by Ian Baluca, contributor
“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties?”
– Vaclav Havel
We’ve all felt the unnerving bite of self-doubt. For some reason, no matter how many achievements you’ve had, in that moment, they all account for nothing. I do not know what triggers doubt in you. But if you’re anything like me, watching a film that is similar to my style- but a million times better- makes me want to jump ship.
The thing is, you know that you have potential. You’ve known from long ago that you are one of the chosen few who can make a difference. Problem is, the world, in general, doesn’t give you the opportunity to do so. But don’t worry, you tell yourself. We have solid, undeniable proof.
Let’s access my suppressed memories… oh.
You reach deep into your memorabilia chest (or hard drive; that’s how we roll now) to re-watch your first film. It’s gonna be awesome, you tell yourself. A few minutes into the film, you realize that your “masterpiece” is an insult to your own definition of beauty. So much for self-inspiration.
Be gentle with your first project
No matter how you cut it, film making is a skill. And like other skills, being good at it requires a lot of time and practice. You can’t simply read a book and expect to churn out something picture-perfect. Given, there are some people out there who are intrinsically talented- but that just makes it so much worse: sometimes one’s recognition of their skills is directly proportional to their expectations. So just let your first time slide. You’ve changed a lot from back then. And whatever you do…
Don’t stop halfway
Writing this article without me watching my first film would be downright pointless, so I did. To be honest, I closed my video player’s window way before the opening sequence was finished. It was so bad that I had to take a breath before even considering playing it again. But that’s the whole point.
You can’t do a Houdini here, pal.
For one, it reminds you of all that you’ve stood for before; the values that you’ve gained throughout the years. It’s one of the best mediums to check whether you’ve made some progress or not in terms of maturity. Another reason is to learn from your mistakes- for there will be a lot. For now, focus on all the excuses you’ve made before as to why your film ended up like that, and make sure that those events won’t ever blindside you again.
Finally, take a good, hard look on the techniques that you’ve used. Did they work? What needs adjusting? How would you do it now? But throughout this activity, always remember to…
Compare techniques, not yourself
You’ll always see a person who’s better than you in doing something. It will always be the case, no matter how good you get. And here’s the part that quite sucks: you do have to admit to yourself that something is still lacking in your work.
But please stop there.
You see, this is where some people fall- they mistakenly equate their work with self-worth. Your techniques when you are starting something will always be inadequate by your current standards. That being said, never feel small when you find mistakes in your work.
Starting film is enough evidence of how big you actually are.
Remember the people who helped you
This, not the quality of your work, is a better measure of your worth. Having people helping you out is a testament on how large a person you are. Let me lay down some reality here: what people don’t realize is that the production process of film is strenuous. It takes a lot out of you, both mentally and physically.
Good thing there’s ABSOLUTELY ZERO expense when making films
Given that circumstance, it’s a lot easier when people give you support- may it be active participation or moral. So remember to thank them. They’re probably the ones who’d give your first film weight and meaning to you, not the final output.
So whenever you’re having doubts on whether you should pursue your second, third, or fourth film, just remember your first. Let it serve as a gentle reminder of where you came from and who you were with.
And please, do be gentle with the way you treat your first. Cradle it in your memory like a babe, for no matter how craptastic it looks to you now, chances are, the people you did it with still cherish its memory- just because they did it with you.