How to Create a Film When the Odds are Stacked Against You

Reaffirmed conviction for the importance of creative expression is contagious. As a filmmaker, the volume of yet-to-be-visualized issues can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel like there are more closed doors than open ones.

But all of your hard work is not in vain: film can influence scores of people who wouldn’t have otherwise taken action. With a society committed to change and progress, we can share the feeling an artful film gives us until everyone’s world shines a little brighter.

These five filmmakers have faced their fair share of creative challenges and come out the other side as Sundance Ignite Fellows. Learn from their experiences and walk away with a fresh dose of inspiration:

Leah Galant

“My goal with film is to encourage people not to be misdirected with their fears and to put that energy towards their passions and activism. Creating films is a way of empowering myself and others by connecting people through a shared human experience. I am motivated to get these stories out in the world in hopes of changing dialogues and sparking change.

Still from Leah’s film, Putting the Fire Out.

One day I was scrolling through my news feed and I realized that almost every other post was of some terrible tragedy or story about human suffering. That week, I also received an influx of text messages from my friends expressing anxiety and hopelessness. I felt this weight placed on our generation of being exposed to so much fear and I wanted to express the idea of not being alone. I want to share my story in hopes of inspiring other people to continue creating even in the midst of our uncertain world.”

Alex Kamb

“I’ve always thought that powerful films don’t attempt to convince an audience, but provoke discussion in one. After being exposed to ideas they may have never previously thought of, people may consider alternative perspectives on issues. Films allow for this conversation, not by rattling off aggressive points, but by telling a story.

Still from Alex’s film, Grandpa, Remember Me.

My films display situations that are horrifyingly widespread, yet very rarely discussed due to fear. Problems need to be talked about. Everyone – in some degree or another – relates to fear, and the only way to survive it is to confront it.”

Laura Holliday

“I want to talk about important issues affecting my generation right now, in a way that will both make you laugh and could spark a conversation. I’m inspired when I think about how totally diverse our world is but many people still don’t see themselves and their stories reflected in mainstream media. Everyone deserves content they can relate to.

I particularly want to create complex and interesting roles for women in comedy. I think comedy is an amazing tool to examine and cope with the darker elements of our lives and women are underutilized. Societally I think we waste a lot of time judging and berating ourselves and I would love to try and address that by telling people that they’re enough just the way they are.”

Still from Laura’s film, Persephone Goes Home.

Olivia Peace

“I hope that as a filmmaker I can help lead dialogues about privilege and accountability. Film is a great tool to start dialogue that explains a marginalized worldview without a marginalized community having to carry the burden of explaining it. The decision to look away and not engage with weighty topics in order to avoid discomfort is inexcusable.”

Still from Olivia’s film, Pangaea.

Thea Gajic

“We are drawn to movies to ignite our imagination and often vicariously live through a person we heavily relate to on screen. We feel less alone; we are brought together by collective entertainment and are forced to provoke our own thoughts, thus igniting communal change.

Still from Thea’s film, RUN.

I am especially passionate about using film to explore how young adults deal with the same problems being faced  by middle-aged, middle-class people. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, millennials  were exposed to a wealth of information at an early age, which caused us to be involved in situations that our parents and grandparents would have never had to deal with at the same age. These stories are what I’m most interested in.”

Watch the rest of the inspiring films by the winners of the Project 1324 + Sundance Ignite “What’s Next” challenge at sundanceignite2016.com.