Why it’s OK to make mistakes & what to do about it

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Everyone has to start somewhere and most budding filmmakers start off being a Runner or an Intern.  I was lucky (or unlucky, depending how you look at it) to have very heavy discipline early in my career in the form of strict (and mostly perfectionist) bosses. They didn’t accept mistakes and often took me to task in front of others. Fortunately, I’m a tough one, so it made me more determined to get it right the next time. Unfortunately, I also got fired a few times for messing up because I had no prior training (there were no part-time film schools around at that time.)

Today I feel lucky that I had that disciplined basis to start from, but I’m also a lot wiser when dealing with Interns and newbies than many of my early bosses were. I recognize that making mistakes is part of the learning process and that it’s actually ok to make mistakes provided you use those mistakes to help yourself improve.

Let’s look at some things you should do when you make mistakes:

  1. As soon as you’ve realized that you made a mistake, bring it to your boss’s attention immediately.
  2. Apologize for the mistake, don’t try to cover it up or make excuses.
  3. Learn from the mistake and don’t repeat it again.
  4. Have a plan of action ready as to how you will deal with the mistake and/or fix it.
  5. If your boss reacts in an angry way, don’t sulk or get upset. Taking responsibility for your mistakes means being able to deal with the response you get from your boss.

Now just because it’s ok to make mistakes doesn’t mean you should slack off. Being 100% focused on your work means avoiding mistakes as far as possible. But know that when you do make that odd mistake, applying the 5 points I mentioned above will definitely help you deal with it in a more professional way.

About the author:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and owner of Auteur Film School.

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