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

 

How To Produce Hit Television Shows Like Charlie Day

As a filmmaker, getting a project off the ground is often easier said than done. From day one, you are faced with a seemingly never ending barrage of challenges like how to get money, how to actually finish what you start, and importantly, how to sell your project…

Faced with this level of uncertainty, it’s not surprising why many would-be filmmakers and producers give up before they get started. But thankfully there are some creative types who face these challenges, go the distance and come out on top.

Today we are going to focus on one such story. It’s a true story about a group of friends who had a great idea, limited resources and no budget. (Sound familiar?) But what these friends lacked in cash did not in any way hinder their creativity. And thankfully so.

Charlie Day

Charlie Day at the premiere for Horrible Bosses in August 2011

How To Produce Hits Like Charlie Day

The television show they created is called Always Sunny in Philadelphia and it has become one of the biggest hits on American television.

Charlie Day is an actor, writer and executive producer of the hit series, and he took a few minutes to stop by Filmmaking Stuff to chat about the show and share a little filmmaker inspiration.

Jason Brubaker
Hi Charlie. Thanks for stopping by today to share some thoughts.

Charlie Day
Sure. No problem.

Jason Brubaker
Can you tell us how you shot the pilot? Is it true that you guys came up with a few ideas, grabbed a camera and did it all for $200.

Charlie Day
The only cost was the cost of video tape really.

Jason Brubaker
Did you have a script?

Charlie Day
There was a script. We did improv off of the script.

Jason Brubaker
Originally Always Sunny revolved around a bunch of out-of-work actors trying to break into the industry. But if I understand correctly, the network made some tweaks and set the story in Philadelphia.

Charlie Day
Well let’s get one thing straight. We are the producers so we changed it. However it was the Network’s suggestion that we do so and I think it was a good one. There were already too many shows about the entertainment industry at that time.

Jason Brubaker
Was the initial story idea autobiographical?

Charlie Day
Ours was not really autobiographical at all. Maybe we used our real names or referenced a show that we were on but outside of that it was all fiction.

Jason Brubaker
Once you had a cut, did you shop the show to other networks before the eventual deal with FX?

Charlie Day
I think we went to Comedy Central, HBO, NBC, VH1 and Fox as well.

Jason Brubaker
Then once things got rolling with FX, you guys ended up with over a million viewers in your first season! Were you surprised by the positive audience reaction?

Charlie Day
We were always proud of our show and expected people to like it. So surprised, no. Pleased yes.

Jason Brubaker
So to put this in perspective, you guys had an idea, grabbed a camera, created a hit TV show… And then one day Danny DeVito decides to join the cast.

Charlie Day
Well it was not a hit when Danny joined the cast. We were looking to boost ratings and get a press story by adding a well known cast member. We got lucky with Danny.

Jason Brubaker
With the addition of Danny and the added exposure that he brought, there had to be some question of what would happen next. Did you feel like your life was about to change?

Charlie Day
I didn’t feel like my life was going to change. If anything I was hoping it wouldn’t ruin the show. We didn’t know what Danny would be like as a person. It turned out he is as great an actor as he is a person. Like I said, we got lucky with Danny.

Jason Brubaker
With over 100 episodes,  the story remains entertaining, funny and totally off-the-wall. How are you guys able keep the story fresh and interesting?

Charlie Day
There’s just a lot of things that make us laugh. And the more we get to know the characters the more fun it is to write for them. It also helps that we are working with some other talented writers.

Jason Brubaker
Would you say the creative process has evolved a lot since the pilot?

Charlie Day
Well since the pilot, yes. It takes a lot more work to do 60+ episodes.

Jason Brubaker
Some people now describe the show as a cult hit. Is there an initiation ritual to join?

Charlie Day
Just watch the show and join the cult!

Jason Brubaker
What advice do you have for filmmakers and other would-be producers who still think they need a gazillion dollars to garner success on their projects?

Charlie Day
If you can get it, great. If not find another way. There’s no one way to make a hit.

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If you like this filmmaking stuff, you’ll love the filmmaker checklist.

Get a Movie Made: 5 Things You Need To Know

I’ve mentored dozens of film students. I’ve met with hundreds. I’ve spoken to thousands. A question I recently asked myself was, “What’s the difference between the people who get a movie made and those who are just stuck spinning their wheels?”

It’s always been a goal of mine to help filmmakers get a movie made. I even had a separate company at one point, dedicated solely to aiding filmmakers in getting their films going. I had identified a series of steps that every project should take to get from Point D to Point R. (Dream to Reality.)

Yet there were some who I knew would never get a movie made, and there were some that I knew, no matter what, they would be successful.

This led me to start to reflect on that. Could I impart that lesson to a filmmaker? Could I identify that “secret sauce” that made the others successful following the exact same steps to get a movie made?

Get_A_Movie_Made

Photo © nito  / Dollar Photo Club

Get a Movie Made: 5 Things You Need To Know

The answer is, it’s a combination of a lot of things… and here’s the list. Add them together and you’ll be emailing me with photos from the set.

1. Extreme Passion – it sounds crazy, but I’ve actually met tons of filmmakers who just weren’t that passionate about their own project! Almost as if they were doing it because they just wanted a way in. With every film I’ve ever made, before I jumped into it, I believed it was going to be a home run. Some of my movie projects failed, some succeeded, but with all, I was extremely passionate.

The people I’ve mentored to get a movie made were extremely passionate. Their eyes would light up with energy when they told me their pitch. It was almost as if they were letting me in on this incredible secret… The secret of their amazing film.

2. Determination – All the filmmakers who got their films going were filled with determination. They all knew they were going to make a film. Most of them had specific dates in mind. It didn’t matter if these dates shifted, if something fell through, or if they got pieces of bad news… they kept pushing forward.

3. Singular Focus – Their goal was to make a film. Period. Their goal was not to worry about their job, not to worry about their future films, not to worry about their “potential careers.” They were focused 100% on the issue at hand, which was getting their films made. There was no “Plan B” (except as defined below).

4. Flexibility to Change – This may be the most important aspect of the list. If you are trying to unlock the combination to a safe, it doesn’t matter how focused, determined, or persistent you are: If you continue to try the same combination, you’re never getting into that safe.

All the successful filmmakers I mentored had one thing in common: they changed their approach when necessary. This includes dropping budgets, raising budgets, seeing things in a new light, changing cast, even changing projects entirely!

This is a key point. Stick too much to “This is the only film I can make,” and you may fail.

That internal dialogue should be, “I’m making a film.” That way, you’re going with the flow and using the energy in the right way. Put the passion project on hold and ALWAYS CHOOSE TO MAKE A FILM!

5. Persistence – They never gave up, never faltered, and continued to chip away. Many of them are full time filmmakers now, and I couldn’t be happier for them!

Don’t ever quit. You can make your film happen. Trust yourself, follow a procedure, and be mindful of the points I just mentioned. You can do it!

If you’d like to take the next steps to get a  movie made, check out this filmmaking course offered by Tom Malloy and Carole Dean. Save $40 by entering the coupon code JASON15.  For more information, click here.

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Tom Malloy is an Actor, Writer and Producer, specializing in independent film finance. He is the author of BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films, which is the best reviewed book on film financing, and is considered a “gold standard” in indie films circles. To date, Tom has raised over $15 million in private equity from independent financiers.

Cynicism Won’t Make Movies

Getting your movie made can be frustrating. I know the feeling.

Over the course of a year, I get involved in hundreds of conversations with people with the hopes of making a deal. Most of the deals fall apart. And even though this is part of the game, every time I experience a setback, I spend a few days moping.

Then I find my next project and repeat the cycle.

Experience has taught me that if you consistently put yourself out there and make new friends and try to put together new deals, sooner or later something will work out.

Call it the law of probability. Call it par for the course. But never let yourself get jaded or cynical. Cynicism won’t make movies.

Cynicism Won't Make Movies

Photo © contrastwerkstatt / Dollar Photo Club

 Cynicism Won’t Make Movies

As a filmmaker, it’s easy to make excuses for why you aren’t making movies. Maybe you don’t have enough experience, time, money, connections, friends or [fill in the blank with your best reason HERE.]

A few weeks ago, I found myself watching a movie with some Hollywood acquaintances. At the end of the movie, one guy started blabbering on about why the movie was horrible and why the filmmaker should call it quits.

Then his wife joined in and suddenly everybody starts criticizing Hollywood, other movies and people.

The conversation escalated into a cynical bitch session with bullet-points as to why screenwriting work is hard to find. Keep in mind these are all people in the conversation make a very nice living in entertainment.

But based on the conversation, you would have thought they dug ditches for a living… Ugh.

If you’ve been in this game for any length of time, you probably met these people. If not, you will.

These people are frustrated with their current work. And instead of writing more and doing more to level up their careers, they find it easier to embrace cynicism.

This is a trap for all of us.

And the thing to remember is, cynicism won’t make movies.

Here is the filmmaker challenge:
For the next 30 days, force yourself to stop complaining and refrain from voicing anything negative.

The reason for this exercise is simple. If you can do this, you will stop talking and start doing. And the ongoing goal is to ask yourself the right questions.

One of my favorite filmmaking questions is, “Given the resources that you have now, what is the movie that you can make this year?” And if you would like some professional filmmaking tools, make sure you check out: www.MakeYourMovieNow.com

How To Make Your Movie Rise Above The Noise

Working in film distribution, I can tell you that everything is changing. Production is getting cheaper and easy access to the marketplace is the norm. This is an exciting time to be a filmmaker.

Paradoxically, because more and more movies are getting made each year, this is also one of the most challenging times for making money as a filmmaker. We are experiencing a market saturation similar to what happens when sweatshop factories start producing comparable goods for less money.

And while you may argue that many backyard indies are amateur garbage, this doesn’t change the fact that filmmakers now have more competition than ever before. Your biggest problem is figuring out how to make your movie rise above the noise.

Rise Above The Noise

Photo © Sergey Nivens / Dollar Photo Club

How To Make Your Movie Rise Above The Noise

Before you pour your heart and soul into your passion project, answer these questions:

  1. What is your movie about?
  2. Who is in your movie?
  3. Who is going to buy your movie?

Most filmmakers never take time to answer these simple, yet essential questions. Or if they do, the answers are often based on hope or delusions of grandeur. My target audience is everybody!

Having well rehearsed answers to these questions (that you can deliver with enthusiasm) will increase the odds that a movie distributor or a fan could potentially (easily) tell other people about your movie.

sell your movie“Zooey Deschanel is attached to your movie?!?”

Having a name actor or a strong story hook makes your movie memorable. Knowing that an audience exists for your type of movie, as well as having a promotional plan for reaching your audience is also helpful.

That is what word-of-mouth is all about.

Once your pitch is established, all of your other movie marketing tasks such like your logo, font, DVD cover (still important), poster and website will be much easier to design.

So I’ll end today’s thought with three questions: What is your movie about? Who’s in it? And who is gonna buy it?  And if you like this sort of stuff, you’ll love my Sell Your Movie System.