Why Make Movies?

Sometimes people who don’t make movies don’t fully understand why people have a passion for making movies. And sometimes those same people will ask why we do it. It doesn’t come up often, but when it does, sometimes it catches people off-guard. So, in an effort to help many filmmakers, let’s look at why we do what we do, putting our lives into complete misery for many months (for those of us who do it right) and expend grand amounts of time, energy, and especially, money.


Here are just some of the general reasons for making a movie:

  • For the love of the art of moving pictures. Basically we just love to see things come to life in various ways. We want to see the images leap to life and fill the audience with expressions through images that move and tell about the lives of others. This includes passion projects and stories.
  • To explain a really great story. If it’s been burning in your head, why not make that story able to be seen by dozens, if not millions, of people? Those who know how to tell a story can do it with ease, especially if they’ve lived through it.
  • To get the chicks/dudes. Yeah, sometimes it’s as shallow as just wanting to impress upon the opposite (or same. Hey… I’m not denying anyone here) sex with the impressive manner of being able to say, “Yeah… I’m a director. I made X,” where X equals the movie they’ve created.
  • To lose/gain money. Some people are strictly into it for the money. They see the potential for great gain/loss and feel that they can achieve what they need to in order to succeed in the business. They go to great lengths to make it happen and finally achieve their desired outcome, happy with what they’ve done. And generally that means that they’ve looked at this craft as a business and not much more. Art… Not in their blood, necessarily.
  • They just had to do it. You’ll find filmmakers of all kinds in this category, from the wedding videographer who only does it because of their family’s need to have the wedding of a certain niece or nephew recorded, to the high schooler that has a senior project that needs to be done by next week. If you’re forced to do something, you’ll usually find a method by which to accomplish your needs.
  • To be different. We all need a way to stand out in this world. One way is by making something that others can see that no one else has ever thought of before, or so they think. In doing what they’ve done, they have the ability to break some rules and do what they want to do when filming whatever it is their crafting, which has a way of setting them apart.
  • To learn. Because filling one’s mind with education and learning something new is important to many individuals, learning about making movies can be a fundamental process to elevate them to something more, like stage plays or broadcast news. But it only starts with that first step in tackling all that is filmmaking.
  • As a job. Some folks just need a good career, and making media fits well for them. Perhaps it’s not a business, but just more something for them to make money from that stands out better than scrubbing dishes in some kitchen in the back of some local greasy spoon.
  • To impress others. Unlike doing it to impress chicks/dudes, perhaps the person just has something they’d really like to say and of which to feel proud. Perhaps they desire others looking over them and their works, or they’d just like to take a chance and try to make their mark on society for whatever reason.
  • To make a difference. Many charity efforts and documentaries are born from this desire, so it’s filled with the propensity of making a movie to explain how something is completely wrong or completely right in our world. Many times people are looking to affect others in order to make a change (Gasland, Fahrenheit 911, Super Size Me), or perhaps they just want you to learn something non-fiction (March of the Penguins).
  • For fame/glory. And sometimes the filmmaker just wants to have power and see their name in lights, as it’s more of an ego/id thing. These folks just want others to know that they are important in some manner of speaking, and that their opinion counts when factoring in all equations.

There is no right or wrong answer here. But the thing to realize is that you’re not going to be able to do any of this if you don’t start something and get those cameras rolling. The importance of why you’re making a movie to begin with doesn’t need to be prevalent for you to create something special… Just making the movie will prove to all what you’re trying to accomplish.

As for me, I personally feel that each one of those things up there signifies a small part of why I do it. Some of those things are good, and some bad, traits to have in a filmmaker. But being able to admit that you’re some, if not all, of them is the first step to realizing that you’re a filmmaker and it’s something you’ll never be able to outgrow.