How To Grow Your Filmmaking Network

A filmmaker is also a leader. Your film will succeed or fail based on the strength of your team. And while it is great to know a little bit about a lot, it is impossible that you will be good in everything. Your goal as a filmmaker is to gain clarity on your strengths and understand your weaknesses. You must have the confidence to strengthen your weaknesses with talented collaborators.

Like you,  I come from a small town. And when I first started telling people that I wanted to make movies, many looked at me like I was crazy. Nobody knew anybody from Hollywood. Hollywood felt like an impenetrable kingdom. When you come from this type of background, it is easy to believe that you will never make it as a filmmaker.

To make matters worse, I had no money. I mean, I had a job selling garbage disposals that helped me pay bills. But doing that job made me feel like Hollywood was a gazillion miles away. To fight my depression, I spent most nights bowling, drinking beer and getting fat. And my dreams of making movies were beginning to fade.

All of this changed when I realized there was a bunch of small market video companies in my hometown. While not making the next Hollywood blockbuster, these people videotaped weddings, industrial videos and television commercials. I thought that type of work might be better than selling garbage disposals. So I picked up the yellow pages and started calling these production houses. Out of the ten calls, all of the production companies rejected me, except one.

They gave me a job fetching coffee and scrubbing toilets. At least it was something.

In the months to follow, I met a bunch of people who shared similar passion. I found out my town had a small filmmaker community. And these creative folks got together on the weekends and made backyard indies. So I started helping out on these projects. From there, I got to know more people – Which helped me create my own team of trusted collaborators.

(This eventually led to my first job in New York City – You can read the rest of my filmmaking story here.)

Create Your Team

Once you create a team, your next goal is to test your team on short projects. Completing short movies with your team allows you to determine whom you can work with and whom you cannot. While there is a time for disagreement and heated debate, it is never during production.

How To Grow Your Filmmaking Network

  1. Give before you expect to receive. The universe works this way. I don’t question it.
  2. Be honest in all dealings.
  3. If you say you will be there, show up early. Being on-time is late.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
  5. If you don’t ask for favors, you don’t get favors.

The way people collaborate on a short film is telling. If somebody does or says something that goes against your values on a short project, they will repeat this behavior on bigger projects. Make sure you surround yourself with good people. Life (and filmmaking) is too short to spend with idiots. Work with people who play nice in the sandbox. Otherwise your chances of success are diminished.

If you would like to find out some tips on how to network and meet rich people, my film financing package might be worth the research. It is designed specifically to show how to grow your filmmaking network.

Fighting The Urge To Quit Filmmaking

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...

Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever fight the urge to quit filmmaking? Here is my story:

Picture this! You leave your small town and move to New York City so you could go after your filmmaking dreams.

Because you don’t have much money, you rent the edge of some dude’s cockroach infested kitchen floor – sleeping on an inflatable air mattress.

It gets better.

You start working with an indie producer and things are going well… You are moving towards the realization of your filmmaking dreams!

Then your college girlfriend (who is presently living in another town) decides to get a new boyfriend – without telling you! Then on Monday you go into work, only to find out that the movie project fell apart. You are now unemployed.

And now you’re looking at the last few dollars in your bank account, wondering what’s next…  How do you pay rent?

I am not sure if this sounds like a comedy. But it’s not fiction. I actually described my time in New York City. And believe me, when that stuff was happening – I was NOT thinking about making movies.

I was worried about survival.

The reason I share this is to remind you that all filmmakers are human. And even the most successful filmmakers have probably thought about quitting from time to time. But they didn’t.

Is the price of seeing your movie on the big screen is worth the headaches?

I wish I could answer this question for you. But I can’t. Only you can decide if you should continue fighting the urge to quit filmmaking.

 

Get some FU Money

Credit cards

Debt sucks Filmmakers Dry Image via Wikipedia

As a filmmaker, having FU money makes it easy to take chances that may result in the successful realization of your movie dreams. But with high debt and no FU money, you may find yourself at a severe disadvantage.

My first credit card purchase was in college. I used plastic to pay rent for a semester. Then I purchased a Star Wars poster from one of those late night shopping channels. Then I bought a pizza and a case of beer. After that…

Ten years later, I carried a revolving $5,000 balance. Sometimes I got lucky and paid it down. Once, I even paid it off in full. But like a failed diet, after a couple months, I found myself right smack back where I was before—and sometimes I was even worse off!

Why was I doing this?

After talking with some of my friends who were free of credit card debt, I soon realized people get into debt for the following reasons:

  • Most people spend more than they make.
  • Most people identify themselves as people in debt.

After giving my debt addiction considerable thought, I realized my external debt was actually a reflection of my internal beliefs. In other words, somewhere in my mind, I identified myself as someone in debt.

This was reflected in my everyday conversations about money. I would say things like: “I have debt.” Or, “I’m in debt.” Or, “I have $5,000 in debt.” Talking like this only served to reinforce my debt-burdened identity. As a result, I continued to swipe plastic over and over.

Your peer group will influence your success in life. Once I moved to Hollywood, I dated a woman who made less money than me, yet always seemed to have money and lived debt free. Hanging out with her changed my beliefs about debt. I started to think debt was unacceptable. I realized I too could live debt free. Then I stopped using my credit cards and began a plan of recovery.

It may take you a week or ten years, but if you want to become powerful in Hollywood and make a living making movies, you need to eradicate your credit card debt. To achieve this, you must first change your words; which will change your thoughts; which will change your beliefs; which will eventually change your actions; which will subsequently change your bank balance!

My personal debt reduction tid-bits:

  1. Hang out with people who are debt free.
  2. Freeze your credit card in a block of ice and don’t use it.
  3. Talk about yourself as if you already live debt free.

In addition to the above action steps, starting TODAY, even if it sounds like a lot of BS, repeat the following mantra every morning until you believe your words:

  1. I have lots of money saved up.
  2. Using credit cards kills my dreams.
  3. I pay myself first.

Remember, the faster you break your credit card addiction, the faster you free yourself up to make movies.

So let me give you one tip – STOP USING YOUR CREDIT CARD! In this way, at least you won’t continually make your debt worse. And once you break the cycle of using your credit card, you can start shift your strategy towards debt repayment and also, the accumulation of FU money.

Push To Meet Filmmaking Deadlines

As a filmmaker, sooner or later the realization hits you that the key to dreams is internal, not external. I’m not trying to sound like a space cadet telling you this. But if you’ve been pushing your filmmaking career for any length of time, and you’ve actually made a movie – even a short movie, then you know that whatever you once perceived as your limitations are behind you.

Think back to the person you were a decade ago. Would that person be reading these words?

Now with a few weeks into the new year, many would-be filmmakers who promised themselves they would be more – many have already made excuses as to why this year won’t be the year of the feature.

But many other filmmakers, especially YOU must make this your best year. It’s your obligation to the community.

Come on. Take action! The world is waiting for you…

Filmmaking Tip: How to make it in Hollywood.

The Lumiere brothers

Filmmakers with a strong vision for what they want can make it. Image via Wikipedia

Making movies is both awesome and incredibly challenging. And becoming a professional filmmaker requires a certain amount of dedication that is easy to talk about – but not always easy to live by.

In my filmmaking career, I’ve experienced heartache as well as the surreal, super exciting moments that come when people get to know me and my work. Making stories and building an audience that supports our work is the reason we do what we do.

But in order to get from point A to point B, it is essential that you create a clear and exciting vision for your filmmaking future… Because (believe me) you’ll need something exciting to focus on, should things get challenging…

… And as a filmmaker, things always get challenging.

I have known many people who started out their filmmaking careers with all the movie making passion, energy and enthusiasm in the world, only to drop their dreams at the first sign of trouble. Other friends have disappeared without ever making a movie. And one of my friends went crazy, stole a bunch of money from his filmmaking team and left town.

Why? Because creating a dream for yourself and paying the price, (no matter how hard) to realize your potential –  that’s the tough part.

I’m serious about this. Making a career making movies is a long term game. It won’t happen over night. In fact, success probably won’t find you on your first feature or your second feature film. So you have to get tough.

Here is a strategy worth applying to your own life: One of the mental attributes that all successful people share in common is a never ending ability to keep their eye on the prize. And if you’re looking for the secret formula for all your filmmaking success, it is this: patience plus unyielding persistence in a face of adversity will get you through a tough spot. NEVER give up!

GOALS

Here is what separates the professional filmmaker from the horde of crybabies.  They have goals. And you should too. And I’m not just talking general stuff, like “Hey, I want to make movies and get rich and all the crap.” Who doesn’t (on some level) want the things that sort of lifestyle offers?

But what I’m asking you to do today, dear filmmaker is to set very specific goals for your filmmaking future.

What does your ideal future look like?

In order to create meaningful success in both your filmmaking career and your life, you MUST get a clear idea of what you want. This will involve not just setting goals for yourself, but actually taking out a pen and writing them down.

The following actions will help you hone in your movie ideas, your money ideas and also help you paint a picture of the wonderful life you want to live:

ACTIONS

  1. Take out some paper and write down three ideas for movies you want to make in your lifetime.
  2. How much money would you like to have?
  3. How much money do you have now?
  4. What will you do to get the money you need?
  5. The people you hang out with will influence your success. Are you hanging out with people who share your vision? Or, are you hanging out with negative people?

After this, you’ll get a pretty good idea of where you are and where you want to go. From there, you can begin to take steps in your desired direction.

Here is an affiliate recommendation. A few years back, I stumbled upon the following audio program and even though it talks about general goal setting, I totally thought it was a great tool for helping me refine my own filmmaking goals: Master Strategies for Higher Achievement: Set Your Goals and Reach Them – Fast! (Your Coach in a Box)

I don’t know if I’m hitting a nerve with you or not. But long before I made my first money making movies, I can remember driving around my small home town dreaming of a time when I would not only have a few features under my belt, but I also dreamed of a time that I could share my experience with you.

If you find yourself faced with filmmaking self doubt, you’re not alone. The important part is that you at least get a picture of what you want that is very specific. Then you should take time to work backwards. And who knows, maybe a decade from now we will be working on movie projects together.