Filmmaking – the art of turning a story into a movie – is the dream of many African Americans. Like any other profession, a filmmaker needs a toolkit packed with resources, time savers, and marketing strategies. Make sure you stock one toolkit with equipment and one with sanity savers. Ensure your Peace-of-Mind toolkit contains the following four items. They’ll ensure you get off to a good start and tell the story you want the world to see and hear.

  1. A Good Script
    The first part of filmmaking is story telling. All the lights and cameras in the world won’t overcome a bad script or screenplay in the first place. If the story is yours, make sure you have someone with an objective eye take a look at it. If you’re sourcing a script from elsewhere, make sure it’s well written and professionally edited. The right screenplay has an added advantage – it can draw well-known actors, high caliber producers, and make funding much easier. It takes a lot of time, energy, research, and greenbacks to gain the rights to the right script.
  2. Stick-To-Itiveness
    A filmmaker needs to pack every ounce of his or her perseverance right along with their cameras, film, clapboards, and director’s chair. Without a doubt, you’ll run into a few stumbling blocks along the way to getting your film in the can. From casting and recasting, rehearsals and run-throughs, producers and funding snafus, you’re bound to hear “No” several times and run into at least one naysayer. Learning to turn a no into a yes, and a stumbling block into a stepping stone is part of the life of a filmmaker. Stick to your guns and trust that your hard work and stubbornness will pay off.
  3. A Dependable Crew
    A filmmaker’s crew is invaluable. Your crew can consist of everyone from the production assistants to the lighting grips to the prop masters, makeup artists, and camera loaders. A crew made up of reliable men and women who are committed to the success of your film is worth its weight in gold. Knowing the job description of each crew member, setting clear expectations, and hiring wisely are key components for developing a crew that lightens your load as opposed to adding to your workload.
  4. A Support Team
    You’ll be delightfully surprised at some of the people and entities who offer the support you need along your filmmaking journey. Unfortunately, you’ll probably experience feelings of hurt and rejection from some of the people you expect to support you. Take heart! The support you need is out there. You’ll find it in places like filmmaker communities, crowdfunding sites (yep!), and from your fan base. When you find that advocacy, backing, and encouragement, take full advantage of it. Don’t become usurious or greedy but do accept help and support when it’s offered.

The life of a filmmaker is like no other. It’s full of stories and screen shots and cue cards and camera techniques. It’s thrilling and exciting and freewheeling and fun. Your basic toolkit will already contain things like cameras, film, and sound equipment – all the tools of the filmmaking trade. The items on this list are geared toward bolstering your spirit, feeding your soul, and maintaining your sanity behind the scenes.