Zen Filmmaking X 2 or 3

By Scott Shaw

I often receive questions from people who are attempting to make a movie and two or more of the primary filmmakers are having conflicts. These people want to know how can they make a movie if they are frequently at odds with the other filmmaker; who is oftentimes a good friend or a family member. I have discussed this issue in two of my books, Zen Filmmaking and more specifically in, Independent Filmmaking: Secrets of the Craft. But, in brief, my belief is that there can only be ONE Captain of the Ship on any film project or things can get very messy. 

That being said, there is another alternative. That other alternative is to allow the two or more filmmakers to go their separate ways. This is to say, allow the one, two, or three filmmakers involved with the project to go off and film the scenes they want to film in the style and manner in which they want them to be created. Then, when filming is complete, bring the various footage together and edit into one movie. 

This style of multi-filmmaker filmmaking can be orchestrated in a couple of different ways. One, you can have a script and/or a story idea with a shot list and then divide the scenes between the two or more filmmakers. Each then goes out with their cast and crew and gets the footage shot. In this way, there is no conflict as no filmmaker is stepping on the toes of another filmmaker’s style. 

The other way to do this, (and the way I prefer), is to simply have an end-point story idea in mind, that you have discussed with the other involved filmmakers, and then go off and get the movie shot. For this specific filmmaking process to work, the filmmakers should define a timeframe: be it a day, two days, a week, or whatever. Then, do not even discuss what the other person or persons plan to do. Just go out a do it.  At the end of your shooting schedule you then come together and, in many cases, you will be amazed at what the other person has created. From this, you will have created a truly unique film and will not have encountered interpersonal conflict. 

Now, I am not saying that this is the perfect method to make a multi-filmmaker film. There can be jealousies over the finished product, (as one person may be considered by the other person to have done a better job), one person may be behind schedule, over budget, or it is believed that one person really messed up, etcetera… But, for multi-filmmakers who actually wish to make a film together this can be a very unique and creative process to get a film finished without enduring internal struggle. 

A side-note here is: You can also do this if you are two filmmakers in different cities, states, or even in different countries. Simply get a story idea that you both agree upon and go out and shoot the film in your specific location. Then, you can either send the footage to one or the other person to edit or you can each edit your own footage and put the two edited segments together. From this, BAM you have created a truly unique multi-filmmaker film.

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