Film tips: Tapping into the expertise of those around you

Hey filmmakers! In our last blog, we discussed tips on how to utilize film resources at a college or university campus. This week we build on that and have collected advice on how to reach out to your networks and community to find film expertise and talent in the unlikeliest of places. Keep reading to find out more!

Be open to feedback 

Being open to different opinions is a great way to improve your film by gaining fresh perspectives. ‘FINE’ is a short film that aims to raise awareness on mental illness experiences and encourages people to speak up. Saida Saetgareeva, the director behind the short, recommends ‘to find someone who can give feedback on the script and story – it’s important.” An external viewer’s input can add value by making simple recommendations or tell you if the storyline and message are clear. Says Saida, “the more feedback the better. Find 2-3 people who can give feedback on a regular basis.” Of course, the recommendations do not always have to be used but considering them can help change your outlook on the film and highlight pieces that you may not have noticed before.

Reach out to friends

Friends can be a great resource for all processes of filmmaking. Victor O’Frank (filmmaker behind ‘Purpose’, below) was a medican doctor by trade before delving into filmmaking. Says Victor, “before we began production, I reached out to four other friends of mine who are doctors as well for their opinions with regards to the topic in question. Through that short survey we were able to narrow down what we needed to film and what we also needed to be in frame at each second of the film.” Maybe you don’t have a team of medical doctors on hand, but others who have experienced the mental health topic you’re focusing on can provide some really valuable insight in the process.

Director Betsy Usher didn’t realize how many resources she had on hand until admitting ‘I don’t know how to do this’. From there, Betsy reached out to people she knew for support and tips. Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to use long enough songs royalty-free, Betsy and her husband and her wrote the music – she wrote the piano and lyrics and melody, recorded it in her house. Betsy lucked out by having artistic people on hand, but also admits that “as soon as I started telling people ‘I’m making a film about mental health and Borderline Personality Disorder’ everyone was willing to help and participate for free because it was on such an important topic.” Sometimes it’s all about faking it ’til you make it! “When you’re starting out making films, you have to be confident. Utilizing resources that you have are most important. Once you have the idea, utilize resources and don’t be afraid to ask. Be grateful for those who do help you.”

We’re grateful to Betsy and her team for creating the film below, which lines a light on a massively underrepresented and misunderstood mental health experience.

Surround and familiarize yourself with those who do similar work

Learning from those around you can be extremely helpful to creating your own film, especially if you are learning from experts in specific fields. The short ‘mEAT’ compassionately explores the struggles of recovering from an eating disorder. On creating the film, Priyanka Rajendram says, “tapping on your friends for help is always helpful; the cast and crew in my film were friends and classmates. Otherwise, reaching out to the film community for support can be very empowering.” Priyanka’s final tip? “Watch lots of films and tv shows! And study them as you go. Try to develop your own style that way.” Easy enough! 🙂

Till Death Do Us Part’ is a film that shows the obstacles of living with a mental illness through a cleverly personified Obsessive Compulsive Disorder character. Director of the film Eric Bass recommends “familiarizing yourself with all parts of the process. I am primarily a sound designer and came to directing and writing from that perspective, which surprisingly also helped me appreciate composition and color. Surround yourself with smart and collaborative partners and always look to YouTube to learn any technique you want to try. If you can imagine it, there’s a tutorial for it. Be a lifelong learner.


Remember to not be afraid to ask for help, everyone has different strengths and you never know how others can be of assistance. Stellar advice from our amazing OLIVE Winners! If you have any comments or tips to add to the blog, post in the section below or connect with us on social media!

Ready to submit your short film about a mental health topics and join our community of winning filmmakers? Do so here!

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