The First Step is the Scariest

Sometimes it’s better to have no idea what you’re getting into.

That point was brought home this month when I was part of a panel, Intro to Indie Documentaries. On the cusp of wrapping up our second documentary in two months, my husband, our Japanese director, our storyboarding friend from Grimm (who is also a veteran documentary filmmaker) and me, all dug into the realities of making documentaries.

Taking any first step into indie production – whether it’s publishing or film- is scary. While there were dozens of stories and many examples of how to handle situations, I broke down the process into three segments – to help keep us on track, sort of 🙂

  1. Plan Everything: Start weeks ahead of time when it comes to working with large organizations. In August we filmed on the Makah Reservation in Neah Bay, Washington. Without the ongoing assistance of the good folks at the museum our project would not exist. They helped us get a footing in the community, so we weren’t just strangers rolling into town with tents and camera package. They gave us the heads up on the mobile phone situation (only one carrier!) and helped us schedule exactly what we needed. Until hurricane force winds blew away our camp.
  2. Forget Everything: Things go awry. They have with every project, so of course something was bound to go wrong with this one. We had four glorious days of I-can’t-believe-our-fantastic-luck-this-is-all-going-so-well.

And then. Yeah. Things went south. And west, east and north. Our borrowed aluminum frame tent pretzeled into a new form. We dragged popped air mattresses from the bushes. It was a mess. But the good news was we had clear plastic bags to keep the camera wrapped and DRY backup batteries. We filmed the whole storm as it ripped through the town and the annual parade.

3. Stay Objective ( Don’t lose yourself down the rabbit hole). If you stay too focused in one direction you might lose other opportunities. The storm slowed us down on a day that was critical to our schedule. The electricity for the entire town, and much of the  NW coastal Washington, was out. We didn’t know whether we needed to bail to the emergency shelter, Port Angeles, or home. Instead, we were taken in by the owner of the RV park. Into her home. With her family.

And that changed everything, our direction shifted. The result was not only the title of our project, “Home”, but also the privilege of sharing the very personal stories of one family and what Makah Days means to them.

It’s a project we are all very proud of. Our director goes home in five days, and right now I feel like I’m dragging myself over an invisible finish line as we struggle to tie up the final details of this next project. And then the next phase begins: finding distribution… another scary first step?

Which brings me to these questions: How have you pushed yourself , or how do you intend to push yourself, to new limits in the remainder of 2015?   And if you had the chance to know your outcome, would you want to know?


About Jamie Brazil

Humor writer, romance novelist, Bloodhound enthusiast.

Posted on October 14, 2015, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I’m going to get “plan everything” and “forget everythign” tattooed on my knuckles. And yes, I will include the typo since apparently I can’t ever type thign correctly the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your story with of surviving that storm and making lemonade.

    I have not found something that works for me but I have big 2016 goals so I better figure out something soon 🙂


  3. I love your perspective of this post. It is super scary to step out of your comfort zone and attempt new things. And also so very rewarding. I can’t wait to see your film!

    My scary new thing is to let go of trying to control everything and trying to be perfect at everything. Writing under contract while working full time and administering a grant project keeps me crazy busy and a lot of times I’m so stressed out I forget to enjoy how blessed I am right now. I love my job. I love my grant project. And I love writing. In order to keep my focus and remember how much fun this could be, I have to live with the fact that other stuff won’t get done and I things will move around in the calendar.

    For a control freak like me, that is super scary. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Thanks for reporting on your documentary time with the Makah. Your life is always amazing to me and how you find a way to get through it, around it, and still find the hidden gems.

    To answer your question, I’m pushing myself to get two books out in three months. Because of all kinds of things going sidewise the beginning of 2015, I fell 4 months behind in my production schedule. I wisely said I would have to let one book go (I usually schedule one title every 3-4 months). But I am pushing it to get two more out in crunch time. For me it’s called focused retreat to make this happen.

    Would I want to know the outcome? No. As long as I believe it can be done I will push forward. The moment I question that, I stop.

    I do believe your documentary we’ll find distribution! It’s a great story that must be told.

    I do believe I will get two more books done this year!

    I do believe 2016 will be magnificent!


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