Indie Filmmaking: You Have To Have Faith

by Christopher J. Boghosian A few months ago, I plopped down on my couch, let out a deep breath and involuntarily uttered, "It takes so much faith."

The best definition of faith I could find comes from the New Testament: "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Although this verse is referring to spiritual faith, it perfectly captures the faith we need to pursue an independent filmmaking career. Because unlike a Starbucks employee who is guaranteed myriad customers and a steady paycheck, us indies must stand on our own two feet; even marketing and distribution has increasingly become our responsibility. We are entrepreneur-artists, a calling that demands "assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

What strikes me most about the New Testament verse is its implication that a need for faith is relative. First, grander things require more faith. In the same way it takes more faith to sink a 3-pointer versus a layup, it takes more faith to produce a historic epic versus a one-location horror film. Second, faith is relative to one's power over things; the more leverage you have, the more you can secure. Third, the harder you work and the longer you persevere, the better your odds of success. So it seems a need for faith can be decreased by elements within our control.

But alas, as we all know, there are things beyond our control in independent film; things many believe are much more important to having a thriving career. I'm talking about profitability, public opinion, and professional advancement. I'm also talking about the thing that scares me most: talent. These truly are "things hoped for...things not seen," which will always demand faith! Sure, we can control them to a certain degree; however, they will forever elude us. (How many times have we seen a celebrated filmmaker produce a critical and box office dud, causing the public to question his/her viability and talent?)

I'm convinced the true worth of faith lies within the filmmaker as a source of strength, energy and hope. It feeds the filmmaker's soul, compelling him/her to continue onward, despite the odds. Without faith, fear will quickly overcome and defeat even the most ambitious of dreams. In fact, I'm beginning to think that fear is diametrically opposed to faith; complete assurance and conviction is fundamentally devoid of fear.

I've been pursuing a career in independent film for a few years now and, quite honestly, I'm tired, physically and emotionally. After numerous short films and a feature, I'm confident that I can control quite a bit; however, the elusive things like public opinion and talent are wearing me down. Just the other day I received another film festival rejection letter, one more punch in the gut, adding to my exhaustion. So it's no surprise when I plop down on the couch and utter, "It takes so much faith."

Where does faith come from? How can we have more of it? We can start with the things within our control, e.g., embrace your limitations, broaden your network, work hard and don't give up. And for the things ultimately outside our control, well, let's choose to believe rather than doubt. It's as simple as a choice: fear or faith. Might as well pick the more constructive of the two, right?

Living on student loans as a first-year law student, Christopher realized it was now or never, so he packed his bags and returned to his hometown, Los Angeles, to make movies. Since then, he has fathered multiple short films, a feature and a super-cute baby boy! You can see what else he's up to at FollowMyFilm.com