It may sound ridiculous, but have you ever considered what your actual filmmaking goals are with your career? It is a question that I often ask Filmmakers when doing consulting. Like so many, the sheer obstacle of making a film is daunting enough, let alone trying to calculate long-term filmmaking goals. But the truth is, filmmaking is nothing but a long term strategy. This is especially true for Independent producers who are betting the farm to fuel their cinematic dreams. Let me explain. The 3 C’s- Crazy Career Choice It goes without saying, filmmaking is one of the toughest careers anyone can embark upon. There is no such thing as a get-rich plan for filmmaking. In fact many independent producers don’t see a dime from their films until their movie has been in the market for a year! That’s after making it, and after they sign with a distribution company or aggregator! Filmmaking also requires years (sometimes decades) of trial and error. Aside from the technical aspects of movie making, learning what type of movie to make in the first place can take several attempts. This is because the art of movie making is based heavily in marketing and economics. It can take a while to figure out what works and how to leverage your properties. This being said, it is critical to plan for a long term commitment. Each movie you create, whether it be a narrative feature, short, documentary, web series or video blog, should compound the other, gradually building on the overall quality, storytelling, marketing, community around your brand and business portfolio. It’s fair to think that your current project is a “make or break” in your mind, but do not get discouraged when your “would-be hit” misses its mark. Stop. Take a breath and start planning the next with the things you’ve learned so far! Let it go! Another important aspect of the long term strategy is to know when to walk away from your movie. It can be addictive to constantly tinker with your final edit, but you should not dwell too long. Do your best, but give yourself a cut-off time. The end result is only as good as the experience, resources and knowledge you had the time you actually shot the movie. So let it go and move on to the next one. Movie are like stocks Think of movies like stock investments. If you were to produce one movie every few years, over time, you would have multiple titles working for you as you sleep. This is the ultimate goal! Do not stress so much about the instant payout that one movie could provide, but rather the potential earnings a catalog of titles could deliver over time. I know many of you wish for some quick fancy post-Sundance offer. But those deals are far and few. The reality for most is that you will likely earn incremental amounts of streaming revenue over time, as opposed to one or two fat checks! This is another reason why you should aim to self-finance your movies and keep your budgets small!Check out this great article on how two brothers turned their $7K movie into a successful theatrical release! In closing, I’d like to suggest taking some time to evaluate your level of long term commitment and patience. If you feel like you have none, then perhaps you should focus on another aspect of the movie making process. Perhaps you should get into distribution and work on bigger film packages. Maybe you set your sights on becoming an art director for studio films. But to be an independent producer is to be a small business owner. Take time to understand that and you may find the long term thrill of building an enterprise – or that you are better off securing a stable position somewhere else within the industry.
Neither direction is wrong, but it’s important that you know your goals prior to wasting any time! With that, I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Keep making movies!For more information on the topic of filmmaker, check out these books on Amazon: What Film Schools Don’t Tell You A Filmmaking Mindset Filmmaking for Kids