How To Brand Yourself As A Filmmaker Part 2

How To Brand Yourself As A Filmmaker (Part 2) – Visual Branding
By filmmaker and graphic designer, Ela Gancarz

Your visual style is usually the first thing noticed and remembered by the audience. Good design is a key competitive factor and a powerful tool in today’s business world. Do you know how to use it for your personal brand?

Visual branding is a unique “alphabet” of design elements (colors, shapes, fonts etc.) used to identify a company or a product and to communicate its qualities, values and “personality”. In the earlier article, we’ve outlined ways to find a cohesive, clear brand identity. Taking this into consideration, now you can start to build your visual brand.

First of all, you need to create your style guide. The goal is to find a consistent and cohesive picture of your brand. Be sure to choose well all the elements:

FONTS – Choose two or three fonts for your texts. In case of a movie title, you can use a customized font that will become a logo for your movie. Take a look at some famous examples:

COLORS – Corporate colors have always been strong signals. But remember, you need to choose only one or two colors that will become a consistent associative element for your visual branding. The world’s biggest brands usually use only ONE color, for example: Starbucks –green; Coca-Cola-red, Facebook-blue, Nikon-yellow.

COMPOSITION – If the set of colors and fonts is not sufficient, you can try to find a particular style for your graphic compositions. Unfortunately, what’s effective for a movie poster, may not work for a web page! However, you can always find something that will give a consistent direction in your graphic choices.  For example, decide if you want your style to be asymmetric and dynamic or static? Multi-layered or very straight forward?

Although your visual style has to present the company’s identity, it should never over-communicate! Try to keep it simple. And make sure that the graphic elements are cohesive and included on ALL company materials. Your visual branding is a long-term creative solution that should be applied consequently in all forms of brand communications (websites, business cards, advertising etc.) Visual brand language is a key ingredient necessary to make your strategy authentic and convincing. With a set of simple durable rules you will keep control of your image!

How To Brand Yourself As A Filmmaker

How To Brand Yourself As A Filmmaker (Part 1)
By filmmaker and graphic designer, Ela Gancarz

Everyone’s talking about personal branding these days, but not everyone understands what it does and why it’s important. As a filmmaker, you might be thinking to yourself, “do I really have to care about my brand?” In today’s Internet focused world, personal branding is no longer reserved solely for celebrities.

If you’ve been using social media or your website, you have probably already developed a brand!

A personal brand is the entire perception of a person. It’s all about who you are and what you want to be known for. It refers to the way other people see you. A ‘personal brand’ is in many cases synonymous with your reputation. It’s so much more than a simple logo!

As a filmmaker, you can use personal branding to build trust with your target audience. When people readily know you and they associate your brand with your face, it will be much easier to raise money for a new production or to sell your movie.

If you’d like make your personal brand stronger or to create a new one, you need to set goals for your public image. Your first task is to find your brand identity and develop a style guide. Here are three essential steps to do this:

Step One: Your Identity.

First of all you should ask yourself a few questions to find your personal brand identity. For example: what words would you use to describe yourself? What do people usually say about you? What makes you different from everyone else? What kind of films do you like? What do you want others to think of you? Then write down your answers.

Step Two: Your Audience.

Your personal brand is not only built from your thoughts but also from reactions of other people. That’s why you should determine the audience you want to target. Once you have established a niche, it’s important to reflect what those people want or expect from you. Write down your thoughts.

Step Three: Your Style.

Now, compare two lists and identify some qualities that you want others to associate with your brand. Remember that personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. After figuring out your brand attributes, try to match a corresponding style. It can be expressed visually with a logo, colors, forms, images (I’ll give more details about that in another post) or in the way you act or talk. Think about your personal brand each time you interact with someone.

Your style should be:

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  • Simple and memorable. Your personal brand has to communicate clearly who you are. People will remember only a few things about you so focus only on elements that really contribute something to your brand.
  • Unique. Your style should be distinctive and unique. But you don’t need to sit down and study how to be different! You ARE special! Try to take your life as the basis of your expertise.
  • Modern. Keep your brand modern, fresh and actual. It should always feel inspiring to you and to your audience.
  • Personal. Try to be yourself – it is your PERSONAL brand. Stand strongly behind it. Don’t apologize for it. And don’t be afraid to speak your mind!

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Finally having your personal brand identity, you need to apply it consistently across many activities. Create a website or blog, participate in social media. Whether you like it or not, the world is turning digital at very fast pace and you need to manage your reputation, both online and in real life.

Remember that your personal brand may add value to each new product, film or campaign you create. People will follow your brand from project to project but only if they feel connected and attracted to it. It’s time to take control of all those impressions!

How To Break Down and Schedule Your No-Budget Movie

If you’re a first time feature filmmaker, you do not need a gazillion dollars to join the feature club. But you will need to learn how to replace money with ginormous creatively. And once your screenplay is complete, then the next step in the filmmaking process is your initial breakdown and schedule.

Breaking down the script means you go through your screenplay, number each scene and highlight each element, including locations, characters, props, make up, wardrobe, picture vehicles and special FX…

All of these things cost money. And once the script is locked, any modification you make to the story or schedule, no matter how minor or major, will subsequently impact the budget.

My producer friend Forrest Murray always says the script, schedule and budget are the same document. You’ll need all three to make a movie… But in the process, if you change one document, you’re actually changing all three.

I’ll chat about this some more later. For today, let’s focus on your initial schedule so you can eventually get to your budget.

Schedule Your Movie And Save

1.After you highlight each element, you’ll want to figure out when you want to shoot your movie and how long you plan to shoot.

2.You can determine this by choosing how many pages you want to shoot per day. Then you can decide if you want to shoot 5 days on and 2 days off, or 6 days on and 1 day off. Or maybe you want to shoot your movie over a few weekends.

3.Everything in the script will impact your budget. There is software for this. Final Draft offers an add-on called Tagger. Tagger allows you to go through the script and pick out elements and highlight them in various colors. Once all elements are selected, you can eventually import this list into your budget and schedule software program.

4.After giving this your best effort, if you still feel stuck, seek expert advice.

5.Eventually, these elements will have a price in your initial budget. What is the price of each element? How much does your movie cost?

Many motion picture professionals make a living just breaking down, scheduling and budgeting movies. So it’s a pretty complicated and creative area. As a first time feature filmmaker, it save you many headaches if you partner with an seasoned 1st AD or Line Producer who could guide you through the process.

If this is not possible for you, I suggest reading every article on the subject as well as watching every YouTube video. This will teach you how to think like a cost conscious, responsible producer.

Regardless of your decision to complete your own breakdown or hire someone else for the job, the reason you’ll need an initial schedule is because this will give you a good starting point… You’ll utilize this information to figure out your budget. You’ll also be able to figure out if you need to cut an element or two, or not.

Cut Your Budget

Once you have your initial schedule, (and assuming this is your first feature), I suggest you create a budget for your movie in the neighborhood of $500K. Before you go crazy thinking this is a lot of money (or a little money), I want you to know you don’t actually have to spend $500K in hard cash to meet the needs of your budget.

In fact, once you determine you’ll make your movie at $500K, you are going to spend the next few weeks working backwards to see how much hard cash you can replace with sweat equity, discounts and favors from friends and family. Why $500K? Because if you actually have the elements budgeted, there is a good chance your movie will look better than if you budgeted for a mere $50K.

The reason for this is mostly psychological. By setting your budget at 500K, you’re going to start out with goal that forces you to get a higher production value than if you simply settled for pocket cash.

Later, with the application of tremendous creativity, it will be possible to reduce a $500K budget after discounts, free food, locations and salary adjustments quite significantly.

Do you have friends who own locations you can utilize for free? Do you have access to discounted equipment? Can you finish your movie faster than scheduled?

Do you have a friend with an edit suite?

Can you shoot some scenes outside during the day to reduce the need for extra lights? Can you find free food for your cast and crew? These are just some of the ways you can reduce that $500K budget.

One of my buddies was able to do this on the cheap. He had a location budgeted for $5K. However, after my buddy spoke with the owner of the location, the fee was reduced to zero. How? My buddy (a creative producer) agreed to shoot a promo for the owner’s business. Another filmmaker friend got free food for his entire shoot simply by asking.

The food supplier was thanked in the credits.

Deals like this happen. But it takes creativity to find opportunity. Here are some questions to ask:

How much money do I have?
How can I reduce expenses?
Can I get free food?
Who do I know who has the location I’m looking for?
How much money will I need?

The other reason you want to keep your first feature budget low is to allow greater opportunity for return. In the event you get a standard distribution deal (which is becoming more and more rare), your movie should look expensive.

If your budget is $500K and the movie looks like $500K, but you only spent $50K or $30K $15K in ultra-low-budget hard cash, and someone pays you back your budget, then you just made a crazy profit!

Nice work.

And in the event you do not get a standard distribution deal, then you’re not quite as deep in the financial hole as you otherwise would be.