and information, this new technology held the promise of democratizing the making of and sharing of film. Many people speculated at the time that a whole new generation of filmmakers will emerge because now just about anybody can grab a $3000 camera (instead of a $500,000 camera) and cut on a $2000 computer (instead of a $100,000 editing system).

Those predictions didn’t quite come to fruition as quickly as some prognostications guessed, but it is coming, and I’d go so far as to suggest that the tools are now here to do just that.

More and more films are being edited on the relatively inexpensive Final Cut Pro platform (goes for around $1000). It’s an elegant editing tool that I’ve used before that is extremely powerful and surprisingly easy to learn (it takes a while to MASTER, but you could pick up the basics and be editing in an hour).

As far as cameras go, we’ve come a long way from the vx1000. Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor just finished shooting “Crank 2” in May, shooting basically the entire movie with the simple Canon XH A1 High Def cameras. You can pick these things up in some lower end electronic stores for heavens sake. You can grab one brand spanking new for just over $3000. Is that something the average high school kid can run out and grab on his paper route money? No, but the point is that it’s now much more within the reach of average people without $100,000 in the bank account to pick up some gear and start shooting.

With the internet being what it is, a project doesn’t need a distribution deal to allow people from all over the world to see it. Just upload it and let people know it’s there. No, the old “if you build it they will come” fairy tale cliche won’t work, but at least now the obstacle for indie filmmakers of not having a VEHICLE to present their work is taken out of the equation.

The tools are available. The tools are affordable. The tools are easy enough to use.

The one giant obstacle still standing in the way of aspiring filmmakers (which is all of us really) is still the same one that it’s always been. Not tools, not money, but talent.

Sure, the internet has democratized information and ideas… but some people thoughts that just because a TOOL was now there to share their ideas with millions of people around the world, doesn’t mean a million people were going to bother spending time on their website. You still needed the talent. The talent to write. The talent to express. The talent to entertain or engage or to provoke. Tools without talent are nothing more than personal projects for your own personal enjoyment (and there’s nothing wrong with those either).

The same can be said for the filmmaking world. The tools are there. Yeah you still need to raise a little bit of money, but it’s just a fraction of what it used to be really and is something I think just about anyone can raise. Yes, the tools are there and they are now more affordable and higher quality than ever… but the issue is still talent.

Yes you can grab a $3000 camera. Sure you can install Final Cut on your computer. But do you have a story to tell? Do you have the talent to bring that story to life? DON’T ASSUME THE ANSER IS NO! Why not try? For that much money, why not do something instead of sitting around dreaming about it? What’s the worst that can happen? Your movie sucks and no one likes it… but who cares??? At least you’ll be doing something that everyone else talks about but never has the guts to try. At the very least it could be one of the most fun experiences of your life.

Come up with an idea. Write out a script. Once you’ve got the script to the point that you love it, show it to some people and start trying to get a little bit of money together. Beg family and friends to help you out by being actors or “crew”. Then just do it. Make your damn movie. It’s affordable, it’s easier than you think (by easier I mean really really really hard… but not impossible) and you’ll be doing something almost everyone else wishes they did but never had the nerve to attempt.

Could your movie be the next Clerks or Blair Witch? Sure, it’s highly unlikely, but why not? I did a documentary last year called “Prince of Peace – God of War” for just over $10,000. It was my first attempt at doing anything like that and I discovered I was a horrible documentary filmmaker! But guess what, I had an AMAZING time doing it, it played at a whole bunch of festivals, got some great reviews and I actually made profit off it, selling out all the DVDs and it’s still selling online downloads (shameless plug: You can get the movie here).

But even if your movie sucks… even if no one watches it besides you and your friends… even if you don’t play it at any festivals… even if you are someone with tools but no talent… WHO CARES?!?! Do it anyway! Have fun! Make something even if it’s just for you. It’s an experience no one will ever be able to take away from you and one you’ll cherish forever. YOU MADE A MOVIE. Do it with some friends and you’ll have a bonding experience like nothing else.

One of the perks of my job is that fans send me their home made videos all the time. Yeah most of them suck ass, but some of them are hilarious and completely make my day when I watch them… and no matter how bad your film is, it’ll probably still make someone’s day!

So instead of just talking about films all the time… why not make one. The tools are available and you may discover you have the talent. And even if you don’t it’ll be one of the richest experiences of your life, something you can look back on, something that’s yours.

And maybe I have something to announce in the next week or so. :P

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