Five Essential Habits for Filmmakers

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Five Essential Habits for Filmmakers

The key to creating interesting film? Engage interesting people. Consume interesting ideas. Partake in interesting adventures.

It is so important to develop clarity in practice of creativity. Filmmaking is a practice. Just like dance or songwriting or painting are practices. It takes repetition and exploration to develop ability. The best creativity often comes in a flash of inspiration. So it is in the creative person’s best interests to pay attention to what she focuses on and to develop inspiring work habits and routines. For filmmakers, the only way moments of inspiration are going to show up is if you show up for them. We’ve put together this list of essential habits for filmmakers to help train your mind, body and soul for constant productivity and inspiration.

“The subconscious is fuelled by lived experience and exposure to people, places and ideas.”

The subconscious is fuelled by lived experience and exposure to people, places and ideas. Many ideas come from the subconscious. While one can’t have control over one’s past, one can certainly choose what to focus on in the present. For a filmmaker, it is always a good idea to read great books and to watch great movies. It is a good idea to talk with people who see the world differently than you do. It is exciting to look at becoming a better creator by sculpting your own mind. What movies inspire your favorite filmmakers? Go watch those movies!

Here are five essential habits for filmmakers that might help you think about your filmmaking in a new way.


Every language describes reality in its own way, with unique and precious insights into life. People that speak and think in different languages will naturally create movies that function in different ways. Filmmakers from other cultures can infuse your creative sensibility with thematic textures and practical cinematographic inspirations that could very well come in handy when working with a new idea. For classic cinema, try Kurosawa or Jean Renoir.

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It can be so inspiring to hear how a potter or a painter approaches their work. Learning about how someone trains their horses can ignite a spark in you that changes the way you see something in your own work. So much of creativity is about attitude. By exposing yourself to the processes of artists that work in other mediums, you will perhaps come across new perspectives on your own workflow. Remaining open to new and different creative processes is one of the most essential habits for filmmakers. It is really the spirit of creativity that is the foundation of all creative work and by keeping close to great artists that have this creative joy alive in them, it will be hugely rewarding for your own creative spirit. Check out the painter Georgie O’Keefe.


This one is can be a little counter-intuitive for many filmmakers, who often dedicate their craft to exploring the outer world. By learning how to manage your inner world, however, and by getting to know yourself, it will be much easier to work in a way that suits you. This means investing in your own growth by choosing what to focus on. By gaining more clarity on how you operate and think and by developing new attitudes towards yourself, your outer workflow will automatically adjust. It could be something as simple as becoming more organized, or a massive as a revolution in the way you see the world. In the best case scenario, learning about yourself will infuse your art with deeper humanity. Check out Wim Hof.


It goes without saying that your favorite films are so great because they have incredible characters in them. For filmmakers, experiencing and absorbing a wide array of characters in one’s own life can feel like a total shortcut to realizing the characters of your own creation. Whether you are writing a screenplay or directing a scene, there is nothing that can replace lived experience of life to infuse the way your frame a moment with your own style. By spending time with different kinds of people, you will get to learn what makes them tick. You will not only improve your interpersonal intelligence, but you will expand your understanding of what is important to people.

“There are people who devote their entire lives to ideas, activities, and lifestyles that you have never heard of — go learn about them.”


Learning to work without distraction is perhaps the most important goal on our list of habits for filmmakers. Spend time away from your phone, technology and what everybody else is doing. This is one of the best things that you can do for your filmmaking. It will help you develop an independent voice. It will give you mind a chance to play with ideas. It will give your art a chance to breathe. If you are really serious about making great film, you will have to sacrifice staying the same and living like everyone else. Practice spending time with yourself in ways that let you percolate, like going for a walk or a movie by yourself. Being your own person as a creator will help develop your own direction, which will make you a much stronger filmmaker.

We hope you liked our list of essential habits for filmmakers! For more filmmaking inspiration, check out our articles on Location Scouting 101 and Music Licensing in Film.