So you've just met a filmmaker for the first time and you want to make a good impression. You want to ask thoughtful and relevant questions- how hard could it be? Right? You like movies and they make movies. Conversation should flow like the smooth jazz of Kenny G.
Well, it's possible if you can avoid these ten questions and comments that filmmakers have to field ALL THE FRIGGEN TIME.
1. Oh your an independent filmmaker.
Way to rock the dismissive attitude, dude. Yes- it's pretty likely that if we are not actually George Lucas or Martin Scorsese that we are an independent filmmaker. Independent filmmaking may not get a lot of play in the big multiplexes, but there are a lot of dynamic and well crafted films being made outside of studios nowadays.
2. So what's your favorite movie?
I don't know, which of your children is your favorite? I guarantee that no one will have a ready and meaningful answer for this even though everyone has asked us this question since we first declared "I wanna make movies!" What you really want to know is what kinds of stories we admire- ask that instead and we'll have a lot to say.
3. What do you mean you've never heard of (name of filmmaker)?
Ok, just becoming a filmmaker does not magically implant you with encyclopedic knowledge of every movie made by every filmmaker in the history of forever. It might just be possible that you've even seen more movies than we have. Maybe tell us what you like about that filmmaker's work so we can go look it up for ourselves.
4. Can you really call yourself a filmmaker when you just shoot digitally?
Can you really call yourself a photographer if you shoot on a digital camera? Can you really call yourself a writer if you actually type everything? Can you really call yourself a filmmaker if you're not actually making film stock? Filmmaking refers to audio visual storytelling and that hasn't changed even though the tools for capturing it have. So yes. I can and I do call myself a filmmaker even though I shoot digitally.
5. Everyone is a filmmaker these days.
Yes. We noticed. Not everybody stays a filmmaker, though.
6. But what's your real job?
Filmmaking is our real job. No really- it is. Oh, you want to know what we do for money? Wait tables. Apply for grants. Crowdfunding. Give plasma. Work on other peoples films. You know, whatever it takes so that we can make films.
7. You should start a YouTube channel!
Golly I never thought of that! Why not dedicate my life to producing short serial online videos that may or may not ever get picked up by YouTube for advertiser sponsorship? I mean, why try to learn how to create meaningful, well crafted films when I could just knock out a vlog of my talking head twice a week? Don't get me wrong- there are great YouTube channels out there, but they aren't a step towards being recognized as a filmmaker, they are a step towards being recognized as a YouTuber.
8. Why not just make a video and post it online and make it go viral?
That's a great idea! Why not just buy a lottery ticket and make millions of dollars? It's basically the same thing. Videos go viral because they are lucky to be in the right place at the right time and strike just the right chord with the zeitgeist. Can you do that?
9. Hey my [kid/niece/nephew/neighbor] is a filmmaker...
If you're about to tell me how great they are doing and how many awards they've won then just stahp. If they are miles more successful than me I will get defensive and if they're struggling then I will feel guilty for doing well. This is not a way to make friends.
If you want me to take a look at their work then I might be willing/able to give them some help- but they'll have to follow up with me themselves.
10. So when are you going to Cannes/Sundance/Tribecca/SXSW?
When are you going to join the varsity team? When are you going to join the country club? When are you going to sing in the main room instead of the lounge? Just as soon as they deem my work worthy to be included, that's when. It's not like I haven't been trying.
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