A couple of weeks ago I was on a panel at the Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles. The panel was explicitly named “Five F#@*Ups and How to Fix Them.”
To me it wasn’t a big deal to discuss any past mistakes in my filmmaking career. More times than not, I was grateful for them because each held a valuable lesson. Case in point: contracts. I was having some contracts drawn up by my lawyer and found out that she was leading a panel about these film follies. Since she hadn’t obtained a person to help serve as an example, I volunteered.
I told my story about working with a writer on two features. I had given a ton of input for both screenplays. We had gotten to the point where we had done a few rewrites so I had some time and effort invested in these projects. I was ready to pull the trigger to make them. I had people on board and they had spent time giving input on these stories. All of a sudden, the writer and I had a falling out and I had no legal rights to my input. This was my story at the panel. Short and painful.
But it was a fun panel and I didn’t really think much of discussing my mistakes with the audience. I actually had a blast. It was simple for me: here’s my mistake and it will never happen again and here’s why. My lawyer was actually leading the panel and added the humor to the situation. She made it an interesting, informative, funny hour of much needed answers to some burning questions many filmmakers would have. And now, from this mistake, I never move forward without a contract. After the panel I went on with the forum as usual.
To my surprise I had a bunch of other filmmakers come up to me throughout the weekend telling me it was great to hear someone confess their mistakes. They said that the fact that I spoke about my mistakes made me seem more human and approachable. They thought it was refreshing and made them feel good.
Here’s the truth, we ALL MAKE MISTAKES.
And after hearing all the comments I was glad I did join in the panel. It made me feel like I was part of the Indie film community. Like I was speaking for all of us in saying “Yes! I screwed up!” I was a part of every other filmmaker out there. I was you.
From first-time filmmakers, to people we consider our inspired filmmaking heroes, we all make mistakes. So why not admit it and learn from them? If you do, then others may tell you how to avoid them in the future or how to set it right. Be human and confess. You know my biggest mistake, let’s all confess and leave a comment about your mistake. If you can lend a helping word or experience to teach others, please do so.
Come on, tell me, what was your mistake?