5 Things Screenwriters Need To Know About Filmmaking

Screenwriting and script development are the two basic building blocks of the film industry, and unfortunately, the least considered. Things screenwriters need to know about the film industry range from the basics of film finance and money flow to stories and how they should be presented.

At a recent open forum at the BFI, the leading literary agent Julian Friedman stated publicly that, as far as he could tell, scripts, in general, have not been getting any better over the past 25 years that Raindance has been running.

Can this be true? That scriptwriting and script development are still the least funded in the industry? That script training is woefully inadequate?

Let me try and focus on some basic issues I have determined and see if there can be some sort of debate on this, with the intention of improving the quality of screenplays.

5 Things Screenwriters Need To Know About Filmmaking

1. It’s a collaborative artform

Orson Welles once said: ‘A poet needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, a filmmaker needs an army’.

Rightly so. Remember that your job is to inspire the entire team, from actors and director down to the lowly set dresser or wardrobe seamstress.

2. It’s not easy

The most glamorous route into the film industry is as a director. The quickest route into the industry is with a hot screenplay – a screenplay that everyone wants.

Nothing about the creative industry is easy. There are no shortcuts. Don’t fall into the trap that has snared so many by thinking you can dash of 10,000 – 12,000 words (the average length of a screenplay) and then quit your day job and call yourself a screenwriter.

Study and watch movie after movie.  Read script after script (there is a really decent script library in the Premium Members area) and learn as much as you can about how movies are made.

3. Learn how to make your doorbell ring

Self-promotion is the name of the game and not just for screenwriters. Everyone working in the film industry needs to get good at it.

It really involves 3 different sides: learning how to network, and how to avoid the 3 faux-pas of networking; and creating a body of work that makes you look good, and lastly, learning how to market and sell your script.

4.The more you write, the better you get

This should go without saying – if you want to call yourself a screenwriter you have to write and write and write. They say in the film industry that Joggers jog, Wankers wank, but only Screenwriters write. To call yourself a screenwriter you have to do it every single day, or you will be considered a jogger or wanker (lord know the film industry is full of them).

Canadian philosopher Malcolm Gladwell talks about the ‘10,000 Hour Rule‘ in his contrarian book Outliers. Basically, if you want to get really really good at anything, you need to dedicate at least 10,000 hours to it. Spending 5 minutes reading this page would count!

Don’t get sucked into the myth that you need talent. Talent, Gladwell argues, comes from practice.

5. Knowledge is power

The age-old adage makes a whole lot of sense in the film industry – a production and marketing industry that is filled with loads of complicated technical stuff. It makes common sense that screenwriters should learn as much about how films are made and marketed as possible.

Can you imagine an architect designing a building without understanding engineering and construction principals? Of course not.

Fade Out

Should there be any doubt about the importance of this, remember that the ancient prophets when they wrote the Bible considered the plight of screenwriters by inserting advice to screenwriters in one of the secret Biblical codes? It is: ‘In the Beginning was The Word, and The Word was God.’ Translation: All movies start with words, with scripts.

Screenwriters have this Biblical ordination to write. I wish I had that too!

Now, get writing!


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13 Annoying Habits Filmmakers Need To Break

I spend hours on Skype these days with many of our online Postgraduate Film Degree students. I guess I have many annoying habits. For example, I wear headphones and engage in all sorts of debates about independent film-making in all its varied and changing forms.

I’ve just hung up with a prospective student in Thailand, glanced around the office and noticed that everyone is wearing headphones. Was it, I wondered, that they were heads down watching festival submissions?

I have just done a quick verbal poll and was told that the reason they were wearing headphones is that my Skype conversation was so loud they couldn’t hear themselves think.

I did some quick research on Google and found myself typing in ‘when you wear headphones does your speech sound as loud to you as to others’ and found to my dismay that in fact, it sounds much louder to others.

From now on, I vow to make my Skype calls from the loo, or out in the corridor on a bench.

Now is the time to ask yourself: Are you guilty of any of these annoying habits? If so, maybe you better start to cut these out.

13 Annoying Things Filmmakers Do

1. Bitching about anything and everything

Here’s the routine here in London. Meet a filmmaker, they ask if you have time for a coffee, you agree, sit down and then a big ‘Cheese Us – that person at [name the government organisation] is a real dick.’ And soon an outpouring of venom against a public body that funds films. It usually ends with a comment like ‘I’m gonna kill those bastards.’


Talk like this is futile and pointless. It creates bad karma around you and your project. Besides, if your project really is as good as you think it is, why do you need public finance at all? Let these organisations fund the Ken Loach and Mike Leigh films of the next year while you go out and get some real money without the taint of a freebie from the tit of public funding.

Don’t confuse the role of public funding with your ambitions as a filmmaker, and don’t ever take it personally or make it personal by slagging an individual off. It could come back to bite you in the butt.

2. Asking people to do things on their days off

Most people work like stink. Off days are glorious and rare for just about everyone in the working world. Don’t you just love getting emails that say “I know it’s your day off, but could you just do this one small thing?”


So, I’m on the Raindance tour last month, and I’m in New York and I let everyone I work with know that I am taking a Wednesday off. What do I get? A dozen emails from the same person!

Stop calling or emailing people on their day off!

3. Not thinking ahead

So I know it’s pretty scary getting a film off the ground and trying to plan for everything in advance. But you need to think ahead. When you screw up and forget something you need to be able to recover and decide how best to rectify the damage. Panic will get you nowhere.

Last year I was in Rome giving a lo-to-no budget film-making class when I get an (expensive) call on my cell from someone who was using our rehearsal rooms who had forgotten the key! How the hell could I possibly help? I was in flippin’ Rome!


Start thinking about what you need BEFORE you need it. Don’t assume anyone else is there to help you!

4. Asking a mate if you can “pick their brain.”

What is this? A horror movie? Or a version of a cannibal’s tribal ritual? What right have you to go and plunder others’ ideas and input. Especially when you don’t say even the quickest thank you in return?


Don’t call in favours until you have given your mates a reason to let you ‘pick their brains.’

5. Not cleaning up

Ever shared a flat or room with someone who was a total slob? Have you ever found yourself picking up after someone else?

The number of times I have had to clean up after lending a space for a shoot would make you retch. Or the stories I hear of the horror genre, about filmmakers who have trashed a location, would make you shun all filmmakers forever.


Think nobody knows it’s you? Trust me, people can always tell.

6. Sending movie links without a note

How many times do you think busy people get emails in a day? I get dozens and dozens. You send me a link without a one or two-liner contextualizing the link and a reason why I should click on it and I am pretty much going to ignore it. I am also going to be perturbed at you for wasting my time.

Even worse – an email asking me to waste time watching your film or trailer. Why should I give up a slice of my life for you?


Make a clear and easy-to-understand reason why I should click on your link. Pahleez.

7. Talking privately in public

If you have to make a personal call, leave the premises. Go somewhere quiet. I don’t want to hear your booming voice. And it’s just weird to talk on your phone in a screening. (That’s one of those things I’ll never understand.)


Stop taking personal calls in public.

8. Eavesdropping is another annoying habit

Don’t you just love it when you are talking to someone when a near stranger barges in and adds in their two cents worth?


I know filmmakers especially can feel awkward about jumping into a conversation that’s happening halfway across the room. You need to brush up on your social skills and know when to read the social cues of when it’s OK to join or not.

Sometimes your conversational gems are going to be best kept to yourself.

9. Asking questions easily answered on Google

I can’t believe how many calls I get from well-meaning but, erm, lazy screenwriters and filmmakers asking questions like ‘Have you the telephone number for the BFI?’


While you are at it, do a quick Google on anyone you are about to meet or call. Find out something newsworthy you can weave into the conversation.

Think before you ask. Can you find the answer yourself before you waste a silver bullet on something obvious?

10. Replying all on email when it’s not necessary

How many emails do you get in a day? And how many group emails? And of the group emails, how many times do you get copied into a private comment that has nothing to do with you?


Don’t add to the barrage of emails.

11. Working when you’re sick

Working with others when you are sniffling or complaining of a headache wins you no points in my book.


Raindance London is in a basement where ventilation is barely above the legal requirement. Come in here when you are ill spreading your lurgy to those here will make earn you a big black mark.

Everyone gets ill sometimes. Don’t spread it around!

12. Tapping your foot

… And chewing gum, chewing pens, and humming, and breathing loudly. Basically, any repetitive noise you make can and will drive your fellow team members crazy.


I have a really bad habit of chewing on a pen in meetings. I don’t even realise I am doing it unless one of the team points it out. If you realise you have a bad habit, stop it.

If someone tells you to stop, don’t be offended. No one likes being distracted.

13. Being late

You’ve arranged to meet someone and they are late. And they are late for every single meeting.


Of course, there are times when there’s traffic or other disasters. But keep someone waiting twice and you will get labelled as frequently late, and perhaps unreliable too.

Leave plenty of time to get to meetings.

What are your pet peeves? Share in the comments below!
And what of your New Year’s resolutions?

The post 13 Annoying Habits Filmmakers Need To Break appeared first on Raindance.


Reader Question: Do all Protagonists need a character arc?

A character’s ‘arc’ is a big buzzword in Hollywood development circles.

From Gregaria:

I am wondering if protagonist character arcs (in which they learn something and grow in a positive way) apply to protagonists of comedy. I can see where the personal growth of the character would be important in drama, but what about in comedy or horror? If the comedy is a farce, for example, it seems like all the characters stay the same or even regress in the course of the story. Do some of these rules change depending on genre? (Fyi, the protagonist of my comedy does grow and learn things about herself, but I wondered if this has to be the case all of the time.)

This is a hugely important question, Gregaria, one I could parse into various areas of focus for several posts. For now, let’s look at three points.

First, in most movies, the Protagonist does go through some sort of metamorphosis. You see it over and over and over again. In mainstream commercial movies. Even in indie films. The P starts out in one psychological state at the beginning. They end up in another psychological state. Three examples:

  • Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz feels disconnected from her life-circumstance in Kansas, wishing she could go somewhere over the rainbow, only to return claiming, “There’s no place like home.
  • C.C. Baxter in The Apartment starts out as a nebbish who allows himself to be abused by his co-workers in order to land a promotion, then at the end rejects the job and those work values — in other becomes a mensc
  • Michael Dorsey in Tootsie begins as a self-absorbed, insensitive male, then through his experiences as Dorothy Michaels discovers he was a better man as a woman than he was as a man.
Luke Skywalker: Before
Luke Skywalker: After

If you sat down and wrote out a list of your 10 favorite movies, I’ll bet almost all of them feature a Protagonist metamorphosis dynamic.

Joseph Campbell asserted that transformation is at the heart of The Hero’s Journey: The Hero leaves their Ordinary World and goes on a journey into a New World. Through the challenges they face and experiences they have, combined with wisdom they learn along the way, both intellectual and emotional, the Hero returns home a changed individual.

Carl Jung asserted the process of individuation is the greatest calling of the human adventure and that process is fundamentally about metamorphosis — becoming who we are meant to be, indeed, in a way, become who we already are (as represented in the various aspects of our psyche).

Why is metamorphosis perhaps the single most universal narrative archetype? Again we could talk about this for days, but if I had to name one reason it’s this: People want to believe they can change. Stories that feature characters who do change reinforce that belief.

So I think it’s safe to say that in most movies, the Protagonist does go through some sort of metamorphosis.

Second point: There are stories where the Protagonist does not go through any significant metamorphosis. Forrest Gump, Being There, pre-Daniel Craig James Bond movies are a few examples. Forrest Gump and Chance are change agents, that is they don’t change, they change others. In the case of James Bond, that’s more of a reflection how in some action movies the Protagonist’s story is not so concerned with their psychological journey, but rather the impact they have on others, most notably Nemesis characters. Of course, there are lots of action movies where the Protagonist does change — Lethal Weapon and Die Hard spring to mind — but only if the filmmakers are interested in exploring that character’s inner life.

Which leads to the third point, one you raised: “Do some of these rules change depending on genre?” Two things.

  • First, in my view, there are no ‘rules.’ There are only principles and conventional wisdom. As writers, we have to be free to follow our story wherever it leads. Rules bind us. Principles, however, exist to guide us, but we can choose to bend them, shape them, ignore them, even abuse them. Same thing with conventional wisdom. Sometimes a story is best served playing by what is conventional. Other times, a story will force us to be unconventional. Again we’re not breaking a rule, rather we’re flying in the face of convention. I know it’s a matter of semantics, but I prefer that language to “rules.”
  • Second, while most stories share fundamental narrative principles, they can vary by genre. For example as noted above, you can write a great action movie where the Protagonist does not go through any significant metamorphosis. On the other hand, that’s likely not the case if you’re writing a drama where viewers expect to enter into the inner life of characters.

Even within a genre, there can be differences. You mention farce, a specific type of comedy. There the humor derives largely from a tangled web of comedic situations. Does the Protagonist have to change in a farce? Maybe. Maybe not. If, however, you are writing a more conventional comedy like Tootsie or even some of the adult-males-as-teenager comedies like Knocked Up, you’re more likely to need to explore your Protagonist’s character arc.

So after that long-winded response, my short answer to your questions is this: No, a Protagonist does not have to go through a metamorphosis. But as a result of a combination of lessons learned from a 100+ year history of filmmaking, human instinct, and common sense, most movies will have a Protagonist who does have a character arc — starting in one psychological start, ending in quite another.

By the way, metamorphosis has been a major point of emphasis in what I’ve been teaching since 2002 as the Protagonist’s evolution not only provides meaning to the plot, it can also create the spine of the main plot itself. In other words: Plot emerging from character. Finally a way to marry the two!

Comment Archive

Reader Question: Do all Protagonists need a character arc? was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

Trends in Filmmaking You Need to Know in 2018

Tis that time of the year to think and reflect on what an eventful time 2017 has been. More importantly, it’s also the time of the year to start thinking about what to build in 2018. We’re close enough to the new year to have an idea of the trends of next year are going to be.

Every year, JWT puts together a list of the 100 trends of the new year across a number of fields: culture, tech, entertainment, business… and a few of them are particularly relevant to filmmakers and creators who want to stay ahead of the curve.

01 – The Female Gaze

The conversation pushing for further and better inclusion of women in film has been ongoing for a few years, thankfully. 2017 took that conversation to a whole other level. We thought that 2017 would be the year of the first female president of the United States -it ended up being the year that attacks on women became even more blatant. It has also been the year of the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement.

Progress comes in swings of a pendulum, and it has swung both ways really fast this year. However, the pandora’s box of questions relating to pushing the inclusion of women at all levels of the filmmaking process has been opened for good. This year, Beach Rats, Lady Bird, Mudbound and Wonder Woman showed up on our silver screens. Next year, Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time is coming. The lenses through which we represent our culture are changing. About time.

02 – Intersectionality

The inclusion of women is certainly a necessary first step. It’s far from enough. In the late 80’s, academic Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to explain the overlaps of gender, race, sexuality and class and their effects on bias and discrimination. In this respect, 2017 has been a major awakening.

The Women’s Marches all over the world were inclusive and conveyed intersectional messages. It was about being stronger together, whoever we are. Twitter hired a vice president of intersectionality, culture, and diversity. Condé Nast has just launched a millennial LGBTQ+ focused publication. The tide is shifting. It’s time for intersectional representation in the movies too.

04 – Religious Resurgence

Why should filmmakers care about religious resurgence today? Because religion speaks of the need to belong to something. These are turbulent times and knowing where we fit is a key component in everyone’s well-being and self-realisation. But the sense of belonging and knowing where we are can come from other phenomena. If religion tells the story of humanity in relation to a divine order, we can also buy into different stories.

It is the job of filmmakers and creators to provide stories. In these troubled times more than ever, we need to be reminded that films can change the world and have a real impact on people. If you doubt it, just see the levels of following and passion that Star Wars has had.

06 – Streaming Wars

Content is king. If House of Cards has taught us anything (other than how to rewrite an entire season in a few weeks in order to not be tainted by a sexual abuse scandal), it’s that consumers want to be in control of the entertainment they binge on. Netflix has certainly been ahead of the curve in that trend. (Netflix will always be a synonym for streaming and home entertainment, and it’s not advisable to ask someone over to “Disney and chill” unless you want to ruin two childhoods.) The Mouse House now wants to compete with them. Netflix is committing $ 15.7 billion in original content, and Disney has bought Fox entertainment for $ 52.4 billion in order to strengthen its assets in the streaming wars.

After having disrupted the music industry, Silicon Valley has disrupted Hollywood for good. Effectively, that also means a sea change for the independent movie business. Audiences yearn for good content and know how to discern it. While this has strengthened the adage saying that great is the enemy of the good, it also means that independent filmmakers now have to explore smaller streaming platforms and self-distribution very thoroughly and be creative in their outreach to audiences in order to make a splash.

07 – Interactive Storytelling

You could see this as another iteration of the idea that consumers want power over the content they watch. It’s not just about how they consume it, it’s also how the story unfolds. In 20th-century thinking, interactive storytelling means gaming. In third-millennium facts, we’re looking at interactive feature films. Actually, the first ever interactive feature film screened at Raindance in 2016.

Gaming and film are blending. They both are narrative forms, and the overlap is increasing. The level of control and immersion that audiences are now looking for means more interactivity in narrative storytelling. This is why “religious resurgence” has to be taken into account as a key trend of next year as well: audiences are looking for a way to make sense of a troubled world. It’s time to build worlds and bring those stories not just before audiences’ eyes, but in their hands as well.

08 – Data Democracies in Entertainment

Big data is changing the way the world presents itself to us. In a not-so-distant, “Minority Report”-like future, the environment you’ll be living in will be tailored to the wants and needs that hadn’t even formed in your conscious mind yet. Google, Facebook and Amazon already tailor their platforms -and the products they’re selling you- to your behaviour. Streaming behemoths do the very same when creating entertainment.

Netflix knows if there is an audience for any pitch they hear based on user analytics. When a traditional network (even HBO) may have had cold feet producing the politically charged Dear White People, they knew there was an audience for it. Analysing social media presence and online behaviour will lead to identifying demographics that haven’t yet been represented are yearning for it.

09 – Creativity Meets AI

Artificial intelligence is on the verge of provoking massive changes in the world as we know it. AIs are now relatively confined to Google Labs, but that will soon change. The AI experiences that have been undertaken so far are all very intriguing: for instance, a robot learned all that humanity has ever learned about chess in four hours.

But what happens to AI when it comes to creativity? Creativity and art, by their very definition, rely on conscience and instinct, both very human traits that (thankfully) can’t be reduced to, and indeed are the very contrary of, algorithms. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t experimenting. MIT researchers have taught AI to get emotional over movies. (Really, it’s down to story patterns.) An AI wrote a sci-fi short film, with inconclusive results -for now.

11- AR reaches mass

This year, augmented reality went from being a confidential gimmick to being the must-have tech device. Apple rolled out its ARkit for developers, arguing that no business will be untouched by the possibilities of augmented reality. Interior designers can make you look at what your living room will look like once they’ve worked their magic. You can try clothes without putting them on.

And for content creators and entertainment? PokemonGo was the first to make the most of the possibilities of AR. Harry Potter is taking a hold of the medium as well, releasing an AR game in 2018 -which makes it as certain as anything that AR is going to go mainstream.

New trends: 2018, bring it on

Audiences are yearning for more. More representation, more practical applications to new mediums, more immersion in new worlds. Audiences want creators to conjure up worlds that can both represent the real world accurately and change it for the better. They want experiences they can immerse themselves in and revel in: art that is fully real and fully poetic at the same time.

Happy creation.


The post Trends in Filmmaking You Need to Know in 2018 appeared first on Raindance.


Homemade shot-for-shot remake of the ‘Justice League’ trailer proves you don’t need a big budget for big thrills


You can’t save the world alone, but some duct tape and cardboard might help! This homemade shot-for-shot remake of the Justice League trailer proves you don’t need a big-budget for big thrills. 

Subscribe to CineFix for more movie-related content! Read more…

More about Diy, Marvel, Batman, Avengers, and Movie

Almost Everything You Need to Know about Lighting in Under 30 Minutes

This beginner’s technical breakdown of lighting is perfect for those just starting out.

If you’ve just started your filmmaking journey, lighting may not be on your radar quite yet—but it should be. It’s one of the most important elements of cinema not only because it’s the very thing that makes it possible, but because it’s one of the most powerful tools a filmmaker has to tell a story. If you’re a little intimidated, don’t worry. Yes, lighting can be complicated and yes, it’s going to take you years of practice to be any good at it, but this 30-minute video from Kevin of Basic Filmmaker breaks down almost every basic technical aspect of lighting, from color temperatures to lighting cable quality, to help give you a more sturdy foundation.

(Kevin highlights one mistake in the video: when he refers to CRI as Color Temperature Index. It stands for Color Rendering Index.)

Read More

No Film School

Dad’s tweet about daughter’s reaction to a female referee is what we need right now


Once again an adorable child has reminded us that people are capable of anything. 

Twitter user Hullablue took his daughter to a semi-professional football game near Leeds, UK on Saturday, and got this snap of the little bean being inspired by an assistant referee.

Daughter was delighted to see this assistant referee today “her hair is like mine, can I be a referee? ” – pic taken during one of the many injury breaks @TheGarforthTown @WomeninFootball @NCEL pic.twitter.com/e87UvbxTEL

— Hullablue (@hullablue) October 14, 2017 Read more…

More about Uk, Football, Daughter, Referee, and Women In Football

What You Need to Know about Directing Non-Actors

Understanding the benefits and challenges that come with working with non-actors.

As no-budget filmmakers, chances are we’re not going to be working with Hollywood actors at the peak of their stardom. Actually, in each and every of your films your cast might actually be made up entirely of non-actors, or actors who have little to no professional experience, and that’s not a bad thing. People hear terms like “inexperienced” and “untrained” and immediately think “bad performance,” but non-professional actors actually bring something very special to the cinematic table, and because they do, you as a director need to bring a very special set of skills in order to direct them. In this video from Film Riot, director Ricky Staub (The Cage), offers up some great insight on what that skillset entails.

Whether they’re seasoned pros or bright-eyed first-timers, directing actors is a tough undertaking. There’s a lot of emotional and technical work that goes on between the director and actors in order to prepare for a great performance; if your actor is unfamiliar with this process, it could prove to be a little more challenging.

Read More

No Film School

Apple just released statement on net neutrality, and you need read it right now


Apple has released a statement on net neutrality, and it’s worth reading.

People get emotional about this topic. The future of the internet—and by extension the future of information, business, and just about everything else—is at stake, as the Federal Communications Commission works toward eliminating the rules that make sure internet providers can’t manipulate what you see or how you see it.

With all the vitriol, net neutrality can seem like just another partisan topic. It’s not—and Apple’s head of public policy in the U.S., Cynthia Hogan, laid it all out very simply in a letter sent to the FCC. Read more…

More about Apple, Fcc, Net Neutrality, Business, and Media Industry

25 Takumi Life Skills Filmmakers Need

The Takumi craftsmen in Japan are guardians of an ancient artisan philosophy. A Takumi craftsman applies a subtle human touch to every aspect of design and development of the objects they create. It takes at least 25 years of experience to be considered a Takumi.

I learned about Takumi from the Japanese car-maker Lexus. Of their 7,900 technicians and craftsmen working at the Lexus car plant, only 19 are Takumi. It’s considered the highest honour on the production side of the car manufacturing process. They exercise their amazing skill at detecting the tiniest imperfections. Glide your eyes and hands over the precision-machined aluminium audio controls or beautifully stitched leather work. Their cars’ gleaming paintwork is painstakingly wet sanded by hand to ensure a perfect finish.

So too, a filmmaker gains skills and knowledge over years of experience. I thought I’d research the Takumi philosophy and see what we as screenwriters, directors and filmmakers can learn from Takumi.

25 Takumi Life Skills Filmmakers Need

I first thought it strange that a filmmaker could learn anything from a Japanese car maker until I was shown that the philosophy they employ is very similar to what I have been preaching for the past quarter century. The ancient Japanese concept of ‘Takumi’ is essential to all that we do. Takumi means a highly skilled person. It symbolizes not only excellent skill but also devotion to object creation and thorough pursuit of perfection in its creation. With respect, we call such high-minded creators behind excellent Japanese products

25. Empathy

1. The ability to identify with or understand the perspective, experiences, or motivations, of another individual and to comprehend and share another individual’s emotional state.
2. The projection of one’s own feelings or thoughts onto something else, such as an object in a work of art or a character in a novel or film. The Free Dictionary

“Empathy” — the ability to feel what others feel — is what makes good filmmakers and great storytellers. This is one of the great traits of a Takumi: the ability to relate to what others feel.

24. Mastering your sleep

Sharp hands, a quick eye, and a smart mind demand a rested body. Are you sleeping wel enoughl?

If you are having trouble sleeping, there are literally dozens of ‘sleep well’ blog posts.

Or perhaps you’d like to reduce the amount of sleep you need to give you more spare time. Leonardo da Vinci would be considered a Takumi. His sleep patterns are studied today. His sleep patterns are called the ‘sleep of genius’ or polyphasic sleep.

23. Time management

I don’t care who you are or what you do. Your ability to manage your time effectively is what is going to predetermine a large part of your success. If you were a Takumi craftsman working on one of those high-quality consumer goods we associate with Japan you would know how to create an efficient workflow that would not only employ your creativity but be able to adjust to commercial challenges.

American filmmaker Ken Burns has amassed a fantastic career. In this short video he talks about his workflow and how he multitasks.

22. Asking for help

Way back when I applied for a job for the sculptor Henry Moore I was asked if I had any problems asking for help. It made me think how hard it was to admit I didn’t understand something. I later found out that the previous technician had been sacked because they never asked for help and continually screwed up.
I can only imagine that a Takumi master, like a filmmaker, earns their credentials by never being afraid to ask for help.

21. Positive self-talk

Did you know that scientific studies have shown that positive self-talk can enhance performance?

Little Buddha.com has a great article on how to develop P.M.A. – Postive Mental Attitude.

Atheletes like Mo Farah manefest success by positive thought. Be you Takumi or filmmaker don’t be afraid to give yourself this subtle edge.

20. Consistency

By consistency I mean two things:
Firstly, in your daily routine, and secondly in your work ethic and your approach to daily challenges. Remember both Takumi master craftsmen and filmmakers share a common approach to creativity. Basically, creativity is how you solve a problem; be it a story glitch, an edit point, or how to smooth paintwork till it glistens.

19. Role models

There is no better way to improve your skills than to watch the work of past masters.
If you want to direct, here are ten cult directors to watch.
If you want to make short films – possibly to enter the Lexus Short Film Competition – here are 28 shorts you can watch in your lunchtime.

Watch. Listen. Learn.


18. Minding your business

There will be many times when your fellow workers and collaborators will be getting the stick from someone higher up the food chain. Learning when to keep to yourself, and when to leap to your colleagues’ defense is a fine art.

17. Listening

One of the easiest ways to earn Takumi cred as a filmmaker is to listen to people talking to you. It makes them feel like you care (creates empathy) and makes you fun to be around.

16. Knowing when to shut up — and actually doing it

Enough said.


The Takumi masters forge car parts by hand.

15. Resisting gossip

There’s no quicker way to reduce team spirit than to engage in gossip. Don’t fall into this trap. If you do you will seriously damage your reputation and your personal branding. If you hear gossip ask the instigator why they are saying it – it might make them think.

14. Staying present in the moment

Happiness researcher Matt Killingsworth has found most people are thinking about something else when they are trying to get something done. Nearly half of people studied fall into this category. This hurts your happiness and affects your success and productivity. The trick is to stay on topic. To stay on the tasks at hand. Without distractions. Watch his terrific TED Talk.

13. Mastering your thoughts

To do what you want to do and accomplish what you want to accomplish, you need to consciously direct your thinking, Mark Givert writes:

The challenge is that we are the product of our past experience and all of our thinking is the result of this. However, the past does not equal the future.
Mark Givert

What great advice for us, be it Takumi, or filmmaker, or master filmmaker and visual storyteller! We are what we think. Focus.

12. Learning a new language

What a random thought, and how strange to think of our Japanese Takumi craftsmen learning another language. Balázs Csigi found that learning English opened up a new mindset, a new set of emotions, and a new way of thinking. He adds that the key to learning another language is to master every single aspect of the culture. Imagine that!

11. Speaking up

Speaking up and letting everyone know your opinion, in a tactful way, is an important life skill.

10. Honesty with others

Staring the truth straight in the face and being totally upfront and transparent will make you stronger. And transparency is such a great asset.

9. Honesty with yourself

WOW! Admitting you are wrong is painful indeed. When you do it, it clears the air and somehow things start to go a bit better. Here are the six painful mistakes I’ve made.

8. Methods and work flow

A master craftsman understands the process. A Takumi is a master at managing his time as well as understanding the impact of his work within the production chain. Just like a filmmaker who is part of a collaborative process

7. Discipline

The old adage is ‘The seat of the pants to the seat of the chair’. No one can agree who first started using this saying. But it’s true.

Remember this too: A daily routine of a few minutes or few hours per day is better than a Bank Holiday blowout. The trick is to decide if you want to be an amateur or professional filmmaker. And to set yourself a realistic daily commitment of time.

6. Persistence and stamina

One thing successful people have is persistence. If you really want something you will keep going after it again and again.

I grew up with my cousin, a pianist. I listened to him playing the same scale, or the same Chopin interlude over and over again until it was note perfect.

So too, the Takumi master craftsman is seen rehearsing, repeating, reforming, over and over again until the craft is mastered.

5. Truth to materials

Another thing I learned from Henry Moore was the value of truth to materials. Until he came along, sculptors in Europe tried to make bronze look like stone or wood. Henry Moore carved wood so it looked like wood, marble so it looked like stone and his monumental bronze sculptures used the material for what it is.

There is debate amongst filmmakers about using celluloid or digital. Digital equipment manufacturers market “digital as film” technology. Filmmakers make narratives as “fake-documentaries” and brag how their micro-budget films look like millions. Perhaps we should use the ‘truth to materials’ and use whatever it is we have to make films that don’t try to disguise their materials.

4. Understanding story

Story is everything. I don’t care if you are making a car or a poster. It matters not if you are writing a TV advert or a novel. There has to be a story. When you have the story the rest is easy.

3. Visual store

The look of your finished film is very important. Just as the Takumi craftsmen pay enormous attention to the detail of their work, so too we as filmmakers must make sure the details are burnished if not polished! And don’t forget another tenant of the Takumi craftsman: respect from brilliant design.

2. Mastering craft

A Takumi craftsman studies and works for years – twenty-five of them – until they are considered masterful enough to wear the Takumi label.

As filmmakers, we need to learn the basics: reading books and taking classes. Takumi is the founding philosophy of the Raindance Further Education programme where you can earn an MA in Independent Film in a year. Not that anyone can become Takumi status in the creative industries in a year – but you can form a great strategy to become one. Over time of course.

1. Intuition

There are certain things you can’t learn. There are times when a Takumi craftsman has to trust their intuition along with their coordination in order to be able to bring a result. This intuition can’t be measured either. This special life skill comes from years of experience.

So too we as filmmakers need to trust our intuitive storytelling and filmmaking skills. To doubt oneself causes one to lose confidence. Of course, disappointments abound in the creative industry. And as Tukumi craftsmen know:

Quitters never win
Winners never quit.

Aspire to be a Takumi in youyr screenwriting and filmmaking

The post 25 Takumi Life Skills Filmmakers Need appeared first on Raindance.


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