Eamon O’Rourke on the 5 Top Secrets of Filmmaking

A film projector with a light flare
Eamon O’Rourke has learned the secrets of filmmaking, one lesson at a time.

It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of working in the film industry, but not everyone is able to achieve their desired level of success. Eamon O’Rourke stands out from the crowd with his own experiences as an actor and rising director. With several credits as director, including the 2021 Asking for It, the expertise he’s gained on the set is topped only by his joy in the process of collaborative filmmaking. In a recent interview, O’Rourke was pressed in to share insights into filmmaking as a career, and he offered five tips on how to move into the industry successfully. 

1. Prepare for a lengthy journey

From the audience perspective, a film is over and done with in just two to three hours. But the process of making the film is a very long process, encompassing approvals and funding, casting, pre-production, shooting, and post-production. Eamon O’Rourke explained, “I used to always think I was going to be able to finish a script in a few weeks, maybe a couple of months…it takes at least a year to get a script to a place that is really ready to be shot. Then there’s the whole business side of putting a movie together. There were two-plus years in between getting my script green-lit and starting to shoot . . . I think I have a way better understanding of the time lines now and it has helped me be less stressed.”

2. Navigate strong personalities

Creating a film costs a lot of money, even when working with smaller independent names. “Film also draws a lot of strange people who aren’t artists who want to be close to the spectacle of the business,” O’Rourke mentioned. “Avoid having some rich folks or people who are going to have different priorities than you do be a part of your work.” Working with these individuals can make the process difficult but can be an unavoidable part of the process in securing funding to shoot. He recommends that creatives take the time to listen to various opinions but not to let them influence the vision for the film.

3. Balance input

While he enjoys the collaborative process that happens on a movie set, Eamon O’Rourke recognizes a balance point must be found. “You can’t allow every single thing that someone says or brings to the table let you doubt yourself, or you will be stretched into oblivion…you can’t let momentary doubt direct your vision. On the other side of this though, is the reminder that you don’t know everything and that’s OK, and it’s important to realize that and listen to that.” By listening to others on the set, creators can pick up a lot of details to help create a more authentic experience within the film while remaining true to themselves.

4. Be your own judge

Eamon O’Rourke acknowledged that humans are competitive by nature, and this carries through to the film industry. However, creatives should ultimately be their own judges when it comes to measuring their success and progress with a project. “I have spent far too much time comparing myself to my peers. I don’t think this is something you can completely avoid; it’s hard not to do this in some way,” O’Rourke explained. “I remember hearing from people that, from my perspective, had reached the highest level of success, and they would say that feeling never goes away — you keep comparing yourself to others and you keep feeling like you need to get further to feel truly satisfied.” Though artists and creatives should never sell themselves short of their true potential, they can benefit more broadly by gauging their progress against their own idea of success rather than what others think.

5. Keep learning

Film is an evolving art, and the move from physical film to digital and multi-dimensional views makes experimentation a constant in the industry. While confidence is key for creatives to get started, Eamon O’Rourke warns against overconfidence, citing his own initial perspective that everything he made would be brilliant. “I quickly embraced the fallacy of this,” O’Rourke shared. Since starting out, he has incorporated experimentation into every film he has made and encourages other creatives to continue learning as part of their own process.