I’ve mentored dozens of film students. I’ve met with hundreds. I’ve spoken to thousands. A question I recently asked myself was, “What’s the difference between the people who get a movie made and those who are just stuck spinning their wheels?”
It’s always been a goal of mine to help filmmakers get a movie made. I even had a separate company at one point, dedicated solely to aiding filmmakers in getting their films going. I had identified a series of steps that every project should take to get from Point D to Point R. (Dream to Reality.)
Yet there were some who I knew would never get a movie made, and there were some that I knew, no matter what, they would be successful.
This led me to start to reflect on that. Could I impart that lesson to a filmmaker? Could I identify that “secret sauce” that made the others successful following the exact same steps to get a movie made?
Get a Movie Made: 5 Things You Need To Know
The answer is, it’s a combination of a lot of things… and here’s the list. Add them together and you’ll be emailing me with photos from the set.
1. Extreme Passion – it sounds crazy, but I’ve actually met tons of filmmakers who just weren’t that passionate about their own project! Almost as if they were doing it because they just wanted a way in. With every film I’ve ever made, before I jumped into it, I believed it was going to be a home run. Some of my movie projects failed, some succeeded, but with all, I was extremely passionate.
The people I’ve mentored to get a movie made were extremely passionate. Their eyes would light up with energy when they told me their pitch. It was almost as if they were letting me in on this incredible secret… The secret of their amazing film.
2. Determination – All the filmmakers who got their films going were filled with determination. They all knew they were going to make a film. Most of them had specific dates in mind. It didn’t matter if these dates shifted, if something fell through, or if they got pieces of bad news… they kept pushing forward.
3. Singular Focus – Their goal was to make a film. Period. Their goal was not to worry about their job, not to worry about their future films, not to worry about their “potential careers.” They were focused 100% on the issue at hand, which was getting their films made. There was no “Plan B” (except as defined below).
4. Flexibility to Change – This may be the most important aspect of the list. If you are trying to unlock the combination to a safe, it doesn’t matter how focused, determined, or persistent you are: If you continue to try the same combination, you’re never getting into that safe.
All the successful filmmakers I mentored had one thing in common: they changed their approach when necessary. This includes dropping budgets, raising budgets, seeing things in a new light, changing cast, even changing projects entirely!
This is a key point. Stick too much to “This is the only film I can make,” and you may fail.
That internal dialogue should be, “I’m making a film.” That way, you’re going with the flow and using the energy in the right way. Put the passion project on hold and ALWAYS CHOOSE TO MAKE A FILM!
5. Persistence – They never gave up, never faltered, and continued to chip away. Many of them are full time filmmakers now, and I couldn’t be happier for them!
Don’t ever quit. You can make your film happen. Trust yourself, follow a procedure, and be mindful of the points I just mentioned. You can do it!
If you’d like to take the next steps to get a movie made, check out this film funding training offered by Tom Malloy.