by Bertie

June 14, 2022

Fifteen years of indie film experience, research and practice condensed to help you make your indie film. — tagline from ‘Filmmaker by Heart

When I started writing

It all started in the Summer of 2007 when I met an actor in my small hometown on the southwest coast of Ireland. When we met through friends, I knew that I recognised him, and after a while, he quietly mentioned that he was an actor and was in a few reasonably substantial Irish films.

I won’t say the titles of these films as I would prefer for him to remain anonymous.

We became friends, and I told him of my passion for movies and how I had always dreamed of making films one day. So, I decided there and then to write a script; he gave me a typed-out script that he was learning lines from for a potential film that was coming up (so I could learn screenplay formatting!). He was supportive and became a constant companion that Summer.

This island is the place in the first script that I wrote about! That’s me in the photo!

The script I wrote was centred around a depressed young man who wants to commit suicide. But, after walking through the countryside, he changes his mind, realising he has a lot to live for & returns home. From that Summer onwards, my real passion in life emerged; filmmaking, writing, acting and studying film. It has never stopped.

And that’s why I called the book ‘Filmmaker by Heart’ because I’ve never attended film school or had any formal education related to filmmaking bar some workshops and classes.

What’s my background in film

I’ve acted in dozens of films, plays, commercials, and videos; produced a dozen movies and more videos; directed five films and written around a dozen. During all this time, I’ve read many books; listened to countless lectures, podcasts and analyses. I never stop consuming the best filmmaking online classes and audiobooks. I watch several movies a week and some TV series and analyse every one of them. I watch dissections of old classics and newer films for fun. I never stop learning and writing my analyses and ideas. I have written many stories and unproduced scripts while constantly reading colleague screenplays as they seek my input. My life is packed with film and filmmaking; I repeatedly rewatch my movies and know the weaknesses and the strengths.

Why am I so obsessed? 

That’s for another article, but in truth, I know nothing else. There’s nothing else that I would instead do. It is in my heart, and that’s the ultimate reality. I have tried to quit a few times, never truly succeeding. Another topic for an article would be how lonely it can be and how much you are outside of the everyday lifestyle; I did deal with this slightly in this article if you are interested: We Cannot all Tread the Same Route.

I do feel I will revisit some of the themes expressed in that article and this paragraph. I wanted to briefly mention this before ploughing ahead into the main meat of my point here about writing my first non-fiction book and the catharsis it brought about.

Writing ‘Filmmaker by Heart’

My first draft of ‘Filmmaker of Heart’ was about 50 pages long, and I was going to sell it on Amazon for 99cents back in 2018. But I decided against it and shelved the project. It was a brief overview of how to make an independent film giving some insights through my experiences. In 2021, I found the document by chance and read it. I was surprised because it still had some weight three years on. Immediately, I felt that I should make something of it, flesh it out and potentially turn it into a course or a book. Ultimately, I decided on a book and am glad I did. I built out the social media channels, mainly an Instagram and Facebook page. From here, I could concentrate on forming a community, giving away value, and providing the book to anyone who wanted more. That led to this blog, which will be filmmaking-orientated at its core, but I will delve into my life and personal stuff.

Writing my first non-fiction book was not easy, trust me! You may see and hear ads or regular YouTube videos about writing e-books in a few easy steps, and even in some cases, without writing anything… beats me how people can make those claims. Writing is one of the most challenging crafts in the world, and almost every artistic medium has its foundations in writing, so to say a non-fiction book can be written in a few easy steps is beyond ridiculous, and if people manage that, then I am sure those books are crap. Finishing my e-book & paperback was arduous, demanding, and drawn-out, and there are fifteen years of knowledge packed in there along with the up-to-date methods and techniques to help new indie filmmakers achieve a good start in their careers.

I can, in another article, talk about the exact process of writing the book, from the booklet to what’s available to purchase today. But for now, let’s say for sure that it was difficult. And, Cathartic!

It was cathartic because it felt like a book-end to a large section of my life; it was the closing of one way of performing my artistic and creative expression so I could open a new door. But with that closing, I wanted to leave a guide for the new filmmakers coming up in the world. For the ones like me. Who has a massive heart for indie filmmaking, for the ones who want to make films starting now and learn from the process. It is for creative leaders and directors who will not wait around.

Is it perfect? Far from it, there is no perfection, and far too many people are focused on the results, fame, fortunes, and Vanity. Yes, vain people are rife in the industry. I fell victim to it, too; of course, I did; I am human. But growing older and thinking you are better than other people because you’ve been paid for being filmed on camera or that you use cameras to tell a story is, frankly, utterly Childish! My book is for people who are the salt of the earth, who wears their hearts on a sleeve, who have fierce passion and are a little raw & wild. It’s for those who aren’t politically motivated, who are in it for the creative vision, and not for the politics and corporate ladder-style investment.

How writing my book was Cathartic

By writing my book, I was released from all my knowledge, past, and experiences. I even went so far as to contact some colleagues who drifted apart to offer a kind word, even reparations for maybe some spats or heated discussions; I wanted to say to them that during my artistic journey, I had complications, doubts, anger, love, compassion, hurt, pressure, creativity and it was all mixed into these relationships. Sometimes, I wasn’t perfect; I am human, after all. Creating Art is not easy. It never is. Because you put a part of yourself into the work, sometimes people think differently than you or have their ideas. And the synergy is lost. But that’s okay because I led with my heart.

Writing this article is cathartic in and of itself. I can move on to the work I’ve always wanted to do. And writing these articles helped me express myself in between.

Creating the ‘Filmmaker by Heart’ brand, although small right now, is my gift to the world of Indie Filmmaking; whoever benefits from it will not be because of me; it will be because they want to get to where I am and I hope they go much further. I am not in the competition anymore. I quit that years ago, and the people I can sense it from, and the people who think they are better than others. I feel sorry for them. I never want to be a person who looks down on others. I can’t think of anything worse than that, in all honesty.

If you have experience in a field and want to put it to paper, then begin with a booklet. And put it away, return awhile after and see if you want to expand on it. This is just one method; there are many more; no harm trying it, though. And there is no shortcut; there’s only organising your thoughts, starting from the beginning and speaking about your processes. The reality is this; there is always someone who doesn’t have the skills and talents we have; it is up to us to teach the up and comers.

Because we got to keep what we have by giving it away!

With love & respect,