Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Five Pillars of Success... for indie filmmakers

Making your indie film is half the battle... maybe less than half. I think the process, for most people, goes a little something like this...

1. You come up with an idea, either by yourself or as a team.
2. You turn said idea into a screenplay, either by yourself or as a team.
3. You figure out how much it'll cost you to take said screenplay and turn it into a film.
4. One way or another, you get that money.
5. You make the film.

These are the perfect steps to take if all you want to do is make a film. However, if you want to make a good film, a successful film. There's SO much more.

Personally, I think that sales & marketing is one of the most underrated talents and skills on the planet. I don't say that because I currently work in a sales & marketing position. I say that because I came from film and now see how important sales & marketing really is. Can you honestly say that putting together pitches, press kits and knowing how to handle yourself in a meeting/interview are useless skills? That's sales. What about knowing what people want, how to reach them and how to get the right message to them? That's marketing. Anyhow, there's a particular sales & marketing blog that I read called Seth Godin's Blog. Godin is a bit of a legend in the marketing world, you can find this blog by clicking here.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, he wrote a very short entry called, "The Five Pillars of Success" and it stuck with me. Also, I think it's very pertinent to indie filmmakers, so I wanted to share it. First off, here are the five pillars, according to Godin...

1. See (really see) what's possible
2. Know specifically what you want to achieve
3. Make good decisions
4. Understand the tactics to get things done and to change minds
5. Earn the trust and respect of the people around you

Here's my interpretation of those, for you...

1. It's very important to have a big vision. Know the whole scene, know what's possible. This is two-fold... One, you're making an indie horror? Well, really research the films in the genre. See what's successful, see what's not. See what people are doing. Make something different, stand out or, maybe, do what's working for others. Two, know the industry. Do you really think you're going to make millions off your first film? Read blogs like Dead Harvey, contact other filmmakers. Get to know how the industry works and know what to expect. I mean, just like he says - see (really see) what's possible.

2. Set a realistic goal, then set out to achieve that realistic goal. 'Get famous off our indie film' is not a goal. 'Making a quality film that we can use as a calling card to gain interest in our next project' IS. Also, when you think from the perspective of what your goal is... it can change what you're doing. So, really know what you want to achieve.

3. Making good decisions goes without saying. When you step into a new project, you're going to be thrown lots of problems and issues. Really, that's all life is... a series of problems and how you deal with them, defines you... Set the goal, take steps towards that goal and make good decisions on your way to that goal.

4. One, do you know HOW to get your film made? Do you know what it takes? What don't you know? There will always be surprises along the way, but do your best to know they're coming... Now, once your film's done, how are you going to find your audience? Are you going to enter festivals? Which festivals? Are you going to look for a distributor? Are you going to self distribute? Understand what it takes to get things done.

5. Network, network, network... and never burn a bridge, ever. You never know who's going to help you down the road. Earn the respect and trust of everyone you meet along the way.

Wow, I had no idea that I would write that much about that... I hope you found that useful.

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