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.

Untapped Crowdfunding Site For Filmmakers

As a filmmaker, one of the challenges you face is how to finance a film. When I was starting out, things were much different. Back then, if you wanted to finance a movie, you had to cross your fingers and wait for someone to grant you permission…

The problem is, many people in Hollywood are still waiting for someone else to give them permission. Permission to make a movie. Permission to be successful. Permission to live the best life possible. UGH!

Here is a little secret. If you’re looking to raise money for your movie, set up a crowdfunding campaign. This allows you to test your concept from day one. And if successful, crowdfunding also allows you to find the people who may be most interested in your movie. In addition to providing you with funding, some of these folks will help you spread word of mouth.

Two popular crowdfunding platforms are IndieGoGo and KickStarter.

 

Crowdfunding To Source An Audience for Your Filmmaking

If you’ve been reading Filmmaking Stuff for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed I talk a lot about “sourcing an audience.” And after having a discussion on the topic with one of my clients, it occurred to me that most filmmakers have no idea what I’m talking about.

So let me break it down.

In the old days, making, marketing and selling your movies required that you knew someone in Hollywood and had a gazillion dollars. It also meant that you waited around forever for some traditional distributor to validate your existence and hopefully pick up your movie (with something other than a crappy deal.)

But that was then. These days, you don’t need to know anybody in Hollywood. You don’t need a gazillion dollars. And (thankfully) you no longer need some traditional movie distributor to give you permission to make, market and sell your movie. And while these changes make this an awesome time to make movies, the new challenge is finding people willing to pay money to watch your movie.

So how do you a source an audience? I’ll give you one word: Crowdfunding.

What is crowdfunding? According to Wikipedia, “crowdfunding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.” In short, this means filmmakers finally have a new way to raise money.

Filmmakers can set up profiles at various crowdfunding websites and then easily promote their movie project via their social networks and ask for money. In exchange for money, filmmakers offer tiered incentives to prospective sponsors. For example, in exchange for ten bucks, you might offer a promotional t-shirt and and a DVD. For five-hundred bucks, you might offer a flight to the premiere.

Crowdfunding in this context is not the same as seeking equity investors. Which makes this a very uncomplicated way to find sponsors and raise money. But outside of this obvious use, the little known secret of crowdfunding is this – Let’s say you’re a filmmaker with an idea for a movie. And let’s suggest that you aren’t sure how many people would be interested in your movie… So you set up a crowdfunding campaign.

If successful, your crowdfunding campaign will allow you to raise money – but as an important ancillary benefit, your campaign will also allow you test your movie concept with a built in, responsive focus group. Assuming you reach your funding goal, you will not only generate your initial buzz – but you will also source the early adopters for your movie… And these early adopters will grow into a group of fans who will help you spread word of mouth about your movie.

Depending on the scope and scale of your movie, once you have successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign, you may choose to leverage this success to seek out traditional investors. But instead of having an untested movie idea, you have a little POC. What’s POC? Proof of concept. (I credit writer Craig Spector for teaching me about the importance of POC.)

Crowdfunding helps you prove your concept. In the unfortunate event your campaign is not successful, this knowledge will help you go back to the basics and refine your concept before you take the next steps in you movie making process.

Here are 3 crowdfunding sites that are worth investigating:

  1. www.IndieGoGo.com
  2. www.KickStarter.com
  3. www.Invested.in

Happy filmmaking.

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Independent Movie Distributors are Aggregators

Independent Movie Distributors are great if they offer you a deal. The problem is, many filmmakers do not get a great deal. Instead, many filmmakers end up with a lot of empty promises.

Now, thanks in part to a shrinking DVD market, many traditional distributors have shifted focus to partner with, or become a  movie aggregator. For those of you new to the concept, a movie aggregator exists to source a whole bunch of movies, and then serves as a middle-man between YOU and the marketplace.

The result of this DVD to VOD distribution transition has created a new sales pitch for filmmakers:

“Give us your VOD rights for a gazillion years and we’ll get your title onto iTunes.”

If you’re like a lot of filmmakers, this pitch is all you need to hand over your VOD rights for many years. The result of which allows you to tell all your friends: “Our movie was picked up by [insert bottom feeding aggregator here] and now we are on iTunes.”

Any time I hear this, I want to PUKE.

Why? Because treating VOD distribution like DVD distribution is the difference between lighting and lighting bug (I think that is a quote from Mark Twain.) But you get my point. It can’t be treated the same.

WHY DO I SAY THIS?

I say this because many traditional DVD distributors will add NO VALUE to your VOD strategy.

They will simply get your movie into the marketplace and suck your profits for the extent of your contract. And since most traditional distributors can not monopolize the VOD marketplace (like retail DVD), they will grab any title they can and hope for the best.

Think about it. It doesn’t cost them anything. All they gotta do is get your movie encoded and uploaded into the market – and if it makes money, they make money. If it doesn’t make money – OH WELL!

Like I said. That makes me PUKE.

You see. The problem isn’t your ability to access a VOD marketplace. Your problem is SOURCING an audience. In retail DVD distribution, it was different. Retail DVD was a predictable sales channel. In the old days, you licensed your retail DVD rights to a distributor. Then your distributor made a few phone calls and got your movie into video stores. People drove to video stores and walked around the store. So if your DVD was on the shelf, your odds of making money increased.

But with VOD? We are talking about people sitting in front of their computers. The marketplace changes at the click of a mouse.

So far, we know that iTunes, NetFlix and Amazon are popular. You should get your movie into those marketplaces. But that doesn’t mean you should give up your VOD rights to get there.

The secret that traditional DVD distributors don’t want you to know is this: Getting into the marketplace is easy.

The TOUGH part is getting people to watch (and buy) your movie. For that I recommend The Indie Producer’s Guide To Digitial Distribution or at the very least, read some of my other articles on movie marketing and distribution.

And if you’re just getting to know me, make sure you grab a FREE copy of my filmmaking book. Click Here   >>

In a future article, I’m going to show you how to leverage VOD distribution for your business plans. Stay tuned.