Before the lights, cameras, actors, and awards, there’s only you and your idea. This idea exists in the dark, constantly evolving and begging to be put into the real world, representing a million different possibilities before it takes its final shape.
Launching your first feature is no small feat. Some will say the hardest part is finding an idea worth pursuing, or that the real roadblock is convincing other people that your idea is worth pursuing. Others point to the logistics of production as the real challenge. One thing is for certain: well-informed preparation goes a long way towards making the process smoother—helping you bring the film you’ve envisioned to life.
Director/Writer Ricky Staub and Producer/Writer Dan Walser are the founding team behind Neighborhood Film Co., a production team who recently released their first feature film Concrete Cowboy. On the other side of the table, we have famed producers Jeff Waxman and Jen Madeloff, who besides producing Concrete Cowboy, have worked on Vice, John Wick: Chapter 3, Mother!, and dozens more.
We’ve spent more than four years of talking with some of the best filmmakers in the world, and there are a few questions we haven’t asked. What had these filmmakers been totally wrong about when they first started? And what was the very best thing they did for their careers? We thought these two questions could help calibrate the navigation system — give us all a sense of what we should be moving toward, and what we should be moving away from. So we sent out a bunch of emails. The responses we got back were wonderful and surprising. Some were personal (Eliot Rausch’s sobriety; Reinaldo Green meeting his wife). Some were professional (Joel Edward’s disillusionment with the industry; MINDCASTLE’s belief in director’s cuts). But they all had one thing in common: these lessons were learned painstakingly and firsthand.
Filmmaking, for many, is a treadmill. You spend so much time clawing your way into a position to make films for a living that you find yourself in a place where you’re not making the films you want to be making. Or at least the films you’re personally invested in making. There are deadlines. There are clients. And, of course, there are bills to pay. Sometimes years can go by without stepping off of the treadmill and our big ideas for passion projects do nothing but collect dust. It happens to the best of us. But, here’s the good news: by working to put yourself in this position, you’ve (maybe unknowingly) given yourself the tools you need to pull off a film you only would’ve dreamed of making in your early days.
We know, we know. It’s another “Best of 2018” list. But, we think this one is a little different because it’s filled with things that can actually make an impact on your life as a filmmaker. If you believe, as we do, that we’re never done learning, then, by all means, keep reading.