8 Filmmaking Myths You Should Stop Believing

Myths are incredibly important—they help us find a purpose beyond ourselves. The best myths unite and bring us together, providing narratives that lead to greater truths about our existence. 

At their very core, myths are collective stories that can help us make sense of our lives. By definition, they’re fictitious, created to explain something unexplainable. In them, we attempt to see truths that we all can share. But let’s not fail to recognize that there are different kinds of myths, and some are worth paying attention to while others are not. 

One kind of myth is used as a storytelling device to accomplish some good or to entertain us. We interact with these myths throughout the day. These made up stories evoke all kinds of emotional responses, but we view them as positive. They help us feel more connected, more compassionate and more alive.

Another kind of myth has more unfortunate consequences. These are the kinds of pessimistic myths that tell us we’re not good enough, why we can’t accomplish our dreams, and so on. The good news about these myths is that they’re fictitious, too. The bad news is that we are often fooled into believing them. 

We’ve drawn on our years of experience as filmmakers to share the myths we all need to stop believing in the filmmaking community, negative misconceptions that could stand in the way of our dreams and block our creative growth. 

Here are 8 filmmaking myths you should ignore:

1. Better gear, better stories

All it takes is a quick browse through Vimeo Staff Picks from years ago and you’ll see a powerful story is still a powerful story. They are moving films not because of the gear, but because of the story and those who brought it to life.

The general public—non-filmmakers—will not care about or notice the gear a film was shot with. The only thing that matters is the story and how it makes them feel.

2. Making a film is expensive

You don’t need the latest gear to make a film. This is all you need: the gear you have right now and your friends.

But if for some reason your story calls for a piece of gear you don’t own, rent it. With shops like LensProToGo, making a film has never been more affordable.

Budget should never silence a great story. Don’t let it silence yours.

3. Better high ISO performance means no need for lights

Your Sony A7S just arrived. Great, now you can shoot in pitch black—no need to use lights anymore, right? Not quite.

It is certainly true that better ISO performance opens up more creative options, but understanding light as a storytelling tool is one of the—if not the—biggest skills you need to master as a filmmaker. There is no replacement for a solid understanding of light and how to use it to affect your audience.

Light for story, not for what’s easiest.

4. You can fix it in post-production

There is one ideal way to fix something, and that way is to fix it in preproduction. Spend as much time as you possibly can preparing for production. Live in the details of how to bring your story to light. Know your characters like they are living and breathing. Know the rhythms of their heart and the cadence of their speech. 

Know the story inside and out before you ever start rolling the camera; it will help you tremendously down the road. You can’t fix a broken story in post-production.

5. You can do it alone

Filmmaking is—and will always be—a team sport.

Collaboration is everything, and any great story is a result of the combined experiences and ideas of those working on the project. And the best part, all that collaboration requires is a story everyone is connected to.

You’ll be amazed at how many people will jump at the opportunity to be part of a project that has a great story at the center of it.

6. You need to be famous to have your work seen

The common thread among films that get millions of views is not well-known names, but how they make audiences feel. And while certain filmmakers have cracked the code, and as a result have videos go viral consistently, an amazing story is always at the heart of it.

Create a film that makes people feel something and your chance of views goes up dramatically.

7. You don’t have a story to tell

You are amazing. And because of that, you have amazing stories to tell.

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Go out and find it. Explore, meet new people and bring a camera.

Stories are everywhere, but sometimes you have to dig to find them.

8. There’s too much to learn

It’s true: there is a lot to learn in filmmaking. But like any other craft, that should inspire you and push you forward. You should certainly read and watch tutorials, but there is no replacement for practice—even if it means failing. You have to get your hands a little dirty.

And because you’re not doing it alone (see myth #5), bring in collaborators who specialize in areas you don’t and learn from them.

Great filmmakers aren’t necessarily more gifted. They just never stop learning. 

What filmmaking myths have you learned are better to ignore? On the flip side, what filmmaking truths have helped you grow as a filmmaker? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.