Martha Goddard’s Top Directing Tips

Martha Goddard Martha Goddard

Martha is a tutor for AFTRS Open filmmaking courses. Martha has directed commercials, documentaries and 6 short films, screening at over thirty film festivals. Martha has completed her Masters with AFTRS.

Martha's tips as of 23 September - subject to change on a regular basics!

1. Make a film you’d love to watch. It’s important to be passionate about the story you’re telling and interested in the way you’re telling it. You’re your first audience.

2. Take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. It’s the only way to really learn. Embrace the fact that you’re starting out and be playful. Failure is a badge of honour; it means you risked failure, (I stole that last line from Charlie Kauffman).

3. Listen and collaborate with the people around you, it’s your job to spot good ideas and use them. They don’t all have to be yours.

4. Push your own boundaries, whatever they may be. Try something new. It gives you something to write about.

5. Write often. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, you’re a storyteller and writing is great practice. Write about yourself, the people around you, the people you stare at in the coffee shop, the people you meet while pushing those boundaries, (re #4).

6. Write for your resources. Make a long list of every potential, unique place/person/thing you have access to and write a story around it. This will make your life infinitely easier when it comes to the making part.

7. Find like-minded people just as crazy as you and team up, support each other and make as many films as you can together. (Combine lists, re #6)

8. When you’re starting out, make something simple, well. Avoid making something overly ambitious at great compromise. This is hard won advice.

9. Be adaptable. Forensically plan before the shoot, then on the day relax, let go and roll with whatever happens. Stuff you didn’t plan will happen and it’s usually a good thing.

If you would like to hear more from Martha Goddard check out The Three Week Film School.


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.