Coming Up for Air

It's been a long time since I last posted anything, and it feels even longer. It's only been six months, but in that time I've been able to step back from almost everything Frugal Filmmaker and attempt to re-assess what I am currently doing and what I want to do in the future.

I've been on a self-imposed social media blackout of sorts, with no posts here and no new videos since last September. It wasn't my intention to go under the radar (and I have still posted to the Facebook Group, Twitter, and Instagram), but the more I didn't do it, the easier it became to just relax for a change. No deadlines, no crazy schedule, no pressure.

Of course, relaxation of this sort completely disrupts any momentum that you are trying to build for your brand. Declining numbers on all Frugal Filmmaker fronts are ample (and expected) evidence that staying away will not promote growth. And actually, I'm okay with that. It is this interruption that has caused me to shift my focus in a new direction that I can live with.

The catalyst for this change was a full-time job that was more demanding than I expected (duh). Initially, I was very frustrated that I could not maintain the weekly, dual-video schedule that I had maintained over the past few years, and work full time. Something had to give and it was the "jobby" that was not able to support the family. At first, the Q&A show went back into hibernation, then my main video releases stopped.

In my "Where did I go?" video I mentioned falling into a "creative coma" and felt a newfound difficulty/fear of just talking into a camera. I had been away for so long it was no longer second nature--it was downright uncomfortable. I had no desire to do it again. Not because I didn't want to, but because I couldn't justify the pressure I was putting on myself. So, I stopped applying it.

During the downtime of wondering how or if to return, I was always comforted by you wonderful folks out there (you know who you are), who have sent me positive vibes during this tough time. Almost every other day I would get an email or a comment either asking me to return, or to just hang in there. Though I rarely answered, I was always lifted up by the kind thoughts of others. I don't quite know how to express the gratitude I feel for the wave of support these past few months other than to just say thank you.

When I started the Frugal Filmmaker in 2010, a major goal was to earn a living building this brand. Well, it hasn't happened how I planned, but I'm okay with that. While I am going to start releasing videos and blogging again, I won't force myself to be on a rigid schedule. If I can produce weekly videos, I will. If I can't, I won't. I'm not going to let analytics run my life. It's not realistic and not worth the self-imposed stress.

Though significantly reduced, I'm still making an income from YouTube, Amazon and eBay (and some PayPal donations).  Since I now help to support the family by working full time, all the income generated by TFF will now be reinvested in the channel and the short films I want to produce. I've considered Patreon, but I like the fact that even though the monthly money is modest, the channel is now self-sufficient.

I want to make films and want to share the things I learn as I attempt to become a better filmmaker. That goal has never changed. What has changed is that this isn't an attempt to make a living anymore. It's a way to achieve a sense of creative satisfaction through narrative storytelling. That's all. The rest is just gravy.


JP said…
Hi Scott, thanks for this. I have been following you for a while but never posted a comment. Glad you're back as I have missed your excellent advice on making better movies. My experience seems to support your conclusion that reassessment Is just part of the journey to becoming more skillful in a craft
Vin Weathermon said…
I know exactly what you mean. I have been in the competition to win income (my day job) and still be the creative self. I am making another run at it at age 57, and am opening my second run at a portrait studio here in town...sold my house to finance the business, going all in...while I work full time to try to get it to the point I can quit my day job.

It is enormous pressure. But when you are as old as I am, you realize you must still keep your spirit alive with the hope that the day job won't be your last hurrah.

I look forward to whatever you decide to share with us :-)

Anonymous said…
Nice to know that you are fine and doing well. I also have a full time job and get involved with a short or two every year. I enjoy it and wish I could live off it, but I have not found the way and I am fine with that too. As long as I am doing something to avoid "becoming my job", it is good.
Unknown said…
Scott good to hear from you. Progress not perfection. Will enjoy watching just some baby steps when you're ready
Unknown said…
I concur with JP's post above....Welcome back, and then again, see you when you're here....I'll be waiting, no rush.

As you were,
Paul Bellah said…
Your a natural in front of the camera. You helped build my confidence, and made improvising equipment fun. I hope you find your Bliss.
KBeast said…
Glad to see you return to something you both love and are uniquely gifted to do. We've missed you. And, especially glad to see you continuing to put the needs of your family first. Sometimes we have to step away from things to reassess where we should be in our continued relationship to them. Glad you have done that. Look forward to seeing your future projects and continuing to learn from you through whatever you choose to share with us. Keep pressing on.
Unknown said…
I'm really glad to hear what's been going on with you Scott. I was genuinely worried. I echo what Vin above says. With your young family you could even use your talents to make some fun creative stuff with your kids. You wouldn't have to publish it, just fun home movies if you will. For all I know you are even doing that.

I have profited so much from your postings as I know many have. Even if you never posted another thing, know that you have established a pretty cool legacy and inspired many. Your lack of pretention and your practical approach, should I say frugal?, is inspiring to me.

Wish you all the best and look forward to what you next send our way.

John in Philly said…
Good to see you back, I will enjoy whatever you post and try to put the information to good use.
Family comes first, and I support your efforts to balance your family with your channel. I've learned quite a few things I've been able to apply in my job (multimedia journalist). Look forward to seeing what you post when you can.
Unknown said…

Your honest candor is refreshing. This is your show, so I am glad to hear your doing it on your own terms. I too am very frugal. Enough so to build New Media Mac labs for under 25K at three Universities. I have been researching budgets recently and two popped out to me. First, Sean Baker's Tangerine. I became aware of him from a friend of Kiki the lead who refused to play the game but was the show. Baker spent 100K! I am sorry but that is ridiculous for an iPhone 5s movie with no permits or night lighting. He obviously has a lot to learn from frugality. All the wealthiest people I have known have all been frugal to a fault. Second is Philip T. Johnson's Einstein's God Model which is rumored to have cost $2 million. Granted he is a Union guy and probably was forced that route but instead of getting any talented actors he spent it all on a lab with a kid playing in After Effects and an Ad agency for a slick poster and trailer. I mean about 20 years ago El Mariachi was 7K and Linklater's Slacker and Smith's Clerks we're in the mid $20K range. Most of which was spent in film processing. I like Ed Burn's approach. Stay under 9k and spend it on food and beverages, use natural light, 3 person crews, location's donated and have the talent wear their own clothes and do their own make-up.
What all of these Filmmakers have in common is they write stories that really engage the viewer. Viewer's seem to be forgiving of poor skills as long as the characters and plot draw them in. Being a Filmmaker takes a lot more than just technical takes a polymath. Someone who can wear all those hats and overcome the grind of the FULTIME job, raising a family and having good people skills. Now Burn's and Connoly both have large families which is a big plus. Connoly is gifted but has no story skills, just rehashed cliche's slickly done with a plethora of donated and purchased (Patronized) equipment. Not to short change him though, he just needs a script and figure out how to do it with less rather than the latest gadget. Well, the point here is I want you to know how much we all appreciate your contributions (Roller skates are like $50 now!!) and wanted you to also start to focus on story more in your upcoming shorts. With that said, I look forward to seeing your next post/s and upcoming shorts!
Dave Langkamp said…
Welcome back Scott! I'm very happy to see you here once again. I've missed your posts and the info that you pass on to rookies like me. I know how you feel about keeping up with your blog. I am on my sixth year and some weeks I wonder about my next project and if I should even write about it. Will anybody want to know what I am designing and building and if so is it interesting enough to see the next project after that. In all this time I have reached over 5.5 million visits by readers from over 95 countries in the world. People are still reading about projects that I built when I first started my blog. I do it for the fun of it and because there are guys like me that want to learn from what I do. That is the way I feel about your blog so I am thrilled to be able to learn from you once again. Keep up the great work and I'll be there like so many like me to learn from and enjoy your posts.


Dave Langkamp
Anonymous said…
I'm so glad you posted this, Scott. I've always enjoyed your passion for invention and creativity! Looking forward to your future post!