The Key to Living a Good Life as a Filmmaker

The Key to Living a Good Life as a Filmmaker

As a filmmaker, there's a real danger to chasing the default definitions of success that society gives you.

For instance, you might spend years chasing down some variation of the Hollywood dream, only to throw in the towel when the frustrating realities of the industry weigh down on you. Or worse, you might reach it after years of dedication and sacrifice, only to realize it was never what you wanted in the first place.

On the other hand, if you spend some time right now and define success for yourself, it's not only possible to live a genuinely awesome life as a filmmaker, it's far more likely.

That's the topic of the very first episode of the Filmmaker Freedom Podcast.

Here's a quick outline of what you'll learn in today's show:

  • What the Filmmaker Freedom Podcast is all about, plus all the topics we're going to cover during season one.
  • Why it's important to define filmmaking success for yourself instead of letting society define it for you.
  • How my rocky experience with chasing the wrong definition of filmmaking success nearly caused me to give up on making films.
  • Some simple (but not easy) questions to ask yourself when determining your own definition of success.
  • How a handful of Filmmaker's Process audience members define success.
  • And why it's a good idea to let your definition of success change over time.

Here's the episode. You can also listen and subscribe through  iTunes, Stitcher, PocketCasts, and the Google Play Store.

If you enjoy today's show, it would mean the world to me if you'd leave a rating and review on iTunes. That's the best way to support this small indie show and to help new filmmakers find it!


The first season of the Filmmaker Freedom Podcast is sponsored by my friends over at Music Vine.

You have a lot of choices these days when it comes to finding music for your films and video projects. But Music Vine stands above the pack.

Not only is it refreshingly straightforward to license music you’d actually want to use, but it’s also genuinely affordable, even for indie filmmakers on shoestring budgets.

And the best part is, the music is all thoughtful, expressive, and genuine. It’s sourced from indie artists all over the globe who put the same care and attention and soul into their music as you do into your films.

That’s why all of the music in this podcast comes straight from the Music Vine library. Here's the playlist of songs from this first episode.

You can get 10% off your first purchase when you use the code FREEDOM at checkout. Enjoy.

Practical Takeaways from Today's Episode

The main idea in this episode is simple. Your best shot at living a happy and fulfilled life as a filmmaker (which, let's be honest, is what we all want), comes from defining success for yourself instead of letting society and culture define it for you.

In order to come up with your own definition, you've gotta ask yourself some hard questions and be completely honest with your answers. This process won't do anything for you unless you dive deep and align your definition of success with the things you truly value in life.

So here are some questions to help you brainstorm your own definition.

  • What does your body of work look like in two years, five years, and ten years? Hell, what about twenty years?
  • What impact do you want your work to have on audiences? Does it entertain them, change them, make them think?
  • What’s the ideal balance between work that you do for money, and work that you do for yourself? Or are those one in the same?
  • How skilled do you want to be in the craft of filmmaking? Do you want to master one specific aspect of the craft, or do you want to be a well-rounded jack-of-all-trades?
  • Is it important that you develop a unique voice of your own?
  • How would you like the act of making films to fit into the larger picture of your life? Do you spend 80 hours a week in the throes of the filmmaking process, or do you spend time with family and friends, pursuing outside interests and hobbies?
  • How much money would make you feel comfortable and successful as a filmmaker? I know this might seem a little taboo, but it can be helpful to figure out an actual number.

Last, but not least, don't be afraid to let your definition of success change over time. Chances are the person you are today won’t see the world the same way as the version of you who’s 10 years older. 

So don’t hold on to your definitions of success too rigidly. Life has a way of leading us in interesting and exciting and sometimes scary new directions, so don’t resist when your priorities shift or new opportunities come along that don’t fit into your original definition.

Audience Submissions for This Episode

When I asked my audience to share their personal definitions of filmmaking success, here's what they said.

Join the Podcast Squad

If you want to help with the audience participation segments of the Filmmaker Freedom Podcast, just enter your email below and you'll receive occasional emails from me with a simple question. Just record your answers into your computer or phone mic, and then you might just hear yourself on the show!