You start by starting. No-one is quite sure where you got the balls to do it, but you did.
One minute, you’re a kid, hanging out with friends, and the next moment you say “I’m making a film.”
The film is terrible, but it’s also the best thing you’ll ever create.
It stars your next door neighbour, and some guy from the local butchers who for some inexplicable reason wants to be a movie star, and it also stars someone you found on the internet who appeared in an episode of something eight years ago and now you think this film will launch you.
And it does launch you, but not in the way you think. It doesn’t make you famous, but it makes you fall in love with the process. It makes you learn that your favourite part of the script sucks on screen, but it also teaches you how that bit you fucked up on the shoot can be rescued by crafty editing and the right piece of music.
Twenty years later. You’re still not Spielberg, but somehow you’re still creating.
You’re better than you’ve ever been.
But you’re chasing what you had when you made your first film.
The romance of the first movie.
You really nailed something in those early projects.
It’s not that they deserved Oscars, but you spoke from your heart. You announced to your home town and to everyone who worked in the same shop as you that “hey I’m a filmmaker.”
Some people were jealous.
Some ridiculed you.
Some asked when you’ll get a real job.
Some said “you can film at my Nan’s house.”
All of these people are important. The doubters are wrong, but they’re also right, because you have no idea what you’re doing.
The first project is easy, because you think you know it all. Even though you don’t know how to change a camera lense, you know your favourite director’s work inside out so you think you have what it takes.
Your second film is good and so is your third.
Shouldn’t you be famous by now?
No, because you don’t know what you’re doing.
And you get better and better but also, worse and worse.
You learn about plot structure, you learn how to market your film and you figure out how to win a film festival.
And people start to pay you to do things.
But what you really want, is to go back twenty years.
When your best friend snuck you into his workplace so you could film, both of you knowing he’d get fired if the boss showed up.
To the days when somehow you and everyone had the time to do an overnight shoot, four nights in a row, for a film that would never be seen by anyone apart from your parents, the people you work with at your retail job and some girl or boy you like who for some reason may be encouraging but doesn’t quite believe in you as much as you need.
You’re still here.
You’re still creating.
And young people ask you for advice because they see you have experience or have won an award or because you have more Twitter followers than them.
But you know deep down that you should be asking THEM for advice. Because they’re IN THAT ZONE. They’re young, they’re stupid, they have absolutely no idea how to do anything.
But they just made a decision.
They said, “I’m a filmmaker.”
They’re in their hometown, filming a badly written horror film at their aunts house. And it’ll be one of the best experiences they’ll ever have.