Stop asking permission to make your first feature… Or for that matter, any movie!
In Hollywood, power is measured by your ability to get a movie made. Most people don’t have the power to make movies. In fact, most people only have the power to say “NO!” And if you’re a filmmaker working to make your first feature, you’ve probably heard this word.
“NO, we don’t accept unsolicited submissions. And we don’t work with first time filmmakers. No! We don’t think there is upside to helping you make your first feature. No, we will not fund your movie. Go back to Idaho.”
Stop Asking Permission And Make Your First Feature
You know what? I hate asking permission to make movies. Asking permission makes you feel inferior.
I remember when I spent 2+ years trying to get a movie going through the “permission route.” I had met a phony Producer who talked a big game and had just produced a comedy film in the realm of $1.5 million. What I didn’t know was that he was obsessed with power-tripping people, telling people what they want to hear, and secretly just not caring.
It was two years of hell. Each time I was trying to get him to give me the green light on the picture.
And then I remember being on a plane, staring into the back seat in front of me, and I realized. Wait, maybe I should just make something by myself. It was like I had granted myself permission.
I have Produced, at the time of this post, 16 films since then.
The Powerful never ask permission to create their world.
It’s true. When powerful people want to accomplish something, they do it. So if you want to be powerful, and make your first feature, you need to stop asking permission.
Powerful people never ask: “Will you read my screenplay,”
They say: “I’m producing a feature.”
If you’re working to make your first feature, your mindset is the number one thing that needs to change. Think you can do it? You’ll find a way. And if you think you can’t make your first feature, you’re right.
“Given the resources you have right now, what is the feature you can make within a year?”
This little question forces you to think creatively. Answering it allowed me to get my first feature made. Unfortunately it took me several years to figure this out. Hopefully you can make your first feature in much less time than me.
Your Mindset Is Most Important
Going beyond this question, the big reason you may not make your first feature is fear. If you’re like most creative types, you’re afraid of failure. What if you make your first feature and you find out you don’t have talent? What then?
This sort of fear is based in fiction. The truth is, any movie you make this year will suck in ten years through the lens of your experience. So you may as well make your first feature… And besides, even if your movie fails miserably in festivals and never garners traditional distribution, you’ve accomplished something. And you can learn from this, change your approach, and make an even better feature next time.
I believe success is possible for anyone smart enough to read this. And if Hollywood power is defined by your ability to make movies, then there is only one course of action: You need to make your movie now!
If you’re not ready to make your first feature, you can do something today. Shut off your computer and get your hands on a small camera-phone and start making short videos for YouTube. Focus on creating funny shorts that can take place in limited locations with few characters. Or horror shorts or dramatic shorts, or whatever genre you want to make your feature in.
You’re welcome to get ambitious. This will help you find cost effective, creative ways to tell your story without money… That is precisely the point of this exercise. If you condition yourself to stretch dollars on the small scale and still create compelling stories, these skills will be invaluable on the big scale.
When it comes time to make your first feature, your objective is to start small, build your experience and find ways to create an internet following. If you can engage your audience successfully on the small scale you can do it on the BIG scale. Make your movie now!