(Article published in StudentFilmmakers Magazine.)
What Are You Waiting For?
Patience may be a virtue, but it gets nothing accomplished.
By Shane Stanley
One thing I’ve always believed is if you have a camera and a subject, you’re good to go. Sure, it’d be nice to have a sound team, hair and makeup department, production designer along with a handful of other people to feed and a convoy of honey wagons supporting your mission but when the rubber meets the road, how much of that is really necessary to telling a story? Don’t get me wrong, I am proponent of having a capable crew on hand (especially a crack soundman) and value each and every one of them but this blog isn’t about the crew, it’s about you, the ever-encompassing filmmaker telling the story you want – better yet – need to tell.
I recently attended Outfest at the Directors Guild of America here in Los Angeles and had the pleasure of seeing the motion picture מונטנה (that’s “Montana” for those who don’t read Hebrew) and upon hearing the Q&A with filmmaker Limor Shmila, I was reminded of something I preach constantly: “Don’t wait for anyone to give you the go-ahead to tell your story, just go tell it.” Limor’s film was very well done, shot on a shoestring budget and filmed in just thirteen days. It was also selected for the Toronto International Film Festival in case you’re wondering if it’s worth seeing. Of course, there are films that require huge budgets (and a massive crew) to get done properly but I am not talking about those; I’m talking about telling stories that touch the human heart and can launch filmmakers into the stratosphere. You know, old school storytelling!
Some of the most impacting films I saw as a kid while trying to find my way were ones that just consisted of human beings captured on camera doing extraordinary things. Academy Award nominated short films like Mike Hoover’s Solo and Skaterdater, which launched Noel Black’s career had huge influences on my desire to become a filmmaker and proved you don’t need a ton of money or large crews to achieve it. Nowadays when you can pick up your iPhone (or a DSLR at Costco), a laptop to edit on and have the World Wide Web at your fingertips as a distribution platform, there is no stopping you.
Recently I had the pleasure of filming some segments for a cool project called Southern Decadence with producer Gina Rugolo. For my scenes, I wanted a skeleton crew and got my wish – a cast of two and a crew of three – not including the picture car owner. I’m very pleased with the end results and would proudly put our work up against any film within a mid six-figure budget and frankly, couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more. In fact, I’m already digging through my script archives to see what I can do next for little to no money. As I mention in my book, “What You Don’t Learn in Film School”, there’s making movies and there’s talking about making movies. Personally, I would rather make ‘em, and the only person getting in the way of doing that is you.
Shane Stanley, filmmaker and author of the popular new book, “What You Don’t Learn In Film School” is a lifelong entertainment industry insider, who has worked in every aspect of the business, covering a multitude of movies, television shows and other successful projects. At 46 years old, Stanley has been a steady earner in film and television since he was in diapers with a career that started in front of the camera at 9 months old and grew into a life of an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker spanning more than three decades. To order a copy of Shane’s book and for his seminar schedule, please visit: www.whatyoudontlearninfilmschool.com