Viewing entries tagged
passion

5 types of people to avoid when making your independent film!

5 types of people to avoid when making your independent film!

Film is a business unlike many others: You can write a book on your own, you can make art on your own, and you can compose music on your own, but film will always be a team effort. Yes, you likely need a visionary person to kickstart the film. This is typically the director, producer, or writer, but you will also need help from hundreds of other people along the way, whether they're your subjects, actors, financiers, assistants, musicians, interns, and dozens upon dozens more.

Working on a film is like being in the army: you'll likely become super close with many of your colleagues, pulling late nights, early mornings, and spending hours in the freezing cold or blistering sun. And you'll love these people. 

However, film also draws its fair share of horrible, really bad, disgusting, worst-of-the-worst people. These people take on different forms: 

1. Narcissists are the worst. If you've ever met one, and I'm sure you have, you know. It is unfortunate when narcissists make films, but quite frequently, they do. (I won't name names, but in this industry, it is generally known...)  Many narcissists are drawn to film for the fame and/or fortune but don't want to do any of the hard work to get there.

2. Hustlers are another breed with little/no talent who somehow never make projects but are always raising big money for something. They're annoying because they take money away from people who really do need it and will do good with it. And they also give a bad reputation to filmmakers when they raise money and make flops. Understandably, it is hard to differentiate between a hustler and a legitimate producer, as when anyone starts off they could fall into any category. It is necessary to hustle in your early years. But as people age, you start to see who's peddling nonsense and who's legit. But after many years, if someone gets nothing concrete done, you can assume they're a hustler not a filmmaker. 

3. Film likely also draws a disproportionate amount of "rich kids" into its mix, because, by the time you're 25, 30, or older, if you aren't independently wealthy, film isn't going to be a profession that you're going to be able to afford to partake in, because it requires a ton of time, much of it unpaid, before payouts come at the end of some very long and challenging roads. A lot of rich kids float around, call themselves filmmakers, do a ton of cocaine, and hang out with B, C , or D list celebrities but have 0 talent or ability to execute. (It is necessary to write that there are some rich kids out there who do make amazing films and are generous with both their time and money. I know a handful of them who are genuinely talented, hardworking, and good people and they are very important people in my life!)

4. Then there are the struggling filmmakers, who are really just lazy folks who never wanted to get a job and like to sleep late, not work much, and be generally lazy SOBs. There are a lot of folks like this running around East London (where I now reside) and Brooklyn (where I formerly resided). You'll likely see them sipping coffees or asking you for meetings and then show up at said meetings without ideas that are thought through. 

5. Interns who think they are god. This is another sad, sad breed of young humans. I've encountered plenty of amazing interns in my day (who have been lifesavers) but just as many cocky, arrogant, bad people who will likely wind up in category 3 or 4 above. In many ways, my biggest lesson is not to hire interns from good schools. I went to the University of Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania, and have hired gems from both places, but I've also had my fair share of arrogant/lazy folks from each institution. 

The real message here is you must work with passionate people who work hard. Unfortunately, the world is saturated with people, perhaps over 80% of them in film, who really are useless and suck. You must fire these people quickly and only keep the talented people who have good work ethics and strong morals around. Otherwise, your life will become hell, and you won't be making movies, you'll just be miserable. I didn't let this happen to me, but if I didn't fire fast, it easily could have happened. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skillsets: Filmmakers are the ultimate entrepreneurs because every film is a startup

Skillsets: Filmmakers are the ultimate entrepreneurs because every film is a startup

As I've said before and as I'll say again, I have a great respect for filmmakers, because they are so passionate about what they do. If you aren't passionate about making amazing films, you shouldn't be in this business because there are so many other people out there who are so passionate about what they do. 

Filmmakers create startups all the time: every new film you create is a startup. Each time you start the filmmaking process you have a different business proposition (whether that's a scripted horror film or an unscripted political documentary), a different crew of people to work with (based on where your film will be shot and edited, among other things), and a different set of challenges to deal with (access, locations, cast, crew, and plenty more). Yes some of these things are scalable (e.g. finding good people and keeping them around for the next project) but there are also many times when you'll have to start from scratch again and again. 

One thing that is relatively similar time and time again is the sales process. But even that is changing as Neflix, Amazon, Apple, Youtube Red, Hulu and HBO continue to evolve. This begs the question: are filmmakers properly equipped for fundraising for and selling films? Is it necessary for filmmakers to be salespeople, or should they just leave that to other professionals? These are questions that I've grappled with for some time now and have thought through in great depth.  And thus here are my conclusions based on different stages of film production:

1. If you have connections at any studio or new media outlet to fund your film, of course use these connections. But in general, especially for up and coming filmmakers, this will be incredibly rare. I'm talking like a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting funding for your project from a studio. (Nobody has ever funded a project of mine!) And that 1 in 1,000 might not even be the most talented filmmaker. It will likely be someone who has a connection in the film business. Like other businesses, nepotism runs rampant in film. 

2. Sales Agents and Distributors exist to bridge the gap between filmmakers and the monstrous corporations that will ultimately distribute your film. However, just because you sign with an agent or distributor doesn't mean that your work is done. It is still on you to promote and PR the crap out of your film. You must create demand for this product as you must for any other product. And getting sales agents/distributors on board is a challenge, but more on this later.

3. If you can't sell your film on your own, find someone who can. The worst tragedy of filmmaking is to think you have put your time, effort, money, and skills into creating a wonderful project that only a handful of people will view. This said, the director/producer team on such a film might not have the outside connections or sales skills to get your film watched by the right people or sold. If you think this is you, write me a note and I'll have a watch to see if I can help you!

More observations coming soon...