A Look Back: Directing My First Short Film

A little more than one hour ago I just called, “Cut! That’s a wrap!” for the first short film I ever directed.

It’s a little hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I just finished production on a project I’ve been working on since the middle of August (June if you want to go back to when I first got the idea). There’s a strange bitter sweetness that comes with wrapping production. On one hand you’re glad it’s over and all the stress of ending on time, getting the right shots, and communicating your vision clearly to your actors and crew in the fewest words possible is behind you. On the other hand, you’re sad that such a huge part of the project is over. After spending so much time with your friends creating and breathing life into the project together, the next day is spent going off to the edit suite alone to finish the final process.

Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that I was required to take the  ‘Intro to Directing’ class in order to graduate. The thought of directing scared me, and I knew it would be a lot for me to handle. So I picked to film something I knew I was good at: dancing. While choreographing it and rehearsals were fun, everything else I had to do stressed me out to the max. A month ago I found myself so overwhelmed I got myself sick because of it. Directing is hard, and if I have gained anything from this experience it is a new found respect for everything a director does. There are so many little duties that fall under the title of director that it makes my head spin. So to the people who thrive in that environment, I tip my hat to you.

But I’ve learned more than just to have a respect for directors. As we stood around Little Buddy (my car) after we packed him to the roof with our equipment, my friend came up to me and gave me a big hug. She whispered in my ear how proud of me she was and commented on how much I have grown because of this project. I thought about it, and I realized she was right (though I would have never realized it on my own). While I have yet to put my finger on it exactly, I know I have matured in some way. My knowledge of filmmaking has grown, I have a better understanding of my abilities and limits, and I am more confident in who I am. I also have a clearer picture of potential jobs would be good for me to pursue after I graduate college. But there’s something else, some other way I have matured.

I think I have done more than just change. I think part of me grew up. Making this film was not easy, and I knew it wouldn’t be (though I had my hopes). During the upcoming editing process, I know it will continue to be hard because I will want to include every single shot, and every single line and almost every singe take because my cast and crew worked so hard and, by golly!, people need to know that! But that’s not why I make movies. I make movies to tell stories about life’s victories and hardships. So that means “killing my baby,” as some of my professors would say, and picking takes and shots that help convey the story rather than show off my friends’ talent. That is the only way I am able to tell the best story I can, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning.

I have a more realistic outlook on my filmmaking process. I know how much I don’t know and need to learn before I become a professional filmmaker. Yes, I’m a senior in college but that doesn’t mean I know everything yet. I may have head knowledge but I still need the lessons that come with experience. That means failing and messing up in front of people more than once, that means getting back on my feet and trying to learn from my mistakes instead of ignoring them.

Yes, my first film as director has wrapped. Yes, I am thankful for all the hard work people put into this project (you all are amazing!). Yes, I am thankful that I learned more about myself, such as my strengths and weaknesses. But the ride’s not over yet, and I still have a lot more to learn in this next week and as I continue to pursue my career as a filmmaker.


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