So you want to be a professional filmmaker

Passion, dedication and the ability to work extra hard, these are the ingredients of success in any occupation. By the time you decide to become a filmmaker, you probably have a passion for filmmaking. How do you move from just having a passion for the job to being successful at it? Below are a few tips on how to become a successful filmmaker.

  1. Go to film school

While filmmaking can be self-taught, you will realize that an undergraduate degree in filmmaking goes a long way in setting you apart from the onset. You not only gain training from professional filmmakers but you also get to enjoy the full benefits of being in school including access to a library. In film school, you will learn all the basics of filmmaking including screenwriting, camera operations and lighting and sound. Students also get to learn about the different types of films such as scripted and documentary films and the requirement for each type. An important benefit of attending film school is that the students get to learn the creative and technical skills that are needed for one to be a successful filmmaker. While in the real world, the window for mistakes in filmmaking are limited, in film school one gets to make as many mistakes as possible while in school. One also gets to enjoy the benefits of having professors to correct the mistakes made. As such, film school is important if one is to grow fast into a seasoned filmmaker.

It is important to keep in mind that you need to learn other aspects of films including creative scriptwriting. As a filmmaker you will often find out that you need to write the films that you produce.

  1. Practice, practice, practice!

Practice makes perfect it is said. Keep this in mind while in school and even out of school. You can only learn and get better at filmmaking through practice. By practice, however, I do not mean practicing blindly and not caring about the results of the practice. Any practice taken will only be successful if done carefully with an end goal in mind. The end goal in this case is to get better at filmmaking which means that you need to learn from each practice session.

The best way to practice is to begin with short films. These are easier to write which means that you will take a shorter time writing and still learn the same lesson that you would learn with a longer film. All the way from film school, you need to inculcate a habit of practicing. As Malcolm Gladwell explains through the ten thousand hours’ rule, you need to do something for ten thousand hours for you to be truly an expert at it. Use your practice session to attain your ten thousand hours if you truly want to be successful in filmmaking.

  1. Read, read, read!


While your job is all about producing, you need to read. Reading achieves a two-fold purpose for filmmakers. First of all, reading enables you to keep in touch with the filmmaking world. Through reading, you get to learn about the trends in filmmaking. You get to know what is new, what has been updated, and the good and the bad of filmmaking. Reading also allows you to learn from other’s experiences. Secondly, critical reading allows you to gauge the needs and tastes of the consumers. This will turn out to be instrumental in your own creations because when you get to scriptwriting and filmmaking you will know exactly what your consumers need.

  1. Network

Just like in other professions, to be a successful filmmaker, you need to network with others in the field. Just like reading, networking opens up doors and minds. Networking gets you discovered and can easily get you a mentor.

  1. Get a trusted team behind you

It may be possible to run the filmmaking race alone but it will not get you as far as you want to go and as fast as you would like to. It is important to brainstorm and to learn from others successes and failures. Keep in mind that like most successful people, you need the support and assistance of others in the field.

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