Taking the Leap as a Self-Taught (Female) Filmmaker

While it may seem tough, breaking into the filmmaking industry with little to no experience is actually doable. Here’s how I’m tackling it, and I hope you’ll follow along with me! 

Two years ago this April, I “broke” into the filmmaking industry.

I put “broke” into serious quotations because my filmmaking debut involved an iPhone, a trip to Iceland and a YouTube channel with a hefty follower base of one – my boyfriend. (Thanks, Frank!)

Now, don’t get me wrong – this is not a far-flung success story where I tell you I started on an iPhone and – voila! – two years later I’m now winning Emmys. Please.

That’s hardly a reality, and that’s not why I’m here. I’m launching the Female Filmmakers Blog to help fellow aspiring videographers and filmmakers because when I first tried to navigate my way through this industry – from investing in gear to nailing the storyline – I was ridiculously overwhelmed. There’s so much to take in, and simply throwing money at a new camera is hardly the solution.

But fear not: There is a solution. That’s the good news. The bad news? Creating a lucrative, sustainable business as a self-taught filmmaker takes work. A lot of work.

  • It takes putting yourself out there, seeking help from (really talented!) strangers.
  • It takes investing in yourself big time, knowing it’ll be worth it in the end.
  • It takes long nights and lonely weekends editing, acknowledging that yes – this will pay off.
  • As a female, it takes standing your ground and maintaining your confidence despite the fact filmmaking’s a male-dominated landscape.
  • And it takes embracing your “suck period,” the time when your work will inevitably be awful – but it’s essential, because that’s how you grow.

While pursuing this filmmakers career path does take work – particularly when you’re learning everything on your own, sans school – it’s also totally doable. Case in point? Yours truly. And that’s where my passion project, the Female Filmmakers Blog (where I’ll be explaining tips and tricks I’m learning along the way!), will help.

Tips for female filmmakers

My story as a female filmmaker.

I took a couple film classes in college and created, um, the greatest video of all time about a day in the life of my dog (still waiting on that Emmy nomination…), but I let the skill die swiftly after entering the PR work world.

Fast forward four years and a cross-country move to New York City later, and I unexpectedly reunited with this long-lost passion. I’ve always been a world traveler, and started going to travel meetups in the city to find like-minded friends. While yes, I absolutely found friendships, I also found myself (gahh, so cheesy, but it’s the truth!).

I realized that everyone in New York has a “side hustle,” and since I love having a million things going at once, I thought, why not? I started a travel blog, then broke into travel journalism, and finally found myself in Iceland staring at a little “video” button that forever changed my life.

Yes, after that first video I was on the right track, but let’s be real: I was barely scratching the surface. The more I read, the more I realized I didn’t know, so instead of faking it, I made the smartest decision of my filmmaking career:

I asked for help.

I reached out to Kristen Kiraly of Kristen Kiraly Films (she’s an *amazing* award-winning documentary filmmaker turned wedding cinematographer), and asked to shadow along on a few wedding shoots. Her shots were beautiful, crisp and downright perfect, so I knew if I wanted to make this a full-time career, I needed to get on her level.

While acknowledging weakness is hardly fun, it’s an essential way to learn and grow. Kristen and I began working together in spring 2017, and I spent the rest of the year apprenticing with her on all types of filmmaking – from weddings to behind-the-scenes shoots to, most recently, a documentary trip to Puerto Rico. I gained this incredible year of experience, all because I asked for help.

This is Kristen on our Puerto Rico trip… she brought home a rescue pup! 🙂

From there, I invested in gear and opportunistically launched my business without a plan – or, um, a business name! – because the need for skilled videographers is growing. Since late 2017, I’ve been able to secure multiple super-exciting weddings, some brand films, documentary work and lifestyle videos … and to be clear, my website just launched today!

I went from shooting on an iPhone to launching a filmmaking business all within the span of six months. Because I asked for help.

In a creative yet technical field like filmmaking, you cannot make it alone – but you can make it. Despite the industry jargon or five million road blocks seemingly ahead, there is a path to get from beginner to business, and with the Female Filmmakers Blog, I’ll guide you on the journey.

filmmaking tips for newbies

Because I keep talking about Iceland… here’s one of our shots!

But why should you trust me?

Well, to be honest, I’m going through it myself! At the moment, I’m hardly a “successful” filmmaker, but in a way, I think that’s more helpful. I’m experiencing the road blocks – and handling them. I’m learning the tricks of editing – and retaining them. I’m understanding the ins and outs of running a business, and I’m taking you along with me.

While you could (and should!) get advice from filmmakers at the top of their game, I’ll be your down-to-Earth reminder that anyone with heart, work ethic and a big dream can make it as a filmmaker. Because, at the end of the day, that’s me – just a girl with a vision and a stubborn Taurus mindset that won’t take no for an answer.

So, my filmmaker friends, who’s ready to follow along on this ride?

How to make it as a self taught female filmmaker