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. The ghost of fear


We are inside the guest bedroom. Johnny (6) stares up at the ceiling.


Little Johnny needed to pee.


He gets up and peeks into the corridor, toward the ghostly guest bathroom.

But he was convinced there was some kind
of being, lurking in the darkness.


Johnny can’t do it. His knees shake.

But then he remembered what
his Dad had always told him…


The ghost of his Dad appears from the bathroom.

You can do it my boy, be brave.
I believe in you.


Johnny feels a warm sensation in his PJ bottoms.



I find that fear in the creative sense is so similar to little Johnny’s late night pee dilemma. It’s the idea of leaving that cozy nest we have become accustomed to.

If we don’t create anything we won’t fail or be judged. However, the reason we walk into that distant void to try new things is because we believe we have something to say or share. We all want a little pat on the back from the people we love (our audience), who admire our work and see value in the things that compel us to be creative.

2. Dealing with judgement

Just like the great mixtape horror, some directors find it just as painful to watch a screening alongside their audience. Maybe it’s because the audience is basically seeing the filmmaker exposed in all his/her creativity.

Film is a medium that is nothing without its audience, but audiences are not always approving of the work you make. This is inevitable, even the greatest piece of cinema has its critics.


A good filmmakers must find ways to deal with judgement and put the self loathing at (Michael) bay so that they can get on with their job.

3. Fear is to censor yourself

One of my lecturers in design school said to me, “Never censor your ideas at the start of the creative process”. All ideas matter in the beginning and the fear of offending someone is the quickest way of snuffing out original, potentially brilliant ideas.

As the filmmaking process unfurls, your original idea and vision is constantly chipped away by: budget, producers, shareholders, actors and opinions. Much like a sculptor working his way into a piece of marble, if the idea was not big enough in the beginning there will be nothing left of it at the end of the process.

Stick to your guns and let the honesty and integrity of your idea be the light that navigates you.

4. The fear of connection

The Hollywood model is all about making everyone happy but, being divisive is not always a bad thing. If you make a piece of work that divides people's sentiment it means that you are connecting and making your viewers feel, and not just pacifying them with special effects fluff and mediocre storytelling.

I always think about how Lynch or Kubrick have such die-hard fans. Their work is not for everyone and is truly divisive but they still have a loyal audience and set of collaborators that love working with them. Why?

Some filmmakers go their entire lives trying to achieve this cult status but it can’t really be faked. Making something that lies in the middle of the road is a sure way alienate a loyal audience.


The key to finding an audience, is being true to you and finding your own unique vision.

5. Regret is worse than fear

Try to imagine a world without fear… now that you can see what that looks like, what is it you fear the most? Is it really the possibility of failing or maybe not trying at all?