The 5 Immutable Laws of Successful Filmmaking

As an independent filmmaker, the prospect of putting together a project and creating something awesome out of an idea really gets us going. Serious indie filmmakers stop at noting until the movie is actually in the can – or these days – in your hard drive.

Still if you’ve been working to make movies for any length of time, you know there are days when you hit obstacles, sometimes so seemingly insurmountable that you just want to give up on your project.

Here are five tips to help keep you on the path to successful filmmaking.

Successful Filmmaking

The 5 Immutable Laws of Successful Filmmaking

  1. Remember Perspective – You’re not performing brain surgery. You’re attempting to make a movie. This is a fun business. This is a privilege.
  2. Facing Rejection – Always ask WHY? Sometimes your pitch is perfect, but your audience is wrong. Make sure you’re talking to people who are actually interested in your type of project.
  3. Break down BIG goals – Setting out to make your version of impossible, possible can be overwhelming. It is important to break all of your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks
  4. Missing Personal Deadlines – It happens. Sometimes people cry. I suggest you simply change your deadline.
  5. Your Peer Group – If you surround yourself with negative losers, you lose. Make it an ongoing habit to always surround yourself with winners.

If you like these bite sized filmmaking tips, you’ll love our Filmmaker Checklist.

How To Generate Movie Ideas That Sell

A few weeks back I was at my dentist. We got to talking about movie ideas. And she immediately started telling me about some story she’s been writing for close to a decade.

That wouldn’t be too bad, except I’m paying her to drill my teeth.

And her story sucks.

Well, let me clarify…

I didn’t actually read her screenplay. For all I know the execution could be fabulous. But in terms of finding a remarkable hook that would lead her (or a distributor) to fulfilling my seven si·ne qua non distribution tactics, there was nothing there.

Nothing memorable. Nothing remarkable. And nothing exciting…

I recommended that she hire an A-List movie star and call it a day.

(That is what I call generic advice for generic movie ideas.)

As a filmmaker your success depends on your ability to produce and pitch movie ideas that sell. A good movie idea is memorable. It makes people raise an eyebrow and respond, “that’s interesting!” And it’s the sort of thing people remember long after you left the conversation.

From a business perspective, great movie ideas have a clearly defined target audience. If you can’t define your audience, you’ve either never thought about creating movie ideas that sell… Or you’re pretending that everybody on earth is your audience.

If that’s your situation, allow me to share a saying that applies to your movie business:

“Everybody is nobody. It’s niches will make you riches.”

movie ideas

Movie Ideas That Sell

The first step to planning your movie and finding your niche begins with brainstorming a few movie ideas. Write down a list of at least a dozen movie concepts that seem interesting to you. From there, pick the most appealing idea.

Keep in mind that getting your movie made, seen and selling is not a fast process. So in addition to creating marketable concept, you have to love your material. If you cannot have fun with your story, then why make the movie?

Once you focus on a concept, distill your movie into one concise sentence known as a log-line.

For example, let’s say your movie is described as “Zombies attack people.” Obviously this is a very succinct log-line, but it lacks the necessary detail to make your movie memorable. So your next job is to incorporate some flavorful elements back into your log-line.

Here is the same example with added detail: “Zombies attack a camp for the mentally challenged.”

While socially inappropriate, the extra detail adds sizzle to the description.

This will help you in two ways. Firstly, a unique description makes it easy for your audience to immediately understand how your movie differs from all the other movies in the genre. And secondly, from a marketing perspective, the words “zombies,” “zombies attack,” and “zombie movies” will help you to refine target your core audience.

Later, these targeted keywords will help you jump-start your internet search engine optimization campaign.

If you like these filmmaking tips, you’ll love my Sell Your Movie System.


Register For My FREE Filmmaker Newsletter

Dear Filmmaker,

I have created an awesome filmmaker eCourse that is delivered directly to your inbox.

And if you’re just getting to know me, check out what some other filmmakers are saying:

I just really wanted to express my gratitude for your articles. You said something in one of your articles that has become a sort of mantra of mine. It is such a simple idea but I swear it can move mountains.

The idea to not wait for somebody else’s permission to make your movie.

I have made my fair share of excuses to not get out there and shoot my film. Not having the right camera, lack of expensive locations, no money. I constantly focused on what I didn’t have while constantly looking over what I did have at my disposal. Your words have helped me realize that the only real thing standing in my way was fear. Fear of moving, fear of failure, perhaps fear of success.

Now I can finally add the most important thing to my list of things that I DO have: no excuse. No excuse not to do what I’ve always wanted to do. Thank you again so much for writing these articles and thank you for getting filmmakers to realize that the only real thing standing in their way is themselves.

I hope you have a great day.

-Mia Kiddo

If you’re looking for an eCourse For Filmmakers – you’ve come to the right place.

Introducing the Filmmaking Stuff, filmmaker eCourse.

Packed with modern moviemaking tips and resources, you are bound to get at least one great filmmaking tip you can apply to your life.

Make this coming year, YOUR year for making movies!

Filmmaking Podcasts

As a filmmaker, your time should be spent making movies or thinking about your next movie. And while this is ideal, it’s not practical. Outside of the creative process, each of us has obligations to family, our community and possibly a day job. If you do not watch it, these other obligations will consume your life and you will never make movies.

Day to day, I spend a lot of time in my car. I would venture to guess that you spend a lot of time in your car too. So I’m going to offer you a piece of advice that has worked well in helping me get closer to my filmmaking goals. Unlike a lot of filmmakers who listen to news and music, I spend my time listening to educational audiobooks and podcasts.

In my personal and very biased opinion, there are not a whole lot of good filmmaking podcasts available. So I decided to improve this and create a podcast so you can enjoy Filmmaking Stuff wherever you go. While I’m not sure how the Filmmaking Stuff Podcast will evolve, I will do my best to provide you with useful filmmaking tips and strategies.

Please feel free to subscribe to the official Filmmaking Stuff Podcast by clicking here.

Filmmaking Tips For Beginners

In this guest filmmaking article, producer Susan Ngozi Nwokedi provides Filmmaking Tips For Beginners.

Growing up in Nigeria, I remember watching movies and wondering how could I be one of the actors in the film or how could I make movies like the one I was watching. My desire to work in entertainment stayed with me for years. And luckily, it wasn’t long before I moved to Houston, Texas with my family.

Living in the United States fused my hunger for filmmaking because of the availability of many TV channels and 24 hour programming.

In high school, my childhood fantasy became reality when I got an opportunity to work as a featured extra in some Hollywood films that came to Houston. The opportunity to be in these films allowed me see what actors and filmmakers went through to make and be in films. From there, I went from acting to producing and writing.

I wanted to attend film school. But because I had a family to support, I was unable to do so. So I did the next best thing – I attended a local college and took all the film and communication classes I could get my hands on.

During this time, I produced some short films in collaboration with other students. I also networked and got to know some people in the industry who were working as adjunct professors. I also met people I watched on TV regularly, like Lois Childs, the former 007 Bond’s Girl. She told me “Susan” you have what it takes to make it in this industry. “You will go far, just stick with it and don’t give up.”

Although I have not yet produced my blockbuster, I feel I am well on my way. I am one of the most sought after producers in my local Houston film community. Additionally, I was able to revisit Africa and complete my most recent film “12 Noon” in Abuja Nigeria in August, utilizing some of the most popular A-List actors in Nollywood, the second largest film market of the world. My other movie, “Mind of the Enemy” shot last year and completed this summer premiered in Abuja and is set for a theatrical premier event in Houston, Texas in November.

I asked Jason if I could share some advice for those of you wanting to venture into filmmaking, acting or writing. And my advice is this: Work towards your vision and never give up. Make sure this is your passion… You have to love it. When taking on a project, set goals and plan because good planning has a lot to do with your success. Also, always have a marketing strategy! I wish somebody told me about marketing strategy because I learned the hard way. And Finally, collaboration is good but be sure of who you are collaborating with.

Like minds always work better together!

Happy Filmmaking.

– – –
With over 15 years of experience in both the Nollywood and Hollywood film and entertainment industrys, Susan Ngozi Nwokedi is the Founder and CEO of TopLine Production and Entertainment, Co., and its international affiliate, TopLine Global International Mega Links, Ltd. (“TopLine”) is a full house production and entertainment company based in Houston Texas and Nigeria.