Filmmaker Burnout and Deciding To Go To Film School by Julian Shaw

Film Courage: You began making movies at three years old?

Julian Shaw, Filmmaker/Actor: I would say three years old is when I first started making films. I had a VHS camcorder and I was so inspired by New Zealand’s Funniest Home Videos which was obviously the version of the Bob Saget’s America’s Funniest Home Videos.

I would actually write and perform sketches that we would submit to New Zealand’s Funniest Home Videos. It might be like it’s my birthday and I would end up falling into the birthday cake or we’d be playing cricket and I’d get hit in the nether region with a tennis ball.

And I was operating the camera and my dad would be like Make sure you get this angle. And my sister and my mom would act in these things. So that was technically my first directing and acting.

Film Courage: What has been the longest time you’ve ever taken a break from filmmaking?

Julian: You know once I got going with it I just haven’t really stopped, it’s been pretty relentless. I got into it in my mid-teens pretty hardcore and I’ve been going ever since. I’ve had to re-evaluate where I am in my career and change parts, but I’ve never really stopped.

Film Courage: I read in your bio that you suffered from burnout at one point?

Julian: Yes…for sure. What happened was I made the two documentaries. They were one-hour documentaries and each one of them took four years. And I kind of did that on my own. I hadn’t gone to film school. I had an amazing producer named Jonathon Green who supported me and they got funding and we did really well. But I just got to a point where I thought Man, I’ve gone as far as I can without some help. And that was when I decided to go to film school which was in my mid-twenties because I just felt it was time to get that kind of feedback. It was time to study and hone my craft. I already started to find my voice but I just needed to work on the technique a bit. That was how I got out of the funk that I was in because I was kind of depressed coming off of my second documentary.

Film Courage: I have heard that from other people too. Because there is this let down, it’s finished, it’s out there and then you don’t know how it’s going to be received and the excitement of it is over as well.

Julian: And just money…let’s be honest. It all comes down to money and financing these films. Often it is tough financially along the way where you can make a lot of money in the film industry but we know it’s often not at the front end when you are starting out, so that’s tough.

My second film was really challenging. I had some legal issues with it and I also documentary family members in my film. It was a film about New Zealander’s obsession with rugby. So you might think Well why is your family in it? Well the reason is I was documenting my relationship with…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here). 

An ambitious documentary filmmaker discovers the darkest parts of himself when he turns his camera on a beautiful woman who humiliates men for money in Julian Shaw’s USE ME




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