Young Filmmaker’s Mindset – Discipline
By: Tony Mendiola
There’s this issue with young filmmakers that’s been on my mind a lot as of late, the idea of being disciplined. I believe that discipline is ultimately what separates us late teenagers and twentysomethings into two categories: the
“successful”, and the “dreamers”.
I don’t know what it is about being disciplined that is so difficult. I spend more time thinking about discipline than I probably should. The only thing I’m disciplined is thinking about discipline, and that’s terrible.
In reality, I think discipline is so difficult because we are forcing our bodies to go against our instincts. And speaking as a 22 year old recent college graduate, it’s my natural instinct to come home, lay on the couch, watch TV, watch Netflix, surf the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Fantasy Football, back to Facebook, back to Twitter, and the cycle repeats until I’m exhausted and fall asleep on said couch.
My generation is addicted to these technologies. If we actually get out there and MAKE something, actually DO something productive, the moment we hit a lull in our work, we pull out our phones to check text messages, Facebook, Email, what have you. THAT is what we’re trying to tackle when we try to be more disciplined, and THAT is vastly more difficult than it sounds.
Now, I do have some suggestions on how to become more disciplined, because if you are still reading this article, you understand and can most likely relate to what I’m talking about. Let me tell you things that I have done to force myself to be more productive.
By the way, I should point out that my main career interest is in writing, so a lot of these exercises I’ve developed for myself are used to create a more efficient writer. However, I believe that these can be transferred to any creative work that interests you.
1.) I have a notebook. I have abandoned my computer when it comes to writing, and now I write exclusively by hand. I wish I could write on a computer, as I type much faster than write by hand, but I quickly find myself on the Internet if I stay on my computer. (Case in point, I have taken a break at least once from writing this to check Facebook.) But I should point out, I write by hand all the way up until I’m ready to write the script for an idea. I don’t write scripts by hand, no thank you.
2.) I set a timer. I have no idea why this works. I wish I could tell you. I tell myself “write for five minutes” set the timer on my phone to five minutes, and immediately my focus skyrockets. My mind rarely wanders in those five minutes. Try it out.
3.) I write out what I did that day. One of the last things I do every day is write in my planner all the major things I did that day. I am very honest with myself about this too. I will show my planner to no one but it definitely says for one of the days, “Yeah, today was pretty much a total loss.” The next day, I was much more productive. My thinking behind doing this is his: I am honestly holding myself accountable for all the things I do, and if what I do every day is going to be noted, I will probably do less lazy things and more productive things. (I just started doing this though, not sure if it is totally working yet.)
Before I reach my final suggestion, there is something I want to preface it with. We chose this field because we desire to create something out of nothing. We are constantly building things that previously did not exist. It is very easy to look at something you’ve done, or something you may be about to do, and squash it’s opportunity to be a living, breathing piece of work. The self-doubt is there every step of the way. And part of being disciplined is committing to and finishing that idea. This brings me to my last suggestion.
4.) Do not do this alone. Film is a collaborative process. This is why I love LKT so much. We are a group of people who support each other and collaborate on projects. For me, if I’m stuck writing, I go to one of my brothers to help me out of jam or perhaps co-write a story together. And if I get a story completed? I have a group of people who can help me bring it to life. You have no idea how amazing that is, knowing that if I can just get an idea to a script, it can be made real. That fact alone keeps me focused.
Basically, you need a group. You need your own LKT. A supportive group behind you makes it that much easier to take risks and make something that truly satisfies you.
So what’s your deal? Why aren’t you working on more projects? When you have time to yourself, how do you spend it and how SHOULD you be spending it? And frankly, what do you have to lose?
After you finish this article, close all your Internet windows, turn off the TV, sit down and give yourself some time to do what you truly want to do instead of what is easy to do. It doesn’t have to be for hours, set a timer for ten minutes, and see where that gets you. If that works, set the timer for another ten and go again. If it doesn’t work, you haven’t even wasted half an hour of your day. Quit being lazy and work on being more disciplined.