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.

Filmmakers Need To Get Debt Free

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Filmmakers need to manage their money Image via Wikipedia

Learning how to manage money is one of the most important traits of an independent filmmaker. Because many filmmakers are focused on a big Hollywood payday, they have decided to live paycheck to paycheck, shackled by high debt.

If you’re that person right now, you’re not alone.

It wasn’t too long ago that I lived with no savings and thousands of dollars in debt. I had no idea how to turn myself around. Luckily, I met some very successful people who set me straight.

They told me about “FU money.”

In Hollywood, when you get a bunch of money in the bank, it’s called FU money. You know you have FU money when you can enter into negotiations and walk out of the deal without the fear of starvation.

The most valuable success strategy for acquiring FU money is: “Pay Yourself First.”

When I first heard this concept, I had no idea what the heck people were talking about. But after meeting with some power players, I realized the idea is simple. Whenever you get a paycheck, before you pay any bills or fill up your gas tank, set a little money aside and never touch it. That’s all you gotta do.

I know. I know. Most independent filmmakers want to save money but feel too strapped to take action. This is because each month is filled with bills and other unexpected expenses. For this reason, most people put off saving until the end of the month. The problem is, by that time, there is nothing left to save.

And please let me remind you, as a general disclaimer, since I’m a filmmaker and not a qualified legal, tax or financial professional, even if the following strategy provided me with a bunch of FU money, this stuff may not be right for you. So, please talk to a qualified professional first.

One day, I decided to follow a successful friend’s advice. And while it took me a long time, I eventually dug myself out of debt and lifted that financial weight off my back. Here is what I did:

  1. I wrote down all monthly income, including paycheck, extra jobs, etc.
  2. I wrote down all monthly expenses, including bills, groceries, gas, etc.
  3. I subtracted the expenses from the income.
  4. I had some money left, so I figured out how much to save.
  5. I opened a high-interest online savings account.
  6. I set up automatic withdraws each payday and pretended it was a bill.
  7. No matter what, for one year I didn’t touch the money!
  8. After one year, I paid off my credit card debt.
  9. After another year, I spoke to a financial adviser and started investing.
  10. After another year, I built up an emergency fund.

After saving, I not only had enough money to get out of debt, I had also developed the valuable life-long habit of always paying myself first. FU!

Learning how to manage your own money will give you confidence when you begin managing your movie projects. Thankfully, there are many financial software programs and online services to help you stay on top of your finances.

Since 2001 (when I was making about 10K a year – I wish I was kidding), I have been using one of the popular accounting software programs. Since that time, I have migrated into the free version of Quicken online. Other friends use Yodlee. And some of my other friends still use a spreadsheet. All of these programs will give you a daily snapshot of your net worth, your spending habits, your bank accounts and your credit card accounts. Most will also chart your investment activity. Some of the more advanced programs allow you to work out a budget and offer debt elimination tools.

The reason why becoming a good money manger is essential to filmmaking is because most prospective investors will sense how you feel about money.

If you liked this sort of unique filmmaking advice, you’ll love the independent producers guide to movie finance.

 

How To Deal With Filmmaking Rejection

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Film Investment dollars are pennies Image via Wikipedia

A few months back, I detailed my experience pitching a project to a prospective investor. As of yesterday, my investor backed out of the deal. The explanation: the project is too risky. The truth is, the idealized imaginings of actually getting a project off the ground are euphoric. And nobody (not even me), likes it when a deal falls apart.

So while this type of rejection is an experience shared by all of us, it is important to take a minute and reflect – then, MOVE ON!

One way to mitigate this “all eggs in one basket” filmmaking approach is to always have other projects in various stages of development. This allows you to check one rejection off the list, and then adjust your focus on the next. And just because one prospective investor rejects one opportunity, there is nothing stopping you from finding someone else who has the completely opposite perspective…

The truth is, if you are not getting rejected daily, you’re not pushing hard enough. And my question to you is: “Why not?” Life is too short. Push harder!

The Secret To Filmmaking Success

If I could go back and talk to myself ten years ago… And if I could only share one filmmaking success tip, what would I say?

In two words: Cold Calling.

I know this may sound unrelated to filmmaking. But I can tell you that success is not created in a vacuum. It is created with the help and support of other people, including mentors and customers.

And while it is true that some people stumble upon contacts and get lucky, I would venture to say that over 90 percent of self-made successful people got what they wanted in life by utilizing some variation of the following three success tips:

First: They knew what they wanted.

Second: They made a plan to get what they wanted.

Third: They picked up the phone and cold called people who could help make their plan a reality.

Think about it. Could you go to “networking events” and try to find folks to help introduce you to the appropriate contact? Yes. But just as easily you could pick up the phone, call your prospective contact’s place of business and try to get him or her on the phone to make your pitch.

Will you get through? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you had a list of 100 prospects and you called all the people on that list, odds are good you would find someone willing to sit down with you.

Why is this important to your filmmaking? Because unless you ASK for what you want, how is anybody in life going to know how to find you?

If you would like to find out more about networking, success strategies and most importantly – how to find prospective investors for your next movie, you might want to check out the independent producer’s guide to getting movie money. You can find out more by clicking here  >>