It takes a lot of energy, drive and determination to succeed as a filmmaker but sometimes it just doesn’t work out no matter how much effort is put in. Many have struggled to get their voice heard, their films seen and even the backing needed to finance their passion in the short term.
The following 5 things are common pitfalls that lead good filmmakers to quit:
1. They get constantly rejected
Constant rejection whether it’s from a film festival that says “Your film doesn’t qualify and doesn’t meet our criteria” to a production company or a producer who claims “We liked your script, but it’s not a good fit for us.” Filmmakers will get excuse after excuse that leads them to think they can’t succeed. There’s also the issue of ‘preferential treatment’ and diversity. Women filmmakers not being able to get roles as directors when they have the experience but producers claim they need more and give the opportunity to a director who’s not even shot a full-length feature.
2. They can’t get funding for their films
With cuts to art funding in the UK and insufficient tax breaks in Hollywood, there’s less financing available for productions, especially for independent filmmakers. Even when filmmakers try to get investment or support elsewhere they often find they need letters of attachment, lawyers and part of their budget covered. How does one get the completion funds when you can’t get the rest of the budget? The system is rigged!
3. They get burned out by long shoots and time away from family
Some film shoots are long, arduous and involve many months away from home. Often filmmakers are travelling extensively throughout their careers to go where the productions are. This leads to many struggling for stability while pursuing their passion. Sometimes it’s too much and for too little pay.
4. They get 1 distribution deal and then everything falls apart
That one distribution deal starts everything. The film gets a limited theatrical release, then it’s all over. No more opportunity. Even when trying to secure more funding for a new project, the process still remains challenging and filmmakers fall into obscurity.
5. Agents and managers ignore them
Filmmakers try to get managers and talent agents to forward scripts. They never take calls, read emails, or have a desire to connect actors or producers to filmmakers. In fact, they prevent projects from being funded full-stop because they’ll only listen to people they know who have money. No wonder so many filmmakers are frustrated seeing the same recycled stories over and over again. It’s the same people making them!
But there is hope at the end of the tunnel. The game is changing, and the system is being re-written so that filmmakers can raise money through crowdfunding, reach audiences directly online and sell their own products to their fans. Below are some resources to get you started so that you can succeed and overcome the barriers:
- Robert Rodriguez on how a 23-year-old filmmaker with $7k became a Hollywood player
- 4 awesome skills to learn if you want your filmmaking career to take off
- 7 things you can do in 30 days to make more money in the film industry
And for those interested in learning some additional skills to get their films made: