Overcoming Film Project Doubt – 3 Steps

– Posted in: Growing Professionally and Staying Creatively Inspired

If you’re even thinking about starting a film or video project you’ll be dealing with uncertainty and doubt.

It’s inevitable, The moment we have a desire to create something new we are forced to step out of our comfort zone and into the unknown.

The outcome is not predictable. And so is the rise of monkey mind!

Not knowing is scary!

In this post I’ll share three steps to re-frame and successfully overcome film project doubt.

Where does doubt come from?

  • Do we doubt our film idea.
  • Do we doubt ourselves.
  • Do we doubt our audience or the market.

Ultimately doubt is fear and it comes from our desire to be safe.

As I stated above I’m going to share the steps I have for overcoming doubt.

Step #1 – Bring your project to life. 

Go back to the early notes you’ve made on about the project. Ideally you’ve done this in the vetting stage. You can learn more about vetting your project here.

Vetting a project in it’s simplest terms is a process that tests the basic premise of your idea and you decide if  your idea is worth the additional investment. Engaging the the vetting process uncovers both strengths and weakness in your project. It’s an important way to keep you making stepping stone films instead of dead end projects.

So gather this work and or any other writing you’ve done for the project or about the project and read it again.

But this time read everything from the frame of mind that you’re already funded and you’re reading to make sure that all things important to the projects success has been noted.

Got it? Let’s give your project life. You’re already funded so lets go make your film. Use your imagination and make it as real as possible.

See yourself directing, see a location and the crew, see yourself watching a take, feel it. See yourself in the edit room and ultimately see yourself showing your film to an applauding audience.

Very Nice!

Often when I do this exercise I feel both excitement and then fear.

Don’t worry about what you feel, just engage you imagination and make your project as real as possible – just feel!

By the way if you want to learn even more about this process I recommend Jonathan Fields book Uncertainty.

Okay time for step two.

Step #2 – Ask yourself, what would undertaking and failing on this project mean to me?

How would my life change?

What would I loose?

  • Credibility
  • Friends
  • My nest egg
  • My home
  • My confidence

The act of actively and consciously asking these questions puts our “rational mind” to work.

Doing this usually helps us realize that failure never leaves us so destitute that we can’t bounce back.

Usually the opposite happens.

Most often a calculated risk that ends in failure leaves us stronger and better equipped for the next endeavor. This is why some venture capitalists prefer to work with startups that have experienced and learned from failure.

Think about it, who’s the bigger risk to fund a filmmaker that’s never made a movie or a filmmaker that’s made two shorts that failed to make it into the big festivals and failed to get his fist feature script funded.

You can bet that if the script is good and the filmmaker can show that he’s smarter and has learned from the mistakes he’ll  get funded before the guy who has no track record.

For me, this exercise is helpful because it allows me to “get real” and settle down.

Studies have shown that the unconscious “reptile brain” is always looking for comfort and stability. This mind see’s risk as threat and turns the mind into a spinning centrifuge of doubt.

By using deliberate conscious contemplation I can stop the spinning, wild with thoughts created by the monkey mind.

This gives us the ability to access risk based on rational thought.

Step # 3 – Ask yourself, what would my life look like in five to ten years if I played it safe and did nothing.

I can tell you for sure what it would look like because I did it for a while.

What seems to be safe is actually a slow sinking backward.

It’s like money under a mattress. If a certain portion of the money isn’t working, inflation shrinks your stash. If we stay static, we fall behind because techniques, technology and methods are changing.

If we want to maintain our present influence or expertise we need to be stretching out of your comfort zone. 

You can’t coast forever in neutral.

If you’re not applying energy to moving forward and out of your comfort zone, your comfort zone is shrinking and you’re likely to become tomorrows victim.

Yes we all know them. These are the people who blame everyone and everything else for what’s wrong with there present situation. These are the people who payed it safe and never stretched.

Slowing but consistently they watched others pass them by.

At times theses were the same people who found early traction and felt superior when other new comers failed. But later watched the same ones who failed bounce back and pass them by. This is what we talked about in step #2.

I mist admit that this was me for a short time. I was doing well and because I had access to expensive equipment I felt safe and got a little lazy. I can name the people who passed me by. I never got giddy about watching someone fail, but I did feel a little righteous.

That is until I took my fall.

How will doing nothing look 5, 10 and 15 years from now.

Step # 4 – What if I Succeed

How will my life change.

Don’t automatically think you can skip this step. There are at least two reasons not to.

See your self succeeding and be sure to see this in detail.

This is where we have fun. The above exercises has been about disempowering crash of what failure means and understanding the real costs of complacency.

But, it time to talk about hope.

It’s time to dive deeper into the imagination. See yourself not only working onset but succeeding, see yourself smiling as you see the perfect take or hear a great sound bite. See you and your crew applauding an actors performance, see yourself discussing performances and camera coverage and finally see and hear the audience applause as the end titles of your film rolls. Look to your left and your right and soak up the admiration your friends and family are sending you way.

Make this scene so real it becomes your story line. Make a vision board and free-write about why you want to create this project.

Now revisit each step.

  • Acknowledge the pain of failure and the empowerment potential of learning and bouncing back.  Set that story line aside.
  • Acknowledge the reality of the do nothing story line. Make it real, see your self in ten years of having taken no action. Set it aside.
  • Acknowledge your success story line, feel it and really see it make so real you can taste it.

Congratulations you’ve just completed a re-frame. If you really want to create leverage revisit this weekly to get in touch with the pain of “not doing” the exaggerated results of failing and the joy of succeeding.

Project success is about moving forward. You can do it slow or you can do it fast, the only important thing is that you get things done. Not every project will succeed but I think you agree that doing nothing means that doubt runs your life.

I hope that this exercise helps!

DIY – Film School Home Work

Make a date with yourself to walk through this exercise. Please don’t just read it an not follow up. Commit to empowering yourself and set a date to do this right now.

PS. Please leave a comment. Let me know if you found this helpful. I and others would love to hear your thoughts.