Advice To Young Filmmakers by Matthew Berkowitz

Film Courage: What are some things that someone should know before becoming a filmmaker?

Matthew Berkowitz, Filmmaker: Be strong, know what you want to say,  take advice, don’t always take it and just go, make something happen and just go make something great. At least try to every step of the way, write something honest every day and do your best to put what you want to write on screen.

Film Courage: You say be strong…is that meant to resist criticism? Can you expand on this?

Matthew: You should always be able to take criticism as an artist. I think that’s part of the job but I think if you have an intent and a voice and you want to say something about…you are telling a story about characters and why people do what they do and you stick to your principles and the theory and the thesis of your story and you hold onto that because you have to hold onto that for two years.

You have to write a film, you’ve got to raise the money, you’ve got to shoot the movie, you’ve got to edit the movie, you’ve got to make sure this one idea is conceptualized from the beginning to the end throughout the entire process.

Film Courage: And then there’s distribution, which is its own beast.

Matthew: And that’s a different side of filmmaking (the distribution), it’s a totally different side but just from advice to young filmmakers is know what you want to say and do your best to hold onto that every day.

Film Courage: What about being on set, do you think you almost have to be a politician? Is it better to be more behind the scenes? Because there’s a downside to being too much of “the nice guy” then someone can take advantage of this or they think “I don’t have to take this guy seriously, he’s super cool. Don’t worry…I can just do this.”

Matthew: That’s kind of what I mean by be strong. Filmmaking is about managing egos, managing people, managing your story, managing your characters, managing a lot of things. And all of these things are happening at a rapid pace. You have to make decisions as a director, you have to make a hundred decisions in a matter of a minute. So there’s a lot of politics that get involved.

You want to make sure that your actors are getting what they want because they understand the role. You want to make sure that your DP knows what he’s doing. You want to make sure that your script is still the same. You can’t lose sight of a lot of things that are playing in place.

It’s a difficult way to say you can’t just be a dictator running your own set. There’s a middle ground between the relationship that a filmmaker has with the people involved because at the end of the day it’s a collaboration of multiple artists. Especially even when you come down to sound design and score. By the time you finish the film you’ve got 80 to 100 people working on it.

You’ve got at least 12 (hopefully, ideally) incredible artists that are putting their voice into your film. So being a director is about kind of curating all of those voices and maintaining your own through the entire process.

Question For The Viewers: What stage of the filmmaking process are you in right now?

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