How to Break Into The Film Industry

If you’re wondering how to break into the film industry, you’re not alone. Nearly every successful filmmaker has started from nowhere. The problem is, there is a big catch 22 in the industry.

Unless you’re known, nobody will take your calls or read your screenplays or produce your ideas. And unless you get your work produced, it is really tough to become “know.”

When I first started, I did what you’re doing. I sent out countless query letters. I gave my screenplay to friends of friends of friends who knew (or at least claimed to) know someone in the film industry. I checked my email and mail frequently… And guess what happened?

Nothing happened.

Sure, I got the occasional rejection letter which sometimes included feedback. But most times, I sent work into the Hollywood abyss. That was pretty much the end of it. And as I type these words, I cringe at the experience. I sincerely dislike asking permission.

The turning point for me came when I realized the secret on how to break into the film industry. And I guarantee you will probably not like what I’m about to share… Because this secret is only for the most serious filmmakers. Are you ready?

How To Break Into The Film Industry

Photo © Tarikh Jumeer / Dollar Photo Club

How to Break Into The Film Industry

If you are wondering how to break into the film industry, the secret is simply:

>> You need to stop asking permission.

Seriously. You need to stop sending query letters. You need to stop hoping that someone will notice your brilliance and your talent. And above all, you need to quit relying on someone else to do the heavy lifting for your career.

Instead, you need to become your own production company. And you need to focus first on the movie you can make this year.

“Given the resources that you have right now, what is the movie you can make this year?”

For some of you, that means you’ll only be able to make a two minute movie for YouTube. That is okay. Make that movie.

For other filmmakers, answering this question means that you’ll have to put your twenty-million dollar blockbuster script in a drawer and make that low budget horror movie you’ve been thinking about.

By doing this, something amazing will happen.

You will stop waiting around for everything to be perfect. You will take action. And  as a result, you will gain the confidence that comes from doing. And ironically (and I don’t fully understand why the universe works this way) – As soon as you stop focusing on how to break into the film industry, and you start doing the work, you will start breaking into the film industry.

If you need more inspiration, I suggest you check out these filmmaking resources.

Future filmmaking BOOK Coming Soon!

For those of you following filmmaking stuff, you know that I have been working on an awesome and comprehensive filmmaking book for quite some time.

I am pleased to announce that the filmmaking book is almost complete. (Update – the book is complete and available here.)

One of the biggest challenges I had was coming up with a title. Thankfully one of our Filmmaking Stuff readers wrote me on the Filmmaking Stuff facebook wall: “How about: Filmmaking Stuff-The Book.”

While the idea seemed simple, the more I thought about it – the more I realized this was the correct course of action! First of all, most of you know me (or you do now) and secondly, if you didn’t know about Filmmaking Stuff, after reading the book you will. I look at this as a win-win for our growing community.

The next step was coming up with a synopsis. I had something written down, but my friend, screenwriter Jurgen Wolff took my crappy writing and cleaned it up a bit. As a result, the following sums up the book pretty well:

“The future of filmmaking is not Hollywood. It’s the thousands of independent filmmakers empowered by the digital revolution. This book shows them how to write the script, use crowdfunding to raise the money, make the journey from screenplay to screen, distribute the movie, and build an audience anxious to see their next one.”

Once I had the content, the title and the synopsis, the next task was creating a preliminary cover design. For this, I chose the famed graphic artist, Ian Hannin.

As a sneak peek, I have included the current iteration of our cover design. You can tell that the cover is based on the aesthetics of the filmmaking stuff site – which is intentional brand consistency.

Right now I am awaiting some quotes from some VIP filmmaker types. I have reached out the usual suspects. And I am eager to get this book into YOUR hands.

With that said, the book is almost ready for the presses. I will initially release it as a hard cover book that you can order through Amazon and other retailers.

Then later, you will be able to grab a copy on your kindle. If you want to be the first to know about the book, make sure you sign up for the Filmmaking Stuff mailing list.

Anyway, happy filmmaking!

(Super excited to get this Filmmaking Book into YOUR hands!)




How To Design A DVD Cover

I know what you’re thinking – Why is this filmmaking, modern moviemaking advocate of internet VOD distribution talking to you about how to design a DVD cover?


Regardless of distribution technology, your audience still values the visual representation of your movie as a tangible product. And in ways akin to marketing an eBook via Amazon Kindle, you still need a killer design to represent your movie.

To help explain this further, I reached out to my buddy Ian Hannin. If the name sounds familiar, it means you probably read popular comic books. Over the past decade, Ian is responsible for coloring some of the most popular comic books in existence for Marvel Comics and DC Comics.

But in addition to Ian Hannin’s comic book coloring experience, he also designs movie marketing materials, such as movie posters, virtual covers, DVD covers and the actual artwork that goes on a DVD disc to make it look pro.

Jason Brubaker
How important is having good movie art for filmmakers?

Ian Hannin
People judge a book by the cover. Same with DVD or virtual DVD. You need to have high end, awesome illustration.

Jason Brubaker
What components of movie marketing art are most important?

Ian Hannin
Make sure the design complements the subject matter and tone of the movie. A lot of filmmakers fail to think about their target audience when designing movie marketing collateral.

Jason Brubaker
What’s the biggest mistake filmmakers make in their design?

Ian Hannin
The craftsmanship of the DVD cover often leaves a lot to be desired. In the popular marketplaces, such as Amazon and iTunes, your movie will be competing for virtual shelf space with expensive studio titles. Your job is to create high resolution, easy to read and enticing movie marketing materials… Does the movie artwork draw you in and make you want to see the movie?

Jason Brubaker
A lot of filmmakers try to do this themselves. What is your advice there?

Ian Hannin
If you have someone in your team good at graphic art, awesome. Just make sure your art complements the movie and helps you attract your target audience. But if you don’t have a good guy on your team, you can always email me. Maybe I know someone.

Jason Brubaker
You mean like you?

Ian Hannin
Maybe. HaHa!

Jason Brubaker
How can filmmakers hire you?

Ian Hannin
Go to and contact me through the contact page.

Jason Brubaker
How much do you charge?

Ian Hannin
Depends on the package. Just email me at Let me know what you’re looking for.

Jason Brubaker
Thanks for stopping by Filmmaking Stuff!

Ian Hannin
Thanks. Happy to help filmmakers in need of art!

– – –
Next time you need to make your filmmaking stuff look awesome, reach out to Ian Hannin and see if he can help you. Oh, also, in full disclosure, I am friends with Ian. He will probably buy me a burrito for any business I throw his way.

Happy Filmmaking!

Filmmaking Articles

If you’re looking for filmmaking articles, please let us know. Our goal at Filmmaking Stuff is to provide a comprehensive overview of the filmmaking process. So far, the website provides filmmaking articles that cover the spectrum for independent filmmakers. Have a look around. We welcome your feedback. Please let us know what kind of fimmaking articles you would like to read – and we will be sure to include them!