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 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.

– – –

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

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.

 

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.

5 Ways To Succeed As a Modern Filmmaker

The other day it occurred to me that I’ve been living in Los Angeles for nearly a decade.

Over the years I have learned a thing or two about Hollywood. I have also realized there are distinct differences between filmmakers who make a movie and the would-be filmmakers who do not.

Since most people in LA are involved in some aspect of the movie industry, most conversations revolve around some aspect of getting a movie made.

That said, what is surprising to me are the vast numbers of people I meet who report spending years searching for ways to hand their movie projects off to someone else – someone who will magically do all the “business stuff” and make a movie appear.

Sometimes I think filmmakers do things just because they believe it’s the way things HAVE to be done.

That doesn’t necessary make it right. And admittedly, I’m not always right. But how I conduct my movie business works for me. And if you’re reading this, I assume you’re looking for some perspective just a little left of center. So here we go.

http://www.filmmakingstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Succeed_as_A_Modern_Filmmaker.jpg

5 Ways To Succeed as A Modern Filmmaker

  1. Quit asking permission. It’s a waste of time.
  2. Create your own business plan and budget.
  3. Create the movie you can make this year, not next.
  4. Learn money. (Know the difference between cash flow and capital gains!)
  5. Similar to #1, quit making excuses. Grab a camera and push “record.”

As an added bonus – because I’ve been meeting a lot of actors lately – if you’re an actor, stop handing out headshots and start producing! Then cast yourself in your own projects.

If any of these filmmaking tips sound useful, feel free to download this filmmaker checklist.