How To Feel Like a Filmmaking Imposter

If you want to feel like you’re impersonating a documentarian, you should start off by choosing a topic that everyone seems to have an opinion about. You should go to a journalism school with hundreds of other students who are gaining the same skill set and have the same interests as you. And you should definitely compare your work to theirs every time you read another thoughtful and well-written article in a student publication.

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Speaking of journalism school, you should take a filmmaking class to equip you with the necessary knowledge of shooting and editing, only to learn that your best work comes in as a generous B+. You should feel comically overwhelmed by this class — “does she really expect us to complete a full video package every week?” — forgetting that you have signed yourself up for a summer of worse.

If we’re already in the business of forgetting about things, than you should also forget about the time difference between Chicago and New York when scheduling at least two high-profile interviews. Come to mention it, you should mix up the Wall Street Journal with the Washington Post (or was it the Washington Post with the Wall Street Journal?) two times in a single day.

When you do finally manage to set up a successful interview and arrive at the appointed place at the appointed time, you should gratefully accept the cup of water they offer you. Not even a minute later, you should knock the glass over with your elbow as you attempt to set up your tripod.

If we’re talking about tripods, then it’s worth noting that no single item is more reviled by those who are attempting to look like filmmakers than these. An innocent attempt to expand a tripod leg by an inch can lead either you or your camera to topple to the ground (if it’s one or the other, choose yourself). Be warned: these three-legged nightmares are the surest way of revealing your imposter status.

During your interview with an editor from ABC or the Tribune or the Times, be sure to second-guess all of your pre-recorded questions. Analyze their facial expressions while explaining your project to see if they’ve got you all figured out, and doubt the very premise of your film after a well-intentioned suggestion to veer in some other direction.

Tell yourself that you’re going to transcribe the interview as soon as you get home, but collapse into bed (edit: climb the ladder to your bunkbed) and watch The Office instead. Wonder why you didn’t find a job working at an office this summer. You would appreciate, right now, being told that you needed to have the interview transcribed by Monday.

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