Posted by Sean LaFollette

Hesitation is the death of progression. 

Twelve years ago, I was walking through the halls at Lawrence Technological University when I came upon a flyer for a student group that put on play productions. With no experience and a lot of curiosity, I quietly stepped into their Thursday night meeting nervous as hell. In fact, nervousness is an understatement as I was scared shitless.

Thinking back, this small and simple decision would set the foundation and help shape my life for the next decade. Without the decision to take a chance, step out of my comfort zone and go for something that spoke to me (whispered really), I wouldn’t be where I am today. There would be no screenplays, no films and certainly no The Failed Filmmaker.

So where would I be if on that day twelve years ago I would’ve balked or hesitated, even for a moment? What would I be doing? Would I still be the risk taker I am today? Would I go after something else that captured my attention with the same blind enthusiasm that I approach my film work with? Would I be the same person?

So many questions and to be honest, I don’t have an answer to any of them. I don’t think I need or want one. The fact remains, I didn’t hesitate and I’m grateful everyday for that decision.

Hesitation is the death of progression. If I would’ve hesitated, for even a moment, I may have made the decision NOT to join that student group. I wouldn’t have made any progress to where I am today and I wouldn’t be the same person. This same decision to MOVE FORWARD BOLDLY would show up time and time again, building out what would become my film career.

 

Dont Hesitate  How to Conquer Your Entertainment Career in 2021

Behind The Scenes of My Second Feature Film What About Molly?

 

ACTING CLASSES

Upon graduating college, my life really had no direction. The years ahead would consist of working, saving, taking vacations, building a family and planning a retirement. At least, that’s what I thought the plan was supposed to be. Some things never go according to plan.

The thought of college graduation being the end of something really bothered me. I didn’t want that to be the case. I needed something that excited me, something to look forward to. I needed a new challenge, something to strive for. I needed a goal.

Due to my brief stint as a stage actor, the next stop in my filmmaking journey would land me in a small acting studio in Royal Oak, Michigan. Enjoying the craft, I wanted to explore it more. I wanted to take on this new challenge and become an actor. I wanted to live this amazing life, full of excitement and creativity. I wanted to be Brando. Unfortunately, Brando I was not. Perhaps someday I could’ve reached such a high standard but my decisions would lead me elsewhere.

As I look back, I made a choice to take acting classes without any hesitation. I was sitting at home and thought to myself, there has to be more. I decided acting lessons was the more I was after. I did a quick Google search and next thing I know, I was in a class a week later. Hell, I was in the same class 3 years later.

During my stint in the acting studio, we went on to do work for two independent feature films. With neither seeing the light of day and frustrations setting in, it was time for a change. I didn’t feel as though I was progressing or moving towards my goals. What good is a developed skill if you don’t put it to use?

Without hesitation, I quit the studio and decided that if I can’t be in someone else’s film, I’ll just make one of my own. No other thoughts, no analysis paralysis. The only choice to have here was to MOVE FORWARD BOLDLY. So I did.

 

Dont Hesitate  How to Conquer Your Entertainment Career in 2021

Behind The Scenes of My Second Feature Film What About Molly?

 

SHORT FILM FUN

Reaching out to my network of actors from the studio, I informed them that we’re making a movie. I was going to write a short script and we were going to film it on our own. Encouraged with my passion, everyone was excited and on board. Little did we know that the result would be less than adequate.

In my head I honestly thought this first short film was going to look like something Tarantino shot. It certainly did not. I was hurt, heartbroken and a bit embarrassed. However, I wasn’t discouraged. In fact, I was quite the opposite. I saw my mistakes, learned from them and without hesitation I stated, we’ll do better next time.

Fast forward roughly a year and next time would certainly come. On this occasion, things were going to be different. We had a better script, a better location, better equipment and a better idea of what the hell I was doing. Everything was better and so the result should be too.

It wasn’t. The film would be completed but it wasn’t at a standard I was happy with. I felt as though I had failed. I let the team down. Hurt, depressed, demoralized and embarrassed once more, I was left searching, analyzing, trying to figure out my next move. That’s when I did the one logical thing I could think of...I began work on my first feature length film.

The idea came so simply, so quickly, appearing in thin air. It was a feeling and I acted on it without hesitation, never allowing time for the idea to disappear. It wasn’t an option. The only thing to do was to MOVE FORWARD BOLDLY. Take the next step in the journey. Put one foot in front of the other and walk towards my goals.

 

Dont Hesitate  How to Conquer Your Entertainment Career in 2021

Behind The Scenes of My Second Feature Film What About Molly?

 

A FEATURE FILM WILL LEAD TO SUCCESS

After the learning experience from two failed short films, I now had some knowledge of what I was doing and how I could do it better. With that said, a feature length film is a whole new animal in itself and I wanted to be prepared, so I read. I bought every book under the sun, educating myself in all aspects of the craft. I read about screenwriting, editing, cinematography, directing, and producing. You name it and I likely read it.

I had this drive and motivation to be great. I had the passion and wanted this more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. I worked my ass off and the results were surely about to show.

With a finished script, actors lined up, better equipment and a crew assembled, we set off to do the impossible. Over 17 days/nights of filming, we had enough footage to assemble the feature length film, Pink Heat. The results were stunning and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Failing yet again, only on a larger scale, it was time to move on. Not from filmmaking but from this specific project. I wasn’t ready to quit just yet, I was ready to dig in deeper. I was ready to work harder.

FESTIVAL FAILURES AND FUN

Without a screenplay, there is no movie and if the screenplay you do have isn’t great, the film won't be either. It all starts with the screenplay and that’s where I decided to place my focus. I let go of Pink Heat and moved onto writing my second feature film, The Remedy.

Reading, studying and educating further, I navigated my way through an amazing story. Confidence was high and I was ready for the big leagues. I was ready to raise 10 million dollars to bring my next film to life. I was ready for Hollywood.

 

Dont Hesitate  How to Conquer Your Entertainment Career in 2021

Behind The Scenes of My Second Feature Film What About Molly?

 

I went, I saw and I failed. Taking a trip to Los Angeles resulted in the harsh reality that this is a financially driven industry. With a few producer connections in town, I thought this process of fund raising would be much easier. Quickly I learned, if you don’t have money, you can’t get much help. Everyone has their own project they’re trying to get off the ground so you need to bring more to the table than just a script. Defeated, I went back to Michigan.

Unsure what to do next, I submitted the script to a few festivals with the hope of getting in and making a name for myself. Month’s later, the letters would flow in.

We regret to inform you…

Thank you for your submission, but…

It’s been our most competitive year yet with great screenplays, however…

Fail, fail, fail and fail some more.

It was tough and the days were dark. Now at a point where I was reconsidering everything, I finally got a letter pulling me towards the light.

Congratulations!

I was in! The 16th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival accepted my screenplay into competition and I was ready for Hollywood once more.

Preparing for the festival, I created postcards, small ads and business cards to hand out. Obviously, I was going to win and needed to be ready to give my information to everyone at the festival. People were going to be throwing themselves at me, ready to hand over the funding I was after. Producers were going to drool over the masterpiece I created.

None of that happened. I didn’t win...another great writer did. I struck out for the second time in Los Angeles and I headed home with yet another failure under my belt.

This time was different. This time, I felt the full weight of defeat. I didn’t see another option, I didn’t see my next move. I still didn’t hesitate but it’s because I had nothing to hesitate on. I had no decision to make. I had nothing to MOVE FORWARD BOLDLY on. I was lost.

 

Dont Hesitate  How to Conquer Your Entertainment Career in 2021

Behind The Scenes of My Second Feature Film What About Molly?

 

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

On the verge of throwing in the towel, I was approached by someone to create a short film. Fully funded and resources at my disposal, all I had to do was lead the team to victory. This was a project I needed, a project I never knew I was looking for. Without hesitation, I accepted and I was back in the game.

Finishing the film, we were eventually accepted into a small festival where we placed in the top three for short films. It was an amazing feeling. The film still wasn’t up to the standard of quality I would like but it was certainly some of my best work. This little festival placing was validation showing that I was on the right path. I just needed to continue walking it.

Jumping ahead 4 years, I now have a site where I seek to educate and inspire others to take their own journey. I want to help people navigate their careers and realize that it’s the journey that is most important, not the result.

With my goal to educate and inspire based on my past experiences, I obviously needed to continue my practice as a filmmaker. I needed to have more experiences. I needed to create a new film. With only four days of principal photography left, we are well on our way with my next feature length film What About Molly?

The answer to your next question is, yes, I made a feature length film during covid. Never questioning if I can do it, but only how. I needed to make this film, so I put a plan together, strapped on my flippers and jumped into the deep end.

I tell you this story as an example to show that never once did I hesitate on my decisions. Call it guts, call it instinct, call it stupidity. If something felt right I would MOVE FORWARD BOLDLY, progressing towards my goals. I didn’t know it at the time but the decisions I made along the way would help shape who I am and where I am today.

As you traverse your own careers, things are never going to go “as planned”. If you have the dream, the drive, the will, the sheer tenacity required to MOVE FORWARD BOLDLY, despite all odds, then do so without hesitation. Hesitation stalls forward momentum, creates doubt and kills creativity. Hesitation is the enemy...Hesitation is the death of progression.

 

About Sean LaFollette

Mental Health Why it Should Be Part of Your Creative Process

An independent film expert with over 10 years of experience. Currently in pre-production of a new feature-length film titled What About Molly?, while I also move towards my goal to educate and inspire through my website, The Failed Filmmaker. Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

 

More Stage 32 Blogs by Sean:

The Failed Filmmaker: A Success Story

Mental Health and Why it Should be a Part of Your Creative Process

Is Everything You Have Learned About Screenwriting Wrong?

Ideas are Nothing, Action is Everything

 


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