You’re halfway through pre-production and the storyboards just don’t look right, even though you’ve re-done them three times.
The script isn’t working. Try what you may, it just isn’t working.
A list of props that need to be made stares you in the face. What should they look like? Your brain refuses to function.
These are places when it is easiest to say, “Forget this, I’m going to go read a book.” True, you could plunge on ahead and make yourself do them, but, for goodness sake, it’s not FUN! Isn’t this life-consuming production we call amateur movie-making supposed to be fun? If not fun, at least semi-enjoyable. I mean, who wants to burst into tears over a sketch of a medieval table? (And no, I have not personally done that one. Yet.)
I have found that when I hit a dead end often enough, I get discouraged, and when I get discouraged run for your lives. Nothing gets done because I don’t want to do it. Or, better yet, I do it with a pout on my face and an attitude that is, shall we say, smelly? All the excitement and sparkle of making a movie is gone. There is nothing left. Nada.
Fortunately I have a found a way to drag my excitement back out of the black hole it crawls into, and I want to share it with you.
In a word (or three): Take a break.
“But wait!” you say. “If I take a break, it’ll never get done!” Now hold on, hear me out. It’s not the break itself that helps. It’s what you do during the break.
What motivates you to create something? What inspires you? What makes you flat-out happy? Everyone has something that makes them tick. Maybe listening to music, or doodling on a piece of paper, watching a movie, seeing something interesting visually, there are many, many ways. Find what works for you and remember it! Keep it ready for when you need a pick-me-up. Go ahead, pump that soundtrack through the speakers. (Assuming it won’t disturb anyone.) Pour yourself a Coca-Cola and read a good book. Whatever gets you going again.
Then, when you’re stoked up, go back to the project. Gently. Don’t rush things too much or your newly inflated bubble will pop. If you have to, work on some other aspect of the project. There are always things to be done; just find one that is the least strenuous. You can do it!
For me, my inspiring something is learning about other people’s movie-making experiences. I love watching the ‘making of’ sections on movies like Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or National Treasure, and I absolutely love looking at costumes created for a specific role in a film.
As a side note, some of my “books for depressionitis” are:
The Art of Star Trek, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
A great book for looking at pictures of way-cool props. (Warning, some inappropriate costumes.)
The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy, by Brian Sibley
So much fun! This one goes into the whole process, including props, filming, costumes, CGI, music, actors, and lots more. Very, very good. (Warning, some bad language.)
Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, A history from the 18th to the 20th Century.
Granted, this one isn’t about a movie, but it’s a nice reference for historical costumes, and I like looking at all the colors and fabrics and styles. (Warning, some really, really weird costumes once you get into the 20th Century, and some inappropriate ones. )