directing Focused and Flow

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
What are some ways you stay focused on the end goal of your film? How do you keep the flow going, day after day, line after line, shot after shot?

I've realized, even with just doing short films... Throughout the year of development, there have come many moments where my body/mind give out on the idea. It's almost as if I'm hitting a brick wall, kinda like when exercising and how you reach a plateau.

It doesn't matter what I do, I always get the eventual day or sometimes even several in a row, where my ideas stop stirring and I'm left clueless. It just freaks me out! Then impostor syndrome kicks in, and I'm wondering what the actual hell am I making/thinking?

So far, the only thing that gets me back in the game is listening to music. Music (especially tunes that spark imagery into my brain) really seems to help. But, I hope I'm not the only one who has this problem when doing a project.

I feel like it could become an issue later on when working on a feature film. If you have anything that helps, I'd love to chat about it.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
Take a break. Leave it for a few days, and come back to it fresh. I also like to write something different in the middle of a long project, as it helps to keep me from getting stale.

Yeah, I do have a couple project ideas stirring. I haven't tried to write, because I've been telling myself its bad to do that during a project. (I used to suffer from procrastination).

But it definitely would make me more motivated creatively. Plus, that is my favorite part of the process (developing back story).

Thanks for sharing!
 
It doesn't matter what I do, I always get the eventual day or sometimes even several in a row, where my ideas stop stirring and I'm left clueless.
You're not alone! As someone who's suffered with the same thing for decades, I've given up fighting it ... and that, essentially, is the solution. From what I've read on the subject, the explanation is "reasons" and not necessarily even the same ones for the same person.

Nowadays, when I find myself getting into this kind of stupor, I usually put that project on pause and do something completely different. Or rather several somethings, because I've found that there'll be one thought/person/situation/stimulation that kick-starts the process again, but I don't know what it's going be until it happens! In fact, it's one of the reasons I lurked, then joined this forum ...

This approach might not be appropriate for you, but in my case, it's generally quite productive on two levels: it "sorts my head out" with regard to the problem project; and my determination to do anything other than get back to work on that project means I get loads done on other things! To get the most benefit from this contrariness, I have several To Do lists on the go, broken down into logical individual steps, so that I'm not just doing any old thing, but helping move some other project forward ... and I know where I left off, when I come back to it in the future.

To actually get something finished, I try to tie the major steps to significant diary events - symbolic deadlines only, but they help me to concentrate my energies and (when needed) push through the couldn't-care-less-ness.
 
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CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
Yeah, I can't drop the project in its current stage, definitely not after getting this far.

But after filming this weekend, taking a little break shouldn't be a problem. Maybe you are right, I just need to focus on doing something else for a week or two. Hopefully that will give me the boost for the next final phase of the film.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
One way is make sure you do one thing for your film EVERY DAY. Kind of like exercise. If you say, I'm going to do push-ups every day even if it's 10. You know how humans are. If we say, well I won't do them today but I'll do them tomorrow, you end up skipping weeks or months. Force yourself to do one thing a day, even if it's proofreading or spellchecking, or buying a prop on amazon. These little actions can lead to bigger ones. Like, reading your script over for errors an epiphany hits you. BAM, you have your twist! Etc.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
One way is make sure you do one thing for your film EVERY DAY. Kind of like exercise. If you say, I'm going to do push-ups every day even if it's 10. You know how humans are. If we say, well I won't do them today but I'll do them tomorrow, you end up skipping weeks or months. Force yourself to do one thing a day, even if it's proofreading or spellchecking, or buying a prop on amazon. These little actions can lead to bigger ones. Like, reading your script over for errors an epiphany hits you. BAM, you have your twist! Etc.

Oh, that is exactly what I am doing though... Haha. I'm thinking that might be my problem.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
But for real, thanks for the tips. I definitely will try taking a break after this Sunday shooting day. I really can't let the team down, so I need to be freshy fresh as this thing get closer to completion.

If we nail the shot schedule this Sunday, then there should only be one more live action film session left, so at least things will be getting slightly easier.
 
One way is make sure you do one thing for your film EVERY DAY.

Now that doesn't work for me. Not at all. :no: When I've tried it, I can spend the whole day (sometimes several days) staring at the page/screen/thing making endless cups of coffee, desperately trying not to get distracted by anything else and end up feeling miserable for having wasted all that time achieving nothing when I could have been been creative in another way.

Not only that, but I find that I can race through the "one thing every day" jobs in far less time once I'm properly re-invested in the project (subject to non-variable factors like drying times, third-party responses, delivery delays, etc).
 
I used to have similar issues where my mind would go blank or sometimes I even doubt myself about going forward. So I made a list for every day. 10 things to achieve every day so that I won’t go blank and so that every day is a step forward.
Somedays the list is like:

1:Wake up, get motivated for the day
2:Recap what you did the previous day(kinda like a “previously” on a tv show episode but in real life)
3:Do some more film research, watch film videos and keep on learning every day. Never stop learning
4:Watch a film or listen to music and write down ideas from it, then combine the ideas u stole together and try making some new or cool idea from the combination. This is an easier way to make ideas.
5:Film something, take some photos, try new things
6:Go over the film story, or the shot lists, or the production design, look for flaws and ways to improve what is planned or made. Even if it seems complete.
7:Continue trying to make contacts with other filmmakers, or atleast find out where to look
8:Every day I try to clear my mind and meditate
9:Stay healthy
10:Make the next days list of things to do then sleep or if you feel like having an all nighter of endless idea making then sure

Every day varies depending on the production stages or the time of year but I definetely think having a list everyday has improved my production speed. It definitely helps with focus and to stay on track of a project. If you ever feel in doubt or feel blank you can just look at the list you’ve made and suddenly your back on track.
Some days I feel so motivated I make a list of 20 things to do. I think the biggest list I made was 50 to do things list and that was on a production day.
Sometimes it’s just 5 things on lazy days. You get it though.

In the end we all just gotta stick to what we’ve started and never give up on it.
Even on days where I take a break from production or story making. I still watch some movies, chillax, maybe read a book or just sleep lol. I make sure that I have a small note book or something at the ready in case something pops up On days where I take breaks. Even break days can be productive for regeneration and getting energy back for a great push or future heavy production.
We gotta always be at the ready. But also don’t be too hard on yourself.
People I know wanted to make films so bad and they got caught up in the production stress, every day like a war for them. Every second made into an obsession. I too was like this and in fact in 2018 after a years production I released my film thinking it was the final product. It got decently received but all the stress and the rush to make it was clear. So I branded it as a test film, basically disowned that film and have been continuing its production eversince. But in a more clear minded, chill and easy goin fashion. Making sure I’m focused but not too harsh on myself to complete it.
so ye, good luck to you and your production and I hope it ends up well.
Just remember not to be too hard on yourself and keep stress to a minimum. Cause u all probs know that film stress on set is a real bummer. Have fun and good luck 👍
 
I'm the opposite. I can't stand "projectus interruptus" - when I'm doing a project I just keep working and working and HATE being interrupted. That's not to say I don't take breaks. I have a very strict schedule; I make sure to "clear my ears" every couple of hours, refill my water bottle and grab a bite to eat. But I have the bad habit of saying to myself "It's 2am, time to wrap it up and get some sleep" but just have to add or tweak one more thing and suddenly it's 3:15am.

If I hit a bump of some sort I will change hats and go from DX editor to SFX editor and audition sounds or work on the ambience, or maybe choose Foley props. On those occasions when I'm really uninspired I'll read one of my many sound design books or watch some sound design related videos (the Ben Burrt BTS about his work on "Wall*E" is a fave...) or just watch a film with phenomenal sound. On those extremely rare occasions when I'm totally stonkered I'll go for a walk or a drive.

Part of the strict schedule is also adhering to family time, which, now that my oldest is out of the house and my youngest is usually out with friends when not doing theater work just leaves me and my wife - Ah! To be alone together for an evening after 28 years!!!!
 
I'm the opposite. I can't stand "projectus interruptus" - when I'm doing a project I just keep working and working and HATE being interrupted. That's not to say I don't take breaks. I have a very strict schedule; I make sure to "clear my ears" every couple of hours, refill my water bottle and grab a bite to eat. But I have the bad habit of saying to myself "It's 2am, time to wrap it up and get some sleep" but just have to add or tweak one more thing and suddenly it's 3:15am.

If I hit a bump of some sort I will change hats and go from DX editor to SFX editor and audition sounds or work on the ambience, or maybe choose Foley props. On those occasions when I'm really uninspired I'll read one of my many sound design books or watch some sound design related videos (the Ben Burrt BTS about his work on "Wall*E" is a fave...) or just watch a film with phenomenal sound. On those extremely rare occasions when I'm totally stonkered I'll go for a walk or a drive.

Part of the strict schedule is also adhering to family time, which, now that my oldest is out of the house and my youngest is usually out with friends when not doing theater work just leaves me and my wife - Ah! To be alone together for an evening after 28 years!!!!

Every now and then I get really picky in my project as well. Sometimes one thing is bugging me and I can’t stop till it’s done. Definetely feel ya mate.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
I'm the opposite. I can't stand "projectus interruptus" - when I'm doing a project I just keep working and working and HATE being interrupted. That's not to say I don't take breaks. I have a very strict schedule; I make sure to "clear my ears" every couple of hours, refill my water bottle and grab a bite to eat. But I have the bad habit of saying to myself "It's 2am, time to wrap it up and get some sleep" but just have to add or tweak one more thing and suddenly it's 3:15am.

Part of the strict schedule is also adhering to family time

Yes! this is what I suffer from. I can't stop tweaking things, working on stuff. Combined with my eagerness to please, I frequently find myself pushing too hard, and not paying attention to the good stuff.
 
Well, it's not really that I can't stop fiddling with things, it's more that I get so involved I will just keep on working. It's 2am, time to go to relax for half an hour, then go to bed. But I just want to add that one more sound effect, or fix that last line of dialog and that leads me on to the next "little thing" so it's all in place when I get back to work the next day. The obsessive tweaking comes when I'm mixing. I start with the basic formulaic process, getting everything EQed and balanced, but then comes the artistic/emotional part, and that's when the obsessive tweaking comes into play.

I've had to learn to layer my efforts as I am usually on a deadline and on someone elses budget. Each layer/pass becomes more refined until I run out of time and money. The really obsessive stuff comes when I'm working on my personal music projects where I debate the movement of one note a few milliseconds either way for days - it sounds better, but doesn't feel as good......
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
The "one thing a day" works best in pre-pro, but not so much in production/post/marketing. But it helps you stay on track when you tend to procrastinate in the early stages.
 
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