Women in film: how to succeed

Woman's hand working a clapper board

Walt Disney was quoted as saying “If you can dream it, you can make it”. And as one of the best-known names in the film industry, he’s worth listening to.

Woman's hand and a clapper boardIf you’ve ever thought about making a film, you’ll know that as soon as the idea pops into your head, so do a thousand questions.

“Can I actually do this?”

“What if I mess this up?”

“Why would anyone listen to me?”

“What if no one trusts me with the money to make this?”

Stop! Stop it now. I don’t mean stop making the film. I mean stop talking to yourself in this negative way.

Okay, they are all legitimate questions, but take time to answer each of them in a positive way.

Here’s how to build your confidence muscle:

Fake it till you make it

This might make you feel a bit weird.  You know you are not feeling completely confident, so you pretend you are.

Ultimately, you are not really being authentic.  However, I am a fan of faking it for a short amount of time so that you can experience how it actually feels. Put your capability knickers on, slap on some red lipstick and go do something ‘in a confident way’. See and experience how people react to you.  How is this different from your normal way of being?  The point is, you can be confident when you need to be confident.

Pick your back up team carefully

We all have female friends who are super supportive and you’ll need these kind of gals on your team while making your film.  Decide who is your ‘go-to’ person if you have a little wobble. Tell them what you need them to do ie. give you suggestions, just listen, tell you you’re amazing. Every single expert started as a beginner.

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Do some NLP

This is Neuro Linguistic Programming. Which is just a fancy title for the road map to the brain. There is a great exercise called an ‘Anchor’. The easiest Anchor to create is a piece of music. Something that you love, feel confident when you listen to and it always puts a smile on your face.

Make sure it’s on your iPod or phone and play it before an important meeting. You can feel confident in just three minutes…

Have a sense of humour

Seeing humour in any situation is always a bonus.  If you are not feeling so confident and something goes wrong, think about it from a different perspective. If you have made a mistake about something, brush it off with humour. Don’t internalise it and make yourself feel even worse.

Create a ‘How Great Am I’ file

This may seem a bit full on for us Brits, but it will help. Make a list – when you are feeling positive – of all the great accomplishments you have made to date, not necessarily all to do with work. Then when you feel a bit unsure, look at your list and regain your composure.

Do the Pizza Walk

What?!  This is great. Go into a shop that doesn’t sell what you want, but you ask for it anyway. For example, go into a carpet shop and ask if they have a pepperoni pizza. We are too concerned about what other people think of us. To be honest, they don’t give us much thought. Once you get comfortable with not worrying what people think, it won’t matter what you say.

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Get networking…

Woman make-up artist creating a wound on a manNetworking is important as a filmmaker, as making good connections in the industry will be invaluable. The best places to network are anything at BAFTA or WFTV – you need to meet experienced people.

Make sure you take some business cards with you. And a little tip from me – a pet peeve is hotmail or gmail addresses, so try to get your own domain name to look more professional.

When you’re networking, talk but also listen. It’s the best way to get people to ask you things in return. You can talk about anything, it doesn’t have to be about the industry, just find some common ground and have a chat. You don’t need to sell yourself – just be yourself.

The best advice I can give you is to follow up after networking. Keep track of all your contacts, drop them an email after the event and follow up in a month’s time to arrange to meet for a drink.

Networking can be long haul. But it’s definitely worth it.

When there aren’t enough hours in the day…

Filmmaking is a lengthy process. You need to be realistic about what hours and days you can work and how this fits into your existing schedule. A frazzled, frustrated filmmaker is not a productive one.

Some things to consider:

Where will you not compromise?

If you have children, then this might be committing yourself to bathtime, putting your child to bed or an hour of play time. Or it might be an hour talking to your partner each night, or reconnecting with friends each week or each month. Communicate with your friends and family, so they know you might not have as much time to devote to them while you’re working.

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Establish boundaries at work

If you are about to start your project, make sure everyone knows that you may need some flexibility and that they can have the same. Don’t wait until a crisis occurs and then find that other people resent the fact that you have to leave at a certain time.

Include your nearest and dearest

Not many films will have a bring your child to work day!  However, could you employ someone to look after everyone’s kids at various stages. Or if you are a director, maybe your partner is a writer. Allow them to get involved if it’s appropriate.

Schedule your creative time

You need to get a production schedule sorted, write a business plan, consider a budget, think about next day’s shoot, write a treatment etc.  Work out when is your best time for being creative and then tell everyone that it’s a ‘no go’ zone.  No phone calls, no interruptions, no working in front of the TV.

Hire a coach

They can keep you on track, keep you accountable and make sure you are keeping your vision alive. Or find a mentor who can spare you a couple of hours a month, someone who’s been there, done it, worn the t shirt and made the film.

Filmmaking is hard work but it’s also fun and hugely rewarding. So if you dream it… you can make it.

Lyn Burgess

About Lyn Burgess

I work as a focus and vision coach supporting female film directors and producers who want to keep their vision alive,to develop stories and make films. I have been running my organisation The Magic Key Partnership since 2002 and specialise in working with those in the media industry. Over the years I have supported hundreds of actors, writers, producers and directors to get their films/projects off the ground. If you need help turning your idea into something more people can appreciate contact me on 07801 366418 or email lyn@magickey.co.uk.