Guidelines for filmmakers—Continuum Pictures

Directed by Matt Dyer, DP/Producer Danny Tores © Continuum Pictures

Guidelines for filmmakers:
1. Keep it about the movie
2. No shortcuts 
3. Leave the world better than you found it, even the people.
4. No you don’t make it by yourself. Plan on taking your team with you–even if others tell you, that you can’t. (it gets lonely. I have many lonely friends in the business.)
P. David Miller, Danny Torres: Taught In Cold Blood
© Continuum Pictures
5. Be aware of where you are at all times, so that you can keep your map in your ahead as to where you want to be.
6. Just because you wrote it, shot it and thought it up does not make it brilliant. It is up to other people to determine brilliance. All you can claim is you did it and it is what it is.
7. Pay attention to people younger than yourself… They are your audience.
8. Everyone is wrong sometimes, it is possible your wrong a lot of the time. Given that, being wrong or right is not very important. Getting it done is.
9. Egos are bad, bad, bad. Can I say bad enough times.
10. Oh yeah I have an ego–bad bad bad.
11. Smile. People probably like you. Oh and when you don’t have a permit don argue with the nice police man. Smile, say please and if he lets you go. Say thank you and mean it. Oh and leave.

I cannot say that I or even our team has always followed the above set of rules.  Like everyone else we are always learning. Our journey though has been a team journey. Continuum Pictures started with six founding partners who had all worked together previously. I hope also that we shared the same approach to dealing with the issues that involve being filmmakers. desperation to make a movie is often overwhelming. The efforts are always exhausting. How we respond to the process while we are in our desperate and exhausted states will either take us forward or destroy us. Filmmaking is a growing process. What was good or your best yesterday will not be you best today. The script you wrote that everyone loved last year, needs a rewrite this year. By the time you are done with a project, it already does not represent your best work or ability. Filmmaking is a constant state of flux. I will be bold enough to say, If you are patting yourself on the back about something you did last year, you may still be in last year. 

I cannot say I am the best producer or will ever be the best producer. I can only say I am constantly trying to push our standards higher. I am also not afraid to say, yep that was the best we could do then, now lets do something better.
© Continuum Pictures

Keep it simple, keep about the movie or your part in the movie. Realize filmmaking comes at a great personal price. There are thousands of people trying to do what you want to do. You need to focus, and understand that you are not entitled to the normal life of your friends, people will ridicule you, some will even take your efforts as a sign that you are judging their lives and hate you. The only people you have for the most part in the process are those who are as married to the process as you are. 

My last thought for today on this is: If it was easy then everyone would do it. Don’t make it harder on yourself by not being committed to the life long journey that it often takes to do anything from actor, crew, DP, writer to Producer and Director. You have to live your dream every day.

James Duval

update: January 8th, 2012

Since writing this  way back when, Continuum Pictures has moved to the lot. Now as I look back I think my guidelines are even more important. If you are true to yourself and your values and know how to say no, even when you know it is going to cost you, you will be better for it.  The Continuum Pictures Studio Team has grown and I work with the best people in the world. 

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