Filmmaking

At Filmmaking Stuff, we are dedicated to providing filmmaking articles related to production, production equipment (cameras, lighting, audio), film scheduling, budgeting, casting and directing. From time to time, we will also include articles from guest filmmakers. We have provided the following ideas and filmmaking tips so that you can take action and make your movie.

The 5 Laws For Hollywood Success

Making a living in the movie biz is challenging. And frankly, garnering Hollywood success gets a lot more challenging when you screw people over. And while what I’m about to share is totally fictional, I can tell you that these types of things happen more than you know:

Dear Jason,

I’m very sorry. I know you’ve been calling about the money we owe you for your totally wonderful (and very valuable) film distribution system. So far, we put your tips to practice and we’ve been seeing great results.

As a result (as you can imagine), we have been incredibly busy! We recently upgraded our editing suite (you should come over and check out our brand new facility – it’s awesome!) But anyway, I know we are a few months behind with those payments.

If it’s okay with you, maybe give us a call after the holiday (we are headed to Key West for the fourth of July. Have you been there? It’s amazing!) Anyway, I promise we can discuss payment. If it’s totally urgent, maybe we can just settle on half the money we previously agreed upon?

Anyway, I’m sure we can work it out.

Best,

MR. UNTRUSTWORTHY

Hollywood Success

Photo © zekabibr / Dollar Photo Club

 The 5 Laws For Hollywood Success

As mentioned, the above scenario is totally fictional. But this sort of thing happens. And whenever this happens, relationships end. Bridges get burnt. And Hollywood reputations get ruined.

Here are the 5 laws for Hollywood Success:

1. Don’t do business with people who you wouldn’t want to introduce to your mother.
2. Get everything (EVERYTHING) in writing. Even among friends. Especially among friends.
3. Always honor your word. If you make an honest mistake, work to rectify it immediately!
4. Plan for the best, but always ask yourself – what is the worst that can happen? Then plan for that!
5. Treat everyone with respect. The man fetching coffee today, controls the money tomorrow.

No matter what side of the deal you’re on (I assume you will be honorable in all your dealings) just be a good person. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it.

If you’d like more information on how to build your network so you can meet successful people, check out the indie producer’s guide to meeting rich and successful people..

How I Use The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

My name is Bojan Dulabic and I’m a filmmaker from Vancouver. I’m currently in the process of finishing my second feature film Project: Eugenics, which I shot mostly on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

In this article I’d like to talk about some of pros and cons, myths associate with this camera, how I used it to shoot a feature film and the post production workflow.

 Myths About The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

One of the biggest myths is that, even though the camera is called “pocket”, that it really is not, because once you start adding a rig, larger lenses and other accessories it becomes a very large camera. It is true that situations will dictate setups. But what most filmmakers don’t talk about is the fact that this camera can be used by itself with just the body and a lens.

I have used it many times on my shoot with just a bare bones setup. I wouldn’t shoot an entire film like this. But when you need to do a quick insert shot or a simple establishing shot with just the camera on a tripod, this little wonder shines.

In my current zombie flick, I needed some establishing shots of empty streets to create a bit of a creepy atmosphere. So one Sunday morning I got up early, took my camera and my Panasonic 14mm lens and a simple tripod and drove around looking for the right location.

After an hour of filming, I gathered enough establishing shots for the intro of the film. I didn’t need a second unit crew, any permits or anyone else for that matter. Don’t be afraid to use the camera just by itself, you’d be surprised at the quality it can produce.

Blackmagic Pocket

Pros Of The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

One of the things that blew me away about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is the fact that it shoots in ProRes HQ! ProRes HQ is a format you usually edit in. So for example, if you are shooting on a typical DSLR, which shoots in h.264, you would upconvert the footage to ProRes and then start editing. But any time you upconvert footage, you lose quality.

With the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, no conversion is needed. This gives you a great quality image. The amount of additional data you get with ProRes compared to h.264 gives you a lot more room to play with in terms of color grading. For example, one minute in h.264 will be about 200-400 mb, depending on the compression. That same minute in ProRes HQ will be about 1-2 GB.

That’s more than tripling the amount of data that you have to play with!

Camera RAW

If you want more flexibility and quality you can also shoot in Camera RAW. Camera RAW is an amazing format. It produces incredible footage and you have the ultimate control over color grading and adjusting for over or under exposed footage. Of course, as with any technology, everything has its limits and you should always try to get it right in camera but mistakes happen.

The fact that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera has the capability of shooting in ProRes HQ (and all the other flavors of ProRes) and is also capable of shooting in RAW, is simply amazing!

Price & Updates

The fact that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera only costs $1000 US (just the body) is an incredible deal. Another, perhaps more important fact is that Blackmagic is continuously providing updates for its users. In the eight months since I’ve had the camera, there have been four major updates. Initially, there was no histogram, audio meters and you couldn’t format the SD card in camera, all those things and more have been updated. I don’t know of any other camera manufacturer who provides this kind of a service for free.

Lenses

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a micro four thirds camera. This could be a problem if you don’t own any micro four thirds lenses, however, the good thing is that there are adapters that will fit virtually any lens out there. So, if you own a bunch of full frame lenses by Canon or Nikon, you will still be able to use those by purchasing an adapter.

Depending on the adapter you might be spending $500 or more. However, if you have lenses worth thousands of dollars, getting one lens adapter to fit all or most of them, is not bad at all. In my case I decided to get two micro four thirds lenses; the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, which I’m very pleased with.

Cons Of The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

The is the single biggest con on this camera is the lack of extensive battery life.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera comes with a small 800mAh battery, which is the Nikon en-el20. This battery will give you 30 to 40 minutes at the most. And from my experience, it could be even less. From this perspective, the stock battery is completely useless.

One option to combat the problem is getting new batteries. I ordered four 1800mAh batteries and I am hoping each will last for an hour. These batteries are very inexpensive.

Another option is to have an external battery, which I have as well. I bought a no name CCTV battery on eBay months ago, which lasts me for about 5 hours, when fully charged. I used this battery for most of my shoot. Only problem is that using the camera bare bones with an external battery can be challenging. My solution was to use a cellphone holder and mount it on top of the camera.

blackmagic pocket set up

For situations where I needed to use my rig I was able to fit it underneath the body. I used industrial strength velcro to secure the battery and that worked just fine.

blackmagic pocket camera

This is something you’ll have to think about and the solution will vary depending on your setup.

SD Cards

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera uses SD cards to record footage. Unlike other cameras by Blackmagic, due to the size of the camera body there is no room to slide in an SSD. On one hand, this is good because SD cards are much smaller and easier to carry. However, they are also much more expensive than SSDs.

Because you are shooting in ProPres and RAW you cannot use regular class 10 SD cards that you use in your DSLR. You have to buy cards with at least 80mbps speeds. Because of the speed limitations you will find that only a few card manufacturers work on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. This the fault of the card companies because a lot of times they mislabel their cards and what looks like an 80mbps card could be in fact 40mbps.

From personal experiences you can’t go wrong with SanDisk. As long as you get the right speed you will be fine. There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on which speed to get. For example, if you are shooting in ProRes and RAW in 24fps, you can use the SanDisk Extreme Plus 80mbps. However, if you are shooting in ProRes and RAW higher than 24fps you can only shoot in ProRes, if you use the SanDisk Extreme Plus 80mbps.

If you want to be able to shoot in RAW with, let’s say 30fps, you will need the SanDisk Extreme Pro 95mbps. This is important to know because the price difference between those two can add up.

I have seen a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Plus 80mbps for as low as $50 US. Where as the Extreme Pro 90mbps will be close to $100 US. When you compare that to an SSD drive, let’s say a 128 mb, which you can get for $50-$70 easily, things start to look different.

Also, the massive files that ProRes HQ and Camera RAW create will not give you much room to play with.

If I use any of my 64GB cards, I get about 44 minutes shooting 24fps in ProRes HQ. And I get about 33 minutes if I shoot in 30fps. If I shoot in RAW using 24fps, I usually get about 12 minutes and 9 minutes if I shoot using 30fps. Depending on your production you will need either one or two or more 128 GB SD cards, which can cost you an arm and leg, or several 64GB cards.

Crop Factor

Another thing to keep in mind is the crop factor. APS-C based DSLRs have a crop factor of 1.6. That’s essentially how much you are zoomed in. So, if you have a 50mm lens on a Canon T3i, you actually have an 80mm lens.

If you have a full frame camera you obviously don’t have to worry about crop factors. The downside with micro four thirds cameras, like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, is that the crop factor is 2.88. So if you have a 50mm lens you actually have a 144mm lens. That’s a huge difference.

As mentioned before, if you have a bunch of full frame lenses, you can get an adapter to be able to use those on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and in that case you won’t have to worry about the crop factor.

Another reason to keep the crop factor in mind is the fact that the more you are zoomed in the shakier the footage will be. For example, my Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 lens gets very shaky when handheld because it is essentially a 72mm lens. My 14mm lens is much better when it comes to that because it is actually a 40mm lens. I decided to get the 25mm one because it works really well in low light. When I use it with my rig, the shakiness is not a problem at all and it still works for quick insert shots when its handheld.

Deleting Clips

Another con about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is the fact that you cannot delete individual clips in camera. This can be a pain because sometimes you might have takes where you know you will not use the shot. Normally you might have deleted the footage to make more room.

Unfortunately, this is something that you cannot do with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. And as I mentioned before, Blackmagic has solved lots of issues with various updates and they know that users want to be able to delete clips in camera, so it’s just a matter of time.

Menu

The menu is not user friendly. Features that you need, so you can to change on the fly are often buried. For example, if you want to change the exposure, you will need to perform 5-10 menu clicks, depending on where you are. This might not sound a lot. But if you are shooting a live event where one second can make the difference between you getting that perfect shoot or not, this is a problem.

Again, all these things can be changed with a software update. Blackmagic has already added menu functionality with an earlier update so this could be solved very easily.

Post With The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Color Grading

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is made for color grading. While the camera gives you the option to shoot in video mode, which doesn’t require color grading (similar to DSLRs) the camera is really is meant to be used with a color grading program. This takes time to get used to. If you use the camera in film mode, you will get a flat image. It is then up to you to grade it which ever way you like.

I am playing around with Adobe Speedgrade. Adobe Premiere will do a decent job with basic color grading. Additionally, you can always download DaVinci Resolve for free. This is Blackmagic’s software.

Computer

When working with ProRes and especially RAW files you will need lots of processing power. I upgraded my 5 year old Mac Pro with a new 3 GB graphics card and 32 GB of ram and working with ProRes HQ files is not a problem but working with RAW can be challenging.

Even though I only use RAW for short insert clips, rendering can still take a while. There is also (sadly) no standardized workflow for RAW files when it comes to video. Premiere Pro will recognize the multiple image files as one video file and you can import it and start cutting as easy as any video file but if you want to make use of the RAW settings and adjust exposure or white balance, there is no direct way to do that with complete control.

One way is to open the files in After Effects, which will give you the RAW interface that you get for images. In the end it works, but it requires effort. This alone keeps me from shooting a full feature in RAW. On the other hand, the footage would look amazing!

In conclusion, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is an amazing tool for any indie filmmaker. Like any piece of technology it has its flaws, but as long as you are aware of them and find a way to work around them, you will be able to take your production to the next level.

– –

If you would like to check out the trailer for my feature film and see what the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is cable of, visit: http://www.projecteugenics.com. And for more tips and tricks on low to no-budget filmmaking check out my blog at http://www.filmmakingtoday.com

How To Create a Film Website (So You Can Sell Your Movie)

Your filmmaker website will go through two stages.

The first stage of your film website is your pre-launch promotional stage. During this time, your film website will consist of your movie title, a synopsis and some fancy images that express what your are tying to accomplish. You should also include a blog.

When we launched the film website for Toxic Soup, we focused on getting environmental activists to join our newsletter. In addition capturing emails, the Toxic Soup landing page had another goal – We wanted to let people know that Toxic Soup was more than just a movie. It was a movement. And we wanted to get our audience to help spread the message.

film website

Share Your Story

In addition to your email registration form, your film website should include a video that tells your prospective fan about your movie. A good example of this can be found at Cow Power, a documentary focused on turning cow poop into fuel.

Cow power film website

I met the filmmaker, Allison Gillette when she attended my panel discussion at WestDoc. And I especially like her email registration form. Do you see how it is limited to just asking for the email? Many marketers agree that asking for less is more.

In addition to emphasizing your movie, your prospective audience will also want to know a thing about you and why you are making the movie. Why should people watch your movie? How will it entertain them? What do you hope to accomplish with the movie?

Indecently, taking time to answer questions in your intro film website video may also set you up for a crowdfunding pitch video.

Add Testimonials On Your Film Website

Just because you do not yet have a movie, does not mean you cannot find at least one early fan excited about the prospect of your movie. An example might be “Hey Jason – I can’t wait to see your ninja zombie movie!”

These early testimonials simply need to demonstrate that someone else knows about your movie. To do this, you will want to contact your subscribers and ask them if they’d be willing to give you a testimonial about why they signed up for your mailing list.

The purpose of an audience list and why you need it!

The primary objective of your film website during the promotional stage is to get people to enroll in your mailing list. To do this, you will want to research several 3rd party email providers.

The two most popular are MailChimp and Aweber. I use Aweber to manage the Filmmaking Stuff mailing list and have been more than satisfied with their service. (Full disclosure, in addition to using the service, I do get paid to promote Aweber.)

After selecting your  preferred email management service, your next step is to actually create the registration form.

As mentioned previously, you should only ask for the most essential information. In my testing, asking for anything more than a name and email dramatically diminishes opt-ins. Both MailChimp and Aweber make this very easy, as they allow to customize registration forms you can embed on your website.

As a filmmaker, depending on the word of mouth potential of your movie, having a promotional film website can help you take advantage of initial movie marketing opportunity.

film website

How To Create a Film Website

The first step in getting your website established, involves reserving website hosting and a domain name for both your production company, as well as separate sites for each of your movies.

If you already know the name of your movie, you will want to reserve it as soon as you can (before somebody else grabs it).

To reserve your domain and set up a film website, head over to my friends at www.MovieSiteHost.com – Like most links I mention, this is my affiliate link for Bluehost. I have utilized MovieSiteHost for many of my websites, for years, without issue. In the few instances when I needed to reach someone in customer service, my calls were always answered.

In terms of setting up your actual site, I no longer recommend building a site from scratch. Instead, consider using something called a content management system – or CMS. With a CMS, you can have your own film website in minutes…

Movie_Site_Host

Just in case some of these terms of confusing, let’s recap: Website hosting can be compared to the vacant lot where you’ll eventually build your office building. Your domain name can be compared to your street address. The CMS is the raw materials needed to build your office building, or in this case, a sophisticated website.

And assuming you are utilizing www.MovieSiteHost.com for your hosting, these elements can be implement in a few clicks of a mouse.

When you arrive at MovieSiteHost, you will first need to reserve a domain name for your movie.

Pick-DomainTo set up your initial website, after you reserve your domain name, you will be redirected to your control panel. Once there, click on an icon called “WordPress.”

Choose_Word_Press

From there, you will START a brand new install WordPress on your server.

Start_Install

After a minute or two, WordPress will be installed in your account. You will then be issued with a username and a password. Once you have it, you can log into your new website and begin your customization.

Websites-for-filmmakers-made-easy-300x198

In my opinion, WordPress is one of the most robust and powerful content management systems in the world. And the reason I recommend installing a CMS for filmmakers, over building a traditional website is because once you set up WordPress, you will be able to create and modify your content and change the entire look and feel of your website, with the ease of sending an email.

sell your movieBy making these tweaks yourself, you will save the cost of constantly contacting your webmaster.

If you like this tip, you’ll love this film distribution resource.

Ms. In The Biz: A Road Map For Thriving In Hollywood

When Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for best supporting actress this year, her acceptance speech declared equal pay and opportunity for women in the country.  It was a statement that brought big shots like Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez to their feet.

This is a struggle that women have been facing throughout the country and in Hollywood.  Trying to make it in the industry can be brutal.  And having to break in as a woman doesn’t make the situation easier.

In 2007 Helenna Santos moved to LA from Canada to fulfill her dreams.  Admittedly, she anticipated the city to join in her in a rousing chorus of, “The hills are alive with the sound of music.”  She knew fame or success wouldn’t be instant, however Santos says, “I really had no idea just how difficult it would be.  This city is a beast and I had no idea what I was in for, even though I thought I did.”

thriving in hollywood

Helenna Santos and Alexandra Boylan

 A Road Map For Thriving In Hollywood

Since moving to Los Anglees, Helenna Santos has found success as a producer, writer, actor, and she is the founder and CEO of Ms. In The Biz.  Ms. In The Biz is an online community for women to share resources, wisdom, and foster growth.  The site has been building and sustaining a network of women in the entertainment industry since 2013.

Filmmaking Stuff: Was it challenging to launch msinthebiz.com?

Helenna Santos: I’m kind of a “serial connector.”  I love people. I get my energy off of being in groups and feeding off of one another.  I’ve always gathered groups of people and surrounded myself with people who lift me up.  To me it is never been draining because that’s where I get my energy.  Ms. In The Biz is literally an off-shoot of just me in the everyday.  It’s a place where a lot of like-minded women can create a community to thrive off of.

Filmmaking Stuff: Your personal adventure gave you a sense of need for women to find more opportunities.

Helenna Santos: Every woman I know is sick of the lack of opportunity.

Filmmaking Stuff: Has this led to women creating opportunities for themselves?

Helenna Santos: Yes, absolutely.  Look at the great success Reese Witherspoon has had this past year creating work for not only herself but other women as well. There were other leading ladies who have started their own production companies before her, but I think that Wild and Gone Girl hit at just the right time when the zeitgeist was calling for it.

Filmmaking Stuff: Jane Fonda recently said that men hire others who think like them, implying that would be other men.  Would you agree?

Helenna Santos: In the past men traditionally hired men only because that was the norm at the time, but the norm is shifting.  Now I think people actively look for women in positions that were traditionally male dominated.  We still have a really long way to go but it’s definitely getting better.  With organizations like Women in Film and the Geena Davis Institute there is a lot more conversation and awareness around the issue.  I think that Ms. In The Biz is also adding to this cultural shift.

Filmmaking Stuff: So, your company continues to evolve with the times.

Helenna Santos: It’s the reason that we started the #HireAMs database. It is a place to go to find a female DP, writer, producer, director, script, crafty, sound designer and other professionals. This way, when filmmakers are crewing up, they can come to our site and find some seriously talented ladies to hire.

Filmmaking Stuff: And to go a step further, the more women behind the scenes will affect women’s presence on screen?

Helenna Santos: In order for what we see on screen to change women must have better representation behind the camera. We need more women writing the stories and making movies and creating television overall. This also includes minorities. The acting world likes to use the phrase “ethnically ambiguous.” And I am constantly shocked at how little entertainment actually reflects the world we live in.

Filmmaking Stuff: Do different mediums, like television, have different setbacks or opportunities?

Helenna Santos: Television has given women a great chance to show their talent, but I wouldn’t say that they are necessarily more prolific in TV.  There are incredible female producers, actors, directors, writers in both art forms.  But I know what you are getting at.  Shonda Rhimes is kicking ass which is proof that television is a great vehicle for women to have our stories told over film simply because of the fact that it seems more risks are being taken on that platform.

Filmmaking Stuff: What do you mean by risk?

Helenna Santos: “Risk” since that seems to be the way the film industry sees female driven stories.

Filmmaking Stuff: What about online platforms?

Helenna Santos: I think the digital world has definitely opened things up for women in a way that we haven’t seen before.  Just look at Jenji Kohan on Netflix (Orange is the New Black) as well as Jill Soloway on Amazon (Transparent).

Filmmaking Stuff: You recently stated that an estimated 54% of your readership is male. Why is that significant?

Helenna Santos: It shows that women have a lot more support in this industry than we think we do. Also, it shows that Ms. In The Biz is full of really useful information no matter if you are male or female.

Filmmaking Stuff: How important is it to develop your craft while developing your brand?

Helenna Santos: Anyone who is an artist first and foremost who is uncomfortable with the idea of being a business person. Unfortunately these people need to learn the art of marketing themselves because this industry is saturated. There are a gazillion filmmakers and even more actors. In order to rise out of the masses, we all need to put on our entrepreneur hats.

Filmmaking Stuff: It’s become a necessity?

Helenna Santos: The age of just being talented and waiting to be “discovered” for your talent and artistry are over, if that was ever true.  Okay. That’s hyperbole since there are definitely some people whose talent will carry them out of obscurity. But the reality is, most of us need to “hustle” is more than ever.

Filmmaking Stuff: And the internet seems like a good place to start.

Helenna Santos: When I graduated university with a BFA in acting, there wasn’t really a need to even have a website. Now, if someone isn’t Google-able they might not be hired, because if there is a person equally qualified for the job and they are visibly active on social media and “get” the world we live in, that’s the person who will book the job.

Filmmaking Stuff: And it seems like Ms. In The Biz builds support, fosters networks, and helps women develop their online profiles too.

Helenna Santos: Yes, and another reason Ms. In The Biz exists is to help propel all of us forward and move our society on from the ridiculous sexism of the past.  Overall, the generation of filmmakers who I collaborate with really don’t care whether someone is a man or a woman. If you are talented and skilled at your craft then you’ll get hired. It’s the old guard running the studios and networks that are incredibly behind the times.

Filmmaking Stuff: Do you foresee more opportunities for female filmmakers in the next generation?

Helenna Santos: Absolutely!  This is an amazing time to be a woman in the industry.  There is so much happening that it feels like a huge ground swell of support for creating real change in the business.  Doors will only continue to open and the new face of Hollywood will evolve.

Filmmaking Stuff: A gradual, but inevitable change?

Helenna Santos: It might take awhile for us to reach parity, but it’s coming. It’s inevitable. And this journey is going to be a whole lot of fun as long as we support one another, raise each other up, and not blame men for the position we are in but instead work along side one another.

– – –

Along with her Ms. In The Biz partner, Alexandra Boylan, Helenna published Thriving In Hollywood: Tenacious Tales and Tactics from Ms. In The Biz.  A complication of essays written by twenty one different women in the industry that’s proving to be both helpful and hopeful for women working in entertainment.

How To Achieve Your Filmmaking Goals Fast

How To Achieve Your Filmmaking Goals Fast by Filmmaker Jeff Orig

As filmmakers, we dream big. Perhaps we want to win an Academy Award one day; change people’s lives with our stories; or just make a full-time living from our craft.

Most of us are not taught how to achieve our filmmaking goals and dreams but this is a learnable skill. Like anything getting things done takes knowledge and practice.

How close are you to accomplishing your filmmaking goals? Hopefully you are closer than when you started.  If not, here is a Quick Start Guide to Achieving Your Filmmaking Goals.

Filmmaking Goals

How To Achieve Your Filmmaking Goals Fast

1. Set and write down your filmmaking goals with a clear deadline.  
For example, “Shoot, edit, and distribute my short film by August 1.”

2. Write down all of the reasons why you want to achieve your filmmaking goals.
This will help you stay motivated in the long term.  When the going gets tough, look at this list.  It will keep you going.

For example, “to feel great, to have a sense of accomplishment, to have a calling card short film, to practice and get better at my craft, to have a great piece to put on my demo reel, to work with great actors, to work with great crew, to have an excuse to rent the Red Epic, to have a reason to use my jib.” This is oftentimes not money, but what the money will bring you: freedom, less stress, joy and pleasure.

3. Immediately take ANY action toward  your filmmaking goals.
This is the biggest stumbling block for most people.   They get stuck in two places in this step.  The first place they get stuck is “immediately.”  When I say “immediately,” I mean immediately.

As soon as you write down the goal take some sort of action toward it.  Put the pen down and call to book the location for the shoot or send a text to your cinematographer to discuss ideas on the look and feel of the movie.  Anything and immediately.  This will give you momentum in the right direction.

The other place people get stuck is they over-think what actions to take.  What they fail to see is that any action will guide you as to whether you are getting closer or farther away from your goal.

Think about it for a moment.  It’s like when you learned how to drive in a straight line and turn.  When you first learned, you probably over-steered in one direction or the other.  But eventually, you learned how to compensate just the right amount.  The same is true with taking ANY ACTION toward your goal.

Even if the action you take is wrong, it will guide you.  You will gain clarity on what actions to take and what actions to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, planning is great.  But actions are better.

Definitely create a plan but don’t spend forever creating that plan and not doing anything.  “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” -General George S. Patton, Jr.

4. Measure your progress towards your filmmaking goals regularly and often.
Keep this simple so that you do it.  I like a printed calendar that I mark with an “X” as I do my daily actions. Weekly and monthly check-in’s are too far apart for me.

It is very easy to miss one and then slide into a downward spiral. Daily has been the best for me.  I also keep my checkpoints to something that I can accomplish in one day, often allowing a ten minute minimum.

For example, “contact one agent a day or write for at least ten minutes.”

This allows me to do my daily goal very easily but often ends up  with me doing it for much longer than ten minutes.  It helps me take “the first step on the journey of a thousand miles.”  Momentum is very important.

5. Repeat step 3 (take any action immediately) and step 4 (measure progress)  until you get to your filmmaking goals.
Keep taking any action and keep measuring it.  Before you know it you will have achieved your goal.

6. Make a public declaration with actual consequences.
Research has shown that making a public declaration of your goal and attaching a monetary consequence to the failure of missing that goal leads to higher success rates.

You can even use a free website called www.Stickk.com to help you with this step.  I have used this website and it is excellent.

7. Celebrate the journey and  every achievement of your goal.
This is very important.  Keep in mind that as soon as you achieve your goal, most of us will set a new and higher goal.

If we do not celebrate the journey and achievement of the goal, you will always be dissatisfied because we set a new and higher goal.  The target gets farther and farther away because we put it there.

Enjoy the journey and the achievement.  Remember our reasons why we wanted the goal in the first place.  When you look back you will see how great it was to get there.  Enjoy it while you are there.

Here it is in a nutshell:

  1. Set and write down a very clear goal with a clear deadline.
  2. Write down all of the reasons why you want that goal.
  3. Immediately take ANY action toward  it.
  4. Measure your progress regularly and often.
  5. Repeat step 3  (take any action immediately) and step 4 (measure progress)  until you get to your goal.
  6. Make a public declaration with actual consequences.
  7. Celebrate the journey and achievement of your goal.

This is a culmination of several systems that have worked for me.  The systems I reference here are:  Tony Robbin’s RPM system, Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maltz, M.D., and Jerry Seinfeld’s Calendar System.  Definitely check out those systems for further refinement.

But this quick guide is a start, and should help you get closer to your filmmaking goals. Leave a comment below to let us know how you are doing or if you have any other tips that have worked for you.

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Jeff Orig is an award winning filmmaker based in Honolulu.  He is interested in life hacks that help achieve goals; the business of filmmaking; and telling stories better.  He has produced feature film; produced and directed several TV Shows; currently in post-production on the feature-length documentary, The Hawaii Wisdom Project; and has various episodic and feature film projects in development.  Check out his blog at www.OrigMedia.com/blog