Advice To Filmmakers Preparing To Make Their First Feature Film – Ben Medina

Advice To Filmmakers Preparing To Make Their First Feature Film – Ben Medina

Film Courage: Let’s say we brought you in to address a
room of 20 students and they’re about to make their first
feature. They’ve already made a few short films. What are you telling them?
What’s your advice to them? Ben Medina, Writer/Director/Photographer ECCO movie: Have they written their scripts let’s say half of
them half half of them have okay I’ll answer half of your question first okay
and then I’ll ask you another question for the half that haven’t written them
yet I would say write what you can shoot and shoot what you can cut and cut what
you can finish because from my experience I started writing ideas and
then scripts that were weren’t in the realm of possibility of making or
producing so I didn’t waste time my approach was to write material that I
wanted to see and then I wanted to make and that’s that’s great if you’re
writing scripts on spec but not if you’re gonna write a script to make film
write what you can shoot and so if you can shoot it then you better be able to
cut it so don’t don’t try to shoot an action movie if you can’t cut an action
movie because the last part will be true which is you won’t finish it the only
reason I have a career is cuz I finish the film first and then I became more
and more and more ambitious finishing things along the way and I was talking
to a friend of mine the other day and he said 70% of all features are not
finished and so I think it’s very hard when you tell a film student or a fan of
film that hey man you know your kung fu action movie is not gonna happen right
now you should do a bank heist movie that ends in a diner and don’t show the
heist or something like that so it’s a matter of shoe
or right which you can shoot and then finish it and make sure it’s done and
then it will be a tool will be a go be a calling card for you to move forward but
nobody cares about your career if you can’t finish anything
second question or the second half of the group I would say if their scripts
are done are they financed do they have capital do they have investors is the
process there in pre-production or is the process there in financing
okay let’s suppose most of them will be either getting money from family and
friends or putting on a credit card or they’re going to some will try their
attempt at crowdfunding it doesn’t mean they will be truthful yeah if they’re at
a stage where that are going to get film financing I would sit down and have a
conversation with yourself or with your team depending on how you how you’re
working if you’re working with a team of producers and you guys are all a unit
I’m gonna talk about it together if you’re not if you’re just some rogue
dude or a gal and you’re just gonna do this shit like Robert Rodriguez then
just have this conversation with yourself and that is what are you gonna
do with the film it has to have a purpose it has to have an audience so
you have to think okay I’m gonna make this film and I’m gonna submit it to
Sundance or I’m gonna make this film and I must submit it to a horror film
festival or I’m gonna make this film and I’m gonna use it to go get an
advertising commercial director job has to have a purpose because before you can
figure out how much an investment in this project is worth it has to have a
value and the value has to be its goal right so its goal is to I want it to
festival and who knows what will happen okay great well when you talk to people
about helping you that’s your vision your vision isn’t I’m gonna tell you
about two people in a canoe in this horror movie it’s like no no they want
to hear about what you’re going to do with it when it’s done they don’t care
about they don’t really care about how you’re gonna make it they
really don’t because they’re not you also if you know what you’re gonna do
with it then you can justify something like putting it on your credit card
which I would not advise to anyone I know someone who did that years ago she
went into sixty thousand dollars of debt credit card wise the movie went nowhere
she was paying that off for ten years and she didn’t have a goal with the film
which is one of her challenges and also it just sort of it it became a pet
project a vanity project instead of a project she could really stand behind if
you’re using someone else’s money there’s also a sense of duty to finish
so if you are asking for family and friends and stuff like that to help you
if they do give you the money there’s a sense of debt which is good to them
crowdfunding I don’t know anything about that I don’t know I have no idea how
that really works my guess is the only way you get crowdfunding is if you have
a flash teaser or flash trailer or something that can tell a stranger that
their money should be in your pocket I know people have done it before
I’ve seen some teasers for it you know success is probably all over the map
about it but but yeah I would I would definitely say the first thing is to
figure out what they’re gonna do with the film so that it legitimizes the
investment and doesn’t become a vanity project
and then the last thing I would say to a group full of filmmakers who’s about to
start is communication is it can be really hard if it’s your art it can be
really hard if it’s your work but if you’re working with the right people
they are all gonna make your vision a reality
don’t be a fucking diva we’ve all met those people we’ve all met the people
who either went to USC film school or they went to a filmmaking class on a
weekend and they are Eva no one wants to work for you if
you’re a diva zero people want to work for you and even less people want to
work for you day two so you have to figure out hey I’m a pre-production hey
I got some money hey I got a really good insurance and I have really good people
really good people and those are the people that work SuperDuper hard I know
people who are very successful who still work on no many projects all the time if
they like the people and chances are that everyone I’m talking to is in that
boat so I would spend time getting to know the people who were on your crew
really well you know I wouldn’t put director on your fucking chair people
put director on their chair and it’s like that’s so stupid
years ago years ago a woman I was dating her mother bought me a director’s chair
and she was very wealthy person and she had an embroidered said director and I
had my name on it and I put it in storage and now it’s gone I never ever
took it on a set ever because one you’re a good director you’re not sitting in
that chair ever and to nobody cares the last thing I would tell people who want
to have a long future in the business is find out what the people at your camera
house and your grip and electric house and your truck rental house and maybe
the people who do film permits find out what they like to drink and buy it I
don’t know how many bottles of scotch or champagne or cubes of beer I’ve bought
for people who never forgot that hey this is the guy who’s always grateful
for my help right and that’s what matters you know
especially if you’re underfunded is that you really care about all the people
around you and all the people that get to decide if you get to make your film
so yeah and the one last curveball would be
somebody who wants to make a feature they don’t have any plans to do anything
with it they just want the experience so and it’s not really a vanity project in
that they’re not totally casting themselves they just want to know what
it’s like from start to finish to make a film and what’s the question exactly the
question is what what are their set of parameters how are they doing it
differently hmm or is it all the same it doesn’t really matter I think that I
have met no one in my life who’s wealthy enough to make a movie by themselves for
fun and have no goal the only person I can think of in history is like Howard
Hughes and so I I don’t think I would be able to give any advice to a person who
had a trust fund and thought it would be fun to make a film because even if they
have a lot of money and time and they’re creative and even if they’re super nice
they’re still going to be engaging with a lot of other people on their crew
they’re going to be renting things in order to make this experience possible
and all of the all of the parameters around respect and all the parameters
around gratitude apply to them anyway the only caution I would give someone
who’s doing it for fun is is probably easy for you to waste other people’s
time and I learned I think it was the first couple of weeks I was in LA I
learned how long it took to get from one place to another right and I was late to
a couple meetings I wasted a couple of people’s time and
they made it super clear to never do that again so I hope that this rich
fictional phantom person who’s making a movie for fun pays people a lot of money
and doesn’t waste their time you

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. I love how straight forward he is. Some people that's a turn off, but ever since I started in the industry it's what needed. I'd rather be bluntly told what I need to do to succeed.

  2. His straight forward delivery was informative and reassuring. He actually gave me confidence in the way he simplified things and just called a spade exactly what it is. Great one guys 🙏

  3. This video is awesome! No sugarcoating. He is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!! He is right. Always have a goal when you are making a feature film.

  4. What if a burgeoning filmmaker writes a script for a film casting and starring themselves not as a vanity project but a means to an end as a goal in acting, directing, and filmmaking? One movie comes to mind, ‘The Eyes Of My Mother’.

  5. Write What U Can Shoot; Shoot What U Can Cut n Cut What "U Can" Finish~Smiling Ty Ben Medina n Film Courage💯❤️

  6. One of the best FC videos of recent times. Great question at the top. In rewriting my script at the moment to change it to what his advice was at the start (a hesit that ends in a diner and you never see the hesit) to make it "makeable".

  7. Certainly good advice! But it also sounds really disillusioned. Many of the guys who I hear giving advice on this platform have the glazed look of a guys who have seen and met lots of sharks in the biz. Kind of makes you reconsider; and then, at the same time, it excites you tremendously!

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