What is it like to write/direct/produce a movie? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Intense, amazing, fun, stressful, educational, emotional, and more all at once. You really have to love doing this in order to put in all the work that it required. I do love it so I’m happy to do it.
I’m an award-winning filmmaker. My movies have been distributed around the world by companies like Warner Brothers, Netflix, Showtime, Lifetime, Hallmark, Amazon and many more. I’ve been fortunate enough to write, direct, and produce several feature films. Each time I do, I learn more and more and find ways to do things better the next time.
These experiences can be pretty different for people based on a number of variables like budget, your cast & crew size, the genre of the movie, any special or visual effects needed, whether its a studio film or indie, union or non-union, etc.
My experience mainly lies with independently produced feature films with name actors and a non-union crew (although I have worked with both union and non-union crew) and budgets in the $800k – $3 million range per feature. In my career, I often wear many hats and there can be a lot of benefits to that, but also a lot of shortcomings. The main benefits for me have been that I can make many more decisions and therefore have more control over my vision. Even when you wear multiple hats though, making a feature film is always a true team effort. It is a real culmination of thousands of decisions across many different departments. Wearing multiple hats has enabled me to weigh in on many of those decisions from the perspective of different departments. For example, when I write a script that I know I’m directing, I can write some of my directing ideas directly into the script (making it more like a shooting script from the start) so that I, and everyone else in the cast and crew, can refer to those ideas when shooting. Same thing for locations. I can write those in from the start if I know I have access to certain locations. When I’m producing something I’m also directing, I can bring things like specific cast, crew, locations, distribution, etc to the table without needing to ask permission first.
So the big positive result of wearing so many hats is more control over your vision. The biggest drawback though is time. After all, you are only one person and you have the same amount of time in the day as everyone else, so when you wear multiple hats, jobs can take you longer. I can’t be in the edit room or color bay as a director the same time that I’m pitching the film to distributors as a producer. So time is the real negative to making a movie this way. The other drawback can be the opportunity cost. Who are you not hiring so that you can do the job? Who could you have hired to write, produce, or direct that might have added value to the project while still saving you time?
These are all things to consider when deciding to wear multiple hats on a project. Early on in your career I think it’s a great think to do, at least once, so you can experience what each job is like and then know exactly what you are looking for when hiring those roles later in your career.