Start Small

Originally posted on

In 2007 I was going to embark on directing my first feature film project.  I’d written a script, read a couple books, and made some short YouTube videos starring myself.  Surely I was ready for the tremendous undertaking of directing a ninety minute movie, right?

I learned pretty quickly, as you might expect, that I was about to do the equivalent of diving into the deep end when I’d only heard about the concept of swimming.  The project fell apart, and I was pretty depressed.  What did I do wrong?  Did this mean God didn’t want me to make movies?  Why did this happen?

What happened was that I simply didn’t have the skills or experience to finish the task I had set out to do.

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it” Luke 14:28 (NKJV)

What I’ve learned since then is that while some are fortunate enough to have big projects from the start, most filmmakers start small and work their way up.  Two filmmakers I admire and study are Alfred Hitchcock and George Lucas (don’t laugh, now).  They both started small, Lucas making many short films while in film school, and Hitchcock started as a title card designer during the silent film era.  These two men became regarded as great filmmakers (for quite different reasons, admittedly).  They both started small, and they both did a LOT.  Hitchcock worked on 17 films in the five years prior to his directorial debut.  Lucas made 9 short films before his first feature.

So if you feel you’ve been called to make feature films, or just have a burning passion to tell stories through film… start producing!  Make short films, make a web series, do a documentary, film a skit at church… but do something!  Of course it won’t be great… at first.  But think of how gratifying it will be to look back in five, or even two, years and be able to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved.

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