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.


Filmmaking Success Mindset

Getting your filmmaking work noticed requires persistence, tenacity and an unyielding ability to overcome obstacles and keep going, even when doing so seems impossible and crazy.

Just over a decade ago, I was stuck on my small town, living with my parents. No other vocation appealed to me more than filmmaking. Back then I had no idea my aspirations would take me from my hometown to New York to Los Angeles.

filmmaking success mindset

In the journey, I have experienced more than my fair share of sleepless nights and uncertainty. But through it all, there is one thing I learned: Your thoughts, more than anything else will influence your beliefs and your beliefs will influence your actions.

Put enough actions together and you will begin to forge a new life as a filmmaker.

I wanted to share a little tool I have been utilizing for years. The tool is called the Filmmaking Success Mindset. The FSM is a set of filmmaking declarations that, if repeated over and over every day, will help you condition your thinking for the better.

  1. What I think about becomes real.
  2. I play to my strengths. I support my weak areas with talented collaborators.
  3. I take advice from people who have actual experience.
  4. I spend time with people who make me feel better about myself.
  5. I always work to make others feel good too.
  6. Following dreams is easier with money in the bank. I save what I can.
  7. I keep an idea book and write down movie ideas as they come my way.
  8. My word is trust. I never break my word.
  9. I deserve Hollywood success because I am creative and passionate.
  10. I always bring my ideas to fruition.

I know this is a bit of ra-ra-ra motivation. And if you’re the type of filmmaker who enjoys affirmations, you might benefit from downloading the Filmmaking Success Mindset, printing it out and putting it somewhere visible. Then take some time to memorize these principles until they become real.

Download the Filmmaking Success Mindset.

Secrets of Successful Indie Filmmakers: Don’t Give Up

One thing that’s true for all indie filmmakers is this: Sometimes life sucks.

Movie deals fall apart. Investors bail out. People don’t come through and they let you down. And sometimes what you thought was a sure-thing becomes a no-thing…

While nobody wants to experience pain and heartache, it is equally important to know that these challenges are part of the journey. And what I just described are the same realities and the same circumstances that all successful indie filmmakers face.

The difference? Successful indie filmmakers don’t give up.

But that probably doesn’t make you feel much better. And if you’re in the midst of a shaky project or an uncertain life circumstance, I can sympathize. When I was in NYC, we were going into production on a 1.5 million dollar movie.

I can remember feeling pretty excited about the whole process. I was finally working in the movie business. I felt awesome. . .

(Note: If you’re reading my emails, look for the one titled “The First Time I Got Fired.”)

Then all-a-sudden the entire project fell apart. Something about the investors getting scared… Something about the actor’s mom… Dunno. The reason the project fell apart does not matter. But what I know is this – I suddenly found myself in New York with no job and no money.

Imagine going from a feeling of awesomeness to a feeling of heartache in a single day.

That experience truly sucked.

indie filmmakers

Secrets of Indie Filmmakers: Don’t Give Up

I remember calling my friend and mentor Joe on the phone. I thought he would be encouraging. Maybe even say something nice to me. Instead he said something I never forgot… He said, “Get UP!”

ME: What?

JOE: Get UP! You just experienced your first bloody nose. Welcome to the world. At this point, you have two choices. You can quit – or you can get up, wipe your bloody nose and push forward.

I chose to push forward. I had no other choice. It wasn’t easy. For a time, I had to leave New York and move back to my parent’s house. And while this was humiliating, I forced myself to think of each challenge as a rite of passage for any serious indie filmmakers. How bad did I want it? Okay. Prove it!

This belief got me through my darkest times…

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…”

Eventually I found a job, saved money for a few months, packed my car and moved to California. Once there, I got some stuff in motion and was finally able to produce my first feature.

While I’m proud of that accomplishment, I can tell you that my challenges have only gotten more complicated. Since that time, I have been fired from several jobs, dumped, heart broken, broke and fired again. In the years since, I have had more than a dozen projects, job offers and awesome opportunities come and go. Poof!

And while failed opportunity still sucks, all of it has somehow become less sucky, I now understand a solid, fundamental truth. And it is the reason I can sleep soundly most nights. Are you ready?

Uncertainty is the price of success.

There will be good times and bad times. There will be red and black. You will win and you will lose.

And while I’m not here to tell you every day is going to be fun. (It won’t. Every setback sucks.) But if you let your challenges steel your resolve instead of stealing your soul, I guarantee one day you will wake up happy. The sun will shine. The stress will dissolve. And you will be excited for whatever life has to offer.

I look forward to watching your movies.

If you would like more tips like this, click here to grab your 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.

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.

How To Meet Rich People So You Can Get Movie Money

So you want to know how to meet rich people (so you can get movie money.)

The process of raising money is simple. All you have to do is build a trusting business relationship with a few rich people, present the necessary legal paperwork and ask for the money. Once you get the check, you can make your movie.

[Quick note. Would you kindly click here to tweet this filmmaking article?]

Of course, we both know that raising movie money is easy in theory. But it can be a real challenge for filmmakers.

For many filmmakers, the biggest missing skill is knowing how to meet rich people.

Maybe you don’t know where to start. I get that.

I grew up in a rural community. I didn’t know any rich people. I didn’t know where to start or where to find them. To learn how to meet rich people, I moved to New York City and started work as a producer’s assistant. This helped me figure things out.

What I found was, most rich people are experienced business professionals. They are successful in businesses outside of indie filmmaking. They are experienced investors. And as such, they are seeking interesting investment opportunities.

And more than that, rich people are all around you – And unless you know what to look for, you might just miss them…

What You Need To Know About Investors

Most prospective investors are looking for you to describe the similarities between your indie filmmaking project and their businesses. So if you want to find out how to meet rich people, before you make your pitch –  You first need to understand how to describe your filmmaking in the context of general business.

I put together the following graphics to help you.

1. Filmmakers and Entrepreneurs (Prospective Investors) Start With a Blueprint

Your screenplay is the blueprint to your movie. Entrepreneurs are similar. Like you, these business professionals go into each venture with a blueprint for their product. From there, they create a full business plan for how their product will be manufactured, marketed and distributed. This process if similar to making a movie.

How To Meet Rich People

2. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Seek OPM

One secret of the rich is OPM (Other People’s Money). Even though many rich people could fund their own business ideas, this represents too much of a risk. So most rich people go into their network and raise money for their projects. This is the same for indie filmmakers. It is too risky to invest all of your money in a movie project. Always leverage OPM.

find rich people so you can fund your movie

3. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Utilize Money To Create a Company

When creating a product, most business professionals establish a physical location for their business. From there, these entrepreneurs utilize the investment money to manufacture their product. When it comes to your indie film, your business will require that you utilize many locations to film your movie. And your product is your movie.

fund your movie

4. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Manufacture a Product

After months and months of planning and production, the results for both the business professional and filmmaker are similar. Assuming you worked with an awesome team, you will make your movie. As a filmmaker, your product IS your movie.

get movie money

5. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Distribute Their Product

After production you will have a product ready for the marketplace. Both the filmmaker and the entrepreneur will market, distribute and sell their product to (hopefully) a rabid marketplace of fans who can’t wait to partake in the experience.

distribute your movie

Here’s the deal. Rich and successful people are not any different than you and me. Except they have some very specific business experience and a pretty robust bank account.

What You Need To Know About Rich People

For the most part, rich people are not mean, dirty or greedy. In fact, many wealthy people are generous. They are excellent networkers. And when you meet them, (assuming they like you) most successful people will always think in terms of: “How can I help this person get closer to their goals?”

This is important. Because if you want to find out how to meet rich people, you need to understand that the way you think about wealth can either help you or hinder your efforts.

A quick story about a filmmaker I know:

So picture this. The other day I was in a popular Los Angeles diner eating breakfast with my buddy. Like a lot of filmmakers, he is trying to raise money for a movie. He just can’t get any traction.

At one point we get to the topic of  how to meet rich people. And my buddy mentions this one guy he knows. And here is what he said:

“That guy is FILTHY rich.”

Can you see the problem with this statement?

My filmmaker friend is trying to figure out how to meet rich people, but he’s having difficulty getting traction.

The reason?

At some core level, he thinks rich people are filthy. He thinks that anybody with money is unclean… Dirty…

Can you imagine going into any social situation where you think the people you’re about to meet are unsanitary?

It gets worse. Here are some of the beliefs you probably have about money and rich people:

  1. Money is the root of all evil.
  2. I’d rather be happy than rich.
  3. I am no good with money.
  4. It takes money to make money.
  5. Money is dirty.

If you are looking to find out how to meet rich people (and attract these people into your life) you need to get honest about your limited beliefs about money, and find ways to shed them.

If you hold the general belief that rich people are in some way greedy and unwilling to help anyone, think again. Aside from a few rotten apples, the statistics show that wealthy people are also some of the most generous.

Why is having a positive attitude towards the affluent important for a filmmaker?

Because until your movies are financed and distributed by a studio, you’ll need to learn how to raise money for your projects. You’ll need to know what potential investors look for in a project. And when it comes time to shake the money tree, it would be helpful to have a few rich people just a phone call away.

How To Meet Rich People (So you can get movie money.)

Finding out how to meet rich people is easier than you think. But before we go there, it is important to note that whenever you go out to raise money, you will most likely meet a bunch of posers, frauds and idiots.

To help you distinguish the BS, I reached out to Tom Malloy for advice. If you haven’t heard of Tom Malloy, you should know he’s a indie film finance expert. So far in his career, he has raised over 25 million dollars to produce his movies.

Here are Tom Malloy’s five tips for finding out if your rich person is “real.”

In trying to land an HNI (High Net Worth Individual) for your film, one of the main obstacles film makers face is qualifying if an investor is “Real.”  Real means that he or she CAN actually fund your film.

Real investors are not guys who know other guys. 

Real investors are the guys that can actually put in the money.  I present to you 5 tips for you to know in your quest to find who’s real and who’s not!

1.   Google him.  It sounds simple, and it is.  Do your research on the guy.  It’s easy to find out information if you just take the time and search for it.

2.   Take into account what he’s wearing and what he’s driving.  Sometimes relying solely on image is a mistake.  The guy with the 3 piece suit is the phony and the guy in shorts and a t-shirt is the eccentric millionaire.  But where does he live?  What does he drive?  Many HNIs enjoy the comforts their money brings.  This method is not foolproof, but it does work 90% of the time.  I had a meeting with a potential investor and he was missing some teeth.  His teeth were Real, but he wasn’t.

3.   Does he pick up the check?  I say it over and over again.  If you are eating dinner/lunch with a potential investor and he/she doesn’t pick up the check, I can 99% guarantee that you will never get a penny out of them.  If they care so little about you that they cannot invest $50 for a meal, you ain’t getting their money.

4.   If he starts talking about “money coming in”, he’s not real.  Had this happen many times.  Someone talks about some bank deals or commissions that will be upcoming.  Walk away.  Don’t get your hopes up… it never closes.

5.   Is it too easy?  This is an interesting one.  If things seem to be going too easy, a red flag should pop up.  Closing money is not easy.  And if the guy doesn’t really look at your business plan or do his homework, chances are he doesn’t have the money to fund your project and he’s just pretending.

Here’s the key… You must research your prospective investor!

Tom Malloy goes on to say that he starts every meeting asking a prospective investor questions about himself or herself. He will never take a meeting without first taking time do the research. This means that he Googles his HNI and tries to find everything about the person he can.

Analyze all the information you’re given and your ratio of closing will increase dramatically!

The following action steps are designed to get you thinking about what’s possible.

How To Meet Rich People

  • While you’re on the networking kick, ask around your town and find out if anyone knows rich people. (Every town in America seems to have someone a little better off than the rest.)
  • Get a phone number and call them. Tell them you are a first time entrepreneur. See if they will meet for a few minutes so you can ask for advice. (Just ask for advice, not money!) Then as the months go by, try to cultivate a friendship.
  • Many busy business professionals will reject the initial meeting. If this happens try again. Be persistent without being annoying. After eight attempts, you can move on.

As long as you apply a little persistence, finding out how to meet rich people gets easier. You’ll be surprised who you can meet and what you’ll accomplish. As your relationships with successful people mature, these folks may someday introduce you to friends willing to get involved in your next project.

film finance guideBecause getting money for movies is a little more complicated than just asking for it, (we will discuss the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as Private Placement Memorandums in another lesson) — For now, let’s just set the business aside and simply focus on getting advice from a few new friends.

If you would like more information on how to meet rich people so you can finance your movie, check out Tom Malloy’s Film Fiance Guide.