Top 3 Reasons You Won’t Make It In Hollywood (And What To Do About It)

As a filmmaker, taking action is everything. But sometimes this is easy to say, but tough to execute. Over the past year, I have been getting a bunch of emails from Hollywood hopefuls who want to make movies or write screenplays or do something.

But for some reason (insert YOUR idiotic excuse here) these people think they need an agent or someone to give them permission to make it in Hollywood. Hint… You don’t!

Our goal at Filmmaking Stuff is to remind you the whole point of independent filmmaking involves being a rebel. And even though you may not have aspirations to “make it in Hollywood,” at least in the traditional sense – Odds are good you’d still love to make some movies in your lifetime.

Here’s the deal. You don’t have to ask for permission to become a filmmaking success.

You just need to do the WORK.

Make It In Hollywood

Photo © Dmitry Ersler / Dollar Photo Club

3 Reasons You Won’t Make It In Hollywood

Many filmmakers incorrectly think that their ideas are enough to make it in Hollywood… That they don’t have to do the work. That Hollywood is a lottery, and all you gotta do is buy the bus ticket. Here are the types of filmmaking excuses I receive every week.

Excuse #1: You’re too lazy (or you’re an idea person.)

I have the most amazing idea for a movie. I just need to find someone willing to raise the money and help me produce it.

Join the club. Everybody has an idea. Your ideas are probably good, but nobody cares. Unless you have a track record, selling a movie idea is nearly impossible. It is execution that matters. Are you willing to take action and produce your own movie?

Excuse #2: You don’t have the money or an investor.

I can’t afford to make a movie. I don’t know anybody. Nobody will look at my work until I get an investor. Can you stop sending me filmmaking tips? I just need you to introduce me to investors.

My buddy Tom Malloy raised over 25M to make his movies. But when he started out, he didn’t know anybody. That didn’t stop him from networking like crazy, always making the pitch and working his butt off to meet high net-worth individuals. Sure this may involve cold calling successful people. So what’s stopping you?

Excuse #3: You don’t live in Hollywood.

Hey Jason. I wish I could make it in Hollywood. But I don’t even live there. I don’t have plans for moving. I’m wondering if you could just produce my movie for me and send the checks?

Hopefully you now realize that you no longer have to move to Hollywood to make it in Hollywood. There is this awesome thing called video on demand distribution. And because companies like Distribber exist, you can now make, market and sell your movie from anywhere on Earth.

So given the resources you have right now, what movie will you make this year?

The thing you need to remember is everybody started from somewhere. And despite popular opinion, most successful filmmakers started from scratch. Here are some tactics my friends have utilized to make it in Hollywood.

  1. One friend got an agent after his movie was produced. It is important to note that he was one of the producers. Now that he produced stuff, he is more valuable to Hollywood.
  2. I have writer friend who couldn’t get a break. So he started a screenwriting magazine. He leveraged his magazine to interview and build relationships with other writers. From these relationships, one writer introduced him to an agent. (He also sold the magazine, but that is another story.)
  3. My other buddy writes horror novels and screenplays. He started as a roller skate messenger in New York City (which sounds strange, but whatever). One day he delivered a package to a publishing company. Always ready to take action, he saw a pile of manuscripts and dropped his on the stack. Then he got a call, which led to an agent, a book deal and screenwriting work.

All of these people had the guts and creativity to DO THE WORK and overcome obstacles. If you take action, you will increase the odds that you will make it in Hollywood. Stop investing time in your filmmaking excuses!

I do not have a choice. If I do not find a producer, my movie doesn’t get made.

I understand why you might think this way. But you are only correct if you want to be. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s much easier to complain, make excuses and never action because you are terrified of rejection.

When we decided to make our first feature, we were scared too. But that didn’t stop us. And neither did the fact that we didn’t have a producer. We simply decided to become our own producers. This is the rite of passage for many first time feature filmmakers.

Think of it this way – if you were starting your own frozen yogurt shop, would you wait for someone to do it for you? Thank goodness Charlie Day didn’t wait around for permission.

Take Action and Make Your Movie

Look. If you want to make movies and make it in Hollywood, you need to put blinders on and go for it. You need to produce the movie you can produce this year. If that means you make a three-minute YouTube short on your cell phone, do that.

A friend told me that YouTube is a silly way to test my ideas and build an audience. He said I should just focus on getting an agent.

If you have friends like this, you should probably find some new friends. While there are no guarantees in filmmaking or any business, YouTube offers a great way to have your very own portal to the world. If you are talented, you should be able to scale a few backyard indies to fit the format. In fact, I’d say YouTube offers a great way to get noticed and make it in Hollywood.

Evidence of this includes Disney’s purchase of Maker Studios.

The world is changing. Hollywood isn’t waiting to hear your ideas. Sorry. The people who run that town only care about one thing – making money. And in doing this, most Hollywood heavyweights are seeking people who actually produce stuff. And if it isn’t totally clear, the real secret on how to make it in Hollywood is actually getting your filmmaking career to the point where you don’t actually need to make it in Hollywood!

If you are sick of asking permission, check out some this professional filmmaking resource.

Three Ways How To Become A Filmmaker

If you are wondering how to become a filmmaker, you’re not alone. Living in Hollywood, I am surrounded by people constantly trying to figure out “how to become a filmmaker.”

The problem is, many would-be filmmakers do not realize there is more than one way to become a filmmaker.

How To Become A Filmmaker

3 Ways How To Become A Filmmaker

Here are 3 ways how to become a filmmaker.

1. Employee Filmmaker (indie producer works at a production company): An employee filmmaker is someone who gets a job at a production company. The employee filmmaker shows up each day, on time. The employee filmmaker usually “starts at the bottom” and then works their way up. Many spend years working on on other people’s projects (OPP) and one day, if they are really lucky, they get permission to helm a movie.

2. Freelance Filmmaker (indie producers hired on a per-project basis): As a freelancer, you get hired on a per-project basis. Then when the production wraps, you go back to your network, seeking your next job. Eventually, you find ways to move up and take on other jobs. Like an employee filmmaker, as a freelancer, you spend years working on other people’s projects (OPP). If you’re really lucky, you get your shot.

3. Entrepreneurial Filmmaker (indie producer creates his or her own projects and hires other people): In this scenario, your goal is to find a good screenplay, raise money and make your movie now! You don’t wait for anybody to give you permission. But unlike an employee or freelance filmmaker, if your project doesn’t get made, you don’t get paid!

To succeed, you will need cold calling courage and the ability to face rejection every day. Additionally, you will have to face ridicule. In finding out how to become a filmmaker, many people stuck in the employee and freelance ruts will hate you, say mean things about you – Ironically, these same people will call you for a job.

But the upside is great. Unlike the other paths, you can grab a camera and start putting together a production this year! While those other folks are still carrying cables, you’ll be making movies.

Filmmaker Action Pack

If you are a long term reader of filmmaking stuff, then chances are good that you radiate towards entrepreneurial filmmaking. Good for you. Half of Hollywood doesn’t get it yet. But as a modern moviemaker, if you’re still trying to figure out how to become a filmmaker, stop searching.

And if you are still waiting for someone to give you permission to make your movie, STOP IT.

Just grab a camera and capture something. . . Anything. . . Today!

In other words, you no longer have to ask permission to make your movie. And thanks to non-discriminatory distribution, you can now reach a global audience through VOD distribution. If you are ready to make a movie, check out these professional filmmaking tools.

Why Hollywood Dreamers Fail Fast

It is easy to dream about becoming the next Hollywood hotshot.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I met these people a lot. We went to fancy dinners and cocktail parties, all of us posing as if we already had an awesome career in entertainment. I naturally assumed that these people went home each night, wrote down their goals and took small actions to achieve their goals.

As the months and years went by, I noticed something interesting – As I cold-called my way into relationships with hard to reach, busy producers – Many of my dream-filled friends stopped dreaming and left Hollywood.

Fast forward to earlier this year when Tom Malloy and I got together and created the Film Finance Guide. If you don’t know Tom, he is responsible for raising over 25 million dollars to fund his movie projects. And in the guide (which is largely an audio program that you can listen to in your car) we actually role play what it is like to cold call and get a meeting with a prospective investor.

Since our launch, many filmmakers have participated in the program. The positive feedback has been overwhelming. However, every so often I receive emails from Hollywood Dreamers asking if I would provide them with my list of investors. One woman in-particular asked me to find her an investor, and then pitch her movie idea for her.

This is why Hollywood dreamers fail fast. This business is hard. You face a lot of rejection. And nobody is going to do it for you. Guys like Tom Malloy are happy to share their experience. But sooner or later, YOU will have to decide if doing the work is worth it.

Screenwriting Tips – Hope for shy screenwriters

Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolff

Cover via Amazon

Shy and awkward is how screenwriter Seth Lochead describes himself. When he was starting out he felt he had to choose between building his career by socializing or by writing a great script.

He decided to try to do the latter.

The result is “Hanna,” co-written by David Farr, starring Kate Blanchett as the daughter of a rogue ex-CIA agent. He told the Vancouver Sun: ““I was going for the absurd mixed with action influences that are seemingly familiar, and then something that twists you a bit. You want to keep people intrigued and on the edge of their seat where they’re mentally having to keep up.”

It’s not clear from the article but I get the sense that Farr was brought in to do rewrites, but Lochead was flown to Berlin to do production rewrites for three months, which was a great education.

It’s a story that can give up to the other shy and awkward screenwriters (hey, isn’t that most of us?)

Beyond that, the internet gives us shy types another way to make connections. Here are three suggestions:

* Write intelligent fan letter (via email) to people whose work you admire–directors, producers, actors. I stress “intelligent” because most fan letters are of the “I think you’re really great!” variety. In yours, mention specifics about their work. It’s a long shot, but some working relationships have started out that way.

* If you’re looking for an agent, read the trades online to see which agents have recently opened their own agency or moved–that’s the time they’re most open to new people. (I know trade subscriptions can be expensive–why not split the cost with two or three other aspiring screenwriters?)

* Write and produce short films and make it easy to find them on the web, as samples of your work. If you’re not into the “making” side of films, team up with some aspiring directors who don’t want to (or can’t) write their own scripts.

Jurgen Wolff has written more than 100 episodes of television, the mini-series “Midnight Man,” starring Rob Lowe, the feature film “The Real Howard Spitz,” starring Kelsey Grammer, and as been a script doctor on projects starring Eddie Murphy, Michale Caine, Kim Catrall and others. His books include “Your Writing Coach” (Nicholas Brealey Publishing) and “Creativity Now!” (Pearson Publishing). For more tips from Jurgen Wolff, also see

Independent Film Distributor Report Card

If you’re an independent filmmaker focused on finding a great distribution deal, you know it’s a tricky world. As a result of VOD as well as declining retail options, many traditional DVD distributors are offering some really bad deals.

This week’s guest post comes from  Sheri Candler. Sheri is an inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Sheri stopped by Filmmaking Stuff to tell us about a new service for filmmakers called the Distributor ReportCard™.

The Key to Choosing the Best Distributor? Research

We’ve all heard many horror stories from filmmakers who were thrilled to find a distributor for their film only to find the film was mishandled, shelved or the company went under with no recourse for the filmmaker to claim their rights back. There are also distributors so coveted for their professionalism and skill at finding the right audiences for their titles that everyone wants to work with them.

How to separate the wheat from the chaff?

There is a new tool being developed to help independent filmmakers research backgrounds, complaints and recommendations before choosing a distribution partner. The Film Collaborative (TFC) has aggregated all of the information you will need to inform your decisions before you sign agreements and they have called this free resource the Distributor ReportCard™ (DRC). It is an open source wiki anyone can use to voice opinions, experiences, questions and recommendations for both filmmakers and distributors.

The DRC is meant to be an online guide much like Yelp is for restaurants and shops.  TFC founder Orly Ravid says, “For the same reason people really find YELP useful before choosing where to go to dinner, we know that feedback from filmmakers who have worked with distributors will be useful to other filmmakers. We always advise filmmakers to get and check references before signing on with a distributor and this is just an even more unbiased way to get feedback.”

At present, the DRC’s list was pulled together by TFC, but they want that to change. “We had to start somewhere so we listed distributors that we have either worked with or know about. It will take some time before it’s completely thorough and contains plenty of feedback. The more filmmakers and distributors we reach to encourage company submissions and feedback, the faster it will done,” said Ravid. Distributors representing all forms of distribution are included as well as some international sales companies and digital distribution platforms. The list is human edited and vetted regularly to provide the most up to date information on currently operating distributors.

Experiences both negative and positive are encouraged. “The more information and perspectives the better. Just as people rely on Consumer Reports and Yelp and Blue Book to make informed decisions, the DRC is meant to help filmmakers by having information all in one place and rated according to their colleagues’ experiences.” Distributors are also encouraged to participate by answering any questions, misunderstandings or concerns on their respective pages.

The instructions for using the DRC are as follows:

1. Log into/create a wikispacesaccount, The site utilizes wikispaces so you should use a unique username and password. If you are already a member of The Collaborators site (, you’ll need a different username and password than your Collaborators membership. If you are creating an account, a Wikispaces MY ACCOUNT page will appear.

2. Go to MY WIKI (near upper right-hand corner) and type in FILM DISTRIBUTOR GUIDE. A small window will pop-up underneath with FILM DISTRIBUTION GUIDE. (You can later add this to your favorite wikis and not have to type in the name each time you log in.  You will still need to go to MY WIKI link to select it. Click on FILM DISTRIBUTION GUIDE. The DRC front page will come up.

3. On the far LEFT-HAND SIDE column, select the DISTRIBUTOR you wish look up or to comment on.

4. Once you are on the chosen distributor’s page, click on the DISCUSSION tab.

5. Click the NEW POST button (located just under the distributor’s name, upper left side) if you wish to comment.

6. A NEW POST window will pop-up.

7.  Fill-in your SUBJECT and type your MESSAGE in the pop-up window.

8.  If you want to receive an email when others respond to your post, click the box  “MONITOR THIS TOPIC”.  If not, proceed to #8.

9.  When you are finished entering your missive, click POST.

10.  Your post is complete!

TFC encourages factual and constructive information attributed to named individuals. Acknowledging that some filmmakers may not feel comfortable registering complaints or low opinions of their past or current distribution partners, Ravid said there is an option to post anonymously. “We have a user handle for anyone who wants to use the DRC anonymously and also we are happy to post the comments on anyone’s behalf. You’ll just need to contact the site administrator with your details. We will post that the person making the comment wishes to remain anonymous so those who are doing research can take this into consideration.”

To access Distributor ReportCard, please visit the site

About The Film Collaborative

The Film Collaborative (TFC) — the first non-profit devoted to distribution education and facilitation for independent film. We offer a full range of affordable educational, distribution and marketing services to independent filmmakers looking for distribution sustainability and to reach traditionally underserved audiences. Launched in early 2010 TFC has already provided its services to more than 75 independent films such as Sundance Award Winners We Live in PublicGasLand and Undertow, and SXSW Award Winners Made in China and Weekend.


About Distributor ReportCard™:

Distributor ReportCard™ gives filmmakers and producers a chance to SCHOOL THE DISTRIBUTORS. Write reviews, share your experiences and learn from other filmmakers’ successes or mistakes.

Simply click on one of the distributors and you’ll be taken to the info page for that distributor. All information is gathered from their respective website and is not based on a TFC review.

Speak your mind. Create or join a discussion about a specific distributor.


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