Filmmaking: Tips, Sources & Tools — March 17, 2013 at 10:18 pm

4 Zen Tips for filmmakers

zen-filmmaking-tipsSundance alumni, filmmakers Allison Anders and Kurt Voss are trying to raise distribution funds for their “Strutter” film.

They’ve recently shared some filmmaking tips, reflecting on the challenges of indie filmmaking by viewing the process through the prism of Zen Buddhism.

So below are four “zen tips” of filmmaking from Anders and Voss.

ZEN TIP 1: Let go of being an expert
When you let go of being an expert, you open up to intuition. It’s so hard to follow your intuition in traditional models of filmmaking, because so many people are involved and the schedule is so fixed based on budget, availabilities and even the weather. This approach opens up to surprises and revelations and incorporating those into a looser script to guide the film.

ZEN TIP 2: Use “Don’t Know” mind
One of the hardest things to own when you’re a filmmaker is admitting what you don’t know, which is ironic, because you are forever supported when you make a movie by people who do know. But it’s important to realize that saying you don’t know is not the same thing as not having a vision.

You can envision how you want a scene to look and yet not know how to light it, or how to build the set, or how to sew the costume. But if you can communicate what you want to those who do know, you will have what you envision. You won’t learn new great tricks if you don’t admit you don’t know.

ZEN TIP 3: “Fall down seven times, Get Up eight times”
Certainly one needs fortitude to produce any film, regardless of budget. But of course the challenges are amplified when one is working with essentially “no” budget. There will be scenes one cannot afford to mount which will need to be restaged or rethought; there will be locations impossible to secure, or temp score which marries beautifully with the rough cut but which simply proves too expensive to buy for the finished film.

Worse yet, your tiny DIY feature will be judged against $200 million films, and in certain respects cannot but help be found wanting in comparison. Each of these obstacles will be experienced as a body blow to the filmmaker, and it is easy to despair. But one must learn to embrace these challenges as part of the process. Despite getting winded or even floored, the filmmaker must dust herself off and get back on her feet to continue fighting the good fight.

ZEN TIP 4: “Let Go of ‘shoulds’“
There are obviously many things one must forego when making a feature with no budget. One succinct tip is to simply leave behind the word “Should.” We “should” have a caterer; we “should” have some extra hands on deck to help us load all this equipment. Don’t surrender of all standards, or all wishes however. For example, if you cannot afford a physical release of your film, find another path, through the internet for example.

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