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 🙂
- 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.
- 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?