5 Ways To Get Out Of Your Filmmaking Comfort Zone in 2023

December 30th, 2022 Jump to Comment Section 1
5 Ways To Get Out Of Your Filmmaking Comfort Zone in 2023

As we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to think about what you want to achieve next year. You can certainly set concrete goals, whether it’s business or personal goals, but that mindset can be limited to what you know today – your worldview, your current situation, your opportunities and what you think is possible next year. So instead of setting a specific goal, make it your objective to get out of your comfort zone in 2023, and then see where the experiments take you.

When you do something new and unfamiliar, you open your world up to potentially new paths and opportunities that you can’t imagine today. And luckily there’s an entire world of tutorials and courses out there that are dedicated to helping you learn new skills and or production approaches.

The feature image and all article images are from Till Daling on Pexels.

Video Production Is a Sandbox for Experimenting

We’re lucky that in the craft of video production, we’re not only allowed but encouraged – and often rewarded – to experiment and try new ways of creating content. It’s not like a trade like roofing, or even another creative service like graphic design, where you’re hired to do a specific task in a way you’ve done before.

Do something, anything, different in 2023. Image source: Pexels / Till Daling

With video, no two projects are alike, and you have many frames to experiment with, so there’s really nothing stopping you from trying new tactics except for fear of failure, time, or motivation. Of course if you’re doing paid work, you need to ensure clients are still going to get what they’re expecting from you, but you typically have lots of wiggle room for developing your plan of action.

And of course you can experiment wildly with your own personal unpaid work, but if possible, try to fit experimentation into your paid work. That way you’re constantly growing even while you’re busy producing client work.

So that that said, here are 5 ways you could experiment with your video productions in 2023.

1. Try an entirely different shooting style

You have your bread and better shooting approach, and it’s working for you. But for the sake of growth, give yourself an entirely new shooting experience one day. You may find your current methods are actually still your best tactics, but you’ll also open yourself up to new shooting strategies.

Use that tripod like your life depends on it. Image source: Till Daling

For example:

  • Try shooting only with a tripod for one shoot. No handheld shots, no monopod, no gimbal, no glitz. Lock it down and get a series of shots that tell the story with movement in-frame rather than with camera movement.
  • On the other hand, if a project allows it, try shooting only handheld. It’s a very attractive mode of shooting, right? Imagine how freeing it could be to walk around and get shots left and right, high and low, without anything else except a camera and lens. But is today’s IS and IBIS enough to give you a usable base of shots for your edit? Only one way to find out – try it!
  • Dig into your camera’s picture style menu and choose Monochrome. That’s right, try shooting an entire project in black and white. This might be something better suited for a personal project, but it’s still worth trying out.
  • Try shooting anamorphic – why not? You can rent an anamorphic lens (or a set of them), or learn some tricks to replicate the anamorphic look. Watch a few lessons from Tito Ferradans on MZed and you may surprise yourself. Maybe you don’t think anamorphic is for you, or it doesn’t fit your client work, but you’ll never know until you try.

2. Try using less gear, not more

The trap of buying gear and thinking it’ll lead to new opportunities is real. And it’s very easy to fall into that trap over and over again. If I buy this piece of gear, it’ll make me more desirable for clients to hire. Gear Acquisition Syndrome is a never-ending battle. Don’t get me wrong, buying new gear is very fun, and often an essential piece to growth, but you’re already doing it so let’s think of an alternative strategy for 2023.

If you can’t carry it up a mountain, don’t bring it to the shoot. Image source: Till Daling

For one production, try using a whole lot less gear than you’re used to. For example, try shooting with only 1-2 lenses, or with only one light. I’ve personally had great luck with this experiment time and time again. For one documentary shoot I brought only a 35mm prime and a 100mm Macro lens, and it freed me to get creative with visuals rather than change lenses a thousand times.

Same with lighting. Yes, a full light kit is best. But what would happen if you only used one light? Or one type of diffuser? What about forcing yourself to use only a COB light shot through a shower curtain for your documentary interviews? For a couple years I traveled around Alaska with only one Westcott Ice Light as my interview light, and I’m certain it enabled me to take on shoots that would otherwise be impossible with a big bag of lights and stands.

Or if you don’t want to be too dramatic, just take less gear with you and focus on the story. Leave the slider, gimbal, and drone behind, and walk around getting a ton more shots where people are the centerpiece, not shiny video tricks.

3. Try a new editing workflow

Once you get hardened to a specific editing workflow, it’s hard to change anything about it. And why would you? You have deadlines to meet and you have your current workflow that is guaranteed – why mess with it?

Because unless you actively attempt new editing workflows, you’ll never know if your current system is indeed the best approach for you. In addition, you might also be missing out on jobs where the client requires you to use a different NLE. And finally, if you’re going to experiment with shooting, you may as well also experiment with editing.

Amber alert – your NLE crashed against and your project is missing. Time to try something new? Image source: Till Daling

So try a completely different editing software. Do it for a small project. Try editing on an iPad. Maybe DaVinci Resolve on an iPad could open up an entirely new path for you?

Or inside of your preferred software, take a different approach to your edit. Try using only nat sound and dialogue to keep a story flowing, rather than relying on a music bed. Instead of diving into an edit the way you usually work, try transcribing interviews and writing a paper edit first. Give Final Cut’s Audition a try like you’ve been intending to for 10 years.

Go nuts, and see what else is out there in the world of editing strategies. You never know what you may find out about yourself, while also learning new skills to add to your editing tool belt.

4. Try an entirely different video product than your current wheelhouse

You know you’re good at your work, your clients know you’re good at it, it’s your bread and butter. So why mess with a good thing? Like I said before, trying new things is not to meet business growth goal you might have, it’s to open new doors that you don’t even know exist yet.

You never know when a new skill will come handy. Image source: Till Daling

So if you’re great at making corporate documentaries, try making a 30-second video with voice over. Learn how to make a kickass timelapse for the 30 second video. Make a commercial with only stock video. Send it over to your client and see what they think. Or make a project entirely out of motion graphics, keep it to 15 seconds, and give it to your client to use on their social media. Try shooting some Instagram reels… in native vertical resolution. Before you know it, your regular clients may be interested in hiring you to do more of the new stuff.

Video trends change, and client requests can be all over the place. There’s dozens of different types of video productions out there, but for clients a “video producer” could mean someone that can do any number of different productions. And if they’re asking you to do something that’s not in your wheelhouse, instead of taking offense, try doing it.

Instead of saying “no” to offbeat requests, give event videography a try. Teach yourself about live streaming. Give green screen interviews a try. Get out of your comfort zone, and try something new. Because before long you’ll find that you’re applying the new skills to your current wheelhouse.

5. Don’t just learn, teach.

It’s important to always be learning new skills, trends and ways of doing things, and in video production it’s certainly essential to keeping up with the times, let alone growing as a creative. But in 2023, I think we should also focus on bringing along others. Instead of focusing on growing yourself and your own business, make it a point to teach someone something that has enabled you to be in this business. Make room for one more person to join our industry.

Do you have a friend who has struggled for the last couple years in their current job? Show them how to shoot, or edit a simple story. Bring them along on a shoot. Include someone in your productions who is interested but needs a little help to get started.

“Do, or do not, there is no try.” Teach others your wise ways. Image source: Pexels / Till Daling

Have you recently discovered a tool or workflow that has changed your world? Write a blog post, or a LinkedIn post, or even a tweet. Or record a short Youtube video about it. Sharing online doesn’t always have to be promotional. In fact I think one of the things we’ve lost recently with the internet is the desire to help and share with our community, simply to be nice and helpful, rather than to try to sell something.

When you share or educate others, you’ll find that 100% of the time, you learn something yourself, and in the process, the world is better off thanks to you. And someday, karma will pay you back for your kindness.

That’s it for me in 2022. I look forward to 2023 when we at MZed and CineD can share more insights from filmmakers around the world, lessons and courses from educators who are wise beyond their years, and new approaches to video production so that we can all continue to grow our craft and build a life centered around creating awesome video stuff.

Do you have a goal for 2023? Share it in the comments below!

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