Aspiring Filmmaker? Here's documentary maker Angie Davis' top tips to get you started

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19 Mar 2019

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Aspiring Filmmaker? Here's documentary maker Angie Davis' top tips to get you started

19 Mar 2019

SAE Masters of Creative Industries and Documentary filmmaker Angie Davis, here she gives her advice for getting started in the industry as well as some great general life advice!

 SEEA AngieDavis image

When I graduated high school 19 years ago, I had no idea I would end up in filmmaking. I wanted to surf and travel the world, writing stories and sharing them somehow. I fell in to film by being open to life’s opportunities and taking on Richard Branson’s advice of saying yes to big opportunities and then figuring out how to do them after.

Tip 1# Seek out and connect with people with varied skills

I surround myself with people who know more about certain things than me, for example my cinematographers know far more about the technical aspects of the camera than I do, so I trust in their skills completely and then I bring my skill set of script and story to the table. 

Tip 2# Do not follow the money

I always tell young people interested in film or any creative practice not to follow the money. Money helps and we do require funding to make films, but that’s not the driving reason we get into the creative field. Discovering your purpose and what drives your passion will lead you to the money, but you need to develop a few skills along the way, such as patience, learning how to connect with your gut instinct, and especially collaboration. The road is not easy, and hard work, determination, and motivation are absolutely required. So I tell people that if you feel uncomfortable throughout the process, you are probably on the right track; growth happens in the place you haven’t occupied before, where we feel most uncomfortable. 

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Tip 3# Don't let age define your decision to try

I am always encouraging people no matter what their age to try different things. You may think you were born to be a cinematographer but end up brilliant as a film composer. I have done everything from writing, producing, directing, marketing, editing, photography, fashion, travel, etc, and there’s something to learn about yourself in everything you try. You can’t lose; you win, or you learn. 

Tip 4# Get out there and network

Another piece of advice is to network. I always say, “you’ve got to show up to blow up.” My bank account hasn’t always been favourable for jetting off to events like the international film festivals, but every time I take the plunge and show up,

I meet someone or I am listening to a panel and someone says a takeaway that has a deep impact on what happens next in my film career. It was taking my first film to SBIFF and attending the opening night of the festival, the world premiere of The Little Prince, that found me sitting alone in a sold-out theatre and having a brief chat to the woman next to me who turned out to be the producer of the film who then took my email, and in following up she introduced me to a distributor who I have now been with for three years and both my films. In this industry it is often WHO you know, so you need to get out there and meet people.

Tip 5# Practice self belief - one email at a time

Be confident, believe in your work and share your passion as you might only have five minutes with someone but if you are authentic and passionate you can get them excited and you never know what will come from one conversation. I often say, “one email can change your life.” Don’t be afraid to cold email people, although I am not a fan of cold calling as people are far too busy these days, but cold emailing works if you keep it simple, three lines, and be very clear in what you are asking for. 

Be confident

Tip 6# Be entrepreneurial

Sell yourself and your work. Don’t give up; I hear “no” far more than I hear “yes”. But you only need one “yes” to bring a project to life.

Learn how to decipher when you are hitting a brick wall and need to re-asses or change your tactics. Where there is a closed door, look around for a window. Persist, but diversify. If you are too attached to your concept you might not be able to recognise when you might need to adjust the idea or refine it to make it better. Research and know the most about the concept you are working on than anyone else, as again it’s your excitement and passion that will attract attention from buyers and sponsors or the likes. 

Tip 7# Finally, invest in yourself.

By this I mean intellectually, creatively, and in regard to your health, physically and mentally. Work harder, not smarter, and learn creative hacks to help you along the way. I value my health so much as I want to be making films right into my old age with no plans of retirement, so getting enough sleep, meditating, eating a super healthy plant-based diet, sleeping eight hours a night and keeping active through adventuring, yoga, etc, are all part of my self-investment plan.

Angie Davis Yoga


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