Above All – Be a Writer
Movies are the amalgamation of artistic talent and technical know-how, coming together to tell a story through moving pictures, and, while technical know-how is readily available, it is the artistic talent that’s a little harder to come by. And above all other talents, in my opinion, is the ability to write that will ultimately make the difference between success or failure in this business. Think about it: how many bad movies with big budgets are being made every year? And how many of those big-budget films are made by amazing technicians who’ve mastered the visual arts? Almost all of them, but it seems that the one thing that’s missing from these films is the great script, and that’s because good screenwriters are hard to come by.
It takes real courage to jump through a glass window while your whole body is on fire; it takes real patience to work with actors; it takes a lot of energy and creativity to light a scene and a really good eye to maintain it on camera; it takes a great ear to handle a mix and an amazing skill to masterfully paint a face. But above all else, the process of writing takes everything from you. It takes time, it’s personal, and it can be very emotional, and without it, nothing else really matters. Every single artist and technician who works on a movie set is working for the sole purpose of realizing the written word and putting it on the screen for the world to see.
George R.R. Martin is one of the best writers alive today, but even he gets writer's block.
(just look at the fact he couldn't finish the Game of Thrones series.)
The script is the film’s blueprint, it’s the holy grail, it’s the beginning of all things – and it’s the art that I think you should spend the most time mastering. The better you get at writing, the better you get at making movies, and the greater your chances of success in this industry. Now, there are many great directors who aren’t writers, and that is an approach you can take, but I think that much like everything else in the DIY world if you know how to do it yourself, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and resources. The journey you take to “prove yourself” as a competent director won’t hinge on mere chance, personal connections, or the need to secure someone else's screenplay.