Nicholas Nesbitt & Gentlemen


Hi! For the next few months we will be teaming up with Johannesburg based creative Nicholas Nesbitt to bring you a few articles about the process of filmmaking. Nicholas specialises in Illustration, Digital Design and Sound Design. In this article we divulge some secrets about fear in the filmmaking process. Enjoy :)

1. You are not a unique snowflake

There is no such thing as an original idea and you don’t need to be a special snowflake to craft a juicy tale. A good storyteller tells a story we have seen a million times from a new and unique angle.


Give two filmmakers the same script and they will make totally different movies. They know this and so should you.

2. Mimic


When you are a young filmmaker it’s important to steal from the greats. Yeah, I said it; go out and loot from your hero’s. Squeeze the juice out of them.


You are the sum total of your influences. Unconsciously, all those influences are bubbling over in the work you create. Good filmmakers are mindful of their influences and pepper them throughout to create interesting flavour in their work.

3. Don't underestimate the audience


If there is one thing that humans know how to do, it’s tell stories. Was it a skill that developed for evolutionary purposes or perhaps just something that we enjoyed and it became part of our human make up?


For decades we have been gathering to watch stories unfold on giant canvases in dark halls. The audience has an innate understanding of storytelling.

Remember, they’re smart and have been watching cinema since they were kids.


Don’t pander to a specific audience or target market, tell the story you want to see. If it’s from the heart people will feel you.

4. Leave them with more questions than answers

The audience is there to be dazzled and surprised, as though they are awaiting a magic trick.


A trick becomes boring when its secrets are revealed. A brilliant storyteller keeps us guessing, under a spell, suspending our disbelief in an imaginary world we all want to believe in. “How did they do that? I need to watch that film again!”


Keep the audience guessing until the last frame. They can try figure it all out later over a coffee.

5. Tell the stories you want to see

Human beings tell stories. Stories that help us understand and make sense of the world around us. Stories that make us laugh, make us think, make us uncomfortable, move us and make us connect. Cinema is the perfect platform to tell universal stories and helps us realise we are not alone.


So if you want to do this right, you need to dig deep and find the tales only you can tell. Your perspective is your strength which connects you to your audience.


If you manage to find an honest idea, maybe someone will copy you and the never-ending lineage of storytelling and re-telling will continue.


“Direct the eye and the heart” - Martin Scorsese