How to Take Risks With an Audience

Filmmaking is one of the most collaborative art forms on the planet. That means that as you raise your film from the script and bring it to life, you will be creating alongside many other artists of different unique skills. Cinematographers, Costume Designers, Art Directors, Composers – literally the list is huge. And everyone on that last needs to build one important skill within themselves to thrive – the ability to take risks and create with an audience.

Now this shouldn’t be a foreign concept to anyone who spends their time in front of the camera. Creating in front of a audience is one of the first things you learn in high school drama club. You build a mechanism inside yourself that allows you to take risks and ultimately fail in front of many many people. But to all those who chose not the path of on-camera talent – this skill might not come as easily.

Taking Risks

Being an introverted filmmaker is tough – the pressure and stress involved with spending your most vulnerable and creative moments in front of 20 to over 100 of your peers is tough. It can cause the mind to play things safe – the fear of failure and ultimately rejection sits high on the list for most people’s hidden reasons why they stepped out of thee life of a career filmmaker.

The fact if the matter is – you likely aren’t going to get everything right on your first try, or your second – or maybe even ever (in fact I would worry more if you ever think you have gotten everything right). Because failure is an inevitable part of the learning and growing process of being a creative individual – How can you do it when you are surrounded by – or even the leader of – a bunch of equally creative individuals in an insanely high stress environment?

Here are 3 tactics that I use to manage this stress and fear within myself

1) “Were not saving lives here, just making movies.”
This one is a classic in the film industry. I’ve head this phrase offered a number of times when people seem overly stressed on a film set. The fact of the matter is – movies don’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. Yes this is hard to hear and accept, but don’t stress so much that you can hurt other people or yourself over a film – there is always another way to solve the problem that you are trying to solve right now.

2) Be honest honest about your mistakes.
This one is tough on the ego. We all like to believe that our way of doing things is the best and our version of reality is the most correct. Not only is that wrong, it’s also dangerous to not open yourself up to your own fallibility. The need to continuously perform in perfect condition will cause a type of creative paralysis to build within you that as the stakes go up, you are too afraid to fail and thus you never try in the first place. I know I’ve been in this place before.

3) Remember that everyone, every single human struggles with being vulnerable, honest and insecure.
These struggles can seem very personal and very very lonely. Sometimes it can feel like you might be the only person in the world that faces insecurities and has trouble being vulnerable. This isn’t true. One of the most enlightening things I’ve gotten to experience thus far in my career is witnessing people I’ve read about in magazines and seen headlines talk about, find themselves in a very insecure and vulnerable place. Reminding me and everyone around that they are human. We are all human. Christopher Nolan, Andrea Arnold, Will Smith – all of us are human, trying our best to be insecure, vulnerable little humans. Don’t worry.

Lessons and Tips