Team of One Filmmaking: You Aren’t Alone (Free Tutorial)

You may be a team of one, but we’re here to tell you that you are not alone.

Carl Olson, the founder of Creative Method, a blog covering all kinds of stories related to digital media, recently interviewed Ray Tsang and Justin DeMers of Story & Heart to discuss all aspects of solo filmmaking for an episode of his podcast, Digital Convergence (a podcast we're huge fans of!). Together, the three dive deep into the highlights of the Team of One Filmmaking course available in our Academy of Storytellers.

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Scroll down for a free full tutorial from the Team of One Filmmaking course.


Carl talks with Ray and Justin about their journeys as solo filmmakers, and their discussion centers around the fact that solo filmmakers don’t have to be lonely filmmakers—beyond the resource of the Academy of Storytellers and this Team of One Filmmaking course, teams of one can seek community in many places. “We are definitely not saying there’s a single way to do it,” says Justin of the course, “We’re sharing our way. But the community is there to support and share their way, too. It’s amazing to see. You’re not alone at Story & Heart, and whether it’s us or the community members from around the world, there are people who care about you and want you to succeed.”

“You’re not alone at Story & Heart, and whether it’s us or the community members from around the world, there are people who care about you and want you to succeed.”
—Justin DeMers

After numerous and repeated inquiries from the Story & Heart community, Justin and Ray decided to design the process-driven Team of One filmmaking course to dive deep into what they’ve learned as solo filmmakers through their combined 15 years of experience. In the podcast, Justin and Ray recap some of the important points of the course, highlighting everything from business practices to pre-production strategies to the importance of communicating.

The main tenets of Justin and Ray’s philosophy lies in their Golden Rules of team of one filmmaking: be efficient, set reasonable expectations for yourself and your client, and that success starts in pre-production. Efficiency may boil down to investing more upfront to save time and money later, but Ray and Justin agree that it’s worth it. Expectations are key to success for solo filmmakers, too. “So much about what we do is communicating,” says Ray. “Setting expectations with your client and also for yourself is one way to pave a path for a smooth shoot and production.” Creating personal goals will also help you stay motivated as a team of one. “It’s important that you come to grips with being ok with...your own set of personal expectations and be happy with the success that you achieve,” advises Ray.” Dialing in your pre-production will pave the way for a seamless shoot. “I know my pre-production is solid when I get to just show up on the shoot and I don’t have to think about anything except what’s in front of me,” says Ray.

The main tenets of Justin and Ray’s philosophy lies in their Golden Rules of team of one filmmaking: be efficient, set reasonable expectations for yourself and your client, and that success starts in pre-production.

In talking about how they got their start and became the filmmakers they are today, Justin and Ray both say that filming weddings was key to their growth. They emphasize that it’s ok to be a film hobbyist. But they also stress that if you decide to launch a solo filmmaking business, make sure you keep your bottom line in mind and have a solid business plan. “You have to care as much about the organization and business as you do the creative,” says Justin of launching a solo filmmaking career.

Ultimately, setting expectations will help you meet your personal and professional goals, and help you stay motivated. Once you start shooting, doing thorough pre-production is key to success, including writing clear statements of work and creative briefs. All in all, it’s crucial to stay organized and always keep learning and growing if you’re going to make it as a team of one, regardless of your industry.

This podcast episode goes into what you need to do to be a successful solo filmmaker, or creative in general. Ray, Justin, and Carl’s discussion serves as a reminder that you can make it solo, no matter where you are. “There’s definitely magic in a team, and in what each individual brings to that, but at the same time making amazing films and running a business is absolutely doable as a solo filmmaker, regardless of where you’re located,” says Justin. And even if you don’t consider yourself a team of one, you’re still likely to work independently at some point in your career. “...Even when you’re part of a team, you still do projects by yourself,” says Justin. “I’ve been on NFL sidelines by myself, I’ve filmed large corporations and fortune 500 companies by myself. Even though you’re part of a team, knowing how to do everything by yourself is still a super valuable skillset.” You can apply the Golden Rules of solo filmmaking to situations far and wide, and that’s why Ray and Justin think they’re the best principles to always keep in mind.


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