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IFH 122: What “Hamilton the Musical” Can Teach Indie Filmmakers

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What “Hamilton the Musical” Can Teach Indie Filmmakers

If you have been living underneath a rock you probably haven’t heard of the Broadway smash hit HamiltonFor the rest of you, this remarkable musical by Lin-Manual Miranda has changed not only Broadway but storytelling as well.

I know that is a bold statement but let me ask you, how many other new Broadway musicals have you heard about in the past 5-10 years? How many have crept into pop culture? How many have changed the game like Hamilton? Not many.

So what can indie filmmakers learn from a musical on Broadway? Here are a few lessons I learned from Lin-Manual Miranda’s masterpiece.

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Be Brave and Take Artistic Risks

When Lin-Manual Miranda told President Obama he would be rapping about Alexander Hamilton at a White House dinner, President Obama said:

“Good luck with that.”

Because seriously who in there right mind would rap about Alexander Hamilton. Who would write an entire musical about boring American history? Lin-Manual saw something that the rest of us didn’t. He was brave enough to stick to his vision and bring Hamilton to life.

As an artist, you should challenge your audience. You should push the envelope. If no one around you understands what you are trying to do then you might be on to something. Lin-Manual took a crazy idea and made it his own and in turn made the world a bit richer than before.

Needless to say, Mr. and Mrs. Obama were blown away by his performance. Check it out below:

Listen to Your GUT!

One of the great plagues of artists and filmmakers in doubt. They let that 7 pounds of gray matter in their head determine how they should proceed with a purely emotional and artistic endeavor. Art, stories, and music are not created in the brain, they are created by listening to your gut.

Art comes from “the gut.” You need to feel the story in your gut, in your soul. Does it ring true to your ear? Once the story is out then your brain comes in to help with structure, casting, marketing, production, etc. Listen to yourself!

I can’t tell you how many time I  wished I would’ve listened to my gut and not my head. Listen to yourself! Trust yourself.

Watch this amazing documentary on the creation of Hamilton the Musical and see how Lin-Manual created his crazy art:

Challenge Yourself

Why are we here on this earth? To work a 40 hour week, pay rent and wait to die? No! You are a filmmaker. A very powerful artist using probably the most influential artistic medium known to man. As a filmmaker you need to challenge yourself, this is the only way you grow as an artist.

Lin-Manual was on the top of the world with his hit Broadway Musical In the Heights. But he didn’t stand still. He decided to challenge himself so he wrote Hamilton, which took him years to complete.

Even after the success of Hamilton, Lin-Manual took on a new challenge, composing songs for the Disney Animated Hit Moana. The man does not sleep and neither should you. I challenge you to get this song out of your head.

If you study a filmmaker like James Cameron, his films get bigger and more challenging every time out. This is a man who never has to work a day in his life again. He has created the #1 and the #2 biggest box office films of all time.

After Titanic, he literally needed to take 8 years off to figure out what he could do next to challenge himself again. So what did he come up with Avatar. Now he’s planning four Avatar films back to back. You need to figure out how to do this for your own journey.

Challenge yourself guys! Take a listen to this week’s episode. I hope it inspires you. Also if you haven’t had a chance yet to see Hamilton, do yourself a favor and get tickets when it comes to your city. It’ll change your life =)

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