Stop Crying About Filmmaking

For a very long time the barriers to entry have prevented most filmmakers from having a career outside of Hollywood. And while one can argue that independent filmmakers have always existed, even the most independent of filmmakers relied on traditional Hollywood distribution vehicles to get movies seen and sold. But those days are gone.

Stop Crying About Filmmaking

You no longer need to shoot on film. As a result, you no longer need to negotiate with a lab to get your film processed and transferred to video. With few hundred dollars and a laptop, modern moviemakers can now grab a camera and create cinematic quality content without asking permission. While these enhancements mark the end of the Hollywood regime and the beginning of a true democratization of moviemaking, it is important to note that this evolution comes with new challenges.

This is the age of the backyard indie. And the market is saturated with cheap movies, making it difficult for any filmmaker to get noticed. Add the fact that physical distribution is being replaced by video on demand, and you can understand why nobody in the old guard wants to admit that they are scared.

The reason for all this fear is simple. In the past, you could depend on DVD sales to make up for money lost at the box office. These physical sales were easy to project – Sell 10,000 units to Blockbuster and get a few million dollars. But what do traditional filmmakers do in a world where one only has to upload a movie once to reach a global audience?

This is why veteran filmmakers are going cray, cray. This is the same reason why movies are more difficult to finance (thank goodness for tax credits.) And this is the same reason why YOU are now responsible for sourcing your own target audience. So how do you source your audience?

Seven Steps To Help You Grow Your Filmmaking Business

Step 1 – Sharpen Your Hook

Step 2 – Target Your Target Audience

Step 3 – Get Into The Marketplace

Step 4 – Create Your Movie Sales Funnel

Step 5 – Refine Your Trailer (And Promote It)

Step 6 – Increase Targeted Web Traffic.

Step 7 – Leverage Your Following.

I talk about this stuff a lot more in my how to sell your movie program, but if you want to survive and thrive as an independent filmmaker, you need to realize that your audience is YOUR business. If you do not take the necessary steps to start sourcing your audience right now (I mean, today!), you will greatly diminish your chance for success.

MovieMaking Tools

If you’re looking for moviemaking tools, here is my list of top picks:

1. Free Filmmaking Book: This free resource provides you with some basic, no fluff filmmaking information. Additionally, you’ll also get onto my super cool filmmaking mailing list. (It’s what all the cool filmmakers read.)

2. Modern Moviemaking Movement: A few months back, I joined forces with some of the most prolific modern moviemakers to create a free resource for filmmakers. The result was over one-hundred pages of no-fluff filmmaking information.

3. Make Your Movie Now: This is a site for filmmakers who are serious. If you want to take action and maker your movie now, this resource is for you.

Anyway, I hope these MovieMaking tools are helpful.

Google Gets Into Movie Distribution

Google Logo officially released on May 2010

Image via Wikipedia

Google is taking over the world. So it’s no surprise that the company would get more and more involved in indie media distribution and create a marketplace for music and movies.

Our friends over at No Film School provide a very detailed overview. To read the rest of the article, go here  >>

I’d like to thank one of our modern moviemakers, Joe Ort for forwarding this article.

The New Model of Filmmaking

In his book, “Think Outside The Box Office,” Jon Reiss coined a new filmmaking job called Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD). This idea was born of the fact that modern independent moviemakers must now create their own marketing and forge their eventual distribution strategy from day one.

Having had extensive experience in producing, marketing and selling my own movies, I agree that moviemakers must now take a much more comprehensive approach to the business side of independent film. With lower production costs predicated on the dramatic shift in distribution, Filmmaking is now a Small Business… And as a result, I am also of the opinion that the role of PMD as well as some other roles are now necessary.

What I am about to propose is a bit radical. So if you would like to bury your head in the sand, that’s understandable. You can stop reading now.

But for the rest of us filmmakers, eager to face this brave new world of indie filmmaking head-on, in addition to hiring a PMD, I propose that the entire production team must now take a vested interest in the success of each movie. To explain and explore my point a bit further, let’s examine the realities of moviemaking.

Traditionally, when making a movie, filmmakers break down a script, create a schedule, figure out who they need to hire, create a budget, raise the money, hire freelances, pay the freelances, make the movie and then sell the movie – In this old model, before non-discriminatory VOD distribution, the idea of making a movie was like the lottery. Very few filmmakers ever gave thought to the marketing and eventual sales of the movie. They just made the movie, traveled the festivals and film markets and hoped for the best.

In the event a good distribution deal transpired, investors got lucky. If it didn’t happen, investors would once again learn the age-old lesson that filmaking is risky. In the meantime, after WRAPPING, the hired freelancers working in this space would simply collect their final check and move onto their next project. And they could really care less about distribution…

But this has to change.


There was a time when making a feature was more expensive. The market had less competition. Physical video outlets were more abundant. Festivals were emerging in mass… And distributors were less picky.

But now, anybody with a HDSLR camera can make a good looking movie. That doesn’t mean everybody can make a good movie – but it does mean that more product in the marketplace, combined with decreased distribution outlets creates excessive supply. This added competition floods the marketplace and subsequently decreases the potential for return – which makes it really darn tough to get your independent movie seen and sold!

What we are experiencing is the film industry equivalent of sweat shop labor flooding the market with cheaply produced product. And as a result of these diminished margins, filmmakers must now think in terms of volume. So instead of putting 100% focus on simply making one movie, the model must now involve planning for, and creating a library for a minimal budget. In other words, we need to think about our movie business like a mini-studio, or a small factory. And instead of hiring freelancers – I suggest creating salaried positions whereby everybody on the production team shares a percentage of ownership and profits.

While this may at first seem outlandish, I’m simply shoving filmmaking into a traditional upstart model, complete with stock options. And like most upstarts, each employee will share a vested interest in making the company profitable.

Am I off my rocker? Click here to comment >>


Filmmaking or why modern moviemakers should not ask permission

I did it again. I refined a concept and wrote a business plan. I made the pitch. I got a warm reception and now months have gone by with radio silence. If you’re into filmmaking and you’re also trying to get projects off the ground – I understand what you’re going through.

The ongoing question I get: “How will this make money?”

While it’s safe to provide projections – any investor with any business experience will understand that each project carries it’s own risk to reward ratio. Your goal as a filmmaker is to help mitigate these risks as best you can.

But the reality is, you can only push so hard. You can only be patient for so long. And then one day you have to pack your proverbial filmmaking bags and move on to the next project… Or the next opportunity.

One of the biggest filmmaking (and life success lessons) I’ve learned is this – asking permission sucks. Try to avoid it – if you can.

–  –  –

Also, if you’re new here, you might want to watch my video   >>