How To Schedule Your Life To Be The Best Filmmaker

    Why am I so busy?!

    My biased and not completely educated opinion is that being an independant filmmaker is deceivingly one of the most difficult jobs there are… not far behind parenthood and professional boxing.

    You may have five locations to find, two actors who have cancelled on you, a cabin in the woods to build with little to no money, and you need to make it all work around poor weather forecasted for the rest of the week! You also have to sort out your taxes and find time to visit your Grandma.

    It’s like you’re a toddler passing out into his cereal…right after he’s been KO’d by Apollo Creed

    I’m going to share with you my secrets on how I get everything done, even when I have to constantly be flexible and reschedule my life.

    1. Use a calendar and stick to it.

    Yeah, I guess it is that simple.

    As someone who won’t get anything done if all I have is my memory, I don’t have a choice but to make a schedule / calendar / to-do list. I find it helpful to use my own personal calendar app on my computer. If you don’t have one of your own you could also use google calendar. If you’re a visual person like me, then you will find it helpful to see everything you need to do all at once, for a week at a time.

    If you’re not quite the ‘organised’ type but more of a ‘go-with-the-flow’ person then just know having some sort of digital schedule actually allows you to be flexible because you can literally shift things around. It’s up to you how disciplined you want to be with your lists, just as long as you make deadlines.

    An example for this could be: You have scheduled a dinner date with a friend on Tuesday night, but something has suddenly come up and now you have to reschedule. You want to make another time work but you know how busy you are for the rest of the week and you can’t remember everything going on. Thankfully your friend is willing to reschedule and you see now that you’ve taken a look at your busy schedule, Thursday morning can work for breakfast, even though it was originally set aside to do some personal homework. The deadline for that particular homework is Saturday so you can just catch up on that the day before since there are some empty spots which could be filled.

    Other helpful things could include:

    • Having a post-it notepad and pen in your pocket.
    • Writing a list on your phone.
    • Hanging up a calendar in your bathroom.
    1. Prioritise / Colour Coordinate

    It can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I label each thing with a different colour, eg. Work is orange, Meetings are purple, Training is blue, Leisure is green. Straight away I can see how much of each kind of task needs to be done. Plus I know exactly which task has more priority. Orange would not be flexible because it’s work related whereas green you can move it around more freely as it is personal.

    Inflexible headings that I use include:

    • School and lectures
    • Work
    • Deadlines (when something is due)
    • Shooting schedule
    • Payments (debits)
    • Payments (credits)
    • Meetings

    Flexible headings:

    • Homework
    • House chores
    • Personal Errands
    • Leisure

    We all get busy spells in life – especially in filmmaking! The only way I found it’s possible to get everything done, and done right, is by learning good time management.

    1. Be disciplined – future you will love you for it

    In the film word this is essential! Being early is being on time, being on time is being late, being late is not even an option.

    Many artists may have been drawn to such a creative and artistic industry without realising they’ll be spending most of their time filling out paperwork, attending meetings and checking their camera batteries have finished charging, whilst on a deadline.

    The best part of filmmaking is having freedom to be creative, but how are you going to transform that creativity into something tangible without some planning? How can you mould your film into the masterpiece you set out for it to be unless you spend many hours actually doing boring logistical work?

    Many workplaces including film sets won’t hire you unless they know you are reliable. That’s something we all know in theory but often find it hard to master in practice.

    Being disciplined is always going to be hard at first but like all habits it becomes common in your day to day life, it builds character and will only improve your reputation.

    4. Plan your stress

    You will be stressed. When you’re busy and feel like you are in over your head, you will be stressed. Stress isn’t bad, though, but stressing about stress is pointless and we do it all the time, so plan it.

    On Saturday I have a big assignment due and I haven’t finished preparing but right now I’m driving to my parents’ house for lasagne. I can’t do it at this very moment, that’s just how it is, plus in my calendar I’ve planned to work on it with a friend from 7 – 8am tomorrow so why stress out about it right now?

    It’s ok to relax in the moment when you know there’s nothing you can do beyond your current situation.

    1. Plan your rest..ss

    Try to relax….yeah, that’s a paradox.

    What I mean is allow yourself time to stop and do nothing. Either keep a section in your calendar blank on purpose, or pencil in a spot titled ‘DO NOTHING’. It’s up to you how flexible you want to be on this but resting is important, and simply doing nothing or having time to yourself is not a bad thing. I have found when I schedule in a personal break it strips away the guilt of ‘doing nothing’ even when I have so much to get done.

    Our bodies are designed to rest and recharge, so are our brains and emotional stability.

    It’s possible to stay alive in an unforgiving industry like film, you just have to learn how to fight. The more organised we are and the more we plan, train and strategize, the more freedom we have to be the dreamers, creatives and actors that we want to be.

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    • Jay Evans

      Editor

      Jay Evans has spent the last 8 years working as a film editor, 4 of which have been with The Initiative Production Company. In his spare time he enjoys music, comedy, experimental cooking and getting lost in the woods.

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