Arts

You're ready to make your dream film. Here are 7 tips to get you started

Four directors behind Canadian Screen Award-nominated films share their advice for emerging filmmakers.

Four directors behind Canadian Screen Award-nominated films share their advice for emerging filmmakers

Just add you! (Getty Images)

It's Canadian Screen Week, and with all of the celebrations over our homegrown talent, we asked four directors of CSA-nominated films from across the country — Christy Garland, Daniel Roby, Robert Budreau and Kristina Wagenbauer — to share some advice for emerging filmmakers.

Watch the video:

Want to make your film but don't know where to start? Directors behind CSA nominated films give us their advice. 2:12

1. Stop comparing yourself

In a social media-filled world, it is hard to not compare yourself to your peers. Scrolling through other filmmakers' updates with envy or comparison will only lead to you making work that is one step behind.

Christy Garland, director of the documentary What Walaa Wants, says, "Despite how hard it is, stop worrying about what other people are doing and comparing your film (or the film you want to make) to films that are being made and the ones that are being financed."

2. Experiment with short films

If you want to be a filmmaker you have to...make films. Experiment with short films. This will help you find your voice and your filmmaking style without breaking your bank account!

Filmmaker Daniel Roby, whose film Just a Breath Away is nominated for multiple CSAs, says, "You need to do it. You can't just, like, read about it or even study it. Test your craft. Figure out what you have to say."

3. Prep is key

Small budgets often force you to have to make tough decisions. Stockholm director Robert Budreau suggests that lots of prepping is a significant way to avoid compromising your vision too much.

Budreau explains, "Making independent movies...you know you never have enough time, you never have enough budget so you're always trying to figure out, 'OK, what's the best way to tell the story in the least compromised way?'. And that's just why you know being really really prepared spending a lot of time in prep is so important because then you don't have to compromise as much — ideally."

4. Put your idea down on paper...now

Do you ever have a great idea but don't know where to start? You have to put pen to paper, or finger to key. Even if it is the roughest version...write it down!

Kristina Wagenbauer, the filmmaker behind Sashinka, says, "If you have an idea, write the first draft as quick as possible. Do it in 10 days and then you start from there."

5. Smaller crew=more time

Your film set might "feel" like a bigger production if you blow your budget on a full crew, the best camera, a handful of lighting/grip trucks and other luxuries. However, the audience never gets to see what filmmaker Daniel Roby calls "the machine behind making a movie" and only gets the final product on the screen. Roby suggests that sometimes the "machine" complicates your shoot and can chew up your time  time that you could be spending with your actors on their performance.

Roby explains, "The size of the crew, the trucks, the machine behind making a movie is not onscreen. What you're gonna be looking for as a director is time with your actors basically to react and create on the spot on the day."

6. Value your point of view

Your own voice is everything. Trust it.

Christy Garland gives us straight up wisdom: "People don't protect their own gifts enough and their own viewpoints, and too often than not they make films that look like watered down versions of other people's films."

7. Be original

Roby, Garland, Budreau and Wagenbauer all gave this same key tip. So what are you waiting for? Go make your movie!