directing My films direction and production story so far

Hey this Is the story of what’s happened in the production of my film so far. The ups and downs and where it has come to now. To be truthful I’m also writing this story so I can look back over it myself lol. If any of you have advice or opinions then don’t hold back.
If anyone wants to re-cap their production story in this thread then welcome lol.

So, the start of this films conception began when I was a kid. Me and my friends actually made up our own stories, played outside and pretended we were in an imaginary world. (I’m sure some of you might have experienced something similar lol) and I used to write the stories we made up down. It was at that stage I made some of my first actual structured books. That’s where it all started. The imaginations and random fun things thought up were written. At this stage I didn’t know much about directing but i always used other people’s cameras and watched other films to learn. Soon I completed a series of novels when I was older and I released one onto Blurb. Ofcourse I got no sales and all just people from family bought it. But I was persistent so I wrote a new series and put it onto Amazon. This time sales increased but still not enough to be a success. My goal was to get enough sales from books to start production of a film. Years passed and that failed. I simply was not known enough and my marketing skills were extremely poor.
I was determined however to make the amazing stories that I had made when I was a kid-into a living-into a film-into a motivation.
In truth the stories me and my friends made were always motivational, the heroes journey but far more insane. The failure of the books online was not an entire loss however. Book writing taught me how to properly structure stories and characters. Allowed me to refine the old stories I had made and improve them drastically with newer ideas and enhancements. It was then I first realized that failure is the greatest success one can achieve.
I then attempted to start an animated film, maybe people would enjoy it and could help fundraise a live action. However I coudnt get the support from other animators to help me out and after a while I gave up on the animation. I had thought all this time that I needed tens of thousands to create my stories into a first film, but then I researched into the independent filmmaking realm. Then i felt as if anything was possible. I started planning a feature film. It was a simple one. (Brief overview)
A young boy lives in a village in a fantasy world. Then another village becomes hostile and a fight ensues between the 2. After the fight is finished both villages are weakened and another army appears on the horizon. It turns out the entire conflict between the 2 villages was a setup, influenced by spies and foreign scouts to weaken them. Allowing a greater army to sweep in and conquer the area.
A simple story with a twist at the end.
I tried getting actors, as many as possible, friends, family, I went to schools, churches, tried online but all to no success. No one would collaborate with me on the film idea. This discouraged me but I didn’t give in. I reluctantly decided to film in a local forest to suit the budget and I managed to get a lot of friends and family together than I had expected. Like 20 or so people. In the end it just didn’t cut it. I managed to build a pretty good village and fortress set in the woods. It was actually proper and took me months to build. But the actors weren’t good enough, no experience. I did some test showings and everyone ridiculed the film. “What the f*** is this?” “Piece of sh**” “Trash!” “Garbage!”
That was pretty harsh but I did get a lot of criticism I mean it was my first film I’d ever made. In the end it was deleted from online and I decided to keep on going. I changed the story up a bit to suit an even tighter budget and started again. I kept on learning the art of film while I was at it and took the criticism people put against the first film. In the end the film was completed at towards end of 2018. A 2nd full feature, basically the first one but re-shot and new scenes. I released it online and it got alot of better reception. Way better reviews. But it still wasn’t what I had hoped for, it wasn’t the hit I wanted. Only a few hundred views, it got some good criticism but...it was just at a “youtube film flick” standard. The cinematography wasn’t good enough, nothing was professional looking. I did get some harsh criticism as well. In the end it wasn’t good enough so I branded that film as a test and went back into production. I tried making a better sequel, it had better visuals and some improved cinematography but still wasn’t good enough standard. It really wasn’t a good success at all. Then I tried combining all my previous made film renditions into one film. Another feature, the 4th project. But it still wasn’t as good a success as I had hoped.
Then 2019 had come and I really didn’t like the look of things, but I took the past as experience and branded all previous films as “tests” not real films. I dived back into the production, this time starting clean slate. I restructured the story, tried getting better actors, better locations, equipment. Taking notes from the past. Another feature project. Halfway through this year and the feature was well underway. Then 3/4 way thru I looked over what had been filmed for the new film. Far more professional looking, I had gotten new friends who were good critics and criticized every mistake made. But something just wasn’t right. By now all my attempts to get proper costumes had failed but I did manage to get a decent 4K cam as a replacement for my past one.
By now though, a lot of my supporters who had new support for the film fell away. The actors who had been in my previous films weren’t willing to come back for any reshoots or more filming. Everyone slowly began to give up on the project. What I had filmed so far was good....but it still wasn’t good enough. All the actors and stuff receded into a “critic” style support. By this point I was the only actor, director, and basically all the stuff. Everyone by now saw me as a failure or just couldn't bother anymore.
Idk why but I kept going. I decided to shorten the film and create cut alot, making it a short film.
Then just a few weeks ago I completed the short films first completed “draft”
It was received very well. It flows, the story is great, music, editing, everything. I decided to contact some new people to see what they think of it. They thought it Was a decent film and reviewed it.
But that still isn’t enough. After christmas I am to travel to New Zealand. There I will film the remainder of the movie.
Idk why but I can’t settle for “decent” Especially after all this time. Currently the film is 12 mins, after NZ the film should be around 30-40mins.
I’ve decided I’m gonna go all out, if I’ve gotten this far then I can go further with the film. Once complete the film should include 2 massive set piece battles, land and naval. Along with a dream battle (already filmed) and a vision in the stars scene.
So yea that’s my production story so far. I really hope the ending film pulls off cause I’ve saved around $1000 for online marketing. It’s gonna be completely free in youtube as well and I hope some festivals online or real life accept it.

I guess the real key is persistence and I know it’s very cliche. If anyone has some stories they wanna share or any advice please share. Any opinions or such. And if anyone wants to know the story of what my completed film will be then ask I guess but yea.
 
In truth I’ve thought a lot however about giving up the whole project. And just waiting, to save up way more money. I’ve often considered just working on others projects and gaining more experience before going at this film project again. Idk why but I just wanna create motivational films of heroism and emotion. So yea I’m at a crossroads as well.
I have the option of just releasing what I’ve done so far and waiting to do more later, or just going onward and completing the project all the way through. By now I’m completely alone in this project of mine, no actors or anything. What was once a 20 people crew is now 1. One of my friends is going to take some videos of where he is traveling to and so are 2 others but they aren’t really in full support of the film.
What do you all think about this?
 
What do you all think about this?
There's an expression in French - "avoir les yeux plus grand que le ventre" - which I think applies perfectly to your situation: you've had this epic vision in front of your eyes forever, but have never really had the resources (or business acumen) to see it through. From the description above and several of your other posts, it sounds like you've fallen into the trap of investing all of your energy and emotion into something that you can see clearly in your head while forgetting that no-one else can (or will ever) have the same attachment to the project.

It seems, too, that you can't stick to any one format long enough to turn your story from "nice idea" to "quite good" to "great". As soon as you hit the "nice idea" you veer off onto another path and have to go through the learning experience (and face the inevitable criticism) all over again, rather than learning from whatever criticism came your way in the previous format.

At this stage, if you have no crew left, it sounds like you've got two options : either take it back to the format of a novel, which you can work on without any crew (but with an editor) until it's a great story ; or else just let it go - you've given it your best effort and it hasn't rewarded you as you hoped, so shelve it and invest yourself in something else entirely.

On another thread, you wrote about rejecting industry conventions in favour of doing things your own way. As an "artist" that's a philosophically sound position to take - but a someone trying to get something done, you're seeing the negative side of that. These conventions aren't simply a way to force people to comply with some ancestral rules: they also serve as a blueprint by which you show other people what you have in mind, and they serve as a checklist against which you can judge whether you have all the skills and resources necessary to complete the project on time and on budget.

That should be your next project : a self-contained, free-standing short, done to a high standard "by the numbers" and with minimal cast and crew. Put the script up here before you take up a camera again and let us tear it to pieces :evil: until you've got it right, then shoot it over a long weekend (with due attention to sound and light), and take your time with the editing & post (again, take advantage of this community's critical eye before you release your final cut to the world). That'll help you regain the confidence of those who've given up on you.
 
There's an expression in French - "avoir les yeux plus grand que le ventre" - which I think applies perfectly to your situation: you've had this epic vision in front of your eyes forever, but have never really had the resources (or business acumen) to see it through. From the description above and several of your other posts, it sounds like you've fallen into the trap of investing all of your energy and emotion into something that you can see clearly in your head while forgetting that no-one else can (or will ever) have the same attachment to the project.

It seems, too, that you can't stick to any one format long enough to turn your story from "nice idea" to "quite good" to "great". As soon as you hit the "nice idea" you veer off onto another path and have to go through the learning experience (and face the inevitable criticism) all over again, rather than learning from whatever criticism came your way in the previous format.

At this stage, if you have no crew left, it sounds like you've got two options : either take it back to the format of a novel, which you can work on without any crew (but with an editor) until it's a great story ; or else just let it go - you've given it your best effort and it hasn't rewarded you as you hoped, so shelve it and invest yourself in something else entirely.

On another thread, you wrote about rejecting industry conventions in favour of doing things your own way. As an "artist" that's a philosophically sound position to take - but a someone trying to get something done, you're seeing the negative side of that. These conventions aren't simply a way to force people to comply with some ancestral rules: they also serve as a blueprint by which you show other people what you have in mind, and they serve as a checklist against which you can judge whether you have all the skills and resources necessary to complete the project on time and on budget.

That should be your next project : a self-contained, free-standing short, done to a high standard "by the numbers" and with minimal cast and crew. Put the script up here before you take up a camera again and let us tear it to pieces :evil: until you've got it right, then shoot it over a long weekend (with due attention to sound and light), and take your time with the editing & post (again, take advantage of this community's critical eye before you release your final cut to the world). That'll help you regain the confidence of those who've given up on you.

Ive always completed the previous formats of my film to the best I could at the time, and the only criticism I ever managed to get was either people using swear words to express its horrible-ness and some rare times some other comments expressing “good quality.” or “good editing” never any in between or constructive feedback for the most part.
I think that’s the real issue is that everyone who knew about my project just couldn’t bother to be interested in the story or anything.
Ive never hit the “nice idea” as whenever I finish one of the film formats it’s not good enough to convey it. So I’m forced to start again or give up. My stubbornness I think made me go on.
Perhaps your right and I think maybe going back to novel writing would be a good idea. But I’ve also still filmed a lot of this film and am uncertain wether or not I should just give it all up. I might post a overview of my films story to see what you and others think because my main audience so far has not been the target audience. The people who have seen my films aren’t really interested in it’s genre.
 
I’ve also still filmed a lot of this film and am uncertain wether or not I should just give it all up.
Change the way you think about this: if you were studying any classical subject at university, you would spend hours and hours and hours doing exercises and experiments that thousands of people had done in the same way before you, and (depending on what country you live in) you'd pay tens of thousands of [currency unit of your choice] for the privilege of a diploma at the end of it.

The only circumstance in which you'll be "giving up" (in the sense of "wasting") everything that you've done so far is if you don't learn from it. You don't need to destroy your files - there's nothing to stop you sorting them into samples of scenery, character shots, interiors, good lighting, action, etc, etc. and keeping them for future reference. You never know - maybe in a few years' time you'll be able to drop one of those vistas onto a greenscreen background in some other character's scenario ...

the only criticism I ever managed to get was either people using swear words to express its horrible-ness and some rare times some other comments expressing “good quality.” or “good editing” never any in between or constructive feedback for the most part.
That sounds a bit "chicken and egg" :scared: - are you only getting a "final verdict" because you only ask for criticism when you've produced a "final cut" ? That may not be how it is in reality, but that's how it comes across (to me, at least) from your posts on this forum. Even here, when you've asked for feedback, you leap from one format to another before you've had a chance to act on any advice you've been given.

I might post a overview of my films story to see what you and others think
You have already! It's "epic" ... but if you're now reduced to a crew of one and a marketing budget of 1k, there's no way you'll ever get that to look and feel like Lord of the Rings. Tolkien himself took about 17 years to write that trilogy, and he (obviously!) wasn't thinking about adapting it for the big screen.

More than likely, you've built this project into such a wall around yourself that it's stopping you from developing any of your skills now, and the loss of your crew members is only going to make that worse. So don't trash everything that you've done, but pack it up and put it out of sight, out of mind until further notice and do something completely different, and very, very much smaller.
 

mlesemann

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
No one ever carries as much about our movies as we do. I still work on issues related to my two features years after they were completed - either related to Amazon Prime, or the web site(s), or publicity related to one of the actors...it never stops.

I've learned to accept that. I love my movies - the stories that they tell as well as the stories behind them. So I never stop going forward.
 
Change the way you think about this: if you were studying any classical subject at university, you would spend hours and hours and hours doing exercises and experiments that thousands of people had done in the same way before you, and (depending on what country you live in) you'd pay tens of thousands of [currency unit of your choice] for the privilege of a diploma at the end of it.

The only circumstance in which you'll be "giving up" (in the sense of "wasting") everything that you've done so far is if you don't learn from it. You don't need to destroy your files - there's nothing to stop you sorting them into samples of scenery, character shots, interiors, good lighting, action, etc, etc. and keeping them for future reference. You never know - maybe in a few years' time you'll be able to drop one of those vistas onto a greenscreen background in some other character's scenario ...


That sounds a bit "chicken and egg" :scared: - are you only getting a "final verdict" because you only ask for criticism when you've produced a "final cut" ? That may not be how it is in reality, but that's how it comes across (to me, at least) from your posts on this forum. Even here, when you've asked for feedback, you leap from one format to another before you've had a chance to act on any advice you've been given.


You have already! It's "epic" ... but if you're now reduced to a crew of one and a marketing budget of 1k, there's no way you'll ever get that to look and feel like Lord of the Rings. Tolkien himself took about 17 years to write that trilogy, and he (obviously!) wasn't thinking about adapting it for the big screen.

More than likely, you've built this project into such a wall around yourself that it's stopping you from developing any of your skills now, and the loss of your crew members is only going to make that worse. So don't trash everything that you've done, but pack it up and put it out of sight, out of mind until further notice and do something completely different, and very, very much smaller.
I agree that I should pack this up and that your probably right. I should probably develop more experience and skills before going at this again (and budget) but then again I probably need more opinions. Your probably right though.
Previously I posted my story but since then I took a lot of the story feedback and improved the story.
This site is pretty much one of the only places I get any real feedback.
 
I should probably develop more experience and skills before going at this again
Experience, yes ; skills ... maybe not. You don't need "more" skills if (a) you already have one skill in which you excel, and (b) you'll never be better than average in the new ones because you haven't the time or ability to devote to learning, practising and refining your technique.

While it's good to understand as many aspects of a multi-departmental industry such as film-making, that doesn't mean you should try to do it all yourself. @onebaldman has effectively provided you with a masterclass in how to make a (mini) epic, sharing his script, his screenshots, info about his team, his marketing strategy, his doubts, etc. You don't need to do all of that yourself just to find out that you should have delegated to someone else ... but you do need to identify which of those many roles is the one that you can do better than anyone else.

Tangential anecdote: one of my sons is studying event management, as part of which he had to produce a website for an event that he'd organised. I don't interrogate him on every module, but found out that he'd been stalled on this one for three months because he just couldn't get his head round all the elements that go into making a web site. I reminded him that he a father who knew about this stuff, and outsourcing is as much of a skill for an event manager as booking a venue. Three hours later he had his website, complete with original images, colour-matched to the event theme, and all the metadata needed to satisfy his tutor that it was "all his own work".

Moral of the story: figure out what you can do really well, and apply yourself to that; then let other people do the rest.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
The real problem is always going to fall on money for the genre of fantasy and epic. You have basically worked on this film for a long time. Spent a good amount of cash on it (I assume). Even now, you are saving $1,000 for it. For a good costume set up, you will be spending more than that, especially if you have more than one costume.

At low budget (and I mean very low) I've always spent around $500 on one costume if it was custom made using LARP style materials.

If people are saying it isn't good, you may want to really take a moment away from it... And really be honest with yourself. Give yourself a moment, and think as you would if you found the video as a random person on the internet.

It might not be that great. That's okay, you got a lot of great experience you can use toward your next thing.

You should take your $1,000 and put it toward another project. That's a good amount of cash for something low budget, with volunteers. Make a cheap, easy 5 minute piece. Do a genre that doesn't cost so much.

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Edit for additional thought:

You have a great amount of drive and passion man. You really seem like you are going for it, and that is an amazing skill to keep as you get better and better in film.

I think the best medicine for you is going to be finding local folks doing a project, and lend them your assets you've accumulated (could even lend money) to help see their project through.... Or making a small project that can get you working, without a ton of stress or limits.
 
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If people are saying it isn't good, you may want to really take a moment away from it... And really be honest with yourself. Give yourself a moment, and think as you would if you found the video as a random person on the internet.

I might do some test screenings and show a lot of people what I’ve done so far. The 12 mins I’ve completed. Because just reviewing it myself could cause bias. And based on what they think of It will conclude wether to continue this project or shelve it. But otherwise I did some land battle tests and fantasy shots to see what you think. Took me only a few hours as a test. If u can I’d love to know wether you think the shots look fantasy-like and (if I do go on with the project) the style has potential to be an actual good battle and help the film if I go through with it and work on it more. And the shot with the map is meant to convey the villain looking over his conquered world. I also am wondering wether or not getting a way bigger budget $20,000 or more than 10K or something would be good for this fantasy film. I’m starting to think true fantasy can be more conveyed and expressed through extremely low budgets. Forcing creativity and new styles to work around the budget. Use of both animation and live action. More dependence on story rather than affects. But we will see.
 

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The real problem is always going to fall on money for the genre of fantasy and epic. You have basically worked on this film for a long time. Spent a good amount of cash on it (I assume). Even now, you are saving $1,000 for it. For a good costume set up, you will be spending more than that, especially if you have more than one costume.

At low budget (and I mean very low) I've always spent around $500 on one costume if it was custom made using LARP style materials.

If people are saying it isn't good, you may want to really take a moment away from it... And really be honest with yourself. Give yourself a moment, and think as you would if you found the video as a random person on the internet.

It might not be that great. That's okay, you got a lot of great experience you can use toward your next thing.

You should take your $1,000 and put it toward another project. That's a good amount of cash for something low budget, with volunteers. Make a cheap, easy 5 minute piece. Do a genre that doesn't cost so much.

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Edit for additional thought:

You have a great amount of drive and passion man. You really seem like you are going for it, and that is an amazing skill to keep as you get better and better in film.

I think the best medicine for you is going to be finding local folks doing a project, and lend them your assets you've accumulated (could even lend money) to help see their project through.... Or making a small project that can get you working, without a ton of stress or limits.
Also I was wondering if you would like to be one of the ones to see my 12 min film. I’d love any feedback and critisicm.
seeing as there is a chance it’ll be shelved anyways might as well get some reviews if you wanna see it.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
I’m starting to think true fantasy can be more conveyed and expressed through extremely low budgets. Forcing creativity and new styles to work around the budget. Use of both animation and live action. More dependence on story rather than affects. But we will see.
Sure. What you said sparked an idea.

What if you do it from the perspective of a aging or dying warrior. Maybe he is painting his tales on a cave or stone wall?

One actor, with good narrated segments, as he paints the wall with characters and battles... Maybe you can transition those drawings into animated action sequences?

Boom. You save money, and all you need is one live location with one live actor.
 
Sure. What you said sparked an idea.

What if you do it from the perspective of a aging or dying warrior. Maybe he is painting his tales on a cave or stone wall?

One actor, with good narrated segments, as he paints the wall with characters and battles... Maybe you can transition those drawings into animated action sequences?

Boom. You save money, and all you need is one live location with one live actor.
It’s funny that you mention a narrated film could be a possibility. As that is what I’m about to send to you. Very great idea and I’ll definitely take that on board.
 
....the only criticism I ever managed to get was either people using swear words to express its horrible-ness and some rare times some other comments expressing “good quality.” or “good editing” never any in between or constructive feedback for the most part.
From "Ratatouille" (Pixar)

(Food) critic Anton Ego (love that name...) reviews Remy's cooking:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

There really aren't any new stories, the only thing that's "new" is the way that they are presented. In "Ratatouille" Remy won over his critic by presenting a simple dish in a new way.

You have what you believe to be a great story/concept. Your big dilemma is your presentation. As mentioned, you're not going to make "The Lord Of The Rings" or "Star Wars" on a "Blair Witch Project" budget. So you either need to shelve the project until you have sufficient budget or you can adapt it to a micro budget (as mentioned by onebaldman):

What if you do it from the perspective of a aging or dying warrior. Maybe he is painting his tales on a cave or stone wall? One actor, with good narrated segments, as he paints the wall with characters and battles... Maybe you can transition those drawings into animated action sequences? Boom. You save money, and all you need is one live location with one live actor.

You don't need "more" skills if (a) you already have one skill in which you excel, and (b) you'll never be better than average in the new ones because you haven't the time or ability to devote to learning, practicing and refining your technique.
As the long-time IT-ers know, I spent much of my career as a working/touring musician, retired from that to do music engineering/producing and then sidestepped into audio post production. Despite all of my previous audio experience it was almost a year before I was comfortable with process and even longer before I felt that I was truly putting out professional product. This is why film making is a team sport; there are just too many crafts to master to do it all yourself.

One of my favorite dictums is "KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid (although I use sh!thead when reminding myself). Michelangelo was supposed to have said that the sculpture was already in the marble, all he had to do was chip away the unneeded bits. Break your project down to essentials, figure out the essence of of the story you want to tell. Can you really tell it with limited skills and on limited resources?
 
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What if you do it from the perspective of a aging or dying warrior. Maybe he is painting his tales on a cave or stone wall?

One actor, with good narrated segments, as he paints the wall with characters and battles... Maybe you can transition those drawings into animated action sequences?
This is a concept I've toyed with, in the context of a tourism promotion for where I live: shot as a visitor's point-of-view, where events of the past come to life in the form of a series of animated historical events laid over the modern landscape. But while I (obviously!) think that'd work for the short span of an advert, I think it'd be quite a challenge to sustain it over a full-length feature. If it's not a feature, then @GOLDENMORAL CINEMAS is back to square one, trying to tell an "epic" tale in a very short space of time.


Also I was wondering if you would like to be one of the ones to see my 12 min film. I’d love any feedback and critisicm.
seeing as there is a chance it’ll be shelved anyways might as well get some reviews if you wanna see it.
This comment wasn't specifically addressed to me, but I'd be happy to review and constructively criticise what you've produced so far. Maybe have a look first at what I've posted in regards to other videos put up on this site to decide whether or not you want that kind of feedback! :)
 
This is a concept I've toyed with, in the context of a tourism promotion for where I live: shot as a visitor's point-of-view, where events of the past come to life in the form of a series of animated historical events laid over the modern landscape. But while I (obviously!) think that'd work for the short span of an advert, I think it'd be quite a challenge to sustain it over a full-length feature. If it's not a feature, then @GOLDENMORAL CINEMAS is back to square one, trying to tell an "epic" tale in a very short space of time.



This comment wasn't specifically addressed to me, but I'd be happy to review and constructively criticise what you've produced so far. Maybe have a look first at what I've posted in regards to other videos put up on this site to decide whether or not you want that kind of feedback! :)
The film I’m making currently (the one that might be shelved) is not a feature film. It at max will be around 30mins. And at a minimum like 20 if I ever go through with it. This film I’m doing was always meant to set up the characters, the world, and get people excited for the next movie. (That) movie would be the big feature with a bigger budget. But I guess I do really need to find out what others think of what I’ve done so far (the 12mins.) I’d love to share with you my film for any feedback and to help decide wether this film has potential in the moment-or should definitely be shelved.

-If anyone else wants to see my film, start a private convo with me.
 
Having followed your various threads on this film, it’s obvious that you are bound and determined for it to be a worldwide success. I mean... it’s your first real film. It’s most likely not going to be all that.

You‘ve already put the cart WAY before the horse in trying to get advice on film festivals worldwide, and spoken of this film as if it’s going to be the most amazing thing in the history of ever. That’s not even a conversation to be had until you’ve actually finished the film.

The reason you lost actors and crew is that you lose the confidence of those people if you keep having to scrap what’s done and go back to the beginning. Rewrite, reshoot, re-edit? That’s exhausting. And it’s not how filmmaking works. You’ve been working on this one project for years when you should have been working on it for months. Each time you go back to the start, you deem the last attempt a “test” or a “draft”. You mention failure being success, but each time you redefine one of your go-rounds on this film as an after-the-fact-draft, you’re actually just avoiding accepting it as a failure. Semantics, but still.

CelticRambler mentioned a French saying that’s basically, “your eyes were bigger than your stomach.” In other words, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. One of the biggest mistakes made by beginners is to try and take on an epic feature before having completed several short films. Shorts are the proving ground for ideas, technique, and learning how to manage a production from script to post. Where are all your short films? You could have cranked out a dozen in the time you’ve been trying and retrying and re-retrying on a first-time feature. There’s a big difference between confident determination and downright stubbornness. Only one of those will steer you in the right direction. At some point, you need to just finish this for what it is and move on.

I once worked on a feature - paid - for a director/producer team that (we found out once production actually started) had never actually directed/produced anything of the sort before. They spent almost a quarter million (USD) on this film, and it’ll likely never see the light of day. SO many mistakes were made. And now it’s still stuck in limbo because, honestly, the director is afraid of finishing a movie that may not be that good. It’s been a very long time since production wrapped.

The moral of that story? Finish it now, even if it’s terrible. If you wait three or four (more?) years to get it done because you’re afraid of finishing a film that isn’t the amazing cinematic achievement that you’d envisioned, you will continue to lose confidence and support of anyone involved. You become ”that director” who can’t finish a project.

I’d love to see what you‘ve already shot and edited. You have what you’ve already described as a solid, 12-minute short. Why not leave it there? Why not start on a new short film project? And when that’s done in a couple months, another short film? If you really think this passion project you’ve been stuck on for so long needs to be a feature, shelve it for now (as Bob suggested) and take it up in a few years once you’ve honed your skills and you know how to do it in a realistic time frame. And once you‘ve established your reputation and can get the budget you need to do it. Use your sense of determination to make more shorts now, and work your way into a feature from there.
 
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